Breaking Windows Best Games of 2005

It's pretty much official. This has been the biggest year for video games EVER. Yes even bigger than last year. Not surprisingly, a lot of the big software has hit in the past few months. Even still, we at Blogcritics.org are going to make sense of the software that's hit over the entire year. No, we haven't played every console game this year (though if someone would like to send us a set, that would be nice), but out of what we've played, these are the dozen titles that stick out from the pack.

Game of the Year Nominees:
By Matt Paprocki

Resident Evil 4 (GameCube, PS2): Everyone thought the GameCube was guaranteed to house the game of year early on, and it did for a while. In October, it was overthrown, and the system that plays host is the Playstation 2. This simply superb game from Capcom isn't just the best Resident Evil title, it's one of the best games ever made. The PS2 extras include an extra mission in which players control Ada Wong, fighting almost alongside Leon Kennedy during a parasite outbreak. This is unforgettable gaming, and if you're old enough, a game that must be on your shelf.

Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (Xbox): The Xbox had a tough year. Its exclusives were few, but one of them was brilliant. Much like Resident Evil 4, this latest entry into Lorne Lanning's Oddworld franchise reinvents itself. The mission structure ends up repetitive, and that's the only thing holding this magnificent design back. The quirky combination of living ammunition and sense of humor melded with fantastic first/third person gameplay makes another reason to own an Xbox.

God of War (PS2): Three years in development, director David Jaffe's action title has some brutal game play as players wipe out hordes of mythological monster on a quest to take down Aeries, the God of War. The ancient Rome aesthetic is flawlessly implemented into the game play, and while there could be an extra boss battle and a few less cheap puzzles, ripping apart foes with your bare hands never gets old.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS): If someone says there's a better version of this franchise out there, they're lying. Mixing souls to create powerful magic or to make it through a previously locked section of the castle might seem to be a little random at first (it is), but the mechanic extends the games life well past where it would have been without it. The addition of an entirely new way to play once you beat it (Julius mode) and the ability to swap souls wirelessly will have fans of Symphony of the Night cheering. The only ones disappointed will be the ones looking for a more traditional style Castlevania.

Meteos (DS): Yes, the little touch screen handheld did have an amazing showing this year. This puzzle game just squeezes out the PSPs Lumines, also an addictive new game in the same genre. Meteos is exploitable (just rub the stylus and up and down to feel like a pro), but there's depth and replay value. The pleasant planet destroying visuals add a nice layer to the game. It feels like you're doing more than just pushing pieces off the screen.

Burnout Revenge (Xbox, PS2): On Microsoft's console, with the graphics boost and additional sound hardware, Burnout Revenge shines. The new traffic checking feature allows for same-direction vehicles to be blasted aside instead of being rammed into. It gives this already strong (and always growing) franchise and extra boost of freshness. If you like your cars on fire, no other racing game does it better than Burnout.

Honorable Mentions:

Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction (GameCube, PS2, Xbox): Certainly the most overlooked mainstream title, this is a wild action game. Destruction is the name of the game literally and figuratively, and the engine used for blowing things up deserves a second chance.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike (DS): The closest game to make it near the top of the list is this addition to a series that's been running since the NES. The simple, easy to understand strategy gameplay is great, and family friendly. It should have been held back for an online Wi-Fi mode, and the Dual Screen feature is a little too annoying late in the game. Other than that, this is one of the DS's brightest.

Kirby: Canvas Curse (DS): It seems like an apology from Nintendo for the ridiculous Yoshi Touch n' Go, but this one had everyone raving. The touch screen is properly put to use to move Kirby around the colorful landscapes. It works better than it should, and aside from a few overly challenging moments, it never becomes a gimmicky exercise.

Ridge Racer (PSP): Out at launch and it's still the best game for the system. That's either a statement on Ridge Racer or the PSP's software in general. Drifting is the key to this new franchise addition from Namco. Flying around corners feels natural, and the addition of nitrous is a significant change. The extra set of challenges in the US version is nothing short of impossible (even Nacmo admits it), but that doesn't change how fun it is to make it that far.

Lumines (PSP): This is one of the simplest puzzle games to come around since Bejeweled, but its addictive qualities have the chance to extend well beyond that popular online game. Players who make the effort to keep going will be overjoyed by the unlockable backgrounds and music. They'll be disappointed by the baffling decision to put a cap on the high score.

2005 Game of the Year: Resident Evil 4 (PS2)


Game of the Year Nominees: By Ken Edwards

Resident Evil 4 (GameCube, PS2): What Matt said. It is amazing how Capcom totally scrapped the controls of RE and started fresh, multiple times, for this game. This game truly shined on the ‘Cube. It is disappointing that nine months later it was released on the PS2 with muddy textures and pre-rendered cut scenes. That was all smoothed over by the Ada mission once you beat the game. Plus RE4 might have the most fun Mercenaries mode yet.

Forza Motorsport (Xbox): The Xbox finally has a sim to take on the PS2 juggernaut Gran Turismo 4. Forza handles the competition very well, and in some cases (such as realistic car and engine damage) overtakes even GT4. Forza easily gets the award for best looking Xbox game of the year, and is a resounding example of why the Xbox 360 might have come too soon. From the brainiacs at Microsoft Research - the same people behind the 360’s TrueSkill system - the Drivatar is innovative and compliments the gamers driving nicely. Forza is rounded out by a superb presence on Xbox Live that rivals any Xbox title.

Jade Empire (Xbox): It is not often that a big name developer like BioWare has the time, or takes the time, to create a brand new Intellectual Property. They did just that with Jade Empire, creating a deep game with a surprisingly strong story. Mastering the myriad of martial arts fighting styles is half the fun. Jade Empire offers a nice break from the turn-based game play of Knights of the Old Republic, and pulls it of wonderfully. Though even this game will receive a sequel, it most likely will not be as dull as others.

WipEout Pure (PSP): I feel the same way about WipEout Pure as Matt does about Ridge Racer for the PSP. Both games have the same graphical shine to them, although Ridge Racer may look a little crisper as it has a realistic setting. WipEout Pure may not offer the insane challenge, but it more then makes up for it in downloadable content. With eight download packs, I keep coming back to WipEout Pure more often then Ridge Racer - or any other PSP game for that matter. If it only had Infrastructure Wi-Fi it may have seen GOTY honors. Ad Hoc is enough though as this speedy game is addictive with one or seven more people to race against.

Now, if only Xbox Live games offered this much after the initial purchase.

Mario Kart DS (DS): Mario Kart, the often imitated but never duplicated kart racer is back, as strong now as it was in its debut 13 years ago. This time the DS's dual screens add much to the already polished game. What a way to jump start the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and online games for the Nintendo DS.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS): It sure is a shame that the consoles get the mediocre 3D Castlevania, but it is great news for handheld owners. The GBA games have been good, but nothing has come close to Symphony of the Night until now. We finally have another wonderful 2D Castlevania.

Honorable Mentions:

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA): Proving that the GBA is not dead, Minish Cap proves to be a wonderful and new addition to the Zelda franchise.

Sid Meier's Pirates! (Xbox): It is not an easy task taking a PC game to the console, but Sid Meier's Pirates! on the Xbox is, in many respects, better. It is still the solid game it was 20 years ago.

God of War (PS2): Games don’t get much bloodier then this. But there is actually a fun game with some great boss battles under all that carnage.

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee (PSP): Arcade golf perfected - with cute little anime people running around the golf course. More challenging that you would think, too.

Indigo Prophecy (Xbox, PS2, PC): Even after being toned down for the American release, Indigo Prophecy proved to be a wonderful break from the monotonous game releases this year. Also a total surprise with a good story that unfortunately spirals into a bad B-movie by the end.

2005 Game of the Year: Resident Evil 4 (PS2)

Please add your favorites in the comments below! You may also wish to share your "worst of" lists.

Comments (3)

LKM:

The DS really had a few great games this years. If Mario Kart, Meteos and Castlevania had not been so awesome, it would still have valid contenders in Mario & Luigi (I've been playing the Mario RPGs since SNES time, and they're getting better each year. IMHO, Mario & Luigi is at least as good as Minish Cap, and a whole lot funnier, even though Minish Cap is an utterly awesome game) and Tony Hawk's (I've bought all Tony Hawk's games that came out for stationary consoles and a few GBA ones. I even own the one on the N-Gage, which sucks. But I've been playing them less and less since the new features and additions simply don't do it for me. I don't want to be running around in a Tony Hawk's game. Sk8land on the DS brought the game back for me, and with awesome graphics to boot!). Unfortunately, Animal Crossing isn't out in Europe yet, and I don't dare buying the US version since I'm not sure they'll be compatible, so I can't comment on that.

Also, we're still coming back to Donkey Konga 2 regularly. It's just so much fun in multiplayer mode...

Well. That's a pretty Nintendo-centric list allright... I simply don't have time to play games on other consoles, there are so many good ones for the DS right now :-)

There sure are! The DS really made headway this year. I thought its launch lineup was mediocre at best, but this latest surge of games has been brilliant. It is oddly the opposite for the PSP.

I have not had a chance to play Mario & Luigi Partners in Time yet, it is too new for the list. Last year Matt and I did this the first week of January, but Blogcritics wanted this done by this weekend. But I don't see anything major coming out before January. Nothing that would change my mind anyway.

Partners In Time looks good, I don't know about controlling two Marios and two Luigis at once though.

I played Animal Crossing DS. Its nice, but I will not be buying it.

TH Sk8land on the DS might have got an honorable mention if it were not for the fact that there were so many other better games this year. It is also hard to say that a TH game is revolutionary any more, cell shaded or not. It is surely one of the better DS titles though.

Thanks for your list LKM.

LKM:
I don't know about controlling two Marios and two Luigis at once though.

The thing is that you never control more than two people on one screen. If there are four people on one screen, the big characters either carry the baby ones, or two of the four simply stand still. So it's pretty much like on the GBA version.

During the fights, the big ones carry the baby ones, too, except if one of them dies or during special attacks.

The most interesting parts are when you're playing the babies on the top screen, and the big ones on the bottom screen. Solving puzzles involves interaction between the two screens, which ads quite a bit to the puzzles.

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