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Best of the Rest: Justin's Picks of 2007

Justin McElroy

Dead Head Fred (PSP)

Though he may have been on a small screen, Dead Head Fred (voiced by Scrubs' John C. McGinley), had more character than 90 percent of the leads in this year's crop of console games. If you haven't played it, do yourself a favor and track it down. It's excellent stuff.

Puzzle Quest (DS)

For a solid two-month period this summer, I could not put Puzzle Quest down when I went to go to the bathroom. It was, if you will, the king of the throne. I actually had to kick my addiction to it piecemeal, like I was killing a Zelda boss. First, I had to stop accumulating powers, then I grew tired of the gem-matching mechanic and (finally) was able to bring myself to defeat the final boss.

In mid-December, I started playing the XBLA version. So, to continue the analogy, I guess the boss killed me.

Crackdown (Xbox 360)

I'm actually kind of surprised this didn't make the big list, but it's here on my favorites now and that's just going to have to suffice. From its pseudo-superhero lead to the big open world, this is the sort of game that seems specifically crafted to, in the words of Jason Statham, gouge my fancy from its shell, and tickle it ad nauseam. D-lightful.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The Shivering Isles (Xbox 360)

I'm going to need you to deal with something: TES IV:O:TSI was, hands down, the best RPG released last year. "What? What did he say?" I'll repeat it. Thanks to its beautiful graphics, engrossing story and overall radness, The Shivering Isles was the best RPG of 2007. I feel much better now with that off of my chest.

Desktop Tower Defense (PC)

This is the game that I play when I want to show real video games that they're not the boss of me. I actually had to delete my bookmark for it, because I was far too prone to just sort of idly clicking on it and jettisoning four hours of my day into blackest space.


Mass Effect (Xbox 360) -- I think Mass Effect gets this dubious honor from me because it was full of so many little disappointments. It wasn't just as if I had anticipated it before its release and the final product let me down. The game itself was a cycle of promising fun was just around the corner and delivering tedium. It seemed that every time it got some momentum, on of the many, many flaws in the game was there to drag it down.

Here's a good example of my Mass Effect stance, one that I'll relate to anyone who'll listen. You can sprint in Mass Effect as long as you're in combat. Yes, the same combat conducted entirely through ranged weapons. I don't know why you'd want to sprint up to someone to shoot them, but that option's there. On the other hand, if you're not in combat and you need to, I don't know, run from one corner of the city to the other, then you're going to stroll like a fancy gentleman, no sprinting allowed. And don't even get me started on the elevators.

The big disappointment is that Mass Effect was a great game that should have been a classic. It's a fine line, but when a game has this much promise, it's an infuriating one.

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