Best of the Rest: James' Picks of 2008

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James Ransom-Wiley
January 1, 2009 3:00 PM
Best of the Rest: James' Picks of 2008

Bionic Commando Rearmed (PS3)
I was initially turned off by the art direction (3D models in 2D), but, fueled by nostalgia, this game grew on me incredibly fast. It's a bit of a blind leap, but I'm willing to call this my favorite remake of all time -- right now (phew, I saved myself there). GRIN stayed true to the source material, but also expanded Rearmed, making it the better game; most notably, by adding improved weaponry and terrific boss battles. It's a relief to not have to side with the cynic in me. See, remakes can be profitable and remarkable.

Oh, and one more thing, I vote for the PlayStation 3 version. The superior D-pad tips the scale for me.

Boom Blox
This game represents the best, most purely "Wii" game there is: It wouldn't work nearly as well on other consoles (and wouldn't benefit from their advantages); it's appealing to any and all types of gamers; and it's not janky -- you know, the controls actually work.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved²
When you think Xbox Live Arcade, you think Geometry Wars. A sequel seemed destined, and redundant. But lo and behold: One classic game spun into six.

Burnout Paradise (X360)
Criterion simply spoiled us with DLC and presented a compelling model for keeping a game relevant throughout the calendar year -- and into the next. Free content or not, this is a new vision realized.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl
I invested a considerable number of hours in this one this past spring and think that warrants an appearance on my list. Still, Brawl is a glaring example of how unfriendly and unloved Wii's online service is, both in its multiplayer and content sharing abilities -- and in its dismal showcase of premium DLC. Brawl is the polar opposite of Paradise. (That's right, this here has turned into another backhanded compliment leveled at Wii.)

ESPN Cameraman
If I had to pick one iPhone game (and, well, I did) it would be Cameraman. Not exactly the "future of gameplay" -- but iPhone has become my go-to portable gaming device out of its sheer all-purpose convenience. (And it looks less childish in public, too!)

Honorable Mention
Pure (X360); N+ (XBLA); PixelJunk Monsters; Professor Layton; Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword; Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)

Disappointments Or Games I Expected More From
  • GTA IV (X360): There are aspects to be heralded, for sure. But I found it too reliant on rehashed and unimproved concepts and designs to hold my interest for long.
  • LittleBigPlanet: The running joke around HQ is, "If only it had been on Xbox Live."
  • Mario Kart Wii: Nintendo ruined the fundamental gameplay of this beloved franchise. But I took the bait -- hook, line and sinker.
  • Ninja Gaiden 2: Has there ever been a lower profile or more painfully dull sequel to a tremendous game? Well, there was Devil May Cry 2 ...
  • Resistance 2: I gave this series another shot -- probably on hype alone. But it again proved itself to be a middling shooter dressed in some flashy "Emperor's Clothes."
  • Too Human: Really, James? Yeah, I was naive enough to give Dyack and Silicon Knights the benefit of the doubt and waited and learned ... the hard way.

New Year's Resolution
I'll give Fable 2 another go -- and maybe, just for Ludwig, Far Cry 2, too.
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