Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Best Games of 2005

I know quite a few folks find top 10 lists tiresome, but I actually kind of enjoy them, provided no one takes them too seriously and a healthy amount of debate/skepticism is encouraged. Working on my "look back" article for the paper the other week, I focused on my favorite games of the year and neglected to talk about stuff like the "hot coffee" scandal. In retrospect, probably not the best tack, but one that will hopefully generate a bit more feedback.

Hope everyone had a merry merry.

2005 saw a number of arriv­als and big announcements.

There was the Xbox 360, which came flying out of the doors with a barrage of hype but few notable games.

We also saw the appearance of Sony’s PlayStation Porta­ble, an impressive machine that so far works better as a movie player than as a gaming device.

It also was the year that saw the Nintendo DS hit its stride as a surprising number of strong titles came out for the system after a rather anemic launch.

The year was also pretty good for the games them­selves. A wide number of games took established genres and tweaked them enough for them to leap past their peers.

Whether in terms of art de­sign, tight storytelling or gen­erally superb gameplay, the best games of this year took various cliches and made them feel like something new.

Here then are my picks for the best video games of 2005.

10. "Alien Hominid"
This side-scrolling shooter isn’t just a clever homage to the days of "Metal Slug" and "Contra"; it’s also a delightful­ly bizarre game with a goofy visual flair all its own. Not to mention a reminder of the need for more small, indepen­dent games on the big con­soles.

9. "Burnout Revenge"
Developer Criterion im­proves an already excellent franchise by adding lots of hidden shortcuts and the abil­ity to knock traffic off the road. The end result is the best game in the series yet. Driving badly has never been such fun.

8. "Psychonauts"
This quirky, funny platform game doesn’t reinvent the wheel so much as show you how wheels should really be made. The "milkman" stage alone demands the game’s in­clusion on this list.

7. "Kirby Canvas Curse"
The first game that really made use of the Nintendo DS’ touch screen remains one of the best games for the hand­held system yet.

6. "Lumines/ Meteos"
I know, I know. I’m cheat­ing here, but it’s hard for me to separate these two puzzle games in my head, not only because they’re similar in structure but also because they spring from the mind of acclaimed game designer Tet­suya Mizuguchi. Either one will keep you up late at night, desperate for "one more round."

5. "Forza"
This is the new standard against which all racing games shall nowbe judged. At least by me.

4. "Killer 7"
Creepy, surreal and thor­oughly original, "Killer 7" no doubt frustrated many with its stripped-down gameplay. It’s a pretty safe bet to say you’ve never played anything like this before, however, and in these days of cookie-cutter design, that’s a good thing.

3. "Resident Evil 4"
An obvious choice, no doubt, as just about everyone and their cousin loved this game. For me, this was the turning point that made me appreciate a series I had loathed.

2. "God of War"
Yes, it’s violent and gory and all those other things that upset Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s delicate sensibilities. More than any other game this year, however, "God of War" left a goofy smile on my face. In terms of design, game­ play and sheer sense of style, "God" has few peers.

1. "Shadow of the Colossus"
It’s hard for me to think of a more haunting, sublime expe­rience this year with any art form, be it movies or books, than I’ve had with "Shadow." When your friends argue that there is no way that video games could ever be consid­ered high art, pop this title in and watch them quickly change their minds.

Also worthy of merit
"Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath," "Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory," "Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee," "Jade Empire," "Puzzle Pirates," "WarioWare: Twisted," "Ninten­dogs," "We Love Katamari,"
"Indigo prophecy," "The War­riors," "Dragon Quest VIII," "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attor­ney" and "Trauma Center: Under the Knife."

Console of the year
Nintendo DS. Sorry PlayStation Portable and Xbox 360, but Nintendo’s little dual-screen console beat you with its impressive lineup of inven­tive and original software.

Worst game of the year
"187 Ride or Die." Offensive "gangsta" stereotypes get slapped on what is essentially an "urban" version of "Mario Kart." Pathetic. Runners-up: "The Getaway: Black Mon­day" and "Advent Rising."

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2005


At 11:53 PM, Blogger SDK said...

Some odd choices, but I do love RE4.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Odd in what way?

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Joshua Rodman said...

You chose eleven games (HAR HAR hahhah..hah... heh..... .... )

At 4:50 PM, Blogger MegoSteve said...

What, no Guitar Hero? I guess you might think it's too gimmicky, but that game was my favorite of 2005. I agree with most if not all of your choices, though.

Oddly enough, two of your top ten are on $9.98 clearance at TRU. I saw both Alien Hominid and Killer 7 there, but I have such a stack of games to get through here already that I couldn't justify the spending.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Guitar Hero is on my list of "Games I probably would have adored if I had gotten the chance to play them." I'm thinking of doing a "games I missed" story in February. If I do, I'll likely include GH then. I imagine I'll probably love it, as I've enjoyed every game from Harmonix so far.

At 12:29 AM, Blogger MegoSteve said...

If you haven't got Guitar Hero yet, Chris, drop me an email at and I'd be happy to show it to you. (I'm down in York.)


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home