This Year’s Top 5 Games That Consumed an Unhealthy Amount of My Time
It’s that time of year again! No, not the time of year when last minute shopping rushes to find rare and valuable Elmo dolls bring grown men to tears (although I’m sure that happens all the time.) That’s right, the Christmas holidays are list time!
I’m not very big on making objective lists of the best things of the year though. It’s all too wishy-washy to go ahead and say that your list has identified the undeniably best whatevers of the year, implying that God himself would agree with your selection. (Oh man! God exclaimed, You guys put Start Wars: The Force Unleashed at number 7! I would have done the exact same thing!)
So instead I’ll just be giving a personal list of the 5 games from this year that threatened to destroy any free time I had, leaving me an unproductive shell of my former self. If you’re looking for a gift for a friend, or think you might have missed out on some great games this year, or you just want to ruin somebody’s life by getting them hopelessly addicted to a video game, then check out This Year’s Top 5 Games That Consumed an Unhealthy Amount of My Time!
5) NHL 09, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
What is it? Well, it’s a hockey game. Two teams skate around on the ice wearing loads of protective gear, trying to hit a piece of vulcanized rubber into a net with a piece of wood, pausing occasionally to punch one another in the face.
And it has all the official NHL teams!
Why is it so great? First of all I am required by law to enjoy this game due to my Canadian citizenship. Second of all, NHL 09 is probably the best sports game ever made. I’m not even really a fan of sports games, but NHL 09′s attention to detail and smooth gameplay are fun to play whether or not you know what a Zamboni is. (PS: I have no idea what a Zamboni is.)
From the fantastic Skill Stick mechanics, which allow you to control every movement of your stick with the analog controller, to the realistic physics and player movements, NHL 09 is a gem.
Why it will destroy your life: Based on the amount of time I’ve spent playing this game online it should almost be number 1, except that I don’t consider time spent screaming at my TV with my roommates to be misspent; no my friends, that is quality bonding time.
Seriously though, losing another game to the Penguins even though you outshot them 15 to 1 will test your nerves. Finding out that the person who just beat you is a 12 year-old kid from Wisconsin will make you furious. Finding out he just sent you a message deriding ur playing abilities and questioning your sexuality will make you want to snap your controller in half over your knee like a pool cue.
4) Final Fantasy Tactics A2, for Nintendo DS
What is it? Like all games with Tactics in their name, FFT is a game entirely composed of combat. Get a quest and travel on the map to an area where you kill a bunch of monsters on an isometric, turn-based playing field. It’s like a real Final Fantasy game, except with all that boring story stuff taken out.
Why is it so great? FFT is as massive, tightly-designed and addictive a strategic RPG you can ever hope to find, with more quests to complete, items to find, characters to level, and classes to strive for than you can shake a stylus at. How do they fit so much game into such a tiny little cartridge, you ask? The answer: magic. Black Magic, I believe.
Why it will destroy your life: Scrolling through a list of 400 different Medium-sized Gilded Shortswords to find the one that will give your fighter the Clammy Strike ability is a surefire way to risk your sanity. Getting to the bottom of the list and realizing that the weapon you’re looking for is actually in the Medium-sized Non-Gilded Shortswords list will definitely put you over the edge. Worst of all: FFT makes you like it.
3) GTA IV, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
What is it? To hear some of the media talk about it, GTA IV is a game in which a key strategy for success is setting hookers on fire, and reaching the next level requires you to commit vehicular homicide on a minimum quota of hobos.
In reality GTA IV is a game about Nico Bellic, an immigrant looking for a break in the land of dreams, but who instead gets mixed up with some shady characters and dangerous situations. The game has developed a great deal from its predecessors, making the actual grand theft of autos less of a focus, and putting storyline and gameplay at the forefront.
Why is it so great? GTA IV has brought a new level of detail to gaming. Liberty City, the game’s setting, is a vibrant environment with tons of believable pedestrians, landmarks and sights. On top of that, the physics in GTA IV are truly fantastic: car wrecks look incredible and exciting, and every object in the game reacts convincingly to your character. Plus, the single player campaign never gets boring, as GTA IV is always throwing you curveballs and surprising you, giving you new things to do throughout the entire game.
But most important is GTA IV’s story. The trials and troubles of Nico and his cousin are told in a truly cinematic style that is captivating and interesting. GTA IV could easily be turned into a movie without any modification to the plot and it would be entertaining. It shows what can really be done with a video game, proving that games aren’t just a shallow form of entertainment.
Why it will destroy your life: Beat the single player campaign? Why not drive around the city trying to drive your car off a jump into a flying helicopter? Done that already? Maybe it’s time to launch your car across the city with a swingset. Bored of that? Time to set your car on fire and drive it off a ramp, diving out of it just before it explodes, or jump out of a helicopter at maximum altitude into somebody’s swimming pool.
GTA IV has that combination of neat physics, amazing environment and tons of toys to play with that just begs to be experimented with for hours upon hours.
Oh, and there’s multiplayer too.
2) Rock Band 2, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
What is it? The sequel to the ground-breaking first Rock Band game, which was the first musical rhythm game to incorportate guitar, bass, vocals and drums, making it into an automatic party catalyst. Rock Band 2 brings some new features, like online challenges and a no-fail mode, but really all we care is all the new songs, right?
Why is it so great? Um, Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer, anyone? No? How about the entire 1976 self-titled classic from Boston, aptly named Boston? I don’t care who you are, drinking a six-pack and belting out the lyrics to More Than a Feeling while your buddies wail on the guitar, bass and drums ain’t nothing but a good time.
Plus, owning Rock Band 2 means your neighbours will consistently get fantastic 3AM lessons in classic rock that they will never forget.
Why it will destroy your life: Let me just put it this way: if there was a column for Rock Band 2 DLC expenditures next to the Living Expenses section on my credit card statement, its total might just dwarf my spending on groceries. My song selection is great, but my food selection is down to Mr. Noodle and peanut butter.
1) Fallout 3, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
What is it? I’ve written about Fallout 3 before, but it’s worth talking about it again. Fallout 3 is the latest instalment of the classic series of post-apocalyptic RPGs, this time pitting you as a vault dweller who ventures out of the safety of his home out into the wastes in search of his father. Adventures ensue, raiders are shot up, and irradiated beasts try to eat you.
Why is it so great? Fallout 3 is the perfect modern incarnation of the classic Fallout games. It keeps everything that we know and love about Fallout, like the violence, gore, humour, irony, compelling atmosphere, interesting characters, and so on, while updating it with fantastic graphics and a massive, fully-explorable world. It even managed to hang on to Fallout’s combat system, now in a feature called V.A.T.S. (Vault Assisted Targeting System,) which means you still have the option of shooting that super mutant’s arm off with your shotgun. (No kicking people in the eyes any more though, unfortunately.)
Why it will destroy your life: I’ve never been to the actual DC area, but if Fallout 3 is any indication I will definitely get lost in the massive subway system trying to find Penn. Avenue East station, only to end up on the other side of the city, where I will be killed by a mole rat. Expect to miss a lot of important meals due to spending time exploring the world of Fallout 3. But be assured, it is super-fun, ghoul-killing exploration.
And the exploration is only going to get more intense with the release of Fallout 3 DLC in the near future.
Well, that’s it for This Year’s Top 5 Games That Consumed an Unhealthy Amount of My Time! Tune in next year, if you have the free time. (if you play these games you won’t.)
- Weekend Sale at Good Old Games: RPG Classics 15% Off
- Spike’s Video Game Awards Debut Game Trailers, Present Awards, Invent Soft-core Console Porn
- Fallout 3 News: Mod Tools Released, Details of First DLC Made Available, Plus More
- Good Old Games Releases Beneath a Steel Sky For Free
- Derek Yu’s Spelunky Nears Completion