December 14, 2008

The Forgotten Games of 2008

Andrew Weymes (aka MrWeymes) Says: With 2008 coming to a close, it's easy to forget about all of the excellent games that were released earlier in the year that you have yet to play. This holiday season is packed with games competing for your hard earned cash. Games like Resistance 2, Little Big Planet, Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Dead Space, Valkyria Chronicles, and Prince of Persia are probably some of the latest games that are on gamer’s minds. This holiday rush of games is going to overshadow the majority of excellent games made in 2008, primarily because they are fresh in people’s minds. However, a lot of great games were made in 2008, and shouldn't be overlooked. Many of the games listed below are on sale for a discounted price to compete with recent games.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
Condemned 2 is the sequel to Condemned: Criminal Origins, which was an Xbox 360 exclusive. Condemned 2 is unlike many of the first person games released in 2008, because it's not primarily a shooter. Although you acquire a few guns in the game, most of the combat is done with your fists, or melee weapons such as pipes, and bricks. The combat is rather enjoyable, as well as brutal, the graphics are very nice, the story is well told, and there is a strong horror vibe to the game, so fans of horror should enjoy this game.

Dark Sector (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
It's a bit of a mystery as to why this game didn't receive more attention from gamers. Dark Sector features a very similar control scheme to Gears of War, or Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. You press a button to run to cover, use the analog stick to pop around the corner, etc. The main difference between this game and Gears of War is the glaive. The main character in Dark Sector is a man named Hayden, and his primary weapon is the glaive, which you acquire early in the game. The glaive is like a three-sided boomerang with blades on it. You're able to throw the glaive at your enemies, cutting off any limbs in your path. You're even able to control the glaive itself in slow motion as you guide it towards the specific limb of your enemy that you would like to amputate. While the story in Dark Sector isn't the best told in the world, neither is Gears of War. The action in Dark Sector is very fun, and if you're a gore hound, Dark Sector certainly won't disappoint. This is actually one of the cheapest games on this list. It's being sold for an insulting $19.99 new in many video game stores.

Eternal Sonata (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
Although Eternal Sonata has been out since 2007 on the Xbox 360, it has recently been ported to the Playstation 3, therefore it qualifies for this list. Eternal Sonata is an action-RPG set in the mind of Frederick Chopin. It features an enjoyable combat system, an interesting story for the most part, and an amazing art style. The graphics are technically well done, but the art style is absolutely gorgeous. If you absolutely despise anime as an art style, then you will hate looking at Eternal Sonata, but if you're one of the many anime fans out there, there is no better game than Eternal Sonata when it comes to replicating the anime art style. The combat is relatively easy, and there aren't many side quests to speak of, so it's a rather short game. Despite this, Eternal Sonata is a worthwhile RPG, and can be found at a discount for the Xbox 360. The Playstation 3 version is still at full price, but it comes with many bonus features such as new characters available for your party.

Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)
Lost Odyssey has to be one of the most under rated games of the year. It's a classic turn based, Japanese RPG. The story of Lost Odyssey is a rather interesting one. It starts off great, and lulls a bit at the end, but overall it's very engaging. The characters suffer from some RPG standards such as having a quiet tough guy, a comedian, the big breasted woman, the annoying kids, etc, but if you give the game time, the characters are actually well developed over the course of the journey. As stated above, the combat is strictly turn based. If you don't like taking turns with your enemies in JRPGs, then you won't like Lost Odyssey. However, if turn based combat is your thing, there isn't much to dislike. Character, and enemy design is top notch, and the graphics as a whole are impressive. There are many side quests in this game, so if you're the hardcore type, expect to play upwards of 80 hours. Lost Odyssey is an excellent JRPG, and it's a pity that it didn't get the attention it deserved.

Sega Superstars Tennis (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation 2, Wii)
As the name bluntly points out, Sega Superstars Tennis is all about various Sega characters playing tennis, as well as participating in tennis themed mini games. It features a respectable amount of characters to choose from: ranging from the beloved Sonic to the lesser known Beat from Jet Grind Radio. While the tennis itself is enjoyable for a while, it's the mini games that really make the game. All of the mini games are inspired by classic Sega games. For example, instead of killing zombies with a gun in the House of the Dead mini game, you repel them back to the grave with tennis balls. This may sound lame, but it's not. It's a good time. The Puyo Pop mini game is worth the purchase alone. In addition, there is a lot of multiplayer fun to have with this game.

Silent Hill: Homecoming (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
When Silent Hill fans heard that Team Silent wasn`t developing Silent Hill: Homecoming, expectations for the game dropped dramatically. It was met with generally positive reviews from critics, with most scores ranging from a 6 out of 10, all the way up to a 9 out of 10. The main problem for fans of the series with Silent Hill: Homecoming is that it shares more in common with the theatrical film than the previous games in the series. For those that enjoyed the film, this may not be a problem. Much like the film, the game focuses on a cult. It`s obvious that Silent Hill: Homecoming was based off of the film in many ways, because many of the effects such as transitioning between the foggy Silent Hill, and the hellish Silent Hill look as though they were ripped straight from the film. The combat system is entirely different than it was in previous games. You are able to dodge, and perform finishers. This may be a bit of a turn off for long time fans, but others may find the new combat system to be a breath of fresh air. The graphics are above average, and the enemy and boss design, are particularly impressive. It may not be the best survivor horror ever made, but it’s certainly worth a play through for fans of the genre.

Siren: Blood Curse (Playstation 3)
Siren: Blood Curse, or Siren: New Translation in Asia is a rather dated survival horror game available for download on PSN, or available on Blu Ray disk if you import. Although the game is rather dated by 2008 standards when it comes to the controls, it’s an enjoyable game for survival horror fans. If you still enjoy games like the original Resident Evil games, or Silent Hill games, then you will probably find something to like about Siren: Blood Curse. Besides the sight jacking mechanic, which allows you to view surroundings through the eyes of your enemies, and others, the control scheme is very similar to classic survival horror games mentioned above. The story is interesting, although a little confusing, and despite the archaic controls, the graphics are actually pretty good. Character, and enemy design is among the top in the genre, and if you can get past the controls, there are a good amount of scares to be had in Siren: Blood Curse.

Turok (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
If you`re the type of person that fantasizes about killing dinosaurs in a first person perspective, then you can`t really go wrong with Turok. It would have been nice if Turok received a little more polish from the developers. Some of the texturing is down right sad, and there are some clipping issues, but it`s an above average looking game overall. If you`re not experienced in playing first person shooters, some of the enemies may drive you over the edge. You fight a lot of humans in Turok, and they all seem to possess amazing accuracy. If you`re a more experienced player, you shouldn`t have too much trouble. There are quite a few dinosaurs to slay throughout your journey including raptors, and a t rex. For each dinosaur, you have a different execution animation that you can trigger with your knife. These are all quite gory. Overall, nothing really separates Turok from every other first person shooter out there when you`re combating humans, but the dinosaurs really give the game a unique feel. Turok sells for relatively cheap on both consoles, and is the perfect game for someone who has always dreamt of slaughtering a helpless herbivore as they graze.

These are just a few of the games released in 2008 that are well worth your time. Many of these games are sold for a discounted price. It`s easy to get excited about new games, and to look ahead to the 2009 lineup, but just because a game is more recent than another doesn`t mean it`s better. Many of these games are among the top in their genre, and if you haven`t picked them up yet, now would be a good time.


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