We will bring you our Game of the Year Awards feature in a few weeks time, but for now, we'd like to provide you with a list of our favorite titles of 2008. We're calling them the "Essentials" for all true gamers out there; those who absolutely must play the best of the best; those who refuse to be left behind. So – in no particular order – the 2008 Essentials are as follows:

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

As if we'd lead with anything else. Konami and Kojima delivered on most every conceivable level, and gamers everywhere owe it to themselves to experience this engrossing and moving adventure. Even if you were never a fan of the franchise before; even if stealth-based games drive you up the wall, you're not allowed to use that as an excuse. First of all, MGS4 is actually less about stealth than any previous title in the series, and secondly, the storyline and cast is unparalleled in the industry today. Thirdly and lastly, if you've ever wanted to become emotionally involved in a plot – and due to the fact that strict RPGs appear to be dying out – MGS4 needs to lead your list.

As a final note, after I finished interviewing Dave Jaffe yesterday (feature to be posted soon), I asked him what his Game of the Year was, and he said he was torn between MGS4 and Gears of War 2 . But if someone "put a gun to his head" and made him pick, he'd go with MGS4. He then provided a comment which may be perfect: "Gears 2 is the better game, but MGS4 is the better experience ."

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Although the Final Fantasy VII sequel for the PS3 never materialized, PSP owners got the next best thing with Crisis Core . This action/RPG is easily one of the handheld's best titles currently available, and if you're a fan of the long-running series, you can't pass it up. About as riveting and absorbing as a portable title can be, and loaded with plenty of amazing visuals and flashy combat, Crisis Core remains one of the best accomplishments of the year. Square-Enix may be in the doghouse for many PS3 owners, but the unbelievable quality of this PSP masterpiece cannot be denied.

LittleBigPlanet

Innovative, charming and endlessly addictive for all micromanagement and content creation fans, LittleBigPlanet is a true-blue phenomenon. It's all about the community and giving the player as much freedom as possible to flex their creative muscle, and although it hasn't rocked the sales charts, the game's inherent appeal isn't subject to debate. Everyone should take the chance and grab hold of SackBoy to experience the world of LBP, and if you get sucked in, Sony will continue to fuel the fire by issuing continual updates (just check the Store; there's already plenty there). Great for all ages and fully capable of sucking up a lot of time, this gem is most certainly worth the price of admission.

Fallout 3

Easily the best RPG of the year, Bethesda's Fallout 3 is often described as "a futuristic Oblivion ," and considering the latter was one of the best games of the generation, there's nothing wrong with that description. The huge, atmospheric world and wonderfully solid gameplay mechanic lets the player immerse himself into a universe loaded with seemingly infinite possibilities. Something like LBP is worth every penny due to its originality and innovation, but Fallout 3 will sate your desire with sheer length and potential. Although 2008 was a pretty thin year for the genre, this highly accomplished title likely would've topped most anything else, anyway. A must!

God of War: Chains of Olympus

The PSP enjoyed its best year ever in 2008, and although the PSP-3000 helped spur sales, software is always most important. And along with Crisis Core , Chains of Olympus represented the second part of an amazing PSP software duo that coerced many a consumer into snagging the sleek portable. At this point, there's little to no chance that any game with "God of War" in the title will be a disappointment; there's a much better chance it'll be one of the best titles in history. This one is no exception to that rule, even though many fans of the PS2 masterpieces didn't initially believe a handheld version could be great…oh, but it was. Freakin' great .

Grand Theft Auto IV

Guaranteed to be the primary opposition to MGS4 for Game of the Year amongst most all gaming publications, GTAIV effectively pushed the critically acclaimed franchise into the new generation. It used more realism and authenticity, instituted a new – and perhaps surprisingly well done – action and combat mechanic, and provided us with a more intricate and dynamic open-ended world than ever before. Like it or love it, there's no denying Grand Theft Auto IV 's quality; even the story proved to be a big plus, and at no point did we get bored exploring the intoxicating landscape of Liberty City. A top-notch production and easily one of our favorites, GTAIV delivers the fun-filled goods in spades.

Dead Space

Many gamers out there instantly forgave EA once they tried Dead Space , and that's because the game is so damn good. Many will argue over whether it's a survival/horror title or straight-up action, but regardless of the genre, this adventure is freaky, creepy, in-your-face, and oh-so-brutal. This is one of the few titles in the past few years that has a legitimate chance at scaring the ever-loving sh** out of you, and that alone is one hell of an achievement. But the rest of this production – including everything from control to presentation to design – is stunning as well. Don't miss it, or we'll come and find you with our maxed-out Ripper…

Devil May Cry 4

Although it didn't make it into the upper echelon of 2008 titles in terms of overall score, it's still one of our absolute favorites. There's nothing more entertaining than running about with one of the biggest bad-asses in history, and we even had a blast with Nero. It's the most stylish and satisfying slash-'em-up of the generation in our opinion, and we most definitely got our money's worth. Thankfully easier than the over-the-top DMC3 (the original, not the re-released Greatest Hits edition), we smiled the whole way through and wanted more when it was over. DMC rocks the house, and no other action title is more attitude-laden!

Resistance 2

Although LBP gets much of the attention, in no way are you allowed to bypass this excellent sequel. Don't give in to the Internet BS that says it's "no different than the original" (giant pack of filthy lies), and play the hell out of this sucker. Bigger and grander in most every way, from the more robust single-player campaign to the greatly enhanced online capabilities, R2 is exactly what we wanted. This is hands-down one of the year's best, and it proves two things: 1. Insomniac is one hell of a developer, and 2. despite the insanely stiff competition in the world of FPSs, R2 succeeds and excels. Fun from start to finish, it's a superb shooter that emphasizes fluidity and non-stop action. Awesome stuff.

Prince of Persia

Burnout Paradise

The best racer of the year was a labor of love for Criterion Games, and it's still a labor of love. This one might've been left off our Essentials list if it weren't for the team's constant devotion to its fans; they've released a horde of new content and updates throughout the year, and then they made it available for only $29.99 on the PSN. Even more stuff is on the way early next year, and at this rate, they may never stop! As if anyone is going to complain. The speed will make your eyes bleed and Paradise City is the perfect setting for such an involving arcade-style racer. You could spend a great deal of time with this invigorating title, and if Criterion keeps it up, you'll never have to put it away.

Mirror's Edge

In all honesty, this may be the lowest on the ladder of the current list, but we include it because it's a unique experience that really grabbed our attention. Many will argue against its length and trial-and-error gameplay and while both are legitimate complaints, we have to say that if you're a gamer first and foremost, you have to at least try it. There's a demo on the Store if you don't want to risk the cash just yet, but bear in mind that all you'll really play is a tutorial and a very simple, straightforward mission. The full game is indeed much better, and even though it has its fair share of flaws, we enjoyed this game immensely. It managed to draw us in and keep us there.

Wipeout HD and echochrome

The two best PSN titles of the year deserve a mention: one will melt your eyes and make your hands sweat while the other might give you a headache…but a good, satisfying, "hey, I did it!" headache. Wipeout HD is one of the smoothest, addictive, and most challenging racing titles we've ever played, and echochrome 's ingenious originality is just downright awesome. "Perception is truth." We love that! You can pick 'em both up right now for only $30, which is half the price of one new game down at GameStop. For such fantastic productions like these, that's a deal and a half, so don't waste another second.

Okay, that's it. Obviously, you can't satisfy everyone with lists like these, and we realize there are plenty of great games that released this year. We didn't include Guitar Hero: World Tour and Rock Band 2 , for example, but that's only because…well, they get enough exposure, to be honest, and we're sick of seeing them everywhere. Great games, no doubt…we're just saying. Anyway, take this list for what it is; we can guarantee you won't go wrong with any of the featured titles.

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OhYessss
OhYessss
11 years ago

Where is Unreal Tournament 3?!! Lol.

Fane1024
Fane1024
11 years ago

In 2007.

OhYessss
OhYessss
11 years ago

Touché


Last edited by OhYessss on 12/19/2008 4:18:11 PM

asianinvasian
asianinvasian
11 years ago

weres CoD World at war

Random_Steve
Random_Steve
11 years ago

What about PoP?

Fane1024
Fane1024
11 years ago

Look at page two.

Random_Steve
Random_Steve
11 years ago

O rite lol

Aftab
Aftab
11 years ago

I had my doubts about that game, thinking, that it was just a salvaging of Assassin's Creed's development costs, and just a rehashing of what we've seen before. And to extent this was right. It did reuse the AC engine. And whether deliberately or not, it did make a nod of approval to just about every CLASSIC in modern gaming that I've played…Mechner's POP, Mario, Zelda, Sonic, POP:SOT, GOW, DMC, Ico, Shadow of The Collusus, Portal…perhaps the list goes on, all in a wonderfully seamless, and nearly bug-free way. Yes, the game starts off quiet, almost inert, and doesn't show us anything particularly new. But once you get in the game, and witness the brilliance and scale of the level design, the artistry, the responsiveness of controls, the change of pace offered through platforming and battle, the touch and humor of the script and voice-acting talent, the poignancy of the tale told; you'll see for yourself that even if it isn't greater than the sum total of it's parts, what a finely woven product it is! People complain about that the game was too easy, or that there was too much hand-holding, or that there wasn't much impressive about it. These complaints, like my initially unimpressed one, are from people who simply didn't see the game through.


Last edited by Aftab on 12/19/2008 6:15:23 PM

Fane1024
Fane1024
11 years ago

Metal Gear Essentials didn't make the list?

pavlovic
pavlovic
11 years ago

Great list. I've played 70% of them and all were very satisfying experiences.

www
www
11 years ago

With me i woulda omitted mirror's edge n dead space(the resident evil 4 wannabe does not really do great,the concept for those aliens suck! i much rather prefer old hippies with a chainsaw).Dat dismemberment thing……..i don't know,not my style.

Mirror's edge is great but the biggest blunder is the 1st person perspective,they coulda taken a page from PoP or Uncharted's book,doing leaps n stuff in 3rd person is the best the eyes can see NOT 1st.

LightShow
LightShow
11 years ago

I liked mirrors edge, it was a lotta fun.

I have a rather large tv, however (that i sit 2 feet away from ^_^), so that may play in to immersion.

I enjoyed the first person perspective, and I can't jump around and do all that free running junk, so it was cool ^_^

Geobaldi
Geobaldi
11 years ago

They were re-releases. Great ones but they don't qualify. I'd like to add Hot Shots: Out of Bounds to this list. I've had more fun with that game than any other this year along with Fallout.

AluShady
AluShady
11 years ago

Well I personally LOVED Fallout 3 and will *most* likely hold it as the best RPG of the year and possibly the best game of the year for me.

However, with that said, I'm saddened to not see Valkyria Chronicles on that list. I just picked the game up and it's taking everything I have to unhook me from my brand new HDTV and PS3 to come and comment on here.

Nonetheless it's a really great list and I've had the privilege of playing many of those titles.

Fatcat3788
Fatcat3788
11 years ago

I just beat Valkyria Chronicles and it is now one of my favorite RPG's. Anyone interested in story driven games should look it up. And Ben… I am sure that if you played this game you would agree and put it on your list. You gotta play it!


Last edited by Fatcat3788 on 12/19/2008 11:05:59 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

It just seems to strategy-oriented for me. I only like strat/RPGs like FFT…and this doesn't look like FFT.

Aftab
Aftab
11 years ago

VC generally seems to be categorised as "RTS". What does that mean? "Real-time strategy", possibly?

AluShady
AluShady
11 years ago

Well I personally LOVED Fallout 3 and will *most* likely hold it as the best RPG of the year and possibly the best game of the year for me.

However, with that said, I'm saddened to not see Valkyria Chronicles on that list. I just picked the game up and it's taking everything I have to unhook me from my brand new HDTV and PS3 to come and comment on here.

Nonetheless it's a really great list and I've had the privilege of playing many of those titles.

Jonnyrage
Jonnyrage
11 years ago

Eeeyyyyy… where's Valkyria Chronicles =(

FLYING_APE
FLYING_APE
11 years ago

In my PS3 😀

FLYING_APE
FLYING_APE
11 years ago

HA resistance 2 was so over rated. Its trial and error gameplay is frustrating and the story was crap. Being a fan of the first they basically destroyed everything i loved like carrying ALL THOSE WEAPONS AT ONCE! oh dear insonmiac your all #@@%^$#@!!¿

Fallout 3 port was bad and sony better sort there sh** out 2009…. oh yeah MGS4 was awesome


Last edited by FLYING_APE on 12/19/2008 10:16:42 PM

LightShow
LightShow
11 years ago

Man, my Mom keeps recommending LBP to all her girlfriends. She seriously has 5 women going out and buying PS3s "for their families" along with a copy of LBP!

XD hows that for reaching new demographics?

ec0li
ec0li
11 years ago

That's funny and at the same time it's great. LBP is just that type of game that screams "try me because you'll love me".

ec0li
ec0li
11 years ago

What about Valkyria Chronicles…?

Zaben
Zaben
11 years ago

What is so great about Valkyria Chronicles?? Based on the demo I played, here are my thoughts. The anime-graphics aren't great, the gameplay is slow and repetitive, and they seem to have thrown realism completely out of the picture.
As for the list, I agree except for GTA4. Major disappointment for me.

ec0li
ec0li
11 years ago

I don't really know if it's really great but I did like the demo. It has received great reviews overall. I want to get it after the holidays.

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

Have more than half of those, and I completely agree, all of them are must haves!

Including wipeout, great racing game.

By the way what's up with Motorstorm2? :O

Aftab
Aftab
11 years ago

I'm a nut about WipeOut. I specifically got a an '07 60gigger with full b/c in anticipation for WOHD as well as playing the previous classics of the long-running franchise. And I got a PSP-2000 before that to play the first two WO's to come out for the lil wonder. But, yeah, I wonder what's up with MotorStorm 2? I was actually thinking about trading-in for it my copies of POP and DeadSpace, both of which I've complete and, mind you, were absolutely brilliant. But apparently, it has been less than critically acclaimed, which was unexpected considering what a hit the first one was, especially being a first-party exclusive which tend to get a special treatment and polish that others don't.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Good to hear, I'm getting Fallout 3 for xmas.

Aftab
Aftab
11 years ago

I couldn't bring myself to get the game. I know the reviews have been stellar across the board, but there's something about the Bethseda's art style, as seen in Oblivion, that just annoys the hell out of me. I was checking out this clip where this dude was swatting a gigantic fly without a baseball bat, while an innocent bystandard sitting next to the fly was apathetically complaining, "Ah, stop it, ouch…". In another, he was sniping a dog with the VAT system. He blew it's poor, g*damned brains away from 100 yards out. In yet, another one, he was engaged in a riveting boxing match with an f'ing crab.

RustEDalex
RustEDalex
11 years ago

No Bioshock I say it should be right next to Dead space

Zorigo
Zorigo
11 years ago

i majorly agree with that list. nice work guys.

Banky A
Banky A
11 years ago

I agree with the PS3 exclusive sides of the list haha xD

But I still don't get how Devil May Cry 3 was so hard for people. I thought it was pretty borderline (on Normal it was kind of easy, but Hard was sketchy). And I've never played a DMC untill that game (which I LOVED)

:S 😛

Aftab
Aftab
11 years ago

I was also, suprised about the complaints, but getting to play as Vergil in the rerelease was totally worth it!

Banky A
Banky A
11 years ago

I wish I could've tried out Vergil 🙁

mastiffchild
mastiffchild
11 years ago

Decent lest but I still , personally, feel Fallout3 was the biggest let down of the year(come on we ALL knew Haze was dead before release). There was soo much build up , so much hype and so much potential-esp since fallout2 is one of my favourite games and I loved Oblivion.
So when my pre-order arrived it was straight in th PS3 despite strong competition but within an hour or two the magic had vanished. Maybe I built it up into something it couldn't ever be but I'm not so sure.
It isn't a bad RPG-just not as great as it's made out(and nowhere near Oblivion for me), had two borked combat ryrtems(FPShooting was unforgivable and VATS little better)and was way too glitchy for a modern release.
As I say, maybe I just hoped for this to continue my fave franchise AND evolve it into a hybrid RPG/shooter while keping the same feel as the first two games-for me it fails by a big margin on these fronts. Main story arc was a bit sloppy too.
Again, I'm not slating the game-it's good but just not GOTY material with all the missed opportunities. No excuse for the way it looked either, some textures were awful and I think Bethesda slipped up on this one which could have really been great.

0_o
0_o
11 years ago

great list but where is cod4?!? it was game of the year!