5th Annual PSX Extreme Awards

What a year 2004 was, especially for those of us that consider the PlayStation 2 our console of choice. So many awesome games came out this year–Metal Gear Solid 3, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Burnout 3: Takedown (to name a few). There was hardly time to play them all, let alone the money available to buy or rent everything worthwhile that the PS2 had to offer in '04.

Looking ahead, 2005 will introduce a new member to the Sony family, the much-anticipated PSP handheld. All of the hype led us to believe that this pocket marvel would combine the power of the PS2 with multimedia capabilities, wireless link play, and portable convenience. The system was just recently released in Japan (North America must wait until March), and from what we've heard and seen, the unit lives up to the hype and then some.

For right now though, we at PSX Extreme are here to present you, our loyal and appreciated readers, with our 5th Annual PSX Extreme Awards. Longtime readers will notice that we've done things differently this year. We've done away with genre categories and cut away the fat to present you with a concise and powerful list of the Top 5 games available for the PlayStation 2, as decided by overall review scores on PSX Extreme, followed by descriptive summaries of each of the winners. Finally, we'll wrap things up
on Wednesday with our editors' individual picks for their own personal "Extreme" games of 2004–which may be games that barely missed the list or games that made a big impression despite not necessarily achieving a top review score.

And now, without further ado, the 5th Annual PSX Extreme Awards is proud to present our list of the Top 5 games published for the PlayStation 2 console in 2004.

PSX Extreme Top 5 PlayStation 2 Games of 2004

1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (Konami, Rated M)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 9.9 (Game Of The Year)

Hideo and co. have really elevated the series to all new heights by implementing gameplay mechanics not found in any other modern-day action/adventure title. Hunger and injuries have been incorporated into the mix, requiring players to hunt down food and medical supplies for Snake while going through the motions required to save the world. The variety of food is impressive–different meats can poison Snake or restore his strength completely, and if you come back to the game after a few days, you'll notice spoiled food in your inventory. The new camouflage system really takes sneaking to the next level, giving players the option to wear different outfits that help Snake blend into various terrains. Although there are so many new things to get used to, MGS3 still retains everything that made earlier MGS games so appealing. That includes sneaking around, snapping necks, watching Hollywood-style cinematic intermissions, and using more than 40 different guns and tools.

Aaron's Two Cents: Hot damn I hate me some codec cut-scenes. All I
know is that I've "played" for about 45 minutes and 20 of it has been codec
chatter. I did sneak past some crocs, and drown in quicksand, so that's fun.
Honestly, I have no idea if the game's any good, but I wanted to chime in.

2. Burnout 3: Takedown (EA Games, Rated T)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 9.4

Burnout 3 trumps its predecessor in every aspect, ten-fold. Everything from the cars, to the trees, to the distant backgrounds, to the ground looks phenomenal, and what about those crashes? They're downright brutal. You'll cringe when you see your car smashed up from a half-dozen different replay angles. "Takedown" is the game's subtitle, and it's also a play feature. You actually score points and earn street cred for causing opponents to wipe out and crash. How cool! What's great about Burnout 3 is the amount of variety it offers. You have your standard races, your basic tournament events, the always-brilliant crash event, the time-attack event, and the road rage competition, which is new to this latest game and has players try to accumulate as many takedowns as possible in the allotted time. When you factor in the 67 total cars and the more than two-dozen different popular music clips ( Franz Ferdinand, woo! ), it's easy to conclude that this is the best racing game of all time.

Aaron's Two Cents: This game was like crack. Digital crack. I can't
tell you how many times I said "Just one more crash!" as I tried to nab the high
score and avoid the pesky heartbreaker that cut my score in half. The races were
so fast, and so intense, I don't think I blinked more than once a lap. It's the
best arcade racer I've ever played.

3. Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (Namco, Rated T)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 9.3

Ace Combat 5 really got Arnold's juices flowing. Namco's latest air combat game combines hectic dog-fighting with a rich story. Each of the game's 30 missions surrounds you with enemy planes and targets, and lets you handle them with machine-guns and missiles that are as sexy as they are devastating. There's no better feeling than taking down three or four targets in a row with a single missile volley. How many games allow you to shoot down a parachuting tank? Ace Combat 5 makes you think that you're really flying the unfriendly skies, and the game's clean graphics, complex lighting, and highly-detailed planes only help hammer that feeling home.

Aaron's Two Cents: "There's no better feeling than taking down
three or four targets in a row with a single missile volley." Yeah, I'm going to
have to beg to differ on that one. I can think of several better feelings, none
of which I am allowed to put in this feature. Bah!

4. Madden NFL 2005 (EA Sports, Rated E)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 8.9

Madden's annual mid-August release is looked upon as a holiday by nearly all
sports gamers. Madden 2005 featured a bevy of hot routes and audibles for the
defense as well as the offense this year. Player progression was improved
immensely, making it now possible for a rookie to become a star during the
course of a season. The addition of Tony Bruno's commentary was a bust, but at
least it was a stab at something new. Most people's expectations for Madden 2006
have been lowered after EA gained a monopoly on the NFL license, and there are
even rumors that Madden himself will be canned from the series. It will be
interesting to see what happens next August.

Aaron's Two Cents: In case you're wondering… No, I won't be
downloading any roster updates this year. The Bears were bad enough to begin
with, and I just can't bring myself to download a team where Jeff George is my
2nd best quarterback. That's pretty much my idea of hell.

5. Def Jam: Fight For NY (EA Games, Rated M)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 8.8

For every single person that thinks putting together a wrestling game full of rappers and hip-hop MC's is a good idea, there's someone else out there that thinks it's a bad idea. Somehow, EA Games found a way to make the concept work. Players can pick from 74 different musicians, fight it out in 24 different venues, and pick from a half-dozen different match types, including one-on-one, tag team, free for all, cage, and "audience votes." It's also sweet how players can create their own character in the story mode and then turn around and use their winnings to upgrade the custom fighter's abilities and buy them new clothes and jewelry. Above all, the game is a blast to play because it has all of the attacks, takedowns, reversals, and finishers that a great wrestling game ought to have. Most people will buy Def Jam: Fight For NY because of its cast of characters, and that's fine, because they'll end up getting a nicely designed wrestling game in the process.

Aaron's Two Cents: My girlfriend whipped my ass in this game at E3 in
front of the game's producer. Talk about walking out of the booth with your tail
between your legs…

Game Over. Continue?

That's it for the 5th Annual PSX Extreme Awards. We'll see you next year, when our list will feature the best that the PS2 and the PSP have to offer. Until then, we hope you enjoy all of the great games that come your way during the next 365 days.