th Annual PSX Extreme Awards
Aaron: If you could say one thing about the PlayStation 2 in 2005 it would have to be
that there sure were a lot of games released for the system. There weren't as
many blockbusters as what we saw in 2004, but there was a steady stream of solid
games that started in January and didn't end until the last week of December. In
fact, many of this year's better games were released so early in the year that
many people forgot they came out in 2005. Heck, the staff here surprised
themselves with the revelation that Gran Turismo 4 was in fact released this
calendar year. In what is probably the system's last year in the spotlight we
saw some great sequels, but we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of
original game ideas, such as God of War. Mercenaries, and Indigo Prophecy.
Cavin, how do you think the PS2 did this year?
Cavin: The PS2 really surprised me this year. I honestly wasn't
expecting all that much from the system. A few titles caught my interest, but
even some of those (like FFXII) have been continuously pushed back, now falling
into 2006. Filling in the void were a number of other interesting titles,
though, keeping my console busy on a consistent basis. I'd be hard pressed to
think of a time during the year when something good wasn't spinning in my
system. Enough about the PS2 in the US, Bill's going to rap on the system's year
in the UK.
Bill: The PS2 has been a major player in the console market every year
since its launch and this year has been no different. With what seemed like a
relatively slow year over here in the UK, a lot of brilliant games that were
released in the summer, such as Tekken 5 and God Of War and games like Soul
Calibur 3, Resident Evil 4 and FIFA 06 coming out in the latter part of the
year. Having been busy this year, it's only been recently that I've been able to
get down to some proper gaming, and I have a lot to catch up on! Enough chatting
though, let's get to the awards.
PSX Extreme Top 5 PlayStation 2 Games of 2005
God of War (Game Of The Year)
Resident Evil 4 (Silver)
Burnout Revenge (Bronze)
Guitar Hero (4th place)
Indigo Prophecy (5th Place)
Game of the Year
1. God of War (SCEA)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 9.1
Aaron: God of War had lots of buzz surrounding it at E3 2004, but despite
my girlfriend insisting it was awesome after she spent some time with it, I
wanted nothing to do with it. In fact, if it weren't for Sony sending me a copy,
I might never have played the game. Needless to say, it had to be damn good for
it to garner my GOTY vote, and as you can see it was not only my favorite game,
but the consensus pick for the entire staff of Psx Extreme.
God of War was simply awesome in every aspect of its design. The controls were sublime,
the graphics (widescreen and progressive scan support) were outstanding, the
level design terrific, the combat addicting, and the story was enthralling.
Going back in time to piece together the events that led to Kratos' suicide at
the beginning of the game, feeling his emotion, and then taking out your fury on
the Gods themselves was easily the best gaming experience of 2005. Heck, even
the unlockables – a 3D area of deleted character designs, a documentary on the
making of the game, and video of unfinished levels, were top-notch. David Jaffe
has been mum on the chances of a sequel, but there's little doubt that it will
happen at some point. This is if not the best, one of the best games to grace
the PlayStation 2, and if you haven't played it, you're doing yourself a
Frank: Aaron pestered me into finally giving God of War a shot. Everyone
was saying great things about it, and the reviews were all overwhelmingly
positive, so I eventually cracked. Long story short, God of War is the best game
I've played on the PS2. Period. It's a hyper-violent action game set in Ancient
Greece, but the game's real achievement is its sense of scope. My favorite scene
involved the Titan, Cronus (who has a giant temple chained to his back). You
don't fight him. Instead, you have to scale the outside cliffs of the temple in
order to reach the entrance. The entire time, you can look around and see the
vast desert, or look down and see the massive hands, legs, and head of Cronus as
he shambles his way across the desert–with you and the temple on his back. The
game itself crosses various genres. Combat is similar to Devil May Cry, the
temples and puzzles are similar to Legend of Zelda, and there are aspects taken
from games like Shenmue and Metal Gear Solid as well. It's rated M due to blood,
gore, and distracting displays of bare breasts, but don't let that stop you from
playing it–if you're into video games at all.
Cavin: Nothing could contest the full-package experience David Jaffe gave
us earlier this year besides Resident Evil 4. Though a solid series, I can't say
that I was ever a huge fan of his previous work on the Twisted Metal franchise.
Now he's simply one of my favorite creators. God of War is one of those games
that can justify its bloodshed and nudity with a great storyline, epic
atmosphere, smooth graphics, and (dare I say it?) "godly" gameplay.
2. Resident Evil 4 (Capcom)
PSX Extreme Review Score: (Not Yet Reviewed)
Aaron: It was a hit on the GameCube, but Capcom's survival-horror game
was an even bigger hit on the PS2. The new style of play combined with amazing
graphics silenced even the most vocal critics of Capcom's long-running series.
The series had certainly shown signs of slowing down, but Resident Evil 4
revitalized the franchise, and has made Resident Evil 5 one of the most
anticipated games for the PS3.
Bill: Resident Evil 4 came as a big surprise to me as I'd never owned a
game in the series before, however, I gave into the hype surrounding this
installment, and I must say I'm glad I did. The visuals are amazing with very
dark and dingy settings; the audio has a haunting orchestral combined with the
mutterings of the possessed villagers. Overall the gameplay has improved greatly
with the new and improved camera and controls, adding depth to the way you move
around and attack enemies. Besides that, who wouldn't love shooting at crazy,
possessed Europeans? Definitely one of the best survival horror games ever made.
Cavin: Capcom proved with Resident Evil 4 that it could resuscitate a tired and
aging series by completely revamping the gameplay. While most of the
jump-out-at-you scares were gone, the game benefited by shifting its focus
towards intense action, throwing the player into a continuous array of unique
set pieces. A lengthy quest with lots of replay value and addictive extras such
as the Mercenaries mini-game make this worthy of every gamer's library.
3. Burnout Revenge (Criterion/Electronic Arts)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 9.3
Aaron: Burnout 3: Takedown, earned 2nd place in our “game of the year”
feature last year, so it goes without saying that we were looking forward to
Burnout Revenge. The game was addictive at E3, and it didn't disappoint when it
was finally released. From being able to smash into traffic to improved visuals,
the sequel has improved upon its predecessor in almost every way, and it even
got faster. Yes, faster. If you were a fan of Takedown, you should already own
this game. The same goes for anyone that enjoys racing games even a little bit.
Hell, you should have given this game to your mother for Christmas. It’s that
Cavin: The Burnout series has continued to impress me from a technical
standpoint. It's a clean, good-looking racer that runs at 60 fps. Is that so
much to ask for? Apparently from most developers it is, but Criterion has hit a
home run here. It doesn't hurt that the gameplay itself is incredibly satisfying
and the sense of speed is one of the best I've ever seen in a racing game. They
also got rid of Stryker for the benefit of everybody's ears! The only bad things
I could say about Burnout Revenge are that the interface was slightly worse than
in Burnout 3 and someone needs to toss out those obnoxious EA Trax.
4. Guitar Hero (Harmonix/Red Octane)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 9.2
Aaron: If you're familiar
with Harmonix' previous efforts Amplitude and Frequency you've got
a good idea of Guitar Hero's basic gameplay. Where things get all wacky is that
instead of tapping buttons on the Dualshock you're "playing" along with the
music on a controller that's shaped like a small guitar. Not only do you have to
have your fingers on the proper fret (there are five) but you've also got to
strum at the proper time as well. Throw in a working whammy bar and a sensor
that lets you tilt the guitar upwards to rock harder for extra points and you've
got yourself one awesome game. The song list is fantastic – Franz Ferdinand, Red
Hot Chili Peppers, White Zombie, Queen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cream, Hendrix, and
The Ramones are just a few of the great artists with songs in the game. It was
hard to find for awhile, but it looks like more copies of the game have shipped,
so do yourself a favor and pick up Guitar Hero.
Cavin: Harmonix is picking up where Konami left off. Though I love the
latter's Bemani series of music games with all of my heart, there's been little
effort to promote the series in the US besides some lackluster hype for Dance
Dance Revolution. Their Guitar Freaks franchise has been a hit in Japan for a
long time and though it seems to have served as inspiration for Harmonix, it
would be unfair to directly compare the two. Guitar Hero is its own beast, a
fantastic music game which allows even the worst of guitar players to jam along
with their favorite rock songs. Please, Harmonix, keep making games!
5. Indigo Prophecy (Quantic Dream/Atari)
PSX Extreme Review Score: 8.5
Cavin: Indigo Prophecy revolves around the intertwining stories of three
different individuals, all of which the player gets to take control of, in turn.
At times, the stories will be told in tandem, though, allowing for the player to
actively switch between two different characters cooperating together on a
puzzle. The characters feel like real people, not cartoons, and the frequent
forays into their respective private spaces (offices, apartments, etc.) allows
for a unique look into their personal lives. The "choose your own adventure"
style of gameplay keeps you on your toes as one false move, such as doing
something incriminating, faltering during action sequences, committing a deadly
act, or even forgetting to pay your meal tab, can have dire consequences.
It's good to see that Indigo Prophecy tried something new – a multi-perspective
approach to storytelling combined with more interactive and cinematic action
scenes. It's bad to see that none of you are buying it. Yes, Atari has put out
more than its fair share of turds lately, so you can't be blamed for being
skeptical. Rest assured that Indigo Prophecy is a very good game, and it's worth
your hard-earned cash.
Aaron: Sadly I've only gotten to spend time with the game's demo, but I
enjoyed the heck out of it, and this game is definitely on my list of "games to
get to" during the traditionally slow period between January and March.
Hopefully I'm not the only one that has read about stupid criminals, and thought
to themselves "You know, if I was going to rob a bank or steal a car I know I
could get away with it." Well, even the short demo will show you that it's not
as easy as it seems. You get one shot, and if you screw it up, it's game over
and you go back and try it again. Frustrating? Yes. Interesting and engaging?
So there you have it, our top PS2 games of 2005. Of course we're not done; far
from it. Tomorrow we'll have our top PSP games for you, followed by our Editor's
Picks, Reader Awards, and of course, our "Extreme Duds" of 2005. Thanks for
visiting the site in 2005 – we've grown tremendously, and we'll continue to
provide you great coverage of all things Sony in 2006. Any predictions on
PlayStation 3 game of the year?