PSX Extreme: The 2008 Essentials
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
12/19/2008 Ben Dutka