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Game Of The Year Picks: Gamasutra/GameSetWatch's Brandon Boyer

Game Of The Year Picks: Gamasutra/GameSetWatch's Brandon Boyer

December 30, 2005 | By Simon Carless

December 30, 2005 | By Simon Carless
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As part of Gamasutra's end of year round-up, we've asked our readers to submit their choices for top three games of 2005, which we're publishing daily alongside picks from the Gamasutra staff.

Today's final picks come from Gamasutra and GameSetWatch contributor Brandon Boyer, whose top game choices for 2005 are as follows:

"Narrowing a short-list of favorites to just three is tough in a year that's seen its share of blockbusters (God Of War and Resident Evil 4), a healthy crop of art-house hits (Psychonauts, Killer 7, and We <3 Katamari). In addition, there are a number of essential imports (many of which we're confirmed to see in 2006, like Chibi-Robo and Electroplankton, and others, like Ouendan, we may or may not), all of which are worthy competitors in their own right.

Too often overlooked in the usual yearly roundup lists, though, and maybe just by nature of its early arrival, was one of the year's first best games: Oddworld Stranger's Wrath. Aggressively gorgeous and every bit as socially progressive and anti-establishment as its predecessors, albeit less blatantly, it took the Oddworld universe into what should have been its most commercially accessible realm with its emphasis on smart first person combat (just don't call it an FPS). It also had what might be the year's finest plot twist -- after lulling you into complacency with a rigorously structured first act, it completely switched gears for its second, and with it brought a host of emotional and motivational quandaries for the player to work through.

Similarly under appreciated, at least on this side of the Atlantic divide, was Introversion's Darwinia, which may now finally get the credit it's due with its arrival via Steam and multiple top nominations in the Indie Games Fest. A perfect blend of retro-futurist gameplay and visual design, it pays homage to all the hits of yesteryear (Cannon Fodder, et al) while still managing to maintain its own unique identity and never devolving into cheap derivative. It's also probably the first game I can remember that's nearly as fun simply to quit and restart to see all of the team's throwbacks to 8-bit intros, cracktros, and the Game of Life (Conway's, not Hasbro's).

And mirroring the sentiments of several others, Harmonix's Guitar Hero has to be mentioned as perhaps the most invigorating thing to happen to music/rhythm gaming since Parappa first chop-kicked it all off. It's the most compulsively addictive game I've played all year, where hardly a day passes that I don't pause for a Spanish Castle Magic or Even Rats fix. I haven't met a person yet who's laid hands on it and not come away firmly under its spell.

And, if I can cheat the rules just a bit, I've got to give one final shout-out to Earth Defense Force 2 for PlayStation 2, easily the finest of D3's Japanese budget Simple Series games, which, like Guitar Hero, has managed to charm everyone that's been exposed to it. Like its header would suggest, it's a Simple premise -- choose two weapons, choose your level, and lock and load against an unimaginable number of giant insect, UFO and monster B-movie hordes, but beyond the kitschiness is truly visceral impact that many of the year's big budget shooters failed to elicit. Its first volume saw limited release in Europe, but there's no word yet of localization of the second, so if you've got the means to import, take the $20 risk -- I guarantee you won't be disappointed."

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