As part of Gamasutra's end of year round-up, we asked our readers to submit their choices for top three games of 2005, which we published in Gamasutra's news section alongside picks from our staff. While we published a number of the responses over the winter holidays, we now present the responses in their entirety.
God of War
"In order of release date, my top three games of the year are WipeOut Pure, God of War, and Project Gotham Racing 3. I've played these games the most (excluding Metroid: Zero Mission, which wasn't released this year) in 2005, and each of them had the effect of bending time and obligations in very strange ways (meaning I had a lot of fun).
WipeOut Pure is pure magic, a beautiful and beautifully balanced game that reminded me of why I loved the franchise in the first place. The new skins and level downloads were a great touch for a very polished experience. The music, art, and sheer kinetic energy of the title validated the PSP launch, although I loved Lumines also.
God of War is sheer fun. The controls and scaling complexity of attacks makes this a great game to pick up and play for 10 minutes or 10 hours. I love the look of it, and the basis in Greek mythology, which remind me of Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans (in a good way). The first time that hydra charged through the ship was a humbling moment for me, which I get to enjoy again vicariously by handing the controller to NPGs (Non-Player Guests).
Project Gotham Racing 3 blew me away. I was already a fan of the franchise, but firing this up on a 50” HD plasma set is equal to taking a first step into a larger world. Putting the HD part aside, the game has to deliver the goods. Kind of like how, no matter how good it looks on Discovery HD, American Chopper is still just American Chopper. And PGR3 definitely satisfies. The cars control very well, and the courses are cleverly designed. The authenticity of the cars and the locations, combined with a more arcade style of play make for a perfect match for me. The HD element brings a high level of immersion, such that NPGs are completely thunderstruck by the illusion of reality."
-Jamil Moledina, Game Developers Conference director
"Wik & the Fable of Souls - A cleverly addictive game that has a truly unique look and feel. A great combination of gameplay and visuals help make this game work. Hopefully with it being on the Xbox 360 Live, it will reach a much wider audience.
Psychonauts - An excellent take on the "platformer" genre. A funny story and great gameplay made this one of the few games that made me want to finish the game to see what happens.
Guitar Hero - One of the few games that I can't put down. Taking the formula of what works from Frequency and Amplitude and making a great controller experience as well as a very good mainstream soundtrack makes this game accessible to more than just a niche audience. I've seen people who don't normally play games, play this one with enthusiasm."
-Liam Hislop, Full Sail Real World Education
"Shadow of the Colossus - If there's a better argument for games as art, I don't know what it is. This game is the most beautiful, haunting, and melancholy game I've ever played, and manages to do it largely with inference, rather than heavy-handed cutscenes or plot twists.
Psychonauts - Although it had some problems with frustrating level design in a few places, the overall quirkiness and sense of fun with this title made it one of my favorites for the year. The characters and world were very well done, and the gameplay was, for the most part, great.
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat - While I don't think most people would pick this, it really spoke to me. This game was a blast - a traditional platformer with the added excitement of physical control through the congas. It was very simple, but it was 100% fun. It was simultaneously new and different, and very nostalgic."
-Johnnemann Nordhagen, SCEA
"Well I have to give FIFA 06 Soccer a big “thumbs up.” It's the best of the FIFA Soccer games so far. Great gameplay, very realistic and intuitive. The soundtrack is great and the commentary is very good. Other than online play, it's a great all around sports game that's good for adults and the kids.
Then there is Civilization 4. What can you say? Really, it's good… you lose sleep sitting at the computer all night. Great gameplay, which is key. Plus it looks awesome, sounds great, and keeps you entertained.
Otherwise it's been the older games for me this year, lots of UT2K4 and good old Total Annihilation!"
-Mark Warner, Nexus Entertainment
"Three games I loved in 2005 were Shadow of the Colossus, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Psychonauts. I'm pretty sure they were my favorite games of the year, and if not, we'll just say they were the ones I remember liking most and leave it at that.
In addition to everything that's obviously great about Shadow of the Colossus, such as the intense mixture of feelings you get when you bring home the final sword-blow on a colossi's vital spot, it also makes heavy use of one of my favorite storytelling tricks that's only possible in games. In linear media, you have the “Chekhov effect” of knowing that the explicitly-referenced gun on the mantelpiece must go off later. But games can introduce plot elements without bringing your attention to them at all, leading to exquisitely eerie moments. The sinking feeling you get when you realize what those points of light in the distance represent, or when you count just how many doves are clustered around the altar, is all the more powerful due to the quiet, unobtrusive way those elements of the mystery are worked into the game.
I started the year thinking the DS would be a ridiculous paperweight representing Nintendo's fatal misstep, and ended it with the plucky little thing becoming one of my favorite platforms. To pick just one of the system's sterling games: I love Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for its humor and great script, but I love it more for its bringing back the beloved point-and-click adventure game to a new format.
Double Fine's debut project Psychonauts, that most excellent game, had such a hold on me that I played it start to finish twice in the same month, and then spent two more months thinking about little else as I embarked on a harebrained scheme to produce glorified fanfiction. Luckily for us all, I failed, and super double lucky for us all, the game exists and is still available on store shelves for prices way, way less than it ought to be commanding."
-Nich Maragos, Gamasutra
"Serious Sam 2 - fun in every possible way
Call of Duty 2 - excellent multiplayer!
Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in the U.S.) - a breath of fresh air among adventures!"
"Forza Motorsport (Xbox) - In a genre that is very stale, the features breathed new life into the genre. The racing line innovation was able to level the playing field between the experienced racing game players and the novices. This was also the first time that a damage factor came into play in a high-end racing game, a feature that has been notably absent from the Gran Turismo series. It quite possibly made for the best racing package to date.
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 (PS2) and Ultramix 3 (Xbox) - While in essence the same game that has been around for closing in on a decade, credit needs to go to the music licensing department for the track lists that were added to these games. Songs that have been staples of the series appearing from the Asian versions are finally making their first appearances in North America .
Serious Sam II (Xbox and PC)- Kudos must go to Croteam for bringing a true sequel to the Serious Sam series. While the game solely rests on the all-out action in gameplay, the comedic value of the cut scenes and in-game dialog seems to get overlooked. This sets the new benchmark for action-comedy games, it does both, and does them well."
-Mike Sweeney, Slingo Inc
Project Gotham Racing 3
"First would be God of War, because of its original idea, the intense gratification from the combat system, and the pleasure from the puzzle solving that was involved. It's a great game with many facets to challenge you.
Number two would be DarkWatch. It was a very novel idea for a FPS. It was fun to take on the role of a vampire gunslinger, and the cutscenes were very well done. Each of the levels was extremely fun and interesting as well as more and more exciting.
And finally, Knights of the Old Republic II: Sith Lords. I loved the first one and I loved the second one even more. Having the choice between light and dark side was a great angle, and the combat system was perfect for an RPG style game."
-Chuck Tay, Kaloke
"Darwinia combines the best of Molyneux (Populous) with the best of Bostic and Powell (Dune II, the first major RTS). It does this in a new kind of world and art style that gives it a feeling of uniqueness unrivaled in games today.
God of War introduced, or at least revolutionized button mini-games within an action adventure experience that is unparalleled cinematically. It also is the ultimate realization of the age old cult hit Rygar, which is a triumph of uber-geeky proportions.
Blitz: The League brought back what made Midway great in the '90s: take a genre and turn it on it's frickin' ear. NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat - even Pigskin 621 AD all are family to Blitz in this way... games provide a way of taking the user out of reality, or even creating a "super" reality, and Blitz took full advantage of this."
-Alexander Brandon, Midway
[Please note that the opinions of individual employees responding to the Question Of The Week may not represent those of their company.]