The year is just about over and now it is time to make our selections for our favorite Xbox 360 games of 2008. Our picks cover releases from throughout the year and represent a wide range of genres. There are quite a few surprise picks, and a lot of big name titles were not included, but that just shows how great and varied the Xbox 360’s 2008 lineup really was.
2007’s BioShock was a special game. It was extremely polished in every aspect and just had a different feel than other games. In 2008, we only got that same feeling of “This is truly something special” from one game, and that was Prince of Persia. PoP has the best graphics and music out of any 360 game in 2008, and some of the most accessible yet satisfying gameplay around. It breaks all of the videogame rules – you can’t die, there isn’t a lot of combat, and the female lead isn’t a huge breasted skank – but, frankly, it is like a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale videogame market. For the other games on this list, the order doesn’t really matter, but Prince of Persia is our definite pick for Game of the Year.
After nearly 100 hours and 1000/1000 Gamerscore, we’re pretty sure Fallout 3 is a crazy good game. It is a complete package of great graphics and sound, a solid story (minus the ending …) a huge well designed world filled with great characters, and rewarding exploration and bloody satisfying combat. Fallout 3 just grips you and keeps you hooked until you have seen and done everything the Capital Wasteland has to offer. It is also a game that is going to keep going strong well into 2009 thanks to some PC and Xbox 360 exclusive DLC.
The best JRPG on the Xbox 360 is, without question, Tales of Vesperia. It doesn’t have the best story, but the way it is told along with the great cast (we love Repede) more than makes up for it. The dialogue is smart and realistic and draws you in more effectively than other games because of it. The gameplay also stands out thanks to a clever real-time-combat system and a surprisingly organic experience system where you see and feel improvement in combat rather than having “Level Up” graphics flashing at you all the time. Tales of Vesperia also features some of the best music in a game this year (second only to PoP) and a solid presentation overall to wrap up a pretty incredible package.
Dead Space is all about polish. There has never been a survival horror game that has looked and sounded as good or played as well as Dead Space. It isn’t the scariest or most original survival horror game out there, particularly if you are a fan of classic horror/sci-fi, but it all looks so great and the gameplay is so spot on that you don’t care if it is all a bit predictable. It is also a surprisingly well balanced game and the various difficulty levels ensure that players of all skill levels will be able to complete it, which is something you absolutely cannot say about most survival horror titles. Dead Space is survival horror for the masses, and it is highly recommended.
Other racing games came and went in 2008, but the only one that managed to be relevant the entire year was Burnout Paradise. Developer Criterion Games released updates for the game throughout the year that fixed glitches and added new modes and some new and unexpected features and all of the updates were completely free. In terms of value and quality and longevity, Burnout Paradise can’t be beat. This fast paced, gorgeous looking, amazingly deep game is easily the best racing game of the year.
Mirror’s Edge is one of the most polarizing titles of 2008 as you either loved it for its gorgeous visuals, great music, and fresh take on what a first-person title could be or you hated it due to its trial and error nature and lack of twitchy violence. It does take a lot of practice and patience to really get the most out of Mirror’s Edge, but when everything clicks it is one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences out there. DICE deserves credit for taking a risk with something new, thinking outside the box, and making a first-person Parkour game that (amazingly) doesn’t give everyone simulator sickness. Seriously, that last bit is quite an accomplishment. Lets hope more devs are willing to take risks like this in the future.
Two of our absolute favorite things in the entire world – co-op gaming and zombies – in one game is like a dream come true. Left 4 Dead puts you smack dab in the middle of a zombie outbreak and you have to get not only yourself, but your friends as well, out of danger by blasting through hundreds of the undead. Honestly, it is like playing through the best scenes from every zombie movie ever. Even better, thanks to fantastic A.I. and clever game design, every time you play Left 4 Dead it will be a different experience so it never really gets old. L4D is a game that is going to keep going strong for a long time to come.
We’ve all been playing Monday Morning President over the last 8 years, second-guessing every decision the government has made, but now it is your chance to prove how good of a leader you actually are. Civilization Revolution lets you build a civilization from the very beginning, and what your people research and build and everything else is completely up to you, including whether you want to be peaceful or go to war. It is an amazingly addictive and rewarding game that offers a ton of ways to play with nearly infinite replay value. Civilization Revolution is one of the unique and fun titles of the year.
At first glance, this collectible card game / board game / RPG with PS2 caliber graphics doesn’t seem that impressive. But once you actually start playing and really get into it, there is no more addictive and incredibly deep game on the Xbox 360. Building your deck of monsters and magic and weapons and coming up with the right strategy to use them is just plain fun. Super nerdy, yes, but absolutely fun. Of all of the games in 2008, Culdcept Saga is the one we kept going back to, couldn’t stop thinking about, and continually recommended no matter how many “WTF is that” responses we got. Without question, the underground cult hit of 2008 is definitely Culdcept Saga.
One of the best-looking and most creative games on the Xbox 360 is Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. It isn’t quite the game that longtime fans of the series were expecting, but it comes up with fresh new way to play that is just as good. The core of Nuts & Bolts is building vehicles to help you race, carry things, launch things (or yourself), fly around, and much more. It is like playing with a virtual set of LEGO blocks, and if you can dream it you can probably build it in the game. B-K Nuts & Bolts is gorgeous looking, hilariously funny, and rewards creativity like no game before it, which all make it truly one of the standout Xbox 360 titles of the year.