Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Games of the Decade: #50 - #46

#50: Burnout Revenge (2005)
PlayStation 2, XBox
Take Burnout Revenge as exemplary of any or all of Burnout 3, Burnout Revenge, Burnout Legends or Burnout Paradise, all first-class paragons of racing action. (But the less said about Burnout Dominator the better.) The Burnout franchise takes exceptionally well-implemented high-speed racing and combines it with cathartically transcendental devastation. Not only is crashing a car in Burnout both satisfying and (usually) helpful to your progress, the crashes are rendered with loving artistry to make each and every one a ballet of splintered metal worthy of the most aggressively independent film festivals you can think of.

#49: The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess (2006)

I've never much liked the 3D Zelda titles. Despite all the praise lavished on Ocarina of Time, it was clunky, filled with tedious busywork, and still struggled with the basics of 3D game design, at that time still an emerging field. Twilight Princess is the finished game for which Ocarina was merely a tech demo. It's an emotive and well-told story wrapped in polished, satisfying game mechanics and to say it's the best Zelda game made to date is one of the highest honours a game can receive.

#48: Vagrant Story (2000)

SquareEnix (or SquareSoft, as it was then known) is a company with a willingness to take risks, and Vagrant Story was a big one. An intelligent, adult story told in an unfriendly gothic world was just the beginning; Square went on to hang the gameplay off a controversial "risk" system that involved lengthy attack chains where each successive blow you landed on an enemy did less damage and raised your vulnerability to reprisals. Together with frustrating box puzzles and an impenetrable crafting system it wasn't everyone's cup of tea. However, the art, story, and mindblowing conclusion were so outstanding that this game deserves to be on any list of first-class games. Sadly for SquareSoft, the risk didn't pay off - Vagrant Story was never a commercial success.

#47: SoulCalibur 2 (2003)
Gamecube, Playstation 2, XBox

It's no secret that SoulCalibur is my fighting franchise of choice, and to be honest I can't understand any alternate viewpoint. The magic of SoulCalibur lies in pacing that is both lightning-fast yet deliberate, a deep range of moves which are simple to execute, and clear visual depictions of the strengths and strike zones of each character that allow both masters and novices to understand the action on screen. SoulCalibur 2 is for my money the best entry in the franchise, although 3 and 4 both have their merits. If SoulCalibur is the decade's best fighting franchise and 2 is its best iteration, that makes SoulCalibur 2 the best fighting game of the decade, right?

#46: LocoRoco (2006)
PlayStation Portable

You can hate the PSP, but you can't hate LocoRoco. It's a unique fusion of music, art, and gameplay to create an addictive, compelling platforming adventure that will stay with you long after you put it down. The conceit of the game is that to guide your small army of singing, blob-like LocoRocos through a level, you don't control the Locos directly but rather tilt the entire world, to send them tumbling down ramps and flying around curves. There's nothing else quite like it - except, of course, for its sequels.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Haha! You're the only person on the internets I've ever seen mention Vagrant Story. That was one of my fave PSX games. Some of the gameplay was a disaster and I never finished it, but I still liked it despite that. The atmosphere was rare.