With this console generation coming to an end it’s hard not to get nostalgic about what has made these past several years so memorable. So, we’re looking back at what titles have been the highlights, especially when it comes to gaming with friends.
Danny Lilley reflects over one of this generations most unique and enjoyable multiplayer experiences. Nope, it’s not an entry from the hugely popular Call of Duty, FIFA or Battlefield franchises, but 2008’s Burnout Paradise from Guildford-based Criterion Games.
It’s starting to heat up now. We’ve counted down 50-31 in our countdown of the 50 best games of the last decade and we continue with another 20 as we rundown positions 30 to 11.
World Of Warcraft
30 – World Of Warcraft
Massively multiplayer online role playing game have never been the same since the release of World of Warcraft in 2005. With more than 10 million people registered just three years after launch, the massive open world, races, quests, items, and levelling system has been a hit since day one, and there is no doubt that it will continue to be strong for a long time yet.
Platform: PC Developer: Blizzard Entertainment Year: 2005
29 – Perfect Dark
Even without the Bond license at their disposal, Rare were still able to craft one of the finest FPS games ever. It may not have aged well graphically, but multiplayer sessions of PD are still as addictive now as they were nearly a decade ago.
Platform: Nintendo 64 Developer: Rare Year: 2000
28 – Mirror’s Edge
A game based around free running? That’s what Mirror’s Edge delivered. What it lacked in depth and storyline, this beautifully stylised title more than made up for it in it’s unique approach to gameplay. Mirror’s Edge has to be on of the most orginal action titles of the last decade that frustrated and delighted in equal measure.
Platform: Multi Developer: Electronic Arts Year: 2008
Team Fortress 2
27 – Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 would have made the list for its addictive gameplay alone; with its nine perfectly-balanced classes, stunning art direction and inventive levels only boosting its position. Its enthusiastic community and continued support from Valve makes it one of the most popular (and fun) multiplayer titles even over two years after its release. Oh, you can also unlock some pretty sick hats.
Platform: Multi Developer: Valve Corporation Year: 2007
Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask
26 – Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
A stunning follow-up to one of the greatest game ever made. Majora’s Mask took the Zelda franchise into dark and complex territory with its unique and disturbing story, following Link’s quest to stop the moon crashing into the quaint land of Termina.
Platform: Nintendo 64 Developer: Nintendo EAD Year: 2000
Gears of War 2
25 – Gears Of War 2
Epic’s massive hit Gears of War brought a sequel just two years after the original game, hailing a new chapter in a clearly unfinished story. Using much of the same, but also adding a few necessary extras worked out well for the franchise with singleplayer keeping the locust horde coming thick and fast. Multiplayer hadn’t missed a step either with new game modes, a ranking system and the unforgettable chainsaw dual sequences.
Platform: Xbox 360 Developer: Epic Games Year: 2008
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
24 – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty
Following on from the highly acclaimed Metal Gear Solid on the PSone was a tall order but Konami once again pulled another winner out of its hat. Focusing predominantly on new character Raiden this time around, player’s were given not only upgraded graphics but also satisfying new moves and a typically over the top Metal Gear story.
Platform: PlayStation 2 Developer: Konami Computers Year: 2002
23 – The Sims
The Sims saw you being given a new level of control and creativity not found in any other PC title at the time. The freedom to allow you to design your character, to construct a house and to make decisions for that character was a fun experience. This game spawned numerous add on’s and two sequels and is one of the biggest selling PC games of all time.
Platform: Multi Developer: Maxis Year: 2000
22 – Wii Sports
Technically the best selling video game of all time; this selection of sports games, designed to show off the Wii, is a joy to discover. As a demonstration of what the Wii is capable Wii Sports is great, and the amount of fun to be had with friends in the process – priceless.
Platform: Nintendo Wii Developer: Nintendo EAD Year: 2006
Grand Theft Auto 4
21 – Grand Theft Auto IV
The city that never sleeps comes to video games in the form of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV. As a fully functioning environment to do as you will, the flood gates open as Niko Belic arrives from Eastern Europe. The story is tuned to perfection, the physics are flawless, and every person has a character behind it. What more could you want?
Platform: Multi Developer: Rocksteady Studios Year: 2008
20 – Killzone 2
The visually stunning Killzone 2 no doubt set the bar for console graphics back in February 2009. Bringing with it solid combat, intense action, a solid array of weaponry, thrilling set pieces, memorable enemies and a captivating multiplayer that quickly carved out a strong following from the PlayStation 3 community.
Platform: PlayStation 3 Developer: Guerilla Games Year: 2009
Left 4 Dead
19 – Left 4 Dead
A number of Valve titles appear on our list, and for good reason: their releases guarantee fun and Left 4 Dead was no different. Forcing players to rely on helping each other for any hope of survival, the AI Director’s random placement of items and enemies made each play through unique, meaning you’d be happy to take on the zombie apocalypse with friends again and again.
Platform: PC Developer: Valve Year: 2008
Metal Gear Solid 4
18 – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of Patriots
The best selling PS3 exclusive gave us an intricate and visually stunning look at Solid Snake as an aged war veteran who is thrown amidst a war fought by Private military. From the breath taking visuals to the cinematic cut scenes to the excellent stealth combat, this game provided every Metal Gear fan with the game they wanted.
Platform: PlayStation 3 Developer: Kojima Productions Year: 2008
Resident Evil 4
17 – Resident Evil 4
Having torn up every cliché in the survival horror rulebook, Resident Evil 4 went on to become one of the best action games of the last generation. There were as many memorable set pieces in this game as the rest of the series put together. This Wii edition is undoubtedly the best version available.
Platform: Gamecube Developer: Capcom Year: 2005
16 – Burnout: Paradise
Rejuvenated a series that was in danger of going stale, Burnout: Paradise’s beautiful sandbox environment provided the setting for some of the most intense race action ever seen. Thrown in a healthy dose of cars, event option and a seem-less multiplayer mode and you have have one of the best race titles ever made.
Platform: Multi Developer: Criterion Games Year: 2008
Grand Theft Auto 3
15 – Grand Theft Auto III
Bringing the Grand Theft Auto series into 3D, 2001’s gritty Grand Theft Auto III proved to be an incredibly influential release. The sandbox-style game received universal praise from the gaming press, along with plenty of negative remarks from the mainstream press, thanks in part to it’s violent and sexual content. Due to its distinguished popularity, developer Rockstar has since released several other games in the series, and here’s to the next.
A modern-day marvel, the word ‘epic’ is a suitable tag for Bethesda’s massive RPG/shooter hybrid. The post-apocalyptic world, blanketed by sadness and laced with black humour, was persistently engaging and the sheer amount of things to do made scouring the broken beauty of the Capital Wasteland a wonder every time you visited.
Platform: Multi Developer: Bethesda Year: 2008
Super Mario Galaxy
13 – Super Mario Galaxy
Gamers waited for a decade for Nintendo to create a true follow up to the revolutionary Mario 64, and were handsomely rewarded for their patience. Super Mario Galaxy may have built on a lot of the elements of its grand predecessor, but contained enough unique ideas of its own to mark it out as a true benchmark title. It also had possibly the best soundtrack of the last decade.
Platform: Nintendo Wii Developer: Nintendo Year: 2007
12 – Halo 2
After the success of Combat Evolved Bungie knew they had to deliver, and deliver they did. While it offered a great campaign it was the multiplayer that stole the show. Despite admitting they couldn’t do everything they wanted Bungie still managed to create a online experience that has managed to clock hundreds of millions of hours, and is still the most popular Original Xbox title online.
Platform: Xbox Developer: Bungie Year: 2004
Batman: Arkham Asylum
11 – Batman: Arkham Asylum
The decade saw Batman rejuvenated via two outstanding films (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) and the interactive medium thanks to Arkham Asylum. An expansive and consistently intriguing environment, a simple but effective combat mechanic and massive dedication to the source material made the player feel like The Bat, cementing its place as the best comic book-based title so far.
Platform: Multi Developer: Rocksteady Studios Year: 2009
Once again if you want discuss the countdown head on over to our forum, we’d love to hear what you think. Only 10 more games to go, what will be number 1?
Gamebrit.com opened it’s doors back in August of 2008, but us as a team have been gaming for a large number of years, so, in a incredibly late fashion, it’s with pleasure that we present to you the first annual Gamebrit Awards.
The Gamebrit Awards aim to celebrate the best in videogaming from the past twelve months, and not only are we honoring all games on all major platforms, we will also be selecting the best home grown title; along with the best game developed right here in the United Kingdom.
All the titles in the categories below were pre selected by Gamebrit’s staff team and after much further debate an overall winner was chosen. We hope you agree that our choices are deservedly awarded, if not be sure to join the debate on our forums to discuss the awards and the industry as a whole with like-minded gamers.
So without further a due let the awards commence:
iPhone Game Of The Year
Winner – Sim City iPhone
Super Monkey Ball
Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart
The visuals of SimCity 3000 combined with the gameplay of SimCity 2000 gave us the biggest and most ambitious iPhone app of 2008: SimCity iPhone from EA. With the ability to pinch in and out of your custom-built city to edit those fine details, this rendition of SC is both pretty on the eye, and pretty damn playable. The fun, addicting gameplay that you remember from the PC version remain intact to give great value for your £5.99 to provide hours of high fun.
Nintendo DS Game Of The Year
Winner – Professor Layton And The Curious Village
Nominations: Advance Wars: Day of Ruin
The World ends with you
It took its sweet time to arrive here but Professor Layton and the Curious Village was worth the wait. After a clever ad campaign and word-of-mouth it became one of the most sought after titles over the Christmas period, selling out across the country and fetching stupid prices on eBay. This popularity was no accident as Professor Layton is one of the most addictive and engrossing games of the year and a great bridge title to bring together new and old gamers.
Playstation Portable Game Of The Year
Winner – Patapon
Nominations: Loco Roco 2
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Space Invaders Extreme
The people behind LocoRoco have once again delivered a game that’s crazy, original and downright addictive. Patapon built on the idea of simple 2D graphics and combined it with a rhythm led, side scrolling, fighting game. This may sound like an unusual match but it’s an instant hit and has won critical acclaim across the industry. It covers all bases providing artistic visuals, perfectly mapped controls and a soundtrack that will get stuck in your head and won’t let go. This is not only one of the PSP’s finest but a game that should be experienced by everyone.
Multiplayer Game Of The Year
Winner – Burnout Paradise
Nominations: Gears Of War 2
Left 4 Dead
Smash Bros Brawl
Mario Kart Wii
Despite being out for more than a year, Criterion, another UK based developer, have been supporting Burnout Paradise with a slew of downloadable content since release, it’s this continued support along with a amazingly thorough game to build upon that make Burnout Paradise our multiplayer game of the year. A solid multiplayer experience, different to any other racing game make Burnout Paradise such an appealing multiplayer affair. The open structure of the multiplayer gave gamers a choice in how to play which is still refreshing more than a year after release.
An independently developed title takes the scoop for downloadable game of the year. Braid (available on Xbox Live) married beautifully unique visuals with captivating and thought provoking gameplay. A highly satisfying puzzle challenge with indefinte style. Jonathon Blow, congratulations.
British Developer Of The Year
Winner – Media Molecule
Nominations: Fable 2 – Lionhead Studios
GTA IV – Rockstar North
Banjo Kazooie Nuts & Bolts – Rare
Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise – Rare
Coming from a small office in Guildford, newly formed Media Molecule gave the world not only LittleBigPlanet but also a fresh approach to games development. They’ve drawn on 70+ years of combined gaming experience and are packed full of people who love making and playing games. This is incredibly clear from the game they’ve made so far and the community feel they’ve created that surrounds everything they do. The Media Molecule ‘family’ has got a bright future ahead of them and it’s genuinely exciting to wonder what project they’ll embark on next.
PC Game Of The Year
Winner – Red Alert 3
Football Manager 2009
Far Cry 2
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the famous phrase, but EA went ahead and fixed it anyway, by introducing a fully playable online co-op campaign. Fortunately nothing has stopped the consistency of the Red Alert franchise from being the awesome Real Time Strategy gaming series that we all remember, as the third (if played alongside a friend) could be considered the best yet of the trilogy. It may not do a great deal to introduce new players to the series, but RA fanboys will be drooling over HD Tesla Tanks, heavy naval combat and most importantly… Jenny McCarthy and Gemma Atkinson wearing leather in HD!
Playstation 3 Game Of The Year
Winner – LittleBigPlanet
Metal Gear Solid 4
Grand Theft Auto 4
Fresh from new developers Media Molecule, LittleBigPlanet put creativity back in the hands of players. Combining classic platforming with a do-it-yourself attitude, this game established itself amongst the PS3’s elite titles. Add to this an adorable lead character, limitless customization and one of the most fun multiplayer experiences around and you have an incredibly enjoyable game. With the ongoing content updates as well as the numerous user built levels being uploaded every day, LittleBigPlanet’s hold on the gaming world isn’t due to end anytime soon.
Wii Game Of The Year
Winner – Smash Bros Brawl
Nominations: No More Heroes
Mario Kart Wii
Zack & Wiki
Despite all the massive hype, director Masahiro Sakurai managed to deliver on just about all his promises for this sequel. The impressive selection of playable characters, stages cameos and nods to the company’s glossy past made this a virtual wet dream for Nintendo fans around the globe and it quickly became one of the best selling hardcore titles of the year. The addition of a fully-fledged single player, online options and level editors gave gamers even more reasons to immerse themselves in the Smash Bros universe.
Gears of War 2 was a highly anticipated sequel to a game that has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and had won many awards in 2007 including Game of the Year. It did not disappoint. A compelling story saw the characters progress in the fight against impossible odds with scenes of great atmosphere. Gripping multiplayer with new modes, such as Horde, meant that Gears of War 2 set a new record for the number of simultaneous players on Xbox Live, with over 1.5 million people logging on to play the game.
Gamebrit Game Of The Year
Winner – Gears Of War 2
Nominations: Grand Theft Auto 4
Metal Gear Solid 4
Professor Layton & The Curious Village
Left 4 Dead
Smash Bros. Brawl
As the above mentions, Gears of War 2 offered enough fresh material, coupled with the necessary high standards of graphics and sound, to win both Xbox 360 Game of the Year and Game Brit Game of the Year 2008. Congratulations Epic.
It’s not often that DLC warrants a review all of it’s own, but it’s not often that DLC, or indeed a game, like this comes along. Since the game proper launched in January, Burnout: Paradise has established a solid reputation as the best hidden gem frequenting Xbox live and PSN. Shying away from the hyper competitive arenas dominated by the likes of Halo and Call of Duty, Burnout instead offers something entirely different to its fans. Inside the joyous concrete playground of the titular Paradise City, players are given the freedom to race, do a series of co-op challenges or play a variety of quickfire games- stunt runs, cat and mouse chases or just about anything else the host can think of. The result is an accessible, purely enjoyable multiplayer experience that at times, when all the players are screaming along winding mountain roads purely for the joy of driving the games’ series of preposterously amusing super cars, feels like a Sunday driving club for adrenaline junkies.
Burnout’s reputation for a unique online experience extends in to the games’ fantastic DLC offerings and this, naturally, brings us to The Point. It’s become customary for console gamers to expect to pay for their downloads these days, so it came as no small surprise to discover that Burnout would be sporting a massive series of upgrades to the core game for free, with a schedule spanning an entire year. The latest in the series, following the release of a content patch for the multiplayer modes, is the addition of Bikes to the heady roster of vehicles available. This is a first for the franchise and it’s nothing short of an absolute pleasure to find out that Criterion have pulled out all the stops for the event, making this update one of the best pieces of DLC this generation.
In short, this feels like an entirely new game as much as a mere freebie. Most developers would be content with adding the bikes to the existing game structure and letting you get on with it. Not so here: to welcome in the new rides, Criterion have included 38 single player time trial races and 70 new multiplayer co-op events to do with friends. Although this won’t take you too long to finish, especially on single player, the fact that it’s included at all, and that it’s so fun, deserves huge praise.
But more importantly, how do the bikes handle? The answer is ‘utterly brilliantly’, which is nice. Ridiculously fast, the bikes feel responsive, weighty and exhilarating to drive and, with a smaller profile on the road and reduced traffic in the streets, feel hugely empowering as you explore the city afresh, roaring through previously difficult short cuts and dangerous back roads with ease- even in the darkest hours of the game’s new and customisable day/ night cycle.
In fact, it’s arguable that the bikes make things a little too easy- for experienced players particularly the single player content is far simpler to complete than the challenge presented by the cars. All the events are time trials from A-B and the problem simply seems to be that the allocated time limits are too slack. In one instance, I finished an event with fifty seconds on the clock going spare- enough time to cover half the city in vehicles this fast. Multiplayer, however, feels more substantial with 10 tasks to complete for every different player count from 2-8. These are still quite easy, but they’re particularly well designed anyway. Criterion clearly know their city inside out, and quite possibly the driving habits of their players too so many of the challenges are cunningly designed to send you down particularly fun parts of the map to tackle on a bike- be it gently swooping mountain passes or hairpin city rat runs the team make sure you see it all and doing so with a host of other bikers on screen, racing as a pack, is pure gaming hedonism, sparking that old Paradise feel of driving for the pure pleasure of the experience alone.
Sadly, there comes a point where driving for the sake of it is all that remains of the bikes update- bar the challenges, the bikes do not come with any other kind of multiplayer game, and the single player does not include any other kind of event, either. Stunt runs and racing are conspicuous by their absence. Online players, then, will be left to their own devices. Perhaps we’ll see more modes and games in the ‘Eastwood’ update which will conclude the ‘year of paradise’ DLC extravaganza by adding a whole new island to the game. Untill then, Burnout Bikes provides a brilliant, if possibly short lived, alternative way of playing an already impressive title.