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published Thursday, Jan 21st

Games Of The Decade – 50-31

If you hadn’t noticed already it’s 2010, which means that another decade has passed. What a decade it has been though, the ‘noughties’ has brought the next generation consoles, online gaming, downloadable content and most importantly some of the best gaming titles ever release. Take a look at what the Gamebrit Staff have decided are the best and most important 50 games of the last decade. First up 50-31.

 

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

50 – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

The biggest step up in the franchise since GTA 3, San Andreas saw you take on a much larger map with more detail, excellent voice acting, and a plot that actually made you care about the characters. As with all GTA games, this title was met with bad press due to the violent content, but this is still one of the pinnacles of the PS2 and an excellent game.

Platform: PS2 Developer: Rockstar North Year: 2004

 

 

Professor Layton & The Curious Village

Professor Layton & The Curious Village

49 – Professor Layton & The Curious Village

Professor Layton already had three adventures released in Japan before Nintendo brought him to the UK. This first title was a cross between a French graphic novel and a GCSE maths exam, but was strangely compelling all the same.

Platform: Nintendo DS Developer: Level-5 Year: 2008

 

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus

48 – Shadow of the Colossus

Team Ico knew it would take something ‘Colossus’ to topple their debut game, but spiritual sequel Shadows of the Colossus more than matched its predecessor. Bringing down one of the game’s 16 colossi was an exhilarating but strangely emotional experience.

Platform: PS2 Developer: Team Ico Year: 2006

 

God Of War 2

God of War II

47 – God of War II

Taking all that made the original God of War so special, the developers dialled the action, puzzles and epic scale up a few notches. The result was even bigger environments to traverse, vastly improved graphics and brutal combat that even today is seen as a benchmark for hack and slash titles.

Platform: PS2 Developer: SCE Studios Santa Monica Year: 2007

 

Fable 2

Fable II

46 – Fable II

Hyped as an RPG giving real consequence to your choices, Fable II fell short of that promise. Instead it offered immersion in a story polar to the familiar po-faced, Kung-fu-onion filled JRPG. The game allows you to fart and puppet theatre your way to popularity or infamy.

Platform: Xbox 360 Developer: Lionhead Studios Year: 2008

 

 

Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock

Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock

45 – Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

While Guitar Hero III wasn’t the title that brought the Guitar Hero franchise the acclaim it so rightly deserved it certainly brought the idea of being able to download additional songs to the masses on the next generation of consoles. That and you could play as guitar legends Slash and Tom Morello.

Platform: Multi Developer: Neversoft Year: 2007

 

Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker

44 – Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker

Nintendo took a big risk with the toon-shaded art style, but it paid off, as Wind Waker is still one of the most beautiful looking games ever. It may have been too short, too easy and had one of the most frustrating fetch-quests ever, but it still stands as an epic entry in the long-running franchise.

Platform: GameCube Developer: Nintendo EAD Year: 2003

 

The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

43 – The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

It takes the RPG of yore and puts flesh, bone and decent acting to the text adventures that enthralled so many way back when. ES:IV melded adventure gaming perfectly with FPS’s. Creating the path for genre crossing games like Fallout 3 and Bioshock, introduces RPG elements to FPS games and paves the way for COD: Modern Warfare.

Platform: Multi Developer: Bethesda Year: 2006

 

Viva Pinata

Viva Pinata

42 – Viva Pinata

Attracting piñata animals with sweet-based names to a garden in order to breed them – the concept of Viva Pinata in a nutshell. Rare’s weird and wonderful take on animal breeding provided one of the most unique gaming experiences of the last decade. Delightfully colorful, wonderfully charming and incredibly additive, gardening has never been so much fun.

Platform: Xbox 360 Developer: Rare Year: 2006

 

Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Grand Theft Auto Vice City

41 – Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Set in Miami with story components similar to those found in the Scarface films, Vice City offered an all-round action fest involving guns, drugs, and even rock and roll – depending on which station you listened to. You play as GTA III’s Tommy Vercetti who has just been released from jail and attempts a simple job for his old boss. Of course this simple job goes sour and you end up on a rollercoaster ride until you eventually become the top man of Vice City. Vice City is truly a masterpiece of sandbox gaming. “It’s time for the Lance Vance Dance!”

Platform: PS2 Developer: Rockstar North Year: 2002

 

Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime

40 – Metroid Prime

Nintendo took a big gamble giving one of their greatest franchises to Retro Studios, but the Texas-based studio more than delivered. The moody atmosphere of the SNES title was recreated perfectly in 3D, as were all the other series’ staple elements, like epic bosses and unique alien worlds to explore.

Platform: GameCube Developer: Retro Studios Year: 2003

 

 

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Super Smash Bros. Melee

39 – Super Smash Bros. Melee

Nintendo’s curious N64 beat-em-up was fully upgraded for the GameCube’s release, with over twenty of the company’s mascots fighting in themed arenas that took in nearly every facet of their illustrious history. Brawl may have expanded on every aspect of Melee, but this is by far the purer title.

Platform: GameCube Developer: HAL Laboratory Year: 2002

 

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

38 – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars games have always been hit and miss, but Bioware turned Knights of the Old Republic into one of the greatest RPGs of the last generation. Taking place a thousand years before the films, KOTOR took players on a whistle stop tour around that galaxy far, far away, during a great Jedi/Sith conflict.

Platform: Multi Developer: BioWare Year: 2003

 

Assassin's Creed II

Assassin's Creed II

37 – Assassin’s Creed II

A thrilling continuation of the story of Assassins versus Templars, and a great step up in terms of gameplay. Following the usual sequel formula of bigger equals better, Assassin’s Creed II gave players more abilities, weapons and variety as well as a more personal story. While not perfect, it still eclipses its predecessor at almost every hurdle.

Platform: Multi Developer: Ubisoft Montreal Year: 2009

 

Pokemon Gold & Silver

Pokemon Gold & Silver

36 – Pokemon Gold & Silver

The original Pokémon games were both brilliant – but that wasn’t enough for Game Freak and Creatures Inc. Not only were 100 more monsters to catch added, the now essential Poke-gear, dark and steel types and the breeding concept were included in what was the most revolutionary (and thus seminal) title of the franchise.

Platform: Game Boy Colour Developer: Game Freak Year: 2001

 

Ico

Ico

35 – Ico

Fumitsa Ueda’s haunting title remains the pinnacle of the PS2’s library. With minimalist story telling, Ico’s world told its own tale as you escaped from the mysterious ancient castle with kidnapped princess Yorda. This is quite rightly lauded as one of the most beautiful games ever made.

Platform: PS2 Developer: Team Ico Year: 2002

 

Mass Effect

Mass Effect

34 – Mass Effect

Where other RPG’s have offered a nuclear war hit Washington DC or a fiction version of the Earth as their setting, Mass Effect gave us the entire Universe as a playground, all of it. Well almost. Bioware’s RPG combined the traditional RPG elements with a solid third person action adventure to create one of the most epic and adventurous titles ever made.

Platform: Xbox 360 Developer: BioWare Year: 2007

 

Halo: Combat Evolved

Halo: Combat Evolved

33 – Halo: Combat Evolved

A title which undeniably secured the future of the Xbox as a gaming platform. Launching alongside the system it was instrumental in the consoles initial success. Offering an engaging storyline that drops you right in the middle of a war. You battle on as humanity fights for its survival against the Covenant. In many gamers eyes, Halo is what made the Xbox what it is today as its flagship title in showing what the Xbox was really capable of at its launch.

Platform: Xbox Developer: Bungie Year: 2002

 

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing

32 – Animal Crossing

Shigeru Miyamoto’s unique ‘communication’ title was originally released for the N64 but retooled for the GameCube for a western audience. It took two years to make it to the UK after the US release but the wait was definitely worth it. Few games in the last decade managed to soak up player’s time so effortlessly.

Platform: GameCube Developer: Nintendo EAD Year: 2004

 

Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess

31 – Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Nintendo set out to surpass Ocarina of Time and very nearly succeeded. Twilight Princess was still a magnificent adventure in its own right, combining an epic world with an engaging story and featuring some of the best puzzles in the series.

Platform: GameCube & Wii Developer: Nintendo EAD Year: 2006

 

 

So there you have 50-31 of the 50 best games of the decade. Agree or disagree with out our choices let us know over at out forum. Next up positions 30-11. If you want spoilers go straight to the top 10.


Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise by
published Friday, Sep 05th

Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise Review

Viva Piñata is the kind of game that’s very hard to create a worthy sequel for. Partially this is simply down to the sheer quality of the first instalment of the series, but also due to the formulaic and self limiting nature of the gameplay mechanics. Of course, the same can be said of any number of strategy games in the same vein: The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon or Sim City. After all, beneath the cute, childlike exterior; Viva Piñata has always been a surprisingly tight, tactical affair that challenges spatial design and micromanagement like the best of the genre.

This always leant a surreal, paradoxical edge to the original game: Despite it’s family friendly marketing, adorable, child enrapturing visuals and simple presentation, the actual game was, at times, savagely difficult stuff that often stumped older, experienced players-never mind the supposed youth market Microsoft hoped to rope in to it’s web of tv series’, lunchboxes and soft toy ranges. In a strange way it was as if Rare had made the wrong game, and a much better one for it.
Onwards to the inevitable sequel, then. Moving on from the oddly placed original, Rare have made pains to preserve their almost mistakenly acquired fanbase of hardcore horticultural designers while making a huge effort to really expand the accessibility of the game to include a younger audience that may have found the original simply too hard. The main game remains generally unchanged: players must advance through RPG lite levelling up to acquire increasingly extravagant means of developing their garden space to accommodate an ever expanding roster of loveable, papery animals. Fans of the original will know what to expect here, although a sizeable jump in Piñata numbers pushes the number of animals past the one hundred mark- incentive for all but the most stoney hearted cad to investigate such is the quality of character design and animation on display.

The biggest new additions exist outside of this mode, however. Foremost on the list is the addition of Just For Fun Mode. Designed, according to Rare, to allow for younger or inexperienced players to sample and enjoy a simpler game of Viva Piñata, Just For Fun plays like ‘God Mode’ is switched on. Infinite resources and a vastly simplified set of requirements for Piñata to settle and a fully unlocked feature set turns Viva Piñata in to what the original only became very late in to the game- a vast, ridiculous toybox that just begs to be enjoyed with reckless abandon as, expense be damned, players can warp and craft a garden limited only by their imagination rather than the sometimes claustrophobic regimen required to maintain a play space in the main game. It lacks the substance of the main game but it does offer a kind of brilliant freedom that’s hugely enjoyable.

Multiplayer, too, has received something of a shot in the arm- 4 player Live co-op features and plays exactly as you suspect- a host invites 3 friends in to one of their gardens and can select a variety of permission grades to limit any possible vandalism threats from rakes and knaves they may associate themselves with. On a single machine, the dynamic is changed considerably, however. Here, player 2 is, rather than a second player in full, a kind of magic helper whose abilities are powered by doing good deeds in their host’s garden. It’s a clever design choice that was implemented, like just for fun mode, to encourage interaction from younger players, particularly if they want to play with a parent or older sibling.

There are, of course, niggles. One major gripe is that the new environments of sand and ice seem a bit half baked in to the process of the main game. The two dedicated zones outside of your main garden don’t function as new play areas; they’re just empty squares that you can go to in order to capture wild piñatas and take them back. Sadly, once they’re there the means of keeping them happy (sand or snow instead of grass) feels luke warm. Unless the ability to add distinctive furniture sets arises, the game seems to have missed a huge opportunity for creating some of your own playable environments.

In the end, Rare have come up with a very well rounded sequel, despite some concerns. Faults in the original feel remedied for fans of the series, but don’t expect anything new. If you didn’t like the original, there’s no reason you’ll like this more as, fundamentally, this is just more of the same, only better. This is no problem for enthusiasts, and for them the game is hard not to recommend as highly as possible.