Making the perfect game
Of the hundreds of games that came out in 2008 -- and of the dozens of truly great games we played at Game Day HQ -- each was flawed.
Though some were lacking more than others (yes, we’re talking to you, Star Wars: Clone Wars -- Lightsaber Duels), for every engrossing hour spent gaming there was always that errant control option or poorly rendered cut-screen that created the blemish on perfection.
So what then makes the ultimate game, one so shining that even the most curmudgeonly critic would find no flaw?
Assuming the role of Dr. Frankenstein, we’ve assembled a list of the most important, defining qualities of the games we liked best over the last 12 months. And if those qualities were combined into one title, that game would be as close to perfect as possible. The recipe for our flawless game includes:
* The portability of God of War: Chains of Olympus: The flaws of the superb God of War franchise (i.e., lack of camera control) were negated when it was translated to the PlayStation Portable system in this game.
* The control setup of Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Super Sluggers: Keeping its “everyone can play” theme, Nintendo gave us the option of multiple ways to control its games, from “super-simple” beginner to “well-versed” advanced.
* The chess-like qualities of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2: As in the classic board game, you had to think two moves ahead before commanding your squad of commandos.
* The puzzles of Professor Layton and the Curious Village: A bunch of mind-benders had to be completed to uncover clues in this involving mystery.
* The simplicity of Boom Blox: Knocking down blocks with a ball has never been so much fun as in this game, a must-have for any Wii owner.
* The stunning cut-screens of Devil May Cry 4: Action director John Woo would be proud of how smoothly the story is told.
* The fun of Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and Lego Batman: The Videogame: The wit, charm and adorableness of Lego Star Wars continued with two new franchises.
* The white-knuckle racing excitement of GRID and Burnout Paradise: With the realistically rendered cars and metal-twisting crashes, auto games didn’t get any better than these two.
* The re-playability of Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution: In this instant classic -- sort of like the board game Risk brought to a gaming console -- each new game offered a new set of challenges from opposing world leaders bent on ruling a continent.
* The chills and thrills of Dead Space: Few horror survival games have equaled the cinematic feel (complete with jump-out-of-your-seat moments) of this stranded-in-space tale.
* The overall wonder of Fallout 3: From the warmth of birth in a fallout shelter to the cold realities of the post-apocalyptic outside world, Fallout 3 was a journey through life.
* The cuteness and creativity of Little Big Planet: Few games require as much innovation as this one successfully does.
* The complete package of Resistance 2: It was like three brilliant games on one disc. A great single-player campaign and extra-large multiplayer action were joined by an online cooperative mode this time.
* The button-mashing action of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: Integrating the familiar characters from comic land with the brutal combatants of the classic arcade game gave us the year’s best fighter.
* The originality of Air Traffic Chaos: Who knew a game about “pushing tin” -- scheduling takeoffs and landings of commercial aircraft at busy Japanese airports -- would be such an addictive puzzler?
* The intense war games of Call of Duty: World at War: Like last year’s classic, COD Modern Warfare, this year’s installment continued its dominance of the war genre, this time going back to its WWII roots.
* The originality of Mirror’s Edge: One of the most realistic first-person games ever, Edge showed the view exactly as you would see it if you were a fearless, roof-jumping free runner.
And, lastly, the most important quality, from what happens to be our pick for game of the year.
* The bar-raising open worlds of Grand Theft Auto IV: As previous installments have done, GTA IV showed how open-world gaming should be and succeeded in making the clones that followed pale copies of the original (think Saints Row 2). GTA is the winner and still champion.
As the good Dr. Frankenstein would say, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”