10. Dead Space
What we said: "Dead Space easily delivers on that promise, but fails to turn its polished production values into something truly memorable over the long haul."
Ratsoap says: Takes everything about the survivial horror genre that was good, and turns it up to 11. Resident Evil 5 is gonna have a hard time living up to this.
ChthonicEcho says: Sure, Dead Space offers scares that grow old fast, and its story is riddled with clichs and predictable plot twists, but it has a satisfyingly gory ending that sees one of your traitors getting colossally screwed, and to defeat enemies, you have to cut their limbs off. A game that allows you to act out your sadomasochistic fantasies - what's there not to like?
Move42 says: In a year of bold experiments, this is the most conventional game of them all. There are a few innovations - the in-game HUD is one of them, and it's genius - but most of the time, this is a by-the-numbers-affair: dark corridors, guns, monsters, go. What makes it better than all the other shooters of the year is simply lots of polish, the attention to detail, and the production values. In a better world, all games would be as well-executed as this. In our world, this is one of the best of the year.
Gilegend says: Almost did the impossible and made a game scary.
darleysam says: A M-rated sci-fi horror game from EA? I've been following this since GameInformer first mentioned it, and was not disappointed by the final product. A highly polished homage to all the best examples of sci-fi horror over the years (intentional or not) that left me both too tense to continue, but reluctant to stop. Also the over-touted 'strategic dismemberment' managed to be just as much fun from the first to the last necromorph you're picking to pieces.
jaylab says: Resident BioShock in Space 4: Slicing Evolved.
KevvyMetal79 says: Surprise of the year. Almost as good as RE4. A fantastical designed, linear rollercoaster of a game. Totally trim of fat and filler.
trousers says: 'Ooh a flashing light next to a dead body what could that be for? Ooh shiny. IT'S ALIVE! AND EATING ME!' It takes the oldest tricks in the book and still manages to make me squeal like a girl.
Calex30 says: A bolt out of the blue. I was expecting yet another corridor shooter with the odd fancy weapon but was blown away. A perfect game for the dark winter nights and downright terrifying when playing at two in the morning. Atmospheric to it core.
9. Burnout Paradise
What we said: "There's no doubt that Burnout Paradise is a fine arcade racing game that will once again attract a strong following from a discerning audience prepared to live with it and get used to its intricacies."
KRadiation says: The original on disc game was a lot of fun but they've added and added to it and for free!
steoc4 says: They could have done another lazy update, but instead they went back to the drawing board and produced something very special, with some of the most innovative and entertaining use so far of modern connected consoles.
Kropotkin says: Open ended driving game that takes something from the GTA mould. Criterion's support for the game has been astounding also. It's the game that keeps on giving.
rhythm says: Burnout finally works! The previous versions never quite gelled but this was damn near perfect. Plus the DLC keeps giving and giving!
Lawlost says: Crash bang racer with stacks of free DLC, what more could you ask for.
Ed_209uk says: A departure from the traditional Burnout formula and a gamble that paid off. A fantastically realised play area with some lovely art direction and that hallmark of the series, a genuine sense of speed, fully intact. Online is a constant blast and the level of support Criterion have shown for the game is nothing short of exemplary. I'm looking forward to the new island already.
Pinewood_Groves says: Possibly forgotten by many for being released so early in 2008, Burnout Paradise is a stunning package with eye-bleedingly good graphics and speed, and fantastic, almost revolutionary open-world gameplay. Plus, the greatest developer support, in the form of free DLC, I think I have seen in nearly 20 years of gaming.
Ignatius_Cheese says: No franchise reboot or rethinking has come close to what Criterion has achieved with Burnout Paradise. Sod the quick restart option! The community for this game has given arcade racing a well-deserved shot in the arm and continues to entertain many late on a Friday night. And that's not the end for Paradise City! Next year promises even more delights via DLC to keep the blood fresh in the veins. Take me down, indeed, to the Paradise City! \o/
Jonathan Blow / Xbox Live Arcade
What we said: "Braid is beautiful, entertaining and inspiring. It stretches both intellect and emotion, and these elements dovetail beautifully rather than chaffing against each other. Still wondering if games can be art? Here's your answer."
johnboy_johsnon says: Frustrating in places but an absolute joy to play. One of the few games to give such a sense of achievement. Also felt like a genius playing it.
twmac says: The music, atmosphere and story are exquisite.
jimbob101 says: Ow my poor brain.
Scrumhalf says: Harks back to the good old days of gaming - quite the most brilliant concept and game ever delivered.
Defrost says: This is what independent gaming is about - ridiculously long development times, obscure symbolism, frustrating puzzles, and 100 per cent worth every penny.
caligari says: Admirable, alluring, angelic, appealing, beauteous, bewitching, charming, classy, comely, cute, dazzling, delicate, delightful, divine, elegant, enticing, excellent, exquisite, fair, fascinating, fine, foxy*, good-looking, gorgeous, graceful, grand, handsome, ideal, lovely, magnificent, marvelous, nice, pleasing, pretty, pulchritudinous, radiant, ravishing, refined, resplendent, shapely, sightly, splendid, statuesque, stunning, sublime, superb, symmetrical, taking, well-formed, wonderful. The words that I would use to describe not only myself, but also the rather lovely Braid.
Rayn says: Amazing mix of platforming and puzzles, and the time-manipulation controls feel like second nature after five minutes. This is a step forward and an evolution for platform puzzlers as well as proving that bedroom coding ain't dead.
neuroniky says: It left me almost in tears. Both out of sheer joy at seeing how good the developer was in designing some level, and because the story was so sad even if you couldn't make head over tail of it. The masterpiece of the independent software this year.
MvK says: Braid is the Brazil of gaming, and will go down in history as one of the best examples of this medium we love so much. It isn't often that you're still thinking about a 'videogame' days after you've finished 'playing' it.
mdogg says: It was simply a brilliant puzzle game due to its core mechanic being innovative and consistent. The background visuals was great eye-candy. The script was embarrassing but gave it that homebrew edge.
7. Left 4 Dead
What we said: "Left 4 Dead is another deeply professional, personality-filled and progressive take on the shooter from Valve. In a cultural landscape that has as many zombie touchstones as ours, it takes something special to make them shamble appealingly, and Left 4 Dead, both literally and metaphorically, makes them run. In this new co-op landscape, it'll be interesting to see whether anyone can catch up."
ChthonicEcho says: Valve has managed to successfully blend in what every nerd loves - sophisticated co-op gameplay, zombies, and jailbait of a teen girl as one of the players. Wait, am I even allowed to type this?
Beats12 says: The way Left 4 Dead actually managed to force you to work as a team resulted in some of the best multiplayer gaming I've ever experienced. When you add the excellent set-pieces involving desperate struggles for survival and the fact that zombies are simply awesome, then you have a game of the year!
Kanon says: The best co-op experience I have had to date online or off. In my book that's about the best praise a game can get. Short but sweet. If the game had a couple more scenarios to play through it could have easily been first on my list. A runner-up but a damn good one at that.
dfunked says: This game reignited my passion for online gaming. If you manage to find a game with three other like-minded players, you'll have an unbelievably absorbing experience.
saucymonk says: Excellent computer player AI, and every game is different! SUPER DUPER!
PlugMonkey says: My best online experience ever. The way people just fall into some extremely complex team strategies is enormously satisfying.
keme says: One of the few truly co-operative co-op games out there. Truly heart-shatteringly intense combat, insane replayability, an excellent Versus mode. It might not be much more than a Source Mod, but it's still one of the few games that came out this year that will still be played in 2010.
Monkey_Puncher says: Have always loved co-op games and this game takes online co-op to the next level. Wonderful level design that never seems to get dull no matter how many times you play through them, and what's not to love about shooting hordes of zombies in the face?
Tricky2050 says: It had my housemate and I screaming like schoolgirls the first time a tank chased us in co-op. Absolutely awesome fun.
Meho says: I hate people. I spend most of my free time reading and playing games precisely so I can be away from people. And then you have a game that is all about being around people. Admittedly, they are on other continents and they have silly names with brackets and underscores in them but the first time an unknown person heals you after an attack where you have collectively killed upward of 100 zombies (sorry, infected) you will understand what 'love thy fellow men' was all about. Left 4 Dead almost makes me hate people a little less and god damn it if this does not prove that games can actually provoke actual emotion.
6. Fable II
Microsoft / Lionhead / Xbox 360
What we said: "Fable II's generous and forgiving template isn't one that many games choose to follow, but it proves convincingly that if you're clever enough, you can create a consistent challenge without resorting to mindless punishment, and you can craft a sharply told story that still has room for the player to express themselves within."
Kafkaesque says: I've played plenty of MMORPGs but I've been allergic to single-player RPGs for as long as I can remember. This is the first RPG I've ever finished, including various incarnations of Final Fantasy. The sandbox element is great too; I spent ages just saving up money to buy property and to see how my wives would get on if they set up home next door to each other. Going further, I actually played through again just to see how decisions I made would influence how the game played. It's not perfect but it's a good step forward towards creating more captivating worlds in which to play.
Headache says: The freedom to leave the main story hanging and become the evil landlord and master of all the people of Albion has been a major plus point for me, I'll finish the main story one day, but not before all its citizens are on the streets begging.
Halo Jones says: Great game, can get a bit dull at times though. Enjoyable watching the kids play it and being nasty little sods.
GaidenZero says: Art style is suberb and the brilliantly realised world of Albion truely draws you in. It's concept was well realised and the emotional impact was suprising.
chris_himself says: I have big evil horns, people run screaming from me, my dogs eyes glow red, all because of my chosen actions in game. Quality!
martymcnulty says: Because no other game this year let me consummate a fictional marriage in the presence of a huge, disembodied eyeball, then celebrate this by running in my pants through a town square, shredding a lute solo in front of a crowd of peasants, and then follow it up with several loud, sonorous farts, aimed alternately in the faces of women, tramps and children. That said, I'm yet to play Far Cry 2.
Trottimus says: Immersive, original, British.
denis09 says: As someone who really enjoyed the fine but flawed Fable on the Xbox, this feels like an overall improvement on all levels. Great-looking world, freedom to become who you want and do what you like. A real next-gen role-playing experience!
nedrichards says: [On the ending, which we won't spoil here, even though many have seen it.] Well done Lionhead, you made me care.
farticusmaximus says: Charming and engrossing, with loads of replay value for those inclined to wander and experiment.
fifthcolumn says: I commanded my dog to pee on a tramp, then invited him back to my place for a threesome. What other game would let you get up to this sort of mischief?