12. Rock Band 2
EA / MTV / Harmonix / Xbox 360
Rob Fahey: A great song-list and the absolutely wonderful ability to import your RB1 songs onto the hard drive make this into the best music game of the year, for me. We use GH World Tour instruments to play, but the GH disc itself hasn't been on my 360's tray since Rock Band 2 came out.
Kristan Reed: Allowing you to import the Rock Band 1 tracks was a genius move. Charging legitimate users for the privilege was greedy. Just follow Sony's lead with SingStar next time, lovers. The track listing felt a bit lacklustre next to World Tour, but still one of the most fun games you'll ever play if you're vaguely into rock music and don't mind making a tit out of yourself.
Keza MacDonald: I have loved rhythm-action videogames for most of my gaming life, and never dreamed that I would see the day that I'd have two full band-based rhythm-action packages to choose from, each with hundreds-strong song libraries and ludicrously well-thought-through peripherals. I'm so happy about it.
Kieron Gillen: I spent the year playing the first Rock Band with my girlfriend and whichever miscreants ended up passing through my house. We are Captain F*** and the Love Con and we are incredibly awesome. When I wake up tomorrow morning, a copy of Rock Band 2 should be there. I hope it's awesome. I hear it is. It's the twelfth best game of the year and everything.
Simon Parkin: There is no game that I've played more this year, especially with friends, especially while having the best of times. Harmonix reveal their pedigree in an assured update to the best music game currently on the market. As a piece of software it's superior to the new Guitar Hero in almost every way, from the slick, clean interface to the boisterous drum samples themselves. The tour mode is something of a slog, and as a barrier to unlocking the game's full roster of songs it is perhaps too steep, but otherwise Rock Band 2 is the greatest co-op music game on the market and that you can import songs from previous games points toward a happy future for its followers.
Ellie Gibson: Waiting for that Scooch DLC pack.
Tom Bramwell: The Xbox 360 exclusivity, the pricing, the ridiculous contention that it doesn't compete with Guitar Hero: these things seem at odds with what this game is about. But of course I play it every weekend. Harmonix also deserves to be recognised for designing a sequel that overcomes almost every flaw in the original except for the instruments.
11. Burnout Paradise
Kristan Reed: Hello Criterion. I love your game. All the modes are fun, the graphics are spectacular, and the post-release content has been excellent. I just wish (x1,000,000) I could restart my failed races without having to drive across the flaming map. Love, Kristan.
Jim Rossignol: This kept me entranced for hours. It was partly the sense of speed and freedom, but also the mesmerising certainty that you were going to crash horrendously at some point. It was almost a disappointment when you were good enough to stay on the road. Carving a random path through back streets and alleyways felt pretty masterful too. Great stuff.
Kieron Gillen: As Far Cry 2 was to the FPS, Burnout Paradise is to the racing game. Brave, dramatic, exciting. And that they're basically giving away the entire game as the demo for the forthcoming PC release makes me love them all the more.
Ellie Gibson: I love Burnout and I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment. I maintain that the free-roaming map system is fundamentally infuriating, and there ought to be an option to skip straight to the start of races. But the smashing-cars-into-other-cars element is still just perfect.
Dan Whitehead: It took some getting used to, but Paradise quickly became my hands-down favourite racing game of the year. Incredible and innovative online play, a superb approach to DLC and gameplay that is just plain fun. There are few games where I'd bother to hunt down scattered items for an Achievement, but I'm pathetically proud of finally tracking down the last crash barrier, some six months after first starting the game.
Rich Leadbetter: A game that pushes boundaries in so many ways, Burnout Paradise is an excellent release. In terms of its technology, its online modes, its bonus downloadable content, there's little to match it this year in the racing genre. Can't wait to play it again on PC at 1080p60.
Tom Bramwell: As Oli pointed out the other day, it's not been a great year for racing games. But you won't find too many people arguing about this appearing all the way up here. If the new-look EA wants to curry more favour, it could do worse than to throw Criterion some of its other IP to work with. Road Rash, perhaps? Or, hell, the Strike games. Or in fact anything. But especially SSX. Also, judging by the tech in this, Criterion could get Crysis working on a GameCube. Stunning.
Tomorrow, the top ten.