Eurogamer's Top 50 Games of 2008: 50-41

Fight!

Finally! It's the Eurogamer Top 50 Games of 2008, with this instalment taking us from 50-41. Check out the Editor's blog to find out how it works, but in brief: we're wrong. Enjoy!

50. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Nintendo / Sora / Wii

Keza MacDonald: This is probably my most-played game of 2008, and I'm not even very good at it. It's endlessly, inexhaustibly entertaining in multiplayer, and since moving to Japan earlier this year I've had a huge supply of willing competitors (even if two of them are Zelda-using cheating bastards). We never tire of experimenting with the variety and flexibility of the characters, working out a Kirby play-style and then being forced to adapt when someone figures their way around it with a projectile-heavy Link, or masters Snake's directional missiles. In many ways this is the Wii's best game.

Alec Meer: I really have no time for this. I once played it with the staff of a Nintendo magazine, who all seemed to be trapped in some sort of multi-orgasmic feedback loop for the entire duration, and I left like a visitor from another world. I slipped away quietly when no one was looking, fearful that clothes were about to be removed and ear-nibbling to commence.

Kieron Gillen: It's an enormous temptation to say something like "But isn't it just button-mashing?" as it always gets a rise from easily enraged Smash Bros. fans. I'm going to resist, manfully. Real opinion? Like most sequels-in-a-long-chain-of-sequels, this is about as far away from what I play videogames for as I can imagine.

Tom Bramwell: Man, that's worth exploring. Sid Meier once described games as "a series of meaningful choices". Some are, but others are more about what Robert Heinlein called "grokking" (and it's a good thing I have Raph Koster's book about fun handy to rip his summary out of): "It means that you understand something so thoroughly that you have become one with it and even love it." Smash Bros. is like a tireless communal fight to reach that point. You never will, but beyond a certain point you get the positive benefits of it, and after that you're those guys who are easily enraged. I love them for being there.

49. Mass Effect

EA / BioWare / PC

John Walker: I'm shocked to see this so low. PC bias! Rawr! Eh? Oh wait, it came out on 360 last year, didn't it? It was number eight then wasn't it? Well, I'm still angry anyway, for some reason, about something. A properly good time, this. And the combat wasn't nearly as bad as they're telling you. And it was better on PC!

Ellie Gibson: I was hoping this would be like some kind of videogame equivalent Babylon 5, but I was disappointed. Not nearly enough comedy hats.

Kristan Reed: I never did see the infamous kiss. Dammit.

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Kieron Gillen: It's rare you see a game that enters two Eurogamer Top 50s in a row, and Mass Effect's twin versions are good enough to manage the trick. The PC version was a splendid conversion, and its galactic world-building has a level of class which frankly embarrasses pretty much everyone else. Actually, talking about world-building, this is a perfect time to hold Bramwell to task. When writing about Too Human, I was amazed to find him noting: "Okay, you're meant to be gods, but does this really mean the boss's office should be in a sort of whale ribcage construct with giant sparrow statues suspended over a mountain range accessible only by a magic floating platform?" Why, yes, Tom. It should because that sounds awesome. Mass Effect and Too Human are the two science-fiction games of recent years which make me think it'd actually be possible to write some reasonable fiction in their universes, for totally opposite reasons.

Tom Bramwell: Yeah, not my finest hour, that. Sorry!

Alec Meer: It's BioWare's best game since KOTOR, but there's this unavoidable sense of complacency to it - they've worked out how to do a specific thing that pleases specific people, and are so comfortable in that that they're not as compelled as they should be to tinker with their own formula. It's a fine universe with some characteristically fascinating quests, but next time they attempt this sort of game they really need to tear down some of the older foundations. I know it's the de rigueur nitpick, but really - the guy in the ship's basement who sells weapons to his own superior officer is endemic for how BioWare's narrative and world-building prowess is critically held back by this bizarre refusal to address the core mechanics of their chosen genre.

Simon Parkin: It's the sense that you can set down on any random passing planet in search of a side-quest that makes this universe feel, for once, like a universe: huge, intricate and bursting with mini-narratives. But in many ways it was this promise of adventure rather than its reality that made the journey compelling. Mass Effect is tension without much release. Beyond that, the technical creaks and groans bespeak either a game prematurely squeezed out for release or, worse still, one whose ambition outstripped its hardware's capabilities. Either way, it's a game that points to bright futures amongst BioWare's stars.

48. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Nintendo / Intelligent Systems / DS

Tom Bramwell: I get the feeling I'm the only person who voted for this, and not just because I compiled the votes and therefore know I am. Some Japanese turn-based strategy games make war cuddly so they can smuggle you blindfold into strategy and lateral thinking; Fire Emblem does a bit of cuddly (Pegasus Knights are basically plush dolls), but really it's a fairytale. Shadow Dragon isn't the best at this (I preferred the GBA ones), but it still gets you there, and the actual game you arrive at is one of my favourite compositions. Intelligent Systems - ever a developer more aptly named? Oh, id.

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