30. Assassin's Creed
Alec Meer: Realised the city-running concept beautifully, but its crimes upon storytelling are unforgivable. What annoyed me the most, though, was how it constantly, unnecessarily reminded me that I was actually boring future-guy in an VR machine, even between the unskippable and monstrously tedious exposition - electronic auras around NPCs, the Memory Not Retrieved electro-barriers to stop me reaching certain parts of the city... Whenever I started to feel comfortable in Altair's skin, the game would then inexplicably go out of its way to slap me around the face and remind me that I wasn't, in fact, a superfly 12th century assassin.
Kieron Gillen: Currently resting in the part of my brain where I keep the answer to the question "What is the most beautiful game ever?" Perversely, I like it best as a casual game - it's not something which stands up to lengthy sessions. In an hour burst, it's oddly relaxing. And I can sit on a ledge overlooking Damascus all day. That said, the sci-fi wrapper is the single worst idea of this gaming year.
Simon Parkin: All of Tom's reservations and criticisms in his review were right and true and will stand the test of time (unlike those of, say, Penny Arcade). But there's still something in me that wants to tell everybody that they should play the game if only to see twelfth century Damascus. It's an astonishing moment in videogames: when you first top the hill and see the city stretching out in front of you, bustling with reality and the rich sights and smells of historical unfamiliarity. Then later as you squeeze through its tight and busy side streets there's a revelation as to how narrow and unimaginative most of videogaming's 3D settings have been thus far. Then, when you're hassled by some beggar for spare change deep in Jerusalem's back alleys you can literally ask yourself "What Would Jesus Do!?" Before throwing them to the ground for the achievement points, obv.
Tom Bramwell: You dirty thief I'll have your hand for that!
Jim Rossignol: Great Medieval free-running game, shame about everything else. What were Ubisoft thinking?
Tom Bramwell: What with all the excitement about this not being the most amazing thing in the history of things which are amazing, the fact we rather liked it seems to have been glossed over. But we did! Yes it's stupidly repetitive, and the simon-says assassinations and narrative structure are a bit calamitous and self-defeating (compare the overall Third Crusade arc to BioShock, for example), but if you invest yourself in the world and suspend your disbelief willingly, rather than demanding that it's done on your behalf, then there's a great deal of fun to be had. It also puts a lot of other game engines to complete shame, and there's even something comically lovable about the absurd NPC dialogue.
Rich Leadbetter: Many games have attempted to realise a 'living, breathing world' within the digital domain but this game is the first to successfully pull it off. The technology on display in Assassin's Creed is obviously astonishing; I just wish that it wasn't crammed with so many basic schoolboy errors in terms of game design. The fact that you've seen all but one of the mission variations by the time you've made your first assassination is shocking. Regardless, the environments, the level of interaction, the control system, the excellent combat and the need to see everything were more than enough to keep me playing right through to the end. Regardless of my issues with this game, the inevitable sequel is one of my most anticipated games of 2008 - I just hope Ubisoft get some decent game designers and PS3 programmers on the case next time around.
John Walker: I tried hiding in some hay when chased by the police and it didn't work at all. Ubisoft, you'll be hearing from my lawyers.
Kristan Reed: Visually astounding, but just quite...dull. I'm picking my way through this at the moment, and all the time I just want to go and play Prince of Persia instead. The openworld might make it a great game to show off, but the missions just haven't really engaged me so far. Unlike the other other openworld hitman game, Crackdown, I don't feel empowered by the freedom, but that I'm having my time wasted by having to traipse around everywhere. I'm also quite tired of being chased by guards for the crime of running around.
Keza MacDonald: What infuriates me about this is that it plays the game for you. I never felt like I was actually allowed to interact with this beautiful world; neither fighting nor free-running actually involves much input at all. Any idiot can press A and run forward to get to the top of even the highest tower - it hardly imbues one with a sense of achievement. Also, allowing you to move around during a cut-scene does not make it interactive, and is fast becoming one of my many personal hatreds.
29. God Hand
Capcom / Clover Studio / PS2
Kieron Gillen: If you took Operator's Please "It's just a song about Ping Pong" and replaced "Ping Pong" with "Fighting", you'd end up with God Hand. One of the many games I wish I had more of a chance to play this year, if only because I could end up saying something something like this. Except in a nasaly midlands accent.
Dan Whitehead: Arse. I completely forgot this came out this year. I wish more games involved this much deranged humour. And spanking.
Jim Rossignol: This game is ridiculous. I couldn't recommend it to anyone, and yet it's still one of the greatest games ever made.
28. Trauma Center: Second Opinion
Nintendo / Atlus / Wii
Keza MacDonald: Yay! Nobody else is going to comment on this properly, are they? Fine. Like Zack & Wiki, this proves that third-party developers can use the Wii properly, and is a fine example of what the console is for. Despite the inevitable waves of dross that accompany the most successful consoles, I really believe in the Wii, and Mario Galaxy, Zack and Wiki and Trauma Centre have reassured me greatly during 2007. This is the most tense and urgent game I've ever played, and as close to being a proper doctor as I'd ever want to get. It demands quick thinking, quicker reactions and a great appreciation for hysterical Japanese storytelling. Like Phoenix Wright, it's often a hilarious parody of its real-life inspiration - where Wright features clueless judges, completely baseless accusations and masked impostors as prosecution attorneys, Trauma Centre has lasering viruses to death and operating on a bomb and magic live-saving healing gel. I love it to pieces and am currently slicing my way through the sequel.
John Walker: I know that even mentioning that Wii/wee jokes are old hat is old hat, but come on: Trauma Center Wee. That's funny.
Kieron Gillen: I like slicing people up.
27. God of War 2
Sony / Santa Monica Studio / PS2
Kristan Reed: If anyone's doubting the PS3's prowess, they might want to take a look at what this game did for the PS2 seven years into its lifespan. Absolutely unbelievable graphics layered on top of the most satisfying and accessible hackandslash gameplay ever conceived. In my personal top ten, and second only to Okami as the PS2 game of the year.
Jim Rossignol: Violence! More violence! Push-button violence! Brilliant.
Kieron Gillen: The definitive moment with GoW was before I even played it, forcing Rossignol to watch a video of the initial Colossus fight. And then I had to convince him that it wasn't for the PS3. A technical tour de force marred by vile difficulty spikes.
Matt Martin: Not as fresh as the first, I'd rather have a Primal sequel from Sony (only kidding). I'd rather have a Rise to Honor sequel.
Rob Fahey: I threw a brand new PS2 pad across the room and smashed it (I meant to hit a cushion, honest) during that last boss battle's crappy quick- time-event button mash fest. I never finished the game. Seriously, God of War is great - it's visceral, atmospheric and hugely impressive when it gets into its stride - but QTEs suck. And blow. And then suck some more.
26. Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction
Sony / Insomniac / PS3
Tom Bramwell: I almost let this pass me by. Almost. I'm glad I didn't - always destined to come second in a new-Mario year, it's still one of the most amusing and enjoyable Western platform games ever, and even in light of the plumber's starry turn still has a lot of funny and ingenious ideas to share with you. And Captain Qwark.
Kristan Reed: Essentially a high-def remake, but still a fantastic platform shooter with some excellent highlights. The second best PS3 game out, currently.
Tom Bramwell: Apart from GripShift. Oh no! I forgot to vote for GripShift!