Reader Top 50 of 2005: 40-31

You lot appear to like the DS too.

40 Need For Speed: Most Wanted

PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC / EA / EA

Hamish Morgan: "This game brings back the feel of the old days of speeding and cop chases. The most fun I've had in a videogame in a long, long time."

What we said: "Most Wanted is one of the few games that's destined to provide a lasting challenge, despite the inherent repetition at its core. Although it does tend to recycle a lot of its routes and tracks too, it's a game you'll enjoy exploring, and one that - if anything - grows in appeal with repeat play. Thanks to an excellent progression system, there's always something better, faster, more intense to enjoy around the corner, building the already frenzied action to the kind of climax that'll make your head spin. Building on the solid base provided by old and more recent Need For Speed titles, EA has finally created an arcade racing game that has the mass appeal its shareholders demand yet has enough substance to keep the hardcore happy too - and for 360 owners it's near enough an essential purchase."

39 Animal Crossing: Wild World

DS / Nintendo / Nintendo

Geir Ola Brandal: "Sleep? Food? Bah. Things of the past. I'm pretty sure this game has some serious subliminal messages, forcing its way into my unconscious Maslowian hierarchy of human needs. Indeed, wot wot!"

What we said: "I'm playing this version through with, if you can't tell, my girlfriend, and the aspect of simply playing the game with others, either on the same cart, of across Wi-Fi, is a whole new experience, one absolutely fraught with joy, laughter and loveliness."

38 Nintendogs

DS / Nintendo / Nintendo

Scott Berry: "A Corgi called Bongo... Nintendogs is a game that makes you happy, and everybody who sees it understands - you don't find yourself having to explain to people what is so captivating about it, having to drag them into your own suspension of disbelief. Even people who don't play Nintendogs get it, and a videogame that manages to be so welcoming to all is very, very special."

What we said: "We challenge any child, dog lover or generally soppy individual not to enjoy Nintendogs, and not to fall in love with their fluffy little bundles of fun. Not a perfect game, no, but one of the freshest, most innovative and all-round entertaining titles we've played for a while."

37 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

DS / Capcom / Capcom

1

Derek Johnston: "This game came as a breath of fresh air and returned me to the type of scripted linear games that got me so immersed all those years ago. As with the Broken Sword games this has an excellent story that you just get sucked into and don't want to put down. There is nothing better than shouting down the microphone 'Objection!!' at the crucial point in a trial to show your crucial evidence that proves the defendant NOT GUILTY. Classic gaming and all I can say is well done Capcom! This game is probably the best thing I have imported since the PSP and is recommended to everyone when it comes out here this year."

What we said: "Unlike Another Code, this is a hefty game. There are at least ten hours of play up until the end credits, and even then there's a little (read: very big) extra bonus. Well, ok, a vast, epic bonus. Another entire story has been written for the DS version, lasting about as long as the rest put together. Astonishing. The bumper extra even implements new features, such as a 3D inventory and DS gimmicks like blowing on the mic to dust for prints. It's like being cuddled by fun."

36 Guild Wars

PC / NCsoft / ArenaNet

Omkar Vedpathak: "FREEEEEEEE online play (no subs), great community, exciting PvP guild battling, a lot of strategy, free expansion, long lifespan, beautiful world and mostly normal non-geek players."

Trygve Steien: "Despite being a free MMORPG, it still delivers almost as much as WoW. The makers truly show their love for their game with new features and updating almost weekly since its release."

What we said: "So this is an Online RPG for virtually anyone. The array of character builds and focus on warring guilds makes it a dream for those who enjoy online rucks. The more off-line adventurer has a huge world and extensive plot to fight their way through. The more traditional MMO player can bounce between either pole, perhaps grumbling that there's not as much continuous content as they're used to, but sated by not having to pay any kind of subscription just to be there. And the single-payment model encourages anyone to give it a try. At its core, Guild Wars is a game which has realised that a massively-multiplayer online game can be an online game and not a world. Purists will sneer at it. And I'll be sneering right back at them, the killjoys.

35 Devil May Cry 3

PS2 / Capcom / Capcom

2

Twinkle: "What do I love about it? Well, the atmosphere is great, music is cool (especially the boss battles) and it's fun to play. Rather than just hack 'n 'slash your way through enemies, the more varied your attacks, the more points and orbs you get and the better your rating. This gives it good replay value trying to get an S ranking on all missions (which I fail at dismally), as well as trying out different weapons and styles on various playthoughs. This game has the best boss battles of any game that I have played as well, they are challenging and there's a great sense of achievement once I've finally beaten them (though I don't know who decided to put Cerberus as the first boss; he's a bit difficult when you're low-level). Facing Vergil 2 and 3 is like playing against a human opponent."

Yousef Balboul: "I love the weirdo jester in the fourth stage."

What we said: "For all its new tricks, there's really not enough that's new here to command the 9/10 it might have otherwise been granted if it had been a new kid on the block, but in terms of being rated as a worthy sequel it's comfortably the kind of game you'll happily add to your collection if you were one of the many that saw much potential in the 2001 original, and one that you'll welcome into your home even if you kicked the 2003 sequel onto the bonfire."

34 Zoo Keeper

DS / Ignition / SUCCESS

Austin Rathe: "The best game this year? Not a chance, but I've played it much, much more than anything else, which must count for something!"

Boo: "Addictive. Kept me coming back like no other game for a long, long time..."

What we said (eventually): "Zoo Keeper is deceptive. But the key point for me is that while it won't reveal all of its charms immediately, it has enough of those charms - and enough that you can't get for free - to keep you happy for a very long time. It's not perfect. There are things that could make it better. But it's good enough to warrant a better score than I gave it originally, and it's good enough to be worth buying if you're in need of a puzzle game for your new handheld."

33 Darwinia

PC / Pinnacle / Introversion

John English: "Number one for many many reasons, but most of all for the emotional buttons it pushed, for making me care about a game and its world."

What we said: "It's this year's underground classic, this year's Rez, this year's Ico, this year's... well, this year's Darwinia. It's a game that justifies your sense of your brilliance and gaming's sense of brilliance. Play Darwinia. Be Brilliant."

32 Meteos

DS / Nintendo / Q Entertainment

3

Someone whose name our script ate: "It's just the best puzzle game ever. Far more suitable to playing in short burst than Lumines which, whilst also great, just takes too damn long for a game. Also, it doesn't feel the same as any other puzzle game: the frantic 'OH GOD IT'S ALL TOO MUCH' feeling you get means it attached itself to the same part of my brain that obsesses over manic 2D shooters."

What we said: "Planets are big things. Interplanetary conflict is even bigger. Meteos, which deals with both, has been put together by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, whose work speaks for itself, and Masahiro Sakurai, who invented Kirby and Smash Bros. From our perspective then, it's a big game about big things. Yet what we find really endearing about it, slightly perversely, is the way it hits so many tiny little nails on the head with such precision."

31 Halo 2

Xbox / Microsoft / Bungie

Mr. Pan: "The game that has consumed most of my time. Nothing else comes close on Xbox Live. Even with its faults it's still the most enjoyable multiplayer game out right now."

Emanuel Fahngon: "It's the only game on any console I've owned that I've continued playing for over a year or that's come close to a year and hasn't been part-exchanged. I reckon the average playing time was a good four hours a day and that's a lot, and there were a few overnighters there as well. Oh and 99 per cent of my games were played online - didn't really touch the one player, heh."

What we said: "All things considered, the implementation here is as slick, reliable, fully featured and enjoyable as you're ever going to see from the current crop of consoles. Plus you get a damned fine single player campaign mode to while away the hours between killing your friends. If that's not enough for you, then maybe it's time to get another hobby."

Don't give up yet! Tomorrow we're counting further down.

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