2. Fallout 3
John Walker: I'd love to tell you what I think of this, but I can't play it for more than ten minutes without it crashing to the desktop. Or permanently freezing in VATS mode. Or having an actor so awful I have to gouge my ears out with a pair of scissors. I hear it's great, and it seems to have been voted awfully high. I wish I could have a go.
Kristan Reed: Game of the decade for me, without a shadow of a doubt. No game has ever had me playing 14 hours straight every day for a solid week and left me breathlessly wanting more. As I keep explaining to anyone who'll listen, it's not a game that grabs you immediately. There's so much to see and do, that it only gets better and better the deeper you delve into it, with so much love lavished on every part of the game world. Somehow Bethesda managed to craft a game which satisfied most of my wants: the plot, characters, exploration, tense atmosphere and degree of choice made it an inspiring (survival horror-esque) adventure game, the wonderful VATS system and the array of enemies made it an intense shooter, the ingenious Perks system satisfied my obsessive RPG leanings, while the hacking game even made it an absorbing puzzle at times. With a quite spectacular game engine and meticulously crafted living, breathing game world satisfying the graphics whore in me, it almost never let me down. Now, if only Bethesda could only animate the NPCs with a little more conviction we'd all be happy. Games as ambitious and well-realised as Fallout 3 come along a few times a generation. An absolute masterpiece.
Simon Parkin: If Oblivion was the kind of on horseback adventure that could only have grown out of a pastoral, pre-industrialised civilisation, then Fallout 3 is the kind that could only have come from the other end of humanity's technological trajectory. This post-nuclear fallout world is beautiful in its ruin, the shoots of life sprouting from the rubble of a collapsed American dream. The systems that Washington clothes are barely a step on from those found in Oblivion, and the story shuffles along to an uninspired conclusion. The game's wonder then lies in its details and verisimilitude: the bottle-cap economy, the clicking radioactive rivers, the abandoned gas stations and supermarkets, the open air cinemas and broke-backed flyovers. Fallout 3 is a revelation, one that we hope will never be realized in our world, but one, which we cannot help but revisit nonetheless.
Jim Rossignol: I did pretty much start killing anyone in Fallout who tried to treat me like an RPG protagonist. "Fetch X from Y? DIEDIEDIE!" After beating the first quest-dispenser to death with my fists and still making progress, I realised this game might be for me after all. After I'd decapitated some dogs and slept under a bridge I understood that my violent hobo fantasies had no better outlet. Thanks, Bethesda.
Alec Meer: Enjoyed this a whole lot more second time around, when I stayed away from the shonky core quest and focused on unchecked exploration of the endless wasteland. It's a shame the production values are so woeful and that it defaults to vaguely unsatisfying combat too much of the time, but that we get a vast, fascinating world to explore that isn't either yet more high fantasy glades'n'caves or gritty, hooker-filled urbanscapes is something we should all be celebrating. I can't help but feel Bethesda made some unbelievable cock-ups with it, but at the same time they've created an incredible structure for modders to run wild with. I can't wait to see what Fallout 3 PC has been made into in about six months.
Dan Whitehead: I've only just started into this monstrous epic, but it's already clear that Bethesda hasn't lost its knack for constructing clever tesseracts of overlapping mini-adventures in such a way that you feel like you're the first person to stumble across a side quest, secret location or curious little story. It's a shame that many of the technical gripes from Oblivion remain unaddressed, and I could do without being so crudely herded around the city by impassable piles of rubble, but there's no denying this is a big juicy steak dinner of a game.
Sony / Media Molecule / PS3
Johnny Minkley: I have nothing useful to add that hasn't been said elsewhere, so I'll simply say: if you haven't already, check out the astonishing user-created Ico level. The future's bright for this one.
Dan Whitehead: I'm honestly quite surprised to find LBP at the top of the heap. Few games made me grind my teeth more in 2008. It looks lovely and is bursting with charm and clever ideas, and has Stephen Fry's rich mahogany narration, but...it's just not very good at being a platform game. Is that just me? The floaty ambience, unpredictable environments and crude checkpoint system all made it a bit of a chore to get through, as far as I'm concerned. Platforming requires precision, and that's something that LittleBigPlanet just doesn't have. It's as woolly as its star.
Simon Parkin: Oli pointed out in his review that, despite LittleBigPlanet's many triumphs, it was nothing like as perfect a platformer as Nintendo's Super Nintendo classic, Yoshi's Island. Of course, believers argue that it's so much more than a mere platform game, that it is in fact, a platform in and of itself, a tool for users to realise the inventions of their imagination. But, as a tool, surely its work is best demonstrated by the game Media Molecule created using it? If that's the case, then the question becomes: can the game's users transcend its inventors' creativity to turn a great game into a classic one? Limitless potential is of no use until it is somehow realised and, while the YouTube videos of fantastic contraptions inspire "how on earth did they..." gasps of wonder, for me, this is a game still only pregnant with potential. That the responsibility for the game's greatness rests on us and not on the developer is unusual, and for that reason the endless plaudits make me uneasy. Whatever the end result, this is a game I've thought about more than I've played, and, as they say, actions speak louder than words.
Tom Bramwell: The reason it's top - for the benefit of those who haven't read about how this list works - is that it was high up in the vast majority of top-ten lists submitted by staff and contributors. It only topped a few of them, but the number of people who write for Eurogamer that chose to play it and subsequently loved it was higher than any other game. In that sense it's a worthy winner. I almost feel guilty that it wasn't on my list at all, but it leaves me completely cold: the platforming is overburdened with self-conscious presentation its imprecise controls and frustrating checkpoints fail to justify, and the editor was too slow and complicated for my pathetic brain to bother with. I've nothing but admiration for what it represents, and - as Johnny notes in his comment about the Ico level - what it's inspired. But I've nothing else, such as a soul.
Ellie Gibson: A deserving winner, for the Stephen Fry voiceover alone.
Tom Bramwell: Well, okay, I love Stephen Fry also.
Kristan Reed: Pretty much everyone I've spoken to seems to agree that LBP makes for a fairly boring single-player experience, but becomes absolutely mesmerising in co-op with the right player. There are so many cute touches, so many fiendishly designed levels and an art style to die for. It's no surprise to see this end up at the top. It's not beyond criticism, though. The online lag is ruinous most of the time, and the added inertia on the jump mechanic makes it needlessly fiddly when the going gets tough. I'll never bother with level creation, but I'm so glad it's there. Seeing what people have come up with is a brilliant way to keep me coming back for more - as is the brilliantly replayable nature of the level design.
Christian Donlan: Make crabs out of floral-print material, wedge in some dynamite, wire it to a trigger: voila! Exploding floral-print crabs. After that discovery, the single-player levels were pretty much dead to me.
Jim Rossignol: I've only had a scarce few hours with this game, but it has completely captured my imagination. I think it's the fact that it feels so solid, so tactile, is at the centre of its appeal - you're rapidly convinced of the grasping and manipulating stuff in the game world. And it's just too cute.
Keza MacDonald: This, played co-op with the right person, is the most fun I've had with a game all year. The first time I played it I ended up spontaneously hugging the person next to me out of sheer joy. It's such an infectiously lovely game; just looking at Sackboy's gurning face makes me happy. It shows us to be the creative, joyful souls that we gamers are, not expressionless grey people shooting men in the face.
Kieron Gillen: I can't help but wonder - if a game's based around user-generated content, and the fact you're on a console means that you can't actually let gamers generate their content without half of it being deleted because it infringes some copyright or another... isn't that just a fundamentally flawed concept? And World of Goo totally gives you awesome levels without having to worry about someone else doing it for you.
John Walker: All I've read about this is that the platforming is rubbish, and you have to make your own if you want to play a decent level. And World of Goo is at number ten. No. That's not okay. Last year's number one game was Portal. Just to remind you.
Rob Purchese: LittleBigPlanet lets one dress up. I was a zebra for a while. Then a skeleton. Then in a female bathing outfit. And to my surprise these costumes were replicated in the game!
Rob Fahey: I'm surprised that this is number one, but also quite happy. It's not a gamer's game, and the creative end of it is sufficiently complex that most people will probably never get into it - but these things aren't failures. LittleBigPlanet sets out to give people fun, social experiences, to make them laugh and challenge them to work together, and for those few whose creative talents are great enough, it gives them a wonderful toolset. It's a resounding success on all of those levels. It's not my personal favourite game of 2008, but it's certainly the most interesting - and on that basis alone, I'm happy to see it top this chart.
Oli Welsh: God knows why Sony thought an experimental 2D platformer would save the PlayStation 3. It didn't. It did, however, save 2D platformers, which in the long run is probably just as important. It's such a happy little riot, especially in the fantastic four-player co-op. And how nice to have an inherently social game that's neither about discussing character builds on forums, teabagging your rivals, or making an exhibition of yourself with a novelty controller when drunk; a game where other people are just part of the landscape. The editor does too much and tries too hard, but you don't need to use it yourself to feel the benefit. You just need to press play and run and jump. For joy.
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