Last week, we asked you to vote for your favourite games of 2005 and give us an idea of why you liked them so much. You responded in droves, including over 300 games in your top-fives. In fact, there were so many interesting inclusions that we're not only going to run down your top 50, but afterwards we're going to put together some interesting stats, take a closer look at where some of our top-50 games wound up, and highlight some of the games kicking around further down the list. With any luck, it'll give you an idea of what to play during these cold January weekends. To begin with though, your top 50, starting with...
50 Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
GameCube / Nintendo / Intelligent Systems
Will Whyatt: "The fact that the story makes you care."
What we said: "The key is that it divides people into those who just wanted to strategise, and those who accept the restrictions and love struggling to get everyone through, and love the way the game makes you care enough that you'll want to."
49 Kameo: Elements of Power
Xbox 360 / Microsoft / Rare
What we said: "Rare said that the game was basically completed on past systems anyway, then touched up, and that's incredibly obvious. Its development on Xbox 360 has borne graphical polish that couldn't be achieved on anything but today's highest-end PCs, but the core game is nothing you'll have trouble referencing. Enemies do what game enemies have always done, puzzles are solved the way they always have been, and events unfold predictably - both in content and sequence, which almost never leaves exploration up to you - and repetitively, as most areas are shaped to open their doors in accordance with your most recent acquisitions. And then open the next ones the same way two minutes later."
48 Space Rangers 2
PC / Excalibur / Elemental
Turin Turambar (missing the point perhaps): "Read you own review goddamnit!"
What we said: "Essentially, the game’s amazing, but I had to put myself in quarantine for a week to make sure it’s actually something I have to recommend to the world. Because it might be just because it’s precisely aimed at my soft spots – emergent situations, freeform universes, sheer quirkiness, and being constructed by an underdog developer in the middle of nowhere (Vladivostok, apparently). And it’s not that it doesn’t have enough flaws for a more sober minded reviewer to kick it down a little. But sober-minded reviewers give the latest merely competent game in a big franchise ninety percent because it exists, so to hell with them. Space Rangers is, in the language of the illiterate, Teh Aw3s0m3."
47 Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones
PS2, Cube, Xbox, PC / Ubisoft / Ubisoft
What we said: "In all the respects that matter, The Two Thrones is the sequel we were hankering after all along. It's got a measured approach to combat, pitches the atmosphere at the same eerie, mysterious level that we loved about the first game, and wraps it all up with one of the more flexible control systems imaginable that make it possible to enjoy the kind of trap laden environments that would make Lara's eyes bleed at the prospect."
46 Counter-Strike: Source
PC / Valve / Valve
Al Heath: "Easy to dip into for a 20-minute quick fix, but also deep enough for weekend long sessions with my clan. Graphics are great. Gameplay is fast and furious. Community and support are excellent. Loads of customisations available."
Olly Lennox: "A game that I can just keep playing despite the fact I've been playing CS for about 5 or 6 years. 2005 was, in my opinion a dull year for games but hopefully things will improve in 06."
What we said: "Counter-Strike: Source is, once you've gained a knack for it, the most consistently rewarding and surprising team-based shoot-'em-up available on the PC today. It's been dressed up nicely for its relaunch in 2004, but it wasn't broken, and Valve hasn't fixed it. But then the developer hasn't finished it either. And that does take some of the shine off a project fuelled more or less entirely by the desire to polish."
45 Ridge Racer
PSP / Namco / Namco
Stephen Mahon: "Flawless design, graphics far surpassing all other competitors on the same system, launch title, arcade fun, brilliant music, genius presentation and re-playability."
What we said: "Sometimes we do feel the need to wax nonsensical about trends and structures and clever hooks and the like, but with Ridge Racer it's pretty simple: good tracks, great sensation of speed, tremendous driving model. It could have done with an intermediate entry level, and it suffers for that, but it seems churlish to mark it down too far for making you grind for a half a day when the following hours then give way to days, weeks, and, in our case, months. As you know, we played it to death at the end of 2004. We've played it beyond death now. It's not quite heaven, if we're honest, but it's definitely a heck of a good racing game, and the best Ridge Racer in ages. Go buy it."
44 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC / Ubisoft / Ubisoft Montreal
Chris Patterson: "It's like I just stepped out of a salon, and I'm a super spy, and I have little irritating bits of freshly-shorn hair all over my clothes and down the back of my neck but it's okay because I'm in the best, most polished, most focused, most satisfying game of the year. But without the salon."
Rasmus Lund-Hansen: "Everything about it is just perfectly executed. It's not really innovative in any way, but the gameplay is rock solid and crammed with moments where Cool Stuff happens. And it has a dedicated co-op campaign, which is just plain awesome."
What we said: "The bottom line for us is that it has morphed into a dumbed-down experience that is no longer anywhere near as gripping and compelling as it once was, and while the multiplayer does bail out the overall value of the package to a large extent, it can't mask the decline elsewhere. We reckon we could probably see the point of what Ubisoft was trying to achieve with Chaos Theory, but we'd need night vision goggles for that. Maybe next time the series can go back to its roots and keep the long-term fans happy as well, eh? It's still an eight, but only just."
43 WipEout Pure
PSP / Sony / Studio Liverpool
Liam: "Because it is the best racing game I've ever played... ever. The beat of the music just makes you want to race faster and faster!"
Michael Eyres: "The free downloads (Omega pack was awesome) plus solid gameplay and design."
What we said: "Once you get into it, WipEout Pure is compulsive in all the ways a good racing game should be, and that's no fluke. Studio Liverpool has come up with a near-perfect equation for this sort of game, layering everything up in a manner that keeps you coming back hour after hour, with enough tracks to beat under subtly but crucially different circumstances that you never find yourself tiring of a well-beaten track. And all with an albino cherry on top in the shape of Zone."
42 Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
DS / Konami / Konami
Carl-Henrik Skarstedt: "Great use of familiars, including the evolving of them into useful helpers. Excellent backgrounds and music that never has me reaching for the volume lowering device. Amazing amount of animation for different weapons and lots of tuning makes this game my absolute favourite of the year. The best fighting controls of any game."
Matt Magee: "This game (and the DS in general) has totally reinvigorated my love of gaming. An addictive RPG structure, good boss encounters and varied environments all came together in a delightful game that I simply couldn't stop playing. Excellent visuals, too."
What we said: "Dawn of Sorrow, like its predecessors and the Metroid series to some extent, is one of those games that initially seems to contradict accepted wisdom about mechanics becoming tedious when you can see through them, because while on the surface it's about roaming round a castle collecting weapons and triumphing over evil, that's not what its hooks are snagging you with. At one point, you're faced with a sliding puzzle that controls the rooms - this is far more of a microcosm for whole game. It's not that it relies on a healthy suspension of disbelief to overcome its contrived elements; it's about bringing order to foggy chaos. This, it does with aplomb."
41 Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath
Xbox / EA / Oddworld Inhabitants
Luke: "Its artistic style, animation, characterisation, story and humour."
Patrick: "The ammo system and the strategies it allows for. The vibrant, colourful gameworld. The enemy dialog. 'Boom baby boom baby!'"
What we said: "Looking back, this combat-heavy direction doesn't really suit Oddworld's more aesthetic and humour-heavy past. The lack of discernable puzzles is a tad disappointing, and the lack of narrative hook reduces the experience to a series of tag and bag encounters. Although the whole package is stitched together marvellously, is slick, polished almost beyond belief and there's nothing necessarily bad about it, it's one of those games that simply lacks that crucial gameplay spark to elevate it to the top echelons."
Join us tomorrow to see what you put further up the chart.