TA Top Five: Games of 2008

By Jonathan Barnes, 3 years ago
Do you know how lucky you are to have owned an Xbox 360?

DO YOU EVEN KNOW?

We've already taken a look at the first three years of the console and covered some mega-hits, industry giants, and iconic games that will last a generation... but still there is MORE.

That's right, we're entering 2008 where another giant makes waves, a classic series is reborn and reaches new heights thanks to a new developer, and new IPs make gamers check their shorts for dampness. Here are the most notable games of 2008.

Honorable Mentions

Left 4 Dead - Valve - November
Community Rating - 4.2 | Metacritic Score - 89

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A testament to teamwork, Valve's zombie-slaying shooter garnered a rabid following of survivors to mow through the end of days. While many shooters rely on scripted campaign elements, Left 4 Dead's AI Director made each playthrough different by varying the placement, type, and behavior of enemies in addition to virtually every other variable. This Director gave the game endless replay value and kept the stakes high even as gamers mastered the mechanics.

Castle Crashers - The Behemoth - August
Community Rating - 4.2 | Metacritic Score - 82

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A homage to classic arcade beat-em-ups, The Behemoth scored a megahit with Castle Crashers. As one of the best-selling XBLA games of all time, the brightly colored game had gamers getting together over LIVE and on their couches to rescue princesses, collect wild weapons, quaff some glork, and unlock playable characters. As accessible as games come, this gem was/is loved by hardcore and casual gamers alike.

Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution - Firaxis - July
Community Rating - 3.9 | Metacritic Score - 84

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While hardcore PC gamers may decry this version as being watered down, Firaxis gave console gamers the sweetest of sips by making a console-specific version of their turn-based classic franchise. An engrossing game that begs, "Just one more turn," CivRev was addictive in a way that few other games have been (a feature shared by last year's XCOM: Enemy Unknown). By managing culture, science, wealth, war, and jabbering advisers, gamers everywhere were empowered to take over the world as their favorite civilization. Global conquest has never been more fun and addictive.

Rock Band 2 - Harmonix - September
Community Rating - 4.3 | Metacritic Score - 92

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In a formula that soon lead to the demise of the genre, Rock Band 2 basically took everything that was good about Rock Band and made it just that much better. More songs (plus the ability to play all of Rock Band's DLC), better presentation, more flair, and a better online experience (the ability to play "World Tour" online made a world of difference) made Rock Band 2 the party game to have in 2008.

Gears of War 2 - Epic Games - November
Community Rating - 4.3 | Metacritic Score - 93

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While marred by a quasi-broken multiplayer experience at launch, the second outing of Delta Squad gave gamers more of the gritty shooter that blew them away in 2006. With a renewed focus on story and the search for Dom's wife, Maria, Gears 2 showed an emotional resonance that some may say the first game lacked. Many gamers might say that the game ended on a less-satisfying note (like most middle acts of a trilogy do), but the addition of the popular Horde Mode gave gamers another reason to pull friends together. After post-release patching, the multiplayer improved greatly as well, contributing to an experience that kept gamers "Seriously" coming back for quite a while.

The Fine Five

Braid - Number None - August
Community Rating - 4.2 | Metacritic Score - 93


Creator/Mastermind Jonathan Blow may be one of the most polarizing figures in gaming, but the game he created is nothing if not a masterpiece of art and design. On the surface, Braid is a platformer with a twist with the ability to manipulate time, but the story and emotional ramifications therein make a journey that requires multiple playthroughs. Braid is a unique experience that could only be presented in the form of a video game, a quality that is not often shared by others.

Fable II - Lionhead Studios - October
Community Rating - 4.0 | Metacritic Score - 89


The "next-gen" sequel of one of the darlings of the original Xbox, Fable II allowed Lionhead to take all of the humor and splendor of Albion and make it... well... funnier and more splendorous. With the ability to be loved or feared, Fable II once again showed how the choices of the Hero resonated throughout the land. The co-op mode may not have been fully-cooked and some of the achievements may have been a bit ridiculous, but those things can't stop Fable II from earning a rightful place as one of the "must-play" games of this generation.

Dead Space - EA Redwood Shores - October
Community Rating - 4.4 | Metacritic Score - 89


As part of EA's commitment to new IPs, Dead Space set a new standard in action-survival-horror; the USG Ishimura became the house of horrors for a new generation and necromorphs became the "crap-your-pants" enemies of this era. While voiceless, Isaac Clarke's slow, terrifying descent into madness is a journey that scintillated and scared gamers. The sequels may have diluted the horror aspects, but the original will forever stand as one of the scariest (and best) experiences on the 360.

Grand Theft Auto IV - Rockstar North - April
Community Rating - 4.1 | Metacritic Score - 98


The tale of the American immigrant who comes to his new nation with nothing and works his way up. Niko Bellic became the new face for Rockstar's seminal franchise and gave that classic, immigrant story a new twist for a legion of hungry mayhem seekers. The massive world of Liberty City gave gamers the ultimate playground in which to wreak havoc between missions and set a new standard for open world excellence. The game's two standalone DLC packs also gave gamers more opportunity to play around in a wonderful environment with new characters and stories.

Fallout 3 - Bethesda Softworks - October
Community Rating - 4.5 | Metacritic Score - 93


When Bethesda acquired the rights to the Fallout franchise, many gamers were wondering what to expect from their first game in the series. In creating the Capital Wasteland, Bethesda took the open-world excellence of their Elder Scrolls series and made a post-apocalyptic wasteland that has yet to be equaled. With hundreds of hours of gameplay, divergent storylines, incredible customization and choice options, and amazing DLC support, Fallout 3 is a masterpiece of large-world game design. The game's stability improved with time and the content became more than most could ever dream to consume, but war... war never changes, and thank science for that.

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five for each year of the 360 era until we hit this year. Did we miss a game you loved? If so, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.