We’re going to give this another shot…and hopefully Wiki won’t be such a dick in the ass this time. For those of you just jumping in, RPGs have been a huge impact on me ranging all the way back to the original Final Fantasy. Join me as I attempt to outline the top 5 RPGs each year and list all the runner ups for your viewing pleasure, should you choose to do so. Don’t forget that the pictures include youtube links as well.
Also yes, there really is a game called “Tales of Game’s Presents Chef Boyardee’s Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa.” Yes, I thought it was fake, too. Don’t forget to check on previous RPG of the Years here. By the by, this is the first year that’s had so many free to play titles, soooo…it’s pretty massive. That said, this year there are 95 games! Man, I hope I didn’t miss any…
It was a toss up between this and Eternal Sonata to be honest, so don’t hate. The Tales series is has been a long time running series and has had a lot of really good games within it, but nothing too mind-blowing, especially after the first few installments had boiled over. Vesperia presents us with a story that, on the surface, is pretty standard and seems like it’s just an excuse to get the heroes out there in the world.
However, and I’m not going to spoil anything, the character interactions are great, hilarious, spot on…and often do things you wouldn’t expect. That last point is especially crucial. Yuri’s character is an interesting one that truly defines what it means to be a vigilante. He makes decisions that most main characters wouldn’t make and in a way that often surprises you. In a way, he does what you WANT to do, but can’t because you’re supposed to be the good guy.
He’s a very complex character and everyone that surrounds him, even the bit characters, are done incredibly well…and that’s not even counting the great voice acting present in the title. Naturally the battle system makes a comeback and while it can be a bit difficult at times, the game overall is fit for any action/RPG fan. A welcome addition to the Tales series and potentially the best one, Vesperia is spot on in nearly every category.
To say that Lost Odyssey is a game that grows on you is a gross understatement. It was actually the first title I ever purchased for my 360 and almost 2 years later did I finally beat the first disc. Why? Because OH MY GOD IS IT SLOWWWWWWWW. There. That’s an honest, genuine criticism. Well then, why the fuck did it make the top 5? I mean, come on…this top 5 list is supposed to be the absolute, definitive BEST of 2008, right?
And it is. How so? Look, I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you make it through the first disc, you’ll immediately become a fan. That’s all I can say. Yeah, the story’s slow, but it’s also very traditional and the 1000 Years of Dreams stuff is pretty incredible. Of course, I’d expect it to be so as it was written by the dude who did Final Fantasy. The game has lots of high production values including great voice acting, music, graphics, and so on.
While the story is slow, it’s also a very well told story. Mostly the game is slow from a technical angle as combat is turn-based and you have to carefully plot out your movements well to survive even the simplest of battles. And I get that most modern gamers may simply not have the patience for this title, but trust me when I say it’s one of the best RPGs you will ever play.
I had high hopes for Fable 2 and while they fell a bit short, the bottom line is it’s still a game that’s very fun to play, has a lot of the spirit of the original within it, and there’s plenty to do even after you’ve beaten the game. I think one of the most addicting aspects to it is the rent system. See, yes, there was a property/rent system in the original, but it was very basic and you were never really expected to own a bunch of properties.
Fable 2 is almost like a monopoly hybrid. Seriously, one of the first things I do when playing anymore is buy up as many cheap ass properties as possible, then when I actually start getting bigger developments and shops, I start furnishing and refurnishing properties until…wait wait…isn’t this supposed to be an action/adventure/RPG? And that’s when it hits you.
Despite the fact that this game fell short in some respects and went super casual, it was still a very solid title overall with many addictive things thrown in more or less just because Lionhead could fucking well do so and I truly appreciate them for that. I mean, come on. What other game can you say that between adventuring you got half the town in on an orgy, just because you could?
Really, what more do I have to say? Well, I guess I should say something. I mean, I hate to be facetious enough to believe that at some point this will be looked at as a time capsule of sorts, but hey, maybe, right? Gamers were understandably skeptic when they first heard of this title. I mean, sure, Oblivion was a damn fine game and Morrowind…well, OTHER people liked it, so they couldn’t have done wrong, I suppose, but Fallout was originally an SRPG, so seriously, how was that going to translate well?
And yet, it did. I mean, it REALLY did. I sunk hundreds of hours into this title just wandering the wastes, doing random tasks, rolling over achievements, trudging through DLC…yeah, the whole nine yards. Didn’t get tired of it until months later, in fact. It was easily one of the strongest post-apocalypstic games ever and yet it was such a perfect, unbelieveable blend of genres.
Effectively, it’s a stealth/action/first person shooter/RPG/adventure game. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a garbled mess myself, but there you have it. True to the original, insanely fun, easy to pick up and play, and nary a negative thing to say about it, Fallout 3 should be number one this year. Should be…but there’s simply no beating…
Now now, put down the pitchforks. While Fallout 3 was an incredible title, this is my second favorite RPG of ALL TIME. There was a while where I was strongly debating whether I actually liked this one more than Final Fantasy 7, and if you follow my writing, you know that’s a pretty grand statement coming from me. See, Persona 3 was an incredible title, but it had its problems.
The difficulty curve spiked early, the characters were good but could have been better, the dungeons got fairly repetitive, there was a lot of trial and error, you couldn’t manually control your allies, there were very few save points, having your characters get “tired” was fucking frustrating…the list goes on and on despite it being an incredible title.
Persona 4 fixes every single last one of these with effectively difficulty balancing, better characters, better voice acting, better character situations, innovative shop item acquisition system, jobs, lots of save points, automatic checkpoints, trading the tired aspect for having to pay to heal, and much more. While the story isn’t as dark as P3, it succeeds tremendously from a technical angle and I liked the characters, story, visuals, and music more in this one.
It absolutely succeeded in taking a system that was already great with just a few minor flaws and polished it until it was platinum quality. I absolutely cannot say a single goddamn bad thing about this title and that’s with me really, really trying. If you haven’t tried this title, you are truly missing out on an incredible JRPG experience.
I know I’m going to be stepping on some toes for the order and also not including titles like Valkyria Chronicles and Eternal Sonata, but hey, this is my list, so fuck off. It is possible that I missed a few titles, but I tried to reference and cross-reference as many different places as possible to produce this list. Let me know if anything is out of place or missing. And again, thanks for the read!
Age of Conan – Hyborian Adventures (PC)
A.I.M. 2 – Clan Wars (PC)
Asda Story (PC)
Atlantica Online (PC)
Avernum 5 (PC)
Away – Shuffle Dungeon (DS)
CABAL Online (PC)
Castle Crashers (360)
Crisis Core – Final Fantasy 7 (PSP)
Crazy Tao (PC)
Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! (PC)
Deco Online (PC)
Disgaea 3 – Absense of Justice (PS3)
Dragon Quest Swords – The Masked Queen and The Tower of Mirrors (Wii)
Dungeon Explorer – Warrior of Agent Arts (Multi)
Dungeon Runners (PC)
Eternal Eden (PC)
Eternal Poison (PS2)
Eternal Sonata (Multi)
Etrian Odyssey 2 – Heroes of Lagaard (DS)
Fate – Undiscovered Realms (PC)
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles – My Life As King (WW)
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates (DS)
Final Fantasy Fables – Chocobo’s Dungeon (Wii)
Final Fantasy Tactics A2 – Grimoire of the Rift (DS)
From the Abyss (DS)
Gaia Online MMO (PC)
Ghost Online (PC)
Global Conflicts – Latin America (PC)
Holic Online (PC)
Infinite Undiscovery (360)
Izuna 2 – The Unemployed Ninja Returns (DS)
Key to the Kingdom (PC)
Kingdom Under Fire – Circle of Doom (360)
King’s Bounty – The Legend (PC)
Last Remnant (360)
Legend – Hand of God (PC)
Legionwood – Tale of the Two Swords (PC)
Luminous Arc 2 (DS)
Lunia – Record of Lunia War (PC)
Masters of Belial (PC)
Mega Man Star Force 2 – Zerker x Saurian (DS)
Mega Man Star Force 2 – Zerker x Ninja (DS)
Mount & Blade (PC)
Operation Darkness (360)
Penny Arcade Adventures – Episode 1 (Multi)
Penny Arcade Adventures – Episode 2 (Multi)
Perfect World International (PC)
Pirates of the Burning Sea (PC)
Pi Story (PC)
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of Darkness (DS)
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of Time (DS)
Quest for Glory 2 – Trial By Fire VGA Edition (PC)
Requiem – Bloodymare (PC)
Rise of the Argonauts (PC)
Rohan – Blood Feud (PC)
Rondo of Swords (DS)
Rune Factory 2 – A Fantasy Harvest Moon (DS)
Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel (PC)
Secrets of the Solstice (PC)
Sewer Goblet – The Wu-Tang Clan and the Wu-Tang Baby (PC)
Shin Megami Tensei – Imagine (PC)
Sho Online (PC)
Silverfall – Earth Awakening (PC)
Song Summoner – The Unsung Heroes (iPod)
Sonic Chronicles – The Dark Brotherhood (DS)
Space Siege (PC)
Spectral Force 3 – Innocent Rage (360)
Spectrobes – Beyond the Portals (DS)
Spirit Engine 2 (PC)
Star Ocean – First Departure (PSP)
Summon Night – Twin Age (DS)
Tales of Game’s Presents Chef Boyardee’s Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the
Hoopz Barkley SaGa (PC)
Tales of Symphonia – Dawn of the New World (Wii)
Talisman Online (PC)
Valhalla Knights 2 (PSP)
Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
Warhammer Online – Age of Reckoning (PC)
Wonderland Online (PC)
World Ends With You (DS)
Zoids Assault (360)