Same rules apply. I’ve cross referenced and double checked all the games on this list to confirm where and when they came out. North American release dates only and if I was unable to play the game, then I can’t count it. Again, I apologize if your favorite game didn’t make the top 5 and it could be because of what I just explained, but there are 43 games this year, so let’s hop to it!
#5 – Resonance of Fate (Multi)
A lot of people are going to miffed about this, so let’s get it out of the way first. I liked Alpha Protocol but it doesn’t really belong on a top 5 list, Fable 3 was good but not great, I’m not a big fan of Final Fantasy 13, DeathSpank is HILARIOUS but not nearly as good as other entries, Pokemon is yesterday’s game, and I can’t really rate any of the PS3 or PSP titles.
That said, RoF is a strong title for many reasons…though I can’t say the plot and characters are among them. No, the reason this game deserves your attention is the over the top and absolutely addictive battle engine. Also, the fact that you can craft ridiculously huge guns that have in excess of 20 parts. So not only is the customization aspect very high, the battles are always fun and engaging as well.
#4 – Shin Megami Tensei – Strange Journey (DS)
You can pretty much count on a MegaTen title winning a spot when it comes to this GotY series, but this one is especially interesting for two reasons. One, the plot is really damn interesting. I’m not going to give anything away, but effectively a demon’s gate of sorts has grown in the south pole and threatens to encompass the planet…and your strike squad is the only thing standing in its way.
Definitely an odd route for the series to take, but a fun one all the same. Secondly, it’s a first person dungeon crawler, which means SMT at its very core. This game is addictive, fun, and extremely challenging at times. If you’re a fan of SMT anyway, then you don’t need me to say this, but goddamn you should really pick this one up.
#3 – Fallout – New Vegas (Multi)
“What the hell, Gun Sage?! This isn’t numero uno?!” Nein. Also, no. New Vegas is many things to me, not all of them pleasant. Firstly, I’m grateful they started getting away from level scaling, but unfortunately it also meant that there were times you’d head in a direction to explore and DIE IMMEDIATELY. It was also buggy as hell and ultimately I wasn’t as invested in the main character as in the last Fallout.
Of course, the world is more interesting as are the characters, it’s definitely put together better (minus the glitches), and there are more stats, perks, and all kinds of cool bonuses this time around. I honestly didn’t find it to be as strong a title as its predecessor, but it didn’t need to be. It was still a very fun game at the end of the day, but not nearly as good as…
#2 – Mass Effect 2 (Multi)
The top two were a toss up for me for a while. I knew immediately which ones I wanted in the top two, but the order was going to be a debacle and you’ll soon see why. ME2 is a great game with lots of great twists and plenty of things to do. It’s not as strong of an RPG as the last one, but honestly, I think that’s why it plays a little better.
Granted, I’m still not liking the lack of depth and the utter dumbing down of planet exploration, but I appreciate the NOT HAVING TO USE THE GODDAMN ROVER anymore and the fact that it plays more like Gears of War genuinely lends itself well as an action game with minor RPG tweaking here and there. The story’s incredible, the characters too, and the production values are incredible.
Ultimately, if Tri-Ace can’t get their shit together, this will be the new Star Ocean, folks. So what in the hell could possibly beat Mass Effect 2?
#1 – Dragon Quest 9 – Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS)
That’s right. A game that’s almost too traditional for its own good, has a slow to moderate pace, has definitive necessity for grinding, is only available on a portable, has no possibility for DLC, and looks like a lesser version of Dragon Quest 8 beat out the epic space opera Mass Effect 2. And why’s that? Well, let’s consider a few things. Firstly, it takes a traditional stance in this day and age…and still FUCKING WORKS without being boring or seeming dated.
The story is fun, the character design is great, and there are so many customizable elements that it’s just plain amazing. Nevermind that, especially for a DS title, the production values are off the charts. But there’s more to it than that. Now yes, partially because my 360 is shit-canned, but also because this would still be the case were it not, I can’t remember the last time I even thought about playing ME2.
I had fun with it, beat it, started playing through again…then stopped. I’ve started DQ9 over a few times, constantly changing stuff up, sometimes following an FAQ and sometimes not…I honestly don’t think I’ll be done with that one anytime soon and there’s enough optional content in there to keep me entertained easily for an additional 50 hours should I so desire.
This is a case of new school vs. old school. I realize not everyone will come to the same decision I did, but ultimately, I did because of my backhistory with RPGs in general. Even if you did, I’m sure your sort was probably quite a ways different from mine. Love it or leave it, these top 5 are definitive and well worth playing.
We actually have a lot of solid runner ups this year. Now again, I’m going to highlight those I recommend based on whether or not I’ve played them, so there will be quite a few that I’d LIKE to highlight, but can’t because I haven’t even tried them. Just keep that in mind and happy gaming!
3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
Alpha Protocol (Multi)
Arcania – Gothic 4 (Multi)
Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
Blue Dragon – Awakened Shadow (DS)
Chaos Rings (Multi)
Costume Quest (Multi)
DeathSpank – Thongs of Virtue (Multi)
Divinity 2 – Ego Draconis (Multi)
Din’s Curse (Multi)
Etrian Odyssey 3 – The Drowned City (DS)
Fable 3 (Multi)
Faery – Legends of Avalon (Multi)
Final Fantasy – The 4 Heroes of Light (DS)
Final Fantasy 13 (Multi)
Fragile Dreams – Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii)
Glory of Heracles (DS)
Golden Sun – Dark Dawn (DS)
Hexyz Force (PSP)
Infinite Space (DS)
Kingdom Hearts – Birth by Sleep (PSP)
Last Rebellion (PS3)
Mimana Iyar Chronicle (PSP)
Monster Hunter Tri (Wii)
Monster Racers (DS)
Monster Rancher DS (DS)
Mount & Blade – Warband (PC)
Pokemon HeartGold (DS)
Pokemon SoulSilver (DS)
Sands of Destruction (DS)
Shiren the Wanderer (Wii)
Trinity Universe (PS3)
Valkyria Chronicles 2 (PSP)
Vandal Hearts – Flames of Judgment (Multi)
White Knight Chronicles – International Edition (PS3)
Ys 7 (PSP)