Honors, Disappointments, and General Thoughts.
Fallout 3 is undoubtedly my Game of the Year for 2008. While it is not without its faults, it is by far and away the most satisfying gaming experience of the year.
Notable honors to Braid (for making the platforming genre relevant in 2008), Left 4 Dead (for its emphasis on fun), Mirror's Edge (for trying; a good first attempt at a first-person shooter innovation), Battlefield: Bad Company (for its well-balanced, underrated online multiplayer), The World Ends with You (for its creativity), Patapon (for being Patapon), Call of Duty: World at War (for sating my Call of Duty cravings), Condemned 2 (for its unique controls and gameplay in a sea of FPSs), and Professor Layton and the Curious Village (for making me feel stupid).
My biggest disappointments of the year were Grand Theft Auto 4 (little innovation, mission structure feels archaic), LittleBigPlanet (while I appreciate the tools, the game is absolutely boring), Gears of War 2 (little innovation, broken online multiplayer), SOCOM: Confrontation (an online-only game that was unplayable for an absurd amount of time), Too Human (little to show for all the hype; hardly competent let alone innovative), and RTSs (some things are best left to PC gaming).
I have received complaints about my opinion of Gears of War 2, so let me explain.
More of the same is good---for games that are good, like Fallout 3 and Oblivion. No one wants more mediocrity. And that is what Gears of War 2 is: More of the same mediocrity. People complain that Metal Gear Solid is an interactive movie, but at least Metal Gear Solid features solid game mechanics. Gears of War is an interactive movie with simple, boring game mechanics. I equate the Gears of War series to the Legend of Zelda CD-i games. Gears of War, like the Legend of Zelda CD-i games, wowed gamers with graphics and animation, but when it came down to the heart of the game, its gameplay, it's just worthless.