The Best Games of 2008 (Nodie Awards redux)

Last year saw the release of many strong titles across all platforms, and was truly a great time to be a gamer. The GamerNode editors have poured hundreds of hours into these games, and we enjoyed so many of them that we’ve decided to forgo the traditional year-end award format in favor of simply telling you which were our favorites.

Without further ado, Here are my favorite games from 2008:

Braid (XBLA)

Braid… is incredible. It was, in my opinion, the best game of 2008, and one of two (maybe 3) “perfect 10s” I’ve ever played. From its ingenious time-manipulating gameplay to its emotionally powered story to its beautiful audio and visuals, I have trouble finding any way to fault this masterpiece. While most puzzle games wear out their welcome in a matter of days (or less), Braid‘s puzzle/platform action is still one of my go-to titles on a rainy day (or any day, for that matter), because it is so much more than your everyday gaming experience.

Penumbra: Black Plague (PC)

Penumbra is probably not something you’d expect to find on this sort of list, as it is a relatively obscure PC title from a tiny Swedish development studio, and was released very early in the year. Nevertheless, this combat-deficient first-person horror adventure did so many things so well that it is impossible to ignore. The Lovecraftian atmosphere delivered a genuinely frightful experience (something rare in gaming), the physics-based puzzles were clever and engaging, and the story and characters had depth and meaning uncommon to the medium at large. Black Plague was simply excellent.

Fallout 3 (PC, 360, PS3)

Bethesda has bottled up some kind of magic and is using it on all their open-world games, from high fantasy right on through to post-apocalypse. Fallout 3 took the spectacular design philosophies of Oblivion and tweaked them just right for the blend of first-person shooter, role-playing game, and turn-based tactics game that suits the Fallout universe so well. This is yet another game that’s nearly impossible to put down, and features enough content to keep a gamer happy for months, and perhaps even years. If exploration is high on your list of qualities that make a great gaming experience (as it is mine), then Fallout 3 is a sure winner.

Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)

Oh Kojima. Although he could be called the Jackson Pollak of video game designers, the end result of his throw-everything-at-’em approach to storytelling is truly epic. There has never been a game that could rival MGS4‘s meticulously directed cinematography, and the heavy themes found therein are also somewhat unprecedented. As a game (because it’s true that much of it plays like a semi-interactive film), MGS4 mixes it up with a variety of play mechanics, and always keeps things interesting. By the time this game is over, players feel like they’ve just taken part in something monumentally historic, and in a way, they have.

Mirror’s Edge (360, PS3)

I’ll admit that I am both a bit of a neophile and a whore for climbing and acrobatics, so when a game like Mirror’s Edge comes out, it seems tailor-made for someone like me. This parkour-based first-person platformer doesn’t dial down the excitement, because even during the moments Faith isn’t being chased by squads of riot-ready guards, the free-flowing play builds a sense of motion and momentum that keeps your hands glued to the controller and your eyes fixated on the action. The minimalist Orwellian plot set an intriguing stage for the action, as well, even if the main story arc wasn’t exactly the most compelling narrative. In any case, this one was tough to put down.

LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

I named it “Best of E3 2008,” and LittleBigPlanet remains one of the best games of the entire year. There is limitless fun to be had with this game, be it via offline solo play, online co-op, level-building, or even simply customizing and re-customizing your Sackboy as you scour each level for new items, stickers, and decorations. The best part, though, is the fact that the game never ends, as members of the community are constantly conjuring up new content that is arguably better than the core game itself. LittleBigPlanet is the closest thing to a virtual toy that I’ve seen in the video game world, and never fails to put a smile on my face.

Honorable mentions: Too Human, Persona 4, God of War: Chains of Olympus, Left 4 Dead


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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