Special: Goodness, gracious, great games of 2006!
Last year we asked the question "What if the gaming industry stopped?
". And our answer was to highlight the 52 games (one for each week) of 2005 that we considered "the best", whether they were the most original or the most epic or games that were just plain fun. In other words, if the gaming industry stopped in 2005, those were the games we'd still be playing in 2006.
Naturally we thought, what would our list look like for 2006? So we did it again.
Now, this list isn't a true "Games of the Year" list. Instead, it is a list of games that the staff of Gaming Target believes stand apart from the pack in some way. They may not be the "Games of the Year" to some people, but they are games released this year that should
be played by as many people as possible. Because of this, the games are not ranked, they're listed alphabetically. However, we have chosen a handful of games as the cream of the crop, which we'll highlight on Friday.
So what if the gaming industry stopped? If we could pick up a different game every week, this is what we would play in 2007...
Me & My Katamari (PSP)
"Sadly, Me & My Katamari is the end of the line. Perhaps to keep the franchise from becoming yet another brand and not a piece of gaming innovation, Team Katamari disbanded and the official site has closed, apparently for good. Unless something happens, there's no more Katamari Damacy games. Ever. So what we have here is the 3rd part of a trilogy which wraps up the tale. It doesn't quite reach the same heights as its forebears due to both inspiration and technology restrictions, and even reeks of cash-in at times, but Me & My Katamari does one thing right; it captures the magic and provides the quirky, unique gameplay in portable form as faithfully as humanly possible. And there's nothing wrong with that." - Adam Woolcott
Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)
We've seen this game already. In fact, we must have seen it at least 8 times, so why should we pick it up again? Because this is not the Mega Man you remember. Mega Man Powered Up is a remake of the game that started it all, but the name powered up is definitely an understatement. Featuring two new bosses, all new strengths and weaknesses, and customizable maps which let players create their own stages for Mega Man and friends to traverse, the game is a series of limitless possibilities. Each created stage can even be uploaded and downloaded from the internet, so you can share your creation with people all over the world. And if one adventure wasn't enough, players can unlock each boss as a playable character and play through the entire game as that boss- something that adds a level of difficulty that can't be imagined. To sum up Mega Man Powered Up in a few hundred words is like trying to paint the Mona Lisa with Crayola water colors. It just wouldn't do it justice. With a server that is constantly updated with both official and unofficial downloads we won't be putting Mega Man Powered Up down any time soon. - James Dauer
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (PS2, Xbox)
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon did not break any new ground for the venerable series. It was the same blood splattered, 3D fightfest that gamers played with Deadly Alliance and Deception. All three games use a slightly reworked version of the same fighting engine after all. But Armageddon was infused with the spirits of every kombatant who has ever performed a fatality in the MK series, for true fans it could be called a religious experience. Then, rather than rest on their laurels, Midway expanded the Konquest to look more like last year's excellent beat ?em up Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. And the whole thing was topped off with an excellent Kreate A Fighter mode that finally proved that everyone is a wimp compared to Ash.
Yes, the story was slight and a moderate insult to previous MKs, but Armageddon will be remembered among Mortal maniacs for a very long time. ? John Scalzo
NBA 2K7 (Xbox 360, PS3)
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
2K's hardwood series keeps stride with NBA 2K7, the latest installment in the series. Its intuitive controls, realistic physics, and phenomenal presentation fuse to create the backbone that basketball buffs have come to expect. Signature style allows for unparalleled visual likenesses to the real deal, and it plays just as good as it looks, if not better. On-the-fly coaching allows players to simultaneously play the roles of both player and coach, and with shot stick, players assume distinct control over their dunks and lay-ups. Between franchise and street ball, the regular offline modes are entertaining enough, but 2K's user-friendly, addicting online component is what really sets the replay bar high. When one of the only glaring problems in a game is its navigational setup, you realize there's not a whole lot else to complain about. And there isn't. Following suit to last year's version, NBA 2K7 again destroys the competition and will suck you in from the moment you take the court. - Joe Communale
NCAA Football 07 (Xbox 360)
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
For a debut sports title, NCAA Football 07 for the 360 is an unexpected treat. Granted, it took a year before the series actually made its way to the platform. But so often a sports game debuts on a console only to be ridden with glitches, missing features, and further indications of a rushed product, but NCAA 07 plays as though the series is already in its sophomore year. And when compared to Madden, NCAA's physics feel more authentic, as do the controls. The game's technical departments--the visuals and the audio-leave much room for improvement, but the inventive minigames, "Dynasty" mode (even though it's not as deep as "Career" mode on the PS2 and Xbox), and online compatibility combine for an ample amount of replay value. Indeed, NCAA 07 is a worthwhile gridiron experience for fans of Div I-A college football, and we still can't get enough of "Tug of War." - Joe Communale
Need For Speed Carbon (Xbox 360, PS3)
Publisher: EA Games
Need for Speed has become an annual thing, and such is the case with Carbon, the latest entry. A return to the neon-lit, night-time worlds of Underground, mashed in with the police chases of Most Wanted, the game isn't really fresh but it's still fun, thanks to the 3 tiers of cars ? exotics, tuners, and for the first time, old-school muscles that were untamed, unrelenting, gas-hungry beasts straight outta Detroit. A huge open city that could be a hellish experience when wandering into the territory of a rival, the usual tight gameplay, and following Most Wanted, a bizarrely funny story that's as amusing as it's unrealistic ? fighting for territory by winning races...yeah right. Plus, it has canyon racing...which is awesome on so many levels that even referencing it makes my head explode with glee. - Adam Woolcott
Developer: Clover Studio
"Clover Studio, you've done it again. You've set loose another game that built itself on established conventions and raised the bar once more. You've put countless other games to shame with their ho-hum visuals. You've got, I daresay, a classic on your hands. Okami is a game that demands to be experienced. Amaterasu would wish it so." - Byron Tsang
Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3)
Developer: Insomniac Games
"Resistance: Fall of Man is the first game that everyone who owns a PlayStation 3 before the end of the year should buy immediately. Insomniac Games, of Ratchet & Clank fame, brings its creative weapons experience to a brand new system for stunning toys of destruction. The unique storyline, next-generation visuals and 40-player online multiplayer also make for a great introduction to the PS3. For some, it may not exhibit the full power promised by the launch hype or come close to warranting more than half a grand for the console alone. Nevertheless, Resistance is a fine FPS exclusive for fans of the genre and anyone that wants a solid first game within the launch window." - Matt Swider
Ridge Racer 7 (PS3)
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
It just wouldn't be a PlayStation launch without Ridge Racer alongside. In general, RR7 is an enhanced port of the Xbox 360 game from last year, just with some new cars, a handful of new tracks, and a redesigned frontend for progressing through the huge career mode. The addition of car customization gives the series a tad more depth than in the previous editions, though the gameplay remains unchanged ? it's all about flying past corners at high speed while driving sideways, aka drifting. But man it's still ever so fun and pulling off perfect corners is an art form. It's not going to beat Gran Turismo or anything, but those who 'get into' the PS launches should own a copy of this game...by now it should be international law or something. - Adam Woolcott
Saint's Row (Xbox 360)
Saints Row is the closest thing to ripping off GTA completely. It almost revels in its theft, like a guy who stole 20 PS3s and rather than sell them, purely sits them in a room and stares at them like a piece of fine artwork. Aside from a few tweaks and the addition of a more useful 3rd person shooter styled combat system, Saints Row could be mistaken for a GTA game, just pushed into the next-gen. A seamless world, a handful of radio stations (with a creepy talk station that's more terrible than good), and tons of sidequests give Saints Row an identity of its own, and the ultra-thug story is far more serious than GTA has ever done. In short, it's a GTA clone on the surface, but after a while you just forget that and Saints Row gets a mind of its own. Mostly. - Adam Woolcott
So that's that. We're past the halfway point with 30 of our favorite games of 2006 down and 22 more to go. Check back tomorrow for part 4.
See the whole list:
Part 3 (You Are Here)