5) Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360) – Fans undeservedly criticized Lost Odyssey to great extents, but for a Japanese RPG experience, it is superb. It may not be very original or exciting, but what it does is provide players with an entertaining, well-paced adventure in the line of Final Fantasy, complete with balanced turn-based battles, explorable towns, and side quests. It reaches the top five due to its unique concept of immortal characters, some touching moments (especially with Jansen), and the beautiful “A Thousand Years of Dreams” story collection.
4) The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (PC) – The definitive version of last year’s The Witcher, the Enhanced Edition is an amazing improvement upon the original, with an array of minor updates and the impressive new translation and voice acting. Considering that the dialogue was one of the weaker points of The Witcher, its improvement means a much better game. The Witcher stands out as one of the most exciting, unique, and enjoyable games of 2008.
3) The World Ends With You (DS) – This creative, innovative RPG quickly won my heart with its quirky design, unique characters, and wildly fun use of the stylus. The fast-paced, sometimes insane battles are among the most fun on the DS and the game’s modern style kept me coming back for more. The World Ends With You may not have been the most popular video game of 2008, but with its intriguing plot full of things that actually pertain to our lives, it is one of the best.
2) Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2) – In the wake of the popularity of Persona 3, Atlus decided to cash in and make another game based on the same engine. Fortunately, they weren’t in it just for the money. They created a wonderful game with the same perfect battle system and entertaining social-link/school simulation from Persona 3. Combined with a thrilling plot, unbelievably likeable characters, and slick art design, Persona 4 is one of the best RPGs on the Playstation 2. I’m confident that it will remain a classic, and I haven’t even finished playing yet.
1) Fallout 3 (Xbox 360) – Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic masterpiece is this year’s most intelligent, profound, and utterly beautiful RPG. With an incredible world to explore, a compelling story, amazing gore and action, and brilliant sound design, Fallout 3 is easily one of the most playable, addictive games of this generation. Fallout 3 is one of the few video games with strong thematic elements and for that reason alone, it belongs among the best of 2008. If you need a reason to buy a next-gen console, this is it.
Special award: Best Character
Geralt from The Witcher: Enhanced Edition – No character from 2008 earns more praise from me than Geralt of Rivia, the White Wolf. The scarred, pale, white-haired witcher is ugly on the outside, but quite beautiful on the inside. Geralt encounters resistance wherever he goes due to his witcher mutations that the common folk claim make him less human, but he’s capable of more emotion and passion than most. His spectrum of feelings outclasses that of most video game characters, and he even dabbles in philosophy. His complex soul, silver tongue, and all-around ability to obliterate everything in his path make Geralt the most likeable hero of the year.