High praise: 2008 was the best year for video games, ever. As such, when game reviewers name their favorite games of 2008, they will make good cases -- probably for the epics, "Grand Theft Auto IV," "LittleBigPlanet," "Rock Band 2" and "Fallout 3."
But everything is personal. So here are my Top 10 games of 2008, based on: A) how much they made my heart race; and B) how many hours I played them. Those are the two essential elements that make a game addictive.
1. "God of War: Chains of Olympus" by Sony for PSP -- This is the best PSP game yet created. You play once more as Kratos, the killing muscle of mythical gods, pounding villains with chains, knives and hammers. Its cinematic sweep is breathtaking; screenshots could hang in galleries; the orchestral score hums. It's a flawless masterpiece.
2. "Frontlines: Fuel of War" by THQ for Xbox 360 -- Offline, "Fuel" is a short, war-for-oil, shooting adventure. Offline, this was the best shooter of 2008, featuring some of the most fun battlefields, rocket launchers, tanks and helicopters you'll ever see. In the spring, I played this game online for 400 hours or so. Intense.
3. "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots" by Konami for PS 3 -- Legendary co-writer-director Hideo Kojima directed this very long work of art in an action-adventure (spanning the globe with guns) that is hard to stop playing and contains enough cinematic cut scenes to fill a movie.
4. "Patapon" by Sony for PSP -- In this very creative adventure, you make stick-figure warriors march and toss spears by touching PSP buttons as if they are drum pads. You must keep perfect rhythm, set to melodies that sound like the old indie-pop band Tom Tom Club. It is unforgettable, clever and endearing.
5. "Call of Duty: World At War" by Activision for Xbox 360, PS 3, Wii, PS 2, DS -- Offline, it's more World War II battlefields, trenches and killing. You also can unlock a bonus "Nazi Zombie" minigame (hilarious). The serious fun is online. But horrors: online shooting can be angrifyingly buggy at times.
6. "Mirror's Edge" by EA for Xbox 360 and PS 3 -- "Mirror's Edge" was the first parkour game, delivering big time. You play as a "runner" in an anti-utopian futuristic city (drawn with primary colors in street art style), jumping from roof to roof in human ways, and "wall-climbing" Jackie Chan-style. It feels extraordinarily fresh. It ends too soon, though.
7. "Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution" by 2K Games for Xbox 360, PS 3 and DS -- You play this engrossing "Risk"-style strategy role-player by leading your nation to empirical victory, starting from the Stone Age and ending with the Space Age.
8. "The Club" by Sega for PS 3 and Xbox 360 -- This was a stellar online shooter, though after just 10 months on the market, I find only a handful of gamers still shooting each other online via PS 3, using "Club's" urban battlefields and sweet weapons.
9. "MotorStorm: Pacific Rift" by Sony for PS 3 -- Drive motorcycles, trucks and four-wheelers across incredibly vast and gorgeously illustrated open spaces in the great outdoors, both offline and online.
10. "Wall-E" by THQ for PS 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS 2, PSP and DS -- This movie-based game is a solid journey where you portray Earth's last garbage-cleaning robot who goes to space in search of love and companionship. Other games were better in traditional ways. But the profound heart of "Wall-E" almost made me cry every half-hour. That is the first time a game has ever made me emotional. I will remember Wall-E fondly always.
("God of War: Chains of Olympus" by Sony retails for $40 for PSP -- Plays addictively fun. Looks phenomenal. Moderately challenging to extremely challenging, depending on settings you choose. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence, nudity, sexual themes, strong language. Four stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman's column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 702-383-0391 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.