1. Resident Evil 4 (NGC/PS2)
There's so much to rave about in Resident Evil 4, that the best thing you can do is go out and play the game yourself. The action is very well implemented, and it's obvious that Capcom had this focus on action in mind when creating various aspects of the game, from the inventory system, to the weapons system, to the speed and intelligence of the numerous enemies. Series loyalists shouldn't fret about things changing too much. There are still a few puzzles and a few find-a-key moments. Although there is plenty of action, there are enough quiet parts to keep you guessing as to when the next mutant will jump out and chew on you. Capcom included more additions and improvements than they had to. What RE4 does is put the "survival" feel back into the survival horror genre. It's nice to see the originator back on the bloody cutting edge.
2. Psychonauts (Multi)
Psychonauts is, simply put, a near masterpiece. Ignoring the very occasional awry camera angle (which, 99% of the time, isn't a problem) or niggling puzzle (though hints are always available by waving a slice of bacon and calling on an old geezer), it's nearly perfect. Without a doubt, it's the best platformer developed in the past few years, and quite possibly the best 3D platformer yet produced. It's got art, music, a storyline, incredible levels, a real sense of direction and a great sense of humor. Don't miss out on this – you'll regret it.
3. F.E.A.R. (PC)
As a whole, F.E.A.R. is terribly immersive. The story's a bit clichéd at times, but it's always worth paying attention to. The game is creepy enough that it's thoroughly unsettling, but the action really packs a wallop, and slow-mo is fun and useful. While not terribly long, there's multiplayer to help savor the fun, and frankly, the only real letdown is in the ultimate lack of location variety. If you've got a system good enough to run this, do not miss out: F.E.A.R. is one of the most strikingly fun and exciting games to be released all year, and easily the best FPS since Half-Life 2. This is not to be ignored.
4. Guitar Hero (PS2)
Finding flaw with this game is pretty difficult. It could be said that the song list could stand to be longer, but that could likely be said regardless of how many songs are present, you will want to play this game so much. Besides, the songs that are here are excellent and worth playing many, many times. The price will probably sting, but it's a necessity given the solid construction of the proprietary guitar controller, which is absolutely the reason this game works so well. Games this good come out very rarely, and when they do it feels like a gift. Guitar Hero is the gift of a great game and the gift of music; it is the gift of rocking your walls clean off your house. Get it for yourself, and get it for the people you love most, and you will be annoying your neighbors for weeks.
5. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
Shadow of the Colossus delivers on a true sense of adventure, and it also makes you think. Trying to avoid gushing about this game really is difficult, because it truly is an experience. There are some technical issues in the framerate, camera and control areas that hold it back from being completely unblemished. Nevertheless, it will likely give you goosebumps with its cinematics and rousing musical score, and it often amazes with the excellent sense of size. It's not Ico 2, but rather a highly memorable title on its own merits.
6. Call of Duty 2 (X360/PC)
Call of Duty 2 does nothing radically different from its predecessor. You still play out mission packs with Russian, British, and American troops; it’s still a squad-based 3D shooter; and it's still primarily set in the European theater of war. However, it takes everything and just metaphorically turns it up several notches. It looks better, it plays faster and harder, the maps are longer, the scripting is tighter, and the level design is arguably better than the first. A single marathon session of Call of Duty 2 can be exhausting, simply due to the continual sense of immersive tension the developers were aiming for.
7. Battlefield 2 (PC)
While billed as a multi-player game, there's actually a decent single-player game in Battlefield 2. The bots actually form up squads, wait for you to get in the vehicle before taking off, and make good tactical decisions. The big improvement Battlefield 2 brings to the series is reliance on team-play, immersion and complexity. The complexity doesn't make the game any harder to play; while there's a decent learning curve here, most of it falls in the "Gee, I didn't know I could do that" category. Figuring out the squad and commander commands is probably the hardest part.
8. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (NDS)
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is the most complete 2D Castlevania game to date. Gorgeous graphics and compelling music combine with exciting exploration and combat to form a great action experience on the Nintendo DS. If you've played any of the Castlevania games that have come before, you'll definitely want to experience this one. If you're a fan of vampires and Dracula, you'll want to play this game. And even if you've never played Castlevania and have never heard of Dracula, there's never been a better time to get initiated. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is a fantastic game that no one should miss.
9. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2)
Dragon Quest VIII is a game that, like old RPGs, really focuses on the idea of immersion. The protagonist never speaks because it's implied that his voice would be yours. With most RPGs trying to tell increasingly bigger and more character-focused stories, it's a refreshing change, and helped out by the cleverly staged cut-scenes and nicely fleshed out supporting characters. Certainly the score, provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, does a lot to make you feel like you're wandering through some sort of big-budget Miyazaki film. There's also a powerful shot of nostalgia for folks who grew up on NES Dragon Warrior, as the menus are patterned after that style - and yet as usable and slick as anything you'll find in an RPG. All told, Dragon Quest VIII is one of those rare games that can be fairly called a masterpiece. It's something any gamer with even the slightest taste for RPGs can simply fall into for happy hours at a time.
10. Lumines (PSP)
Offering addictive and simplistic gameplay, beautiful graphics, a hip-hoppin' soundtrack, and several different modes of play, Lumines is a very good game that will take hundreds of gaming hours to master. Whether you are an experienced gaming veteran or just a casual player, you will surely enjoy this title and all it has to offer. It's more than just a puzzle game, and in fact, with the animated skins and the mesmerizing beats, you will find yourself in a somewhat Zen-like environment.