Bully is an open-world, story-driven, high-schooling experience unlike any you have played before. Though it may not be Rockstar's crowning achievement, it certainly comes close and is among the better PlayStation 2 exclusives released in 2006. Pray that Bully: Vice High is next on the horizon.
4. Kingdom Hearts II
Once you sink into the fantastic world Kingdom Hearts II presents, it's hard not to get addicted to its immense variety and kinetic pace. Completing the journey through all hundred hours of gameplay it offers is the sort of thing you discuss fondly with gamer friends and reminisce years on down the road. Being able to inspire this kind of intense devotion is what turned Final Fantasy VII into the perennial classic it's become, and there's no doubting that Kingdom Hearts II will be regarded just as fondly 10 years from now.
3. Guitar Hero II
If you're looking for a different experience or just love rock music, and you never got a chance to pick up the original, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't give Guitar Hero II a spin. It creates a new sense of fun that allows non-gamers and gamers alike to come together in harmony and rock delight.
Upon completing Okami, you may feel like you have just taken in a classic Miyazaki film. The visual/aural presentation and sprawling narrative combine to present the game as an extended vision of an anime epic – equal parts The Legend of the Dog Warriors: The Hakkenden and Princess Mononoke, with a dash of Ranma ½ for kicks. The innovative visual style and use of the Celestial Brush make Okami a gaming experience unlike any other. Though the PlayStation 2 has given us a slew of fantastic releases in the last six years, Okami easily earns its spot in the upper echelon of those titles.
1. Final Fantasy XII
When all of these features and concepts come together, it's obvious that the team behind FFXII – most of whom never worked on a flagship Final Fantasy title before – was trying to change the status quo of the franchise, as well as the genre. They've succeeded. This is a nearly seamless world that feels so much more alive than the mechanical settings and story development and gameplay that we've been used to for so long. Ivalice is more alive than any other setting in Square-Enix history, and in FFXII, it's taken to an entirely new level.
5. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix
Midnight Club 3 is probably the finest street racing game available, filled with beautiful cars, awash in polish and options, and held within wonderfully realized racing-friendly adaptations of three distinct cities. Rockstar's partnership with Dub magazine has blessed MC3 with a sense of realism and style few games can match, and the authentic if exaggerated street car culture is far above the clichés of most "We street, fo' real dog" games. Remix takes a remarkably solid and realized game and stuffs in even more content, while dropping it to a Platinum Hits price. It's like taking a Ferrari, tuning it faster and sparklier, and selling it for the price of a Civic. Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition Remix is an exceptionally good game at an exceptionally low price, and it's recommended to all racing fans and pretty much all gamers. If you like driving cars (and bikes and trucks) you'll like this game.
4. Madden NFL 2007
This year's Madden offering is really great, and anyone who plays the series will purchase it anyway and play it until next year's game. A few more additions would have made this a spectacular title, but as it stands, Madden 07 is still a great game.
3. NBA 2K7
When it comes to playing a deep, exciting, and realistic simulation of basketball, NBA 2K7 is your game. With a plethora of deep features, an incredible online mode and some of the most immersive animations and graphics ever, 2K7 far outshines the competition. All in all, when it comes to a great basketball title, NBA 2K7 isn't just your best bet – it's really your only bet.
2. Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2
With so many good games available, I cannot complain about having a couple of mediocre and bad titles on a collection like this. Some of these are games that won't appear anywhere else, especially not on a service like Xbox Live Arcade, where money has to be spent to upgrade the games for online compatibility. It's fun to show to friends how bad some games from the "old-school" era really were, and then load up Super Turbo to purify ourselves. The emulation on every title is much improved over the original collection, which had longer loading times and numerous graphical glitches. Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 is the best compilation I've ever owned, plain and simple.
1. Tomb Raider Legend
Tomb Raider: Legend is really enjoyable for the short time you have with it. It's been a long time since I enjoyed playing a Tomb Raider game, and although there were some failings, they can be easily improved upon in the next rendition. Legend is definitely worth a look for everyone, from action/adventure gamers to people who want to see how a troubled franchise finally souped up its old jalopy.
5. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is a well-done product with few flaws. It, in fact, accomplishes roughly 95% of what it set out to do, and with style besides. If you've ever liked Dragon Ball Z, even just as a kid growing up, then this game should automatically be added to your collection. If you like fighting games, this is a good one to pick up that deviates from the norm. With a huge single-player fighting experience and an engine that's tons of fun for duelists and spectators alike, everyone should at least give this title a shot.
4. Excite Truck
Excite Truck may underwhelm with its audio/visual presentation, but it has gameplay in droves. The high-speed acrobatics that would have had you pumping quarters into an arcade machine five years ago have been fine-tuned to create a console game that will keep you coming back for more. It may not be the must-buy title that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess clearly is, but it makes for a more-than-suitable backup purchase, and is among the better games in the Wii launch lineup.
3. Wii Sports
Wii Sports offers five distinct sports experiences, each using the Wii Remote to provide a natural, intuitive and realistic feel. Players can use their own Mii caricatures in the game and play them against their friends’ Miis for a more personalized experience.
2. Trauma Center: Second Opinion
I was a big fan of Trauma Center for the DS and was absolutely ecstatic when I heard that a Wii version was being released. The overall gameplay is solid and different enough from the DS counterpart to be worth playing. Veterans may find things a bit too easy once they adjust to the controls, but those who found the DS version too frustrating should feel right at home, especially with the new Easy mode. While the game isn't particularly long, there is a lot of fun to be had in trying to go back and get a better ranking on the various missions, or simply just replaying a favorite moment during some free time. Those looking for something to test out their new Wii controller should try out their skills on Trauma Center.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
In the end, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is an excellent game. It is fun, packed to the brim with side quests, looks great, plays fantastically well and is overall a top-notch Zelda offering. Those looking for a title for their Wiis are strongly encouraged to pick this up, and those looking for a reason to buy a Wii: Look no further. If there is one must-own game for the Wii, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is it.
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1. Resistance: Fall of Man
Resistance: Fall Of Man is a PS3 exclusive gripping first-person action game set in a frightening, alternate 20th century reality, delivering a thoroughly believable world that blends epic military action and unnerving horror. Amid a launch lineup packed with sports titles and multi-platform "me-too's," Resistance: Fall of Man remains the lone title that really demands to be played on a PlayStation 3. And that's not a backhanded compliment; Resistance would be great on any console at any time. Though it often feels familiar (aspects remind of Half-Life and Call of Duty, among others), it never stops being well-produced and well worth your time. It may not quite be a system seller, but for $600 -- what is?
5. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas
If you love online multiplayer and FPS without the slobbering monsters, then Rainbow Six: Vegas is a must-buy. It is an exceptionally well-made title from combat engine to graphics, and even the weak offline single-player is excusable in light of the stellar co-op options online. This is the kind of game that can make you a deathmatch addict even if you've never liked multiplayer previously, and can make you crave online competition if you've previously preferred your gaming solo. If you own an Xbox 360, this is one of the games that needs to be in your system library.
4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Simply put, The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion is now the title that all other RPGs will be measured against, and now more than ever, Bethesda is one of the crown princes of the genre. Oblivion not only raises the bar in the visual and audio modules but also in the gameplay and presentation department, making it easily one of the most recommendable titles to anyone who has ever enjoyed the thought of truly doing whatever they want in a video game, in a world where actions actually mean something.
3. Burnout: Revenge
The visuals in Burnout Revenge don't merely look like an overhaul, the sound is as amazing as ever, and it definitely makes good use of high definition and Xbox Live. While it is technically a port, BR is also a significant improvement on an already amazing game. If you like racing games – even if you're a PGR 3 realism junkie – you need to play this title, especially online. For those of you wondering if the X360 is worth the purchase, BR is one more reason to make the move.
2. Dead Rising
Indeed, Dead Rising is a well-made game, and the closest the Xbox 360 has at the moment to a "killer app," in point of that it's the first Xbox 360 game to really showcase what the next-gen era is capable of beyond shiny graphics. It's not for everyone, but it's worth a try for everybody who has the system, on the novelty of its concept alone.
1. Gears of War
What it all boils down to is this: Gears of War is fun to play and will monopolize your time for a good long while. It is one of the few games to arrive on the 360 that just about every gamer can agree is worth the price of admission. If GoW can get this many things right, then hopes are high for the eventual sequel.
5. TIE – Galactic Civilizations 2: Dread Lords and Neverwinter Nights 2
The bottom line here is that Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords is just a fantastic strategy game that no fan of the genre should pass up. It is refreshing to see a title that can challenge your mind while entertaining you to no end. Many games claim to let you play however you want, but very few can deliver on that promise like GC2.
I can't recommend Neverwinter Nights 2 enough to RPG fans and those who follow the table-top gaming systems. Many other players will want to wait patiently for the mod scene to develop, but unless you're a complete no-RPG kind of guy or still enamored of your MMORPG of the week, you'll want to snag NWN2 eventually.
4. Civilization IV: Warlords
As with many of the Civilization expansions before, Warlords centers around unique forays into variants of the classic game in the form of scenarios. If you like playing games exactly as they are out of the box, Warlords still offers you plenty of variety to the title, but it might be skippable. However, if you like scenarios that switch up the gameplay at basic levels, love to play by wiping your foes off the map, or want to give the Barbarians a little love, then Warlords can easily be considered a must-get.
3. Half-Life 2: Episode One
It's hard to fault such an immersive and well thought-out game which expertly melds frenetic twitch-factor action with a variety of logic puzzles. Although the main plot isn't explained to any satisfactory extent, there is some great character development which should help create a degree of empathy for future releases. It's a short but sweet experience that easily has enough new material, substance and improvements to justify its release, and $19.99 price tag. If you have been even vaguely following the Half-Life series this far, you have no excuse good enough to avoid playing Episode One.
2. Company of Heroes
Company of Heroes is without doubt a fun and addictive game. In many ways, it has done for real-time strategy what the Battlefield franchise did for first-person shooters. It has made it an immersive and enjoyable experience that is both challenging and fun to play and will help ensure the genre remains popular with gamers for years to come.
1. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Oblivion is one of the best packages of the past several years, with no element even average; everything is as close to perfect as can be expected, and even a few odd bits here and there can be dealt with well enough. Anyone with even a passing interest in this title should get this game as soon as humanly possible. You will not regret it.