Despite being at the tail end of the videogame console cycle, 2005 was actually a pretty good year for gamers. Not only did we get some very enjoyable games to play, but also a small dose of originality, and experimentation as well. Now, of course, I didn't play every single game that came out this year and there are a couple popular games that I didn't get to play such as Shadow of the Colossus, God of War, and Civilization IV so keep that in mind when you read on.
1: Resident Evil 4
Never did I ever imagine giving a game in this series one bit of praise, let alone actually enjoying the game enough to play through all 20 hours of it. And this is why RE4 gets my nod for Game of the Year. Few developers of popular games every scrap the plans and start from scratch all over again -- especially when they were making updates to million-selling titles. But that's exactly what Capcom did when they made RE4. The changed the way the characters move and interact with their surroundings, they changed the camera system, and in doing so they made their game playable. Playability was something that the diehard Resident Evil fans struggled with over the past 8 or so years, but not me. I would pick up the controller, play for a few minutes, and immediately push the game aside as if it were infected. With RE4 I was looking forward to playing the game when I wasn't. I was celebrating the action I saw on the screen throughout its length and almost wishing it never ended. And then, when it finally did, multiple additional gameplay modes became available. And the temptation to play with its stunning graphics and sound some more continues.
2: Guitar Hero
I could make a strong case for Guitar Hero to be in the top spot, but truth of the matter is that as incredible a game it is, I don't expect any less from Harmonix. All of their games are great (except Antigrav which was a clunker) and they are the masters of music games. And as great as the gameplay is, and as wonderful the song selection is, I can't help but say that I'd actually been waiting for this gameplay mechanic for several years. Ever since I first started playing Frequency with the shoulder buttons on the PS2 Dualshock controller, I felt that the game had a certain guitar-y feel to it and that they ought to make a game like it strictly for guitar. And they did. And they made one that is virtually perfect. So while RE4 takes the top spot in my little list here, rest assured that it is the sequel to Guitar Hero that I anticipate most.
My third and final pick was pretty hard to make as there were quite a few games that I enjoyed throughout the year, but ultimately I have to give the nod to this little PSP launch-day puzzle game. Never had a puzzle game so captivated my attention since the days of first playing Tetris in my youth. Lumines oozes style, has terrific movement and, most importantly, incredibly addictive (and frenetic) gameplay. And to once again be in an age in which we have such a wonderful puzzle game on a handheld console is something worth celebrating. Lumines is the type of game that one can easily pass their PSP back and forth amongst friends (as my friends and I did on a lengthy car ride) and people who haven't played videogames in years can pick it up and enjoy it with little to no instruction. And like all good puzzles games of the past, the better you are, the harder it gets. It's not unusual to engage in a single game of Lumines for well over an hour. Fortunately you can quickly put the PSP into sleep mode and come back to it. Then again, Lumines is good enough that I'd probably stay up all night playing if I had to.