It’s the final day of the TGR Awards — time for the coveted Game of the Year awards. These games are the best of the best; shame on you if you haven’t played them yet!
Best Console Game
Runner-up: Metal Gear Solid 4
The limitless time-shifting mechanic is now up there with the celestial brush and portals as one of the most unique, inventive, and ultimately rewarding ideas in gaming that you cannot believe no one had thought of before (or at least pulled off with anywhere near this level of success). From the way the brilliantly metaphorical game design compliments the surreal, haunting prose, to the beautiful sights and sounds setting the somber, yet strangely playful tone. Or the way the design allows you to freely warp to anywhere you’ve been, so it transforms from a game to a virtual multi-media art gallery upon completion. Unlike most puzzle games, you’ll actually want to go back to Braid even if you already understand all the puzzle solutions, if only to gain further insight into the vague, poetic story. Even with competition like the riveting Metal Gear Solid 4, no game this year has conjured up such feelings of love, loss, and regret as Braid.
Best Handheld Game
Winner: God of War: Chains of Olympus
Big screen or small, the God of War series never fails to impress. This held true for God of War: Chains of Olympus in 2008, which led the Ghost of Sparta on an epic adventure through the many playgrounds of the ancient gods. The grand scale of the enemies and environments that Kratos encounters remains intact on the PSP, as do the fine combat mechanics gamers have grown to love. These elements and more make Chains of Olympus outperform the likes of console heavy-hitters such as Ninja Gaiden II and Devil May Cry 4, as well as top the portable list, easily beating out the inventive and stylish rhythm-based strategy game, Patapon.
Best PC Game
Winner: Fallout 3
Runner-up: Left 4 Dead
Once again, PC gaming in 2008 seemed to focus on dark and dismal gaming affairs. Post-apocalyptic wastelands and zombies? Crime sprees and horror? Gamers ate them up, and for good reason. Plenty of the darker games were the cream of the crop last year, perhaps none so surprisingly as Fallout 3. Before its release, many claimed Fallout 3 would flop, or just be "Oblivion with guns." While it is, largely, Oblivion with guns, the game was also an engaging experience that blew even the hardcore fans at NMA away. Left 4 Dead’s incredible co-op and versus experiences made zombie fans all over squeal in glee, but it was the overall experience of Fallout 3, combined with the recently released editor, that made it the Best PC Game of 2008.
Game of the Year
Runner-up: Metal Gear Solid 4
What more can be said about Braid that we haven’t already covered? A contender in every category for which it was nominated, it’s hard to find any flaws in this out-of-nowhere masterpiece. Its beautiful visual presentation and engulfing soundscape drew players into its whimsical fantasy world, and the multiple types of time-manipulating gameplay not only kept each subsequent puzzle feeling fresh, but also tied into the game’s emotional and somewhat mysterious story. If there was ever proof that games are indeed works of art, then Braid is it. Not even the triumphantly epic and cinematic experience of Metal Gear Solid 4 could topple this independently developed, 15-dollar downloadable title.
Written by Jeffrey Matulef, Brendon Lindsey, and Eddie Inzauto