DarkZero Awards 2004

This year voting was done via the greatness that is the DarkZero Community Forums. By means of a points ranking system we strived to crown the best games of the year among under important awards. Every game you see named here was had to be voted for at least once to get on our list. After a week or more of voting by our members and with a completed list firmly in hand we have determined that the following games, publishers, developers and consoles to be the very best of the year. Well done to all that appeared on the list you have made 2004 a fantastic year in gaming, we can’t wait till 2005!

The Top 20 Games of the Year (Multi-Format)

Halo 2 | Bungie | Microsoft | Xbox
90 Points

There were few titles in the history of gaming that received the amount of hype Halo 2 did. With all the hype some people would have had you believe it was the video-gaming equivalent of the second coming. Those people could be classed as crazy; no game could be that good, could it? Halo 2 continues the story of the Master Chief the only human ever to successfully defy the Covenant. Two years ago Microsoft’s Jason Jones described Halo 2 as “a lot like Halo 1, only it’s Halo 1 on fire, going 130 miles per hour through a hospital zone, being chased by helicopters and ninjas” in many was he was right!

Pro Evolution Soccer 4 | Konami | In-House | PS2, Xbox, PC
79 Points

Remember back a few years ago, we would always criticize the Fifa series for not bring more to the table every year, It never pushed the barriers. The same probably could now well be hitting the PES series. Now in it 4th edition in Europe there is not really much more you can add to make it better, can you? Damn right there is Konami have added hundreds and hundreds of new little touches and updates to make what was once great even better. PES4 really is “the beautiful game,” that phrase as never been so apt. It has once again evolved football games far beyond what we though they could be, we can’t wait till 2005 to see what Konami will do to push that metaphorical envelope even more.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas | Rockstar | In-House | PS2
64 Points

Fact!! There is so much to do in san Andreas it is safe to say that millions of people have not yet seen everything the game has to offer, and it is now 2 months after release! There now doubting it catered for everybody and is without doubt he best GTA year either in 2D or 3D form to date. It’s a game that caters to both the hardcore and casual gamer as there is something for everyone contained within. Another piece of 2004 magic! Thank you Rockstar!!

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes | Retro Studios | Nintendo | GameCube
53 Points

MP2 does little to substantiate the appropriateness of its title. An echo can be classed as a repetition or an imitation but to me MP2 is 20% an echo of its 2002 counterpart and a salient 80% advance in innovation and improvement over what came before. The fundamental core elements of the original cube title are still present; however so many impressive enhancements and clever upgrades have been integrated to propel a once great title closer to those remote, unreachable arms that is gaming perfection. Titles like this don’t come along every day and it is for that very reason it has gained a solid number 4 spot on our list.

Half Life 2 | Valve | Vivendi | PC
51 Points

Half-Life 2 may be classed as a linear shooter but getting from point “A” to point “B” has never been so proficiently crafted before. Valve have done superb job designing and pacing the game so it never feels like you’re forced to repeat the same tedious tasks throughout any the games 15 levels. Each level is comprised of their own different distinguishing features with no areas been a mirror copy of the ones that preceded it. Whether you’re merrily decapitating zombies throughout the streets of Ravenholm or your anxiety is hitting new heights as you fretfully venture through Nova Prospekt you will always know that you are playing something very special! That metaphorical bar has not only just been raised; it has been propelled with the breath-taking force of a gravity gun a thousand foot into the sky!

Burnout 3: Takedown | Criterion | EA | Xbox, PS2
45 Points

Criterion Games has already grace us with two fantastic racing titles during the past couple of years. There names of course been Burnout and its fantastic sequel Burnout 2: Point of Impact. In 2004 Criterion has been slaved away to make what was claimed by many as one of the best racing titles out there even better and they achieved it in spades! I personally believe it redefined the arcade racing genre and our forum members think the same. Burnout 3 you may sit proudly on out list!

Fable | Big Blue Box | Microsoft | Xbox
44 Points

Fable does not offer the true free form world that it may have promised upon its announcement but it does go some way to pushing the boundaries of the genre. Peter Molyneaux and the guys at LionHead have managed to do something very special indeed even if they did not succeed in the way they thought was possible 4 years ago they have now opened the doors for others to try. A brand new genre could now unfold in the coming years because of the work these guys put in. A true free-from adventure is not possible in gaming today, but imagine what we could be playing in the future. The game tries to push the boundaries and that’s why it makes it on to our list!

Mario 64 DS | Nintendo | In-House | Nintendo DS
42 Points

For the first time ever a eight year old remake makes it into a best of 2004 list, Mario 64 DS is technically an upgraded version of the N64 classic with new charters, areas and a few mini games to please fans. It a game you wish would not work, why would you want to play something you played eight years ago? But it does work and is magnificently executed on Nintendo’s new handheld. Only one NDS game made it into the top 20 this year but if developers keep up with the quality displayed here we expect to see a lot more on the 2005 one!

Paper Mario 2 | Intelligent Systems | Nintendo | GameCube
38 Points

It may not have sold well due to consumers not wanting to look through the “crayon-like” visuals but there is no doubt Paper Mario 2 deserves the high position it has garnered on or best of 2004 list. Intelligent Systems have crafted a wonderful, funny and at time tongue in check adventure that every gamer should play. It’s an adventure that is only paper thin on the outside!

Pikmin 2 | Nintendo | In-House | GC
35 Points

Undoubtedly one of the best games of 2004 Pikmin 2 is not only an extremely good sequel but it is also an extremely well made game, it is a welcome addition to the Pikmin franchise that makes it even stronger. It is a sequel that lives up to and possibly even exceeds the hype. And just think, this fantastic game was dreamt up in one mans head as he sat in his garden one day, what a simple idea that transformed into possibly one of the greatest next gen franchises. It really does justice to that old phrase “Great oaks from little acorns grow” Fantastic!

Rome: Total War | Creative Assembly | Activision | PC
34 Points

Rome: Total War is the third Total War game from England’s Creative Assembly, and is most definitely the best one yet. It builds on its illustrious predecessors, which featured epic-scale real-time battles and impressive attention to historical realism and detail. Thanks to a beautiful new 3D graphics engine that makes the series’ tactical battles featuring thousands of soldiers better than ever. The results are nothing short of spectacular, helping make Rome: Total War the very definition of an epic strategy game.

Donkey Konga | Namco | Nintendo | GameCube
32 Points

It was certainly an odd decision for Nintendo to take one of its most beloved characters and place him in a music game but even if the premise sounds completely out of this world the result of the Nintendo/Namco collaboration was a fantastic party game. A second volume of the game recently came out in Japan; let’s hope that Nintendo decides to keep the series this side of the world as well. A party game doesn’t usually make it into GOTY lists but when there are this good they deserve a place!

COR Escape from Butcher Bay | Starbreeze | Vivendi | Xbox, PC
27 Points

The Chronicles of Riddick does many think right, it is the first game in few years or arguably since Rare’s Goldeneye to break the old tradition that video games based on Hollywood movies usually end badly and play worse than a snooker table in a boat during a storm. It offers a refreshing mix of RPG elements, stealth-based combat and your run-of-the-mill shooter gunfights to keep any player glued to their monitor screen until Riddick escapes.

Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow | Ubisoft | In-House | PC, XB, GC, PS2
26 Points

You have the right to spy, steal, destroy and assassinate, to ensure that American freedoms are protected. If captured, the U.S. government will disavow any knowledge of your existence. You are Sam Fisher. You are a Splinter Cell reads the tagline for the rather new but still very popular SC series. The game play and environments feel very much like a natural extension of the first game and that is no bad thing! Pandora Tomorrow appealed to fans of the first Splinter Cell, let alone anyone remotely interested in a game about high-tech stealth, subterfuge, and sabotage and that is why it has a place on our list

Legend Of Zelda: Minish Cap | Capcom | Nintendo | GBA
23 Points

Nintendo farming out one of their top franchises to another company, surly it could not work again, could it? Well seeing as you now looking at the Minish Cap sitting happily in the top 20 we think it has! The Minish Cap is just as good if not better than Nintendo own Ocarina of Time. It really shows how good Capcom are when they put their mind to something. It is arguably the best Zelda title this generation, it entertaining from start to finish but also brings something new and fresh to the long running series. Hugely enjoyable!

Pokemon Leaf Green/Fire Red | Nintendo | In- House | GBA
22 Points

Newcomers and veterans of the series decided to pick up Leaf Green or Fire Red or perhaps both during 2004. Beneath the deceptive exterior is a deep, addictive, fun, and long-lasting experience. Newsflash! Pokemon is not dead infact it is the polar opposite of dead which is um, well ALIVE!!

Unreal Tournament 2004 | Epic Games | Atari | Xbox
20 Points

Unreal Tournament 2004 is the next evolution of the on of the greatest competitive computer game ever created. New modes, mods and maps as well as the controllable land, air- and space-based vehicles, means Unreal fans are getting an entirely new experience they have never seen before. This is the game UT 2003 should have been! If you haven’t already, go out and snag yourself a copy of this masterpiece!

Football Manager 2005 | Sports Interactive | Sega | PC
19 Points

For the past decade or so the virtual football fans among us will have become used to the annual helping of Championship Manager. However, last year was the final time that developers Sports Interactive and publishers Eidos would work together. They decided to go their separate ways, and each kept a piece of the franchise. Although Championship Manager 5 has not been release yet it looks like Football Manager 2005 just scored a screamer on their old pals. Danger!! Addiction rating high!!

Wario Ware Mega Party Games | Nintendo | In- House | GameCube
17 Points

The 200+ hysterical microgames from Wario Ware on the GBA made the triumphant move for small screen to big screen in 2004. “If you have 2-4 friends you should go buy this game now if you haven’t already, even if you have more friends than that you still should! Multiplayer Heaven!

FF Crystal Chronicles | Square-Enix | Nintendo | GameCube
16 Points

For those who enjoyed hack and slash games and wanted some fun with their mates Crystal Chronicles came along at the right time; you will have some laughs and fights when playing, but most of all you will have buckets of fun (pun intended). The game may have been higher on our list if it did not cost more than £300 to get the most out of it but if you can afford the gargantuan hardware requirements required to fully enjoy it and did not pick it up during 2004 then go ahead and make you mark on the Crystal Chronicles.

Honorable Mentions

This section is for titles that scored more than 10 points but did not do enough to make it into out top 20, they are all still good titles, Some people may argue that some of games should be in the top 20 but according to our forum members they were not good enough. The Honorable mentions of 2004 are as follows.

15 Points

Star Wars Battlefront
Outrun 2

14 Points

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Animal Crossing

13 Points

GoldenEye: Rouge Agent

12 Points

Sega Superstars
Ninja Gaiden
Prince of Persia Warrior Within

11 Points

Feel The Magic
Doom 3


One Hit Wonders

This section is for games that has scored less than ten points, these game may have been good in someone eyes but for others it did not quite make the grade!! That is why we call them “One Hit Wonders”. The OHW of 2004 are as follows!

10 Points

Tales of Symphonia

9 Points

Rainbow Six Black Arrow

8 Points

Need For Speed Underground 2
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2

7 Points

Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat
Full Spectrum Warrior

6 Points

RalliSport Challenge 2

5 Points

Silent Hill 4
FF I & II – Dawn of souls

4 Points

Sid Meier’s Pirates!
WarHammer 40,000: Dawn of War
Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly
The Sims 2

3 Points

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3

2 Points

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life
Second Sight
Dragon Ball Z Supersonic Warriors

1 Point

Wario Ware Inc
Psi Ops


GameCube Game of the Year

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (53 Points)

Runners up

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (38 Points)
Pikmin 2 (35 Points)
Donkey Konga (32 Points)


PC Game of the Year

Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (79 Points)

Runners up

Half Life 2 (51 Points)
Rome: Total War (34 Points)
Unreal Tournament 2004 (20 Points)


Handheld Game of the Year

Mario 64 DS (42 Points)

Runners up

Pokemon Leaf Green/Fire Red (22 Points)
Legend Of Zelda: Minish Cap (23 Points)
Feel The Magic (11 Points)


PlayStation 2 Game of the Year

Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (79 Points)

Runners up

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (64 Points)
Burnout 3: Takedown (45 Points)
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (26 Points)


Xbox Game of the Year

Halo 2 (90 Points)

Runners up

Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (79 Points)
Burnout 3: Takedown (45 Points)
Fable (44 Points)


Hardware of the Year

Microsoft Xbox (444 Points)

We decided to offer the console of the year to the console with the highest combined amount of points from our rankings of games and as you can see the Xbox won! With the console been home to games such as Fable, Halo 2, Burnout 3 and Riddick no one can deny it was a great year for Microsoft. Xbox also managed to get a piece of the Pro Evolution pie in 2004 grabbing this once console exclusive from Sony which was a great coup for them! Halo 2 was the biggest contributor with 90 points and thus helping Xbox win the hardware award. 2004, the year of the Xbox?

Runners Up

PC (313 Points)
Sony Playstation (307 Points)
Nintendo GameCube (262 Points)


Publisher of the Year

Nintendo (300 Points)

We decided to offer the publisher of the year to the publisher with the highest combined amount of points from our rankings of games and as you can see Nintendo won. With top quality games ranging over 3 different platforms many would have expected this anyway but when you think back there was no “real” Mario or Zelda title over the past year at all. Metroid Prime hunter help Nintendo to the top of the best publishers list by giving 53 points while other titles such a The Minish Cap, Paper Mario 2 and Mario 64 DS gave 23, 38 and 42 respectfully. Some may complain that Nintendo lacked originality in 2004 but with 300 points, more than double in closet rival it goes to show they game are still a whole lot of fun!

Runners Up

Microsoft (134 Points)
Konami (93 Points)
Electronic Arts (70 Points)


Developer of the Year

Nintendo (177 Points)

We decided to offer the developer of the year to the developer with the highest combined amount of points from our rankings of games and as you can see Nintendo have won again! Not only have they published some of the better games of they year they have also developed many fantastic games themselves. There titles once again span their 3 platforms and it is because of this they win the developer of the year award. Mario 64 DS was the biggest contributor this time with 42 points but games liked Pikmin 2 and Pokemon Leaf Green/ Fire Red help propel Nintendo to 177 Points. Congrats Ninty!

Runners Up

Konami (93 Points)
Bungie (90 Points)
Rockstar (64 Points)


Thanks to forum members CubeChris, will, rizz, DeltaTri3, Bulma, Rostam, Scorpio, stubbietubbie, Johelian, Deus Ith, ibu2004, Donkeythong, rokhed00, XLM, Surrealist, Noodleman, Jon-neo, Nogert, ian1969uk and Space for helping compile the 2004 list.