DarkZero Awards 2008: 20th – 11th

A year is a long time in gaming. For example, this time last year it was 2008, and now it is 2009. See, that’s a long time! To signify this long length of time, which was very long, we have put our heads together for the fifth annual edition of the DarkZero Awards. If you were not with us for the awards of the past four years, then this is were where we find out what our top games of 2008 were, via an intense period of intense voting. Afterwards, we all chime in with some interesting quotes to amuse you, the nice person reading this fair article. Here are the 20th – 11th:


(Read our Wipeout HD Review)

Ben: On visuals alone Wipeout HD was one of the year’s best games. Disappointingly most titles are falling well short of the 60fps mark, but in single player Wipeout’s futuristic experience is wonderful to behold. From the slick interface to the addition of 1080p, Sony Liverpool set a standard in presentation others would do well to follow.

Dominic: Wipeout Sex is probably a good name for this. It’s basically the best bits of Wipeout series stuck into one hot looking download. Fantastic price really shows that Sony is on the right path when releasing content on their Playstation Network. Wipeout HD is beautiful and plays slick, super slick in fact. There was no joke when the rumour of a delay due to epileptic warnings was spliced all over the Internet, because man those colours will make you drool like you’ve just watched Pikachu zap loads of antivirus missiles in a computer world.

Thomas: I lovEd it whEn I rEviEwED it, and I still do. I REally havE nothing morE to say about this gamE.

Andi: Despite not owning a PS3, I laid claim to my housemate’s system when WipEout HD finally appeared on Playstation Network. Fast, tight and with that “just-one-more-go” factor to the time trials, it is everything you require from a future racer and will keep us all thoroughly entertained until Nintendo ruin F-Zero with loads of family friendly motion-control bullshit (probably).

Jonathan: In the true spirit of WipEout, HD is fast, furious, chaotic, twisty-turny and erm, blasty. I love it. With music that’s perfect for the game and brilliantly designed race tracks it keeps you wanting more of the crisp, shiny goodness.


Thomas: During the years of the SNES and Mega Drive, I put more time in to side scrolling beat-em-ups than any other genre. The likes of Streets of Rage, Turtles in Time and Final Fight where always either in, or very close to a console, and almost never went back in their box for year on end. So obviously, I was always going to be very excited for Castle Crashers. Thankfully, the end product did now let me down, and we now have another fantastic edition to the genre all these years later. I only wish it placed higher.

Andi: Probably would’ve been a lot higher up my personal list if the online play wasn’t completely bust, causing me to lose LOADS of coins and progress several times. The Behemoth do deserve credit for taking the retro gamers favourite rose-tinted genre, the scrolling beat-em-up, and updating it with enough content to make it worth sticking with. Now, fix it and add some DLC to get me interested again.

Dominic: Everybody loves side scrolling beat-em-ups; it’s just that developers can’t seem to get them right like the classics that were released back in the day. The Behemoth, the guys that did the hard but great Alien Hominid, have finally destroyed the curse of bad scrolling beat-em-ups by releasing Castle Crashers. All rejoice as It provides lots of characters, weapons, levels and overall is FUN! This is the most important aspect. It also features four player co-op, that is great for local play, but god damn is was plagued with online problems. Apart from that Castle Crashers is worth every fake money, sorry Microsoft Point on the 360.

persona3_18(Read our Persona 3 Review)

Dominic: Simply put Persona 3/FES is the role playing game of the year. It has by itself, spiced up the JRPG market. By mixing in dungeon crawling with a school friendship dating sim, Atlus have created a truly fresh RPG. Featuring some fantastic art and creature designs that make you go “Flipping awesome!” Mixed with such a catchy unique jazz/rap/Jpop inspired soundtrack that is just out of this world. There’s no other game like Persona that lets you take a pistol to your head to summon your inner Persona to help you fight demons.

Everyone who is a fan of RPGs needs to play this game. It’s easily accessible to you all too, since you should all own a Playstation 2 by now. Apart from Valkyria Chronicles, Atlus have really put all those 360 and Playstation 3 RPGs to shame and doing this on a 9 year old system shows that even with power, if you haven’t got the talent you aren’t going to make a great RPG. This is only going to be beaten by one game in the coming months, Atlus’ sequel that has just hit American, Persona 4.


Thomas: Using your own music in a rhythm game was always the Holy Grail of the genre for me. Even back before DLC became all the rage, with the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, I always though it would be a great idea to let gamers add their own tracks to expand the experience as they wanted. Sure, Vib Ribbon did it to some success back in the early 2000s, I don’t think anyone really got it right until Audiosurf came along. No other game can let you jump from Muse, to Katy Perry and then go into some crazed country music binge and still have fun doing it.


Sean: A game that actually made me comfortable with the idea of listening to minimal techno, which is an achievement in itself. Throw in some stunning visuals and addictive collectathon gameplay, and you’re on to a winner. The controls do frustrate at first, but become wonderfully intuitive later on, as you swing from plant to plant like a total pro. It’s true that the occasional mis-judged jump can send you right back to the bottom of the level, but why would you care when just moving around and absorbing the game’s presentation is enjoyable enough as it is?

Jonathan: A budget game that I’ve played more than some full-priced ones I’ve bought this year, the funky soundtrack and the wonderfully bright colours draw you into a world where all you do is swing, jump and collect. When playing, people come into the room, say ‘what on earth is that?’ then continue to stare at the screen captured by the movement of that little Grimp. Who said simple games can’t be a whole lot of fun?

soulbubbles_15(Read our Soul Bubbles review)

Ben: Despite the bad first impression given by the box art, this is a great little game and well worth getting for your DS. A simple idea combined with intuitive controls and nice visuals. If you’re still unsure, my mum got this for Christmas and says it’s a definite 10 out of 10!

Seth: An almost hauntingly relaxing antidote to the killing that pervades so many other games in the Top 20. This is a game you can play at your own pace, but there’s also a great challenge here if you want it. Kudos to Mekensleep for resisting the temptation to shoehorn microphone control into a game about blowing bubbles.

saintsrow2_14(Read our Saints Row 2 review)

Seth: This sequel does what the original game couldn’t, and successfully establishes its own identity by breaking away from Grand Theft Auto. Saints Row 2 eschews the cinematic direction taken by GTA IV to focus on pure outlandish fun. The co-op support is extremely impressive for a sandbox game and it simply caters perfectly for those gamers nostalgic for the days of San Andreas.

Dominic: Saints Row is a series that can now justify perfectly sitting next to Grand Theft Auto. The game has finally got rid of that “it’s just a GTA clone” title. While GTA IV went in the realistic direction, Saints row went in the opposite to provide us with some crazy antics and in full co-op galore too. While it wasn’t perfect (it had its fair share of glitches) Volition deserves a pat on the back for creating a super fun game that makes the tired gangster fad interesting again.

Andi: A mental breakdown simulator, allowing me to fully realize my inevitable demise at the hands of police after driving a tanker full of sewage through a university campus, covering bystanders with excrement before holding a siege in the on-site shop, shooting mainly at women. All whilst wearing a man-kini, naturally. I laughed, had fun and played it for 30 hours in the first week of release. It took over a month for me to get there on GTA IV.

proflayton_13(Read our Professor Layton review)

Thomas: I think if any other game continually asked me to do a puzzle after every turn I made, I would possibly go a little bit crazy and lob that game out the window. However, in the zany world of Prof Layton and his very Curious Village it seems to be second nature. I wish more games had that charm.

Alasdair: Quite an obscure game, full of charm and beautifully presented. Not many games have this much character and solving the puzzles can perplex even the most witty of gamers. There’s nothing else quite like this available and, even if there was, I doubt it’d be as good.

Sean: I hope you all remember us ranting about this on the podcast about a year ago. For those who don’t, we were utterly infuriated at Nintendo’s lack of plans to release the game in Europe, such was the game’s obvious charm and appeal to just about anyone. Fast-forward to the present, and it’s selling out all over the place, having finally received the European release it clearly deserved. We’ll get them to release Mother 3, next.


Ben: RPG gameplay often isn’t to my taste, but Square Enix succeeded in winning me over with the modern day parallel dimension Tokyo setting and real-time battle sequences. Utilising an array of stylus commands for the large of number of collectable weapon badges feels a whole lot more skillful than simply choosing your attacks from a list and awaiting your turn. Although too repetitive for its own good, the visuals and soundtrack sustain one’s interest for a surprising amount of time. The addition of the Tin Pin minigame was a great addition.

Thomas: Never has a battle system confused me more ever.


Thomas: I am not ashamed to admit I played through this in one sitting. Yes, that about 18+ hours, just moving to eat and drink (and do the opposite of eating and drinking). Even though, I continue to believe there are much better games out there, and series which impress much more. However, with all its little touchs, clever extras, and multitude of eccentricities, there really is nothing else like Metal Gear Solid.

Dominic: In my opinion this is THE game for the Playstation 3. It ticks all the boxes that you need to supply gamers with something to get them all worked up about. Gorgeous graphics, cool characters, great new gameplay that the Metal Gear series was crying for, and a story that’s so far fetched that you can’t help but love it. It was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish and it’s only one of three games that have made me sit down and play for more than 8 hours straight this year. It’s also the best looking console game at the moment, yes better than Gears. There’s nothing out there that looked as fantastic as the river scene at the end of act 3, oh wow!

Proceed to the final 10…