The DZ Awards 06: 10 – 1

It’s not just huge!!! It’s f’n massive

Andi: I’m not a huge fan of games as art – I prefer my games to be games – but calling Shadow of the Colossus just “a game” doesn’t do it justice. In fact, it’s borderline insulting. This is an experience, like nothing else out there – not even ICO. The games protagonist goes through a lot over the course of the adventure – epic heroism of the highest order or complete and utter despair, and the genius of the game is this – you too will feel them, each and every one of them. It took them long enough, but finally, something that justifies the existence of the term “emotion engine”.

Sean: Only number ten? You’re making my heart BLEED, guys. Shadow of the Colossus is an absolutely incredible game. Not just because of the way it looks, or because of the superb soundtrack, OR the fact that the sheer scale of the enemies is something we’ve never seen before without the developers resorting to making the player repeatedly slash at the enemy’s knees, or do all the cool stuff via a retarded series of quick-time events. No, Shadow of the Colossus is incredible because it shows you what can happen when a game is used as a story-telling medium in the proper way. Not with cut-scenes, or pages of dialogue. But by letting you do something, and showing you the consequences, over and over and over again, until you get what it’s trying to tell you. If you still haven’t played it, I implore you to check it out. It’s like no other game you’ve played, or are likely to play until Ueda’s team get something together for the PS3. And when that day comes, we’re in for one hell of a treat.

Matt: Pushing the graphical boundaries of the PS2 to the absolute limits, SOTC is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen- and it innovates in the most wonderfully counterintuitive way; rather than adding loads of new exciting ideas and features it simply strips the adventure game down to the absolute basics, and in focussing on these few aspects so exclusively it gets everything absolutely right. SOTC is a game that makes you think about what you’re doing; it’s empty, desolate- when you’re riding around this empty world you’re not distracted by random smaller enemies or cutscenes, so you start to think about the creatures you’ve just seen: The creatures you’ve just killed. Thrilling to play, and emotionally charged yet quietly sublime it’s without a doubt my personal choice as GOTY.

Dominic: Beautifully artist and also unique to play. Shadow is one of those memorable gaming experiences that you have to play just to understand how amazing it is. There’s nothing like it out there.

Thomas: If this and Ico were combined into one game I think it could be a truly great title but the idea of solely going around after one big boss time after time did not grab me as much as I thought it would. It was still a great game but ultimately I felt let down after the hype. It still deserves a place in the top 10… there is no doubt about that!

We wont mock you if you can’t play Freebird on expert! (Read Our Review) (Watch Our Review)

Andi: Basically, what we have here is a game that lets me stand around in my pants peeling out the absolutely beautiful outro solo to Sweet Child o’ Mine in the privacy of my own bedroom. Obviously, in my mind it is a less than private act – I’m on stage in the Whiskey-a-go-go circa 1986, pulling a gusset-moistening pose and wailing on my ‘axe’, ready to go backstage and gorge myself into an early grave on a steady diet of drugs, booze and dangerously young girls. How many other games make you feel like THAT? None, I’m willing to bet. NONE.

Sean: More of the same here, but that’s fine. Speaking as an actual guitarist, I really can’t explain what makes Guitar Hero so much fun over playing a proper guitar. Probably something to do with the fact that I’ll never be good enough to play most of the songs on an actual guitar, but still. It’s worth noting that the two-player experience has been much improved this time around, so you won’t find it constantly throwing a riff over to your partner and making you just stand there while you wait for you turn, just as you were getting into it. Give it a chance and I swear you’ll start seeing the notes drifting towards you every time you close your eyes. Or maybe that’s just me.

Dominic: The best rhythm game just got better. Bigger, Harder and damn right louder. Guitar Hero 2 took everything that made the original that great and turned it even higher than 11. That’s 12 follow rockers, a new mark of loudness.

Thomas: This should be been some higher number up the list, maybe people’s fingers were to tired to vote it up there? Both versions of the game seem to live in my PS2 right now only coming out for short periods when I try to fall in love with other games.

Welcome to Stilwater it is a…. erm a place! (Read Our Review)

Rob: Such a great game and in my opinion should be number one, the online side let me down a bit but the story, graphics and the gameplay was A+

Joe: Simply a better GTA, it was nothing new, but a great game nonetheless.

Thomas: Was fun when it lasted but then died… but absolutely no staying power which was very disappointing.

I’m building bricks, building bricks *repeat to fade*

Matt: Online capabilities are the only reason this title’s in the top 10 in my opinion; the added game modes are patchy and the lack of original music and additions of spinning sprites and awful backdrops are criminal to say the least. But it’s still tetris: it couldn’t be bad, it just could have been much better.

Jonathan: A great version of Tetris, I’ve spent many an hour watching those brightly coloured blocks falling. Online mode is a great addition and adds even more to the game. The touch mode is fun as well, showing off what the DS can be used for.

Sean: It’s Tetris that you can play online against your mates. What else d’you need to say, really?

Thomas: I’m building bricks, building brick, building bricks *repeat to fade*

Viva P
Buzzlegums?? Sparrowmints?? Zumbug?? Wtfalopagos??

David: After Microsoft bought Rare from Nintendo a lot of people said they’d lost it, and the games they produced since didn’t do a lot to sway opinions. But Viva Pinata has changed a lot of peoples minds, it’s a completely different style of game for them, something new for a lot of people, and not everyone is going to like it, but it looks like this is the turning point for Rare, back on to the right track.

Thomas: A great game; but not something worth the next-gen asking price in my opinion

Dominic: Can’t really say much for this. I never played it because the design of the characters in the game really put me off, makes me want to shoot Rare in the face.

Rob: A great game and fun at first but after so many hours the game just got repetitive, there just wasn’t enough to do when trying to get the next level.

Thank you Mario. But your game is only in fifth place

Andi: Nintendo embarrass the platform game competition by stripping Mario back to his roots and still besting everyone else by miles – even his 3D brothers. Remember a time where all you did was hold run, right and powered through levels, using that finely balanced inertia and feeling of weight to leap holes, pipes and smash enemies into the ground? It was BRILLIANT, wasn’t it? NSMB proves that sometimes, to go forwards, it is worth looking backwards (whilst holding run, constantly).

Matt: Great fun, but not a title i ever found myself compelled to play regularly, or complete for that matter. Does what it says on the tin for sure, and considering I’ve not really ever been a huge Mario fan i found it fairly entertaining in short bursts- undoubtedly an absolute treat for Mario fans however, and the minigames alone make it well worthy of it’s top 10 status.

Alasdair: Finally, a fresh adventure in the winning formula. Most fans would have forgiven Nintendo if something had gone horribly wrong with this, but it turned out beautifully. The gameplay is as fun as ever, the only problem being that the game is a little short, but its always ready for going back to your favourite levels. Slightly surprised it made it this high, but it deserves it nonetheless.

David: Mario is back, doing what he does best, and whilst it is a lot easier than his earlier 2D outings its still got that magic that made Mario the legend he is today.

Sean: Confession time – I’m not massively fond of most traditional Mario games. I’m more of a Yoshi’s Island man. Still, there’s little denying that New Super Mario Bros. is by far one of the most tightly-designed platformers we’ve seen in a long time, and the multiplayer modes will have you shouting abuse at your best mate in no time. Wonderful stuff.

Wii Sports
A game where old people can win!

Andi: My dad plays this game when I am not in the house. He spent a two hour session on the golf alone – on his own terms. Not goaded by his son into a ‘quick game’ that he doesn’t show interest in, but decided himself “Yeah, I’m going to play video games”. This hasn’t happened since the days of the Commodore 64, so Nintendo must be doing something right. Wii Sports is 100% pick up and play and addictive enough to keep you coming back for more. A great game for hardcore gamers and the best way to get non-gamers playing again. The most important game on this list? Time will tell.

Johnathan: I never knew I could have as much fun with a sports-related game, a great pick up and go game allowing non-gamers to have fun alongside more experienced gamers. Intuitive and easy to use controls make this one of the games of the year.

Sean: Did anyone genuinely expect this to be brilliant? I mean, we mostly agreed that bundling it with the Wii was a stroke of genius, since we figured it’d serve as a nice little tech demo to show people what we could look forward to. But who was actually expecting a good game? Because that’s what we got. Give it time and you’ll realise that each of the games has its nuances, and is actually fairly difficult to master. And let’s not ignore the massive impact it’s already having in terms of getting non-gamers to have a go. I know, I know – none of us want to be beaten by our parents at a video game, but it’s starting to look like we might have to get used to it.

Matt: Without a doubt i’d crown Wii Sports as the most important game released in the last 10 years- Not only a surprisingly great game, i think it’ll truly show it’s impact in 5 years time, when middle age mothers will fondly recall it as being the title that got them into games over a cup of tea. Whilst perhaps not the best game of the year from our current perspective it will undoubtedly survive the test of time better than the current No. 1.

Alasdair: The first game in a long time that can be played by absolutely anyone straight away. What seemed like it was going to be a couple of demo-style mini-games, turned out to be excellent and varied fun that everyone can get involved with. What so many games have tried to do was captured simply and easily by Wii Sports, leaving other interactive game systems, such as EyeToy, in its wake.

Third place…. make it so! (Read Our Review)

Andi: I was a huge fan of Fighting Fantasy/Choose Your Own Adventure books as a child. This game is the logical evolution of the role-playing game – you quite literally ‘choose your own adventure’. The groundwork was laid with Morrowind but Oblivion perfected Bethesda’s plans, letting you make your way through a huge fantasy world in as many ways as you want. Which, in my case, was to create a character called ‘Athius Manpunch’, and just after the tutorial smack a stable girl in the face, push a horse off a bridge and set fire to some guards. Needless to say I didn’t get very far, but it was incredibly good fun.

Thomas: It was good fun, I had too many horse die on me though. I think it mentally scared me for life! Oh, and then there was the POP UP grass that would to stop POPPING UP. But other that a multitude of dieing horses and seemingly magic grass all was good!

Sean: The first RPG I’ve really been able to get into for quite some time. I think I’ve lost about 80 hours to this beast. Now, I’ll be straight with you – the game is riddled with bugs, and I only really got into it after I’d downloaded a bunch of mods for the PC version, but if it hooks you, you’re in for one hell of a treat. The whole radiant AI business was a bit of a let-down, but you won’t really care – you’ll be too busy making your new glass hammer do fire damage with each hit, and re-naming it so it appears in your inventory as ‘HELLFIST 9000’. Or something funnier if you’re not me.

Joe: My personal favourite on the list, it was open-ended, entertaining and seemingly never-ending. The amount of customisation and the sheer size of everything made it simply brilliant.

A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.

Andi: With most people taking an instant disliking to the Wind Waker, this is considered a return to form for one of gaming’s most revered franchises. With more care and detail in one screen than most games have over 30 hours – Nintendo deliver the goods with one of the best launch titles in recent memory.

Matt: For anyone who like me wasn’t too keen on Wind Waker, THIS is the game we’ve been waiting years for. It’s not revolutionary in any way whatsoever, barely touching Wii’s capabilities other than for aiming projectile weapons. But that’s MORE than enough to satisfy me, quite simply because this game IS Ocarina of Time. It plays the same, it feels the same, it follows all the classic Zelda rules right down to the tiny details: And that’s all anyone could ask for. Polished to sparkle so bright it hurts, Twilight Princess is the most fun I’ve had in years.

Alasdair: The most anticipated game this year pounces upon us in supreme style. The game feels comfortable, yet new. The Wii control method works like a charm as it’s not too Wiimote heavy and is a nice breather from other Wii titles that depend upon you using the Wiimote. It’s depth and size make this one of those games that will definitely give you more game for your money. No doubt that this deserved the #1 spot as much as GoW.

Jonathan: This is my number one of the year, no matter what these awards say. I had never before played a Zelda game properly so don’t have the criticisms of others that it is ‘the same as Ocarina of Time’ or other Zelda games. I just love playing it and solving the mysteries and puzzles of Hyrule. A worthy game for a high spot on the DZ Awards list.

Dominic: Outstanding game! The Zelda series has finally gone back to the top after the great, but somewhat lack lust Wind Waker. This is what Ocarina fans wanted. It’s the perfect gift to the fans of the N64 games. All you need to do is turn the game on and enjoy the magic. Play and cream my friends.

Emergence Day was upon us… scary times! (Read Our Review)

Andi: So, Gears of War it is. I’m willing to bet this got to number one on averages alone, as it is by no means a bad game, but just another half decent shooter. The fact it is above Legend of Zelda, Oblivion, Wii Sports, New Super Mario Brothers, Shadow of the Colossus, Guitar Hero 2 and many others in the top 40 makes absolutely no sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, Gears… is a solid shooter that will kill an afternoon dead in no time – hell, you may even get a few weeks out of it if you can tolerate the XBOX Live community – but Game of the year? Not on my watch. If you are looking to play Gears of War now it has made it as DZ’s Game Of The Year, check out your preowned bins in a month or so. You’ll find LOTS. Ah well, here’s hoping 2007 offers us more than a gunfest and the slow death of creativity.

Alasdair: Any 360 shooter has a lot to live up to, as the X-Box systems are home to the notoriously good Halo series. Gears of War not only matches Halo, but it raises the bar. The environments are stunning, and you never see the same bit of scenery twice. the character detail makes the game a whole lot more believeable, and involving. It is probably the most realistic shooter out there in terms of gameplay, as you constantly dodge from cover to cover, something different but it just heightens the feeling of excitement.

Matt: Oooh, controversy! Arguably the Arctic Monkeys of the games world, GoW is both blessed and cursed by it’s own hype; And in quite a dull manner i’m going to stand on the fence for this one. It’s a great game for sure, beautifully visceral, it really does get my heart pumping and my nerves on edge- whilst being ‘just another shooter’ the level of polish put into the camera work and gameplay mechanic is incredible- it’s definately one of the most fun games i’ve played this year. BUT! (and it’s a big one here…) it’s a very new game, and whilst it’s loads of fun for a while i’d have to agree with Andi that it’ll be bargain bin fodder before long. A fair few of my friends have tired of GoW already and traded it in, and whilst being a good game, unlike Z:TP, SOTC, Wii Sports, and Oblivion- Time may not be kind to GoW; a game which will most likely be shelved and forgotten come the next shiny shooter.

Dominic: This game looks crazily good. It also has a great cast of characters (We know Dom is the best) and gameplay to follow up those gorgeous graphics. I was surprised just at how well everything was put together. The story is interesting; the characters have personality, so they don’t just appear as generic steroid small cock soldiers. Overall it’s worthy of the title for Game of the Year. I personally would have put Zelda up there though.

Joe: There’s no doubt thatr this is a great game, but I have to agree, it’s going to be short-lived. Great graphics, great characters, but I was slightly let down by the lack of explanation in the story (what the hell is a resonator?)

Thomas: I think it’s something that resonates

Ben: Critics have been giving this extremely high scores like 97%, which I feel is a little high considering there are no offline bots. Still, this is a game of such quality that anyone will feel drawn in to the atmospheric gameplay. The characters have real weight behind them and the shoot-out / take cover elements have been implemented superbly well, as has the seamless cooperative mode.