Best Videogames of 2003

Well, the year is almost over, and I'm a loser, so I'm going to share what I believe are the best (and worst) of 2003. I'll rank the top three, from third to first, then following it up with the "most disappointing" category. Enjoy.

So, we'll start today with videogames.

#3: Command and Conquer Generals (PC)

The C&C Franchise came back this year, and in a big way. The development company formerly known as Westwood before being consumed by the behemoth that is EA cranked out a beautifully crafted RTS based on modern warfare.

In C&C Generals, players are able to join with three different factions: the US, China, or a terrorist organization. Each group has their own types of units and superweapons, plus a few tricks up their sleeve.

The game is surprisingly well balanced, provided a large assortment of vehicle and weapon types, and gives unique strategies for each "team" in the game. The single player campaign is short, but definitely fun, with some cool in-game cutscenes and changing landscapes. Online multiplayer is definitely the place to be, though.

#2: SSX3 (PS2, Xbox, GC)

Without a doubt the most polished and well-designed game of 2003, SSX3 is worth every bit of praise it recieves. The control is tight and responsive, the graphics are outstanding, the levels are fast, fun, and full of shortcuts, and the game's got online multiplayer (if you have a PS2, that is).

SSX came out as the premier launch title for the PS2. SSX Tricky introduced the Uber-Tricks and took it up a notch. SSX3 brings the formula all together, combining snowboarding and racing almost perfectly, with a nice balance of tricking and racing needed to win.

I'm always one of the first to insult EA for controlling the industry and putting out some half-assed games, but there's no denying this one: SSX3 rocks.

The best videogame of 2003: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC)

How do you follow up one of the greatest games of all time? You cause endless controversy by changing the established visual style of the series and, in the end, you create a classic.

Yeah, it doesn't make sense to me either, but Miyamoto's decision to make the Wind Waker a cel-shaded cartoony game was a bold step that even I was a critic of. In the end, the style works and the game pays off.

Wind Waker may not be as good as Ocarina of Time, but it's still arguably the best videogame to have come out on this current generation of consoles, and with good reason. It borrows the same gameplay style of Ocarina of Time with some new tweaks and twists. Link can now pick up his enemies weapons and borrow them, as well as the new parry attack.

The musical instrument this time around is a magical wand that allows Link to control the wind, along with other things. Link sets out onto the high seas on his sailboat and the resulting adventure is undoubtedly a videogame classic and the best of 2003.

Most Disappointing Videogames of 2003

No particular order here, this category is a sort of free for all.

Also, this doesn't mean that these games are horrible, but they certainly didn't live up to what was expected.

Unreal II

This game looks great, but unfortunately it doesn't play that great. Years had built up with gamers anticipating the true sequel to Unreal. Unreal Tournament proved fun, but didn't stand the test of time as well as Quake III Arena. Unreal Tournament 2003 tried to turn the game into a pseudo-sports title, shooting itself in the foot.

Unreal II isn't a bad game really, but the level design, the weapons, and the enemies are uninspired, as was my time playing this game.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The Turtles may be back, but their kickass videogame series of yesteryear is not. The original Turtles for NES, albeit sloppy, was lots of fun and created an adventure game that was, in many ways, ahead of its time. Then came Turtles 2: The Arcade Game, adopting the Double Dragon style of gameplay and creating a classic. Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project was also a worthwhile adventure.

Who'd have thought that the simple formula created for beating Foot Clan ass could be messed up? Konami attempted to use the license and bring back the nostalgia many gamers have for the latter two NES titles by creating a cel-shaded beat-em-up. The end result was repetetive and stupid. Controls were off, the moves weren't interesting, the bad guys fought horribly, and they didn't even keep in the necessary jump kick or the hit-all-buttons supermove that took away one stick of your life. Shame.

In the End...

It was a good year for videogames, probably the best year we've seen in this current race of consoles. Online gaming certainly kicked into high gear and console sales spiked, particuarly in Nintendo's department. As always, though, gamers look to the horizon or, in this case, 2004...

Next year: Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, Ninja Gaiden, and rumors of a Grand Theft Auto sequel.

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2003 - 2005
Reverend Hughes