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[ Writer ] = Headquarters
[ 03/12/05 ] = Tops Of 2004

There have only been two years of video games in which there were too many good games released for me purchase (let alone finish): 2000 (thanks in large part to the tremendous efforts of the DreamCast), and 2004. I completely agree with BAD when he mentioned how hard it is just to choose ten and order them. At any rate, here it goes...

[ 10 ] = KOF: Maximum Impact
This game caught me completely off-guard with its quality. Here I am hoping to get into DOA Ultimate, and I wind up putting that on the back burner for the newest 3-D KOF installment. Great stages (complete with quality lighting), fantastic soundtrack, and above all, quality gameplay. KOFMI has somehow managed to put together the improvisational custom combo of a 2-D fighter with the sequential combos of 3-D fighters, and make it work seamlessly. Of course, it's not perfect; sidestepping has some realignment issues, and SNK can't seem to create a boss character that's skilled rather than cheap. But the fact of the matter is, I played this game almost more than any other in 2004.

[ 9 ] = Final Fantasy - Crystal Chronicles
I have not purchased a Square title in a long time (for many reasons of which I won't get into). There are three reasons I really enjoyed this game:

- Gameplay. More of an action game with RPG elements than anything else.
- GBA connectivity. I could've sworn that this was the way Nintendo perceived the GBA to GameCube connection to be: integrated into the game instead of being an accessory.
- Multiplayer. A much needed addition to the "RPG" genre.

In fact, so different is FFCC from most other Square titles, I'm not exactly sure if the "Final Fantasy" part is really necessary.

[ 8 ] = Armored Core: Nexus
The fifth GREAT sequel on one system. From Software can do it, EA can't.

[ 7 ] = Capcom Fighting Evolution
I was waiting a long time for the next great 2-D fighter to come along. There was SVC: Chaos, and I really enjoyed it, but it wasn't great by any means. Enter CFE. I'll take gameplay over graphics any day of the week. I'm also a big fan of the more traditional character selection: quality over quantity. People can bitch and moan over this game all they want; I'll be busy playing it for months to come. And for the icing on the cake, Rose is in the game.

[ 6 ] = Metal Slug 3
This may sound contrived, but I like Metal Slug 3 more than Metal Slug Advance merely because I don't expect to see that type of 2-D quality on the Xbox. No disrespect meant to MSA (that's a wonderful game too), but in the end, I really enjoyed being able to play part of an arcade legacy through the giant Xbox controllers. And with the limited continues forced on the home version (not to mention starting the level over when you do), you can take full advantage of the quick-disconnect feature your controller has to offer as you hurl that boat anchor across the room. "See you in hell," indeed.

[ 5 ] = Maximo VS. Army Of Zin
It's amazing when a game, in a genre I don't particularly care for, becomes one of my favorites not just of the year, but on that particular system in general. I really don't like 3-D platformers. In fact, I'm not even a huge fan of the Ghost 'N' Goblins/Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts classics. But for whatever reason, I love Maximo. Not surprisingly, Maximo VS. Army Of Zin is better in almost every way. To top it off, MVAZ is one of three games that I think push the graphical power of the PS2 to it's max. And to Capcom's credit, this is the first title that has made me truly appreciate the color palette used in a game.

[ 4 ] = City Of Heroes
Stale, stale MMORPGs. Using "auto-attack" as gameplay just doesn't do it for me. But by progressing the gameplay to a simple-but-fun combo system and adding some platform elements, NCSoft has made it possible for me to game with my friends from miles away and let me enjoy it as well. Much credit has to go to NCSoft for going against the trend to create an MMORPG that is non-item based. This does away with a lot of the materialistically antagonistic (aka greedy asshole) players. I have to mention the character creation system too. No other game can come close to to COH's system. Basically, if you can draw it, you can create it (or at least get close). The idea of having your own creation visually represented in gameplay for others to interact with and experience is a reward in and of its own.

[ 3 ] = Doom 3
I have to thank John Carmack and his masochistic, Kojima-esque crew of programmers at id for their vision. I've never been so scared playing a video game (or experiencing any media entertainment for that matter) in my life. Shit, at least horror movies end after an hour and a half. Doom 3, on the other hand, goes on for over 30 of the most well-constructed levels I've seen (a feat to be sure, especially considering the stagnant, dime-a-dozen genre that is the FPS). The lighting, the real-time modeling and environment interaction, the expert sound design, the pacing and ambiance; everything is just amazing! And people have the nerve to say it's "more of the same." More of the same what? Groundbreaking graphics? Unparalleled light and sound design? All-inclusive real-time modeling? Yeah...right. Games like that are just FALLING off the retail shelves. Oh, and if you think Halo 2 is better, your opinion is wrong.

[ 2 ] = Metal Gear Solid 3
If you don't like it, you don't get it.

[ 1 ] = R-Type Final
A masterpiece of balance, animation, special effects, graphics, replayability, level design, sound, and control. R-Type final is the best shooter I've ever played. Thank you Irem. And thanks to Fresh Games/Eidos for their localization.