Civilization 4: Warlords (PC)
Civilization 4 is still one of the best games out there -- even though it's from 2005 -- and Warlords polished it to a finished product. Adding some random bits of goodness to the game, Civ 4 delivers epic strategy, intuitive gameplay and the best replay value of almost any other title out there. Civilization 4 delivers like few games can. And as I can't help myself, whenever I mention Civilization, I've got to ask: Sid Meier, where's Alpha Centauri II???
Additional picks (in no particular order):
Elebits is the Wii's Katamari Damacy, without the fun music and plagued by the most annoying cutscene voice-over work ever! Despite its issues, Elebits shows off a lot of potential for the system and for a sequel. Enjoyable in single player and multiplayer modes.
Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
An amazing storyline and hours of polished RPG goodness. Enjoying the game is all about adjusting to the new combat system. Once gamers get past that hurdle, Final Fantasy XII is a new and improved version of the formula we've all come to love.
Grandia III (PS2)
Still the best combat system in RPGs. Grandia III was too short, but that combat system is amazing. Oh, and I'm a sucker for J-pop in videogames. Bring on Grandia IV!
Just Cause (Xbox 360)
I want to hate this GTA clone so much ... but I can't. Yes, it has so many problems, but the action never lets up. It's beautiful and the stunts are something that will hopefully be incorporated into future GTA games. A massive evolution that future GTA-style sandbox games will have to mimic. If Just Cause II does almost everything the same with polish -- now that would be incredible.
Tomb Raider: Legend (Xbox 360)
I never liked Tomb Raider until this game. The voice acting and cliffhanger in the final scene made me scream at the television because it was all over. Except for being way too short for its own good, this game should not be missed; however, the cliffhanger ending may make it advisable to wait for the sequel to come out first.
Viva Piñata (Xbox 360)
Incest, abuse, animal cruelty and it all takes place in a beautiful garden where you attract animals for slaughter -- brilliant! An excellent game full of subtext despite being designed for children.
- Dead Rising (Xbox 360) - Why won't they let us kill phone-etiquette Otis?!? I'm killing zombies here, I might need to hang up the phone unexpectedly! After playing it at E3 Dead Rising was going to be the first must have Xbox 360 game. Problem is the mall survivor's horrible AI, along with the "appointment" gaming ruined the sandbox. And for standard definition television users there was the oh-so-small-tiny-text -- which Capcom refused to patch.
- Left Behind: Eternal Forces (PC) - If it had been good, this game would have been the most controversial game of the year. A mix of religion and video games -- most people would have found something to be offended by. The game is awful though, so no point in discussing it.
- Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (Xbox 360) - When graphics geeks from "respectable" gaming outlets review games, that's how GRAW undeservedly got a high score. Between clunky controls and capping the back of a teammates head more than once -- this was hype selling games at its best.
- World of Warcraft - The Gates of Ahn' Qiraj (PC) - The first major world event in WoW and boy did it blow up in player's faces. After working weeks on the war effort the servers continually crashed and the results were a complete letdown.
- Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360) - An MMO without real people in it -- boring once you figure that out.
- Prey (Xbox 360) - Something to fill in the summer, but was forgettable even while playing. It felt like a game that should have been made ten years ago ... oh wait, it was.