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Best 360 Games of 2007: Richard's picks

Just to get this out of the way, we're not doing an official Xbox 360 Fanboy Game of the Year Award or anything like that. There are only two of us on this site -- though we have the combined physical strength of 2.5 men -- and that would make voting a little silly. Thus, we will instead post our own individual takes on the best games of 2007 and why we picked them. Naturally, we'll stick to 360 titles, though we do occasionally play other consoles (I'm particularly enamored with Super Mario Galaxy at the moment, for example). So, read on for my personal picks for the best titles of 2007 (I'll leave the worst title for Dustin to decide).

Game of the Year:

No, not The Orange Box. Portal. I'm aware that this is a remarkably short game, but the fact remains that no other game brought as unique an experience to the Xbox 360 in 2007. BioShock was a fantastic game, and I'm sure Mass Effect is too (and of course there are those that would rally for Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4), but for me Portal was the most memorable and interesting game I played all year. With flawless gameplay, an excellent (and dark) storyline, and the best song ever, Portal is the game to beat. It continuously struck me that Valve didn't have to add a story at all, let alone one filled with such wonderful black humor, and Portal still would have been an excellent game. Valve did add a storyline however, and the result was one of the most satisfying games to come along in a great while.

XBLA Game of the Year: Bomberman Live

Bomberman is a typical "seconds to learn, lifetime to master" sort of game. At its core, the simple gameplay is the real genius of Bomberman. As a party game, Bomberman provides some of the best antics and multiplayer moments available on Xbox Live Arcade. Throw in Xbox Live multiplayer that allows up to four local players per Xbox 360 and the party gets even bigger. In addition to all this, players can customize their own Bomberman character and even the Vision Camera is utilized very well (it snaps a shot of each player the instant they are killed). On top of that, players can customize and save map and game type variants with custom power-up sets. So, if you want to play Paint Bomb on the desert map with quicksand turned on and nothing but skulls, go right ahead (just don't invite me).

Honestly, picking the best Xbox Live Arcade game is really difficult, as the service dropped tons of great games this year. After the growing pains XBLA went through in 2006, 2007 really showed gamers what can be done.

Honorable mentions: Band of Bugs, Arkadian Warriors, Puzzle Fighter HD, Pac-Man CE, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Worms, and too many more to list here.

Best Party Game: Rock Band

Easiest. Award. Ever. Many gamers may remember the first time they fired up a Guitar Hero game with two guitars, thinking it was the best party game ever devised. There's something really spectacular about a good guitar duel. What Rock Band really adds to this equation is the inclusion of more instruments. I realize that's a very obvious statement to make, but the extra options open up the music genre to people who normally might not go near it. In much the same way that not everyone will jump at the chance to play, say, Karaoke Revolution, a lot of casual or non-gamers aren't exactly leaping at the chance to shred on the little plastic guitar. What Rock Band does is give people a choice. Don't want to play guitar? Try vocals. Singing too embarrassing? Try the drums. Drums too demanding? Sounds like bass is for you. And, you don't have to worry about looking like an ass in front of your friends, because there will be three more people up there rocking along with you. Add the wonderful decision to allow every band member to choose their own difficulty, and Rock Band makes the music genre more accessible than ever before.

Game You Should Be Playing: Overlord

This award is really a chastisement for myself. Alas, when Overlord arrived from my rental service, my 360 decided it wasn't going to function anymore. As such, Overlord never got the attention it should have from me. So, my feelings for the game rise solely from what I've heard from colleagues and my impressions of the demo. In short, Overlord possesses a very tongue-in-cheek and occasionally brutal sense of humor. Go grab the demo off of Xbox Live Marketplace and try not to laugh when you are tasked with burning halflings alive or when you sick your minions on unsuspecting villagers. The fact that the demo actually managed to make me crack a smile and laugh is enough to make me realize the retail version deserves a shot.

Game Your Significant Other Likes to Watch: BioShock

It's rare that a game is as fun to watch as it is to play. It's even rarer that such a game turns out to be a first person shooter. In fact, I can't recall anyone ever watching me play an FPS before BioShock. Imagine my shock and amazement when my wife was as enthralled with the city of Rapture as I was. It's really no wonder honestly, as Irrational created one of the most detailed and real environments of any game in recent memory. A ruined and twisted city perpetually frozen in the black festivities of a New Year's Eve gone wrong, Rapture has an intriguing pull that no one can deny. It plays on our natural curiosity, begging us to discover what happened. If for no other reason, BioShock is worth playing just to explore the city of Rapture and meet the demented denizens that dwell within it. Now, would you kindly give it a try?

Game Your Significant Other Likes to Play: Beautiful Katamari

If you're trying to get the casual or non-gamer in your life to sit down and play some games, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better candidate that Beautiful Katamari. If you haven't played a Katamari game before, then there is a fact of which you are unaware. That fact is that people love to roll things up in a ball. We're not sure how Namco stumbled upon this fact, but Beautiful Katamari exploits it perfectly. The game is so simple and delightfully absurd that no one, not even the most game-a-phobic grandma, could be frightened by it. All you have to do is point the sticks at what you want to roll up and BAM, rolled up it is. Nothing could be simpler, and the colorful graphics and eccentric music round out the utterly inoffensive package. Best of all, it's actually a very fun game that hardcore gamers will enjoy. The fact that it can be had for $40 doesn't hurt either.

Most Anticipated Game of 2007: Ninja Gaiden II

This might be the easiest award on my entire list. Let's get this out of the way. I loved the original Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox. I beat the game on every difficulty. I played through the Hurricane Pack. I ranked 147 out of 1287 in the second Master Ninja Tournament, which is still my proudest gaming achievement. I won a sweet Ninja Gaiden wristband for my effort. Suffice it to say I'm very excited for the arrival of Ninja Gaiden II in 2008. With the addition of new weapons, tougher enemies, and presumably a new Master Ninja Tournament, I am only slightly joking when I refer to the game as "Game of the Year 2008: Ninja Gaiden II."

And there you have it. Those are my picks for some of the best games of 2007. There are plenty more, of course (I'm still waiting to try Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect), but these represent the games that really struck me this year. 2007 was a good year for gaming, especially if you own an Xbox 360, and it's hard to imagine that 2008 could be better, but we're willing to wait and see.

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