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Birthday Honours

As with The Queen, I feel it my duty to recognise those that have impressed me over the last twelve months and so I welcome you to the second annual BIGsheep Birthday Honours.

For services to music: Rock Band 2

I used to think the solo guitar experience was exhilarating, making you feel like an instant rock star. However, as I have already stated this week there were few experiences last year better than playing in your own plastic band. This iteration on the series builds on its already strong core, whilst the drums and the copious amount of downloadable songs have been a revolution to me, revitalised my interest in this genre.

For services to the Capital Wasteland: Fallout 3

If there was one game in 2008 that I had to force myself to put down as I was in danger of forsaking all others, that game would be Fallout 3. Some may have found the desolate wasteland they were wandering through a chore, I regarded it as a mammoth game of hide and seek. Over each ridge or round the next canyon turn you never knew what you were going to find, from crashed UFOs to museums dedicated to fizzy drinks. The sheer scale of the game was inspiring.

For services against the undead: Left 4 Dead

Despite my original muted response towards Left 4 Dead, the zombie apocalypse has grown on me. It is a game where no story is needed, your goals are obvious and tight teamwork is rewarded. This simplicity is its strength with new players able to delve right in and get just as much from it as grizzled veterans.

For services to engineering: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Not only does it feature one Trophy Thomas, but also the ultimate Lego set. Once you reach a certain point in the game a light bulb flicks on inside your head and all sorts of crazy ideas begin churning out. To add to my trebuchet, Thundertank, Thunderbird 2 and Seaking, I’ve seen ferris wheels, walking robots, space shuttles and a myriad more creations that make you realise what a flexible toolset you have at your disposal.

For services to puzzlement: Professor Layton and the Curious Village

A delightful DS game that takes a different slant on point-and-click adventuring, combining some devious logic puzzles with a colourful brand of animation. The whole game oozes charm, from a village that is populated with those obsessed with testing your brain to Professor Layton’s nemesis who would prefer you out the way so he can presumably have all the puzzles to himself.

Honourable mentions

Whilst they may be my Top 5 games of the year, I do think a few others deserve the nod.

The continued presence of Halo and Rainbow Six: Vegas should be appreciated. Excluding those with zombies, no shooter has come close to dislodging these pair as firm favourites.

In terms of controlling green clad pixies, Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for me was second only to Link to the Past in terms of enjoyment. A great debut on the DS for Link.

Mirror’s Edge would be held in far higher esteem if only the combat wasn’t so frustrating. For me this has great parallels with Sands of Time; if only enemies were completely removed from both games then I would champion them to anyone who would listen.

Although there seems a backlash for Fable II, I still really loved it for what it was. There may be no sandbox world on the scale of Oblivion but I liked what it did for it did it really well.

Birthday Honours

I have now turned the ripe old age of 27 and to commemorate the fact I thought I’d do my own honours list to celebrate the games that over the last year that have taken my fancy.

The First Annual Birthday Honours Awards Award

For services to shooting: Halo 3

I’ve said plenty on this little beauty so we’ll leave it short: personally, I don’t think you need anything else with its sandbox encounters and expansive multiplayer.

For services to storyline: Bioshock

I can’t actually remember when I game grabbed me and pulled me in so deeply to a plotline. Admitedly it was a little ropey at the end but it was a wrench everytime I had to put the controller down as I always wanted to find out what audio diary was around the next corner. Simply put, this is a beautiful and well put together title that everyone should give a chance to.

For services to originiality: Portal

I still haven’t touched the rest of the Orange Box. Portal was the only reason I bought Valve’s value collection and alone it is still worth the price of the whole thing. The humour, the gameplay, the challenge and the final payoff all make this one of the smallest games of the year I think ever conceived… despite the cake being a lie.

For services to board games: Carcassonne

Although Catan may have been my first step into European board games online, Carcassonne was the one that really hooked me. A devestatingly simple game but with a great depth of tactics and possibilities.

I like it so much I now have about three different real-world versions at home.

For services to kelptomaniacs: Crackdown

Some say “take the orbs out of Crackdown and you would have nothing”; why on earth would you do that? Crackdown was not only fun because of its over-exagerated crime fighting but for its hide and seek orbs. I liked nothing more than bounding around the city, spotting a glowing sphere in the sky and then setting about scaling great heights to grab it.

I even reset my game so I could go through it all again.

Honourable Honours Mentions

Whilst they may be my Top 5 games of the year I think others deserve a mention.

I had great fun with Rainbox Six: Vegas at the start of the year, a great tactical shooter that is now unfortunately gathering dust.

Catan should also be given a nod and if it weren’t for those stubborn, headset-less wearing players that refused to trade online it may have been given more.

Overlord, a delightfully British game where you basically control evil Pikmin. If it wasn’t for Bioshock coming out at roughly the same time I would (and probably should) have made more of it.

And, finally, Sneak King. My god. Has there ever been a more sinister game created by man’s own hand?