Zestful Contemplation’s Best of 2008 Awards
Way the hell after 2008 is a thing of the past, it’s Zestful Contemplation’s Best of 2008 Awards. I’m not pretending to make my awards comprehensive or unbiased or any of that other pretentious crap. The fact that these awards reflect my own personal experiences, tastes, and dislikes is exactly the point. I haven’t played every game that came out this year and I’m not going to consider a boatload of titles I never played. But I did play a huge number of games this year, and these choices reflect my personal tastes and thoughts about the games I spent time with in 2008.
Best Racing Game
- Burnout Paradise
- Mario Kart Wii
As much as I love Mario Kart and as great as I thought last year’s particular rendition of the game was, let’s face it, it’s not really in the running here. Mario Kart is fun but this iteration was probably even less innovative than the GameCube installment. There’s nothing wrong with that mind you, and I had plenty of fun with it, but come on, it’s up against Burnout Paradise.
Mario Kart Wii’s biggest new feature was probably its motion controlled steering, which nobody who actually cared about winning every once in a while actually used. On the other hand, Burnout Paradise took an already awesome racing series, took a rather spectacular leap into an open-world setting, and made it significantly more awesome in the process. Seeing your Miis cheering from the sidelines of the race courses, while awesome and much-appreciated, just can’t compare.
Rarely does an open world game truly feel like it needs to be open world to me. Most of the time all it means it that you have to walk farther to get to where you need to go instead of being able to select it from a far more convenient menu. Sure Burnout Paradise should have given up some of its realism for a restart option, but it used its open world setting to its fullest. Just driving around randomly at top speed for no reason was immensely entertaining. Every street had its own records to set. Every stretch of road contained its own challenges. Showtime mode is addictive in its simplicity and can be played at any time the player desires. The game is filled to the brim with fun stuff to do and is one of the most refreshingly fun racing games to appear in quite some time.
On top of all that, the developers have produced what has to be one of the more impressive efforts of post-release support for a game seen outside of the Rock Band platform. The sheer amount of cool free stuff they have released for the game combined with the paid content that is quickly forthcoming has kept this game relevant and continually fun and fresh for far longer than it would have otherwise. The motorcycle content alone could have been its own $10 download and few probably would have complained.
Plus, we’re getting our restart option now too. And for free. It’s nice when a developer listens to its fans.