360Monster’s Games of 2006

We’re not one to consistently follow trend but hey, what the hell, we may as well take a belated look at the last year of game titles on the Xbox 360. The team here at 360Monster have put our heads together and plucked the finest gems from the Xbox 360 library of titles that were released within the past 12 months.

2006 featured the Xbox 360’s first full year in bloom, with plenty of treats that caught our attention here at 360Monster towers. So without further a-do, first off, let’s have a look at the best title from each genre on the Xbox 360, followed by best Graphics, best Audio, most Unique game and of course the worst game of the year. So grab a drink, sit comfortably and let’s begin.

Best Shooter: Gears of War

Gears of War is one of the greatest shooters created since the infancy of console gaming….period. The game wasn’t equipped with the best story ever presented in a modern shooter, but offered enough with its gameplay to live up to the extraordinary amount of hype that was thrown onto its shoulders. The game has offered so many unique aspects to a genre that follows a rather blocked set up. Gears wasn’t your standard “Point A to Point B” shooter. Gears offered deeper and more intense missions than its predecessors and presented one of the most unique and action filled multiplayer packages ever. It was the first game in Xbox LIVE’s arsenal to make 30 second rounds exciting and bracing, yet also involve strategy. Last but not least, Gears has also thrown some of the most unique specialty weapons ever in our direction (Yes, I am looking at you Mr. Hammer of Dawn).

Best of the Rest: Rainbow Six: Vegas

RSV was probably the most under appreciated game to come out this past year. The game has been heavily shadowed by the vastly more popular and technically superior Gears of War ever since it was released. Luckily, RSV has recently built momentum given that the GOW hype has settled somewhat. Vegas has proven to be a brilliant multiplayer experience and the most fortuitous addition to the Xbox LIVE gaming library since Halo 2. Vegas was far more than what we expected, and the game bared evidence that sticking stealth in with a virtual Sin City makes for an electrifying experience.

Best Adventure/Action Game: Dead Rising

Dead Rising was arguably one of the best zombie games. Many gamers may put at the top of 2006 game additions. Some of us here at 360monster while not in complete accord with such a statement do find it hard to completely disagree. A symphony of gore and blood, Dead Rising gave birth to one of the most fun experiences in the Xbox platform. A true survival game, Dead Rising offered one of the most open and enjoyable combat systems ever complete with a vast and deadly weapon selection. Wrenches, bats, shotguns, chainsaws, electronics etcetera all added to a virtual arsenal that you could use to smack the tar out of your foes. Some quirks in the system might have held the game back a bit but given the fascinating experience it offered, Dead Rising is a ‘bloody’ masterpiece.

The Best of the Rest: Saint’s Row

After a long summer holdout where hardly any decent games were available, Saint’s Row slammed us right into the Xbox 360’s autumn drive. Saint’s Row was almost an exact clone of another crime game I seemed to have forgotten the name of, yet still offered a unique experience that rocked most 360 owners. Although it was a game plagued by mistakes, Saint’s Row pulled through and therefore stands as was one of the most memorable moments of 2006.

Best RPG: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Oblivion is one of the few games that helped the gaming industry on a whole by itself. Due to the lack of quality, the role-playing genre seems to flutter in between releases of new Pokémon games. Usually interest in them dwindles, and most people tend to ignore new RPG releases simply because the genre isn’t working at that point of time. Ironically, even though the objective of the game was to “Close Shut the Jaws of Oblivion”, it was Oblivion that opened up the door for RPGs once again. Arguably the deepest single player game ever, Oblivion is a captivating masterpiece; a true showcase of gaming’s evolution. With over 200 hours of gameplay, Oblivion makes sure that each hour is enjoyable and spent well. A high level of quality remained steady throughout the game’s many quests and adventures, giving a player his money’s worth and then some. Oblivion was also one of the first games to use the full capability that the Xbox 360 holds, by digitally creating one of the largest worlds ever seen on a game. With all of this, Oblivion was by far the most epic game to come out of 2006.

The Best of the Rest: Enchanted Arms

Whether or not Enchanted Arms is a good game it’s still out for discussion amongst gamers, but no one can doubt that the game was somewhat solid on most RPG fronts. Ruined by small yet recurrent mistakes and a mediocre storyline, Enchanted Arms is disappointingly forgettable.

Best Racing Game of the Year: Burnout Revenge

Although a port from the same Xbox game, Burnout Revenge is still the best racing game on all fronts to come out of the 2006 Xbox 360 library. The game offered everything expected from the Racing genre, including a single player mode with true depth. Perhaps, the best non-shooter Xbox LIVE experience to come out in 2006, Burnout Revenge mastered racing on the Xbox 360 as well.

The Best of the Rest: Test Drive: Unlimited

Test Drive was definitely something unique, however wasn’t neither as open as we were hoping for, nor promised. One of the few Auto MMORPGs that has ever worked, Test Drive gave us freedom but this too seemed fairly limited. Still, Test Drive is an entertaining online experience therefore making it memorable by fans of the Racing and MMORPG genre alike.

Best Sports Game of the Year: NHL 07

Electronic Arts has never been known for creating innovative features when it applies to its sports brands. Fortunately, NHL 07 breaks away from this recurring problem. With its new analogue stick shooting feature, NHL 07 provided the most realistic play to hit the sports genre. The game also was the first NHL game to utilize the full capabilities of the system it is running on. It seems ironic that the best sports game to come out in 2006 soars so high while its real world counterpart is on a steady decline.

The Best of the Rest: Fight Night Round 3

Fight Night Round 3 was a visual masterpiece when it was first released. The game nearly edged out NHL 07, but some found the controls still a little too confusing. At its core though, FNR3 is an amazing game for boxing enthusiasts and sports fans alike.

Best Graphics: Gears of War

Gears of War is by far and wide, the most visually stunning game of 2006. However, that isn’t even the question that all of us have been asking ourselves since we first sat down and marvelled at the game’s technical beauty. The question we really are asking is….is this the best looking game ever?

That answer, is yes.

Best of the Rest: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter

GRAW kick started the Xbox 360 into last spring, being one of the first quality games that Xbox 360 owners got their mitts around. It was the first game to showcase the power the Xbox 360 currently boasts, and captured everyone’s attention with its stunning character models and environments. Gears of War clearly outdid GRAW in nearly every graphical aspect, so giving GRAW this award would be a farce. However, the game still looks outstanding and that alone leaves us with a longing for some more Ghost Recon action.

Best Audio: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The world of Tamriel was a stunning accomplishment from a visual and technical perspective. But when this enchanting land was enhanced by a captivating musical score, Tamrie became a living, breathing, world. Gamers were absorbed into a fantasy world last spring and held there by motifs that skew in perfect harmony. Oblivion also provided this world with talking inhabitants all with unique dialogue and nearly perfect voiceovers, something that secured our attention more and more the longer we played. The game itself is unforgettable but the underlying musical composition was etched into our minds.

Best of the Rest: Gears of War

Gears of War contained some of the best contemporary sound effects in gaming history. Technically, Gears of War is an audio masterpiece. The authenticity of every motif in its orchestrated score, every bullet triggered, every chainsaw cocked, every profanity spouted, and every voiceover in the game is simply awe-inspiring. However, the game’s musical score is not that of Oblivion and mainly, less memorable.

Most Unique Game of the Year; Viva Piñata

Prematurely named as a Pokémon copycat before its release, Viva Piñata is in no way like anything else we have ever seen, especially from Microsoft. A child’s game that their parents can love, Viva Piñata is unique in almost every aspect of a game. From its overly colourful appearance, to its unique game concept, everything about Viva is different and for the most part; fun.

The Best of the Rest: Dead Rising

Bashing Zombie’s over their heads with DVD players…not different enough?

Best XBOX LIVE Game of the Year: Rainbow Six Vegas

Rainbow Six Vegas offered the best Xbox LIVE experience since Halo 2. With hints of future clan support, amazing usage of the Xbox LIVE camera, and an excellent array of game modes, Vegas proves that with its accessories and proper connection management, Xbox LIVE can be the reason why consumers should go out and pick up a 360. The lobby system was particularly extraordinary, as it presented a perfected way to hop on with your friends and organize clan based matches. So all those clans looking for a solid game to take their clan over to, your search is done. Rainbow Six Vegas is the real deal.

The Best of the Rest: Gears of War

Many people disliked the limited set up to Gears of War’s multiplayer, and frankly we did too. However, the game’s actual in-match gameplay stole the shows. It was simply a blast to play when it comes down to it, and that’s all we needed.

Best Xbox LIVE Arcade Game of the Year: Small Arms

Small Arms has definitely lived up to its expectations. It is everything we have come to expect from XBLA ever since Microsoft first announced the feature. Games like Small Arms show what Microsoft intended XBLA to be. A service that offers small, cheap, trimmed down versions of games but makes sure that these are still unique, visually acceptable, and most importantly: fun. The game gave birth to some unique aspects for the Fighting Action genre, some we haven’t seen in years. Much like Super Smash Brothers, the game pitted player “mano a mano” on a 2D surface. Only difference is, this game straps a player with some sort of weapon. Small Arms rocked everyone who purchased it, and for a cheap price of a couple of bucks…it was an Xbox 360 must have of 2006.

Best of the Rest: UNO and Doom

UNO and Doom, for all of us here at 360monster, have been a welcomed addition. These games spirit us back to our childhood. We cannot forget those endless hours of friendly UNO games with family and friends. Doom on the other hand takes us back to our preteen years, when we developed the taste for blood and gore and were drawn to games which fulfilled our hunger for both. These refurbished classics have proven to be designed with as much attention to detail as many of the new XBLA creations.

Worst Game of the Year: Bomberman: Act Zero

Is it really possible to screw up such a simple series as Bomberman? I mean come on, Bomberman! Anyone who has at least played a previous Bomberman game (which to be frank, isn’t exactly the world’s best franchise to begin with) would tell you that this addition doesn’t even belong in the same franchise’s canon. With only two player modes, one of the worst camera’s in gaming history, and perhaps, a storyline created by a toddler, you can certainly put this hunk of crap at the very bottom of the Xbox 360 library. Congrats Bomberman, you truly are 2006’s worst creation.

The Worst of the Rest: Rumble Roses XXX

I’ve got to be honest, I am no different than any other man. Hey, I like watching half naked girls roll over other half naked girls just as much as the next guy, but when these women are pixelated filth I wonder just what in the world am I doing watching this? Let alone playing it. Enough said.

Game of the Year Nominees:

Gears of War
Dead Rising
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Burnout: Revenge
NHL 07
Viva Piñata
Rainbow Six: Vegas
Call of Duty 3
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Saint’s Row

So there you have it, our hot list of 2006 for the Xbox 360. Check back soon to see which out of these ten nominees gets our Game of the Year Prize!

Originally Written By: Steve Wysowski


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