Top Picks 2004

Far Cry
Using a new engine known as the Crytek Engine, Far Cry has some of the best looking outdoor graphics known in gaming with it?s tropical sunny scenes and it?s nighttime atmospheric knee-high grass sprawling islands. The A.I. of the troops in this game is phenomenal and you?ll realize this as you travel across islands, under mountains, and down rivers of beautifully landscaped scenery. Traversing through kilometers of the huge sprawling maps, along with the difficulty of the game will have players spending many long hours on the single player campaign alone.
Half Life 2
Finally being released 6 years after the first, Valve gives players three different games including the single player campaign, Counter Strike, and a Deathmatch feature to spend countless hours of your time on. Alongside the amazing graphics, Valve?s new Physics engine brings a whole new level of immersion into the game being able to interact with almost everything in the game. A worthy sequel to a great game, Half Life 2 fulfills most of the wants and needs of the gamers who fell in love with Valve?s first offering.
Unreal Tournament 2004
A game based around multiplayer, UT2K4 came with everything 2K3 had, but added more maps, vehicles, and an immense amount of fun over the internet. Providing players with multiple styles of play including: Assault, Onslaught, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Unreal Tournament 2004 keeps any player in their seat while they battle it out with players across the world. Add to the fact, the downloadable content released not only by the community, but by the developers themselves in the Editor?s Choice package, this is a multiplayer game that players will be involved for quite a while.
Sid Meier's Pirates!
Dating back from the original in 1987, this new remake brings all the fun the original offered plus more of well, everything. Pirates definitely has to be one of the most addictive games released in 2004. Alongside some good graphics and hours upon hours of randomly generated quests, add in some ease of use in learning to play, this game is a definite buy for any fan of the original or any gamer who?s looking for a overall fun time. Give this game a try and watch the hours tick by like minutes. Sid Meier, master of strategy games alike brings his talent to another wonderful game.
Rome: Total War
Virtually two different games allowing the players to control their empire over a turned-based style of play, and then being able to be involved in real-time battles controlling thousands and thousands of troops on one screen alone. Not one game out on the market gives the player the ability to control so many troops, giving them the option to battle with strategic flanking or through diverging different troops against each other capitalizing on certain unit?s weaknesses. Being developed on a new graphics engine that allows each troop to have individual skirmishes with their enemies, this game looks great all around with the single player campaign and also the ability to play seven other people in one giant war. Don?t forget to mention the wonderful musical score to listen to throughout your periods of battle and strategizing and you have a great game all around.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
2004 was definitely not a year for Role Playing Games only having the releases of Sacred, Beyond Divinity, and a couple others, but VTMB shines in every way from the very start. Troika released a winning game with the alternate endings, many numerous dialog options corresponding with the vampire clans or situations, and an all around good looking game through the use of the Source Engine licensed from Valve. With the realistic and very atmospheric scene of the World of Darkness, licensed from White Wolf, VTMB is for any gamer whose been waiting the past year or so for a great RPG, because games like this don?t come along too often.
Doom 3
Bursting out onto the pc in August, this remake of the original Doom put the fear back into pc gamers that had been lost from the previous years of lackluster scary First Person Shooters. Doom 3, to put it plainly, had amazing graphics which were fueled by the mind of John Carmack and his computer. The graphics engine with all its features, which with even today?s top computers still can?t be put to their full potential, along with some awesome weapons, gives the player an experience that won?t soon forget. Given only a flashlight for light in the shadowed Mars Station, powerful weapons, related to the originals from the first Doom, provide the player with a sense of calmness while battling hundreds and hundreds of demons and screaming babies through the ravaged Mars station. Although not the best story in a game, this is probably one of the best looking games to date.
Thief: Deadly Shadows
Being third in the line of the Thief Series, TDS had a lot to prove and it excelled. Never in a game has the essence of shadows been captured so well. Having both good graphics and a good storyline, TDS leads the player through a single player campaign that easily lasts 20-30 hours unlike many games out this year. Along being able to hide in the shadows, another element of the Thief Series was the use of sound in the game and TDS certainly doesn?t disappoint. Add to that, a decent physics engine and a level/mission in the game that?ll make any player leave the lights on (The Mission ?The Cradle), which can be seen as the scariest level in gaming history, and you?ve got a superb delivery stealth game.
Being released by a new developer in the second quarter of this year, Painkiller brought back the old style gameplay of First Person Shooters like Quake and Serious Sam. Painkiller puts the player through an experience that lasts from the upper regions of Purgatory to the deepest pits of Hell battling the top generals of Lucifer?s army until finally being able to battle Lucifer himself. Having great graphics, good physics, and also some great gameplay, any fan of FPS should pick this game up for a good length single player campaign filled with replay value through Tarot Cards and locked levels. Painkiller also has a unique multiplayer where multiple deathmatches are available with their own special playing style.
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Being the sequel to the action/adventure game of last year can be some hard boots to fill, but PoP:WW does so with honor. The developers definitely listened to their fan?s advice giving a longer single player campaign and a more in-depth fighting style for the player to battle the horde of enemies with. Adding a different style of art, a darker tone to the once Arabian atmospheric prince, Warrior Within takes a more edgy stance with the amount of gore and heavy rock music in the game compared to Sands of Time. But, building upon some of the already great enhancements to Sands of Time, Warrior Within is something that all action/adventure games will love.