2003 lacked that special game that could
redefine a genre. Yet, the industry reached new peaks in popularity
with the public, as seen with the barrage of television ads, awards
shows and game sales. Amid the countless sequels and rehashes
released, a few games stood out from the rest of the pack. Without
further ado, the Daily New Media staff has selected a list of 10
1 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
(Nintendo) —– The decision process for this
year’s no. 1 was an easy one. Link’s latest adventure
is the year’s best game and became an instant staple on the
underrated GameCube system. “Wind Waker” has it all:
creative puzzles, intense swordplay, beautiful graphics, an
incredible score and a clever plot that ties in quite nicely with
the rest of the series. “Zelda” still remains the best
action RPG franchise and “Wind Waker” lived up to the
2 Star Wars: Knights of the Old
Republic (LucasArts) — Proving that not all “Star
Wars” games are garbage, this RPG took everyone by surprise.
Every action chosen by the gamer changes your character’s
balance between the light and dark sides of the force, making
fanboys’ dreams finally come true.
3 Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
(UbiSoft) — As if the acrobatics and stunning visuals
weren’t enough, “Prince of Persia” allows users
to manipulate time itself, rewinding, accelerating and even
stopping characters in their tracks. UbiSoft was careful to make
gameplay easy enough for beginners but challenged players’
minds throughout the expansive excursion across this Arabian city.
Character animation is beautifully fluid, making each leap, climb,
fall and fight immensely enjoyable. Despite its short length,
“Persia” is a fine example of quality over
4 Madden NFL 2004/NCAA Football 2004
(EA Sports) — Writing a list of the top 10 games without
including these near perfect football sims would be criminal. EA
Sports delivers excellence every year and the online play takes the
bragging rights to a whole new level.
5 Final Fantasy X-2 (Square Enix)
— The first sequel to any game in the “Final
Fantasy” saga, “X-2” follows the main characters
of “Final Fantasy X” on a sphere-hunting expedition
across the war-torn world of Spira. The graphics are amazing,
breathing color and life into the characters of this magical world,
and the updated combat system is incredible. “X-2” is
more than a worthy sequel — it’s a well-thought out and
well-executed game all around.
6 Tony Hawk’s Underground
(Activision) — Some game series stay stagnant, but
“Tony Hawk” just keeps getting better. Adding a story
mode to the mix while keeping the same game engine enabled this new
edition to be up to the standards of its predecessors.
7 Mario Kart: Double Dash! (Nintendo)
—Though criticized for its simplicity, there’s no
arguing that Mario Kart is still the king of the action/racing
genre. The smooth graphics and boppy music make the latest
installment a must have for any multiplayer enthusiast.
8 Viewtiful Joe (Capcom) —
Fresh and frenetic, “Joe” offers innovation in spades,
contrasting with the sequels that flooded the market this year. A
return to 2-D gameplay with 3-D cel-shaded graphics, nothing else
dared to take the chances that this game took in 2003.
9 Panzer Dragoon Orta (Sega)
— The fourth installment in this shooter series, which
few know about, returns to form with steller gameplay in tow.
“Orta” shows the power of the XBox’s graphics
engine while having precise and impeccable controls over the
10 Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution (Sega)
— No fireballs, no maces, no 30-foot vertical leaps, just
the most beautifully intricate fighting game on the market. The
“Evolution” version features two new fighters as well
as an all-new Quest Mode that pits gamers against some
extraordinary AI. Plus, it’s only 20 bucks.