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Gameplay is at the heart of every game, be it an RPG or otherwise. Without solid and enjoyable playability, a game is sunk, no matter how beautiful it looks or sounds. Of course, there is no one way for a title to achieve greatness in gameplay. It could be by offering an amazing battle system, in depth character specification, engaging puzzles, exciting quests, or a good blend of all of the above. Regardless of exactly what elements make up the gameplay, the bottom line is that the game has to be enjoyable.

Best Gameplay 2004 Winner
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

And if there is any game that is fun to play, its Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. The second Paper Mario game once again chose to focus less making any one part of the game too over the top, making Paper Mario 2 a perfect example of good blending of gameplay elements to create an enjoyable gaming experience. The structure of the game is what really places the game atop all others in this category. The game unfolds in a episodic manner, with each chapter having its own subplot and feel to it, different from the all the others. Yet, still somehow the story weaved together to great a grand game in general. As your explore the environment and the world, you talk to various interesting characters in very interactive environment.

While some may say that Paper Mario 2 caters to a younger audience that does not mean that it is a simple child's game. While the game does keep things simple, there are quite a few puzzles throughout the game to keep even the most veteran gamer on their toes. Young or old, its highly unlikely that you could not like this game.

Second Place - Tales of Symphonia

Pulling up in second place is the GameCube's 'tale' in shining armor, Tales of Symphonia. Tales offers players a variety of options that boast its gameplay lovability. On the overworld, you see enemies and have the option to fight or avoid them, and if you choose to fight, you are rewarded in battle with a fantastic battle system. If you aren't satisfied with the way the battle went, feel free to change up your options and character specifics in the detailed menu screens. No matter how you look at it, Tales of Symphonia gives you what you want, when you want it, sometimes even if you never asked for it.

Third Place - World of Warcraft

Rounding out the top three is a game from a generally under represented genre, the MMORPG, and that game is World of Warcraft. Blizzard, a company renown for consistently making quality games, does not letdown with their first step into the MMORPG world. World of Warcraft's gameplay shines by allowing the player to play the game virtually any way they want to. You can play alone or get heavily involved in groups and guilds, you can be a master of the duel or have the skills to take on numerous foes at a time, or you can just sit back interact with community as a craftsman of any of the various professions that the game offers you. Most importantly, you can be a casual player or a hardcore MMORPGamer, and you will still enjoy the play of this game.

by Matthew Foster

Honorable Mention - Phantom Brave


Honorable Mention - Shadow Hearts: Covenant

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