It doesn't matter how great a game looks or sounds. The characters could be fantastic and the storytelling wonderful, but without a great battle system, you're better off watching a movie. Here are the titles that put the "G" in RPG during 2008.
While The World Ends With You didn't have a perfect battle system, it pulled off something incredibly unique with a surprising amount of success. It was fun, frantic, and refreshingly customizable. The game also had an answer for those overwhelmed by the task of controlling two screens at once by allowing the top screen to be AI controlled. Top that all off with precise stylus controls, the ability to chain battles, adjustable character levels, and great monster design, and The World Ends With You delivers not only the most unique, but the best battle system of 2008.
Tactical RPGs are a dime a dozen these days, so it takes something unique for one game to stand out from the rest. Valkyria Chronicles is one of those games. As a commander in the Gallian's fight for freedom, many options are available for deploying and attacking. Unlike most tactical RPGs, every unit does not have to move and one unit can move more than once per turn. Once engaged with a unit, the scene changes to anover-the-shoulder view where the unit must move, target, and interact with the environment, bringing a fresh approach to tactical combat. This unique and impressive battle system is yet another element that makes Valkyria Chronicles a stellar title.
Once condemned by the internets to be "Oblivion with guns," Fallout 3 squashed fanboy fears and more with its innovative VATS system. Simply pause the world, pick out which foes and body parts you want to ruin, hit go, and watch as violent pain is unleashed upon any who would oppose you. A wide variety of weapons and enemies keep things fresh throughout the game, although watching heads explode from pointblank shotgun blasts never really gets old. Pausable action systems are common in western RPGs, but VATS took it to a new level with a clean interface and a first person viewpoint of the gorgeous world, combining the best parts from Fallout 2 and Oblivion into one of most intuitive, fun, and outright easy to use battle systems in a western RPG. Also, the excellent SPECIAL leveling system returns with many improving tweaks, and it compliments the battle system to give you a real sense of character growth.
by Mikel Tidwell, Ethan Pipher, Glenn Wilson, Michael Cunningham