As far as the role-playing scene goes, 2008 will most likely be remembered as the year of the rehashes (Mass Effect PC, The Witcher: Enhanced Edition), failures (Age of Conan, Space Siege), and "what might have beens" (Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods, Rise of the Argonauts, Too Human). Beyond those entries, though, a few exceptional titles did sneak their way into our hands last year. Here are our picks for the games that stood out above the rest:
Fable II (Winner)
In a year where open-world sandbox gameplay was overly prominent, Fable II stands out as having the best storyline to tie it all together. The story isn't necessarily thought-provoking, but the narrative that supports your quest to destroy the spire and end Lucien's fanatical goal to eradicate the existing world in favor of a new one is solid and will easily keep your interest throughout the 10-hour campaign. Add to that a thick layer of charm and humor, and you have yourself a deserving winner.
No Award Given (Runner-up)
As no game other than Fable II stood out in the story and writing department, we did not award a runner-up position in this category. Hopefully next year we'll have more writing to praise!
Fallout 3 (Winner)
Fallout 3 is not an unequivocal graphical triumph; despite sporting a realistically grim post-nuclear setting, Bethesda still has some room for improvement in the character animation, facial modeling, and world design departments. But, much like Oblivion was in 2006, Fallout 3 is one of the best-looking games of 2008, and in pure graphical fidelity it usurps all others to take our award for this year's best graphics.
King's Bounty: The Legend (Runner-up)
While Fallout 3's graphics make the most use of pure 3D power, King's Bounty stands as a shining example of how graphics can dazzle without requiring state-of-the-art hardware. The detail present in the game's environments, world design, combat animations, and various icons is nothing short of amazing, and quite worthy of any praise we can heap at it. As such, Katauri Interactive stands as one of the only developers in recent years to successfully approach a Blizzard-like style of graphical polish.