games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Games of 2002 – Kingdom Hearts, Elder Scrolls III, More

November 7, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Kingdom Hearts

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week, I’m here to talk about the year 2002, which I’m sure is fondly remembered by most of you. The console wars was heating up between the PS2, GC and Xbox, and games were coming out for all three systems that was impressive. The PC also managed to have some quality games as well, per usual. Here is my list of the best games. Enjoy:

#8: Rez

Rez is on this list for a technical cheat, the game did come out in 2001, but only in Japan on the Dreamcast. In 2002 is when it made its way stateside on the PS2 where it introduced its insanity to Americans. In its base form, Rez is just an on-rails shooter, which isn’t all that special. However, the graphics and audio is what makes it special and fondly remembered to this day. The Rez soundtrack is all over the place, but really fits into the groove of the music. The visuals also, aren’t technically impressive, but artistically, the game score some very high marks. The fact that Rez HD is one of the best games on the PSVR speaks volumes about how well the game holds up. Or about how bad most VR games are. Probably both, if I’m honest.

#7: Freedom Force

If Freedom Force played like an action RPG, akin to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, it would be way higher on this list. It doesn’t play like that though, instead it’s a tactical/strategy game, which is a tad strange. Still, I dig that you can create your own character in the game, the kind of bonkers storyline it has, and really just the whole vibe of the game itself. It’s a very “golden age of comics” motif, with characters like the Minuteman or Man-Bot. The chances of getting a new Freedom Force game is absolutely zero, but FF and its sequel, The Third Reich, are solid games.

#6: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer

Essentially, the Buffy game is like a full-fledged episode of the series. It’s backed up by almost all the actors, save the main one (Sarah Michelle Gellar), and everyone sounds great, including her sound-a-like. The graphics represented the actors well though and everyone looked accurate from the show. The combat isn’t as deep as something like a God of War, but for a character action game/brawler it serves the game well enough, with a good nod to the mythology with you having to stake a vampire once they are weak enough. This game was followed up by Chaos Bleeds, which added more to the equation, multiple characters and so on, but wasn’t nearly as successful as this game was.

#5: Aggressive Inline

Aggressive Inline was the only real competitor to the Tony Hawk juggernaut in the early 2000’s. For one, it was the first sports game (skateboarding, BMX, skating, etc.) that had no time-limit levels. That was always kind of annoying restriction the earlier Tony Hawk games had, you had to do tasks in 2 minute chunks, which could get old. Oh, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4, 2002’s Tony Hawk game did do away with this, but it came out after AI. Aggressive Inline was a much faster game than Tony Hawk was, and a slightly more vertical experience as well. Believe me, Aggressive Inline didn’t break the mold, but it was still an excellent game that deserved a sequel.

#4: Kingdom Hearts

There are two parts to a Kingdom Hearts game, the actual playing of the game and the story surrounding it. Kingdom Hearts 1’s combat today is a bit rough around the edges, but in 2002 it was a lot of fun. You could do action-combat, while firing off magic and summoning a few classic Disney heroes. It is the story in Kingdom Hearts that can get overwrought and annoying. To be fair, KH1 actually does play it fairly straight, but it is still akin to a soap opera with all the melodrama going on. I enjoy playing Kingdom Hearts, just to beat up enemies with a big honking key, but having 5 minute long dialog sequences talking about hearts and keyholes can get real annoying.

#3: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Skyrim may play better but to me, Morrowind is still a better game. There is just a wealth of creativity and weird stuff going on in the game that still outshine Oblivion and Skyrim. The taxi’s in the game are giant bugs, which is just rad. There is a lot of (seemingly) random stuff in the game, like walking out of the first town and having a guy fall from the sky with boots that cause vastly increased speed but total blindness. I sunk over 100 hours into this game, on the Xbox version no less and tried to uncover as many of the secrets as I could. Fun fact, you can kill the god of the game, Vivec, and gain another of the completely unique Wraithguards.

#2: Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank basically asks the question “What if Mario had a gun?”. R&C on the surface has the trappings of a typical mascot platofmrer, you run through levels, pick up collectibles, and defeat enemies. Only instead of jumping on enemies like in a Sonic or Mario, you have an arsenal of futuristic weaponry to combat them. From normal gun like the blaster or bomb glove, to more exotic weapons like the Tesla Claw or Morph o Ray. Aside from that, R&C exists in a bright and colorful setting that is teeming with secrets for you to uncover. The 2016 R&C game was a superb remaster of this game, and I wouldn’t mind if Insomniac continued with that trend.

#1: Deathrow

I love me some Deathrow, as I’ve mentioned in prior columns I’ve done. It’s a 4 on 4 futuristic sport where you try to throw a floating disc into the other team’s goal. You can either do a normal throw, which might get intercepted, or a “deathrow”, charged throw, which will knock out the opposing team’s players if they try to interfere. Or, you can just go full on melee and beat up the enemy team, eventually resulting in them having to forfeit the game, because they have no players to use. The game is kind of like if FFX’s Blitzball wasn’t terrible, or like a land-based version of Rocket League. Microsoft just has original Xbox games showing up on the Xbox One, and this would be a great, hidden gem to be on the platform.

For comments, list which games that were your favorites in 2002.

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Top 8 Games of 2003