"For pete's sake don't disturb the freaking witch, melon-farmer!" Well, at least I think that's what my comrades were shouting at me through the headphones. Four survivors, three scenarios and one shedload of undead made this an unbelievably tense and exciting zombie blaster, with the ingenious AI 'director' constantly analysing your progress and working out how to hit you hard where and when you least expected it. Teams that worked together made it to the end, but the games we remember best are the ones where things fell apart with grisly but hilarious consequences.
Valve delivered on its promise to produce the Counter-Strike of co-op games, with some brilliant mechanics that pushed players to cover and heal each other, even when they didn't know each other from Adam. Sure, Resistance 2 put more players in the game and Battlefield: Bad Company had scale and vehicles on its side, but Left4Dead felt like a more genuinely team experience. In fact, the title refers just as well to Valve's rivals.
Read the full review of Left4Dead.
4. Grand Theft Auto IV
If we were going to award the Game of the Year gong to 2008's most ambitious, dramatic and all-round important title, GTAIV would take away the prize. For all the backlash - for all the people who say Vice City was more fun or who found the cartoon tomfoolery of Saints Row 2 more entertaining - there's just no denying that Liberty City is one of the richest, most incredibly realised settings in video games history, or that Niko and his story pushed gaming as a narrative art to places and emotions it had rarely, if ever, touched before.
A few gameplay and technical issues held GTAIV back from a perfect 10 rating and so a shot at our top slot, but Rockstar's masterpiece gave us some of the most shocking, surprising and downright incredible experiences of any video game in this, or any other, year. Don't believe the doubters, the grumblers and the gripers - GTAIV deserved every plaudit it received.
Read the full review of Grand Theft Auto IV.