16. Forza Motorsport 2
Forza 2 split opinions. Riyad found it disappointing, noting its technical inaccuracies and overly generous reward system. Stu, meanwhile, bemoans the sequel's narrowed focus on straight racing circuits with minimal trackside eye-candy. However, Andy and a fair few others have got a lot of enjoyment out of this highly tuned racing title. Running at a super smooth 60fps, it looked the business on a high-definition TV, with stunning audio to boot. A massive selection of beautifully modelled cars only added to the appeal. And as for those courses, they're perfectly rendered and provide a huge variety of challenges for the budding racer, if only they can look beyond the surface.
If you like Forza 2 you'll know where it excels: out on the track. The fantastic handling model strikes an excellent balance between realism and accessibility. Plug in a steering wheel and it's an absolute joy, with the differences between cars ringing through in the feedback provided. All this was enhanced further by the damage system, which made you think about how you drive and made racing that bit more exciting. How much of a risk am I taking as I drive down the inside and race for the turn? Online, it's the benchmark for how to build a community and help them compete, as Need for Speed: ProStreet's â€˜homage' clearly shows. It might not have had the attention to detail of a simulation, but Forza 2 had the heart and soul of a champion racer.
15. World in Conflict
It seems that the RTS genre is reaching a fork in its road forwards. On the one hand, the likes of Company of Heroes and (particularly) Supreme Commander seem to be adding more and more layers of tactical complexity. On the other hand, games like Command and Conquer 3 seem to be taking it back to its more action-oriented roots. Well, the year's best RTS made a persuasive argument for the latter camp. Set in a fictional 1980s war between a beleaguered Russia and NATO forces, World in Conflict stripped resource management back to a bare minimum, and asked you to focus your attention on what units you needed and how best to wreak all kinds of havoc with them. The game's utterly breathless pace might have come at the cost of wider tactical decision-making, but with a game this action-packed, you were kept far too busy to care.
Meanwhile, the ability to call in bomber raids, artillery bombardments and even nuclear strikes made for the most spectacular scenes of destruction ever seen in an RTS. And for that we owe thanks to the stunning DirectX 10 graphics engine, which let you zoom in on every skirmish with an incredible level of detail, or zoom out to see whole neighbourhoods pulverised in the best fireworks show in town. This was an RTS that even RTS haters could love. Stirring stuff.