Flat-Out (PS2, Xbox, PC)| Minigames
Sure, this racing game had a decent sense of speed and some good looks, but the real star of the show was actually its minigames, which had nothing at all to do with racing. You see, the game had a very robust physics system – an eggheaded way of saying things bounced around pretty realistically when you hit them. This made the morbid minigames, most of which involved stomping the accelerator and then hammering the brake so hard your driver was catapulted through the windshield, as captivating as they were twisted.
Who could resist the appeal of launching your little man into a giant dart board? Or great, big bowling pins? Not us. Not anyone. Even something as simple as a high jump or long jump becomes captivating when the participant is being involuntarily cannonballed from the driver’s seat. Of course it’s evil; but you can’t deny it’s fun.
Gears of War (360, PC) | Act 2: Lethal Dusk
Lots of games add co-op play so they can include an extra bullet point on the back of the box. Gears of War was built from the beginning with co-op in mind. Nowhere is this fact clearer than in the shooter's unforgettable second act. At many points, Marcus and Dom are forced to split up, experiencing completely different battles simultaneously. At other points, they must work in perfect coordination. Who can forget holding that spotlight steady on your buddy below, knowing that a single wrong move would result in his or her instant death? Who can forget being on the opposite end of that beam, placing all your trust - and your life - in someone else's hands?
Genji: Days of the Blade (PS3) | Ichinotani Beach
When Sony spectacularly disembowelled itself live on stage at its E3 2006 press conference, an over-sized claw-wielding crustacean scuttled from the steaming pile of embarrassed entrails to become an instant internet phenomenon. The Giant Enemy Crab. And this enormous, hard-shelled invertebrate has become such an institution in gaming culture that every gamer should be forced by law to visit Ichninotani Beach at least once, flip the legendary beast on to its back and - yes - attack its weak point for massive damage.