The top five games of 2006

2006 stands as the most eventful year the videogame industry has witnessed in recent memory. With the Xbox 360 in full swing and the arrival of the PS3 and Wii, gamers have a virtual buffet of excellent titles to choose from. Here are Lawrence.com's top five picks for the year:

5. Guitar Hero II (PS2)

As one of the biggest mainstream sleeper hits in years, Guitar Hero II has invaded homes and even made non-gamers pick up a PS2. The original was amazing of course, but its success allowed for an even more impressive tracklisting this time around. For god's sake:it has Free Bird. That alone makes it belong on this list.

4. Okami (PS2)

When it was released this fall, Okami was hailed by many (including Lawrence.com) as "the greatest adventure game since Ocarina of Time." Its reign may have been short thanks to the juggernaut known as Twilight Princess, but Clover's achievements with this game can't go unnoticed. It has the most unique and truly beautiful art style in years, along with fantastic gameplay and puzzle mechanics.

3. Gears of War (360)

Unlike Halo 2, the hype was real with this one. Talked about since the official unveiling of the 360, Gears of War delivered on all fronts. Absurdly intense cover-based gunplay, beautiful graphics, and entertaining online play made this an absolute joy to play through. This will almost certainly become a trademark Xbox franchise in the years to come.

2. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (360)

When I get sucked into a game, I usually spend a maximum of 6-7 hours a day with it, and that's just in the first few days after release. Oblivion was a completely different story for me. I didn't get sucked in right away, I was actually overwhelmed by how deep the game was. After a couple days of 1-2 hour play sessions, I started getting a bit obsessed. Flash forward to a couple of weeks later, and I found myself sitting down for an extended 20-hour playathon. Oblivion is massive, beautiful, complex, entertaining, and downright epic. After 60+ hours with it, I still want more.

1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

Twilight Princess is only the second game in Lawrence.com history to score a 9.9 (the other being Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence), but I was damn close to giving it the perfect 10. This game was hyped at E3 for three straight years, and hardcore Zelda fans like myself had unbelievably high expectations for it. It's very rare for any form of pop culture to stand up to that level of hype (see: Phantom Menace), but Twilight Princess pulled it off like only Nintendo can. Forget Majora's Mask, forget Wind Waker: TP is the true successor to Ocarina of Time, and one of the greatest games of all-time.

Top Three Games by Console:

Xbox 360:

1. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

2. Gears of War

3. Saints Row

Nintendo Wii

1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

2. Wii Sports

3. Trauma Center: Second Opinion

Playstation 3

1. Resistance: Fall of Man

2. Madden 2007

3. Ridge Racer 7

Playstation 2

1. Okami

2. Guitar Hero II

3. FFXII

Nintendo DS*

1. New Super Mario Bros.

2. Big Brain Academy

3. Yoshi's Island DS

Sony PSP

1. Loco Roco

2. Tekken Dark Resurrection

3. Killzone Liberation

*Note: As of this writing, Castlevania Portrait of Ruin has not been reviewed by Lawrence.com

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