The EZA Community Top 20 Best of 2006!
Fantastic! SUPER happy to see Final Fantasy XII make the top 10! A bit of history with my experiences with it before diving in with full thoughts:
My dad got me the Collector's Edition for Christmas one year because by that time I had already discovered and fallen in love with both FF VII and FFX, and so I was looking forward to getting started. So I fired it up, played until you go South out of Rabanastre to the Giza Plains and stopped.
I did NOT enjoy it.
I remember finding the characters to be unlikeable, the story slow and plodding, the mundane tasks I was doing wasn't fun, and the combat didn't vibe with me. Feeling disappointed and let down, I didn't revisit it until a while later.
And I'm incredibly happy I did.
This is because right after where I initially stopped is when things get interesting: You meet Balthier and Fran, eventually assist Ashe (or as she introduces herself, Amalia), and events transpire to put you on a path of intrigue and strife. While Vaan and Penelo are definite downers, the rest of the cast is awesome. I'm partial to Balthier, Ashe, and Basch, but FF XII probably has one of the best supporting casts and side-characters in the franchise. Reddas is a particular standout and learning who he REALLY is, and when you find out, is one of the best moments of the whole game.
The locations, for the most part, are incredible. The aforementioned Rabanastre, Balfonheim Port, Bhujerba, and Archades bustle with so much life. The dungeons, from the Tomb of Raithwall to the Lushu Mines and the Henne Mines to the Barheim Passage are somehow both oppressive and captivating (Except for the Great Crystal in Giruvegan. Worst. Dungeon. Of. All. Time.). The Ozmone Plain, Phon Coast, Eruyt Village, and Salikawood are all beautiful in their own way. And these are just SOME of the locations you'll visit in your adventure.
But the thing I turned 180 on HARD was the Gambit system. I didn't like it at first, but now I'm a MASSIVE proponent of it because I learned how, if you set it up correctly, you can make a massive amount of different builds and classes and the game practically auto-battles. When it's done right, seeing your strategies executed to perfection to where almost no enemy can touch you is so gratifying. And on the opposite end, set up your Gambits wrong or walk into a fight unprepared, your team will be wiped with no remorse. All of this is not even mentioning Quickenings, which can be both overwhelming super-powerful life savers to one-shot bosses or a one-off attack that hardly does damage.
I also love how if one character goes down, you have the INSTANT ability to switch them out. So when you encounter a difficult fight and two or maybe your entire front team is KO'd, your other party members can step in and save the day.
I recently 100%ed The Zodiac Age for the first time, and I'm super proud of that, because finding the Rare enemies and defeating Superbosses is no joke. My overall favorite thing you can do is take on Hunts and find Espers, and these fights are fun, especially when you get into the later half and it gets harder. I still can't believe I've finally bested the Hell Wyrm, or survived Omega Mark XII (Again. Great Crystal. FREAKING. SUCKS.). But THE fight of fights: Yiazmat. Two. And a half. HOURS. In a single attempt to finally best him. I'm super happy to have a completely finished master file, but I'm never doing those two fights again.
The story isn't for everyone, and while I do think it loses itself when it brings in a supernatural element, I think the massive amount of set-pieces and memorable moments throughout makes up for it to some measure:
- The tutorial being a massive battle at Nabudis (which you revisit later when its in ruins) and the betrayal (or so you think....) at the conclusion
- Flying into Bhujerba for the first time
- Being aboard Judge Ghis's Fleet
- Reaching (and climbing to the top of) The Pharos at Cataract
- Assaulting the Bahamut
- The cutscenes at the start of bosses, ESPECIALLY Espers.
FF XII is currently my third favorite mainline game in the franchise (unless you count VII: Remake to be different enough and mainline, then XII is fourth), my 3rd favorite game from 2006, and my 27th favorite of all time (Well, technically The Zodiac Age version is, but I think it's still similar enough to count as both.
#8: Hitman: Blood Money - 13 points
#1: 1 (bam541)
#2: 1 (DIPSET)
#3: 1 (Sentinel Beach)
HM: 1 (kindiman)
Release date: EU: May 26, NA: May 30
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360
While I'm disconnected from Hitman, I THINK this is the Hitman that's consistently praised whereas Absolution is the derided one. Regardless, it feels good to see ioi really bring Hitman back in a big way with their recent trilogy. I'm curious about the future of the franchise since the studio is now working on 007.
bam541 last edited by
This is a bit too low! Funny thing is that I never managed to finish this game myself, it was a bit too hard for my younger self, and also I used to have a grim PS2 memory card problem where it would occasionally corrupt save datas randomly, and I can't afford a good memory card (cheap copies galore). Anyway this game's great. I have played through the first half of the game like a dozen times already because the save data problem, yet I never got bored of it. The levels are well designed and fun to explore, even if they're not as expansive as the newer Hitman levels. I used to know the level where you kill two people in a opera theater like the back of my hand, I played it so many times and it's such a fun level to master since there's a maze like basement level that connects all the important places. The levels are very varied in terms of setting and design too. There's the classic tropical drug cartel level, the American suburbs level, the Las Vegas casino level, and even a Mardi Gras level. It's a game brimming with exciting gameplay opportunities, and it definitely influenced the newer Hitman trilogy a lot, because most of the levels in the trilogy are so expansive that they're able to incorporate many kinds of themes and design approaches, and many of them can be traced to this game. I think Blood Money has been superseded by the new trilogy in terms of being a better Hitman game, but it's still a must play because there's a lot of unique and delightfully surprising things in this game.
NeoCweeny last edited by
Eventhough Rainbow Six Vegas loses some of the aspects that made the previous games great tactical shooters. Vegas is still an excellent action game. Im happy to see it making the list.
Residence: FOM is ok. I enjoyed it back in the day but can't remember much about it at this point.
Sentinel Beach last edited by
Blood Money was a freaking gem. Still is, although the new trilogy has surpassed it. This was my gateway to 47's world and there's been no turning back since. Excellent missions and all kinds of surroundings. "A New Life" in the suburbs is particularly fun to play around with.
I also got my first car on the same day as Blood Money in May '06.
I am intrigued by Blood Money and I feel if I played it I would've really taken to it. I had only played Hitman 2: Silent Assassin on PS2 but I can tell Blood Money is much better than that and possibly the best in the series.
#7: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories - 14 points
#2: 3 (bam541, kindiman, NeoCweeny)
#4: 1 (JDINCINERATOR)
Release date: NA: October 31, EU: November 3, AU: November 10
Developer: Rockstar Leeds, Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platform(s): PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2
I'm frankly amazed that Vice City Stories is so high up the rankings. Didn't think the PSP would get much of a look in, though I get the sense now that Daxter hasn't gotten in. Even so Vice City Stories is a fantastic portable GTA brimming with new ideas. I don't like Vice City Stories quite as much as Liberty City Stories but VCS does fire on all cylinders regardless. Big props to @bam541 , @kindiman and @NeoCweeny for getting this up to #7.
Sentinel Beach last edited by
The original Vice City is in my Top 5 of all time, but Vice City Stories I just somehow never finished. I only bought it after it was ported to PS2 (never had a PSP). Not sure why, but the thrill was gone.
bam541 last edited by bam541
I don't think VCS is an all time great or anything like that, but it's a damn good portable game. I barely remember anything of the story, and none of the missions really stood out (same problem as Liberty City Stories pretty much), but like most GTA games, the chaotic playground aspect of the open world is what truly matters, and if you get that right then at very least you'll have a good game on your hands. Obviously the novelty of exploring the most atmospheric city in a GTA game on the go is very strong (and long lasting too), but what pushed VCS over the edge for me is the empire building side activites. It's not as addicting as the drug running side stuff in Chinatown Wars, but it add an extra depth to the GTA formula. I remember San Andreas having something similar with the gang wars stuff but it's far less developed there. All in all it's a worthwhile entry for people who are hungry for that classic GTA chaos.
Also, I don't know how to feel about Blood Money beaten by VCS... good on' ya VCS, but damn it feels wrong, lol. I imagine this list is gonna have interesting reactions from the allies if it ever gets to a community showcase.
Another GTA, another pass.
NeoCweeny last edited by
Vice City Stories is one of the best in the series imo. It has great main missions, I think the best selection of side missions of any GTA and also the best soundtrack of any GTA.
I really like these prequel GTAs. It's a shame there was never a San Andreas stories.
@brannox Do you dislike the GTA series and/or find the games forgettable?
E_Zed_Eh_Intern last edited by
Can you swim in this one?
@jdincinerator I dislike them across the board, but I've commented so much in the GOTY countdowns about my negativity toward them, it's to the point I can't anymore. To be very, VERY clear, while I don't mind being critical of anything, I don't want to be intentionally negative to be negative. This has clashed my desire to always leave a comment for every game in the countdowns because 1.) I want to participate in any way and 2.) Forum participation is paltry and nowhere like it was in its hey-day YEARS ago.
So in general, I don't like open world games, especially since GTA is the posterchild for the mindless "do-what-you-want-which-ultimately-always-leads-to-violent-slaughter" that's become so mainstream acceptable to the point I find it sickening. ESPECIALLY with how GTA V will never go away unless GTA VI comes out. Then THAT will never go away.
Oscillator last edited by
especially since GTA is the posterchild for the mindless "do-what-you-want-which-ultimately-always-leads-to-violent-slaughter" that's become so mainstream acceptable to the point I find it sickening.
Well said! :)
@brannox I completely understand where you're coming from. I guess I've been indoctrinated to GTA from a very young age that I've grown to love and enjoy every entry in the franchise even if they boil down to murder en masse. Gratuitous violence is an entertainment humans throughout history have relished in and I think it's a primal part of who we are, but yes the open-world style has suffered from major overkill both metaphorically and literally.
Yet if I'm honest violence isn't really why I love GTA. I love the characters, the themes (besides violence), the vibes and the radio stations. Yes much of it is M rated too but some of it has defined my vision of a particular era like when I think of the 80s Vice City is always stuck in my mind.
I do appreciate your perspective and I feel you should express yourself anyway you want to if you feel really negative then that's totally ok. It's all in the service of understanding the kind of gamer you are.
#6: Kingdom Hearts II - 14 points
#1: 1 (brunojoey)
#2: 2 (Brannox, ffff0)
HM: 1 (Sheria)
Release date: NA: March 28, AU: September 28, EU: September 29
Developer: Square Enix Product Development Division 1
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action role-playing
Platform(s): PlayStation 2
ffff0 last edited by
I’ve played all Kingdom Hearts games in 2019. According to my notes (I already forgot everything about it), Kingdom Hearts II wasn’t the worst of them, but it forced you to run though all worlds a second time which felt completely unnecessary. Any other year I wouldn’t vote for such was-it-even-worth-my-time? experience, but I’ve played only four 2006 games, so to vote for my #1 I had to fill other slots with filler games.