Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
The year in RPGs began with a big bang that slowly fizzled into more of a big bust. There were only a few solid titles among a million mediocre Japanese RPGs, and nothing new from Bioware, Blizzard, or Peter Molyneux. Still, the following nerdy entries would have been outstanding any year, and we take our pointy wizard hats off to them.
Platform: Xbox 360 | PC
Well named, expect to consign about 100 hours of your life to oblivion in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the best RPG of 2006. Roam the staggeringly huge land and you'll soon forget about the plot (not to mention your real life obligations), because the side stories, mini quests and interesting locations make up 90% of this game.
Become a master assassin or a champion of justice, because in the amazing land of Oblivion, you can do pretty much anything you want to. And you do want to.
The Twelfth Coming of Final Fantasy was hyped so much for so long, I’m not sure Square-Enix even needed to release this bad boy, we would’ve still talked about it for months. Luckily, they did, and we can play this visual masterpiece well into 2007. With a huge quest, massive character customization, and tons of great writing, this probably isn’t Square’s final fantasy, just one of their finest.
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi
When the whole population is turned into demons and you’re the only one left, it’s usually a bummer. But when it happens to be the long-awaited sequel to a 2003 sleeper hit, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Throw in even more strategic depth and cheeky humor than the original, a flying bi-polar frog, a snooty demon princess, gigantic neckties, and exploding penguin soldiers, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a game, and one of the year’s best RPGs.