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Living: Play: GAME REVIEWS: WHAT WERE THE BEST GAMES OF 2002?; From graphics to gameplay, MARTYN LEEK offers a personal selection of his favourites from last year.

Byline: MARTYN LEEK

1. HALO (X-box, Microsoft) It's very hard to actually pinpoint what makes this first-person shooter the game of the year. It could be so many different things from the polished graphics and gameplay to the multiplay and excellent artificial intelligence. Sublime.

2. MARIO SUNSHINE (Nintendo, GameCube) This is without a doubt the best platform game of the year as the little fella returns, even better than before. People will be playing this well into the new year as they try to uncover all the secrets.

3.GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY (Rockstar, PlayStation 2) If not the best, then certainly the coolest game of the year. Vice City features more of the same only better. This game has the best soundtrack ever and deserves its entry at No 3.4. SPLINTER CELL (Microsoft, X-box) Graphically this game is far and away the best thing to be released this year. The stealth-based spy-shooter really makes you want to hide in the shadows. Move over James Bond! 5. UNREAL TOURNAMENT 2003 (Infogrames, PC) The best of the first-person shooting games just got better. The scope and power behind this game is just unbelievable. This is one bad-ass shooting game. Are you watching, Half-Life?

6. NEVERWINTER NIGHTS (Infogrames, PC)This game has extended the horizon of role-playing games. Set in the Forgotten Realms, it features a world of intrigue but it's the section where you can design your own game that makes this title really shine.

7. METAL GEAR SOLID (Konami, PlayStation 2) Snake had a lot to live up to in thisgame but the superhero spy manages it. So what if the cut-scenes are still too long? Metal Gear still leads the way in the stealth action genre.

8. FIFA 2003 (Electronic Arts, PlayStation 2) EA consistently leads the way on the sports field. This year's outing of the football franchise sees better graphics, better control and more teams.

9. HERDY GERDY (Eidos, PlayStation 2) The fact is that games about shepherds are few and far between. But Eidos' title was a delight from the gameplay to the graphics. A quality game for people of all ages.

10. RESIDENT EVIL (Capcom, GameCube) Resident Evil on the PlayStation was the scariest-ever game. Then they converted it for the GameCube. Better graphics and a few plot tweaks mean it's worthwhile revisiting this horror classic.

CAPTION(S):

HALO... the top game of last year
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 5, 2003
Words:402
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