Next Generation has picked and ranked the 50 games we believe made 2006 such a stand-out year in game quality. Click through for the definitive ‘Best of Year’ round-up….

Digg this story here. 

Action adventures, sports games, RTS and shooters all produced genre-topping entries while portable games machines delivered original and outstanding games. Let us know what you think of this list. You can also visit our 2005 list. And you can click straight through to the list sorted by genre.






50. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony Bend
Released: March
Primary platform: PSP
Peering into Syphon Filter’s Dark Mirror, there was a sense that it really was possible for someone to pull off a Metal Gear Solid-style stealth game (albeit with lots and lots of action) on the PSP. Mirror returned hero Gabe Logan to the video game fore, dropped him into third-person perspective gadget-laden adventure, and topped the deal off with some of the finest multiplayer action to grace Sony’s neophyte handheld.




49. Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords
Publisher: Stardock
Developer: Stardock
Released: February
Primary platform: PC
Someone was drinking too much of the special Kool-Aid when he reported the death of the turn-based strategy. Dread Lords provides an entire galaxy, and demands players take control of it by any means fair or foul. Like “Iron” Mike Tyson in his heyday, Lords does not suffer fools for very long, and offers a punishing—to say the least—challenge. Despite its lack of multiplayer action, the game’s depth and open-ended strategic elements carve it out a place on this here list.



48. Daxter
Publisher: Sony    
Developer: Ready at Dawn Studios
Released: March
Primary platform: PSP
When ottsels (a fusion of otter and weasel, to be sure) attack, someone’s having fun. Popular mascot Daxter, of Jak and Daxter fame, leapt into his own eponymous adventure here, and it was indeed a bug-killing swell time. Daxter blended combat, platforming elements, vehicle-based stages, and goofy gadgetry such as an electric flyswatter, and did so with grace and charm. Oh, and never underestimate the power of a cute whatsit with a sense of humor, either.




47. MLB ’06: The Show
Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony San Diego
Released: February
Primary platform: PlayStation 2
Peanuts, Cracker Jack, and overpaid athletes are a potent combination. This year’s MLB presented players with the opportunity to experience the real-world headaches of professional baseball managers in its season and franchise modes as their stars would slump and rookies clamored to be put onto the field of dreams. An excellent rivalry mode finally tapped into the baseball fan’s need to keep track of every single statistic under the sun, and the game’s developers kindly thought to rework, you know, everything in order to make MLB less of a fest of suck and more of slug.




46. Prey
Publisher: Take-Two
Developer: 3D Realms / Human Head
Released: July
Primary platform: PC
Prey offers hope for everyone who believes 3D Realms’ Duke Nukem Forever is not so much a game title, but rather a fairly accurate estimation of the project’s time in development. The troubled, oft-delayed Prey finally made it out the door in 2006 and—go figure—it was pretty well done. Featuring a Native American hero, some crazy perspectives where ceilings became floors, and transport portals allowing for weird gameplay effects, the game bent the standard first-person blast-’em-up every which way it could, for which the masses should be highly appreciative.




45. Hitman: Blood Money
Publisher: Eidos
Developer: IO Interactive
Released: May
Primary platform: PC
Blood Money takes players as close to the world of contract killing as they should ever want to be. A new notoriety system bolstered the game’s now familiar third-person action; when players messed up, Money put all the gory details into a post-mission newspaper. Each botched kill, every discovered corpse, added to Agent 47’s fame requiring the player to either be smart about the brutality, or else cough up the dough to ensure the next mission wouldn’t begin with people screaming in terror at the killer’s approach.





44. Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Released: December
Primary platform: PSP
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror held the door open for Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, which as it turns out, wasn’t necessary; Ops kicked the thing right down. Here, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater gets its sequel, and players get to knock in-game enemies insensate and recruit them to the cause, building an army around Big Boss. Online battles among the armies only served to further the glorious cause of Snakedom.




43. Scarface: The World is Yours
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Released: October
Primary platform: Xbox
Ultra-violent, Scarface the open-world game assumed gangster Tony Montana escaped assassination and returned to fight (and by fight it is meant kill) again. Here, Sierra loaded its plate with Hollywood-style production values including voice acting from Robert Loggia, James Woods, Ice-T, Jay Mohr, and Michael Rappaport. Players were encouraged to shoot out enemies’ kidneys, blast their groins, or go for more conventional targets such as arms, legs, and heads. Abundant killing was rewarded by a shift from the third-person perspective to the first, as Montana became invincible for a short time and replenished his health by gunning down foes.

42. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Released: October
Primary platform: Xbox 360
The comic gods, nerdy and acne-covered as they may be, are well pleased. Ultimate Alliance collects some of Marvel Comics’ greatest heroes such as Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, as well a few of its grandest miscues (Spider-Woman?) for a beat-’em-up that spans from Atlantis to hell. Letting players form their own superteam ranks is a genius move, and role-playing elements allow for the expansion of both a hero’s powers and skills. To the point: Excelsior!





41. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Released: October
Primary platform: Xbox 360
Double Agent dropped an intriguing premise on players: Grizzled agent Sam Fisher is now working with the terrorists. As Fisher, players have to walk a tightrope, balancing the terrorists’ desires with the needs of his true employer, Uncle Sam. Push too far in one direction or another, and it’s Sayonara Sam. Stealth got its shot in the arm, and players were treated to yet more ultra-fine multiplayer spies vs. mercenaries action.