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Reader Results > Staff Results

And so the crazy influx of games that marked the last quarter of 2004 has come to a close. Mighty contenders rose forth during this torrent, leaving it so that all too often not mattering which game one picked, for excellence awaited in every package. But even in a selection, it comes time to choose the best of the best, the game that brings it all together in a way that none of its peers could match. It was a close match, but in the end, the Gamecube heavy weight, Namco's Tales of Symphonia won our readers' hearts.

Best Overall 2004 Winner
Tales of Symphonia

The Tales series has never had a particularly warm welcome here on American shores, battling it out long and hard to forge a place for itself against the more established RPG titans. Namco's move from releasing its games on the PlayStation 2 to the GameCube was questioned by many, who doubted anyone would really take notice of the game in that smaller market. Gamers though, they go where the games are, and whether platform shifts or high waters, they weren't going to let an ace like this pass them by.

Tales of Symphonia brought a leap into the third dimension to Tales' traditionally stellar battle system, keeping what has always been the series' crown jewel lively and competitive in this fierce battle to be the best. Delivered with stellar art and pleasant voice actors, Tales of Symphonia didn't just rest on its laurels though, working up a story that managed to seize many an RPGamer's heart, dungeons that kept lively throughout, and even their own lassie. Tales of Symphonia truly earned its place at the top of the list.

Second Place - Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Following neck and neck was Tri-ace's latest offering, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Bearing what is arguably one of the best battle systems seen this year, Tri-ace's much delayed and anticipated game was hungrily devoured by challenge addicts across the land. Along with a great battle system came fun stories, breath-taking graphics, and a playability seen by few games. Star Ocean's accomplishments weren't ignored by our readers, as they have spoken loud and clear, giving Till the End of Time second place overall.

Third Place - Shadow Hearts: Covenant

Rounding out the top games of the year is Shadow Hearts: Covenant from Nautilis. Those who know the history of this series know that it's had a pretty rocky go of it, getting crushed pretty heavily a few years back as it fought to compete with Final Fantasy X and Dragon Quest VII back with Shadow Hearts. The developers though certainly haven't been daunted as they put together a truly top tier game this year, working up off of the deliciously dark pseudo-historical take on Europe while polishing practically every aspect of the design. Coming in at third, it's certainly not a game to miss this time around.

by Phillip Bloom

Honorable Mention - World of Warcraft


Honorable Mention - Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

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