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New York – TIME names “The Sims 2” the best video game of the year in its latest ‘Coolest Inventions’ issue (on newsstands Monday, November 22). TIME’s San Francisco bureau chief Chris Taylor ranked the top 10 video games of 2004 and identified the ideal consumer for each. TIME’s criteria: Is it fun? How many hours will it keep you entertained? Does it break new ground? Is it mind numbing or mind expanding?

TIME’s Top 10 Video Games of the Year are:

1. THE SIMS 2 – Millions of people fell in love with the customizable suburbanites of The Sims, the best-selling PC game of all time. Veteran designer Will Wright tops this by showing just how adorably complex these creatures can be. Ideal for: Character-focused gamers who like to laugh.

2. ROME: TOTAL WAR - The best real-time strategy game yet made.

Ideal for: Battle-loving history buffs. 3. HALF-LIFE 2 – The graphics and physics of how objects move in Half-Life 2’s world are by far the most realistic ever to grace a computer screen. Ideal for: Trigger-happy adventure seekers

4. KATAMARI DAMACY – The most unusual and original game to hit PlayStation2. Ideal for: Young kids, Japanophiles.

5. GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS – What really draws players back…is just how open-ended it is. Ideal for: 18-and-over hip-hop fans

6. BATTLEFIELD: VIETNAM – Multi-player games—in which participants compete via the Internet—continue to grow in popularity. The most dramatic entrant this year was Battlefield: Vietnam…choose one of a dozen maps and log on to a server with 30 or so like-minded players. The server automatically divides you into Americans and Viet Cong. Ideal for: Military enthusiasts, online gamers

7. HALO 2 – A fast-paced, seamless sci-fi action adventure set in awe-inspiring alien landscapes…Halo 2 just became the best reason to own an Xbox. Ideal for:Sci-fi aficionados, Xbox Live subscribers.

8. BURNOUT 3: TAKEDOWN – Your task here it to speed kamikaze-like into a series of major intersections and create enough dollars’ worth of auto carnage to merit a bronze, silver or gold medal. Never knew crashing your car could be fun? One test drive and you’ll be a believer. Ideal for: Anyone with a need for speed.

9. FABLE – Fable is the best-looking, most addictive fantasy role-playing epic of the year. Ideal for: Players eager to lose themselves in an alternate reality.

10. PIRATES! – Sid Meier’s classic has been given a 21st century makeover. Meier has added lush new 3-D graphics and a host of minigames within the game. Pirates! lets you play exactly the way you want to, turning the entire Caribbean into your own giant sandbox. Ideal for: Scurvy sea dogs and swashbucklers.

The full story is on TIME.com at: http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/cover/0,9171,1101041129-785312,00.html

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