Every Christmas I tend to run through my fave 20 games of the past 12 months - here
's last year's for those unable to move on - but with 2007 turning out so utterly insane on the release front, I've had to up that number to 25 here. I'm almost all gamed out at this point actually, still unsure where I found the hours to plough into all these fucking things, but in all honesty? It was worth it...as this year's undoubtedly been the best year for video games ever
. Seriously. So many highs. So many classics. Let's take a look at 'em, in fact...
Note: in good old hypocritical fashion, marks outta 10 were not necessarily a sign of placement.
25. Folklore (PS3)
While Folklore has its issues - stilted storytelling and some repetition to be precise - its sheer originality shines through like nothing else. Playing young blonde Irish jailbait Ellen, the intro of this bizarre and quirky fantasy gem sees you heading to a deserted "Oirish" town to find your missing mother, only to get sucked into a colorful, crazy Elf land known as the Netherworld along the way.
|It may not push the polys, but Folk's one of the sexiest looking games of the year, and by sheer artistry alone|
Describing Folklore from here on out's kinda tricky however, as there are precious few like it. Only one springs to mind in fact. I could ramble about its adventure gamey premise, which has you solving an overarching mystery by collecting items and chatting to NPCs. I could touch upon its RPG influences, earning experience points along the way and pursuing side-quests on the down low. I could even describe its beat 'em up combat, and the barmy manner in which you steal enemie's souls by yanking the controller around like some kinda child abusing step parent.
Far more accurate though, would be to simply call it the "Japanese Kameo" - a 360 launch game I was somewhat fond of back at the time
. That same imagination, emphasis on creature powers, and the bashing your way through a vibrant fantasy land all come through present and correct. But now with added style
Inventive use of the Sixaxis' tilt function in its brawler combat keeps Folklore interesting for the duration, and the bizarre plot'll keep you reasonably entertained for much of that time too. It's the worlds themselves which stand out above all else though, with chapter 1's blue-tinged forest standing out in particular as one of the most purely memorable virtual worlds I visited all year.
Some actual voice-acting, more variation and the inclusion of a two player mode would have gone a long way - plus I'd be lying if I said I'd even found time to finish her yet - but there's no denying Folklore's a pleasingly original and incredibly imaginative title that all PS3 owners should sample.
24. Hotel Dusk (DS)
|Remember that old A-Ha vid? The one which swallowed Chris Griffin? Imagine a whole game of that|
With all the high-profile blockbuster releases hitting consoles this year - not to mention a surprising stream of PC exclusives - it's easy to forget what a darn good year the handhelds had too. Along with Syphon Filter, Lumines and Zelda sequels hitting the PSP and DS respectively, this little touch pad wonder stole my heart more than any.
I hated it at first, mind. The concept of a Raymond Chandler, film-noire style murder mystery transported to handheld form - courtesy of some good old point 'n' click stylus action and a brilliant new paper book visual style - sounded hot in theory, but the opening hour's so god damn deathly slow, it made me wanna flip the DS shut and flush her down the bog.
Sticking with Dusk through initial hardships reveals a marvelous game however; a living, breathing detective novel in the palm of your sweaty hands, oozing with unique style and gorgeous hand-drawn artwork. It's truly gripping stuff once you get into it, even if the sucker almost plays itself to a certain extent, and you forever find yourself anxious to unlock that next chapter and see where the hell it'll head next. I guess it really is
a book in many ways...right down to how you hold the damn thing.
23. Virtua Fighter 5 (PS3/Xbox 360)
|I'm gonna go against the grain and say VF5 is an ugly looking game. At least by DOA standards. Got it where it counts, though|
I never got around to hammering Fighter quite as much as I would have liked to these past 12 months, and have thus been uncharacteristically quiet on the sucker. Yet make no mistake! It's undoubtedly the finest 1v1 beat 'em up the genre's ever seen.
The latest update to the 3D fighting originator doesn't disappoint in its depth, range of moves, nor sheer brutality - with so much to see, learn and keep in mind at any one time - merely playing it alone becomes a martial art in and of itself. It's no wonder the Japanese treat it like its own sport at this point, dedicating entire arcades to it and it alone.
As a die-hard fan of Dead Or Alive - one who maintained that game's under-rated brilliance in defiance of all soapy tit wank detractors due to its online mode - VF5's recent re-release on the 360 with added Live functionality was the deal breaker that broke the camel's nuts. I admit it, it's the one. The grand dragon. King of the fighting castle. DOA hasn't had a go since.
Most impressive of all, is the mere fact said online mode even works at all, let alone how fun it is. One so fast-paced, tactical and fluid seems bizarrely lag-retardant, making versus battles insanely fun...even when lacking skills as I so readily do. "Winner Stays On" would have been nice, of course, along with some improved presentation. SEGA nail the hard part...but it's all a little barebones, no?
22. Super Stardust HD (PS3)
|The PS3's greatest secret, one can't shake the feeling that Stardust'd be raking in the praise had it shown up on Live Arcade|
The PS3 took quite the PR battering this year - particularly in the first half - endlessly shivved by the masses for its lack of grade A system sellers and subsequent reasons to live. That's since been alleviated by some of the more recently released semi-classics on this here list, but some'll argue it still lacks that single all-encompassing killer that its rivals so readily boast.
Regardless of what's found on store shelves though, the Playstation Network's been cultivating itself quite the array of downloadable solids in the meantime. Along with the likes of Flow
, Warhawk and Everyday Shooter, Super Stardust headlines that particular list for me
; a pleasing take on the now done-to-death top down arcade schmup, taken to most ludicrous extremes as to breathe fresh and invigorating life into the genre.
With insane amounts of action, inventive boss fights and its ever enjoyable assortment of spruce-up-able guns, it houses surprising depth and variety too, blessing the PSN with its nearest equivalent to a Geo Wars in the process, and some might say surpassing it. A must-have for PS3ers then, that pleasingly fetches for a mere fiver.
21. Crackdown (Xbox 360)
|The one they all forgot about, but don't sell him short. My opinion of Crack's gone up in fact, thanks to the ace DLC of late|
While Grand Theft 4 was expecting to dominate the year on the free-roaming, sandbox tip, its delay 'til 2008 left quite the humungous void in the genre this year. A void pleasingly filled by Crackdown, as it turns out; a simple, straightforward, yet relentlessly enjoyable open ended arse kicker that surprised a hell of a lot of people in '07. Me
Blasting around futuristic metropolises with a buddy in tow, whacking crime lords en masse, while "accidentally" slaughtering civilians by the hundreds, demonstrated a scale of conflict and sheer spectacle matched only by the upcoming Mercenaries sequel. That you could play it online was a pretty fucking breath-taking achievement alone, never mind the rest.
Crackdown was another 360 winner that set '07 off as it meant to go on, and although a year's gone by since and many may have moved on, orb hunting's still as much fun as it was on release. Brilliant stuff.
20. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
|Not exactly the most challenging game o' the year, Ratchet shines in the fun, spectacular and oh so pwetty departments|
With the Playstation franchises of old starting to show up on PS3 at last - arguably those that made the past systems what they were in the first place - the brand's return to form seems far more inevitable at this point. If recent sales bumps are to be believed, it could happen sooner rather than later too, and a large part of that's down to this particular game.
Ratchet & Clank's hardly a huge reimagining for the series, true. Returning the boys to futuristic city-scapes to bash enemies, collect moola and tweak themselves out in the most bat-shit weaponry seen this side of Professor Farnsworth's lab, it's pretty much business as usual. As someone who rarely touched a Ratchet before though, it proved nigh on impossible to drop.
It'll blow your mind technically, too, showcasing the most epic of views at all times, with a rock solid 60 FPS that refuses to drop. If the PS3's cranking out this kinda shit just one year in, one can't help but stand to attention at the mere thought of what lies in store. That said, as far as Insomniac games go, I'm probably more of a Resistance guy myself. For all Ratchet's beauty, humor and unbridled chaos, it's all a little easy. Hard to die. Baby-like.
Still, pacing's ace, it's immensely addictive and there's a decent length on it too. That's what she...
19. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
|Galaxy is most definitely the old skool return to Mario form you've been waiting for. It's also a whole lot more|
It's become oh so cool to mock the poor Wii at this point, kicking the defenseless bastard in the balls while he sits there crying in the corner. While counting all his money. Despite a tumbleweed-tinged wasteland of an opening year though, the sleak white VHS box actually enjoyed one heck of a run from September onwards. From the five games adorning this page alone, you'd be hard pressed to play-down its exclusives at this point, and when coupled with launch beauties Zelda and Sports of '06? There's plenty to enjoy on the Wii right now.
Many cite this to be the flat-out best game of the year in fact. The greatest platformer of them all, so they say. Unfortunately for me - as blasphemous as it sounds - when it comes to Mario games, I ain't a big 3D guy. As much as I loved the original 2D titles of old - the ones, might I remind, that I credit for my even playing
games - when the series hit that extra dimension, it kinda left me behind. I missed the sensation of holding down B then hammering A. The smoothness of it all. The simplicity.
That's why you see Galaxy struggling down here at #19 then, because beyond that, it's about as perfect a video game's ever been. Taking Mario back to the purer platform action of 64, minus the ominous fluids of Sunshine, it's a love letter to Nintendo fans who've stuck with 'em through thick and thin. Conclusive proof, if detractors required it, that they still possess the skill to pump out utterly amazing, truly inspired video game masterpieces centered around absolutely nothing but sheer fun.
|Perhaps it's time to snag Mario 64 on the Virtual Console and give 'er another bash. Galaxy has me in the mood|
With a return to Mario antics of old - the inventive suits, the bopping goombas, and the lobbing of red shells - the added emphasis on planets and fucked up gravity then bless it with pleasing originality, constantly reinventing the wheel while maintaining the feel of yester-generations. How one can dream up demented 3D levels like these boggles the mind, but you forever feel in the company of possessed geniuses regardless.
Don't be put off by its child-like exterior either. Think you're too old for Mario? Think again. The game's tough as shit. It's just about the only Mario game I've ever played where lives remained under five at all times. It's all incredibly addictive in spite of this though, with brief blasts turning into multi hour-long marathons, and you forever anxious to see what lurks round that next bend. There are just so many little avenues to explore and additional worlds popping up, it's damn hard to tear yourself away, and if one gets you down, or stops you dead in your tracks, fuck it - you're free to head somewhere else. Personally, I also appreciate the return to a slightly more sinister Mario vibe too, one encompassing battle ships, ghost houses and the epic lava fortresses of the olden days.
Not really my genre then, but a fantastic game regardless. If you own a Wii, it's sorta un-missable.
18. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3)
|Uncharted. Oh so pretty, no doubts there, but often at the expense of PDZ-esque slime. I wish it wasn't laminated in spunk|
This however, is a little more my platforming pace. Drake's the unholy melding of Tomb Raider's platforming and Gears
' combat, with a little Indiana Jones thrown in for personality's sake. Playing Sir Francis Drake's ancestor - Nate - hot on the trail of Pirate Dad's buried treasure, the game's a swashbuckling ride through Amazonian jungles and Goonies-style caverns with a healthy dose o' humor packed on top. That old skool adventure movie vibe one hasn't felt since the '80s returns in full force as a result, in an effortlessly loveable tale that's just what the PS3 ordered.
It handles well, given Sixaxis hold backs, plays tight, and many call it the best looking console game around (not me, of course). Cooler than all that combined is simply the storytelling however; Drake's a funny motherfucker, and his facial expressions, voice acting and stream of expletives are forever entertaining. Courtesy of Jak & Daxter developers Naughty Dog - another of the Playstation alumni helping re-forge the shards of Sony - their trademark wit and storytelling prowess shines through in droves.
Much like Ratchet, Drake's another most definitely worth a ganders on that front, even if it's still, perhaps, not that Halo killer Sony require. Now where's our new Jak game, Dog?
17. Pacman: Championship Edition (Xbox 360)
|Trust me. Amazing-ness contained within|
In the genre of budget-ware arcade titles that have since become all the rage, Pac goes down as downloader of the year for me. This was Diggler crack
in '07 in fact; I'd often finish work, collapse on the sofa, then play the damn thing 'til bed. I never came close to topping out my friends' leaderboard mind you, a worrying sign of my lack of skills. Or perhaps their superhuman freak-dom.
Pacman as a franchise, means fuck all to me, but Champ's beautiful neon upgrade turned a previously dull and dated concept into ever scrumptious candy. It was the five minute time limit, enforcing addictive quick-fire replays like never before. It was the gorgeous new face-lift, beautifully bright yet lovingly respectful to those that cared. And it was the unbridled skill required, as lunatic ghosts ramp up to ludicrous speed, a mere motion blur of eyes in those final dying seconds.
Pacman did the impossible, by not only updating one of gaming's flagship titles for the new millennium with 100% success, but also knocking Geo Wars off as the be-all, end-all of downloadable Arcade games. Now if only the 360 had a D-pad worth a dick, we'd be in business...
16. Project Gotham Racing 4 (Xbox 360)
|I took this myself, of course, thanks to Gotham's vital photo mode and web integration|
I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting the world outta PGR4. Even as a Gotham mega-fan, this felt like one too many. After an initial hour of mild boredom though, it ramped up into one of the year's finest, a pleasant surprise, and a modern racing classic.
With tight handling meeting fab courses and a perfectly pitched selection of modes, it's the racing game that keeps on giving. Blazing around a snow-capped N?rburgring in a 1950's rocket car - Covenant's "The Men" blaring out of the speakers to particularly haunting effect - is a major highlight of recent times, as are the numerous online battles and cat 'n' mouse shenanigans since enjoyed over Live. That PGR4's a visual step above its already utterly gorgeous
predecessor doesn't hurt either, rounding this off as a series highlight right up there with #2.
Catch my review for IGN here
for more informative infos.
15. MotorStorm (PS3)
|Heartwarming to see so many PS3 games among the list, no? Or should I say...|
As much as I love me some good old Gotham though - Geometry Wars Waves in particular - MotorStorm's the one that beat it to the finishing line I'm afraid. The game may have lacked modes, a wealth of courses, and even the ability to play on worldwide servers, but in terms of pure, undiluted fun alone? It's the pick of an extremely packed pack for me.
It's that rickety feeling of blazing across desert which MotorStorm nails so well. The bouncy suspension, insane jumps and ever satisfying smashes go toe to toe with Burnout on the edge-of-your-seat front, yet MotorStorm piles on a far greater sense of skill, hints of strategy and more enjoyable online mode than that ever did. Of course, it doesn't hurt that MotorStorm is - still - one of the most graphically stunning games on top. System show-off material, no doubts about it.
And for those, like me, depressed at its lack of content on release? Hit up the Playstation Store for some ace DLC that now decks it out nicely. Rumors are, we may even see a sequel soon too...
14. Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3)
|Gaiden's without doubt a top 10 desert island Dig disc, and this right here? The definitive version|
PS3 wise, here's my pick of the lot though. A graphical upgrade to an all-time fave, Sigma doesn't feature higher for the simple reason it's a mere remake when all's said and done. But what
a remake, eh?
The gorgeous world, the lethal combat, those slamming decapitations...fuck me, do fighting games get any better? Kratos and Dante fans'll claim so, but I think we all know they're in denial. Much like MotorStorm, Sigma too has been further fleshed-out via the penny pinching art of downloadable content, with a wealth of new challenges, game-types and additional levels to slice your way through. Not that it needed anything of the sort of course; Sigma was already packed to the decapitating gills.
With Gaiden 2 recently announced and heading our way sooner than some might think, Siggy's release provides ample opportunity to get up to speed, reawakening those skills of old and prepping for another Team Ninja arse kick-o-thon. If its follow-up is anywhere near as tough as this mother fucker, chances are you're gonna need it.
13. The Witcher (PC)
I can't get over how good this turned out. As I ranted about back on release
, first impressions ain't so hot, but sticking with The Witcher'll showcase one of the better RPGs the PC's seen in years. If not ever.
The load times make it borderline unplayable at times - hence the lower score - and it may lack the spit, polish and more professional voice-acting of a higher profile US-backed outing, but there's no denying this Polish developed masterpiece delivers the goods where it counts. Moral dilemmas? Inventive quests? A truly captivating world? A whopper of a yes on all fronts. Its non-US heritage awards it with a fresh and original voice too though, one far darker and more mature than we've come to expect thanks to its peers. I talk not about the player's ability to nail every single female the game throws their way, but its pleasing use of more contemporary metaphors in its plot, themes and side-missions. And
the aforementioned sport fucking.
Combat's fun, the music's great, and for all its presentational flaws, the character interactions kick arse. Half-way through its 50+ hours, I already dread its end.
12. Assassin's Creed (PS3/Xbox 360)
Creed's a controversial
beast that suffered primarily from its time of release. Back in the slow summer months of death, we would have been all over this, no doubt proclaiming it a much-loved masterpiece and a welcomed new franchise with which to butt-rape via sequels. Nestled between the all-encompassing classics released towards the latter half to the year though, its flaws and repetition shined a little too brightly, subsequently meeting with alarmingly more skepticism than I think anyone expected. Along, of course, with just about the most wildly varying review scores of any game ever
|PC version hits early next year by the way, console-phobes. I believe it's the same game|
A pity really, as it's hardly a dud by any stretch of the imagination (hear me, GamesTM?). Taking the concept of parkour and melding it with a Hitman-style assassination sim, the concept sounds perfect on paper. Although the game subsequently grinds the idea into the ground by its sheer stubbornness to add any kinda variety onto such a solid base, the blueprint alone's enough to see it through to borderline brilliance.
One thing you may not be expecting from Assassin going in, is that it's also quite possibly the finest looking game ever made too. Not only does it have easily the best character model of them all in Alta?r - iconic, memorable and truly bad ass in just about every possible way - but the undeniable scope, the bustle of the crowds, and the sheer amount of architecture on screen at any one time is truly unparalleled...even by real-life. You can't believe what you're seeing half the time.
As I mentioned recently, it's a game that rewards perseverance more than anything. Once you perfect the free-running, bounding around like a gymnast while smoking fools via the most awesomely slick "have it!" knifings, one'd be hard pressed to say it ain't fun. Even the infamously shit sci-fi plot starts to meander its way into the storyline with some mild success at times. Ubi's Sands of Time - one of the finest games of them all, may I remind you - had a similarly inspired way of working respawns and deaths into the underlying mechanics, and Assassin does so too. Quick-saves, loading screens, even menus themselves are all part of the game world, and it's pretty inspired stuff for the most part.
What was ultimately not the be-all, end-all of gaming as we know it then, was at least a diverting platform game with a difference, boding well, more than anything, for perfected sequels down the line. I'm truly curious to see which direction they offshoot for said follow-ups, as there's a wealth of potential avenues to pursue. Blade Runner style futuristic free-running, perhaps? Pretty please with sugar on top.
11. The Orange Box (Xbox 360/PC)
More specifically, Portal. The other games I can almost take or leave, but Portal left such a startling impression on me in its miniscule run-time, that it's singed itself onto my ginger covered brain forever.
|Yeah, yeah, TF2's great too, whatever. Whine an e-mail to my Compuserve account back when I still gave two shits. (Joke. Ish)|
True, it may not be quite the revolution some might think. The game's based on a freeware project if you weren't aware, one known as Narbacular Drop. Valve's buying up of developers Nuclear Monkey though, and subsequently reworking their concept into the Half-Life universe comes off as a stroke of genius here, bringing with it a much larger audience and far brighter spotlight in which to sing. Much like they did with Team Fortress, in fact.
And heck, to be honest? While the portal zapping stuff's fun as hell - blowing holes through space and time amidst brain-imploding 4D puzzles - Portal's true strengths - story telling, narrative and humor - are all Valve through and through. Those tiny hints of a plot? Its creepy presentation? That funny arse robot? Few stack up at such things.
Breaking free of your chains in the game's final stage - then escaping through the inner workings of Aperture's labyrinthine test chamber - is a truly unique experience in particular, backed up superbly by the ever enjoyable voice-acting and oh so dark dialogue. Its monumental achievement even more impressive in light of the game's meager 2-odd hour long run-time. I'm just crossing the old peenarse for a Portal gun in Episode 3 next.
You can read more about the rest of the Box here
if curious, but for me, the pack's pretty much worth buying for Portal alone. Amazing stuff.
10. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
|Sorry Wii haters. Of which I'm kinda one. Homie came through in style...|
The game which signaled the changing of the tide for the Pii - I mean Wii - since Metroid's release
in the year's tail-end, things have most definitely looked up for lovers of Nintendo. Not just one of the better titles out for the system itself, Corruption's without doubt my fave of its entire series; an epic blend of Metroid's trademark deep space alien exploration, with inventive new Wii-mote waggling FPS action.
Four years on since the series' conception, it still retains such unique and distinct style of its own, in a sub-genre of the first person shooter no one else dare touch. It doesn't hurt that Corruption's also the first - and indeed only - Wii game to see my jaw so regularly drop from mere graphics alone. The detail, art design and rock solid frame-rate impress hugely, with sights like the Valhalla and the game's endless stream of boss lairs pretty darn breath-taking to behold, system specs be damned.
I could have used some extra tweaking on the aiming system, and enemies that don't take 10 zillion hits to floor, but there's no denying Corruption's one of the most satisfying single player experiences of the year, and one of the most atmospheric to boot.
9. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
|GRAW2, once again, had an exclusive PC counterpart (not pictured), a separate entity also fun in its own unique way|
As with last year's premier installment, many of the year's greatest online memories are housed within this game for me. GRAW2
was hardly a massive reinvention for the series - and in fact, barely indiscernible from its daddy 90% of the time - but with such a rock solid, yet finely chiseled base, who are we to complain?
The ramped up difficulty to the always-fun co-op campaign meant I only just finished the sucker recently - despite literally hundreds upon hundreds of hours ploughed into the damn thing - but 16-player one-life show-downs against the CPU fail to grow tiresome it seems, thanks once again to GRAWs pleasing roster of missions and expert combat model. The promise of a second co-op pack any damn day now means she'll see no rest any time soon either.
Call it an expansion to the first
game all you want - I won't argue with that - but GRAW2 did continue everything great about its ever impressive predecessor, still maintain its position as a top of the rung Xbox Live shooter, and
showcase some of the best bleedin' visuals of the entire year along the way, and that deserves much kudos.
What beckons next for the franchise? Rumours speak of a return to the series' more realistic roots. Mixed thoughts on that, myself.
8. Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
|See that blood-soaked idiot flying his way across the top of the screen? That's Crieff. God bless save-able videos|
I'm pretty much all Halo'd out at this point
, so will try to keep this brief. Most of us have had our time with the single player mode by now though I'm sure - blazing through it in excess of five or six times in its varying modes - yet multiplayer lives on, just as fun as ever. As far as pick up 'n' play online action with a group o' buddies goes, are there any better in fact?
Perhaps not. Halo 3's easily one of the most polished, tightly crafted and well made titles of the year...but not my personal fave. Soz.
7. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (Wii)
|I don't get peeps who hate Resi's motion controls. It's just about the most natural a shooter's ever felt in my slimy hands|
While I've yet to nab Umbrella Chronicles (believe it or not, I don't play 'em all), Resi gets a well-deserved look in regardless. It may speaks volumes that the Wii's greatest game is a mere remake when all's said and done, but as claimed in the past, it's an ever rare system where cross-platform ports have the bizarre potential to drastically improve upon themselves via that ever enjoyable remote.
Along with Zelda, Resi 4's the textbook example of that, a game that takes the previously ace Spaniard slaughtering antics from Gamecube and PS2-ville, then promptly ramps it up another twelve notches to the realms of soggy zombie sex.
A stunningly twisted and atmospheric outting already - now with controls to match its beauty - rediscovering it all over again in 2007 was a six month long highlight for me. Bundled bonus modes and a budget-ware price sealed the deal as a must have for all, and in my opinion, almost give sole reason to own the Wii alone, never mind the rest.
Original Gamecube review here
. Now multiply that love by a hundred.
6. Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (PC)
|LOTRO's player base has dropped to depressing lows since we last discussed. Ironic, with the fabness of recent updates|
My LOTRO sessions have lightened these past few months, yet blame not this game, but the stupidly busy release schedule of late. This sucker's actually one of the few MMOs to keep me enthralled
for a year's solid play you see - and believe me, I've played 'em all. The bizarre thing is, I can't foresee a quitting any time soon either.
Turbine played it smart really. They took the greatest license of them all, then melded it to the greatest game. You might as well be playing Rings of Warcraft for the most part, thanks to a similar range of classes, identical questing system, and barely a handful of improvements - or even alterations for that matter - but as safe as Rings feels, the results speak for themselves. One of the tightest of them all. The one MMO to really go toe to toe with WoW
itself...if not in numbers, then at least in quality.
If you're yet to grow bored of these fantasy MMOs - which judging by WoW subscription figures, is a fuck-ton of peeps - LOTRO's a fine alternative then, and a great addition to an extremely packed genre. I had some great old times right here in fact, and with a wealth of add-on packs in store, here's to the many more that beckon.
5. Bioshock (Xbox 360/PC)
A mixed bag to some, with a wealth of varying responses, the endless debate on Bioshock's quality may have raged on for far too long back on release, but I'd hope with some hindsight the majority look back upon it with pleasing memories and a wealth of smiles. It may not have had particularly long legs, nor quite lived up to the System Shock heritage, but there's no denying Ken Levine's latest boasted one of the most truly memorable video game worlds our pastime's ever seen.
|Bioshock gets some shit. Unjust shit, at that. Sure, she's got problems, but don't we all? Give the sexy little whore a break|
As a huge fan of the Deus Ex-style first person RPG-slash-adventure game genre, this ticks many of those same boxes while one-upping Deus in the atmosphere stakes along the way. Like a beautiful film or a gripping book, it constantly draws you in, with you forever anxious to see what twisted designs lurk ahead. Not to mention, how its impeccable storyline will resolve itself in the process.
A large part of that draw's down to the aforementioned world though, meticulously rendered from the ground up with not even a single pair of rooms ever looking the same. Rapture is an amazing achievement, I think it's fair to say, and Irrational's undeniable brilliance is their ability to disguise what is ultimately pretty much just a corridor shooter at the end of the day by surrounding it in the most gorgeously original underwater setting ever seen. Some whine about the combat, others the repetition, but this sheer beauty alone proves more than enough to overlook both for its duration. Eye-raping final boss aside.
Yeah, it's easy. Too
easy, in fact. The inability to truly die, and the unlimited respawns that go with it, essentially turn Bioshock into more of an interactive story than a traditional video game. If nothing else though, more recent DLC has spruced up the toughness for those that demand it, while also fixing up one or two other minor niggles on top. I'd sure love to retackle some of those Big Daddy show-downs in light of this, minus the ever reliable safety net of the god-awful Vita Chambers.
For an absorbing, deep and endlessly rewarding single player experience then, Bioshock most definitely stands out as one of the better seen in recent years. You can grab our latest podcast
for the full dissection.
4. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadows of Chernobyl (PC)
|Worryingly ugly on low-end rigs, and insanely buggy back on release, STALKER's still the home to many a fab memory|
Proof, if ever needed, that in spite of stupidly expensive system upgrades, endless patch woes, and constant crash headaches, when gaming's at its genre-busting very best, it does indeed come from the PC. It's just a shame a game like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. comes round maybe once every five years at this point. If that.
With such a sordid and long-winded development history - one up there with Duke Nukem himself - I guess pondering whether it lived up to the hype's irrelevant at this point. Did any really remain? Stalk's an incredible achievement in its own right however; a spooky, free-roaming scavenge 'em up, with alarming scares and immense ambition.
Yeah, it's frustrating, hard to get into, and much like The Witcher, a distinctly non-US title immensely rough around the edges. But my god. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'ll show you a world and an experience simply never seen before. One unique...incredibly absorbing...and absolutely terrifying. Love
3. Crysis (PC)
Apologies. I never got around to a full-blown Crysis love-in back on the game's release, but hell...consider this it. Developer Crytek's unofficial futuristic follow-up to the supreme bad ass that was Far Cry - that's right, he subsequently molested via Ubisoft cash-ins - Crysis is the first jungle-ised FPS to stack up to the lofty leaved shoes of its predecessor. Who are we kidding? It's the only one to come close. Those same epic views, those long distance sniper duels, and the ever enjoyable skinny dipping return in force, yet Crysis throws in some pleasing new additions that send it off on a crazy original tangent.
|Add two parts Far Cry to one part CoD, multiplied by some Battlefield 2 and a sprinkle of Republic Commando, then bake for way too fucking long, et voila! Crysis ahoy|
I reference the bionic suit, of course. Playing a super soldier of tomorrow comes with pleasing benefits you see; super strength with which to toss enemies into the air with, super speed with which to outrun Road Runner with, and even a full-blown cloaking device, for donning your best Predator impression while going "waaaaaaaaaah" from up in the trees. One alteration which I do think would have made these abilities instantly cooler mind you, is if you didn't have to switch between 'em all manually. Rather than charge forward at 200mph, leap across a humungous ravine, then sucker punch a grunt 10 miles into the distance in one seamless motion, it makes for a far more stop 'n' start affair instead, as you fumble with the required buttons like a mongoloid.
When you eventually get the hang of it though, flicking between powers subconsciously, Crysis comes alive. I worship the ability to tailor the game to your own individual play-style via said abilities, for example flipping the cloaking device on, modding all your guns with silencers, then popping off headshots in a full blown Fisher style as I like to. You can just as easily whack on full armor, grab an AK, then mow dudes down like Commando though, and everything in-between. It's just as much fun either way, and beautifully free-form in that regard.
Such freedom extends to the level design too. There's a sandbox feel to the combat that I've never really experienced in an FPS before, only truly limited by your insane imagination and ability to think on your feet. There's a sequence early on where you take control of a village for instance, with the Koreans rolling in two tanks to promptly take it back. You're tasked with taking 'em both out - singlehandedly, of course - but told no more. Senior Diggsy - fucking idiot that he is - neglected to search the building he was in, and thus find the stash of rocket launchers awaiting him, so instead had to improvise.
So I cased the town on the stealth tip, noticed there was a petrol station on the outskirts, and put two and two together. I peppered the tanks with fire to draw their attention, ran like a spazzo into referenced petrol station, then darted out the back exit and off to safety while cloaked. The pair of behemoths opened fire in my general direction, blew the fuel tanks up, and in a full-on Robocop style, pretty much everything within a 30 meter radius went up in flames. Minus yours truly. Don't thank me...thank The Suit!
|No, Crysis ain't worth a ?2000 upgrade, but it does at least hint at a future where PC, once again, rules supreme|
Or how about the time a chopper caught sight of me out in the wild? I legged it for miles into the nearest building for refuge, dodging mini-gun fire the entire time, where I caught my breath, counted my ammo, and began plotting an all-important escape route. I was shortly interrupted however, when said chopper decided to bombard my hide-out with missiles, promptly sending the roof caving in, crushing my skull with beautifully deforming physics. I died instantly, but in fits of laughter. Only in Crysis do you see this kinda shit. Randomly, at that.
Only a slightly schizophrenic final hour lets her down really. With the game starting out like some kinda jungle themed Republic Commando
, your buddies are then slaughtered one by one by some kinda extra terrestrial lurking in the bushes. Where the game goes from here, I'll resist spoiling, but many highs here and the odd low there, it rounds itself off with a truly anti-climactic shit-fest of an ending that feels nicked from a far inferior game. You can kinda forgive it though, considering the five or six hours that precede it are some of the best video gaming of the past ten years
Enjoy sniping dudes? Loved that Far Cry? Think the sandbox combat of Halo 3's the shit? Crysis shows 'em how it's done. It's a shame no one's able to play it, really...
2. Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
With all these games touching down in quick-fire succession, it's been interesting to compare their contrasting styles and mechanics. Take Call of Duty 4
for example; the gameplay feels archaic and even somewhat forced next to Crysis' more open-ended style - particularly the more you replay it on the harder difficulty modes - but it stubbornly refuses to care. CoD doesn't want your freedom you see. He cares not for your special abilities either. He has a job to do, and he's gonna do it, and it alone. Showcasing the most awe-inspiring, rollercoaster ride of your fucking life...and pretty much nothing else.
|Sadly, we're hearing CoD5 is not only a return to WWII, but Treyarch are in charge...|
Yeah, there's no way to deviate from said rollercoaster, and expecting even a mild hint of choice results in bitter disappointment...not to mention death. But for what it does? A 100% linear FPS extravaganza conceived from day one around fuck all but the set-piece and pure thrill? CoD4 might well be the greatest game the genre's ever seen.
That sensation of war feels simply unmatched here. While the loudness, the screams, and the explosions are nothing new, the culmination feels truly perfected at last. Grabbing the nearest rifle and getting stuck in'll see brilliance blossom, once you behold the beauty that is CoD's extreme arsenal of modern weaponry. Screw World War II, I say...bring on WW3!
Surprisingly awesome amidst all this is the storytelling though. Particularly - spoiler warning - the concept of playing, well, dead people. For all the zillions of times we've died then quick-loaded in shooters over the decades, there's something unnerving and god damn eerie about unavoidable death sequences from which there's no real escape. I talk partially of the presidential assassination in the game's intro sequence, sure, but more specifically the mid-game nuke scene and subsequent flopping to the ground. Dark, fucked-up shit, it left me quite speechless. The gunship level's one of the other more memorable experiences of the year too, just as messed up in its own, notoriously humorous way.
Somewhat controversially, I'd also say CoD4 throttles Crysis in the visual department, simply due to how fab it runs. It's oh so detailed, animated to perfection, yet buttery smooth at all times. It doesn't hurt that CoD4's multiplayer mode is arguably the best of the year too. A fantastic array of unlocks adds a pleasing dollop of depth to an already riveting experience, and if it'd boasted co-op missions and a single player mode longer than an hour, it'd most likely be game of the year.
But who am I kidding? The real reason she ain't is because of The Rap
1. Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
AKA the greatest sci-fi film never made.
|There are a zillion tiny niggles you could whine about in Mass, but at the end of the day? It's the most fun I've had in years. And I've had a rib removed, if you get me|
Once in a blue moon, a rare game plops out that just feels tailor made to you, and you alone. Much like Deus Ex in its prime, Mass Effect is one such beast, tapping into my dorky sci-fi fetish, love for space exploration, appreciation for a deep RPG story, yet sheer need
for real-time combat. The engaging characters and effortlessly brilliant Bioware dialogue ain't so bad either.
But you needn't be a fan of such things to appreciate Mass. Like all good classics, it's accessible to all, regardless of tastes. It may be glitchy at times, bugged to fuck at others, and thus far from the most solid game of the year. It is however, easily my favorite. Commanding my own crew of memorable personas, hitting the furthest reaches of space, then saving the galaxy from an (apparent) megalomaniacal maniac...it's why we play games, no? That you can then craft your own face and essentially paste yourself
into the heart of this most epic of experiences bulks the gravitas up ten fold.
|The planet of Virmire. Or as I like to call it, The Best Slab of Gaming You'll Find in 2007. Shit goes down...|
In fact, I'd say Mass does arguably the greatest job an RPG's done yet of actually letting you, well, role-play
. Leveling up, tweaking stats, and modding your load-out is fine and dandy, but while such dated concepts have since become synonymous with the genre, let us not forget what the term actually means. Mass truly lets you get inside your character's head you see, tailoring not just his look and back-story, but his fundamental personality
. Throughout my 30 odd hours of Mass, I felt as if I was genuinely crafting a character of my own - one who's actions were all of my choosing - truly different and distinct next to everyone else's. That's role playing by definition, and comparing to so-called staples of the genre, makes me milk-laugh right out my nose.
The ability to kill major characters, dictate wars, and ultimately affect the outcome of an entire galaxy is shockingly epic stuff, and the promise of being able to carry the resulting toon over to the following two games with hopeful repercussions should add appropriate depth to every such decision you make too. How Bioware'll pull off such a promise, remains to be seen I guess, but god damn
I can't wait to see.
Sure, it's got issues
. With so few city planets, and real-time conversations gone, I think it's blatantly obvious major cutting back occurred during production. Yet you oddly care not. Mass does so much right, the shitty glitches feel invisible. 'Cos you're there
for frak's sake. When it touched down in fact, I locked myself away, called in sick, and barely ate for three days straight 'til I saw her through. Know the last game I did that for? The KOTOR series.
Says it all, I hope.
Of course, there were many more where that lot came from though. Including, but not limited to...
God of War II (PS2)
- What one could call the game I missed out on, I've yet to plough more than one measly hour into Kratos' latest. This short time alone solidified it as a fitting swansong for Sony's aging champ though, in the last major exclusive the PS2 seems worthy of, and I'll no doubt give him the proper bash he deserves one day down the line. So long then, ugly black grill...we had some fun times, didn't we?
Spider-Man 3 (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
|Ya'll have some serious rose-tinted specs on for Spider-Man 2...|
- Undoubtedly 2007's "game they all got wrong but me", I for one dug
Spidey 3. Fuck the critics, screw the haters, it was fab. The game that is. Not the film. God
not the film.
Tabula Rasa (PC)
- I only sampled Tabula in beta form this year, but had myself a surprising blast regardless. If not bogged down by stupidly large amounts of "real" games - not to mention a life-time sub to LOTRO - it might even have seen a sub. Perhaps worth a revisit in the slow summer months.
Super Paper Mario (Wii)
- Any high-profile, well received Wii game deserves some love - not to mention an instant purchase, let's be honest - and Paper Mario certainly falls into that camp. The fusing of traditional Mario platforming with a more adventure gaming, RPG twist sounds ace in theory - and the end result is indeed pretty darn swish - but for some odd reason, Paper just never sucked me in to the level I expected. I love the platforming side, and yearn for an entire game like that, but the RPG angle doesn't quite do it for me. I feel like it's forcing me through hours upon hours of child-like cut-scenes and never ending dialogue in order to reach the good stuff. A shame, 'cos it really is
good too. A rainy day game, I guess.
Earth Defence Force 2017 (Xbox 360)
- I dunno about you, but after the past three months, my bank manager's put a hit out on me. Too many damn games...and too many expensive ones, at that. EDF
stands out like a black clansmen with that in mind, an insanely cheap value pack of a game, boasting 50 odd humungous levels, 150 bleeding weapons, and some of the most unbelievable, awe-inspiring showdowns ever seen in gaming. For under 20 freakin' quid. It's simple, there's nowt to it, and it's utterly, stupidly cheesy, but much like the B-movies that inspire it, there's a loving sense of fun permeating through Earth from head to toe. So much so, you grow to love the sheer jankiness of it all almost instantly. Another budget-ware beaut then, to match Resi4, hopefully signaling a return to more simplistic, value-for-money offerings long since needed in this industry.
Endless Ocean (Wii)
|An ever rare online Wii game, Ocean lets you invite a friend over to explore the sea with|
- Less game, more bizarre deep sea diving sim, Endless Ocean is strictly one for the hippies and stoners among gaming's more laidback. As a diver let loose in a free-roaming sea, able to take missions, explore and, er, stroke big fish (no euphemism, I promise), it's what can only be described as a twisted melding of GTA by way of Flow. Those after action, noise and gunfire will point and laugh, but us into pretty sights, relaxing times and a general ambience of beauty will find much to suckle on here. Custom soundtrack support, surprisingly pretty underwater views, and another pleasing budget-ware price help the cause...although nothing makes up for the sub-Dreamcast era graphics seen up top. You gets what you pays for, I guess.
Mutant Storm Empires (Xbox 360)
- A pleasing follow-up to the Live Arcade launch title we all knew and loved, Empires may not quite live up to the superb precedent set by Reloaded, but it's still - yet another - fab little top down shooter managing to keep the genre afloat for another year. The ability to play online co-op for the first time in any of these games since Smash TV gives it instant reason to live - minor lag and a serious boat of confusion aside - even if it gets frustratingly brutal in the game's dying levels.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)
- Hourglass deserved a spot further up this page, but "Top 26 Games of 2007" doesn't really tongue roll. A lovely little game, regardless, Hourglass is up there with the DS' finest. As (yet another) new Zelda game to chuck on the stacked pile, there's precious little newness here that said, and the initially aggravating stylus control takes some serious getting used to - hairy palmed hand obscuring the screen as it is - but with a little practice and some minor patience, it really starts to work. Screen-swiping sword fighting's a blast in particular, no doubt boding well for the upcoming Ninja Gaiden game. Like the DS' Metroid
excursion, Hourglass is very much a condensed take on its older brothers, retaining all the hallmarks of a real Zelda game, while removing the fat along the way. Dialogue is brief and zippy, dungeons can be rounded off in no time, and the plot propels forward pleasingly swift on top. I also love the puzzles, the sound, and the return of that old Wind Waker vibe too. But I could go on forever so let's move on...
- My time with Warhawk's been limited thus far. Truth be told, I'm so utterly rubbish at it I can seldom stay alive long enough to scratch my ginormous balls. The 10 odd second clumps of action I've been witness too before bitch slapping can commence however, hint at cheeky fun, with the airborne Warhawks themselves standing out as a genuine treat to weild. It's hardly a Battlefield killer, of course, and the ground combat suffers from PS3 Shit Stick Syndrome, but if little else one has to award Sony immense kudos for stripping the original game of its lackluster single player component and reimagining the project as a budget-ware online title. The sorts of practices other large publishers could do well to follow suit with, eh Shadowrun?
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD (PS3/Xbox 360)
- With some let down by 2006's Arcade port of Street Fighter II, it seems Capcom ain't giving up the cash-in cause just yet. Puzzle Fighter HD takes the 10 year old PSone block falling classic, then spruces up the presentation and adds pleasingly addictive online play, resulting a bit of a perfect fit for the 360's downloadable arsenal. Hell, it's even out for PS3 for those more inclined. I'll admit, as he who never owned a PSone, this was my first real exposure to the game, but with the mechanics sussed and the lag ignored, it's housed endless fun ever since. Stand-by for a similar HD spruce-up for Turbo itself next, not to mention of course, Street Fighter IV...
Switchball (Xbox 360)
|Dinky pink fluffiness aside, Switchball's ace, not to mention insanely ignored. Why's no one playing her?|
- Fuck Puzzle Fighter though, puzzle game of the year's right here boyos. A criminally under-rated Arcade title no one dares talk about, Switchball's everything great about the Live download service rolled into one. A fantastically spruced up take on last year's Marble Blast Ultra, Switchball takes the ball rolling vertigo-tinged 3D shenanigans of that, adds a huge dollop of beauty on top, then works in some of the most imaginative and giggly mazes you could ever imagine. The use of materials and physics is pleasingly fresh, with helium balloons, metal balls and fully animated cloth used to inventive effect, while the bundled co-operate and oh so funny race modes give it tremendous shelf-life on the multiplayer tip too. Strange how it never took off really, though I'd argue the trial game does her no justice. The real good stuff requires an unlock I'm afraid.
Forza Motorsport 2 (Xbox 360)
- I was suitably into Forza back on release, and certainly had a blast tinkering with her at the lower levels. As the cars got faster, the courses more trying, and the competition more extreme, it kinda left me behind to a certain extent, and then the release of PGR4 pretty much buried it for good, but that initial month of experimentation and grease-covered fondling? Fun times, right here. Looks gash, mind.
Everyday Shooter (PS3)
- Another trippy PS3 indie, and one most certainly boasting its fair share of flaws
, yet Shooter still stole dozens of hours of my life this year, via its arty twist and original spin. For a 2D shooter, its lack of online scoreboards and flakey firing can't go unpunished, yet neither stop it going down as one of the more bizarre and intriguing games of late.
Sam & Max (PC)
- Episode one touched down last year of course, hinting at the greatness shortly to come, but the bulk of the series saw fruition throughout '07, including - I'm sure many would agree - the best episodes of the bunch. Despite proving episodic content works wonderfully when done right, the return of Sam & Max feels all but ignored in most circles - odd, considering how rib-bone starved for non-shooting content the PC's been of late - but those who sampled Telltale's delights didn't regret it I'm sure. Sam and Max are just as funny as ever, their new cohorts are fantastic - Bosco in particular - and the pleasing new down-to-earth simple-ness of the puzzles makes 'em far more manageable games too. The point 'n' clicker's back
, friends, resuming right where he left off. Now roll on Season Two...
In - as I keep saying - the best year for gaming ever
, there were far more disappointments than one would have like too. The following are by no means the worst games of the year - those I know well enough to flat-out avoid - but these still left quite the perturbing taste in my mouth. Much like Max Hardcore.
Heavenly Sword (PS3)
|Supple, slender curves aside, not even pixel-titted Nariko can save this turkey. Check out the 2D sprite style background dudes for massive lolz above|
- While the PS3 saw some top quality titles this year, unfortunately for Sony fans, it felt the brunt of the disappointments too. Unlike the godforsaken Lair - which I won't even waste another word on - Heavenly Sword wasn't completely awful
, merely underwhelming and average when set against promises of being The One. It's an incredibly bland and run-of-the-mill button basher in practice - one not done any favors by coming out so soon after Ninja Gaiden Sigma - and a game that'll only be remembered in the years to come for the quality of its graphics and detail of its cut-scenes. Still, pretty damn amazing weren't they?
Lost Planet (Xbox 360/PC)
- Planet - like Heavenly Sword - was hardly awful
either, but far from the genre defining Jap-o-rific shooter classic many were expecting. In fact, it kicked the year off on a bit of a downer really, rendering January a black sheep of sorts among the bountiful months to follow. My biggest gripe with the game was merely the controls though. After some extensive tweaking in the stupidly hard to find options on offer, it grows infinitely cooler, with far tighter responsiveness and a much better layout; do so, and you'll find a reasonably solid offering in fact. Played on default though? It's pretty fucking shit really.
Quake Wars (PC)
- Much like the PS3, the PC saw its own share of humbling disappointments too, with Quake Wars leading that pack with worrying eagerness. The concept of Strogg versus Human in an epic, online multi-vehicular war game sounds ace in theory, and even in practice there's plenty the game does right. Its emphasis on objectives for one, forming a "front-line" for the action, not to mention of course, the Quake-verse itself, ever spectacular as it always is. Unfortunately it's all held back by the dreadfully dated Doom 3 engine, truly unsuited for large scale outdoor environments like these, not to mention a conspicuous lack of full-blown alien levels, resulting in intergalactic warfare instead being waged across...New Jersey. Hmmm. Worst of all is the gun handling however, no doubt the shittest combat model seen since...well, the next game on our list. Surprisingly awful art direction and lazy player models don't help either, nor does the capped framerate and general lack of satisfaction to the firefights.
Hellgate London (PC)
|For some bizarre reason this screen looks infinitely cooler than the actual game does...|
- To be fair, I only played this for a handful of hours back in beta, but honestly? That was more than enough for me. I can overlook the pitiful job of bringing my home city to life in video game form, but awful combat, laggy controls and randomly generated levels of pure boredom, I can't. With RPGs like The Witcher and Mass Effect currently doing the rounds, comparisons are flat-out hysterical, and if you truly need yours to be of the online variety, look up Tabula Rasa instead. Insert raspberry fart noise here.
Two Worlds (Xbox 360/PC)
- I don't think this needs justifying.
Armed Assault (PC)
- As an Operation Flashpoint die-hard, I had high hopes for its follow-up, unofficial or not. It delivers on the one hand, providing more of that same Flashpoint simming, brutality and realism...but it's all a little too
similar, wouldn't you say? Convoluted controls, shit graphics, awful presentation...why is this shit not fixed? It's been seven bleeding years, yet Armed looks just as bad as its predecessor. When played the same year as Crysis, that's sorta giggly I'm afraid. Even as a serious fan of this series, I felt a little embarrassed to show Armed to my mates, and its dated handling failed to keep me engrossed when flying solo too. All hope instead shifts to the real
Op Flash sequel, hopefully landing in 2008.
The Darkness (PS3/Xbox 360)
- I kinda shat on this back when we reviewed
it, and stick by my original complaints, but with a little time and some serious space, my opinion's elevated somewhat. There's lots to like about The Darkness in fact; the amazing atmosphere, superb voice overs, and immersive world for one. There's also some stunning use of physics in the ever enjoyable super powers at your disposal. Ultimately though, it fails as an FPS, with horrid gun control, stale combat and repetition aplenty. The story, characters and plot are kinda cool - and almost worth persevering for alone - but after Starbreeze's work on Riddick, I guess I expected more. Shame.
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
|I actually liked this level. 'Til it made me go back and play the whole thing twice|
- The need to rush Kane out for Christmas - scrapping online co-op along the way - essentially killed this game for good, sending him out to war without a metaphorical gun of any sort. For what amounts to a buddy game/crime caper, the resulting split-screen mode simply wasn't enough, and the single player campaign left in its wake was pure and utter dreck. That this game has since taken on such a larger than life infamy in light of Gerstmann-gate
renders it even more abhorrent though, and I find its subsequent presence on my hard drive mildly disgusting. Kane and Lynch themselves are what really killed it for me above all else however; murdering cops, beating on women, then muttering the F word literally every single
sentence, the guys come off as complete assholes whom you grow to loathe almost immediately. Rather than save the bastard's family as the game keeps enforcing, I regularly pondered merely guiding Kane off a ledge and thus making the world a better place instead. Until the fabled Heat game rolls around - courtesy of worryingly quiet Gearbox Software - this'll remain the go-to game for us Michael Mann fans I guess (Lynch might as well be Waingro, after all), but in all honesty? That's quite the depressing fact. This game's Frame City Killer-bad, and like that punch-line of a title, should have been shit-canned a long, long time ago.
Calling All Cars (PS3)
- Conclusive proof that the PS Network reeeally needs demos of all its games by now. After the immense hype from big mouth Jaffe, and how bite-size mini-games hold the future to world peace while providing an endless source of renewable oil, what a let down this turned out to be. As a top down Micro-Machines style driving game, with a multiplayer fast-paced tag twist, it's a random, frantic, agitating experience, that wouldn't have garnered a hint of attention as a no-name Live Arcade game. Do not waste your time. Nor money. Its acronym seems suitably apt.
SSX Blur (Wii)
- If I had to pinpoint the exact moment I turned on the Wii - dropping dildo waggling launch system mania in favour of frown-driven jaded cynicism - it would be the morning Blur arrived on my doorstep. SSX is one of my favest franchises to be found in all of console-ville, and steering a dude around with that wand of white sounded like a match made in heaven. The absolute worst implementation of waggle controls ever start Blur off on the wrong foot though, while jaggy visuals, redressed levels and humungous frustration seal the soul crushing deal. I've since started to warm to her slightly, but the damage
this game did took some serious time to get over. Make me love her once more, EA.
Stranglehold (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
|Tequila Time! Oh fuck off|
- A dumb, skill-less and repetitive game with zero interesting features, only die Hard Boiled fans alone need apply here (like that?). I didn't have the highest expectations for Stranglehold going in, but on the slo-mo third person blow 'em up tip, hoped it'd at least stack up to the Max Payne games of old. In reality, it doesn't hold a candle. It's annoyingly linear, boasts awful dialogue, and for one so explosive and balls to the wall in premise, is almost impressively boring to play or watch. Where's Max 3!?
Medal of Honor: Airborne (Xbox 360/PC)
- It looked like the one, didn't it? The true Allied Assault successor, matching its predecessor's brilliance while adding a smattering of originality to boot. Airborne was very pretty indeed - no doubts there - but gameplay-wise, was a frustrating, similarly repetitive and even down-right annoying experience. I whined about the pitiful length back on release
, but in hindsight I guess I'm glad in a way; three hours of this was more than enough.
Battlestar Galactica (Xbox 360/PC)
- Play Beyond the Red Line
And there we are for 2007. Quite the ride, huh? What were your picks? Be sure to check out the 2008 preview
list if you haven't yet - a small sampling of where we head next - although since posting that run-down barely a month ago now, ten or twenty more buggers have since gone on to reveal themselves.
For fuck's sake, video game industry. Looks like I'm destined to go another year without sleep...