The Greatest Year Of Our Lives?

With the end of the year quickly approaching, various gaming publications have started running their usual “Year in Review” type articles. One theme that’s been increasingly common in them is the claim that this is the Greatest Year in the History of gaming. Normally, I brush that sort of bombast aside, but a longtime reader (whom I respect greatly) also sent me a message over the weekend to the same effect, which gives it a bit more credibility with me. However, as I mentioned in my previous article, I’ve been too busy playing Rock Band to notice how great this year’s bounty has been.

Actually, that’s not entirely correct. The truth is, over the years, I’ve developed what I’d consider to be a pretty reliable B.S. filter that can usually cut through the fawning previews and feature articles on upcoming games and tell me which ones are genuinely worth my attention. And this year, not much managed to pique my interest. I was skeptical of a few highly touted games, namely Bioshock and Mass Effect, but there were even more that I completely dismissed right off the bat. A lot of these were sequels where I had already grown weary of the franchise (Orange Box, Call of Duty 4, Halo 3), while others just seemed like they were all flash and no substance (Kane & Lynch, Assassin’s Creed). When all was said and done, the only games that really sounded that great to me were Guitar Hero III and Rock Band. I swear, if my spam filter was as stringent as my B.S. filter, I’d never get an email about “Disco!unT C 1 A L I S quocosdydxx” again.

So I guess my questions are: Is this the best year in the history of gaming, or even a very good one? What’s your pick for Game of the Year? And have I finally become too jaded?

Brad Hates Games Written by:

BHG grew up in the frozen post-apocalyptic wasteland of Buffalo, NY (it’s like the old Soviet Union but more depressing), recently escaped to the (relatively) sunnier skies of Seattle, and does freelance work when writing for an unpopular blog about 20 year old video games fails to pay the bills.

25 Comments

  1. Avatar
    December 13, 2007
    Reply

    “Is this the best year in the history of gaming, or even a very good one?”

    I’d love to be able to answer that, but when I look back how many AAA titles I haven’t even gotten to yet, it’s clear that I’m ill-equipped to offer anything resembling a valid opinion.

    With what I do know, I think it’s safe to say that 2007 was indeed a very good year for gaming. But with the exception of the post-Atari 2600, pre-NES years and the FMV-laden early 90’s, every year has been pretty damn good.

    “What’s your pick for Game of the Year?”

    Having already established that I’ve missed many popular games from the past year, my pick will for GotY may be woefully wrong, but I’ll have to go with Bioshock. Over the years, I’ve often lamented how sick I am of first-person shooters, but I found Bioshock’s gameplay, setting, audio-visuals and storyline to be seriously compelling.

    “And have I finally become too jaded?”

    Of course you have! It’s pretty much unavoidable once you get past the 10 to 15-year mark of being in the gaming hobby.

  2. Avatar
    VagrantSpace
    December 14, 2007
    Reply

    “Is this the best year in the history of gaming, or even a very good one?”

    Right here I have to agree with Joey, there have been so many great years in gaming it’s hard to say this is the best. I have played a ton of games this year though.

    “What’s your pick for Game of the Year?”

    I am definitely equipped to answer this question. With me it doesn’t come down to with had better graphics or sound or whatever, it’s all about how damn fun the game is, that’s it. Mass Effect was super fun and I am going to play it through again, but there is also Uncharted out there and this a fun game. I was too disappointed with Bioshock to nominate it. Mass Effect wins!

    “And have I finally become too jaded?”

    Don’t let it happen, there is still a chance for you. I have been playing for 23 years and own 488 games, take a peek–> http://club.ign.com/b/list/custom?&lid=100018&owner=VagrantSpace

  3. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 20, 2007
    Reply

    Is this the best year in the history of gaming, or even a very good one?

    Yes, with a bullet…hell with a hole clip of bullets. That’s the thing, this has been the year where great game after great game has come FLYING off the presses. Unless you just glaze over new video games and then toss them into the corner, then you are stuck without the time to get to 1 or 2 or more games that you are quite excited about. I’ve heard only one decent argument against this being the best year ever. It’s from Brad over Xbox Live, “best in 10 years. But dont forget SotN FF7 and Goldeneye all came out in the year. Best since then though”. The only other arguments seem to be based on “naw it couldn’t be. . . ” theories so I won’t bother with them.

    97 (or is it 98) has three ALL TIME classic games and two of them are relevant even to this day. I’ll take that and counter with Orange Box, Rock Band, and Halo 3. (btw I don’t wanna hear about the story for the best online multiplayer experience for a console, ever.) Maybe you have some quibbles with your top game of all time not being trumped by one of these 3 (really 8) games, but that’s why this year is unquestionably the best. I haven’t played Mario Galaxy, Mass Effect, Bio Shock, CoD4, and that’s just the start of my I wanna play list and my gun is still loaded with spectacular games from this year that I have played.

    Not only do the much hyped titles blow the mind, this year blows away other year on their own terms. Pac-Man CE has better gameplay than Ms Pac-Man (my all time favorite game). Are you fucking kidding me? Better than Ms Pac-Man? Hell most people didn’t even get to play it. Puzzle Quest turned a great puzzle game from a game you start and you can’t put down into one that you can’t put down and when you wake up, you are dying to jump back in.

    Everyone wants to play one video game or another right now. Not everyone reading this site or any other gaming site, everyone, period. Mom wants to sing on Rock Band, Dad can’t stop bowling (last year I know), and Grandma is actively searching for a Wii.

    Anyone play Warbook? What did you think of the WoW expansion? How fun was Prince of Persia Classic? If you can counter all this with a better year, I’m not worried because there are still a bunch of great games I’m having fun with that I haven’t mentioned. Frankly that’s the reason I had no idea TJG was back up until I actively searched for Brad’s email to respond to our messages we exchanged . . . while playing a great game.

  4. Avatar
    December 20, 2007
    Reply

    Holy shite…it’s Chris!

    Good to see ya man, and nice post. (I agree about Pac-Man CE. I go WAY back with Pac and have a strong affection for many of the games in the series, but CE is without a doubt the best Pac title ever.)

  5. Brad Hates Games
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Now hold on a sec…

    In defense of my 1997 argument, I only named off three titles because I was typing on the Xbox live with my controller. Let’s also add Parappa, Bushido Blade, Total Annihilation, Fallout and NHL ’98 to the list of great games from ’97. And that’s just off the top o’ me head.

    Also, Felony 11-79. Hey, I liked it.

    2007 – very good year. But Class of ’97 rules!

    Oh, also the 16 bit days may have had a decent year or two…

  6. Avatar
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    “2007 – very good year. But Class of ’97 rules!”

    Word.

  7. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    *shakes head* You know as a fellow jaded gamer I’m actually looking for a reason to call the good ole’ days better and I am just trying to give a decent debate. And you give me Parappa and a random EA sports game? And Joey you let him get away with that? It’s 1997 fools. You are both banished from this debate, I’ll put up a good fight for you.

    Virtual Brad: You can’t really think that 97′ is just 3 or even 8 games deep, can you Chris? Dig on this:
    Final Fantasy Tactics
    Gran Turismo (Genre redefining)
    Grand Theft Auto
    NFL Blitz
    Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
    Resident Evil 2! (I don’t care what you say it’s still better than everyone’s 2006 game of the year RE4)
    San Francisco Rush: The Rock
    Sega Bass Fishing (Don’t lie, you played it and loved it Chris)
    Star Wars X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
    Top Skater

    AND…Neo Mr. Do!

  8. Brad Hates Games
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Dammit Chris, stop trusting Wikipedia. Tactics, RE2 and Gran Turismo were ’97 releases in JAPAN only. My fellow U.S. Americans and I didn’t get to enjoy them until ’98. Oh, and they were awesome.

    And NHL ’98 wasn’t some “random EA sports game”, it was one of the best sports games on the PSX, and the best in that series aside from the Genesis versions (technically, there was a Genesis version, too, but the PSX version was “the good one”).

    People love Parappa. Not me, but I can at least understand why so many people think its a great game.

    The absolute best games from 1997 beat out 2007’s, and there were at least as many “really good” ones back then as there was now.

    All this debate has raised my interest in a question I asked a while ago – what’s everyone’s pick for Game of the Year? Also, am I allowed to choose Oblivion? I know it came out last year, but I played the hell out of that game in 2007.

  9. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Damn I love some of those games Brad. Look I can’t argue that the absolute best of ’07 is better than the best of ’97. I love those games and it’s going to be subjective no matter how you try to look at it. But while the woman gets her tape measure out to finally shut us up, I’ll hit you with a few more 2007 models you may have missed.

    Forza 2 . . . turn the ridiculous driving aids off, grab a wireless steering wheel, customize your car and you are going to be feeling that rush you haven’t truly felt since GT first came out.

    Bomberman Live: They finally got it right, cheap, 8 players, and fully online

    Phase: Rock Band/ Guitar Hero creator Harmonix created a game that turns every song on your ipod into a stage for a rhythm game.

    Geometry Wars Galaxies: I haven’t had the chance to play the retail version but the demo I played backstage at the Iron-man tourney sold me twice over.

    Planet Puzzle League, which I got to play for like ten seconds before Bonnie discovered it and disappeared with my DS.

    And here are the games I’m dying to play that I just haven’t had the time to so I can’t just tell you that they are great. I’m still stoked:

    Blue Dragon, Crysis, Uncharted, Guitar Hero III, Contra 4, Stranglehold, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, Shivering Isles, everything I’ve mentioned previously, and on and on.

  10. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Gamefaqs was the culprit actually. I was just trying to help.

    The absolute best games from 1997 beat out 2007’s, and there were at least as many “really good” ones back then as there was now.

    Really? Let’s ask Xbox Live’s auto-stalking how informed you guys are.

    Halo 3
    Not Played by *Joey’s gamertag omitted*
    Not Played by *Brad’s gamertag omitted*
    The Orange Box
    Not Played by *Joey’s gamertag omitted*
    Not Played by *Brad’s gamertag omitted*

    I can’t give you a game of the year from the ones I have played…it’s just way too close to call. But those of you who haven’t played Orange Box, I’m commanding that you at least go out and rent it, then play through Portal.

    btw my apologies if you guys have hit up Orange Box on the PC

  11. Brad Hates Games
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Orange Box is really just a Half Life 2 Collection, right? Calling it a “2007 game” is like calling Oblivion:GotY a “2007 Game”. In which case, I guess Oblivion can be my Game of the Year.

    I played Half Life 2 when it came out. And I played Halo 3 at my brother’s. I’m not sold.

    By the way, can I just add that I’m really sorry for my antagonistic tone? I’m trying to write these at work, which means I have to rush and make my points as quickly as possible. I like you guys – I don’t want to pick fights with Chris, or Joey, or VS or anybody. What I originally hoped would be a civil and thought-provoking discussion, I’ve turned kind of mean. Sorry everyone. 2007 was a very good year, and maybe scientists will someday perfect a way to measure different years against each other and compare it to my personal fave, ’97.

    In the meantime, I pledge not to post anything else until right before I go home for the day. That should give me a few hours to write some better thought out and hopefully less confrontational responses. Until then, I demand to know people’s games of the year!

  12. Avatar
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Orange Box is really just a Half Life 2 Collection. Calling Orange Box a “2007” game is like calling Oblivion:GoY a “2007 Game”.

    Yes, let’s not refer to the Orange Box as a game. I know a lot of people are doing that, but it’s just wrong…it’s a collection. (I make no apologies for being a stickler; I’m a geek — that’s what we do.) By the way, with the exception of Portal and Team Fortress 2, I’ve played the rest of what the Orange Box collection has to offer.

    As for Halo 3, I’ve been trying to build up enough interest to pick it up (as a rental) since it was released, but have been having a damn hard time doing so. *shrugs*

    Chris, I’m glad you mentioned Phase. I came really close to grabbing it when it was released, but figured it was probably not worth the money. Is it really that good?

  13. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Oh I’m at work and I would never have a personal beef with you guys, no hard feelings. Cept for Newsbot…I never trusted that bastard 😉 Now get back to swinging! 🙂

  14. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Ok so Halo 3, if you aren’t going to play it online then don’t bother with the single player. It’s good but this year good just doesn’t cut it. Once you get online with it though….really all other game matchmaking should be immediately scrapped for this model. It’s that good.

    Throw away the name Orange Box and let’s call it Portal (w/4 mini games attached). If I’m reviewing Portal old school TJG style it gets a 98%. Most innovative of the year, best writing of the year, best voice acting of the year, and best romantic lead. (please keep in mind the games I haven’t played though)

  15. Avatar
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Chris Delp wrote:

    …I would never have a personal beef with you guys, no hard feelings. Cept for Newsbot . .. I never trusted that bastard 😉

    I suspect a presumption of me being out of commission and offline, correct? (A typical human error.)

    HA! Silly user. Do not tempt my wrath!

  16. Brad Hates Games
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Wow, I just went back and looked over my notes and it turns out that I was mistaken about 1997 – I meant to say it was the greatest year in history for pro wrestling. Bret Hart feuding with Stone Cold Steve Autin as a pro-Canadian bad guy? That’s good stuff.

    Oh, and don’t worry about Newsbot. I have it on good authority that his “conversion” from Ms. Pac-Man machine to his current form wasn’t anything more than gluing a head on top of the arcade cabinet.

    Now, on to serious things… Chris mentioned that being good just doesn’t cut it this year, and that reminded me of something – how many times have you heard people complaining that there are too many great games, and that they take too long to play? Like that’s a bad thing?

    I mean, I understand that a game can be too long if it stops being fun before you reach the ending, but if a game is fun from start to finish, and takes a long time to play, is that really a problem? I just think I’d rather pay $60 for a game that keeps me entertained for 2 months than one that only lasts a week. Even if these long games take up too much time and then you don’t have a chance to check out the “too many” great games that come out.

    I guess I just don’t understand this “I must play all the great games” mentality. People complain that there were too many awesome games, and they didn’t get to them all. Why do you have to play all the great ones? Isn’t it enough just to be happy that for every minute you spent gaming, there was something great to play? Am I to believe that people would actually prefer there to be fewer great games coming out, as opposed to the unthinkable idea that they might miss out on one?

    I mean, it makes it harder to definitively choose your “Game of the Year” if you didn’t play them all, or win an argument that this wasn’t the best year ever, but in terms of playing and enjoying games, I don’t feel bad that I never had time to play Mass Effect, Bioshock or Portal. Instead, I’m happy that the worst game I played all year was Crackdown, which wasn’t all that bad (though it certainly wasn’t great), and pretty much everything else I played was absolutely kickass.

    What do you guys think? Is it a crime that we didn’t get to play all the great stuff, or are you just happy to have been entertained as well as you were this year?

  17. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Man I’m right there with you. I want to slap someone every time I hear the “there are too many great games” argument. Believe me, in late February or late May when NOTHING is coming out then you can catch up. If you have a blast playing Rock Band every single day then you haven’t wasted a bit of your gaming time. I know I’ll catch up eventually and the thought that I won’t be bored until possibly the middle of 2008 is a great feeling.

  18. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    Regarding Phase: It’s a mediocre music/rhythm game that features the best and biggest soundtrack of all time. At $5 I’m not sure what the hesitation is, isn’t a rental like $7 these days? OCRemix + Phase = the quickest plane flight to Philly in history.

    Did anyone play Peggle this year? I heard nothing but rave reviews about that too.

    Also is it just me or is this about 3 front page topics in one? :p

  19. Avatar
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    At $5 I’m not sure what the hesitation is, isn’t a rental like $7 these days?

    Ya know, I think the biggest factor is that I’ve never gamed much (at all) on my iPod. I have a few games on it, but other than fiddling with them for a few minutes immediately after purchase, that’s about it. Hell, and that was before my repurchase of the DS.

  20. Brad Hates Games
    December 21, 2007
    Reply

    What about Desktop Tower Defense? I’ve heard nothing but raves about that, too?

  21. Avatar
    VagrantSpace
    December 22, 2007
    Reply

    Am I the only one in the room that owns all three current gen systems. It’s hard for people to pick a game of the year when you don’t have the ability to play them all. I believe I have played all of the kickass games this year, I have been a busy boy. Everyone neeeeeds to play Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. That one is definitely a nominee for game of the year. And on the subject of Phase, that is definitely my iPod game of the year. So what have I played through this year(if I can remember them all): Uncharted, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Super Mario Galaxy, The Orange Box, Rock Band, Folklore, Heavenly Sword, Ratchet and Clank Future, The Darkness, Assassins Creed, Halo 3, Dracula X Chronicles, Eternal Sonata, Odin Sphere and I attempted to play Beowulf.

    I can definitely say that game of the year is NOT Bioshock or Halo 3, those games are way way over hyped.

    Took me forever to read all these posts today, I work a lot. I’m so glad TJG is back and running, I love you guys.

  22. Brad Hates Games
    December 22, 2007
    Reply

    Well, I’m not really looking for the definite, no-doubt-about-it game of the year. I’m just wondering what everyone’s personal GotY is. The question is really “What’s your favorite game that came out this year?”

    I only have an Xbox 360 and a PS2 (they still make games for it!). The Wii never really appealed to me, and the experiences of people I know have pretty much turned me off of it for good. The PS3 looks decent, but aside from Drake’s Fortune, I haven’t really seen any PS3-exclusive games that interested me.

  23. Avatar
    December 22, 2007
    Reply

    I’ve been looking for a legitimate reason (that justifies the cost of the system — please don’t say BluRay) to purchase the PS3, but haven’t yet found one. I really had my hopes up for Lair (dragons, yay!), but that seems to have been a bust.

    And to be honest, there’s so much goodness on the 360 and DS, that I don’t know where I would even find the time to keep up with games on the PS3. My life is drastically more complicated at 37 than it was at 27.

    Still, though, whenever a title comes around that has me saying, “I have GOT to have that”, I’ll probably get a PS3.

  24. Avatar
    Chris Delp
    December 22, 2007
    Reply

    That’s exactly how I feel Joey. The PS3 is a waste of my money right now. I’m mildly interested in Drake’s Fortune but not enough to tear me off the games I’m loving on the Xbox right now. If bought a ps3 it would immediately start gathering dust. And I’m not going to short change a game I’m truly enjoying just to say I’ve played another game. I’ve got time, they aren’t going anywhere. I’ll play Uncharted when the ps3 is worth my money, until then the PS3 can wait in line behind my Wii because Mario Galaxy and Geometry Wars are next.

  25. Avatar
    VagrantSpace
    December 23, 2007
    Reply

    Super Mario Galaxy is freakin awesome, Chris, you gotta get to that one.

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