January 10th, 2008
Gaming gems of 2007
Sorry for delayed blog update, I've had really busy couple weeks, involving everything from putting up TAGAP contest and updating my portfolio to being ill.
Anyway; Since I've been putting together TAGAP most of the year and got a full-time day-job, I had less time for playing than in 2006. But I still played, a lot. Since I had to be picky, I played mainly just good and brilliant titles. So here are the best games I played through last year, in addition to TAGAP, naturally.
These are my personal opinions so feel free to disagree and share your thoughts on the forum.
The main trend in action games these days seems to be putting the player in shoes of mobsters, people on hell-bent on vendettas and BlackOps soldiers operating above the law. In all this immorality players are put into situations where they really don't give a damn whether they frag everyone or not, but BioShock is different breed. The whole world, especially the Little Sisters and Big Daddies, were hand-crafted to force player to make a moral choice. Unlike in most games with choice between 'good' and 'evil', this wasn't just about selecting a different ending during the final boss fight, but it was all defined by player's actions throughout the game.
It also speaks for something that though I'm a gamer completionist, I still haven't started the second play-through as a bad guy. Why? I hesitate 'cause I know I'm bound to feel bad about harvesting those Little Sisters – and that's a feeling no other game has succeeded to wake in me.
I really haven't liked many of these 'free-roaming sandbox' games since, well, Grand Theft Auto 2. When that particular series moved into 3D it also swapped it's 'free-roaming sandbox gameplay' to 'free-roaming sandbox' and 'restricted gameplay', where you could do what you wanted outside the game, but if you wanted to do any progress, you had go through missions more restricted than Pacman.
Crackdown was the total opposite; While it had little to offer besides of the actual game, the game itself was littered with freedom of choice. You could decide everything from order of gang bosses to take down and the super-powers of your hero to the method of transportation – you don't have steal 'n drive cars, if don't want to. Also, it didn't hurt that it was about being a super-hero getting his own town rid of gangsters instead of just being a hoodlum harassing good folks. And just for the record, I didn't buy the game for its Halo 3 Beta key. Sadly, it seems I was the only one.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
During the days of PSX I was a PC gamer only and thus I missed several classics in those days. The best of them all was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the best entry in the series I played to near death in my SNES days. It's an action-RPG with loads of depth and to my surprise, it's was so polished it remains the king of the genre to this day. With old-school platforming action, true feeling of exploration, alternate endings and brilliant soundtrack, it's a gem you can't afford to miss. Since it's been re-released on everything from Xbox Live Arcade to PSP, there's no excuse to do so.
I wouldn't be a human being if I didn't feature Portal on this list. I can safely say that Portal is the funniest game I have ever played. While it's humor isn't blazing as in old LucasArts adventure titles or as on-spot as in Duke Nukem 3D, it's just darn amusing all the way through. When you're not smiling because of the geekish AI humor, it's the totally mind-blending puzzles that make you grin. All-in-all, it's a rare feel-good gem that alone is worth the prize of The Orange Box, even the console version with next-gen price tag.
Gears of War
Though I blasted through Gears already in 2006, in 2007 me and Petja completed it in co-operative via Xbox Live. And oh boy, it was a blast. While it may lack in some areas in single player, it's definitely the Best Co-Op Game, Ever! From tactically flanking enemies to reviving you buddy and providing cover fire, it's something everyone should experience. As icing on the cake, it's all spiced with a few sections designed especially for co-op, like defending your buddy from light-sensitive Kryll bats with nothing but a spotlight.
From all these games, Gears of War has had the biggest influence on TAGAP, since the brilliant co-operative experience was definitely the key motivator for starting the development of TAGAP 2 co-op.
I know I've missed many great titles, but that's mainly because haven't played all the games I would've wanted to play last year, but hopefully I can catch up in 2008.
Until next time,
Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin