As 2007 draws to a close, we say our goodbyes to what has arguably been one of the greatest years for videogames ever. With so many amazing releases, this year has been absolutely stunning, and we can now definitely say that the new generation of games has finally arrived.
This is it, the grand finale', our third and final list of 2007 honors. You can recap with part one or part two, or just hit the jump to see what rounds out our showcase of this year's most iconic. The choice is yours!
"I am Andrew Ryan, and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture, a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, Where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well."
The above speech is perhaps the most famous in-game quote of the year, and is sure to be fondly remembered over the years to come. In fact, the "sweat of his brow" comment has become something of a meme, and with good reason, as it's an utter classic. Yes, despite the original plan for this series being not to have multiple entries from a single game, the charms of Rapture's creator, the self-made man Andrew Ryan, just couldn't be denied. Your antagonistic enemy for much of your time spent playing BioShock, Ryan is both a compelling villain and, in some ways, a flawed hero, one of the most iconic nemesi of 2007.
Andrew Ryan, perhaps the ultimate Libertarian, built Rapture as a place far from what he deemed the "parasites" of society, an Ayn Rand-esque "perfect" city where people could benefit from their own hard work without being demonized for their intelligence or taxed for their earnings. While his ideals were beautiful, they were perhaps too unrealistic to ever work, and it is this failed vision of impossible perfection that leads to your adventures in the collapsed utopia of Rapture.
Without spoiling the game, it must be said that Andrew Ryan is an amazingly crafted character. A man who worked so hard to distance himself from the crowd, you get to learn through audio diaries and your own experiences just how badly Ryan violated every single one of his principals just to protect his vision. It begs the question; are ideals worth fighting for if you have to betray them in the process? Andrew seemed to think so, but perhaps he changed his mind before one incredible cutscene that will stick in the mind of all who have had the pleasure of playing. If you are one of those people, you know what we mean. If not, you are poorer for it. Andrew Ryan is going to go down in videogame history as one of the industry's finest creations, and is deserving of his place as a 2007 icon.
A man chooses, a slave obeys.
The Internet rewards the stupid, and very few come as stupid as Chad Warden. A PS3 lover with a videocamera, too much time on his hands, and the belief that he is some kind of 50 Cent-like thug, Chad Warden's hilarious Youtube posts in which he mocks the Wii remote for looking like a dildo and the Xbox 360 for having no games (a brilliant irony) quickly drew attention from the gaming community, who took his stupidity and phrases like "PSTriple" to heart.
He posted this video (Why PS3 is better than the Wii and 360) back in March and even today he is receiving comments from those drawn in by his flamebait. Whether he really believes what he's saying or if he's just an attention seeker is up for debate, but there's no denying that nearly everybody now knows who Chad Warden is, whether they want to or not. The Internet truly does reward stupidity, and it's about to reward it some more, as Chad Warden, for better or worse, is undeniably an icon of the year.
While the red ring of death epidemic actually began in 2006, it was during the first half of 2007 that widespread fear, controversy and finally an address from Microsoft actually happened. The Xbox 360 cycle is known to have suffered from shoddy design specs and hastily built systems which led to a number of technical problems including overheating. This would eventually culminate the now-notorious red ring of death. A red ring on your 360's lights meant inevitable doom, and it's become a case of "when," not "if" for gamers who dread the day it happens to them.
Microsoft couldn't keep burying its head in the sand and in July the company sensationally admitted fault and extended the console's warranty to three years, offering to fix any console sent to them with red ring issues. It was certainly big of The 'Soft to come clean and accept that it screwed up, although not screwing up in the first place would have been better. In any case, it certainly helped endeared the company to gamers who are used to corporations denying anything is ever a problem and trying to look almighty in the face of disaster. It was a rare move, and an excellent example of PR in an industry not known for its expert damage control (HI LAIR!).
The image of a red ring has become ingrained into the collective consciousness of the gamer community and will forever be a part of the Xbox 360's legacy. For such controversy and for Microsoft's extended warranty, the red ring of death is certainly an icon of 2007.
Forget your Wii shortages, screw the PS3 price cut, and even turn away from those aforementioned red rings. If there was one big story of 2007, the Gerstmann Conspiracy would be it. This was easily the biggest, most shocking news of the year and ironically was about the very industry that reported it. This was games journalism providing its own stories, as GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann found himself fired after giving Kane & Lynch: Dead Men a bad review. At first it was merely rumor until Penny Arcade's Gabe confirmed it prior to unveiling a rapidly constructed comic of the affair. It seemed that the wall had been broken -- and behind it lay the image of marketing and editorial offices sharing the same bed.
The subject of integrity is a touchy one in the gaming press. Every media outlet wants to think of itself as honest, fair and trustworthy, yet confusing review scores and the "7 - 10" rating system in which no game seems to get low numbers sends out a different message. It had been suspected for a while that marketing departments were influencing editorial departments and that advertising deals were kept sweet by good reviews, but nobody expected GameSpot of all sites to justify such suspicions. Sadly, however, it seemed that parent company CNet and Dead Men publisher Eidos had enough of Gerstmann's honesty and fired him, alledgedly for his "tone."
Public outcry was loud. Very loud indeed. Forums and blogs were set ablaze with discussion on the subject as GameSpot kept its head down low and Gerstmann was silenced for legal reasons. Eidos never addressed it. Another GameSpot editor appeared to quit, while many members cancelled their subscriptions to the site. The credibility of GameSpot was shaken dramatically and a bond of trust between it and its fans had been damaged considerably, if not completely severed in some cases. Destructoid had leapt onto the drama by rebranding as Cashwh0re.com
, while the Ziff Davis blogs organized a protest in honor of a fallen comrade. It brought gamers together, something that is very hard to do with such an apathetic group of people.
This was gaming journalism at its most exposed, and prompted thoughts and questions that needed thinking and asking. At any rate, it proved to be a great day for the blogs, those untouched by corporate hands and free to speak without fear of reprisal. As for the corporate sites, one wonders if they can ever be trusted again. For this reason alone, it can't be argued how truly iconic the whole affair was, still is, and will be for a very, very long time.
Here we are then, the final icon of 2007 and one that we simply could not deny. Yes, a quote to rival even those of Andrew Ryan, Portal's "the cake is a lie." Throughout your adventures in Valve's masterpiece, the sentient AI known as GLaDOS constantly encourages you by promising that there will be cake as reward for your struggles with the Portal Gun and the unique environmental puzzles you overcome. As you play through the game however, you start to get sinister clues that not all is as it seems and that just maybe the cake is in fact ... a lie.
It's no surprise that the Internet latched onto such a quote. It has everything a good meme requires -- it's completely surreal, yet strangely can be applied in a multitude of ways and can be worked into daily conversation for its vague sense of meaningless meaning. As such, the catchphrase has become part of Internet gamerspeak and won't be disappearing anytime soon. Should Valve ever create a shirt with the famous slogan, you can bet it'll sell out in minutes.
Portal was truly a phenomenon this past year and possibly an icon in its own right, but we couldn't just put every little thing into this showcase. While there are still other elements of this terrific title we could have spotlit, the trophy has to go both to the Companion Cube in part one, and "the cake is a lie," here in part three.
Which then draws us to our conclusion. Fifteen icons of this past year now given their due honors. Hopefully you enjoyed the read and the look back at some of 2007's most awesome and most dreadful, and ... and ...
Ugh, FINE ...
Happy new year.
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