I donít know about all of you wonderful readers out there, but thereís nothing that I love more than making Top 10 lists. Maybe itís a genetic imperative that I inherited from my OCD father. Or, it could be the hours of David Letterman I watched as a kid. Whatever the cause may be, it warped my mind into the categorizing, importance-assigning machine that it is today.
With that being said, tonightís Top 10 is one that many of you out there will either be enthralled by or absolutely disappointed with. There have been a numerous amount of games released this year; the crazy part isnít that we had the glut of games, but rather that most of them were quality titles. I think I spent more money on games this year than I had ever in any year in the past. Never since the other two ďgolden ages of gamingĒ (the original PlayStation, and before that the Super Nintendo) has there been such an amazing influx of new IPs and games. This truly was a great year to be a gamer.
Picking favorite games is always a tough job because youíre always bound to miss a game that someone else thought was excellent. So, for tonightís list, I am going to list the games that I thought were the truly outstanding titles for the year of 2007. Please feel free to discuss with me whether you agree or disagree; thatís precisely what the community blogs are about, participation.
BioShock (360, PC)
This much anticipated title was the number one contender for many peopleís game of the year nominations. Unfortunately I felt that this game didnít fulfill enough of my personal criteria to be the game of the year. The gameplay was fun though a bit convoluded when trying to manage plasmids and weapons.
The areas where this game truly shines is in the graphics and sound. The graphics were particularly breathtaking from a stylized 1950ís standpoint, with so much attention to detail spent on each environment you encounter. The soundtrack was no slouch either, it included a few period pieces to help immerse the player and a great original score that filled the silence just enough to not distract from the gameplay. I loved playing this game, but I couldnít help feeling like this was essentially a remake of SystemShock 2, and just another version of the same FPS weíve all been playing since Wolfenstein 3D.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
I was bound to love this game. After the insane amount of time I spent as a kid playing Metroid, Metroid II: The Return of Samus, and Super Metroid, how could I not love any Metroid game that is placed in front of me? The Metroid Prime series is a very divisive series, either you are a fan of the first person perspective and enjoy the whole experience, or you hate it because it isnít a ďpureĒ Metroid experience.
Metroid Prime 3 was no letdown; the controls were finally perfected with the use of the Wii-mote. The gameís immersion factor was increased dramatically thanks to the use of motion controls to pass objectives (esp. the grapple beam). This was reason number one for me to search for a Nintendo Wii at the beginning of the year. Until I can own my own, Iíll be at my parentís house playing this on their Wii.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbarosí Treasure (Wii)
Reason number two for me wanting to buy a Wii after the holiday rush. Zack & Wiki is a shining example of games that use the Wiiís controls to its fullest. I can think of so many titles that Sierra did through the í80s and í90s that could benefit from the Wiiís controls. The game is a simple yet immersive third-person point-and-click adventure that goes into first person perspective when you interact with the environment like when you cut trees down with a saw.
The graphics were pretty if not average for most of the game and the story was fairly predictable, but the fact that Capcom was willing to attempt to bring the point-and-click adventure genre to the home console market warrants a spot on my Top 10. If you havenít got anything new for the Wii in a while, do yourself a favor and support Capcom at the same time by picking this game up, you wonít regret it.
Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
Iím a new convert to the Ratchet & Clank games, but from my short time I spent with a few of the games on the PlayStation 2, I became an instant fan. I had glossed over the game series thanks mainly to the excellent Jak & Daxter series, had I known that these Ratchet & Clank games were as good if not better; I would be more of an acolyte.
The story is more of the standard fare for run and gun platform games as youíd expect from the folks at Insomniac but the High Definition graphics make the wait we experienced worth it. I personally suggest to you all to give this game a chance if you havenít ever spent time with Ratchet & Clank.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)
When I found out early in the year that the PSP was going to have a remade version of Final Fantasy Tactics from the original PlayStation, I went out and bought a PSP. I was so excited that I could finally have a portable version of one of the best strategy RPGs ever made. I was not disappointed when I finally got to play this game.
The game is essentially the same as the original version that came out in 1998, but with a few tweaks and some noted additions (like including Balthier from Final Fantasy XII in the story, and cutscenes with voice-overs). The game in my opinion is the best example of a remade game done right. I wish that Square Enix would make more original IPs instead of rehashing older ones, but I canít complain, this game was near perfect.
The Orange Box (PC, 360, PS3)
While The Orange Box isnít one game but is in fact 5 separate games (Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode One, Half-Life 2 Episode Two, Portal, and Team Fortress 2) in one convenient package for such a reasonable price. Heck, if you purchase the game off Steam, you save even more money. I relish the fact that I donít have to purchase every game separately like many of the early adopters did with the Half-Life series.
The shining jewel in the entire collection would have to be Portal. To give you the gist of the story, you are the newest test subject for Aperture Scienceís portal gun and must make your way through a myriad of test chambers, each with their own puzzles and platforms you must conquer. Throughout the entire game, your only companion is the voice of GLaDOS, the resident AI that runs the facility. The gameís story follows the Valve tradition of first-person storytelling where the programmers lead you to discover the story on your own. While this game alone warrants the purchase price, Itís nice that you get 4 other complete games bundled in isnít it?
Halo 3 (360)
What can I say, I was one of the hardcore gamers that stood out in the cold waiting to pick up his Legendary Edition of Halo 3 on release night. I spent that night and the subsequent one beating the game. After that, I played dozens if not hundred games in multiplayer matches. I was smitten with this game.
Halo 3 is a marked improvement over the first two games in every department with the exception of one thing, a decent single player campaign. Donít get me wrong, I am completely enamored with the complexity of the Halo seriesí storyline, but the amount of time spent in single player seemed shorter than either of the prequelsí. The sheer amount of fun and customization that Halo 3 allows in the multiplayer matches is the main reason that it gets such a high spot on tonightís list.
Rock Band (360, PS3)
I got a Fender Stratocaster for Xmas back in 1996 and enjoyed attempting to learn guitar, at a certain point I realized that I was probably never going to get any better at it. That guitar now collects dust in my closet because I forgot how to tune it. Thankfully with Rock Band, with a small investment (ok, not that small) I was able to pick up a new guitar controller and a decent drum set that gives me the feeling that I am playing the real deal without the hours upon hours of practice.
I have spent so much quality time with people in my family playing this game, mind you that these people are NOT gamers. I feel that any game that can reach out to non-gamers and make them want to play for hours on end is a great game that deserves a spot on anyoneís Top 10 list. Whether it be the excellent choice of music, or the music video-esque visuals that play during your bandís performance this game is worth a purchase.
Mass Effect (360)
Mass Effect came in under many gamersí radar thanks to Rock Band coming out on the same day, but for hardcore Sci-Fi enthusiasts like myself I was patiently counting the days down until the game came out. Iím sure many of you have read my impressions of the game from my earlier post. Iím happy to say that I am still very much in love with this game.
The gameplay is damn near perfect, its not too fast but not slow in the slightest. The graphics, despite their slight faults, are some of the best Iíve ever seen in a game. My favorite part of the game was the story. Not since Shadowrun back on the SNES have I played a game that makes you want to talk to every character you come across and ask every question the game allows you to ask.
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Mario is BACK! This time the gameplay is tighter, the environments are bigger, and the adventure is grand. The third and best installment of the 3D Super Mario Bros. franchise was the game that I was dying to play this holiday season and one of the many reasons that Iíll be picking up a Wii after the Xmas holidays. Whatever faults you might have had with Super Mario Sunshine, Galaxy completely redeems. It is the most straightforward Mario Bros. game since the golden days of Super Mario 64.
In my opinion, there is no better example of video gaming than playing a Mario game. When I played Galaxy for the first time, it was almost like I had stepped into a time warp and was 7 years old all over again. The Mario franchise helped Nintendo become the household name that it is, and this newest release guarantees that Miyamoto and Co. arenít going anywhere anytime soon.
That does it for another edition of A Weird Kid's Top 10. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. As always, let me know if you have a particular top 10 that you'd like to see, and I'd be happy to oblige. And for all of you that have submitted ideas, I promise I'll eventually get around to yours. Thanks for reading!!!