It seems like only yesterday that we were all hotly anticipating a year of outstanding, next-generation gaming. In fact, it was yesterday and we are again today, but I'd like to take you back to this time last year when the wait for Crysis was dragging on and people were still pulling their hair out over the Vista and DirectX 10 fiasco. Bioshock was within spitting distance and the Orange Box and Call of Duty 4 were the talk of the town. All the while I was a mess, mainly because I was stuck with a Pentium 4 processor that bottlenecked the crap out of my 8800GTS.
How times have changed. Crysis and Bioshock both failed to realise the hype that the publishers had stuffed up their respective arseholes whilst Valve ran away with a very well-earned "If I could compare myself to any character from the Bible, it would probably be Jesus" award. Portal was saintly, Half Life: Episode 2 was what fans of the series deserved and Team Fortress 2 was... well, it was something else. Not only that, but they all arrived packaged together for the price of a single game. Valve, I salute you, as should we all. Oh and I learned all about the inner-workings of a PC and how to make none of it go together correctly.
Here's a brief run-down of the biggest names of 2007:
Not many people know this, but Bioshock was actually the product of a bet I once made with Ken Levine that he couldn't crowbar an identical plot twist into each game he made. Well, Ken, you've done it again. Go on, take the money, it's all yours. You've earned it. Inexplicably though, the bet did not include clauses requiring him to dumb down gameplay and discard the relatively freeform style of System Shock 2, so he's left me completely in the dark regarding that.
Crysis came and conquered, pulverising many puny PCs with its poorly optimised nano-fists. Only since I upgraded my computer have I been able to run the game adequately, but it's still far from perfect in terms of performance and gameplay. It's another fine example of a developer admitting their previous mistakes, reporting to have learned from them and then making them all over again out of apparent loathing for their consumer base. Crytek naturally thought that when we said we hated the mutants in the second half of Far Cry, we were pulling their leg. Either that or I missed the customer survey that indicated flying fucking aliens were right up our street.
CoD - Far from Extinction
Unexpectedly, the game I invested the most time in last year was Call of Duty 4. The single player campaign was less than impressive. Yes, a lot of people felt that it was Hollywood in a game and it was for sure, but a lot of shit comes out of Hollywood. Aside from the laughable politically correct vagueries of the setting, there was a disconcerting feeling that every time the game came close to becoming a harrowing portait of modern warfare, the developers were actually concentrating on how cool it looked to be kicking the crap out of Middle East-istan. Still, the multiplayer portion is incredible and I am entirely convinced that perks should become a staple in future first-person shooters, providing that they are implemented this well.
That's it for now. Tomorrow I look to the future with a simple consumer's perspective on Fallout 3, Spore and others...