Also, there are two games in particular that I just got for Xmas, but haven't played very much of. That's Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty 4. I've played a bit of both, and I'm enjoying them so far, but haven't gotten through them nearly enough to judge them appropriately. If they're "holy cow awesome!" then I'll probably blog about them separately in the future.
So without further ado
10. Hotel Dusk
Having trouble remembering this game? I wouldn't be surprised. It was released way back in January to the DS, with little fanfare. Unfortunately, that probably means it'll be forgotten by many people as one of the year's top games. That's too bad, because I thought this game was a perfect fit for both the DS and the adventure game genre. I'm a big fan of old LucasArts and Sierra adventure games (King's Quest, Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, etc.), and Hotel Dusk fits that mold very well. It's worth checking out if you were a fan of those games back in the day.
9. World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade
Ahh, WoW's first expansion. This is also the first game I've ever done the midnight launch thing for! Yes, I was that much of a WoW addict. I don't play anymore, although I get tempted to every so often (especially after listening to the excellent Legendary Thread podcast). The Burning Crusade expansion added so much great new content to the game, that it was months before I got my fill of it. That's one reason why I'm excited for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, scheduled to release later this year. I fully expect to succumb and return to WoW, but seeing how polished almost all of Blizzard's products are, it's not a bad thing at all.
8. Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar
From one expansion to another! Dark Avatar was the latest expansion to GalCivII, one of the best, and underappreciated, strategy games in recent gaming history. I actually never played GalCivII until I picked up DA, but once I started playing, I knew that this was something special. It seems like everyone who plays it understands just how great this game is, and wants to share it with everyone else they know! If you loved games like Civilization IV or Alpha Centauri, then GalCivII and it's expansions are a must to check out. It's the whole "gotta play 1 more turn!" addiction that lasts till 4 AM, all over again! There's also another expansion slated to come out this year, called Twilight of the Arnor.
7. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
Who woulda thought the game-mechanic behind Bejeweled could be made into a stellar RPG, that has now debuted on almost every major portable and console platform? This was a fun, little addiction that spread around the office like crazy. I'd walk into meetings and get asked, "So, what level is your Wizard today?". Since I was playing it on the DS, it was also a great game to play while travelling. I'd love to see more games like this, which take an established game mechanic and turn it into something very different, but special, and lots of fun. A Tetris FPS perhaps?
Sadly, many people only got Crackdown to get access into the Halo 3 Beta. If that's all they did, then they truly missed out on a wonderful, co-op-friendly, sandbox, achievement-crazy game. To this day, punching my friend off a skyscraper, just to see if friendly fire was possible (and it is!)
5. Halo 3
Ahh, Halo 3. There's so much that's already been said about this game
If you haven't played Portal yet, go do so now. It is, quite simply, the best 3 hour gaming experience I've had this year. Yes, it's short, blah blah, but it's just so good. The writing is top notch, the gameplay is innovative and fun, and the atmosphere is brilliantly setup. Everyone's already talking about it, so if you still don't understand what all the cake jokes and weighted companion cube stuff is about, just find yourself a few free hours, go buy/download the game, and have fun!
Chances are that if you're reading this, you know plenty about the critically acclaimed darling of the industry. If you've played it, chances are you agree with the critics as well! Simply put, it's just an incredible experience of a game. For me, I loved just how immersive the whole atmosphere was. I was in Rapture, and it was a crazy place! This game, along with Portal, are one of the ones that needs to be played this year, regardless of whether or not you even like the genre. Dare I say it, Bioshock is one of the games that will define this generation of games. So, if you haven't done so yet, would you kindly play it?
2. Rock Band
Heck, I don't even own this game yet, but I love it! I'm very fortunate to have friends on both the West and East coast that have the game, and hosted several Rock Band parties. It's awesome seeing friends that normally aren't into music-rhythm games, but by the end of the night, are all clamoring for the microphone, guitar, or drums. Rock Band may also be the first game that arguably does DLC right. That is, consistent (weekly!) releases of new songs, at totally reasonable prices! I'm also seeing this as a new replacement for the Wii as the ultimate party game, at least for folks my age. We all love music, and playing/singing along is so natural and fun to do.
1. Mass Effect
I have to admit, I am a total sci-fi geek. My favorite authors include Larry Niven and Isaac Asimov, I love watching space documentaries on the Discovery channel, I was a fan of most of the Star Trek series (yes, even Voyager and Enterprise), and enjoy games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Galactic Civilizations II. Plus, as a bonus, I've loved many of Bioware's older games, especially the entire Baldur's Gate series. So, it's no surprise that Mass Effect was easily my most anticipated game of the year, and it did not disappoint. Sure, the game definitely has its flaws. And unlike Bioshock or Portal, I can't really recommend it to anyone who doesn't enjoy the RPG genre. But for those who do, it's an incredibly delightful experience. I've thoroughly enjoyed the writing, the voice acting, the universe and its setting, and the gameplay as well. I've logged many, many hours into the game, and will continue to log many, many more. So, it's no surprise it's my game of the year (and same for many other sci-fi fans!). Long live Shepard, and I can't wait to continue the journey in future games!
Wow, that took a while to write up! Next time, I'll be doing a recap of my 2007 predictions, and making new ones for 2008.