Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What a Year


I know I bitch about in-game ads, and shoddy product, and DRM, and people acting like dicks. All true.

In spite of that, though, when you just look at the best games in 2007, it's been a banner year.*

That * is important, unfortunately. It's only been the best year in gaming history if you owned multiple gaming platforms. If you did, you could choose from Armageddon Empires (PC), Dwarf Fortress (PC), BioShock (PC, 360), The Orange Box (PC, 360), Puzzle Quest (pretty much everything), Halo 3 (360, not really my deal but I hear about five million other people like it), Ratchet & Clank (PS3), NHL 08 (360, PS3, PC), Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbados' Treasure, and Total Pro Golf 2 (PC). I'm leaving out at least a dozen more games that probably belong in that list as well.

What usually happens in a typical year is that there will be one day--historically, usually in October--when three or four AAA games land on the same day. After that, the releases drop off, and from mid-November to January, it's quiet. Consoles launch in late November, but the number of excellent games is pretty low.

Not this year, though. Call of Duty 4? Absolutely outstanding. It's so good it kind of creeps me out, really--the level of immersion is off the charts. Today, Super Mario Galaxy came out, and I spent thirty minutes with it and still haven't recovered. It's vibrant and colorful, the controls are excellent, and the fun factor is very, very high. I can't wait for Eli 6.3 to get home so we can try out the co-op mode.

Tomorrow? Assassin's Creed and Crysis. Next week? Mass Effect and Rock Band.

Seriously, it's insane. And that's not even including games for the DS and PSP.

The flip side to this is that some games are just going to get buried. Midway (which has an Austin studio within walking distance of my house) released BlackSite: Area 51 this week, which is absolute suicide. I have no idea how that game is expected to sell when it's fighting Crysis, Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect in the same 10-day window.

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