Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Games Of The Year 2007

It would seem as though we weren't ones for participating in the Festive season here at Split-Screen. We did nothing to celebrate it here, and for you, our 3 readers, we should have made more of an effort. So, allow me to start with a sorry. And here it is:


Thank you for coming back. As you can see, you are to be rewarded for your dedication with a delectable feast of unfiltered opinion, taking the form of our Games of The Year 2007!!!!111one

Here we go, take it away, Token.

As always I endeavour to create controversy wherever I go. So here is a list of my favourite games of 2007. Please note that this does not mean the best games of the past year but merely my favourites. The past year has provided the gamer with some of the best titles in recent memory, there seems to be a wealth on offer for every taste. The bar has certainly been raised for future titles in all genres, now obviously this has been spurred on by the next generation consoles. So enough of my aimless rambling let’s get down and dirty with my list of my personal favourites of the past year.
So let us start with the game that has revolutionised the story driven FPS, it is of course Bioshock.
I realise that for someone who hasn’t yet completed the game to place this in the games of the year to sound very hypocritical, but I will mention here that the game has given me some bad memories, most notably that it was this game that I was playing when I got the red ring of death. After another sessions counselling I should be able to plug this baby back in. There is very little I can say about this game that hasn’t been said hundreds of times before so I will leave any extra input aside from my comment of ground breaking.

I continue this list with another FPS, don’t worry there will be different genres in here somewhere, Call of Duty 4 really has taken the helm of FPS', after the disappointment of Halo 3 we needed something like this to deliver, and it did with bells on it. A superbly created game with an excellent online multiplayer to boot, this game is stunning visually and with game play to match. I was not a fan of the previous titles but got hooked on this from the start. Despite a relatively short single player you never feel like you have been sold short, the story line is quite exceptional for a game of this category and a diverse set of missions will have you coming back for more. A standout game in the sea of FPS' available, a must buy.

Supreme Commander was quietly released early this year and for some reason I can’t quite fathom was never really publicised with the vigour that the game deserves. This RTS definitely raises the bar in a way that C&C 3 should have done. There are grumblings that the game is so power hungry that many PC’s will not handle it, this is very true and slow down is inevitable with the sheer scale of battles that occur. The maps are huge and the number of enemies on screen at any one time is breathtaking, and there is plenty of time to inhale as your computer tries with endeavour to process them all.

A relatively low key game that certainly proves that the RTS genre can still bash out a game that deserves a look, just make sure your machine can handle it first.

Crackdown came along in a haze and almost went unnoticed by myself. Another game that was released early in 2007, this 3rd person shooter certainly is different, with so many games now following the GTA blow shit up and cheer route this was truly a breath of fresh air, giving you the chance to uphold the "law", I use the term loosely, the fantastic animation and the great free roaming nature of this made it a hit with myself up till the first ring of death appeared. Great game.

I play a lot of sports games, which is why limiting this list to five is proving difficult. I could easily include Madden ’08 which you can read about in previous entries, also NHL ’08 has taken up so much of my life, and with a genuinely fantastic new AI system will always be challenging. But, after some deliberation I have decided to include Colin McRae: Dirt as my final choice for this list, I love my racing games and this one is certainly pick of the bunch, with so much variety from a game that shouldn’t have any is a wonder to behold. A fantastic pick up when time is at a premium, well worth investing in.

Well there you have it, my list for my favourites of the year.
Keep on trucking

Token Gestures (TG)

Don't be shocked to see some repeats, OK? Bioshock is outstanding. So now I'm going to talk about it too.

So much praise has been bestowed upon Bioshock now, that I even feel slightly cheeky saying that I can't say anything more about it. Not to mention that I'd be copying Token too. The point remains though, it's an outstanding game that will be discussed for decades. It may very well take many pages from the Half Life guide to storytelling, but in a time where so few developers actually get it right, shouldn't Bioshock be praised for taking its cues from the best place? To criticise it for not being 100% original is futile and with this in mind, I find it impossible to fault Levine's underwater opus. Bioshock represents a pinnacle in visual storytelling; every room and surface evokes a sense of character; Rapture itself being the biggest character in the whole thing Put alongside Atlas, the unforgettable Andrew Ryan, those darling Little Sisters and intimidating Big Daddies and you have one of the finest casts ever assembled. Every element is considered and refined to perfection. Just typing these words, and recalling the game's greatness makes me want to play through it all over again.

I suppose I'd better get my other repeat out of the way too. Here comes Crackdown.

Crackdown turned out to be something of an acquired taste among us gamers. Loved and loathed in equal measure, for all of those that despised its 'backwards-thinking' nature, there was an equal amount that adored its almost-retro design aesthetic and re-interpretation of the platform genre. Without doubt, the most postmodern game I've ever played - mixing up influences as diverse as Mario 64 and Grand Theft Auto, all with its tongue firmly in cheek.

Crackdown never asked to be took seriously, and I think that's what endeared it to me the most. It combined over-the-top comic book action with one of the most seamless and well-structured virtual playgrounds this side of the Mushroom Kingdom. Realtime Worlds - we salute you. May APB turn out to be another benchmark game. A sequel would be nice too, OK?

In the early days, this blog could have easily been mistaken for an elaborate and deceptive viral marketing campaign for EA's Skate. It is true, I have dedicated many hours of hype and praise to this game, and I awaited it almost as eagerly as I did Jet Set Radio, back in the day. Being one of the many disgruntled Tony Hawk fans, and crap at skating in reality, I was desperate for an accurate and satisfying simulator. Skate promised and delivered. Its not often we can say that.

Beautiful to look at, fantastically well-built and with the finest control scheme in years, Skate stands head-and-shoulders above most of the other high-profile releases this year. Few games are made with this much passion and dedication, and its these qualities that lead to it being such a rewarding experience. Developer Blackbox know the satisfaction of landing a kickflip, and have translated that feeling better than any developer before them. Innovative, fun and better with a mate. What more could you want? Medieval trading board games you say? I have just the thing for you.....

The best things in life are free, right? Microsoft certainly don't subscribe to that ideal, but it does make it all the more satisfying when they break character and start giving stuff away. Carcassone is my wild card in this thing, not just because of its low profile, more because when I sat down to write this, I had no intention of putting it in here. It is subtle, simple and rewarding to play. It has the kind of music that annoys and endears itself to me at the same time and allows me to play a multiplayer that doesn't involve guns. There's not much to be said about it really. You build towns, roads and monasteries. You get points. The sound effects are amusing. It was free. I love it.

I think that'll do for now.

As a gamer, I've had one of the best years ever, there has been a landslide of fantastic titles this year and I can only hope that 2008 will be half as good. I'd also like to mention other games that I have loved (and lost) this year that just didn't quite make it in. Call Of Duty 4 would have if it wasn't a war FPS. Mass Effect would have if I had finished it and the enemy AI wasn't so frustratingly fuck-awful and last, but not least, the sublime Super Mario Galaxy would have made number one if I was lucky enough to own it and dedicate substantial time to it. Let it be known, if you haven't heard already; that Super Mario Galaxy is pure videogame, it is the clearest and best expression of the unique language of the medium. When I get it, I'll have a full-blown essay ready and waiting.

2008 = GTAIV.

The Faux-Bot

Guest contribution from the PAPERBOY:

Okami – PS2/Wii. This game single handedly twists Nintendo’s nipples and gives them a chinese burn. Breathtakingly beautiful and constantly inventive, I urge anyone with a pulse and a brain to purchase this. You’ll never look at a game world as static and unchangeable again.

Bioshock – X360. Yes, it’s a shooter, but not since Half-Life 2 has a shooter been this good in single player. The art direction and 1950’s vibe give this aquatic horror blockbuster quality, and it deserves every inch of its success.

Tomb Raider Anniversary – PS2/Wii/X360. Ah, the remake that was worth it. For the seasoned pros, it was like putting on an old jumper that had somehow become more flattering to your waistline. For the newbies, it was a taste of old-school Lara, before big guns and stealth ruined things. Just turn off auto-grab.

Wario Ware – Wii. This was the game that Wii should have thrown all of its marketing clout behind, not the depressingly average Super Strikers. You will laugh, get drunk, and despair at how much of a fool you look. But you will come back.

Dissapointments of the year:

Final Fantasy XII – PS2. As a long standing FF fan, this was wrongly branded by the press as a good game. Repetitive and dull, you didn’t really understand who was who, and by the end you didn’t care. I haven’t emoted this little since my last botox high.

Halo 3 – X360. Admittedly, I find Master Chief the blandest character in the history of computer games, but never before has one game relied so much on multiplayer. The story mode was unique in its almost mandatory demand for a second player, and the graphics left me cold.

Wii Tennis – Wii. Overhyped piece of rubbish. There are two defining moments when you play this. The first one comes when you realise whatever you do, the players move automatically and use the same swinging animation. You die inside. Then you realise to win, you should merely flick your wrist while standing and drinking a beer, or reading Dante. You become a hollow shell of a man as your dream of the Wii dies.


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