Friday, December 21, 2007

11 Games I Enjoyed in 2007

Not that anyone cares any more, particularly since I left 1UP Yours, but here are my picks for the best games of this year, with no consideration for review scores or popularity or perceptions...this is just me, and what I played a lot of. There probably aren't going to be any surprises here, except perhaps for three games that aren't on the list (and that's not because I didn't like them)...

Crackdown
I'm so sad that a sequel to Crackdown looks so unlikely, as Real Time Worlds' game was absolutely one of my favorite of the year. I played it all the way through twice, and then downloaded everything they offered up too. One of the best sandbox games yet.

Hotel Dusk
It was fashionable to like this, and then it was apparently fashionable to be openly derisive of it. I thoroughly enjoyed it though, and hope that there's either a sequel, or a follow-up that uses the same user interface. I loved the writing, the art style, and I'm a sucker for DS games you hold like a book. That's not exactly the most logical justification ever, but hey...I just liked it.

Rock Band
Yes, I like Rock Band better than Guitar Hero 3. Why? Because I like playing it with other people, I like the songs more, and I like that it doesn't try too hard to 'be a videogame' by dropping unnecessary "gameplay" into the music experience. I liked GH3, but I hated the duels. I've no idea if that's reflective or contrary to popular opinion, and I don't care. That first one with Tom Morello sucked all the fun out of it for me.

Planet Puzzle League
Shane Bettenhausen told me that this was one of the best puzzle games ever made. He was right. A wonderful game played solo that blossoms further in multiplayer.

Pac-Man Championship Edition
Proof that the oldies are the goodies. The best update of a classic anyone's produced yet. Wonderful.

Ratchet & Clank Future
My favorite game on PS3, by a hair. I know it's not exactly anything new - but it's such a perfect distillation of a whole lot of classic gameplay elements. Plus, it looks gorgeous, it's not too hard, and you can play it in bite-sized chunks. That's very important for me these days.

WarHawk
My second favorite game on PS3. From the moment I first saw this, I really wasn't too sure about it - but swooping around in a 'Hawk is great fun, and it's a multiplayer game where it's OK to suck a little bit because you can still scrape by.

Mass Effect
I played it through once, and I'll happily play through it again. I loved the story, and I loved all the talking. Yep, I went there. I loved it. A lot of people criticized it for being too chatty, but my favorite parts were the long conversations that really felt like they were going somewhere. Even though I knew that hooking up with Ashley was inevitable, the process of getting there was believable and engaging. I'm a sucker for sci-fi, and I loved the classic 70s and 80s vibe. Y'know...when the future was presented like the bright, shiny future, and not some dystopian shit hole.

Madden NFL 08 on Wii
Not because I'm in any way qualified to judge the quality of a football game. It may be the worst NFL game ever made for all I know. What I do know though is that in "Family Mode," my son and I play this religiously every weekend. We play, we talk about football, we laugh, we have a good time. We look forward to it every week...and for me, nothing could be better than that.

Portal
I was going to say "Orange Box" because it deserves praise just for being such unbelievably good value, but then I thought about it, and stuck to my original intention of this list reflecting my taste, and my taste only. Like many, my favorite part of the 'Box was Portal, and honestly I could never beat Half-Life 2, or Episodes One and Two, and I think I'd be OK with that. Intellectually I know they're classics, and that they're really good...but they just didn't quite do it for me. Portal, on the other hand, was glorious. Imaginative, brilliantly executed, witty, cerebral, and nice and short. Right up my alley.

Peggle
Yes, Peggle was released this year. It is surely the finest casual game ever made...and it's become quite a scary habit. Fingers-crossed for an iPhone version in February.

6 comments:

Aaron M said...

I've only played a few games this year, but I have to agree that Rock Band is a far more enjoyable game for me than GH3. GH3 seems to be aimed more at the ScoreHero hypercompetitive audience, while Rock Band is the superior experience for people who just want to get together with a couple of friends and rock out.

Also, since PopCap released an OSX version of Peggle (at half price, even!), I now know the pain of addiction.

iTrike said...

Great list, John. Here are my thoughts on a couple of your choices:

- Hotel Dusk was what brought me to handhelds. I was absolutely in love with the premise of the game, and totally dug the art style, so I trucked off to buy a DS just to dive into the story and prowl around the hotel. Though the art was great, and the story was good, I just couldn't squeeze enough gameplay out of Hotel Dusk to make it pay off for me. (Fortunately, I discovered Puzzle Quest soon after.) I've tried three times since purchase and still can't get into it.

- Hook up with Ashley?! Damn, dude, the game is ruined for me now. (I kid.) Actually, I'm 100% with you on Mass Effect. I'm also a sucker for scifi, and when I heard about this game, I started saving for a 360. Like you, I enjoy the dialogue and exposition of Mass Effect because it provides a great framework for the combat and action. It can be a little cliche at times, but overall I really enjoy it.

As I mentioned in my blog, I miss your voice at 1Up. Glad - very glad actually - to see you blogging.

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of comments on the list...

You hit the nail on the head with respect to the boss fights in GH3, John. What seemed to be a great idea on paper turned out to be a gameplay disaster that's so poorly designed that the team had to put in an option to skip the battle if you failed it too often.

Plus, Rock Band doesn't try to hard and it doesn't end up either looking pretentious or catering only to the hardcore. It was made by people who like music. You need only watch the credits to understand this.

And since my loving wife was kind enough to snag a Wii for the family during a short availability run on Amazon today, you've seriously got me considering buying Madden to play with my 4-year-old.

Raydancer said...

I think Portal is excellent...very likely the best game I've played this year (and the only one that I've played through half a dozen times)...but you haven't finished Half-Life 2 and its episodes?!

I think the last 20 minutes of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 contain some of the best moments in my gaming life. You get a battle that is equivalent to the Star Wars trench run followed by one of the most moving moments in all of video games.

Have you at least watched someone play though them? Perhaps I'm overreacting. But try to finish...even if you have to play through on the easiest difficulty.

And after you finish HL2, read Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman. It's a webcomic based on HL2's storyline...it's top notch humor.

Susan said...

Couldn't agree more about Portal, really. When The Orange Box came into the house, I dutifully fired up Half-Life 2, because, you know, I was supposed to. I didn't actually enjoy it, though. I know it's several different flavors of awesome, I just don't care. Now Portal, on the other hand, is something I will return to time and again, if only to hear the little turrets say "I don't blame you."

By the way, I was going to ignore Pac-Man CE until I read write ups about it from you and Jared Rea. So thanks for that.

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