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year 2007 almost all done!

wrap-up blog about 2007 in videogames

Ron Alpert, Blogger

December 27, 2007

20 Min Read

  So of course.. what did 2007 bring, to the world of videogames? Certainly.. wayyy too much for a gent like me to recall. So here, then, is a smattering of what comes readily to mind. Then, as now..

  -This marks the First year I've heavily become a NeoGAF-Addict. So help me. I guess I started last year, but the past 12 are where the addiction really took hold. Mind you.. I registered this past April, STILL waiting to get Jr Member status ('til then. I still can not even make a single reply, let alone a post!)

  -I interviewed for a few jobs (Technicolor, Kaos, Obsidian) - also completed a 2nd round of an Art Test for Naughty Dog (Uncharted) - which obviously didn't get me in over there, but I still think it came off rather well.

  -Started working for Obsidian this past March, "Project Georgia" --> 'nuff said. Still employed there as of this writing.

  -Console Acquisitions - I got a Wii (for my girlfriend - another for my parents, as well!). Personally I acquired a 360 Refurbished, and got into Xbox Live of course. I am a week into ownership of a PS3.. also recently acquired an aged Turbografx-16, and I am still hunting down a CD-Rom that WORKS! Also I finally landed a Test PS2 (plays burns, JPN titles)

  -Games - picked up a lot of games this year. What was the most memorable? Uhm.. geez.. A lot of good ones came out, but nothing that really blew me away personally (sigh, I probably had the most fun with "new games" that were in Wii Sports... well that and I guess Rock Band, but does that technically count? I just sing Karaoke on it..) Memorable moments were Hulk 2, Skate, Flipnic Ultimate Pinball, Psychonauts.. umm. I will add to the list when I get home and look at the actual shelf, haha.

  -Games I actually enjoyed (oldies as usual) - SMS Choplifter, PCE Columns (oh God it was bad for awhile. I mean GOOD bad). Those were emulated on GBA of course.

  -Haha, I picked up the Tabletop Coleco Games from Ebay - Pacman, Galaxian, Frogger. Zaxxon also but rerturned it (the guy sold me a busted one!)

  -Sony's PS3 suffered. BADLY. No release yet for Home.. no LittleBigPlanet.. No MGS.. No exclusive for GTA VI, lost it for Devil May Cry 4. It's coming along, but it's limping. Ummm.. Kutaragi gets kicked to the curb (he essentially INVENTED Playstation, PS2, PSP also I guess, and yes the PS3 was his freakiest Frankenstein yet) but I guess someone had to "get to retire" for this Top-Heavy Tragedy.

  -Sony did get a release for Ratchet and Clank, likewise Uncharted. Also squeezed out Unreal Tournament 3, or so they say (I've yet to see it). I heard the 1st two didn't sell wonderfully though.. dunno about UT3. The games were cool but not system-buy-worthy (like, say.. Mario Galaxy).

  -Sony got a little hurt with Heavenly Sword (not bad), bludgeoned with Lair (what.. what happened?), surprised with a good show for Warhawk (whew!) On that note..

  -Warhawk becomes 1st Playstation network full-downloadable game (as opposed to a "Jr level game"). Which it still sort-of is, but it sounds like it's pretty much there. Releases in-store as well with a headset. Gets the Walmart's of the world a little pissed off - sign of things to come, for sure. Um.. watch this space! (Shudder)

  -God of War II release party, with dead animals. The press goes mad. Wow.

  -Sellouts galore! I mean -- Sony buys Evolution (Motorstorm). Activision Buys Bizarre Creations (Project Gotham Racing). EA buys Bioware and Pandemic (for nearly a BILLION $$$). Activision and Vivendi combine to form Devastator. Meanwhile Halo dev bungie slinks away from Microsoft, strangely (but honorably) - immediately after releasing their latest system-seller.

  -E3 comes back as a boring Marketing and Business-event only that no one attends. As gaming gets more and more exciting, buzz falls flat into the middle of the netherword. Thousands mourn. E for All rises to take the place of E3 as a "spiritual successor," but of course no one cares as it's not quite-so-special anymore. Besides, you have to pay. Whatever.

  -Neversoft inherits Guitar Hero from previous dev Harmonix and churn out installation number Three. Harmonix powers up with EA and spits out the logical evolution, Rock Band. Both are great, all things considered - I will just say I think Rock Band changed the world a little more and Guitar Hero better pull something fancy out of it's next iteration to continue to be relevant. Or at least, do something dirty and downright mean. Sigh - Clash of the Titans, at this point.

  -Madden released again. But it sold poorly, considering that this is one of the most profitable institutions in the history of anything, ever..

  -Generally, EA is cleaning up it's rep as a horrible place with horrible games, in it's post EA_Spouse model, by being slightly less horrible to work at with decent (I mean, actually GOOD) games releasing. The Simpsons Game, while not wonderful, is good for what it is (all things considered). I was a naysayer of skate and now I complain it absolutely worthy of purchase, talk about loving your game. MySims, or whatever they call it, for Wii - not for most, but for who it is for, they know what they are doing (if you can make heads or tails of that sentance, I commend you!) I still don't like the Evil Empire, but EA is making some overall elegant moves as the business industry fluctuates drastically around them. At least they look a little less sloppy than Activision. In some ways, sigh, it's all so blurry and pointless now isn't it.

  -Jeff Gertsmann (name probably misspelled, my apologies) fired from gamespot after like 11 years 'cause of Kane and Lynch. Yeah, maybe the nail in the coffin, but still that was weird and ugly. Yeah stuff goes on behind the scenes that none of us know about. Hopefully, if the guy isn't a huge jerk or something, this is actually a huge boost in his career in the end. I know so little about this stuff (other than what everyone else can also see) so I will refrain from hypothosizing - all I know is that sometimes, life is not fair and good people get robbed. Here is hoping that the wide audience of this story is useful more than useless - though it can always go either way, I suppose.

  -360's red ringing (that is, fatal error) all across Mother Nature. Come ON. I am tired of putting up with horroriffic technology that people tolerate to such a degree. It's only the beginning (but man, this stuff is EXPENSIVE.)

  -the Wii. 2 gamecubes duct-taped together, to be sure. With a waggle-wand to boot. And yet - SO HARD TO ACTUALLY BUY, even one year hence. Nintendo, my friends, you have changed the world so many times I have lost count. Who knows what weirdness you will cook up next. So long as it keeps being weird in a cool way, then I say, have at you.

  -delays: Spore (um.. it looks gross now? Well, it's been a few years, but it's Will Wright, so who knows) MGS 4 (that panther has a Hot Ass. Oh my!) Devil May Cry 4 (not really exclusive anymore I guess - PS3 coughs a little). GTA IV gets setback (at least) a season. Also M$ pays megabucks for exclusive GTA IV DLC. Does this matter? Sure, in some ways.. I guess. Too Human also fails to appear, with a bit of weird rambling by Silicon Knights (the game's dev) president Denis Dyack popping around here and there to spout off of love of the game and hate of the games press.. or love of the press but hate of the way the press works.. or.. something. oh it was confusing, but at least it was interesting to follow. Anyway the guy has heart, which is encouraging. Oh yeah, don't forget the delay for Wii Smash Bros Brawl!

  -Also Dyack started a big crazy lawsuit against Unreal Editor (this gen's industry-wise answer to Renderware - that is, the Next Gen Engine of Choice by most folks, as it made history with Gears of War last year!) developer Epic MegaGames, who have their hands full with tons of craziness all across the world all the time anyway, for reasons you can expect (mostly). Anyway suits and countersuits followed, some people whined, now it's sitting in a big legal mess somewhere up on a big mountain of money and no one really wants to pay attention to it at the moment. Don't worry, it will come back.

  -A Shadowrun update came out, I think it was by FASA (who shortly closed thereafter). Shadowrun - big cyberpunky-sorta PG back in 16bit days, though it was sorta low-profile. Anyway some people loved it, some hated it. I couldn't tell ya.

  -Oblivion mega-dev's say that they're making the next Fallout. Some people are pissed, but most folks seem to think it's in good hands. Meanwhile Interplay exists somewhere in between this existence and the next, SOMEHOW, and say that there's a Fallout MMO.. or something.. in development. But not really. But they are employing people, technically. Sort of. It's sketchy, right?

  -Meanwhile, WOW continues to own people's souls. Yes - their SOULS, man. I mean, Blizzard finally moves into a new campus and hires more crazy people and announces more craziness (a new Starcraft 2 game, shows it off- apparently, very similar to the already-works formula but in THREE DEE). also another non-WOW MMO is coming (Diablo?) Starcraft Ghost still seems dead, but there's another WOW expansion coming (Lich King I think). But whatever. WOW is amazing for what they've done (it's bigger than ANYTHING - and besides, it owns all those souls!) And I still don't care personally, but hey. You've got to recognize.

  -Assassin's Creed. Another victim of good pedigree and hot producer, failing to live up to the hype. is this really anyone's fault? It looked good enough to me, but seemed to be the victim of "too little too late." Gorgeous game and interesting ideas, might've stayed in the oven another 6 months. Maybe the sequel will do better.

  -Transformers Movie Game. yeah, who cares, but with one of the best possible licenses around, it could have been sooo good. I know, history proves time and again there'll never actually be a REALLY COOL Transformers game, but man.. what a waste. Damn, let ME make the game. I promise it will be fun.

  -Rockstar makes headlines with controversy. What a surprise! How unusual, right? Biggest shocker was the Manhunt 2 debacle "tooo violent, we want to label it adults only!" Bah... they crank it down and some kids crack the code for the PSP version anyway, but it's too muddled to deserve any actual Hot Coffee-style lawsuits/hurtful media at that point. Further salt is poured on the wounds when original dev Rockstar Vienna receives NO CREDIT for their work on the game, though the studio's been closed for some time (supposedly it's "an embarrasment") and Rockstar Toronto (I guess) gets all the credit. Though still kinda who cares/whatever, as the game rates miserably. Just another day in the life, I guess. Um.. geez, these guys are attention whores. At least they still manage to get industry-changing games out in spite of this weird confused drivel.

  -Huge historic releases across the board, all things considered. Current-gen consoles begin swinging with their first-wave of post-launch titles, in the case of Wii and PS3. Xbox 360 gets it's second-wave of releases (it's got a year on the other two systems). Wii counts sort of half-way between the two, as it is honestly older-hardware coupled with newer design philosophy (motion control, accessibility to nongamers). Generalizing, we have;
Wii: Super Mario Galaxy - huge setup for what many expected to possibly fall flat (following the not-stellar Super Mario Sunshine of Gamecube). Apparently the most-loved-game by everyone in recent memory. Though I have not played it, everywhere it's name is spoken you hear LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. For some reasons, this MIGHT be GOTY, all across the board. Like in a Scorcese kind of way.
Metroid 3 - Motion controlled, I hear lots good about it, expect it to fade with the rest but sounds like "if you liked before, you will still like now" - they keep their franchises well-stocked, what can I say.
Wii Play - I think that released 2007. Not sure! A huge seller, since it packs in a 2nd Wiimote (no nunchuk though). By itself kinda meh, but definitely worth it for obvious reasons and still stupid-fun enough to warrant being mentioned here. I mean, anyway, EVERYONE owns it at this point..
Mario Party 8 - why do I mention this here? Actually it's probably BS, but something about a game with the moniker "Mario Party" showing up within the fist year of the Wii's existence just seems telling. I haven't touched it yet, but I am glad it's there (and what I have seen of it, looked noteworthy). Probably useless if you played the other, um SEVEN MP's, but if you're a Wii newcomer (as many are) this is probably deserving of a spot on your shelf.
Super Mario RPG - I mean.. Super Paper Mario - Uh, hell this game looked cool, and it had a good gimmick, and everyone was clamoring for it. So why did it fall apart? The shots and lead-in still look right-on. Too bad they blew it. Worth a mention as a disappointment, in a big way. Maybe not a bad game, but certainly a waste of a golden opportunity from a place you might not expect. Then again..
   XBox 360: Halo - release of the year, whether or not you care (I don't). Years in the making, and it sounds like they fulfilled expectations. Built to last for fun, though I am sure at this point "the party is over."
Bioshock - Destined to become Sleeper of the year, it surprised everyone by being a good time with a cool aesthetic, rating REALLY well, and selling wonderfully to boot. Possibly a bit overrated (I think it won't last, for some reasons) but it did a great job of making a standout name for itself during a ridiculously crowded year, sounds like it was substantial enough to boot. Though, ultimately forgettable, alongside everything else - what can be considered classic, these days? Time (and use/abuse of a franchise) will tell.
Crackdown - low expectations, seemed like a cheesy cop-out "buy this to get Halo 3 beta!"and it actually had some staying power as a fun game, to boot! I expect more good things from these devs. Of course, by the end of the year, it is pretty forgotten as well.
The Darkness - Starbreeze made a huge splash last gen with Xbox Riddick - apparently they suffered the usual sophomore syndrome with this title, then. Not bad, but again, so what? We can't help but expect games like these at this stage, good-but-ultimately-filler.. it's hard to say they are BAD, per se, since they are not, but in the company of the other releases of the days (and with such a powerful pedigree) one would hope for something stronger. We'll see what follows, eh.
Orange Box - yeah, the name, the name. Who cares, sometimes weird stuff works, so dig it! Anyway, no matter how you look at it, if you are a gamer this is the deal of the year for several reasons! Just another excuse to cement valve as one of the most important devs of the day, and with expectations through the roof for their future. Well.. probably. Meanwhile, I am anxious to play Portal at some point.
Mass Effect - Oh. you know. Bioware. Go, Doctors!
Pac-Man Championship Edition: The joke release that had the last laugh on everyone, in reverse (meaning.. it was actually really a good game!) Downloadable of the year, I'd say so.
   PS3: Lair - Should have been good. What a mess. The game reviewers guide. julian Egglebrecht, or whatever his name is, with horrible damage control. What should have been at least competent ended up being "a big waste of everyone's time." I haven't played it, strangely I am tempted to rent it - except I know I'd regret it in like 15 seconds after booting. How do people let those things happen in this day and age of multi-million dollar game project investments?
Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank - mentioned above by loved veteran Sony dev's, "it's up to them to save the day!" Well, consider this your next iteration. But so what - it's just another brick in the wall. These games are good, but are they really half a bill good, even together? I won't knock them 'cause they are capable, reviewed well, and people say they are fun and good-looking. But still game like UR MR GAY (super mario galaxy) and UR MR GAY HALO will sweep them, at the end of the day. I am being unfairly harsh, but come on, it's Playstation THREE, it's the Second Coming of the Second Coming. If anything, they can be considered good harbingers of what is to come, but a solid note that things must be stepped up. We will see in 08 if there's the needed follow-up, eh?
God of War II - another amazing game into this kinda late-debuting franchise, but wait - this is a PS2 title, wrong list huh? Okay, well, it's forgotten this late in the year, and bitched about by some, but the fact stands that Sony can blast an unforgettable and powerful franchise out of literally nowhere, just by blasting enough time/money/capable manpower when it wants to. If this released on PS3 this Xmas, with appropriate visuals, no doubt it would have swept Game of the Year for the system and got a lot more resoect for all parties considering. Instead it makes Sony look kind of headstrong and stubborn, while sort of noble in trying to support their gazillion install base. But - blah to nobility, at least this way. We want our next gen sequel - it will come, and it will come properly!
Warhawk - mentioned earlier, for obvious reasons.
  Nintendo DS: Okay, it's not Next-gen per se, but it's next-gen handheld (close enough) and honestly the best system if you're a gamer these days so definitely belongs here with it's bretheren. What have we got for the old boy?
Pokemon DS - a summer 2007 release, already completely forgotten by EVERYONE. But it came out at a time when there was nothing to play anywhere, and it was a freakin' Pokemon Baby-game, and all the RPGheads who gave it the time of day made much love to it. And apparently it deserved it. Nintendo could poop these out with relative frequency at this point, and in some ways it does - but they do it in a way that's to their credit, and they make incredible money off it respectfully. Pokemon = not for me, but could have been beyond-shriveled up by now, it's served it's purpose - and still they build it with quality.
Puzzle Quest - I think it started on DS. this particular craze. I am all good for promoting decent Puzzle games in this day and age, it may well be my favorite genre. This sounds like a strange mix of ideas, but kudos for being relevant. Maybe a little sloppy, but all things considered, it's heartening to hear things like this.
Drawn to Life - another "weird" game, definitely a "baby game," like they say, but still honest and interesting in concept. As long as they keep making weird-idea DS games coming that aren't just shoveled out completely, it retains it's pertinence - make the games really good with follow-through, and then it becomes valuable. This might lack in that department, but for noob studios to do stuff like this, they get credit these days, from me.
Contra 4 - Okay, Ping Pals made this. It's CONTRA. Too many frames of animation for me, but this was made by contra lovers FOR contra lovers (esp. after too many years of franchise defecation). Cheers to see that they still have people who care enough to do the RIGHT thing. If it was more eight-bitty then I might go out and actually buy a DS for this, as it is I still kinda should.
Planet Puzzle League - which I think is the name - Tetris Attack remains one of the best, BEST BEST BEST, most-fun games I have ever played in all my years of living, and sad to see I discovered it way too much later than the rest of the world. that they can get a game like this out makes me retardedly happy, even if I am still playing the fossilized version. Hell I logged in too many hours of the B/W Gameboy version recently. This game deserves acclaim - DO it.
Zelda:Phantom Hourglass - they did not need to release another quality Zelda title this year, and time will likely not be too kind to it, (or.. will it?) But that's fine, because no matter what - if you like good games, then it is at your service.
  PSP - might as well, right?
Crush - The coolest game no one played. It's a lot of people's fault, and it's a shame.
Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins - not sure but I think was actually a 2006 release. Still I will throw it in 'cause The franchise needs some notice, it used to be alongside Mario for crying out loud. I don't think I heard this game was even too great, but still I want it to be remembered. But man.. fix the name!
Dracula X: Rondo of Blood.. err. Chronicles.. um. I don't know the official name of this game, and I don't care I guess. I would have picked it up had I owned a PSP. I still don't own (or want) a PSP for a variety of reasons. This game is very noteworthy as it's an (admittedly ugly) remake of one of the hardest-to-locate games in the history of popular franchises, somewhere up there with the JPN Super Mario 2 (though in a completely different way). This game gets bonus points for value, with a (gross-looking) 3D remake of the original game, plus the original 2D version in there with the first Metroidvania thrown in for good measure. You can't argue with that logic.
  That's my list for now (of noteworthy titles of 2007). Likely to add to it in the future. Anyway I think I have typed enough for one session, pardon the notable absences..

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