‘Bioshock’ tops best-of video games in 2007; hype machine ‘Halo 3’ most overrated
December 12, 2007
The over-hyped console wars are so last year.
In 2007, a bounty of actual games finally mattered more than nerdy debates over each system’s technological merits. And for the first time since Pong bounced its way into our living rooms, it seems as if video games are again being relished by all sorts of folks.
That retired couple next door? They’re probably better than you at Wii Sports.
Here’s our annual look at the best and worst in video games, 2007 edition.
BEST GAME: “BioShock.” A first-person shooter turned morality play, a thinking person’s action game, a piece of electronic fiction with a soul. There are many positive ways to describe this gripping game and they’re all true. There’s just nothing else like this eerie vision of an undersea social experiment gone horribly wrong. Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, $59.99, Rated M.
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BEST DEAL: The Orange Box. For $59.99, the innovators at Valve Corp. have provided one of the best bargains in 2007. You get five games, and all of them are excellent. “Portal,” in particular, seems destined for legendary status, having spawned a cottage industry for plush companion cubes. (If you don’t know what that means, you’re really missing out). Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, $59.99, Rated T through M.
BEST GAME THAT INVOLVES GETTING OFF THE SOFA: “Rock Band.” Close the windows, lock the doors and warn the neighbors before you blare the volume. “Rock Band” elevates music rhythm games to arena-filling levels in a game that gets better the more people there are. For a true rocking experience you’ll at least need two guitars ” lead and bass ” plus a drummer and a singer to belt out the dozens of tunes. Groupies are optional.
WORST TREND: The annual holiday video game deluge. Please, video game makers, you’re only hurting your most loyal fans here. We spend all year with hardly anything new to play, then October rolls around and it’s like an avalanche. Suddenly, we’re faced with tough decisions about which of the dozens of good games we can actually afford to buy. Why not release more of these gems in the winter, spring or summer doldrums, when we’re really looking for ” and more able to afford ” something new?
MOST TIRING CONTROVERSY. “Manhunt 2.” OK people, it seems pretty obvious that “Manhunt 2” is not a game for the kiddies. So why all the uproar? Ratings issues aside, if a game that lets you perform execution moves is a turnoff, change the channel. Parents have a tough job keeping content like this away from their children, but it’s ultimately part of the responsibility. And this game is no more graphic than any number of R-rated movies I’ve seen — except they aren’t being altered to appeal to industry ratings groups.
BEST (AND WORST) TREND: First person shooters were back in a big way this year. From the sublime (“BioShock”) to the visually stunning (“Crysis”), there are more ways to wield weapons in convincing three-dimensional worlds than ever before. That’s the good news, particularly for console owners. PC owners, however, are going to need beefy systems costing many thousands of dollars to make these gorgeous games playable.
MOST OVERRATED GAME: “Halo 3.” Yes, I went there. And I’m not saying “Halo 3” is bad. It’s a decent game, with some good fighting and excellent online modes, no doubt. But don’t believe Microsoft Corp.’s marketing and PR hype machine. Halo 3 changes nothing about video games. “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” has a more interesting multiplayer component. And “Halo 3’s” single-player story is baffling and leaves this supposedly epic saga feeling somewhat incomplete.
BEST IDEA FOR A GAME GONE HORRIBLY WRONG. “Lair.” Seriously, this PlayStation 3 game looks so awesome yet plays so horribly, it’s like a sick joke from the developers. You’re supposed to use the PS3’s motion-sensitive controller to pilot your very own fire-breathing, butt-kicking dragon. Unfortunately, moving the controller left to move your dragon left, for example, is fairly impossible. Don’t even get me started on 180-degree turns. I’m sure with practice you’ll gain some semblance of control, but most people will give up in frustration long before they ever reach that point.
MOST FRUSTRATING DELAYS: If I can’t get my hands on blockbusters like “Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots,” “Spore” or “Grand Theft Auto IV” soon, I think I’m going to lose it. Production delays are common in the games industry, and they’re generally a good thing in the long run. The extra time only makes for a better, hopefully bug-free, gaming experience. But we’ve been hearing about these titles for like, ever, and I’m frankly getting very impatient.
Here’s hoping all these games become a reality in 2008.