I week without updates is detrimental to a blogger who is starting to get readers, but it was a holiday and I am knee-deep in Assassin’s Creed, Rock Band and Mass Effect. Saying anything substantial about those games, I feel, would be premature.
Via GameSetWatch, (which I should add is becoming one of my first stops on the blogging rounds) I saw this Gamasutra piece from Ernest Adams* about the games of the past decade that he felt “were especially important from a design standpoint”. The article reads more like a short history on the past decade of games than on innovation. His sort-of lasting game of the year awards go to games that were fun and innovated in their own area, but nothing that truly busted the door down. Battlefield 1942 over Animal Crossing? Myst 4 for giving everything aural feedback? S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? Really? No mention of Prince of Persia? Puzzle Quest? Burnout? Counterstrike?! Who is he even writing the article for?
I keep my own list of Games of The Year and have since college as something I can look back on in a decade or so and go back those formative experiences. I make no allusions of their innovation. These are just the games that touched me in some way that I will most likely remember them a decade hence. Most of them did do something truly innovative and that’s why they stick out. In 2008, I imagine I will update the list.
I imagine this is the time of year where I am going to have to read diatribe after diatribe on how amazingly Important (capital I) Bioshock was. It was a great game. I enjoyed it quite a bit – I even played through it twice. But if we are going to throw a ticker-tape parade for every half-realized great idea implemented in games, then let’s do it equally for Blacksite, et al because there is no real “moral choice” involved anywhere in Bioshock. You can praise the setting as the setting is fantastic (indeed one of the best since the Oddworld games), but the next person that insinuates that the game had a great story when it had a narratively broken third act gets an e-boot to the head.
The following is my aforementioned list, starting in 2001:
2001 – Halo, Ico
2002 – Splinter Cell, Jet Set Radio Future
2003 – Disgaea, Beyond Good and Evil
2004 – Katamari Damacy, Burnout 3: Takedown
2005 – Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, Psychonauts, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Meteos
2006 – Oblivion, Dead Rising, Guitar Hero II
Again, it’s a personal list, not meant to as definitive as Adams’ broken list.
*As a full disclaimer, I generally dislike Ernest Adams after picking up his book (won’t link) in college mistakenly thinking it would teach me about game design.