I’ve been very quiet lately because I’ve been going through some tough times here at work and I don’t want to post anything on design because I’m quite beat down and cynical at the moment. So something a bit lighter is MTV Multiplayer’s (best games blog on the web, IMO) list of the top 5 games of the first half of 2008.
The January-July period is usually pretty light, the lions share of sales and hence quality titles (we can debate this chicken-egg thing if you want, but I won’t do it here) but we’ve seen “blockbuster” titles all through this first half: Smash Brothers Melee, Grand Theft Auto 4, Mario Kart Wii, GTA5 Prologue, Metal Gear Solid 4, Wii Fit. It’s a pretty big year.
So when I read this article, I tried to think of what my top five were. I hated Smash Brothers Melee. While I appreciate the effort, I was fairly disappointed with GTA4. Mario Kart Wii shipped fairly broken. I refuse to pay $30 for a demo, so GT5 is right out. Metal Gear Solid 4 was impressive, but it feels like it was directed by a fourteen year old boy. I’m not done with it, so I don’t want to completely write it off just yet. I haven’t even seen a Wii Fit anywhere so I can’t comment on it, but it seems all the suckers who got real excited over it the first week now have it in a corner.
My favorite game I discovered this year is hands-down Chocolatier 2, but it actually was released in 2007, so it is disqualified from this list.
So the games I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated this year are probably: The World Ends With You, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and Boom Blox. Then there’s a list of also-rans that don’t quite make it to that top tier but I enjoyed nonetheless: Burnout Paradise took an adventurous turn, although it got bogged down in repetition. Etrian Odyssey II takes no adventurous risks, but is such a nostalgic good time for me that I think it deserves mention. Space Invaders Extreme does the unthinkable and makes something that feels completely new out of old parts and dethrones Pac-Man Championship Edition as the best reimagined retro game out there. From watching my roommate, Battlefield: Bad Company looks excellent. And the Spore Creature Creator is addictive. Should it count as a game?
In re-reading this list( and I know a simple little list is not so provocative of a blog post, but cut me some slack), I noticed something:
Big Budget Blockbusters:
Battlefield Bad Company (maybe)
Everything Else, including my Top 3.
Am I just getting elitist in my exposure or are the blockbusters getting Hollywoodized and Sterilized to the point where they are a little interesting to everyone and super-interesting to no one? Will we see an era of great innovation from little titles or will we just see bland blockbusters push all innovation out of the industry? I sure hope it is the former.