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Tyson gives thanks… to video games!

posted on November 28th, 2008 by tyson
Now Playing: Fallout 3

When I started writing for videolamer over a year ago, I was a slightly angry, jaded gamer. I was pissed with how the industry was going: the Playstation 3 was way too expensive; the 360 had some good games on it, but let’s all be real honest, most people got the system for Halo or Call of Duty; and the Wii was intriguingly underpowered but still kind of fun.

I felt a lot like Jack Black’s character from High Fidelity. I was a ticked off, elitist snob who firmly believed that the few people who felt like I did about gaming hung around this site and we were the last bastion of sense in a pixilated world gone mad. Today, I am still a cocky bastard to be sure but I am not nearly as angst filled as I was a handful of months ago. It is today that I proclaim to the world that, hands down, 2008 has been and will be one of the greatest years of all time for video games. This is what I am thankful for.

I want all of you who read this to ask yourself one simple question, “Is there a game that has come out since July that I have really liked?” If you answered yes, has there been more than one game released that you have liked in the last six months? For me, the last time this many good games were released that I liked was 1990. That year rocked for the following reasons: Super Mario 3, River City Ransom, Final Fantasy, and TNMT 2: The Arcade Game. ‘Nuff said!

This year, at least one game has come out that followers of every genre can be proud of and thankful for.

If you are a fan of racing games, this has been a sparse year for traditional racing games. But if you were willing to break away from your copy of Gran Turismo: Prologue, you were blessed with Mario Kart for the Wii, Burnout Paradise, and Midnight Club L.A. While Gran Turismo can be viewed as a racing sim, the latter three were more games and all of them were pretty good in their own way.

Role players should be satisfied too. Since it came out about three weeks ago, I have dumped almost two whole days into Fallout 3. What a phenomenal game that holds so true to its predecessors. We saw re-makes of Final Fantasy 4 and Chrono Trigger for the DS. We had four discs of Lost Odyssey bestowed upon us and before the year is out, we will have another Persona game.

For those who like strategy and tactics games, Disgaea 3 and Valkyria Chronicles came out. If you haven’t picked up Valkyria Chronicles and you have a PS3, get it now. The game is sweet! The characters are awesome and the play is excellent. People in Japan related to the characters so much, it is getting turned into an anime.

Fighting fans got Soul Caliber 4 and will soon get Street Fighter 4, though that title is looking like a 2009 release now.

Horror fans were introduced to Dead Space and Left 4 Dead. Both are good games in their own right and though it is a tad short, Dead Space is a downright creepy title.

If you like side-scrolling, hop n’ bop fun, you got Little Big Planet and if you are like me, you will be playing it for a long time to come. Stupid prize bubbles, hiding, taunting me…must play every level four times…will not use the cheat guide. If you don’t have a PS3 and wanted an excuse, Little Big Planet is it. I bought my Playstation 3 for that game and do I feel even a tad guilty? No.

The last two games I would mention are Grand Theft Auto 4 and Mirror’s Edge. There are those out there that did not like Grand Theft Auto 4 and I must admit there are parts of that game that drive me nuts. But regardless of our opinions, when is the last time a game sold ten million copies worldwide in the first four months of its release? Mirror’s Edge is a different story. While everyone and their dogs knew GTA 4 was coming out, Mirror’s Edge has glided and jumped and slid and tumbled just under the radar until it was released. Now that it is here, those that are afraid of heights stay well away from it and those that think parkour is a badass sport that they are just too chubby and inflexible to do cling to it.

I know that I have left a lot of games out of this article but the point was not to run down every single decent game released this year. I am just trying to illustrate the fact that most years cough up maybe two solid games that everyone drools over. This year has catered to almost every niche of gaming and I didn’t even mention a lot of rockin’ casual games that are steadily populating Xbox Live and the Playstation Network or the ever expanding Rock Band-iverse.

Now go eat your leftover turkey and play the games you are happy to have acquired this year. But realize, we have been truly fortunate and that periods like 2008 do not happen annually (partly because the number changes each year). If you’re a gamer and there hasn’t been a game that has excited you this year, what is it that you want, and are you on medication for depression brought on by the loneliness of being the only person you know that isn’t totally enthralled in a new game right now?


  1. Bruce said on November 28, 2008:

    I, uh, I’ve played the hell out of Wordjong on my Ds.

    It’s interesting you mentioned Mirror’s Edge. I haven’t played it but I’ve watched the guys down in testing play it and it strikes me as the first ever proper -evolution- of the platforming game in a 3-d space. Sure, Mario Galaxy was interesting and no slouch, but Mirror’s Edge takes the idea of platforming and does something entirely new with it. Few games show us a 2-d concept executed successfully and differently in 3-d. The last time I felt that way was playing Devil May Cry, and realizing that I felt the exact same way as I did when playing many 2-d shooters. So if I had to choose ‘most interesting game’ this year, I’d lean towards Mirror’s Edge.

  2. AK said on November 28, 2008:

    “It is today that I proclaim to the world that, hands down, 2008 has been and will be one of the greatest years of all time for video games.”

    I’m glad you’re happy, but I don’t get it. I’m tired of the lack of new or innovative content. Patapon, Little Big Planet, and Mirror’s Edge are excellent games that have pushed gaming barriers. I count that as 3 great games in a year. Even worse, they weren’t all on the same platform. The drought of titles between June-September was pathetic. I cannot remember a year in recent history that I felt so disappointed with current video games.

  3. christian said on November 28, 2008:

    AK – please explain your stance a bit more? What do you define as innovative? Why do you omit Braid or World of Goo? You forgot Echochrome too. Are these not innovative? If not then your definition of the term is much too strict. If they are, its important to recount these before making a counter argument.

    Also, complaining about platform is retarded. So the games have to be unique and yet on a consistent console? Two out of three of those are on PS3.

  4. AK said on November 30, 2008:

    “AK – please explain your stance a bit more? What do you define as innovative? Why do you omit Braid or World of Goo? You forgot Echochrome too. Are these not innovative? If not then your definition of the term is much too strict. If they are, its important to recount these before making a counter argument.”

    OK, you got me… the other games you mentioned are not only good but push genres.

    I wasn’t suggesting that everything had to be on one console, but that the innovative *and* fun games are too spread out. Complaining about platforms is still relevant because not everyone has every console. 2008 presented a list of great games only when considering all consoles. When critiquing for only one console, things don’t look so good.

    Sure, the PSP and PS3 had a couple of great games this year — but that doesn’t make up for the rest. The Wii has been a disappointment with a lack of awesome content that takes advantage of the unique controllers, something required to make up for the Wii’s lack of HD. And the Xbox, well that’s mostly business as usual with lots of games that from a long-term perspective play the same as other games in the genre and games from the previous generation.

    IMO, 2007 was a much better year for gaming for any system except the PS3. This year the PS3 has more great titles than in the past, but still not enough to call it a banner year — even for PS3 gamers.

    Of course, we can agree to disagree. I liked the article except for the statement that “2008 has been and will be one of the greatest years of all time for video games.” There are far greater years in gaming, in recent and distant past, that make 2008 pale in comparison.

  5. Tyson said on November 30, 2008:

    In your opinion, what were some good recent years and why? I am just curious because I can think of a few in the early nineties and then it went stale for quite a while. Maybe I am just picky.

    I agree that not all of the games I listed were high on the innovation charts but that does not make them fun. Look at Fallout 3 for example, it basically copied Oblivion’s graphical engine and Bethesda pretty much just took every play out of the original two Fallouts’ playbooks but the game is still fun to play.

    I mentioned Mario Kart for the Wii because that is the only game that I feel really makes sense out of the Wii’s control scheme when you look at games that are not in the Wii Sports titles. Overall, I have been very disappointed with how things turned out for that console because off the top of my head I can only think of about three games that I have found to be truly fun to play on it.

  6. pat said on November 30, 2008:

    im glad christian mentioned world of goo and braid. as i read this i realized that they are the two games i am most thankful for this year. not only are they both great games but i also hope they demonstrate an important new trend: small independent developers having a platform to easily deliver high quality titles to the masses. i know homebrew and the indie scene has been around forever, but lets face it, wii ware and XBLA have the potential for a much larger reach.

    2008 also gave us no more heroes, my favorite wii game to date. im not sure 2008 actually brought us better releases than even 2007 (bioshock, orange box, galaxy, MP3, zack and wiki, god of war 2, persona 3) but it did begin to fulfill the promise of wii ware and xbla (see above) and, to me, that is a bigger deal than any individual game.

  7. jay said on November 30, 2008:

    I sort of feel what AK feels. Part of me is happy to see other gamers so excited and I get why – LBP, Braid, even grey “my dick is this big” games like Gears 2 are excellent. But there is still no PS1 or PS2 this generation. Mid tier Japanese stuff is still mostly non-existent. And most importantly, I’m getting older and crankier and seeing the past in rose tinted hues.

  8. pat said on November 30, 2008:

    yeah jay, sometimes i wish those damn kids would get off my lawn as well.

    when did the ps2 become the ps2 (i mean this in the same sense jay does, the default console for marginal games based on size of install base)? was it within 2 years of its launch?

  9. AK said on December 3, 2008:

    In recent years, I think 2005 was the best year for consoles. While 2003 and 2004 were also great years with great games, in 2005 all three consoles had reached decent maturity. Developers were taking better advantage of the console technology and the games showed it. Console libraries offered something for everyone, not just one or two games but several to make genre fans satisfied with the options.

    2006 was a great years for handhelds. Both the PSP and DS provided gamers with a lot of new releases to choose from, many of which were worth playing. IMO, subsequent years haven’t been as interesting.

    The current generation of consoles has yet to provide me with a full year of that warm, fuzzy feeling from gaming satisfaction. I’m no longer excited about first person shooters, faded color palettes, expansive open environments to explore, memorizing the 47 control combinations required for advancing in a game, downloadable content, and replaying levels/battles/mini-games/tasks as a requirement to build up character skills/power/magic/inventory/armor/money. Too many current games are targeted to only the casual or hardcore markets, and other than sports titles there is less content for people who fall between those extremes.

  10. jay said on December 3, 2008:

    I think part of the problem is the concept of hardcore has changed. Owning Japanese consoles and enjoying niche games once made me hardcore (I realize how lame I sound) but these days as a “Wii only” owner, despite owning a dozen other non-new systems, I am either a Nintendophile or a casual gamer. The Jasper 360s being out means at least I will soon rejoin the ranks of real gamers.

  11. christian said on December 3, 2008:

    This was a pretty good year for downloadable games on the consoles though. You could stake out a pretty gaming habit with them alone.

  12. TrueTallus said on December 4, 2008:

    I agree with you that hardcore doesn’t look the same anymore, Jay. What I used to think of as hardcore trappings are now mostly just “niche”. I’m not really sure what constitutes hardcore-ocity at this point (I think it has something to do with having a bigger gamerscore 😛 ) but it isn’t really associated with looking forward to Murumasa:DB or trying out The Spirit Engine 2 (thanks again to Chris for the recommendation). On the surface of things I’d say it doesn’t matter what people think is hardcore, but where an identity is found there’s sure to be publishers willing to appeal to it. Money (and it’s entourage of ideas and resources) chases things deemed hardcore quite a bit more doggedly than the niche market.

    Despite all that I guess I’m with Tyson in saying, altogether, I really enjoyed this year game wise. Maybe it wasn’t as glamourous as other years, and I’ll warant I’m feeling pretty happy with gaming right now playing (of all things) Tomb Raider: Underworld and Kingdom of Keiflings, but using as much of my memory of the year as I can muster (with a brain stupified by week-old left over turkey) reveals 2008 to be surprisingly full of good things. I suppose my tastes are changing (I’m not sure I would have been able to convince myself to even try Kingdom of Keiflings in my fiery elitist nerdhood highschool days) but I’M finding that being in the middle of casual and hardcore is turning out pretty well, particularly if I’m willing to take my time playing games and give less obviously good ones a chance.

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