In the world of video games, 1998 was a legendary year. A staggering number of games released that year went on to become some of the most loved and revered titles of all time, including StarCraft, Half-Life, Metal Gear Solid, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Though many great and notable games have been released since then, we haven’t really seen so many high quality games in such a short time for nearly a decade.
But many people are saying that 2007 is the new 1998, and perhaps rightfully so. Only time will tell for sure if the games released last year will be adventures that stick with us for years to come, but there’s no doubt that there was a lot of quality among them. “Game of the Year” award contenders alone contain names such as Super Mario Galaxy, Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, Bioshock, Orange Box, Crysis, and Mass Effect, each a worthy and worthwhile trip. Throw in the likes of Rock Band, Assassin’s Creed, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Uncharted, and by golly, you’ve got a lot of good gaming to work your way through. It’s no wonder my wallet was screaming at me this holiday season.
Problem is, with such a great 2007, can 2008 hope to live up?
Almost unbelievably, it’s already got the potential to be as good, if not better. Part of this is actually due to the number of high profile games that were slated to come out last year (imagine if they had!), but got pushed back into ’08. If they deliver, these titles could set an extremely strong foundation for what could be another one of gaming’s greatest years. Regardless of the outcome, it will be an interesting year to watch. Will Nintendo’s Wii continue to dominate the console market, giving tennis elbow to grandmothers everywhere? Will PlayStation 3 sales start to pick up, especially now that Blu-Ray has started to take over the next-generation movie market (if anyone cares)? Will Duke Nukem Forever finally escape development hell and be released, a decade after its initial announcement?
Some games to watch:
Super Smash Brothers Brawl: The latest in Nintendo’s totally crazy, extremely popular fighting franchise looks to easily be the best in the series. The promise of online play alone would be enough to sell the game to its millions of fans, but the game is also boasting an extremely impressive character lineup, including third party characters such as Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog, a first for the series.
Grand Theft Auto IV: A game that’s more certain to stir up political controversy than anything else, GTA4 is definitely looking to appeal to fans of the series. As someone who found the previous games somewhat repetitive and boring after awhile, I’m interested in seeing if the focus on a new story can keep me interested.
Metal Gear Solid 4: A title that may be absolutely instrumental to any future success the PS3 might have (as Sony swears up and down it will remain exclusive), MGS4 is supposedly the final game in the Solid series that creator Hideo Kojima will work on. Expect great stealth action mixed with freaking long cutscenes talking about nuclear war and politics.
StarCraft 2: Due to Blizzard’s track record of delaying games until they’re absolutely perfect, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if this got pushed to 2009. Considering that there’s still a huge following for the original StarCraft (I believe they have entire TV stations devoted to it in Korea), there’s a lot to live up to.
Spore: We’ve been looking at this game, the next great simulation/puzzle game from Sim City/The Sims creator Will Wright, for the past three or four years, but should hopefully have it on our PCs (and other platforms) in the near future. As a god-game that allows you to create and culture a species throughout all sorts of crazy evolutionary stages, this game alone could probably keep some people busy all year.
Wii Fit: Primarily interesting because it’s the next step in Nintendo’s (extremely successful) attempts to get everybody and their uncle into video games, Wii Fit and its included Balance Board aim to make us… well, fit.
Honorable Mentions: Devil May Cry 4, Burnout Paradise, Soul Calibur IV, Resident Evil 5, Ninja Gaiden II, Fable 2, LittleBigPlanet, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Killzone 2, Final Fantasy XIII, Street Fighter IV, Bionic Commando
…And of course there are sure to be some surprises along the way. 365 days is a lot of time, and video games aren’t affected by the writer’s strike like TV and movies. So don’t fret that there’s no new episodes of The Office. Your game systems are going to be capable of keeping you plenty busy for a while.