What was "THE" game for you this year?

This post is more than 2 years old.

2007 was a banner year for video games, at least for me. With Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect, and Halo 3 all coming and all being, in general, "big" games, it was a great year for the consoles. (I didn't do any PC gaming at all last year.) I'm not so sure about this year.

I'm playing some very good games, don't get me wrong, but Bioshock and COD4 still stand out to me as some of the best games I've played in my life and I don't think anything from this year really stands up. (COD4 will always get props from me for its emotional post-nuke level. You just don't see emotion like that in a FPS. It was so deep I didn't quite know how to react.)

First off - Grand Theft Auto 4 was a bit of a disappointment. The graphics were great, but the game play was a bit overly complex. I tend to judge games by how close they are to Ghost Recon. I played GR for about 15 minutes and got so thoroughly confused by the controls that I never played it again. GTA is about 60% of the complexity level of GR and that's a bit too close for my taste. I think the control scheme really began to bug me when I had to learn how to pick up and throw objects. It took me about 10 minutes to throw crap through a store window in order to progress through the mission. The story was well done, and I do want to eventually finish it, but right now it's gathering dust. The best thing I can compare it to is Saints Row. While SR had weaker graphics, a weaker story, it was just more fun to play since it was somewhat simpler. (Still waiting to get Saints Row 2 on my wish list and see how the sequel came out.)

Fable 2 is pretty darn good so far. I've got about 3 hours into it and was impressed with what I've seen so far. The game has a charm to it that reminds me a bit of Harry Potter. I also really like the mechanics of the 3 basic attributes (melee fighting, archery/bullets, magic). It reminded me quite a lot of Dungeon Siege, one of the last PC games I ever played. You basically advanced in whatever fighting style you prefer, but can change your mind and mix it up as much as you want. What I don't like, and what bugged the heck out of me, was the juvenile handling of sex in the game. I get that the game simulates life and the decisions you make, but did it really need to include condoms? And the sex scenes act out like they were designed by an 11 year old. I'm not against sex in games at all, but it adds nothing here and just prevents me from playing it in front of my kids. Of course, that part of the game is optional so I don't have to worry about it again, but with everything else being so well done, it was kind of surprising how poor this aspect was thought out. I

Fable 2 was about to consume all my console time until I got addicted to Fallout 3. I've been waiting for a good post-nuke game since I finished Wasteland back on my Apple 2. I never got to play FO1 or 2 so I wasn't sure what to expect, but wow, what a great game. It's got a wonderful sense of humor, an odd 50s-ish style to it, and is just plain fun to play. The scenery is incredible. While it is a bit monotonous (if you squint your eyes you basically just see gray from horizon to horizon), the weight of all the destruction (rubble, fallen monuments, destroyed homes, etc) is oppressive and really drives home the fact that this truly is a destroyed world. My only complaint about the game is that I don't think it will be very replayable. While you have many options to customize your character, you are essentially playing one class: the survivalist. You can be a smarter survivalist or a tougher one, but your still the same type of character. It's not like you switch to magic and radically change your character. I'm really enjoying FO3, but I don't think I'll play it again.

This year marked the return to "PC" gaming for me, if you count one game, and a Mac game, as PC gaming. I finally picked up World of Warcraft and saw what the fuss was about. The game is certainly fun, and I can see myself playing it for quite some time, but it certainly does not have the impact of other games I've played. I think just the fact that it's never ending kind of lessons the impact of it. I enjoy playing it - and can see playing it for probably years to come, but it won't hold a special place in my heart like other games have.

So - I've probably rambled on a bit longer than I intended. My main point is - what is the game for you this year? If I was forced to pick one game as the best - it would be a toss up between The Force Unleashed and Wasteland 3. How about you?

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA https://www.raymondcamden.com

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Scott Stroz posted on 12/28/2008 at 6:36 AM

I would have to say the best game for me this year was Force Unleashed. Though I have to agree, it pales in comparison to COD4 and Bishock.

I think the gunship level of COD4 is the most fun I have ever had in a video game and if they made just that level into its own game, I would be hooked in a heartbeat.

Comment 2 by Scott P posted on 12/28/2008 at 7:34 AM

Agreed - cod4 still gets a lot of play in our house.

Comment 3 by Peter Tilbrook posted on 12/28/2008 at 10:01 AM

Call of Duty: World at War.

By the way COD4 was released on 2007 - not 2008!

Comment 4 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/28/2008 at 10:10 AM

@Peter: Didn't I make it clear that COD4 was a 2007 game? I know I referred to it as one of the big games of last year.

Comment 5 by Thomas Messier posted on 12/28/2008 at 10:54 AM

Honestly, this post only leaves me with one question: with all the stuff you crank out, how in hell do you even find time for video games??? Can you teach us the 36 hour day magic trick?

Comment 6 by Andy Sandefer posted on 12/28/2008 at 12:11 PM

GTA4 and Fable 2 were really great games for me this year on XBOX360. We just got a Wii on Christmas so I'm looking forward to playing that a bit in 09.

Comment 7 by Glyn Jackson posted on 12/28/2008 at 12:28 PM

Call of Duty got most of my time, but don't forget Gears of War 2! Gears introduced some new gaming moves I would love to see in COD. don't get me wrong COD is my fav game of last year but after playing Gears the controls and restrictions on movement of COD seem old fashioned now.

PS World at War: where did the zombies come from lol

Comment 8 by Miles R posted on 12/28/2008 at 2:10 PM

Agreed, this was a very fun year for gaming. Out of the many blockbuster titles and highly-anticipated sequels, I think Portal was the one that stands out to me. Cool story, integrated puzzles and neat graphics without a huge learning curve - which is important because I feel like an 8-bit gamer at heart in this crazy 3D gaming world!

Halo 3 is fun online button mashing, especially with our east-coast friends. Did you check out Spore also? That seems like a very conceptual game that you would digg.

Comment 9 by Peter posted on 12/28/2008 at 4:35 PM

COD4 still better than anything this year including COD5.

The sniper level on COD4 is absolutely brilliant. Still playing that game now in preference to anything newer.

Comment 10 by Adam posted on 12/28/2008 at 5:29 PM

Left4Dead!!

Comment 11 by Bliss posted on 12/28/2008 at 6:08 PM

Civilization 4 - Beyond the Sword

Comment 12 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/28/2008 at 7:07 PM

@Bliss: Civilization - I was disappointed in some of the design decisions of that game. I think they did a good job translating it to the console, but I hate the fact that there is a turn limit and you can't play past the end of the game. My OCD nature led me (in older Civ games) to completely take over the world and build everything out. You can't do that with the BTS version.

Comment 13 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/28/2008 at 7:10 PM

@Miles: I did play Spore a bit. It was... interesting. My eldest son loves it though. I guess it does count as PC gaming though (although again, he plays it on the Mac).

Comment 14 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/28/2008 at 7:11 PM

@Thomas: I don't play a lot actually. Maybe 2 hours per week. More during vacation of course. :)

Comment 15 by Michael van Leest posted on 12/28/2008 at 8:24 PM

Bad Company on the PS3... That game is great if you play the multiplayer game online :-) I love it!

Comment 16 by ayhan posted on 12/28/2008 at 8:55 PM

my favorite game was crysis. this game has very unique way of "first person shooter" type game. If you have powerful pc I would give it try.

Comment 17 by Justin Carter posted on 12/28/2008 at 9:26 PM

I just got myself hooked up with another Xbox 360 here in the UK (my "old" one is back in Australia) and I'm on the lookout for some good recommendations, nice timing :) I primarily got it for the Guitar Hero factor, but I'm missing COD4 so I just might buy it (again) too.

As for 2008 games, Gears of War 2 is definitely on the cards - I'm surprised no-one has mentioned it yet? Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2 have to be up there as well.

Fable 2 looks really nice, but at this stage I'm more into games that I can jump into for half an hour or an hour and then put the controller down (willingly). Time sinks aren't my thing this year, hehehe :P

Comment 18 by Justin Carter posted on 12/28/2008 at 9:29 PM

My bad, Glyn mentioned Gears of War 2 above - I must have comment blinkers :)

Comment 19 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/28/2008 at 9:40 PM

I'd love to talk more about GOW2 - I just need to _get_ it first. ;)

Comment 20 by Sam Nicholson posted on 12/28/2008 at 9:45 PM

Fable 2 and GTA 4 have to be my faves COD4 was amazing also and am looking forward to getting COD5

Comment 21 by Mike Hodgson posted on 12/28/2008 at 10:00 PM

LittleBigPlanet was, by far, the best game to come out this year.

Comment 22 by Izzy posted on 12/29/2008 at 2:20 AM

Little Big Planet, whatever. My nods are to GTA4, Fallout3, COD:WAW, Rock Band 2, Left 4 Dead, Dead Space.

Comment 23 by Adrian J. Moreno posted on 12/29/2008 at 2:24 AM

It was CoD4 for me until I picked up Left 4 Dead.

Best. Team game. Ever!

It's one thing in a game like CoD to cover each other as you do this or that, but L4D MAKES you watch out for each other if you're going to survive to the end.

Of course, it's easy to screw people over in the game as well:
http://www.youtube.com/watc...

Spent so much time on L4D instead of blogging & I need to make up for it this week.

. . . maybe. :)

Comment 24 by Jeff Coughlin posted on 12/29/2008 at 2:35 AM

Although they came out in 2007, the games I enjoyed most in 2008 were Valve's Portal and TF2. However for 2008 released games I'd have to say GOW2 was probably my favorite.

Comment 25 by Sid Wing posted on 12/29/2008 at 3:09 AM

World of Goo - $20 for a DRM free game that has managed to consume MANY hours of my "spare time". I love puzzle games.

Comment 26 by Mel Williams posted on 12/29/2008 at 3:11 AM

It was something of a tie for me, but basically came down to Fable II and Civilization. Fable II is completely engrossing and gorgeous to look at - the first game I can remember in a long time where I truly lost all track of time while playing.

I find myself returning again and again to Civ despite it's bugs. It's nice to be able to sit down and get through an entire game in a couple of hours, the DLC extras have been fun additions.

Comment 27 by Neil Bailey posted on 12/29/2008 at 5:35 AM

COD4 - best game ever released. period. Nothing this year even comes close to touching this game. That being said:

Fallout 3 - best game of 2008.
Fable 2 - very, very good. But the lack of online/multiplayer killed it.
COD5 - not horrible, but not even close to being the game COD4 is. 7 out of 10.
Bad Company - fantastic.
Gears2 - excellent, but I got tired of it very quickly.
Madden 09 was pretty good, maybe a 7 out of 10.

Did I miss anything? All of the above games were played (at least in my house) on a 360. We have a PS3, but my kids only play the 360, and I can't figure out how to do have the crap on the PS3, so for the most part it simply gets used as a DVD player.

Comment 28 by Neil Bailey posted on 12/29/2008 at 5:40 AM

speaking of video games, I am looking for a _good_ strategy (turn based or real time) for the 360. I have Sid Miers but...I dunno...its just too..slow.. and too...I can't even put my finger on it.

I have thought about picking up the new Tom Clancy game (End War, I think?) but have heard the interface (voice commands) is cool but gets old quickly. Any thoughts on a really good strategy game for either the 360 or the PS3 would be much appreciated.

Comment 29 by Darren Bennett posted on 12/29/2008 at 6:02 AM

I bought fallout 3 and gears of war 2 played fo3 for 1 day then got into gears sorry i've just got a soft spot for fps shoot em ups its gory and good and great way to wind down after a days coding and dealing with difficult clients cause you can pretend the grunts are them!, force unleashed was the hgame i was most waiting for and yes i bought a wii just for that game and was I disapointed, might buy it again for xbox, have you heard of zero punctuation its a guy who reviews games ans basically slates them in a very funny way, anyway sitting here on the 29th of december my game of the year has to be um halo 3 with gears 2 a close second.

Comment 30 by Tariq Ahmed posted on 12/29/2008 at 7:05 AM

+1 for COD4 on the 360.

There's another game that I've been wanting to take a look at. If you've spent time back in the arcade games playing Mortal Komat you might be interested in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (e.g. Batman, Superman, etc....).

Comment 31 by Pete Alexandrou posted on 12/29/2008 at 7:31 AM

where the hell are all the votes for Crysis WARHEAD and "coolest game ever" Far Cry 2?!?!?! come on ppl! :-)

Comment 32 by Mingo Hagen posted on 12/29/2008 at 7:41 AM

For me it was Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (real masterpiece) with Grand Theft Auto 4 a distant second. I still need to play BIA:HH, Far Cry 2 and Battlefield Bad Company though.

Comment 33 by Mingo Hagen posted on 12/29/2008 at 7:45 AM

Also 2008, year of the iPhone games: Sim City, Tap Tap Dance, Bejeweled 2, MazeFinger, Sol Free Solitaire and Touchgrind. (tough choice, I'm going with... Tap Tap Dance)

Comment 34 by Lance posted on 12/29/2008 at 8:03 AM

Just picked up Far Cry 2 over the holiday and am about 4% into it so far. Maybe not game of the year, but still a really great game. I highly recommend it if you like first person shooters.

I also agree that COD4 is one of the all-time best on the 360.

Comment 35 by Neil Bailey posted on 12/29/2008 at 8:25 AM

FarCry 2....I dunno.... I played it for a couple of hours, and brought it back and traded it in for fallout 3... Just couldn't get into it..

Comment 36 by Aaron West posted on 12/29/2008 at 9:03 AM

For me, it was Grand Theft Auto 4 on Playstation 3. The game absolutely consumed my life for several weeks even though I only completed 65% of it (still on my todo list). It's such a fantastic, and huge (playability, content) game.

Comment 37 by Dave DuPlantis posted on 12/29/2008 at 7:19 PM

I agree with Thomas: Ray, if you do ever unlock the secret to a 36-hour day, let me know. (When some people think about living on Mars, they think of Edgar Rice Burroughs or Ray Bradbury myths. I think of the extra 39 minutes.)

I have been cutting back on my spending - somewhat - so I don't have some of the new releases I'd otherwise have played (Fable 2, Saints Row 2, KR:AI 2 - don't laugh, I like to sing).

GTA IV wasn't what I hoped it would be ... there were a lot of annoyances about it that I thought they would have improved from San Andreas. Pretty much all EA sports titles (EA Sports titles?) are disappointments any more. GH World Tour was all right, but a lot more linear than we'd hoped.

Rock Band 2 is really good. It's the same in a lot of ways as Rock Band, but it added a couple of features and fixed a couple of big issues ... I guess that's THE game for me?

Comment 38 by tony of the weeg clan posted on 12/29/2008 at 7:47 PM

i gotta say that the game of the year for me was the eagles vs. the cowboys yesterday... doesnt get ANY better than that!!!

Comment 39 by DanaK posted on 12/29/2008 at 8:07 PM

nhl09 for the 360 got the most play out of me last year.

cod:waw pales severly in comparison to cod4. I've barely played since a week after I got it. The wwii thing is just burnt out imho.

Some other ones I gave some time to: saints row 2, gtaIV. I actually prefer SR2 to gta myself. Luckily you can run around beating the ho's with bats in both...

Comment 40 by Thomas Case posted on 12/29/2008 at 8:41 PM

Ray,
With all the coding and writing you do for the community, your regular job, and your family, you still had time to spend on gaming? I get it, you don't sleep. That is it.

Anyway, I don't necessarily have much to comment specifically on the games. My eldest Son is a big WOW fanatic. The younger two are more game console players, not PC, and to them it has been Guitar Hero, mostly since they have been using my younger son's PS2. We add a Wii for Christmas, so I expect we will see new games this coming year. For me, give me the old retro-games of the late 70's and early 80's. I know their graphics where cheap compared to today, but they were fun to play. At least some arcades, like the one at Seaside, OR, still have these old games, along with Air Hockey, where you are much more active than just using your thumbs and a few fingers. At least Wii can get you off your rear-end. So far, I have only played the bowling game (we got the Sport Pack with the console).

On the Internet connection standpoint, I was impressed with Wii's out-of-the box connectivity to our Home Wireless setup, with recognizing/handling the updated encryption algorithms. Something that the Tivo, Series 2, DVR didn't do with its USB adapter. It was stuck with WEP as its highest level. The "geek" side of me is also peaked at the Wii's built-in Internet capability. By Christmas night, my younger son was watching You Tube video's on the big screen via the Wii. So, we as Internet developers not only now need to consider the various browsers, I guess we need to also convince our employers to code for the game consoles. Let's see, how can we justify a Wii, XBox, and PS3 as corporate coding platforms? Now, that is a challenge.

Comment 41 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/29/2008 at 8:47 PM

Thanks Thomas for the kind words. As for time, I've probably played more in the past week then I have all year. Vacation is bad for that. ;)

Comment 42 by jonathan posted on 12/29/2008 at 9:04 PM

solitare on the ipod, was, unfortunately, my most played game this year.

Comment 43 by Sid Wing posted on 12/29/2008 at 9:51 PM

@Thomas - if you ever get those platforms "justified" - I DEFINITELY wanna read your justification documents so I can "justify" those for myself and my team {wicked grin}

Comment 44 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/29/2008 at 10:04 PM

In theory, if you were to earn money from a blog writing articles about games, you could write off the cost of buying the game. I think. I'm not a CPA though. ;)

I'm kinda proud that I had my first 'review game' sent to me this year. Sure it was the only one, but it was kinda cool. :)

Comment 45 by Daniel Greenfeld posted on 12/29/2008 at 10:21 PM

Left 4 Dead is the best game of the year. I thought GoW2 was good, but L4D is amazing.

Comment 46 by Chad posted on 12/29/2008 at 10:36 PM

@Daniel - Left 4 Dead is the best game of the year.

Comment 47 by Troy Allen posted on 12/30/2008 at 1:26 AM

I agree 100% that compared to 2007 this year was kind of a let down in gaming (because of COD4, Assasin's Creed, and BioShock). Overall it is getting harder and harder for me to find games that even keep my attention long enough to get past the first few levels.

This year there are only two games that really stand out for me: Dead Space and Mirror's Edge. Dead Space completely redefines Horror Survival Shooters for me (I have not played Left for Dead yet though), and I was engaged the entire time. The 3rd person view is great, with "organic" indicators such as the health meter being the spine of your protective suit. The missions do not seem contrived, and most of all -- the PUZZLES are not contrived. The level where you have to plant the beacon on the meteorite and release it was both frustrating and fun at the same time.

Mirror's Edge is new and different, and I really liked its "style" and the music is awesome. The better I got at it, the more I enjoyed it. But be warned that if you don't like having to do things over and over again to get them just right, it is probably not the game for you.

I still have high hopes for a few games released in the past few months that I simply have not had the time to play yet this year: Left 4 Dead, Prince of Persia, Far Cry 2, and Gears of War 2 top my list.

Comment 48 by Steph posted on 12/30/2008 at 2:06 AM

The Force Unleashed is great. Haven't finished it yet, though.

Mortal Combat vs. DC Universe is pretty good. I used to play the old Mortal Combats a lot, so just hearing "GET OVER HERE!!!" puts a smile on my face.

Guitar Hero World Tour is interesting, but the difficulty isn't as tough as Rock Band. Plus, as a musician, I was irritated by how most game "notes" do not follow the rhythm and harmonies of the actual songs.

But, THE game for me is Tomb Raider: Underworld. Another throwback game, and I realize that most folks are done with the TR franchise. But, they greatly improved on Lara's animation, and they've given her a few new movements. TFU will collect dust until I'm done with TR.

Comment 49 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/30/2008 at 2:10 AM

For those playing the new Mortal Kombat - you all seem to like it. Is it hard to play? I like fighters, but really just enjoy button mashing.

Comment 50 by Mingo Hagen posted on 12/30/2008 at 4:37 AM

Okay... so 2007 was a great year for games, 2008 not. However in these comments some fantastic games have come up, including some very original. So maybe the conclusion should be 2008 was a great year as well?

(Just bought Far Cry 2, BTW. As a direct result of this post, thanks Ray ;))

Comment 51 by Raymond Camden posted on 12/30/2008 at 7:29 AM

While there were great games this year, I still think 2007 was better. But to be fair, 2007 was pure gold. Second place to gold ain't so shabby.

Comment 52 by ketan dhawan posted on 12/30/2008 at 8:50 PM

the best game for me this year was cod 5 and gears of war 2 looking forward to be playing them in 09 a lot.

Comment 53 by Tim posted on 12/31/2008 at 1:11 AM

Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead were my favorites this year.

Comment 54 by Steph posted on 12/31/2008 at 2:02 AM

@Ray

The new Mortal Kombat is very easy with lots of nice graphics. Subzero and Scorpion have some of the same commands from the classic games. Plus, they've added horizontal and vertical battle scenes; throw your opponent onto a wall, run into them, push them through the wall, and the next, and the next....

Definitely check it out.

Has anyone played World of Goo?

Comment 55 by duncan posted on 12/31/2008 at 5:12 PM

Mirror's Edge, GTA IV, Fable 2, Fallout 3, Gears of War 2. Mirror's Edge the only one I've completed so far; GTA IV the one I've spent most time playing; Fable 2 perhaps the most fun of those.

Comment 56 by Josh posted on 12/31/2008 at 7:27 PM

I've only had my PS3 for about a month, but I already have a crapload of games for it - so many that I'm in this schizophrenic state of trying to play about 5 games at once.

So far, I think the best game I've played is Metal Gear Solid 4. It has ridiculously long cutscenes (we're talking multiple iterations of two or three >20 min scenes back to back), but they're incredibly well-done and if you can tolerate sitting through them, you're in for some seriously kickass gameplay. I found myself awake and still playing at 4am more than a couple times.

Also a big kudos to Little Big Planet. It's a cute, family-friendly game that is both fun and challenging. And the fact that you can play with up to 4 people simultaneously is just awesome (though we rarely get anything accomplished as we spend much of our multiplayer time goofing off)

Comment 57 by David Sirr posted on 1/3/2009 at 7:31 PM

I gotta say the standouts for me were,
PS3: MGS4, Fallout 3, COD4, Wipeout HD, Guitar Hero World Tour (just for the cool drumming!)
iPhone: fieldrunners

Comment 58 by Scott S posted on 1/6/2009 at 12:00 PM

PC: Left 4 Dead
Console: Rock Band 1,2

Comment 59 by Tom Chiverton posted on 1/7/2009 at 3:13 PM

I've played a lot of Wii Sport, though over Xmas really got into Zelda on it too. Sport is a very entertaining, group game - which is ace if the game machine is in the lounge and you have guests :-)
Zelda is just sword'n'sorcery crazyness fun.
Now though, I really think Wii Fit is going to be 'it' for the future. Combination of the funny hardware and actually being good for me...