Throughout our 2007 year of editorial on AusGamers we talked a lot about the coveted Game of the Year
. There were a stack of massive games released throughout the year (most towards the end though), and I can honestly say in my 10 years of videogame journalism, I have never
seen a year with so much to offer. Not only did we get some great games, we also saw the PS3 finally released in Australia in the wake of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 head-start and the Wii’s late ’06 arrival, and for the first time since the machines had been released elsewhere, it felt like the console wars had truly just begun.
Nintendo’s Wii immediately dominated both headlines and sales charts with shortages popping up all over the world. The cheaper, more widely appealing machine was in high demand throughout 2007 and its momentum has barely swayed since launch. Sony, on the other hand, had a real hurdle to get over here in Australia with their $1000
price-tag for the PS3, add to this a real lack of launch titles (Resistance and Motorstorm aside), and things were looking bleak in the Sony camp. Microsoft never battered an eyelid in the face of the two new contenders and rode their head-start out with style thanks to such releases as Crackdown, Lost Planet, GRAW 2 and the coveted Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta (which was inextricably linked to a purchase of Crackdown – clever marketing M$) . While all of this was going on though, Sony were pushing their PSP handheld to the nines, but it looked almost impossible for it to catch Nintendo’s break-away DS.
The PC proved to be no slouch amidst all this home-console kafuffle with Blizzard maintaining their MMO reign thanks to the release of the Burning Crusade expansion for World of WarCraft. While THQ managed to pull a massive rabbit out of their hat with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl finally going gold after several years in development, they were also responsible for bringing Chris Taylor back into the RTS realm with the hardware-pushing Supreme Commander. A lot of excellent expansions also found their way to the PC in the early parts of 2007 giving some much needed life to existing titles on the PC platform in the face of so much hype and push around the console market.
All of this was really only around the first quarter of 2007 though, and things would most certainly gear up post this. We saw the release of the co-Aussie-developed BioShock hit the Xbox 360 and PC, respectively. Xbox Live Arcade was proving to be a viable platform, as was Nintendo’s Virtual Console. Sony’s PlayStation Store then saw a jump with downloadable games of a similar nature to the XBLA offerings with the likes of Calling All Cars which helped show they too, could keep their gamers online.
Speaking of which, Nintendo’s Mario Strikers Charged for the Wii equally proved that platform could host some stellar online gaming while Microsoft continued to lead the way with Xbox Live thanks largely to Halo 3’s release as well as the Call of Duty 4 Beta. However, as you would expect, the PC community maintained a strong handle on online gaming with more and more MMOs popping up and more and more people jumping on the WoW bandwagon. Games like VanGuard, Guild Wars and the Aussie-developed Fury kept the fantasy MMO field busy while the likes of Counter Strike Source and the massive Team Fortress 2 sated shooter fans - in 2007, online gaming most certainly reigned supreme.
With all that said, there are many, many winners in various gaming fields, on various platforms and across a number of different gaming styles and genres. So we’ve compiled a number of short lists as well as a definitive Top 10 Games of 2007
list. The short lists for platform and genre-specific games have been added (and scattered) throughout this feature to show that, while we do have an overall non-discriminate Game of the Year list, we also recognise there are other titles that need more than just an intro mention. Equally, some games appeared on multiple platforms but weren’t necessarily good on one versus another (case in point: Team Fortress 2 was amazing on PC and less than great on both PS3 and Xbox 360 because of its MMO aspect). So, without further adieu and counting down from 10, we present to you the AusGamers 2007 Game of the Year
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is the first massive step in the right direction for exclusive content for the PS3. It is both visually and aurally stunning while the story and characters should keep you glued until the very end.From our review:
Visually there’s nothing better on the PS3, and Uncharted is most certainly a game many developers should be looking at for ocular inspiration. There’s an almost Pixar-like feel to the look; a deliberate move on Naughty Dog’s part. They have definitely shifted their focus from over-the-top cartoony characters, but they also know how to make sure you remember you’re still playing a videogame.CommentsSteve:
This was a game I couldn't put down, the adventure, the treasure hunting, the action and the stunning cut-scenes just had me wanting more. I was a bit let down by the 180 degree turn the plot takes towards the end, but not so much that I stopped playing. Finally the PS3 has something worth wanting.Dan:
More than just Tomb Raider with a dude, Uncharted is a solid adventure. If you're a PS3 owner dissapointed with a limited games library, don't give up without checking this one out first.AusGamers Review Score:
Taking on Activision and the established Tony Hawk franchise is a daunting task no matter who you are, but EA didn’t back down and Black Box Games created one of the most realistic and organic skating experiences ever. If you haven’t played this, get off your arse and do so.From our review:
As a game to just roll around in and skate wherever and however you want though, there really is nothing better than this. The reinvention of the controls is the first great thing skate. has done, but the added scale and realism of the game-world and the freedom you have to use it in any way you see fit just brings this baby home. CommentsSteve:
As a skater and a videogame fan, this was a match made in heaven for me, but beyond being a skater, this is also one of the most enjoyable games to just roll around in the genre has ever seen. Hawk’s reign is challenged – how will he respond?Dan:
Black Box not only stepped up to the plate with a competitive skateboarding game, they provided a very different experience. If only the EA Sports contingent would take a page out of this book.AusGamers Review Score:
Top 5 Exclusive PlayStation Portable Titles
The PSP, like the PS3, had a rough year in the face of competition, but with the launch of the new Slim & Light
model, the sleek portable began to show growth as the year closed out with not only some great games but new innovative features and add-ons like Talkman
or the system's online browsing options. Here are our top five picks for the games that mattered on PSP in 2007:
5. WipEout Pulse
4. Final Fantasy Tactics
3. Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
2. Silent Hill Origins
1. Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow
Top 5 Exclusive PlayStation 3 Titles
There's no denying the PS3 had an uphill battle from day one here in Australia. A massive dry-spell after the PS3's launch saw even more flack hit the machine, but as the year drew on, so did the releases. Here are the games we think made the PS3 a viable next-gen platform for 2007:
4. Resistance: Fall of Man
2. Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction
1. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed matures the studio’s Prince of Persia technology to masterful levels. A deep sci fi story mixed with an ancient setting makes for some of the most engaging gameplay of 2007. However, falling victim to repetitiveness, AC isn’t nearly all it could be, but here’s hoping a sequel comes along and addresses this.
Assassin’s Creed was a dream to play. Running about the city, climbing walls and killing hapless guards was some of the most fun I’ve had in a game in a long time. Unfortunately the game-world lacked the sort of dynamic it sorely needed, but it’s a no-brainer this is going to become a massive franchise for Ubisoft – bring on the sequel. ?
Sure things got a bit repetitive in the middle there but Assassin's Creed just oozed too much style for that to matter. Ubi Montreal's stunning art direction combined with the general awesomeness of being a medieval assassin made this one a must play.
The true sequel to the GameCube’s Wind Waker Zelda outing, Phantom Hour Glass recreates the massive, rich world of Hyrule on Nintendo’s little handheld. A stunning adventure with unbelievable visuals, and the best use of the system’s touch-screen yet, Phantom Hour Glass stands as the best reason to own a Nintendo DS.
Another game I just couldn't put down, and given the damn thing was portable, it was with me almost 24/7 until I finished it. Excellent use of the stylus and easily the best looking game on the system. Not to be missed.
Having played most previous Zelda titles but not The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, I had my doubts about a return to the wide-eyed cartoon stylings. It works though. Pretty colours and some new funky stylus ideas, a perfect fit for Nintendo's handheld.