2008 hasn't been perfect by all means, but it sure had more than a few surprises in store for us gamers! Our editors' piece tells you what we thought of the year in general and about those games we really enjoyed. Read on!
If there was anything that stuck out this year is creativity. Games like LittleBigPlanet opened our eyes and made us realize there's a whole lot more to gaming than what we've seen until now. The platforming gameplay of LBP is incredibly fun, but the innovative look, amazing textures throughout the game, cool soundtrack, and unlimited user-created options made it a "triple-A" game people won't forget anytime soon. Mirror's Edge also confirmed there's a lot more that can be done with today's video games. Whereas I didn't feel very comfortable with the control style offered in the game, I thought the fresh new look, ground-breaking gameplay with first-person platforming, and neat storyline made Mirror's Edge a game to remember. What's more, it will most likely be the pioneer of a whole new genre.
The new Prince of Persia is another one of my highlights, as its unique art style, cool story, and incredible flow throughout the game transports players to a whole new world within the action / adventure genre. Also, even if I'm not a big RPG fan, I admit Fable II was surprising, with its incredibly deep gameplay and extended replayability. I could talk about many other first-rate games I really enjoyed like Mario Kart Wii, Ninja Gaiden II, God of War: Chains of Olympus, etc. but I guess we'll have to leave that for another day.
Of course, 2008 wasn't without deception. Tried-and-true formulas were present a bit too much this year and hindered the creation of higher-quality titles. Games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Gears of War 2, Animal Crossing: City Folk, and even GTA IV brought new life to the franchises, but they also took advantage of the old formulas and didn't go far enough. Many, many games this year, including some I've really enjoyed, felt as if they were stuck in the past, and even if most fans will like them just as much as always, there's something to be said about repetition. The lack of effort in some areas ends up showing, and sooner or later these franchises could become stale if they don't receive some extra TLC.
Here are my wishes for the New Year: Developers, we want better graphics for the old franchises, fluid gameplay, interesting and new stories, and much more! Oh! And please, stop the avalanche of shovelware - the Wii is not a toy! We're also hungry for more Zelda and action / adventure games in general. Is that too much to ask?
2008 is the year that video games went mainstream. Sure, people have been playing them for decades now, but finally the industry has come into its own. That's because gaming has evolved to a level where it is about to surpass film and music, and it has extended beyond the plugged-in core of aspiring grognards to be an essential piece of electronic entertainment for everyone.
The film industry uses video games to help with backend sales, and certainly 2008 wasn't without its fair share of bad movie tie-ins. Being rode hard and put away wet was simply a fact the gaming industry was meant to deal with. Well, the tables have begun to turn. The power of the 360 and PS3 has allowed developers to inject a cinematic feel and artistic flavor into "AAA" titles that is every bit as engaging and compelling as a summer blockbuster. What's more, the biggest games generate sales that nearly match the most anticipated movies. Plus, gaming is perceived as a real value. Why pay $10 for two hours of entertainment when you can spend $60 for 20+ hours? It's a no brainer. The best titles' sales have proven that gaming is a media force to be reckoned with.
This also proves true of the music industry. Video games are the tale that is beginning to wag the dog. This is evidenced by the fact that the top music track sales through Guitar Hero and Rock Band are every bit as important to consumers and execs as the top 40 was when I was growing up. What started out as an understated gaming genre rife with cover tunes has turned into big business; bands of every size and style are coming out of the woodwork to make an appearance on consoles. Gaming has taken an ailing music industry by storm, and the old guard is struggling to keep up.
Finally, love 'em or hate 'em, Nintendo has once again revolutionized the gaming industry. The first year of its existence, Wii was seen as some kind of fluke - an anomaly. Much to the chagrin of core gamers, the Wii is far and away the leader in this round of console wars (Lord knows my Wii sees only review-mandated action). Nevertheless, I'm excited about the cash injection and renewed interest the little white box brought to gaming. Though the system is inundated with crap, the popularizing effect it has had on the industry is making the hobby we love more fiscally viable than ever before.
I think we'll all look back on 2008 in a couple decades and see it as the year when gaming and digital delivery began their ascent to regency of mainstream entertainment.