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2008: A Gaming Retrospective

2008: A Gaming Retrospective article

Valerie Hilgenfeldt, Freelance Writer

Considering that NHL '94 was one of their last games I'd adored, it had been a while since I'd cared about EA's releases. I felt they were the house of unremarkable works. Perhaps it was Burnout Revenge that renewed my hopes; then came Burnout Paradise, Dead Space, and my true love, Mirror's Edge. I cared again!

Apparently, EA had an epiphany. They knew that forever coasting on Madden's sales wouldn't work. Their reputation needed to change! They renovated, and - according to their latest sales numbers - the masses hated nearly everything they did. EA's newest sports titles sold as expected; the much-lauded Dynamic DNA didn't help. The stylish Mirror's Edge was a breath of fresh air stopped cold. Even Rock Band 2 shuddered in the shadow of Guitar Hero: World Tour.

2008: A Gaming Retrospective article

If you've heard "Activision is the new EA," it's true. The former is thriving on what's "tried and true," like a licensed IP factory (see: Spider-Man 3 and Transformers). They've assumed someone else's well-selling franchise and haven't improved it once, proven by its latest entry - Guitar Hero: World Tour - being more of the same. Their roster reeks from its deliberate exclusion of originality, yet the consumers lust for its products. Activision has made it clear they've no desire to change, and they're laughing all the way to the bank.

Why invest in something new? Mirror's Edge is "too short," and "too hard," and "its combat is a mess," and it's this and it's that - that's what the masses cry before they go running back into the mainstream, to play something like Grand Theft Auto IV. They don't realize that its time attack is where its replay value lies, nor do they care that its difficulty is in line with classic platformers. The glorious, rewarding afterglow of a hard-earned triumph? Meaningless. Who bothers to pursue perfection? Not these average consumers. They devour something hastily, throw away the wrapper, and don't revisit it if they weren't immediately impressed. If they liked the experience, they'll wait for its sequel, and then toss its husk aside, just like the last. They don't invest their love.

Those are the sad truths I'll remember you for, 2008. The masses complain without knowing what they want, and innovators hardly ever prosper. Thank you, EA, for trying to change things. Please, don't give up.

Tony Capri, Freelance Writer

As someone who almost exclusively plays games on Nintendo-branded systems, 2008 has been both a great year and a disappointing one. The Wii has seen many announcements and updates that are helping to renew faith in the system for the "hardcore" gamer. On the same token, Nintendo has dropped the ball on more than one occasion.

When Super Smash Bros. Brawl was first announced for Wii, I admit, I was none too pleased that motion control was not the focus of gameplay. Of course, this was well before the system even launched, and now most of us know better about the ills of motion-based combat. As the game neared its release, I couldn't help but get excited. Sure, it wasn't going to offer a huge change from Melee, but a more fleshed-out single-player offering, new characters, and most importantly, online multiplayer, all promised to make this a Smash Bros. like no other.

In the end, what I ended up with was a slightly upgraded version of Melee. Why? The online was, and to this day pretty much still is, broken. Out of the countless attempts made to play random matches online, only once was I successful, and it was an infuriating lagfest at that.

2008: A Gaming Retrospective article

But I'm a DS gamer as well, and the handheld has actually been much kinder to me this year. Games like The World Ends with You and Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword pushed the limitations of the DS, both in terms of technology and prose, and surprises like the handheld version of Spider-man: Web of Shadows really made it a joy to be a reviewer.

The DS has been host to many great games this year, yet the announcement of the DSi left me a bit peeved. At this stage in the game, the DS seems ripe to move into its next generation. The upgrades offered with the DSi just don't count for much, and it's one more example of Nintendo dipping into the cash springs rather than serving their base.

Which brings me to Animal Crossing: City Folk...I can't think of another DS game I spent more time with than Wild World, but to pay an additional $50 to do primarily the same things in a town that looks almost identical to the DS game…and this is Nintendo's big offering for the holiday?

But enough of my Scrooge routine...Happy Holidays!

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