[[The Votes are In]]
It's been an emotional, roller coaster ride... and so on but now we are ready to unveil the game that YOU voted as the Top MegaGame of 2007. Read on to discover which game managed to condemn blockbuster titles such as Halo 3, Crysis and Gears of War into the fiery pits of mediocrity while leaving their developers mumbling and seeking comfort in the foetal position.
The people have spoken; Follow gaming Democracy in practice as the people that matter decide the Ten games that had something special to offer in 2007.
You have been voting and MG has been counting and we can now begin to reveal what the hardcore gamer thinks of the games on offer in 2007. Was the hype right? Has 2007 been one of the better years for gaming? Has the industry managed to seamlessly incorporate the technological advances into an improved gameplay experience? Or are game craftsmen too busy making pretty worlds that they are forgetting that a human being will be trying to experience an adventure in those worlds? (I'm talking to you Ubi).
This year voters have surprised us with a little twist to their voting but the Top 10 includes all the big name titles that captured our imagination and offers a healthy balance of console and PC games fighting for supremacy in your preferences.
So without any further ado, follow us in the exciting journey that is the MegaGames Top 10 Games of 2007…
[[Top MegaGame of 2007]]
Every year has its sleeper hits, the games that come out of nowhere and surprise everyone with the quality of their offering; this year's Top MegaGame is nothing of the sort. This game was spawned by a franchise which has offered us some of the more engaging gaming moments of the new millennium; this year's winner definitely has the pedigree of a blockbuster. No, the surprise this year is not that Activision and Infinity Ward have produced another good game but that they managed to beat a collection of some of the best games to ever grace a PC or console; and all that, while taking a major risk by moving the franchise on from its WWII cradle.
This time it's set in the near future, are you sure you get it or shall we throw in a helicopter and some flashing lights?
Before witnessing the finished product, most gamers would have argued that a Call of Duty game that was not set in WWII was just not CoD. The Saving Private Ryan, cinematic excellence of its predecessors suggested that the argument was valid but it was those same production values which made gamers anticipate the arrival of Call of Duty 4 with some excitement. Grant Collier, Infinity Ward president and the man tasked with the transition, proved that not only was this a solid business move, it was also a necessary one that would unshackle the franchise from its mid 20th century fixation and open up a whole new world of possibilities. Duty, after all, transcends the boundaries of time and will be relevant whenever and wherever conflict exists.
The balance sought by Infinity Ward was that of introducing new technology, this is a near-future game after all, without alienating fans of the low-tech mechanics of the previous games. This was Activision wondering into Ubisoft territory and Infinity Ward taking on the might of Tom Clancy and his French-speaking accomplices. Balance was also a key term in the development of the single and multiplayer aspects of the game; contemporary F.P.S. games need to offer well-rounded SP and MP modes but need to make sure that neither stands out as superior in order to hold a much of the market as possible. CoD 4 had the added headache of trying to lure newcomers into its multiplayer world, a land inhabited by ridiculously skilled fanatics that will tear newcomers into shreds before they manage to get their high-tech gear into their sweaty, shaking palms.
There you go, Helicopters, it's got to be set in the near-future!!!
So does Call of Duty 4 succeed in offering a comprehensive and satisfying F.P.S. experience? Did Infinity Ward and Activision create a great successor to a great franchise? Or does the world of coming soon to a war zone near you, belong to the Ghost Recons and Rainbow Six's of this world? Let's see what the voters had to say:
both the enticing single-player campaign and the fast paced heroin-like addictive nature of the multiplayer led to a game that has replay value greater than any other game released this year.
Sounds positive, anyone else?
…a bit short single-player, but not a boring one. Great multiplayer which can keep you playing for weeks with all its unlockable features.
Also good but does take a dig at the SP, do others agree?
Call of Duty 4 created a new standard for FPS titles to live up to--from its spot on single player to non-stop adrenaline pumping multiplayer, the action never stops. The single player campaign was the best I've ever played. It didn't have the immersive atmosphere that Bioshock toted, nor the drawn out exploratory features that Half Life 2: Episode 2 had; but it shined where First Person Shooters should, variety, action, and killing--lots and lots of killing. One minute you're sniping from a hilltop, then assaulting a village, racking up the kills of terrorists in the hundreds, and the next you're crawling under trucks in order to evade soldiers so you can perform a political assassination. Then you're relentlessly bombing from the skies in an AC130, or flying from extraction point to extraction point in a helicopter. The multiplayer ensures that there will be an infinite amount of carnage in the future, along with its innovative hardcore mode it takes the realism and the necessity to think before you move to an already amazing shooter. OK, we had a vote here at MG and think this guy liked it.
But all adoration aside, CoD 4 has pulled it off, it took a franchise that had been deeply rooted in WWII and threw it into modern combat without sacrificing any of the unique features that made CoD games synonymous with the cinematic gaming experience.
So here we are, another year another great game and Call of Duty 4 can now walk tall, secure in the knowledge that the world's elite hardcore gamers think it's pretty swell. We are therefore proud to honor Activision and Infinity Ward with the title of :
TOP MEGAGAME OF 2007
What if this developer has been accused of stretching the same title over new technology, over and over again? What if the story needed various academic qualifications in order to be followed? This Xbox 360 wonder is a massive undertaking offering an expansive and involving world with a narrative that is engaging , even if tedious at times. Bioware has a simple idea, do only one thing but do it well and it is in that motto that the truth about Mass Effect lies.
Man-hating aliens can make you lose your cool…
Accused of being unpolished, visually and in its action sequences, Mass Effect is the type of game that will give back what you put in. Any gamer open to its story and willing to put in the time to become involved in its world is destined to get the most out of Bioware's monumental effort.
Simply put, Mass Effect is as close as Bioware have come to producing a master-piece, let us hope that in their next title they get it right…
At Number 9, voters have placed one of the oddest titles to hit the industry in quite some time. Dark, brooding, explosive but also elegantly flawed, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. jumps out at you and will not let you go until you have experienced its darkest secrets.
A game that was repeatedly delayed, to such an extent that Chernobyl curses were discovered by the less imaginative PR specialists in an attempt to keep interest in the game alive. Well MG readers have decided to demonstrate that a good game will always be successful.
Who said nuclear power is not clean?
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. claims the dubious honor of being as close as the gaming industry has come to a cult classic. The movie industry equivalent of this Ukrainian gem is that of an independent adventure movie competing against the big budget releases; and while in the movie industry such a battle is unlikely to lead to a success story, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. proves that gamers are willing to give adventurous new developers a chance.
Often described as broken/beautiful, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. offers an odd yet thrilling mix of scares and action while always finely balanced between open-ended and linear gameplay. It pulls it off masterfully and rightfully deserves the lace you have offered it in this year's MG Top 10.
The game YOU have placed in the No. 8 spot for 2007 is one which has been refining a genre for years, one that has made LAN a hardcore gamers favorite acronym. A game that stands alone, championing the cause of social gaming and the blasting of your neighbor, Unreal Tournament 2007 is this year's No. 8 Top MegaGame of 2007.
The arrival of a new UT is always a big-deal in the gaming industry as besides its contribution as a game it is also usually accompanied by a new engine, destined to drive some of the finest offerings of the next few seasons.
His not quite so little friend
But it is UT the game you have voted for and it is hard to find fault in a game that is so true to its roots. How can you complain about a missing, or present for that matter, feature when the game you have in your hands is the definition of a genre. If it hasn't got it, it's not necessary.
Epic has been raving about the return to basics and keeping it simple and boy does UT 2007 deliver. Intuitive, visually stunning and at times, explosive, a round on it can leave you out of breath and spinning. Tapping into your more primitive gamer, UT unleashes the energy and passion which you store up throughout the average day and we believe it is only fair that it has been described as the Chuck Norris of gaming. Simple yet brutal you know that it does everything for a reason and when the result is the generation of so many talking points and memorable moments then we can only applaud.
Fate has brought two titles by the same studio next to each other but they are very different beasts and if one is seen as the genre defining giant, the other is credited for saving a console and giving it the edge in the next-gen race. MegaGames readers have voted Gears of War as the No. 7 Top MegaGame of 2007 .
The Fiery Angel of Death?
Gears was destined for greatness from its concept, simply put Epic had to create an FPS experience that would carry Microsoft's next-gen console and establish it as a favorite in its struggle with Sony's PS3. To a great extent this game has achieved its goals. Built as a showcase for Xbox 360's potential, Gears of War offers gamers a feast of next-generation implementations with blockbuster production values, including brooding high-definition and spine-chilling audio. Gamers feel they are receiving a bonus when they discover that the actual gameplay isn't too shabby either.
Artistic, beautiful, a true game of its time, GoW feels like a missed opportunity for MS and Epic. A game which could have achieved greatness, pressed by the business need for sure hit, provides an engaging yet ultimately unfulfilling experience. When stripped of its technological might, GoW walks a well trodden path and misses its chance to utilize its considerable technical excellence to provide innovation.
Having vented, we have to admit that the online GoW experience is one we have been consistently returning to, humbled by the game's visual attraction.
At No. 6 this year you have voted for a title that has become synonymous with a console; a game with a history that reflects the progress made in console gaming over the past few years of the industry's rise to gaming domination.
In many ways a mere sixth place seems harsh for a game that, hype aside, is better than its predecessors. Halo 3 is proof that Bungie has not been sitting quietly diving into the sea of cash it has generated but has kept its ears and eyes, open listening to what the fans want. The final product is by far the most polished and satisfying experience that the Xbox 360 has seen. Perhaps Halo 3's greatest achievement lies in the familiarity gamers will experience from the onset. This is definitely a Halo game but it, somehow, manages to feel like an all new experience as well. The single-player campaign, possibly the least change facet of the game, is still as enthralling and story-driven as that of Halo 2 but feels less disjointed and more involving.
How can he move in that thing?
Where Halo 3 really shines is in the sheer scale of its story, the player feels part of a large scale war effort, there is a greater struggle going on, in the fringes of your on-screen presence, and this makes you feel that you are fighting the Good Fight. Your buddies are next to you, the radio chatter can be deafening and the action propels your character into immortality, what else could you need?
Perhaps it's the level of excitement generated about the game, prior to its release, but where Halo 3 ultimately fails, is to provide a convincing next-generation game. Visually stunning though it is, Microsoft's Xbox flagship feels like an updated version of its predecessor, the graphics never quite elicit next-gen wow reactions while remaining fine specimens of current gaming.
If Gears of War is the triumph of technology over innovation, Halo 3 may be remembered as a return to basics, featuring improvements which have little to do with the hardware and much more to do with our insatiable appetite for the experience of pure gaming moments
At number Five we find a game that has challenged our preconceptions about one of the most loved gaming genres. Seen by many as the entrance of the RPG genre to a new era and by others as an incomplete attempt to milk the current RPG trend for all its worth, The Witcher remains a fun, refreshing gaming experience which comes with many flaws.
Hunting the unholy may be a fun idea but The Witcher defies many RPG conventions and does so with an irreverent flick of the wrist.
Gone is the choice of character class or profession, you are who you are, though we have to admit we would have probably chosen professional slayer of the demonic as our job description too.
Irreverence aside, The Witcher is a true RPG at heart and features all the magic and potions your ailing heart desires while the adult themes are interesting if slightly gimmicky in most cases. Where the Witcher excels is in the design of its decision-making options. Most of the choices made during the game have an impact in the overall storyline but CD Projekt have taken a less direct root and it can be a while before you discover what that impact is. This keeps the game fresh and offers a variety of combinations which help keep the game fresh.
Technically, The Witcher is not meant to showcase new technology or enter us into a new era of hardware, the game uses, masterfully at times, the means at its disposal to deliver a fun gaming experience which innovates with the attention-span of a hyperactive five-year-old. What you will find is potential, plenty of it, with a slight lack of focus in the way it is applied.
Fun, exciting and surprisingly coherent, The Witcher plays like a classic RPG title with a difference.
P.S. For all that is decent and holy, keep Uwe Boll away from this one.
If any, one game collection deserves the coveted must-have title, that has to be Valve's: The Orange Box. A ridiculous amount of fun in one simple, yet oddly named, collection offers gamers the future of gaming in one, lethal overdose.
To discuss the games included in Valve's little box individually, would be a massive exercise in the use of superlatives but what needs to be written is that the set includes; Half - Life 2: Episodes One and Two, Team Fortress 2 and Portal. So the gamer gets possible the most elegant and involving first-person experience with an online game that offers variety and explosive action and the surprise success story of 2007; Portal.
I sense a distance between them…
From the first moment you set your eyes on The Orange Box you feel like it's too good to be true. You rush to buy it, as if Valve are about to realize their mistake any minute and re-price the product, you then rush to open it, just to make sure that it includes everything; it feels more like a drug-deal than the purchase of a legitimate product but the pure rush you get when you discover that everything is included, can only compare to that produced by some illicit substance.
The real meat of TOB lies in H-L 2: Episode Two, an expansive addition to the H-L saga that casts off City 17 and unleashes you onto nature. Episode Two is the result of the lessons that H-L 2 and Episode One provided for Valve and it manages to utilize that knowledge, offering a tight, entertaining and ultimately satisfying experience.
What TOB manages is extraordinary as the undeniable showcase of the collection, H-L2: Episode Two, is in some ways overshadowed by the wonderful Portal.
A short and simple 3D Puzzle game has managed to cause a great deal of excitement and has proved the talking point of Valve's new offering. A 3-4 hour mental challenge, .Portal challenges your preconceptions about what gaming genre you prefer and casts you into a world of constant flux.
If all this is not enough for your spoilt gaming palette, then why not give Team Fortress 2 a go? Valve may have taken its time to release it but TF 2 offers the solution to what has been ailing the online shooter genre. By foregoing realism and opting for an exaggerated cartoon style, the developer gave itself the chance to set some of the rules. Clearly distinguishable classes, exciting gameplay and endless hours of online frolicking; make TF 2 a complete and extremely fun online experience.
Follow MegaGames into the Top 3 tomorrow, as we edge yet closer to the Top MegaGame of 2007.
What do you get if you cross philosophical anxieties with the pure fun a good First Person Shooter provides? You get this year No. 3 Top MegaGame.
Undoubtedly the most controversial game in this year's Top 10 and aptly described as a Brain on steroids, Bioshock has, deservedly, won critical and gamer acclaim. BioShock belongs to a rare breed of game that manages to tick all the boxes; innovation, technologically adept, explosive in its action and fulfilling upon completion, it is a worthy introduction to our Top 3.
God is never far from philosophy
The game finds the player in a destroyed utopia, having to combat ideologies as well as genetic mutants and the mix never falls short of being exhilarating. Beyond your enjoyment of the gameplay, the game does offer a view of the utopia turned dystopia concept and its mechanics manage to engage the player at that level too. Whether you accept BbioShock as the spiritual successor to the System Shock games, it is clear that it has opened up a new channel in the communication between games and their players. Seen as a new introducing a new use of video games as a tool to explore philosophical and moral dilemmas, BioShock examines objectivist views and manages to do so in a restrained and involving way without disappointing fans of the F.P.S. genre.
Wait a minute… That's not God
The studio formerly known as Irrational Games sees Rapture as its philosophical showcase and Jack as the public's eyes into that experiment and in that sense it allows players the freedom to make of it what they will. Satsfaction from BioShock can be obtained in a variety of ways and players will get from it what they put in. If explosive action and engaging gameplay is what your heart desires then so it shall be; if you wish for beautiful visuals and dreamy environments then BioShock (we will refrain from using its initials, BS, to refer to the game) is your game; if you wish to explore the Obhectivist ideals and examine your views on them then guess what…
A game such as this is bound to raise strong views in its players and the criticism aimed towards BioShock has been heated and, at times, quite aggressive. Anything from the game's philosophy to its Andrew Ryan plot twist have been attacked by critics but this passion is exactly the game's greatest achievement. Who could have believed that a video game could launch a debate without Senator Jack Thompson's assistance?
In a battle that at times seemed too close to call, the No 1 Top MegaGame of 2007 managed to shake off this contender, a game that had the mere task of ushering-in a new era in gaming. Much like its predecessor served as the poster-child for DX9, Crysis set out to do the same for DX10. This commitment to technological advancement makes for an impressive game but did manage to alienate some gamers who refused to accept Microsoft's Vista only attitude to DX10.
The No. 2 Top MegaGame of 2007 is Crysis, a game that is just as impressive as it is immersive and a title that offers gamers an alternative tropical paradise experience to that offered by Far Cry. North Koreans, Aliens and advanced military technology get together to promote the expanding possibilities offered by the new graphics API by Microsoft; the question in every gamer's mind was, will this be fun to play as well? Your vote seems to suggest the answer to that question.
There's something Terminator-like about that suite…
There is something so natural about the richly detailed environment that makes the player dismiss it, much as a real mercenary might not stop to gawk at the natural beauty around him. It's beautiful but that's the way it's meant to be right? Only when you stop to really look at your surroundings and empty the odd magazine at the trees, that you realize the extent of the detail that Crysis provides. The amount of information provided to the player via the environment is massive and the potential is there to use that information in generating new ways of playing video games.
All that aside, Crysis is a true epic of cinematic proportions; battles are immense, at times dauntingly so and the freedom provided by the island means that success can be had in a variety of ways. In the easier settings, an all-out frontal assault is not out of the question while in the harder modes, planning and stealth prove necessary skills. In the same way the features offered by your prototype gear are nicely balanced and will prove essential if you are to make the most of your Crysis experience.
because they are so one dimensional, but I think the gang at Crytek and EA have really out done themselves with this one.
As any self-respecting FPS game should, Crysis offers a polished online experience that will require gamers to utilize their skills to their full extent but it does, at times, feel like hard work to play the game online and all the realism in the world won't be able to keep your mind from straying to recent fun TF2 online moments.
This year's No. 2 Top MegaGame of 2007 is much more than just a good game, it is an industry trend-setter and a title which has illuminated the way for developers and will serve as a beacon, directing game creation in the years to come.
Stay with MegaGames as tomorrow we reveal The Top MegaGame of 2007