The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004

The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 The Top 10 MegaGames of 2004

An entire week devoted to gaming came to a close as we revealed, the Top MegaGame of 2004. You no longer have to wait to find out which title is the ultimate gamer's favorite. Read on to be rewarded by an in-depth look into the busiest, most promising and most controversial year in the history of gaming.

Voters now know the results of our Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 prize draw, which saw gamers claim from a large list of prizes from the MegaGames Top 10 Sponsors.

After 3 weeks of voting and over 33,000 unique votes counted from over 11,000 unique hardcore gamers, the Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 have been finalized. We thought it was about time someone asked the gamers what they liked and who can give you a better description of a game than the person who has spent hundreds of hours trying it? The entire gaming industry is full of game rankings which rarely consider what gamers enjoy but serve as intellectual exercises for bored website editors. The Top10 games chosen by you, may surprise some of our editor friends out there but they are an honest and fair representation of gamer choice, not marred by any suggestion of publisher interference as so many other similar lists are.

In order to convince readers that this is a major industry event based entirely on the people that count - the gamers - MegaGames got together with some major industry forces to offer a multitude of prizes for voters of the Top 10 MegaGames of 2004. Crucial Technology, a division of Micron providing quality direct memory upgrades online at Crucial Gamer, offered two lucky Top 10 voters the chance to each win a, 1GB kit (each with a total of 2 512MB sticks) of Crucial Ballistix PC4000, another two voters will each get a 1GB Crucial Gizmo! Hi-Speed USB flash drive and yet another two voters will win Ballistix T-shirts and caps.


Capcom offered one lucky voter the chance to own a copy of Shadow of Rome Playstation 2 game, due for release in early February, 2005.
MegaGames and Funcom also got together to offer voters further exciting prizes. 20 winners will each get Alien Invasion boxed sets including Anarchy Online and Notum Wars while one extremely lucky winner will get One box of Shadowlands, One box of Alien Invasion and the Preorder items for both games along with a signed print from acclaimed artist Stian Dahlslett.

The Top10 MegaGames of 2004 are also sponsored by eDimensional creators of the VirtualFX 3D TV Converter.

We thought it was about time someone asked the gamers what they liked and who can give you a better description of a game than the person who has spent hundreds of hours trying it? The entire gaming industry is full of game rankings which rarely consider what gamers enjoy but serve as intellectual exercises for bored website editors.

In a year full of ambitious games on all types of platforms it was natural to expect that gamers would be spoilt for choice. A total of 83 games were voted for, although 26 of those gained a clear lead fairly quickly. The Top10 games chosen by you, may surprise some of our learned editor friends but they are an honest and fair representation of gamer choice, not marred by any suggestion of publisher interference as so many other similar lists are.

Some of the surprises include the appearance of only one title from the world's biggest publisher, the surprising absence of the sequel to the, until recently, best selling game of all time and the, rather disheartening fact that only one game in the Top10 is an original title and not some form of sequel, prequel or franchise spin-off.

Did all that give you some hint about how your favorite games may have faired in the Top10? Well we will not keep you waiting any longer as we reveal the Top10 MegaGames of 2004.

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UT 2004

First Person Shooters have come a long way since the early days of gaming. FPS games now enjoy a certain level of sophistication, technological leaps have meant that enemies are smarter and that linearity is no longer an issue. The gamer's brain is now a valuable asset which developers are tapping into.

Now, forget all that and try to reach the most primitive and less developed part of yourself, if you make it you have reached Unreal Tournament 2004 country. Every now and then you need a dose of simple, unadulterated, uncensored mayhem and UT 2004 is just that. Epic games is well known for displaying amazing innovation when it comes to gore-filled sequences and UT 2004 did not disappoint even the most deprived minds out there. A pure dose of adrenalin, UT asks gamers to forget thinking and to follow their instincts, leaving them a nervous twitching wreck following the briefest of online sessions.

At the base of Mount MegaGames of 2004 is Atari's and Epic Game's Unreal Tournament 2004. Released in mid-March 2004, UT 2k4 quickly became a favorite with gamers everywhere; the 1.5 million downloads which the demo got within its first week of availability, serve as a sign that the franchise remains one of the most formidable online forces in the world of gaming.

Gamers who voted for UT 2004 tended to also vote for other FPS games and some of their comments are as follows:

Well there ain't much of a big explanation to give: One hell of a non-stop online frag-fest, period, another voter claims; well, maybe the best multiplayer game in 2004, and maybe the best tactical multiplayer shooter also.

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PoP: Warrior Within

The Prince has now become a man and the cruel fate which followed him after his first experience with the sands of time has taken its tall. The number 9 MegaGame of 2004, voted by gamers for gamers, is Prince of Persia 2: Warrior Within.

Ubisoft's Montreal studio delivered, in record-breaking time, a worthy sequel to Sands of Time. Released in Early December, Warrior Within revealed a much darker prince, a tormented soul, giving the game a much more Gothic feel. An improved fighting repertoire has made the Prince even more attractive to gamers while the strong points from the original, such as the rewind ability and the mind-bending puzzles remain the game's stronger features.

At the core of the game's success remains the impressive balance of a platformer with visually stunning slashing, Warrior Within retains the balance and engages gamers even further with new level bosses, even longer gameplay than the original and with improved controls and camera angles.

Gamers who voted for PoP Warrior Within tended to vote for console titles, something which suggests that consoles may be claiming ownership of the 3rd person perspective. Some of the comments we had for the PoP sequel are as follows:

For reinventing the art of making platform games so deep and so engaging that you play till the game is finished no matter how many times you die or get stuck in a riddle… another voter was impressed all over but also had a complaint:
I picked Prince of Persia: Warrior Within because of its very exciting story, good graphics, and exciting combat but I still think the story was too short.

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Rome: Total War

As gaming has progressed, the type of game people enjoy has evolved, at Number 8 in the Top 10 MegaGames of 2004, is proof that cerebral gaming is not an oxymoron but rather, a common, mainstream activity.

Released in late September, 2004, this Activision and Creative Assembly title brought Total War to Rome. Epic real-time battles never looked so beautiful as they do when rendered by CA's new 3D engine utilized in Rome: Total War. Much of the success of the game did rely on the massive technological step produced by the visual element of the game. The performance of the visual aspect of the game was so impressive that the BBC utilized the engine for its Time Commanders TV game show while the History channel did the same in the U.S. with its Decisive Battles show.

The depth of Rome:Total War meant that most gamers were not exactly sure of how to label it. While definitely a game of strategy and tactics, its sheer size and depth also brought many RPG elements into the gameplay. Many found it to be all-consuming and as one reader commented: Rome: Total War is great. A strategy game of such depth is amazing. The campaign I am currently playing I been working on for the last 5 weeks, and still far from finishing it! The little details and the historical work put into researching it, the names of family members actually existed at the time as far as I can tell. Civilization was a strategy game I enjoyed for years as a kid but now the concept has become outdated with games as good as Rome- Civ step aside this does all that you could do better and much more like real time battles, which are a lot harder than would be expected. Tank rushes don't happen (other than of course it is 200BC) but every unit is useful for how your plan will work. Tie up the enemies dangerous cavalry by having them charge a hard unit of infantry in the front rank and have some spearmen in reserve to charge into their flank and break the cavalry- fantastic strategic depth. Of course it can't be forgotten the massive improvements Rome makes on Medievals games mechanics that Rome makes its predecessor look like a toy, its amazing the distance they have taken this game. Bring on Napoleon: Total War!

Yet another reader was even more emphatic boldly stating that Rome Total War - Is I believe the best RTS every created. When I first looked at it I noticed the physical beauty of the detail in the Roman Triarii and Cohorts. Then I realised the physics and realism in combat when the war elephants and cavalry from the Carthage smashing into my troops. The sounds to it are very good and the music is very battlish giving u more of a reason to fight on when u have only 1 Legionary Cohort left. The multiplayer is very good but I still believe it could have done with a conquer the world game mode for LAN only.

The praise did not stop there though, I am an avid fan of 'intelligent' games
that require thinking on the part of the gamer, not just reflexes or a good hand, thus I favour strategy games, I can say that Rome Total War is the best strategy game out in 2004, although not without bugs, it's the best of it's kind, combining a free-form playing field, and superior graphics.
Another voter commented on why he chose to vote that way, Rome I chose because the battles are so immense...having 10k units
visible onscreen while in battle is just awesome, great continuation from the earlier games in the series…
Finally we also have to add our favorite comment from a Rome voter who simply said …with Rome I can change history.

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World of Warcraft

If the presence of one cerebral game in a Top10, selected exclusively by gamers, could be considered a fluke, how would you react to a second one being there? Surely in a year were graphical excellence and stunning visual effects were proclaimed as the Gods of Gaming, in a year were graphics cards argued over which version of shader model should be used, no one could find room for something different. Gamers everywhere however, decided to shake things up a bit. At number 7 in the Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 we find a title lovingly developed by a Californian studio eager to get into a new market. Blizzard's first foray into the MMORPG genre seems to have left gamers impressed.

From the early days of the franchise, when a humble 16-bit game developer produced Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, to the magnificence of Warcraft II, Blizzard has made it clear that it is no ordinary developer. It was therefore expected that even when facing new challenges, those involved when creating a Massively Multiplayer Online title, Blizzard would emerge triumphant. Blizzard had always been followed by the reputation of being a work-enemy. More hours of studying and work must have been lost to Warcraft and Diablo games than to all major sports events of the last decade put together.

The World of Warcraft is vast, its scale is enough to keep even the most demanding gamer busy, but there is much more to it than just size. Every detail seems distilled from the experience of the previous games. The beautiful human city of Stormwind, has its streets and squares decorated with statues taken from the Warcraft universe, while the gamer will immediately recognize Ironforge as a Dwarf stronghold.

It seems that not only have gamers enjoyed World of Warcraft but that they have been very willing to put their money where their mouth is, since Blizzard recently announced that it has sold over 600,000 copies of the game since its launch in mid-December 2004.

The story of WoW is set just four years following the aftermath of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and players get to explore the ravaged world of Azeroth as Warcraft heroes and what has impressed gamers the most is how …blizzard did a great job turning Azeroth into a beautiful 3d world. Some voters even went as far as to claim that WoW is … WoW is really the best game I have ever played.
Some gamers however, accused WoW of bad conduct since World of Warcraft is hands down the best game I have ever came across, I have purchase two other games and I havn't even opened the packaging yet because WoW has captured my passion for rpg gaming.

The praise kept coming in as it was claimed that WOW is simply THE BEST MMORPG out there... Blizzard is showing again why is one of the best - or maybe THE best - videogames designer of ALL times... I mean, c'mon! The graphics are crisp, the sound is superb, the story is excellent, and the overall performance is SUPERB...what else can a game ask for?? All we can add is indeed.

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Halo 2

The Number 6 Top 10 MegaGame of 2004, may surprise most of you since the recent hype surrounding it may have made it a very strong Top 3 candidate. Unfortunately for its creators and fans alike, the game, for reasons we will try and explore below, did not survive the onslaught of high-quality titles that were released in 2004 and could only manage, an otherwise very respectable, Number 6 ranking.

With over 6.3 million in sales already under its belt and with over 69 million hours of online play already enjoyed by over one million gamers, Halo 2 has already guaranteed that its name will be long remembered by Xbox execs but it seems that the success the game has brought its publisher may have been its downfall as far as gamer preference is concerned. In other words Halo 2 may have been a victim of its platform and the recent abuse of the concept of exclusivity by console manufacturers.

When the original Halo was released as a launch title for Microsoft's Xbox console, the world finally claimed that consoles had finally managed to crack the elusive FPS genre. Fluid, almost intuitive controls, excellent use of gameplay and camera angles made the game stand-out from any other console FPS offering. The impressive, for that time, visual effects and performance also helped. Since then however, a lot of time has passed and although Bungee has definitely not forgotten how to make a good game, the impact this time round may not have been that intense.

Having said all that in order to examine possible causes leading to Halo 2's low placement in the Top 10 MegaGames of 2004, we have to admit that we really enjoyed trying out the game. Extremely fun and immersive to play, the game is really at its best when enjoyed through the use of the Xbox Live service.

The idea of a dual-weapon-wielding Master Chief could not disappoint while the concept of Red Vs Blue The Next Generation also sounds pretty sweet.

Strangely enough gamers who chose to cast a vote for Halo 2 rarely had it as their number one choice while they almost never voted for another Xbox-exclusive game, with many going for other popular FPS titles.

It seems that even those of you who voted for Bungee's sequel, had some complaint to make, Halo 2-even though it contains a disappointing ending its still an amazing game that holds something that other game do not have, single player is fun and going on Live! is just amazing. Basically it has it all, gameplay, graphics, music and a great story to
keep you in.
Some voters tried to be even more specific by voting for only certain aspects of the game, …the multiplayer side of Halo 2 is every bit as entertaining as the first one, with new features such as weapons, vehicles and the new graphics and physics. And who would have thought that the Xbox could run this game so well, eh?

The trend continued with students making a stand, …completely ignoring the single player campaign, the multiplayer of the entire halo series is outstanding. This latest release is still the greatest game to play with buds on campus. Another user went so far as to say, …it proved that its worth buying a last generation console only to play one or two games. And the games I'm talking about are Halo and Halo 2!!! Of course XBox has many good games but the Halo series are the best!!! …Halo 2 has great visual and sound effects, great gameplay (and I would like to bring some attention to the following, "no one believed that a FPS would work in the consoles!!! And look at that!!! It works PERFECTLY!!!") and a great multiplayer!!! Thanks for great campaign Single Player and
the amazing network X-Box LIVE we can enjoy one of the best games ever made!

We will live you with one gamer's cry for help I lost 4 nights of sleep when I got it.

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Need for Speed Underground 2

As we enter the Top 5 MegaGames of 2004, most of you will have noticed the absence of the world's biggest publisher. It is common for EA to own half or more of any gaming related Top 10. The company's first title in the Top 10 comes in at Number 5 and is a sequel to a popular franchise which saw its fortunes rocket last year when it tapped into the street racing culture.

Released November 9, 2004, Need For Speed Underground 2, had a lot to prove if it was to be considered a worthy successor to the original Underground game of 2003. Quite a large number of gamers had their doubts, considering the very short time that EA took to produce this sequel. In fact, it is a surprise that a game that has sold as well as NFSU 2 and which is continuing to top all sorts of sales charts, has only made it to number 5 in a gamer choice chart.

The Need for Speed brand has done wonders for EA, consistently producing massive racing hits for the company. Ever since the early days of Hot Pursuit, when EA had delivered a stunning racing engine, the brand became a surefire hit. It seems the brand name has become so influential that the developers have come to rely too much on it. Although we can understand the possible restrictions involved when licensing cars, the lack of impact damage for example, is a definite loss for the franchise and a feature sorely missed by most gamers.

It's very tempting to begin battering EA's new game as a soulless corporate gimmick and a very week attempt to drain the street-cool culture for every last dime. Some might even say that a game based on the illegal street-racing culture featuring more ads than the Shopping Network is not that, Underground. Others may describe as irresponsible the attempt to glorify the entire scene by neglecting to include impact damage and its consequences and in some cases promoting crashing as a useful tool at the driver's disposal. Although we believe that none of the ills of modern life are a result of any games, it is strange that campaigners focus on Rockstar and other developers but tend to leave EA alone over games such as NFSU. In any case, we will refrain from giving in to such primitive urges and will admit, grudgingly, that NFSU 2 is a fun game.

The take-home message from this EA offering is that sometimes a cheesy attitude, a manufactured setup and a dodgy, downright deceptive and unrefined AI may be what it takes to create an addictive and fun game. NFSU 2 is a game which will frustrate you, have you throwing controllers at walls and even have you trying to reason with your machine but it is also a game which will have you going back to it again and again, much like the classic penny-pinching arcade games of days gone-by. Add to all that the appeal of racing online, including Xbox Live this time, and you can see exactly how and why NFSU 2 is still outselling every other game.

So, having successfully kept criticism at bay we have to admit that NFSU 2, although very similar to the original Underground title, does try to bring something new to the franchise. EA Canada has added a free-roaming (GTA-Style) feature which will see you driving around cities trying to get to races. The feature allows you to familiarize yourself with your surrounding while allowing you to get familiar with the feel of your ride. Unfortunately, after a bit of driving the whole process becomes rather confusing and tedious, especially if you are just starting the game since you need to race for a while before you can get your hands on a decent set of wheels. Once you do though, a whole new world opens up and your choice of extras to spice-up your performance or look is limitless. That has also been the big selling point of the NFSU franchise. Tuner culture, street-cred (or whatever term an elite team of EA managers that has infiltrated the world of illegal racing chooses to use) and RESPECT make NFSU 2 a gamer favorite, despite its numerous, misgivings.

Strangely enough the free-roaming feature in NFSU 2 may have been more successful than most would believe, especially when considering that the majority of gamers who voted for NFSU 2 also voted for GTA:SA.

Voters tended to claim that, …NFSU2 is by far the best racing game to come out this year. Career mode is very fun; all the cars that you would want to "supe" up are there. Some even agreed that it was the arcade feel they best enjoyed, …it's just what I wanted, a fast paced car racing game with loads of options to upgrade your cars. I liked it for not being like a real driving simulation because I hate those, I like speed, and this game delivers tons of fun because of easy handling and the great speed feel to it.

Some voters however, did claim that it was the fantasy aspect of the game which appealed to them, since driving the cars featured in the game is a dream for most young adults and teenagers: (NFSU)…gave all of us who own a "beater" the chance to imagine what we could do to our cars if we got a new promotion or just outright won the lottery; the new game modes although not favored by this gamer, it did try to expand what the game has done already to win so many gamers and the downhill drift is just phenomenal.

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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

As we climb the list of the Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 we will begin to encounter titles that were accompanied by a great deal of expectation from the community; the Number 4 game in gamer preference is exactly such a title. Rockstar Games is a company that has evolved greatly through the past decade, when the developer was releasing GTA III, for example, it tried to play down the entire launch process in order to avoid criticism over the violent nature of the game. Nowadays the company is strong enough to thrive under controversy and to be able to utilize criticism in order to improve sales.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, has made it to Number 4 in the Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 chart based entirely on the votes of Playstation 2 owners since that is the only platform the game is currently available on. Any game which gives the player the chance to explore three large cities and the countryside in-between deserves to be this high in any gaming related list.

When Rockstar unleashed GTA III, on an unsuspecting public, it moved the franchise towards a larger audience and made it a hot-topic of conversation. Just when everyone thought that Rockstar had peaked, Vice City came along to change, entirely, the scale of gaming. Now Rockstar has done it again by raising the bar even further. Much of the success of the GTA series has relied on the painstaking attention that Rockstar pays to detail. Each of the games mentioned above (III, VC and SA) have relied, heavily, on inspiration their creators had from specific movies. GTA III was a tribute to The Godfather while Vice City had a Scarface feel to it and now San Andreas draws inspiration from gang movies such as Boyz N the Hood and Colors.

One important point of reference, especially for VC and SA has been the timeline. While Vice City was Miami in the 80's, San Andreas is the entire state of California, with the addition of Las Vegas, in the 90's. The way the decades are utilized shapes the soul of the game. Everything from character clothing, to cars and the music on the various radio stations is authentic for that specific period. Another important layer contributing to the monumental success of the GTA series is the exceedingly accurate and refined sense of humor permeating the entire game. Every radio advert in the game is a little comedy gem while taking the time to read road and store signs will not disappoint.

There's too much to say on how the game has improved since Vice City, too many extra missions and games, too many exciting goings-on that can draw you away from the story missions, in fact the game is so unpredictable it would be a shame to spoil it for gamers, especially those of you patiently waiting for the PC or Xbox versions of GTA: SA. The PS2 exclusive release of the game is in many ways the Achilles heel of the game; the frame stutter often experienced when driving in busy streets or when engaging a few gang-members in a firefight, or the marginal visual improvement on Vice City are all restrictions imposed upon the game by its, current, platform. It is also fair to say that most of the problems of San Andreas are technical rather than gameplay related. The only serious issue which some gamers have taken with San Andreas is the lack of multiplayer, the logic being that if a gamer can turn Vice City into a Multi-Theft-Auto title than Rockstar should have been able to do the same for their state. We are still retaining some hope that the same people that brought us MTA might work something similar out for SA. All of these issues however, in no way detract from the unique, immersive and ultimately rewarding experience that is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Voters were also impressed by the variety offered by GTA:SA, its a stunning game, in all aspects, the missions, graphics, the fun of playing it, music, for leaving all other games a 1000 miles behind. Others were, obviously, fans of the series, GTA:SA is a historic game Rockstar is a historic developer. Growing from the perfect ideas from all the GTA's u can't get better than GTA:SA.

Some fans however, blamed their academic performance on the game, no gaming series has captivated me as much as this series, and the latest installment is no different. This year this game alone captured over 100 of my gaming hours and single handedly lowered my GPA. Gamers continued to heap praise on Rockstar, suggesting that other developers should take note of how exciting and engaging franchises are produced, …it (GTA:SA) has proved again that a game can always be different no matter how many sequels are made!!! GTA: SA it's totally different from its predecessors! It has a million of things to do and makes sure that you'll be busy for many months!!! Visually, it is beautiful, as are the sound effects and gameplay. Another great Rockstar game!
Others enjoyed the variety offered by the game, GTA: San Andreas is one great game. With each new title in the GTA series, Rockstar seems to add more to the game. In Vice City there were, noticeably, more features than GTA III and now in SA there are MANY more features than in Vice City. It seems that one can almost do anything. Unique and excellent story lines and gameplay mated with good graphics, quick load times, tons of new features, and the ability to do whatever your heart desires…

Most voters however, did complain about the platform exclusivity and the lack of multiplayer, …a multi-platform release would've been nicer, and the couple of icky restrictions (particularly in MP) could have been worked on a bit more, this is definitely a game worthy of its predecessors... We will leave you with an observation from one of our more far sighted voters, Hollywood watch out, a game this rich and expansive
can only lead to great things... we couldn't agree with you more.

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Things are hotting-up now since being voted into the Top 3 games of the most interesting and busy year the industry has ever witnessed, is no small feat. Achieving Top 3 glory is all the more important when considering that this Top 10 has been voted for by gamers, the people who invest their money in the industry and who should be the ones voicing their opinions.

The Number 3 MegaGame of 2004 is, possibly one of the most controversial games of 2004 and one which has seen its fortunes rise and fall throughout the past year. In a year riddled with sequels, prequels and movie tie-ins, seeing an original title this high up in gamer preference is a breath of fresh air.
When Crytek, a small German developer, unleashed Far Cry on 23 March, 2004, the sound of millions of gamer's jaws dropping could be heard all over the world.

The visual beauty and technical excellence of the game held everyone hostage and didn't allow players any time to consider the potential of the game. Immediately following the release, a barrage of negative reviews begun to appear, claiming that stunning visuals were all that Far Cry was about. Just like every other beautiful thing out there, Far Cry was accused of offering a hollow and empty experience. Tired editors decided that one look was all they needed to decide that this was a case of the wrapper being betrayed by the contents. What everyone seems to forget however, is that for every Pamela Anderson there is, at least one, Hilary Swank and with time gamers got to know their game a bit better and discovered that all is not as it seems in the islands of Micronesia.

Despite the rapid success of the game, as far as gamers were concerned, reviewers seemed convinced that it was not all that. Considering that Far Cry is the only original title in the Top 10 MegaGames does raise some questions regarding the direction the industry is heading. Independent studios are closing every day, falling pray to large publishers, unwilling to risk developing something different. The question to consider is whether the industry has numbed us all by its relentless pursuit of the successful franchise that we are unable to accept or even consider any new game that is not familiar?

It all could have been so different; the game we have come to know as Far Cry can trace its roots back to the modest surroundings of a German developer's studio. Its parents, having initially named it X-Isle, had very different plans for it. At the request of a rich partner, nVidia, X-Isle was to serve as a showcase for the graphics giant's nfinite-FX engine. The original technology demo featured a tropical island and a variety of dinosaurs but Crytek saw the potential and immediately stopped all other projects and focused on turning the young X-Isle into a fully-featured game.

In Far Cry we can see a lot of the original technology it was meant to showcase and so much more. The A.I., initially accused by learned critics as merely a tool for throwing bad guys at you, can function as a team, will call for help and attempt to surround you and will duck for cover or charge, depending on the circumstances. Players quickly discover that merely charging in on your enemies will not be enough to overpower them while the plasticity off all levels makes the game extremely replayable.
Add to all that the extremely fun multiplayer, the variety of vehicles and you have a very entertaining game which, with very little hype, was the first visually stunning, advanced FPS to reach store shelves, beating other similarly featured games by 5-6 months.

If there is one weakness to Far Cry it has to be the appalling voice-acting. Compared to what you experience in the game, many dubbed martial arts movies of the 70s will seem professionally done. Crytek will have to seriously consider releasing a revised version of the game, I personally would like to see the Number 3 MegaGame of 2004 Edition, in which voice acting, in its entirety, will be redone by trained professionals. The lack of proper voice-acting makes the, already frail, story seem completely inconsequential, detracting from the, otherwise excellent, Far Cry experience.

Far Cry was a popular choice with FPS-only voters but was also the FPS of choice of gamers who also voted for other genres.
Although we have heaped our collective praise on Far Cry, let's see what the average voter had to say about it.

Most of the people who voted for Far Cry seemed to appreciate the openness of the gameplay, Far cry is the first of its kind, the only game I've seen which combines
FPS with paradise, there is a great deal of ways you can use to complete your objective, it is truly a fantastic game. Other voters enjoyed the multiplayer aspect of the game, even going so far as to compare it with a classic online game, …this is the first game I ever played that you can almost drive anything you find.. not saying that there are no other games like this but I just like the way this game is designed, the graphics and playing multi player which is almost as fan as battlefield-Vietnam I would say.

Love it or hate it you have to accept that Far Cry was the surprise success for the industry in 2004 and that seems to be what our next voter enjoyed, Far Cry was my surprise of the year. Came out of nowhere for me at least, with fun gameplay and lots of beautiful and open areas. Another voter adds, Far Cry was a brilliant, clever and vibrant game that kept my face glued to the monitor for hours.

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We have almost reached the Top of the first ever Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 countdown and the heat is definitely on. At Number 2 lies a game which will have most of the sinners out there cringing at its thought. Originally intended to be a remake rather than a brand new game and following over four years of development Doom 3 would probably win the title of the most misunderstood game of 2004.

When the Texas-based developer, iD produced the original, DOS-based Doom game in 1993, the FPS genre was very different to what it is today. It was definitely not a successful multi-million dollar industry but the arrival of iD's little treasure, lifted the entire genre into the mainstream. Every developer that has made an FPS game following that release owes some form of gratitude to iD.

iD decided that most fans of the game and there were a lot of them, deserved to see it again in an updated and visually stunning version. The visual aspect of the game however was not all that the developer revamped. This time around Doom was given a storyline which basic as it was, was still effectively told through the logs of a variety of base employees. The original monsters from the 90's have also been updated and they look and feel freshly spawned. Possibly the greatest improvement present in Doom 3 is the enhanced immersive quality which will have you playing from the edge of your seat. At this point we think a special mention should go out to the incredible use of sound within the game which manages to creep you out but also to keep you involved with the game. There are few gamers who can say that the faint calls for help, heard in some levels of the game, have no effect on them.

Doom 3 may have its flaws but there are times, while playing it, that you feel that you are the nameless grunt being chased around Mars by beasts that have escaped from hell.

Doom III is misunderstood as a game by many since iD decided to give it slow build-up. The pace during the early stages of the game is slow and you begin to feel that you are the one who is Doomed to keep repeating yourself. Those who persist and play through the early and mid stages of the game however, are in for a big reward. At about the final third of the game, once you reach hell, the game really picks up and the pace keeps building up until you reach the great climactic finale which will leave you stunned.

The great advantage of Doom III has to be the stunning engine created by iD. For a very long time now, FPS games had seemed trapped by older technology and companies were unwilling to put in the necessary resources to develop new ones. Granted, Doom IIIs impact would have been greater had Far Cry not been released just a few months before it but then again iDs engine tackles a very different environment and delivers it in great style. Everything from the art direction and the impressive physics, to the tiniest detail in the environment is delivered with stunning realism and amazing production values.

Doom III may be a slick game but it is definitely not one without flaws. Some of the problems gamers will encounter will seem more like omissions rather than simple mistakes. The lack of a co-operative element in the game, both in multi and single player modes, can be frustrating while the repetitive journey to hell can lead even the most determined gamers to extreme boredom. Getting to hell however, is highly recommended.

Voters were also impressed by the drop-dead-gorgeous visuals of the game … what can I say? Its the sequel to The Game that marked an entire generation of gamers, I'm talking of course of Doom, playing Doom3 was like playing the original, for the first time, its obvious that in Doom3 the graphics are impressive and I bought a new graphics card on purpose, to get the most out of the graphics and art and what an experience it was!!! A five star game and definitely one of my 2004 favorites. Characteristic of how Doom 3 divided opinion is the response from some of the people that actually voted for the game, I picked Doom 3 for its graphics, although I did not like the story (Story was so predictable) I am still a major fan of the Doom series.

Another similarly confusing comment was made by a voter who manages to praise and trash the game he voted for, Doom 3 was a hit of nostalgia and really scary. I've never jumped so much in a game before. Having only ever played Doom and Doom 2 in co-operative mode I was somewhat proud to actually complete this game alone. It had a couple of down falls, the game became a little too samey and tedious in places and unfortunately, you sat there wishing for the level to end . Also due to this you also sat there wishing for the whole game to end eventually. However, it was very refreshing to go back to the old style of FPS where you really didn't have to think a huge amount about tactics.

Other voters seem still a bit shaken by the in-game atmosphere; Doom 3 was a horrifying pinnacle of art. The graphics were so good… Other gamers felt compelled to share some very personal experiences which followed Doom 3 gameplay, …first game where a zombie coming round a dark corner and mildly slapping me resulted in brown pants. Exceptional lighting, awesome sound… Mundane sort of gameplay brought it down 1/213th of a notch. Still, I can sit there are stare at the screen for hours on end, not moving and immersing myself in the atmosphere of Doom 3. Yet more voters were confused by Doom 3, …this (Doom 3) is nothing special in gaming terms but the reason it makes my list is simply the atmosphere that it creates. The game is just an
average 'shoot everything that moves' game but when the things you're gunning for jump out at you from a dark corners or are hidden in the darkness by failing lights only to be seen by their glowing red eyes then you actually start to worry about opening the next door. I've never jumped so much in my life, even when watching a film and that
helped separate it from most of the other games out there.

Finally we will leave you with a clear and unambiguous statement It kept me on the edge of my seat with all the gore and hellish creatures. The lighting especially added more suspense because you have a worthless flashlight that is not tagged onto a gun. You constantly feel like someone is behind you and you are being hunted. The graphics were good and the physics were decent. But for a follow-up on one of the greatest FPS games of all times this sure hit the jackpot. Constantly short on ammo, and checking your back while traveling alone in a facility filled with decaying corpses, Doom III was by far the scariest game I have ever played.

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It has taken us a week to reach the Top MegaGame of 2004 but considering the wealth of exciting titles released during the past year it is a surprise it only took that long. Most of you will think that a game deserved to be in the Top 10 that didn't make it. But such is the beauty of democracy; those who cared enough about the games they enjoyed in 2004, cast their votes and shaped the Top 10.

The Number 1 MegaGame of 2004 is a true diva of the industry, one that has played an intense and at times emotional game of hide and seek with gamers, over the past six years. The build-up to this sequel's release was worthy of an entire soap-opera season. Fans became frustrated when they found out that the object of their affection would not appear at the originally announced date, only to be confused further by finding out that code form the game had been stolen. For a long time following that theft, the game didn't even have a release date with its future up in the air as publisher and developer became entangled in a bitter legal battle. When, a year later, a date was announced rumors and doubts begun surfacing regarding the distribution of the game and how the battle between publisher and developer may result in further delay. Even when the game was released, a series of delays authenticating it over the internet and problems with the developer's host application meant that anyone finally playing the game felt very special indeed.

Out of this troubled past and out of the ashes of a developer in crisis, arose Half-Life 2, the most voted for game in the Top 10 MegaGames of 2004 vote. If you took all other games in the Top 10, summed-up their votes and then doubled that number you would be just under the number of votes Valve's baby managed to accumulate. With a history such as the one mentioned above, covered in extensive detail in the
MegaGames Chronicles of Freeman,
you can see how a game like Half-Life 2 manages to stir passions and create controversy.

It has been six years since we were first introduced to Gordon Freeman and his battle to save earth but when gamers loaded their copy of the game, it seemed that time had stood still. The original Half-Life brought cinematic production values to gaming by introducing exciting narrative, memorable characters all delicately held together by a plot which was second only to the intense and heart-stopping action. Being the first game to truly lift gaming out of the miserable confines of the University dorm, Half-Life enjoyed unprecedented success and left an entire generation of gamers craving more. Valve was faced with the unenviable task of matching a classic.

In many ways Valve and iD, creator of the Number 2 MegaGame of 2004, had very similar tasks which they approached with very different philosophies. While iD decided to strictly follow the original game, falling pray to some of its limitations at the same time, Valve chose to innovate but achieved it without betraying the essence of the original. So while the player feels that this is the same Dr. Freeman which they witnessed single-handedly save the world during the Black Mesa incident, they are also in for a full blown attack on the senses with 21st Century technology. This time around the good Dr. has to traverse huge expanses in order to reach his various goals, from humid marshes to the exquisite architecture of the city to bleak post-modern facilities, this is a journey which grabs the gamer by the scruff of the neck and hurls him around as if trapped in the clutches of the infamous gravity gun.

Valve's innovation however, does not stop there, the extreme attention to detail when creating the character facial features has an immeasurable effect on the player who quickly finds himself drawn in, even on an emotional level. Then there is the story, which is not force-fed to you through cut-scenes but which you have to extract from weary citizens and battle weary rebels and is delivered by some of the best voice-acting ever to grace a video game. The actual story does remain slightly basic and will not claim any originality awards but Valve, knowing how effective its facial technology is, wisely chose to let the characters deliver it, thus doubling its effect on the gamer. Then you just have to consider the physics; while Havok has been used before in games, the way Valve incorporated the physics engine into the gameplay is truly a sign of great gaming minds at work. The sheer brilliance of the gravity gun doesn't fail to amaze and when you begin using it to line crates so that you can walk over the sand without infuriating the Antlions or to float over a radioactive canal, or to use a radiator as a shield from enemy fire then your jaw really hits the floor.

In fact, playing Half-Life 2 you come to realize why the original game and now its sequel, have come to be appreciated so much, they are complete games in every sense of the word. It is the game which will leave you with the most memorable experiences and one which you will find yourselves returning to time and time again.

Valve has created a game which will keep surprising you, in a good way, through its every twist and turn, a game which will leave you gasping for breath as you travel through its beautiful and haunting world, a game which will drain you emotionally as you become involved with its characters and a game which will drive you on and on to play but which will leave you slightly melancholic once you have completed it.

Half-Life 2 is by no means perfect, the way the pace can drop when faced with a puzzle for example, can frustrate but if after the entire experience you can think of anything other than WOW to say, you must have an agenda. Forget the delays, the bickering between developer and publisher and the authentication woes, even the lack of campus steam support for students, 2004 will be known as the year we stopped talking about what Half-Life 2 might be and begun discovering what it is.

As you may expect from a game so intense and highly anticipated, the comments made by voters tended to be filled with superlatives, …I chose Half-Life 2 because just like when the first Half-Life was released it was the best game ever to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting public in this universe.Much on the same wavelength was another voter who claims, I selected HL2 because I have been a Half-Life fan since HL came out and the new Half-Life 2 is the best game of 2004 because HL2 has improved its graphics quality by 10,000 times and the story is also amazing and continues from HL 1 and other HL's such as opposing force, blue shift etc.. To tell you the truth I was crying when the game ended 'cause I was sad that this was the end of HL 2 and I hope they come up with HL3 in the future.

Even experienced gamers were taken aback by H-L 2s quality, Half-Life 2 is the best game that I ever have played, period. And this despite my 15+ years as a gamer. I've never experienced a game before that has so totally enveloped me during its course. A great proportion of those who voted for it, had some comment to make about a certain prominent feature of its arsenal, …besides the excellent story, beautiful engine, and CS:Source, I only need to say 2 words - Grav. gun. Comments about the in-game use of physics continued, Half- Life 2 put the Havoc engine to uses that I am still figuring out. They all have great merits!

Some gamers did try to include a bit of criticism in their comments, Half-life 2 is an obvious choice for the top-spot. It is a 1st person shooter in the truest sense of the word -- you never leave the eyes of Gordon Freeman. Excellent production values and a great engine propelled it to the legendary status held by only a few games, including Half-life 1. The "deus ex machina" ending could have been done without, but no game is perfect. In a confusing move, a gamer who voted for H-L 2 comments, Half-Life 2 is, of course, a great game. Even though it has a slightly dated graphics engine, and the only reason it looks so good is because they use such good textures, it still is a great game… the voter then goes on to offer some advice, …when you take Half-Life 2 textures and put them in the Doom3 engine, it is just awesome.

Maybe the most fitting way to complete this tribute to the Top MegaGame of 2004 is by a comment which says it all: Half-Life 2 -- Well, I've been waiting for this title for a very long time and I was expecting it to be breathtaking. It did what it promised and pleased me with its superb graphics, incomparable physics, and addictive story-line. The addition of the emotions for the characters added a sense of belonging to the game in such a way that you can turn your back when you don't want to listen.

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