The Year in Review 2007 Feature - The Next Level

The Year in Review 2007

A look back at the staff's top picks of 2007.

Article by TNL Staff (Email)
January 12th 2008, 05:50AM
 

James' Top Five Picks of 2007

5. Crackdown (Xbox 360)
Publisher: Microsoft   Developer: Real World Games


I love sandbox games, I love jumping around ridiculously high off the ground, and I absolutely love blowing things up. Crackdown let me do all three things at the same time, and then do it again online with a friend. The videos people made of weird tricks and stunts were almost as fun as the game itself, and they even inspired me to play around with game-enhancing glitches. I never did succeed in getting the SUV to the top of the Agency Tower, though.
 

4. Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 (Nintendo DS)
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios   Developer: Rare


 
Music and gaming go together like chocolate and peanut butter, each enhancing the other to heights they'd have a hard time reaching on their own. While the instrument-simulator style of Guitar Hero and Rock Band have hogged the spotlight recently, there's still plenty of room for the classic Parappa-style, and Ouendan is far and away the best of the genre. While Ouendan 2 didn't have quite the same charm as the original, the pattern of dots to tap to the beat were much more creative than the original, making it more fun to play. Plus it had Glamorous Sky, which instantly flew to the top of the list of my all-time favorite J-pop.
 

3. The Red Star (PlayStation)
Publisher: XS Games   Developer: Acclaim Studios Austin


 
Quite possibly the best side-scrolling brawler I've played, period. Acclaim's biggest crime against gaming, after years of hideous licensed shovelware, was going out of business before publishing this. Excellent variety in enemy design and attack patterns, fantastic boss encounters, and the addition of bullet patterns straight out of an arcade shooter made The Red Star completely addicting and endlessly fun. It may have taken forever to arrive, but I'm very happy it finally got here.

 

2. Earth Defense Force 2017 (Xbox 360)
Publisher: D3 Publisher   Developer: Sandlot


 
I mentioned earlier that I love blowing stuff up, and it's even more fun when that stuff consists of thousands of enemies and every building and tree the environment contains. EDF is pure arcade run & gun shooting in enormous open environments overrun with giant ants, giant robots, giant flying saucers, and some of the biggest and most satisfying explosions ever seen in any game, ever. There are over a hundred weapons to choose from, and the best can only be found in the hardest difficulty levels, providing plenty of incentive for replay. If only it had online co-op, instead of merely split-screen, EDF would have been perfect.

 

1. Rock Band (Xbox 360, PS3)
Publisher: Electronic Arts   Developer: Harmonix

 
While Guitar Hero is an excellent series, Harmonix wasn't even close to done rocking out. Rock Band added drums and vocals to the guitars while placing the emphasis firmly on multiplayer. Three guitar games in under two years had left me pretty well burned out that instrument but I'm not sure I can get tired of the drums, and I've even done a bit of singing. Rock Band completely dominated my gaming time during the Christmas season, and I was only able to tear myself away after beating the solo drum campaign on Medium. The regular addition of new songs to download isn't helping the addiction any, though, and a second play-through on Hard is calling to me now, this very second. I could hear how the drums were simplified in Medium, and the desire to do better burns in my soul.


2007 Overview

2007 can't have been a full year. A year is supposed to be a good long time, and 2007 lasted about five minutes. From the time Rogue Galaxy hit in late January to the final gasp of December with NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, last year disappeared in a blur of work, life, and far more games than I actually had time to play. With all that gaming in such a short period, it's hard to pick five that I can look at and say "Yes, these are the best of the best!" without wanting to either rearrange the list a bit or even swap out one game for something completely different. Let's just say that, much like last year, these are my top five games of the year for right now.

That list barely scrapes the surface of 2007's excellence. I'll admit the summer months were lackluster, but that just gave me time to play catch-up before rocketing into the overcrowded fall season. New games, old games, and stuff I only remember playing when I go back through the review archives crowded every spare minute of the year. It was mostly fun and rarely dull, and that goes for the continuing development of the current generation of systems as well as their games.

The 360 held its ground against the PS3 without breaking a sweat, while the Wii worked its way into the hearts and minds of casual gamers worldwide. Space Giraffe came out and was brilliant, appreciated by dozens of gamers worldwide. The Wii turned into a haven for the worst kind of shovelware while simultaneously hogging almost all of my non-Rock Band time thanks to Zack & Wiki, Mario Galaxy, and Geometry Wars Galaxies. The PS3, on the other hand, only provided a few excellent download games in the form of Everyday Shooter, LocoRoco Cocoreccho, and Super Stardust HD. Somehow I was expecting at least a little more from Sony, especially since the PS2 is all but over now. I'm glad I've got a PS3, though, and I hope to have something to justify that emotion eventually.

2008 Outlook

Next year is looking to be like this year all over again, passing too quickly in a blur of top-tier gaming. Burnout Paradise kicks things off at the end of January and then it's on to PataPon, No More Heroes, Samba de Amigo, GTAIV, Spore (maybe, if it can nail down a release date), and an embarrassing amount of money spent without a second thought. There will be blockbusters and small gems, unending press releases and unscripted scandals, and more to write about than I've probably got time for. It's going to be a busy year, and I'm looking forward to every second of it.


 


 

Until next year...


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