in Gaming, Reviews, Year's Best

Best of 2007 – Video Game

And the nominees are:

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Portal
  • Halo 3
  • Rock Band
  • Picross
  • Bioshock

A few words about each:

As with other categories, each and every one of these games is worth your time. Super Mario Galaxy is the best Wii game I have played, bar none. The level designers have done amazing, mind-bending things, and unlike many other wii games the motion-sensing controls manage to not feel tacked on. Portal is a work of art, another example of brilliant level design, but also coaxes an in-depth plot out of minimalist surroundings. Halo 3, while still fun, somehow didn’t quite live up to my expectations. While the gameplay was fun, ultimately no sequel can live up to the original Halo’s story. Rock Band is an amazing party game, and once you get over the fear of looking (or sounding) silly it provides a brilliant gaming experience. Picross was a surprise, an addicting DS puzzle game that I’ve played almost every single day since I got it, for at least a few minutes. Bioshock’s art direction and storyline are excellent, bringing vivid life to a decaying underwater city. Unfortunately the storyline falls apart a bit near the end, but up until then it is one of the most genuinely mature and deep stories I’ve seen in a game. The much-hyped moral choices that a player supposedly gets to make in the game really don’t amount to as much as I expected, but how those choices are handled is brilliant. No game has ever managed to make me think about the very nature of choice in a video game before.

So, I really wanted to give the honor to Bioshock. It truly is a work of art. And, I admit, I am a sucker for anything with such a heavy art-deco visual style. But the ultimate whimper of the plot’s resolution gave me pause. Couple that with somewhat limited replayability, and I have to regretfully pass it over. Still, I don’t want to downplay the game too much. Go play it, I doubt you’ll be disappointed with the purchase.

Now on to the winner:

Rock Band

Almost two years ago, my friend Matt and I sat in his living room, playing the first Guitar Hero game and idly speculating how awesome it would be to have a game just like it, but with drums. And a microphone. And online play. Sure, brilliant idea, but naaaaah! It’d never happen! I was glad to be proven wrong: Now I own that game, and Matt and I played it together over Thanksgiving.

The day Rock Band was released, some friends and I played it for almost seven hours straight. And we’ve had a number of sessions almost that long since then. If that can’t justify a selection as game of the year, then I’m not sure what does. All other games have been pushed aside for us, and this is pretty much all we play right now. The track list is near-perfect, and the addition of downloadable content provides near endless replay value as new songs are added. I’m not sure I can fully describe why i love the game so much, largely because so much of that justification is based on intangibles. After finishing a song next to my friends, we all feel amazing, like we just accomplished something awesome. Sure, we aren’t really playing the music. But I will never be able to play these songs on ‘real’ instruments, not without more time than I have to put into practicing. Rock Band captures what I imagine is the full feel of being in a band, and concentrates it down into something the rest of us can experience.
I’m going to cut myself off before I over-gush about this game, (what’s that? Too late?) but I think this XKCD comic sums it up quite well:

If you can get over your fear of looking a bit silly, many hours of quality entertainment await.