2007 was a great year for video games. We handed out three 10/10 scores and were bombarded with great releases. At the end of the year, as we picked our top 10 games of 2007 we looked to 2008 and sighed. "It'll never be as good as this year" we thought. But were we wrong? Now E3 2008 is over and the big publishers have revealed their full 2008 line-ups (barring any big, unexpected surprises) we can take a stab at working out if 2008 has got what it takes to take on the might of 2007's Halo 3, Mass Effect, BioShock and Call of Duty 4. We thought it would be a one-sided blood bath, but things weren't nearly so clear cut.
We clearly don't know for sure which games due in the remainder of 2008 will be brilliant. We have seen them all though, in many cases numerous times. Using our combined thoughts on which games are looking the best and by picking out the best games of the year so far we've come up with a list of ten games to go head to head against the top 10 games of 2007.
Top 10 Games of 2007
Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction
The Orange Box
Super Mario Galaxy
God of War 2
Top 10 Games of 2008
Gears of War 2
Head to page two to see which year has the most 10/10 video games.
These are the games that usually define a year. When people look back on a generation of consoles it's the 10/10s that are talked about and remembered most fondly. In 2007 we gave three games the illustrious 10/10 score: Halo 3, Mass Effect and BioShock. Halo 3 is without doubt one of the most complete multiplayer games ever released on a console, Mass Effect is a stunning sci-fi epic and BioShock raised the bar for video game storylines. In truth, both CoD4 and The Orange Box could also have received a 10, if we'd been in a slightly better mood at the time.
It's not an easy list of games for 2008 to follow. Of the games released so far this year only GTA 4 has scored a 10 - something it unquestionably deserved due to its unmatched production values and storytelling. But what of the rest due out this year? Do any jump up and down screaming "10 out of 10!"? Gears of War 2 has a chance, being the sequel to 2006's 10/10 scoring action hit. Spore is also a hot contender and has ever chance of scoring highly if all its ideas can hold together in a cohesive game. The rest aren't so clear cut in our opinion. There's huge potential in Fable 2, Fallout 3, FarCry 2, LittleBigPlanet and Mirror's Edge, but potential alone isn't enough for a 10.
Click through to page three to see which year has the most originality.
Of our Top 10 games of 2007 only three were new IPs: Mass Effect, BioShock and Crackdown. Three out of 10 isn't bad, especially when two of those were in our top 3. In terms of breaking new ground none of them really did anything more than improve on existing formulas though. BioShock is essentially a clever FPS, Mass Effect an RPG with streamlined combat and an improved conversation system, and Crackdown a GTA-clone with a real sense of freedom. All undoubtedly great games, but not truly ground breaking.
Looking at the four new IPs in our 2008 list suggests this year might have the upper hand here. Spore appears to have more creativity and ideas than most of the games released in the last decade combined, which isn't a bad start. Left4Dead, Valve's PC and Xbox 360 FPS might seem like a generic zombie shooter, but we haven't seen anything like it before. The reliance on team-mates in this four-player co-op shooter gives it a completely unique feel. Mirror's Edge from DICE could be mistaken for another FPS, but it's essentially a first-person platformer with combat thrown in. We played it at E3 and were blown away. Last but not least is Sony's LittleBigPlanet. We're still unsure over how the game will turn out, but the possibilities for user-created levels seem endless.
On to page four to find out which year did most to please the fans.
In 2007 we had sequels for some of the biggest franchises around. Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 broke sales records, Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction gave us a next-gen debut for a classic PS2 franchise, Super Mario Galaxy breathed new life into a near dead genre, The Orange Box packaged together some of the best games of all time, PGR4 marked the end of an era for one of the best racers of our generation and God of War 2 dazzled PS2 owners who hadn't made the next-gen jump. 2007 was a massive year for sequels.
2008 looked to have no hope competing on the sequels front, but it seems to have pulled a few rabbits out of the hat. Already this year we've had GTA 4 and Metal Gear Solid 4, two of the biggest franchises in video game history. And that's just the start. Gears of War 2 will be a massive hit and Fable 2 is the sequel to the multi-million selling Xbox RPG. FarCry 2 seems like quite a reinvention for the series, but builds on the open-ended gameplay touched upon in the original, and Fallout 3 is most definitely going to appeal to long-time fans. It's a new entry in a massively popular RPG series and is coming from the makers of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Enough said.
On to page five to see which game offered the best gaming bang for your buck.
Some games are great even if they're over in an afternoon, but we do love a good epic, and we're not just talking about multiplayer gaming sessions. In 2007 our top 10 was dominated by short but sweet gameplay experiences, but there were a couple of deep games that kept us going for weeks. Mass Effect stretched to around the 30 hour mark if you completed all the side quests, Super Mario Galaxy provided months of entertainment for players who wanted to get every last star, and The Orange Box packed in more value than most other shooters on the list combined. Still, 2007 seemed a little on the short side.
This year appears to be far more epic. GTA 4 is a mammoth game, Spore could well consume entire lives, LittleBigPlanet could be the only game you'll need to own for months and then we come to the three Fs. FarCry 2, if we believe the developers, will be a truly epic game. First-person shooters rarely extend beyond the 10-hour mark, but it seems as though this one will be the GTA of shooters. According to the devs there won't be a demo because there'd be no way for them to make it less than eight hours in length. Fallout 3 is also shaping up to be a monstrous game. If it's not longer than 20 hours we'll eat the freeze dried food we had stored for when the world ended. And then there's Fable 2, a game Peter Molyneux himself has said will take around 50 hours to play through if you see all the game has to offer. That's certainly more than an afternoon's worth of game.
Finally on to page six to see which year has the greatest strength in depth.
Depth of quality
Picking 10 games leaves a lot of great releases on the cutting room floor. The following lists are the games that scored highly in 2007 and 2008 or look likely to receive a 9 or above when reviewed later this year. The majority of hardcore gamers buy well in excess of 10 games a year, so this is what else there was or will be to choose from.
The rest from 2007
Command and Conquer 3
Metroid Prime Corruption
Elite Beat Agents
Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters
Final Fantasy XII
World in Conflict
Pursuit Force Extreme Justice
Virtua Tennis 3
FF Tactics: War of the Lions
Virtua Fighter 5
Super Paper Mario
The rest from 2008
Ninja Gaiden 2
Zack and Wiki
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Prince of Persia
Street Fighter 4
Tomb Raider: Underworld
MotorStorm Pacific Rift
Red Alert 3
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
Guitar Hero World Tour
Rock Band 2
FF VII: Crisis Core
It's a risky thing to say, but we think 2008 might edge out 2007. With GTA 4 and Metal Gear Solid 4 in the bag already, as well as a huge number of solid 9/10s 2008 got off to a great start. If a couple of our proposed top 10 for the year achieve 10/10 status then we might just have one of the best years in gaming history. 2008 also appears to be higher on originality and the games could well last us longer. We didn't think we'd see a year better than 2007 in a long time, but it might well come very soon indeed.