We all love those lists at this time of the year, most magazines will feature them plentiful. 2007 was (again) the year of the sequel, when it comes to computer games. Most game studios prefer to take the easy route, when a game has established a decent name, and is played by enough people to provide a steady cash flow; just make version two, three, or four. Another way to squeeze more coins out of the gamer’s purses is with expansion packs, many of those have been released in 2007 as well.
This year was supposed to be the year of the new “big scale” MMOs, Age of Conan and Warhammer to name just a few of the highly anticipated titles that would beat the World of Warcraft monster. Unfortunately their release dates were all pushed to 2008. The only MMO title that has been released is The Lord of the Rings Online – a good MMO, but hardly a game that renews the genre.
Among all the sequels and expansion packs there were a few innovative games released this year. A short list of the most remarkable games, in game design, game play or just graphically; games that really added something new to the gaming world, the most precious games of 2007.
A game released within a bundle package, The Orange Box, together with Half-life 2 and Team Fortress 2 (did I mention the sequel route?). Portal is a mixture of first-person action and a puzzle game, which pretty much stands on it's own in terms of game play. You solve a series of puzzles by using a portal device, a "portal gun." A nice take on the genre, and a great experiment in the FPS genre. Valve's Kim Swift talks about the design of Portal on Joystiq
The Witcher is a mixture of an RPG and a story driven adventure based on the novels of the Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The game features a pretty innovative combat system and has a unique sinister atmosphere. The game received an adult rating, because of it's language and sometimes-erotic scenery. Read more about The Witcher and game mechanics on GeezGamer
Hellgate London is the only new online game that brings something new on the table. It's still all about smashing monsters, but it's setting and goals are unique. The game features both an online and single player mode, where online play offers an intense PvP (Player v. Player) combat experience. The dynamic levels are also worth mentioning, although they look similar after a few hours of playing the game. Keep up with the latest on Hellgate at the IncGames gaming portal.
Although not very innovative, in terms of game concept and game play, this title can't be left out here – mainly because it sets a new graphical standard. Crysis shows us the current state of computer generated graphics, you need a beefy machine to deliver the visual goodies though. Read news and interviews on inCrysis, a site designed as a guide to the game.
I'm pretty sure next year will be the year of the MMOs, Warhammer and Age of Conan will be released, besides less know titles like Pirates of the Burning Sea and The Chronicles of Spellborn. Blizzard will also release their next expansion World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. The real gaming innovation will come from Will Wright's Spore, a multi-platform life simulation or God game.