Review of the year - video games

With next gen machines coming into their own, Iain Davidson looks back on the best releases of 2007

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Crackdown

What promised to be a rather mundane year in gaming turned out to be a surprising 12 months. Two lessons were learned in 2007: firstly, discount Nintendo’s infectious innovation at your peril. And secondly, punters can’t get enough of imaginative stories.

The big winner this year was the involved, physical interaction between man and machine championed by Nintendo. The Wii went from strength to strength, aided by some quirky titles. And for every Boogie and Eledees there was an old favourite like Mario, Zelda and Resident Evil preventing it from getting too silly. Bolstered by the other platforms chipping in with Buzz, Singstar and the immense Guitar Hero, it’s clear that the simple joypad is no longer the weapon du jour. Indeed, Nintendo’s other machine, the DS, continued this theme with a brilliant Zelda title of its own, The Phantom Hourglass, a new Pokemon title and a great version of Lego Star Wars. And there still seems no way to stop the world domination of Dr Kawashima and his Brain Training.

The Xbox 360 had a good year too, cementing Microsoft’s position as a serious player in the console market. The Xbox Live service increased in size and scope, pushing online capacity towards being a basic console necessity rather than a novel selling point.

But it was the games that really beautified the 360. Halo 3 was the obvious standout. Fans of four wheels were also spoiled on the 360, with the excellent triumvirate of Forza Motorsport 2, PGR4 and Colin McRae: DiRT. But it was the overall improvement in stylish storytelling, exemplified by titles like Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock that really stood out in 2007.

The good old PC had a so-so year, improved immensely by the November release of the almost excellent Crysis. That’s assuming that your PC can handle it of course. Otherwise, it was more Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament and a million strategy games. The highlight, however, was the latest chapter in the Half Life story thanks to the Orange Box (also on Xbox 360), another example of how game writing should be done. Meanwhile the addition of the puzzler Portal and the ridiculously enjoyable Team Fortress 2 made The Orange Box a very special treat.

And Sony? A price cut helped shift some more PS3 hardware, but the jury’s still out on the potency of their software. A few highlights, such as John Woo’s Stranglehold and the earlier Motorstorm, almost made up for other disappointments. Resistance: Fall of Man didn’t hit the mark and Lair was a crushing disappointment.

But the biggest news was that, finally, in 2007, Fifa overtook Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) for sheer pleasure and quality. Who would have guessed that 12 months ago?

All games are available now.

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