The big surprise for me this year was Apple
That being said, 2005 still had its share of great games. Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich was a blast. I got to scratch my action-RPG itch with Dungeon Siege II, and I still find myself popping that one in more often than I expected. Age of Empires III made for some great RTS goodness, and as the year rolled on to an end, Civilization IV came out and stole just about every spare minute from my life. Not a bad crop of games for one year, and each of those is rife with replayability and time-consuming goodness.
On the PS2 side of things, it was a little more bleak. I spent time playing older games, catching up on titles I’d missed from 2004. I think the only title I actually picked up was We Love Katamari, and I’ve been having a good time with that. X-Men Legends 2 was also a fun diversion, but it hasn’t kept my attention as much as the other titles of the year. And while I’m quite interested in Dragon Quest VIII, a certain turn-based PC strategy title has been holding all my attention, so that may be a post-Christmas gift to myself.
As far as new technologies go, I’m just not an Xbox fanboy, so I’m not getting into the Xbox 360 hype. I’ll hold out for the PS3, and put my allegiance there until I’m forced, kicking and screaming, into the Xbox fold.
All in all, some top-notch and enjoyable titles came to light in 2005, but there just wasn’t the volume of great games like I’ve enjoyed in past years. I’m especially troubled by the lack of traditional RPGs, both for the PC and console. But, looking forward to 2006, there are several exciting RPG titles on the way, so the dry spell might soon be over.
Matt Mirkovich - Staff Writer
Game of the Year- Guitar Hero, hands down the most FUN title I
Best RPG - Shin Megami Tensei - Digital Devil Saga - Even with Dragon Quest 8 being released this year I still thing Digital Devil Saga was the better title. I enjoyed the story much more and felt the game was a tad more enjoyable with it
Anti-Best Sports Game - This special award goes to the sports title that I think was the biggest let down. And that goes to SSX On Tour. SSX 3 was practically snowboarding perfection. Yet so many things changed in SSX On Tour that it flawed the game and made it less fun to play. To go for greatness to staleness, quite a shame.
Best Fighting Game - Street Fighter 3 3rd Strike - Finally released for X-Box this year it was only a matter of time before Street Fighter found a way online. It is still the best 2-D fighter to date and rivals all 3-D fighters in terms of depth and complexity. Not until Street Fighter 4 will we see anyting that could possibly be better than this.
Best Action Game - Fatal Frame 3: The Tormented - C
Best Racing Game - Project
Best Vaporware - Starcraft Ghost - Is this game ever coming out?
Worst Gaming Entity of the Year - G4 - The Man Show? Along with other countless non-gaming related shows G4 has shown us time and time again that they aren
Best New Technology - The FearTek engine. F.E.A.R. is an amazing looking game and it runs so well on my semi-low end machine, unlike a certain first person shooter that starts with B and ends in attlefield 2.
Sean Colleli - Staff Writer
This past year was a real mixed bag as far as games go. I remember back in December of ’04, we were hearing about how big 2005 would be for gaming. Unfortunately not everyone’s expectations were met, but there were some high points that made 05 at least memorable.
First and foremost we saw the DS really come into its own. After a smattering of ho-hum launch titles, developers woke up from their constricting genre hibernation and slammed out some winners. There were the quirky titles, to be sure (Trauma Center comes to mind) and all out crap (Battles of Prince of Persia). But we also got hits like Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow, Advance Wars Dual Strike, Meteos, Mario and Luigi 2, and Nanostray.
In the middle of it all, Nintendo expanded the demographic with their cuddly Nintendogs, a puppy simulator that confounds the hardcore but hypnotizes the casual and female gamers at the same time. Who could’ve predicted such an innocent concept would turn into a DS selling monster? Heck, they even released a holiday bundle that flew off the shelves like hotcakes.
It all ended in a bang, of course, with the release of Mario Kart DS, the closest thing to video game crack to come along in a while. Accompanying the Karting frenzy was the launch of Nintendo WiFi Connection, which was further implemented in Animal Crossing Wild World a few weeks later. Yes, the DS is showing significant progress after a lukewarm start.
The GameCube, however, wasn’t as lucky as its unorthodox little brother. Nevertheless, a healthy supply of quality games found their way onto the pint-sized console. The innovative Geist and the revolutionary Resident Evil 4 stole much of the spotlight, while Killer 7, DDR Mario Mix and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat filled out the selection. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance brought some much needed RPG love to the lineup, but with Zelda pushed back to April 2006 there wasn’t a Nintendo produced cube Mega-Hit in 05.
The PC had a relatively healthy year, if rather unexciting. F.E.A.R. and Quake 4 both promised to change the shooter market, and while they still made a splash, they’re the same old FPS with a new coat of paint. On the downside Half-Life 2: Aftermath has once again been delayed.
In multiplatform news, Prince of PersiaL The Two Thrones graced all three platforms with the third installment of his trilogy. After the irritating, Godsmack hardrocking second game, Two Thrones was a breath of fresh air and the fulfillment of the first game, as well as a successful synthesis of artistic beauty and brutal combat. In other news, Sir Sean Connery was back as Bond in From Russia with Love, although the movie-to-game transfer was inevitably rough. If I’d wanted to watch cutscenes, I’d pop in the DVD.
Timesplitters: Future Perfect delivered the much-needed run and gun action that Bond faltered with. Across all three platforms, Free Radical’s nonsensical shooter fulfilled fragging dreams with its massive multiplayer and mapmaker. The solo game was mostly a parody of older titles Free Radical had worked on, but it was en an entertaining affair without doing anything earth-shattering. All in all, a good year for action across the board.
Far and away the biggest gaming event of 2005 was the explosive launch of the Xbox 360. But after the hype faded, so did the divine luster of the 360. Some of the good games (Call of Duty 2, Quake 4) are available on the PC, a parallel to the original Xbox’s chief problem: it’s a gaming PC with a controller.
Rare spiced things up with Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero, but Rare’s definitive quality seems to be wearing off. I really hope they can rescue Joanna Dark’s franchise, the original PD was one of my favorite games and I’d hate to see the series go mediocre. Here’s hoping PDZ was just a case of development confusion.
The 360 has a great deal of potential, but like all consoles, it’s up to the developers to use that hardware. The intentional console shortage backfired, the launch lineup was simply “okay”, but I’m willing to bet Microsoft won’t let the 360 become the next Dreamcast. Competition is tight, with the uber-powerful PS3 and groundbreaking, user friendly Revolution hitting stores next year, but these are the console wars and everything is fair. Regardless of which side they’re on, gamers have a lot to look forward to. 2005 was good for gaming, but 2006 will be extraordinary.
Charles Husemann - Editor In Chief
Looking back it is now pretty clear that 2005 was a transition year in many senses of the word. With Halo 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Resident Evil 4 all hitting shelves last year, 2004 represented the zenith for the current generation. Given that kind of depth, 2005 really didn’t have much of a chance to match the level of sales that we saw in 2004. However, we did see a few new original titles that showed that there were some original ideas left out there. God of War, Stubbs the Zombie, and Shadow of the Colossus helped renew the faith of those who were sick of games with numbers after their names while Battlefield 2 and Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones breathed some life into some old franchises.
More than anything else, 2005 was the transition to the next generation of gaming technology. With the launch of the Xbox 360 at the end of the year and the imminent release of the PS3 and Revolution in 2006, 2005 kind of felt like a year in gaming purgatory. While we had the afore mentioned new titles to keep us occupied, there was that feeling that something new and bigger was around the corner. There were a lucky few that got to taste it in 2005 with the launch of the 360 but we all know that we won’t see any cool new games that really utilize the hardware until 2006.
The other area for transition in 2005 was the continual transition of video games into the mainstream. While the move has been on for several years this was the first year that companies actively tried to court people the typical gamer outside the standard gamer realm. Microsoft was probably the biggest culprit of this with their Xbox 360 special on MTV that featured a weirdly out of whack celebrity to screenshot ratio as well as their post launch advertising campaign.
With this increased visibility came more scrutiny from the legislature (at the State and Federal level). The “Hot Coffee” scandal over the summer illustrated some of the problems in rating an interactive and complex medium. This issue was quickly blown out of proportion and became easy fodder for local and national politicians to make headlines with. The resulting furor was turned into legislation around the country and while most of the bills passed almost every one of them was shot down in court. 2006 will a national bill reach congress and I’m guessing it’s going to see the same fate as the bills passed at the local level.
While 2005 wasn’t necessarily the biggest year for increasing the depth of the industry, the industry did increase it’s breadth with the launch of the Sony PSP and the release of several high quality (and quirky) titles for the Nintendo DS, 2005 was really the year for mobile gaming.
Cell phone gaming also became a bigger market with
Electronic Arts swallowing up leading mobile game developer Jam Dat. While the cell phone gaming market doesn’t
seem to be heating up here in the
Every year some pundit proclaims that PC computing is dead and every year they are wrong. Age of Empires III, Civilization IV, Quake IV, and Battlefield 2 all hitting shelves this year it’s clear that PC gaming is still alive and kicking. More proof is available in the fact that World of Warcraft hit 5 Million users worldwide. While exact numbers haven’t been made public simple match would indicate that Blizzard is bringing in more money in monthly subscribers fees than several third world nations do. With an expansion pack due next year that numbers is not going to be going down any time soon.
In a few years we’re going to look back at 2005 and realize that it was more important for what happened away from the screen rather than what happened on it.John Yan - Senior Hardware Editor
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.