Every year there is a massive argument, debate and overall conversation about which game is Game of the Year. This conversation can start as early as January, some years. Last year, 2018, there were two games that released that were excellent and considered great enough to be in the super early Game of the Year conversation. January seems pretty early to have that discussion, however, both games ended up nominated for Game of the Year at the Game Awards. Although Celeste and Monster Hunter World didn’t win the overall award, they set the tone for 2018 as a whole and got the Game of the Year ball rolling fairly early.
2018 was a great year for games, but I’m not here to talk about what made 2018 so good. I’m here to talk about the year that I believe is the best overall year for video games. It doesn’t start off as hot as 2018 did but the end of the year is backloaded with unforgettable games and some games that set the groundwork for years to come. Not to mention the release of a few games that kicked off major franchises that will have a mainstay in the gaming industry.
I’m, of course, talking about the best year for video games, 2007.
There are a ton of games worth talking about from 2007 so it was hard for me to shave it down to talk about a select few. 2007 doesn’t only include amazing games but it also possesses some important games that have shaped the video game industry producing many copy-cats and similar titles since. The year is also responsible for launching some of the most iconic franchises in gaming today such as Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted, Bioshock, Mass Effect and more.
Super Mario Galaxy
The Wii managed to sell over 100 million units over its life span, just crushing the competition. I’d argue that the Wii’s library was more bad than good and most people only bought their Wii for Wii Sports. Although, while most families were standing in front of the TV playing tennis, Nintendo was busy developing one of the greatest and more experimental Mario games at the time. Super Mario Galaxy took the great bits of 3D Mario games and added in gravity-based platforming to change up how long time fans got around the wonderfully creative areas.
Nintendo took plenty of chances with the Wii and Super Mario Galaxy didn’t shy away from risks. Adding in motion controls gave playing a Mario game a fun dynamic and made the experience feel new. Motion controls might not be for everyone and certainly didn’t work for every game but Super Mario Galaxy wasn’t hindered by the new way to play.
Super Mario Galaxy may be the best Wii game in its life span, possibly only second to its sequel aptly named, Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Anytime I’m talking with someone who hasn’t played the Assassin’s Creed games, I usually tell them to skip the first one and go straight to Assassin’s Creed 2. However, you can’t overlook how important the initial Assassin’s Creed is to Ubisoft’s future games and other games inspired by it. It changed how the industry looked at stealth games and city traversal paving the way for games like the Batman Arkham series, the Shadow of Mordor games, Infamous, and Dishonored. Without Assassin’s Creed’s success, those games probably don’t happen and if they do, they look much, much different.
The appeal of Assassin’s Creed doesn’t only come from its stealth mechanics and parkour traversal but a lot of the interest for the game came from it taking place in historical settings with historical figures that you interacted with. For me, at least, the twisted history storyline was what had me hooked from the start.
2007 contained two of the better rhythm games we had during that fight between Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I believe Guitar Hero III and the first Rock Band to be the best of the best in both series, and fortunately for this list, they both released in 2007.
Harmonix broke away from the Guitar Hero series to give us Rock Band. Which provided us with more fake instruments we didn’t have room for but playing any of those songs with a group of friends for the first time created smiles and party nights for years to come.
Everyone had their go-to instrument. Some longtime players kept up with the guitar and your friend who wasn’t as good played bass with the second guitar. Then the game appealed to all new players by adding the drum kit and a microphone. Everyone wanted to rotate to the drums to give them a try, but people were usually less excited about singing in front of their friends. Either way families, friends, and even bars were having Rock Band nights for years thereafter.
The best way I can describe Portal to anyone is it’s a puzzle game that makes you feel like the smartest person in the world and the dumbest person in the world at the same time. Portal is the perfect puzzle game that mixes in a comedic narrative and one of the most memorable characters of the decade and in video games overall.
Portal’s level design is nothing short of brilliant and is unapologetically hands off, which we need more of in the video game space. You’re presented with a goal and you have to find a way to get there using the blank wall surroundings and your trusty portal gun. There isn’t a moment where a puzzle feels too challenging for the sake of being difficult. Every step of the way you’re applying something you’ve learned.
And if you’re not having enough fun with the game, you’ll be laughing and enjoying the commentary that GLaDOS is providing. Of course, she’s taking shots at you the entire time but it brings the whole experience all together. Perfect comedic timing at your expense but doesn’t leave you discouraged, but more than anything you want to prove to the snarky AI that you can beat the puzzle and shut her up.
2K Boston dropped Bioshock into our laps and it quickly stole the show with an iron grip. Releasing to immediate critical praise for its perfect dystopian setting and story that had you making some moral choices as well as putting your brain back together after having your mind blown.
Bioshock mixed a traditional first-person shooter with RPG elements so you could play to your liking and a good bit of survival horror to keep you on your toes. Bioshock is the perfect storm of video game by providing everything it can in a single player experience. We still talk today about how influential Bioshock is to creating deep, immersive settings and adding strong narratives with classic characters in shooting games that typically get the ‘rinse and repeat’ reputation.
Bioshock would go on to win multiple Game of the Year awards from various outlets and award shows for everything I described here. However, it wasn’t the only gripping first-person shooter in 2007 to pave the way for future games alike.
Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare
Infinity Ward took a risk with Modern Warfare changing the Call of Duty formula from an old war shooter game to something, well, modern. Call of Duty Modern Warfare may have done more to the future of shooting games than any other.
Modern Warfare has one of the better stories in the Call of Duty franchise which remember the most for the missions All Ghillied Up and One Shot, One Kill. Sneaking through Prypiat in ghillie suits with sniper rifles then having to escape the area. The mission provides tension from start to finish which is a direct result of solid writing and fantastic voice acting. Even with awesome missions inside huge set pieces, the big budget feel of Modern Warfare’s story wasn’t the main draw. The multiplayer changed the game.
The refinement of the Call of Duty multiplayer formula in Modern Warfare set the tone for online shooters forever. Eventually, it seems every online shooter has borrowed the idea of unlocking weapon loadouts and classes, killstreaks, perks and bigger lobbies for more chaos. The tight gameplay experience kept players coming back.
The Xbox 360 thrived with the help of a few games and exclusive deals but one game helped the 360 crush the market during the 2007 holidays. The follow up to one of the original Xbox’s greatest games hit in 2007 to immediate success critically and commercially. Halo 3 would go on to be the best selling video game of 2007 and sales figures reached $170 million in the game’s first 24 hours which at the time set a new record for the highest gross of an entertainment product in that time span.
Halo 3 offered a complete package for fans of the genre. With the help of the Xbox 360, Halo 3 was able to deliver fans a bigger and better story than Halo 2, cranking the action way up. And who doesn’t love a good Warthog escape mission to end a Halo game? Of course, Halo 3 offered an excellent, competitive multiplayer as well that felt familiar but fresh. In the games first 20 hours, Halo 3 drew a million players making it the biggest day for Xbox Live.
Lastly, Halo 3 added in the creative mode, Forge. Players could then make their own multiplayer maps for friends and the community to download spawning all kinds of different and fun creations. This gave an outlet to those who loved new and interesting custom games. If you never played Speed Halo, then you certainly missed out.
So I did trim this down a lot to be only a few games to give you a solid sample size of what made 2007 so great. That meant leaving out a ton of other excellent games that you could replace with just about any game that I wrote about and you’d still have one of the all-time best lists.
Other games to hit in 2007 were Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Crysis, The Witcher, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Mass Effect, Crackdown, Skate, the Orange Box from Valve, and God of War 2. 2007 contained 26 games with a meta critic score of 90 or more.
God of War II is considered by many as one of the best games of the PlayStation 2’s impressive life cycle. The PlayStation 3 launched a few months earlier making God of War II the perfect send-off for the best selling console of all time.
Crackdown is pure video game fun. It had all the makings of being a purely fun video game with its open-world, big action, co-op capabilities and you could even spend a lot of time jumping to platforms collecting orbs. Sure, you possibly only bought it to gain access to the Halo 3 multiplayer beta but Crackdown was a gem for the Xbox 360.
The first Uncharted isn’t the best controlling game of the series but it helped to modernize action adventure games and set the tone for Naughty Dog’s big budget, Hollywood action games for years to come. Naughty Dog took the reigns off and flexed their storytelling, action movie skills that they had been sitting on and eventually developed one of the best franchises Sony has to offer.
In a year with broken records, where iconic franchises were started, and lasting impacts on the industry it’s clear to see that 2007 was the greatest year for gaming. A lot of the games that came out this year directly influenced many, many games that were developed in the following years as well as some games today.