A whole lot of people like to recap their year and tell everyone what they thought of it, and I guess I am that sort of person too, but these are not borrowed thoughts like most. Though talking about 2007 does seem kinda moldy and I even thought I almost found a reason to not write about this, but hey, we’ve got free crab cakes, so we’re good. (plus I’ve been nonexistent on LJ, so not like anybody’s readin)
Last year was, among other things, a year where things shook up like a very big earthquake. I moved cities again, after about eight years in New Delhi, the city of my heart. I traveled a lot, and I mean a LOT, as far as my track record goes (thirty one flights, four rented car journeys, two bus trips, and a tractor ride). I played a lot of great videogames, got two new consoles and a PC, and well, I um, well…
Let me tell you about gamers and the women who date them.
In my experience, the girlfriend of a regular gamer, or ‘gaming widow’ to use the technical scientific classification, passes her time in the life of said gamer in four distinct levels. There is no fifth level, because the fourth level is the unbeatable boss level. Level one brings with it feelings of deep and infatuating affection and she pictures the man as a cute boy-man, who likes playing Mario on a coin op. This is a good level, as it is characterized by the generally misinformed understanding that someone who plays a lot of videogames is also very technically intelligent, and may yet become a superwhiz IT consultant, and hey, all that passion means he is passionate. It is important that a level one girlfriend never actually see the man play his videogames, staring at the TV like a monkey with no other motor skills evident than the pressing of buttons, twirling of joysticks and stuffing of face with nachos, or hear the almost primal screams of his mates who spew advice while passing the nacho bucket around, thus shattering the illusion. In level one videogames==love. Level two, which comes about very soon to fairly early, depending on the season (Christmas deluge plays weird murder games in the relationship) is marked by resigned acceptance. Go on then, she thinks, play your stupid games. At least I know where you are at all times. At least you’re not eyeing my best friend, or shagging someone on the side. Level three, better known as the stage where the trouble actually starts is when she begins to compare herself to the hobby itself. The phrase ‘You and your stupid videogames’ will be used a multitude of times. Especially if Preeti and her idiot boyfriend and some friends want to do movies and lunch at Nirula’s with the both of you, and you have got an important TF2 tourney on that damned Singapore server. “You go and have fun, honey,” the gamer says trying to squirm out of the event, trying not to let on that he secretly hates Preeti and all her friends. “I’ll join you if I can.” Yeah, at seven. Level four is the advanced, cancerous version of stage three. The phrase repeated ever so often now is ‘You and your fucking videogames.’ When it’s time for another group lunch, the gamer’s girlfriend really hits it off with Preeti’s friend Rohan, who is a banking consultant with a cherry red Honda Civic who hates videogames, and she never returns your calls again.
Going back to the thought I didn’t complete, I finally figured out how to beat level four. Having struck out at all my relationships at Levels one, two, three and four in varying circumstances, I was determined to win this time. I decided I would cheat.
Turns out, the cheat code on level four is, “Will you marry me?” and it is not really one of those God-mode cheat codes, but kind of like that stupid small mushroom in Mario that turns you tiny, which whatever you say about it, only is good enough to make you excitable and jump really high, but does bugger all against Bowser, not to mention takes away whatever power up you were on at the time. Yep, 2007 was also the year when I beat Level four by getting married.
I know, I know. But at this time, it’s like telling a person that he can’t make a grilled tuna sandwich with a hosepipe, when he has invested not only in the pipe, but drilled a hole in an underground water reservoir, created a fence around the hole for leakages, laid out a picnic table with the fancy tablecloth and nice china and bought a big bottle of Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chilly Sauce (It’s different). I would have probably made a more direct analogy and enlightened all of you on the inner arguments about marriage, but I DON’T HAVE PERMISSION.
Surprisingly, though, it has turned out to be very good for my gaming, because first of all, everyone in the whole world, including the wife, now understands and empathizes that I need a consolation prize. Games are my lollipop after the tetanus shot. Second of all, hey, you need someone to pummel at DoA at 3 in the morning. Am I right, or am I right? Plus, after I got the Wii, Nintendo saw fit to reward me with the single most effective advantage of being married – Super Mario Galaxy. While I am playing the game, I need someone to collect all the star bits for me, and the universe has literally conspired for me to make the most of my situation. Plus when you get married and someone (these two fine people) gifts you an X-Box 360, not to mention games to play it with and bean bags to play it on, you start to think maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Digressi-mon, I choose you!
(I really need to tell you about the great year in gaming I have had, especially with all the console love and a new PC, and I create segues like hosepipes create grilled tuna sandwiches.) Here, then, are the videogames that made the most impact in a mad mad year, and while I know your favorite is probably not here, remember that I may possibly hate you personally.
10. God Of War 2 (OR The most fun pressing buttons in the order someone tells you to)
It is surprising that I remembered this game at all, having played it in bouts and fits all through the year on my choking little PS2. But playing the middling to horrid Heavenly Sword made me realize how much I love the impeccable design decisions in this game. As much as I love David Jaffe, this sequel topped his creation many times over.
Why your game isn’t here: Because if you show me a game and claim it as a more polished example of a gameplay balance and carnage I will think you are wrong.
9. Eternal Sonata(Or Best game about hallucinations)
You are a character inside the dream of a sick and fevered Frederic Chopin, and you must battle monsters in turn based musical combat with musically named party members. Do you need another reason? It seems unlikely that Chopin dreamt of wide eyed Manga characters and turn based combat, yes. Still, you never know.
Why your game isn’t here: I haven’t played Mass Effect, and I think The Witcher had terrible voice acting. I think Persona 3 deserved to be on this list, and I think it still is. You JUST CAN”T SEE IT. Freaky.
8. Supreme Commander (OR Best game that made you feel like Mogambo)
World in Conflict has prettier explosions, and the battles are more intimate. But I can play Sup Com on dual monitors, keeping my eye on different parts of the epic battle at all times. That makes me feel all sorts of awesome, and dammit, games are supposed to do just that.
Why your game isn’t here: Muhuhahaha, watch as I obliterate you and build a frigate while keeping an eye on both things.
7. Team Fortress 2(OR The best game to wrest the crown from Counter Strike, never mind CoD)
It is the single most fun experience online I have had all year, despite the MMO trappings of CoD 4 or the trappings of the actual MMO expansion of the year, or even the fact that it ships with less maps than any other online shooter.
Why your game isn’t here: I hate Halo 3 multiplayer and the douchebaggery that it encourages in normal people on Live, I do.
6. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (OR The best case for scripted gameplay, sandboxes be damned)
I like its multiplayer almost as much as I like TF2, or maybe a little less, but it is the relentless single player campaign with its cinematic gameplay, orchestral score, and finally, AI smart enough to immerse you completely in the game make me love this game. I have played this twice in different difficulty settings, and I plan to replay certain missions. Pure fun out of a tap.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (OR The best game to buy if you travel a lot)
Don’t be fooled by what I just said. Even if you sit rooted to your desk playing Phantom Hourglass, it is pound for pound one of the best adventure game this year, and another solid achievement on the DS. I am surprised at how much I love my little DS every year more and more due to the absolutely fantastic games that keep coming on it.
Why your game isn’t here: I absolutely loved Crush, loved it. I am the man who will defend Jeanne de’Arc and FF Tactics to death. But there is something about the mad load times and the eldritch murderous refresh rates on the PSP that make me not pick it up. Something clearly needs to be done here.
4. Bioshock (OR The best game about Ayn Rand, and I know Chris Kohler said it first)
As a game that can be classified as a first person shooter, the game only about treads similar grounds as System Shock 2, so that can’t ever be bad, but not terribly new. But it the compelling story that makes it a gem. More importantly, the back story is told through what comes as a slap on the face to the cut scenes of FF and the briefing sequences in the Medal of Honor series. It is told through the game. YOU piece together the narrative by looking at an exquisitely detailed world and make sense of the narrative ion a world gone awry. This is not a novel or a movie as some people like to think. Bioshock is pure game.
Why your game isn’t here: Crysis is gorgeous, and the trying to find ways to kill the next set of bad guys is intact from Far Cry, but it bores me no end. HL2 Ep2 is pretty good, I admit. But you’ll know in a bit. And oh, Halo 3? Well, the 10 minutes of fun is intact. Unfortunately, so are the uninspired levels.
3. Rock Band (OR The best way to make you feel like a rock star)
3 minutes into this awesome game, and I already had creative differences with the drummer and the soloist. No one paid attention to the bassist, because, he is the bassist, and I fucked their song up. Bring it on bitches. Pure genius then, that the default controllers are broken as well. You can SMASH THEM and play with the GH controllers.
Why your game isn’t here: Because I can’t play with you anymore man, you are stifling my creativity.
2. Super Mario Galaxy (OR The best science fiction game)
If you need reasons to play Super Mario Galaxy, you are clearly a dead husk of a human being, and your decaying body needs no more nourishment. Go eat human brains, and don’t bother me. I’ve got a chainsaw tied to my arm.
Why your game isn’t here: Because if I had to remove this for Ratchet and Clank Tools of Destruction, it would make me evil. Oh, and the princess is another castle.
1. Portal (OR The best cake and the best lie and the best lie about the cake)
Funniest game of the year, the best song of the year, the game with most character, and the most innovative gameplay mechanism. It took me about 4 hours to finish it, but is very quietly changed the way game design is looked at in that time. I doff my hat at the game everyone should play because your life is incomplete without it.
Why your game isn’t here: The cake is a lie.
I have played these and more this year, making 2007 an absolutely fantastic year for gaming. That I have now a wife who plays and loves these games as much as me makes it bloody brilliant. Since 2008 has no hope I hell of beating it, I proceeded straight to the getting drunk on the 1st. One thing that wasn’t brilliant in 2007 was however, the fact that I blogged (read mental masturbation) fairly less. Maybe this will be the same, but at least I have fucked your friends page/RSS feed/iPhone browser once this year. Let’s a go!
Year 2007 was also the year when The Sopranos ended. Not that I cared about the show one way or the other, but I hear the ending was so limp and vague, it left people talking for months. That is exactly how I am going to leave this post, so’s it leaves people talking. I like comments because it proves to the intarwubs that I have friends.
(Thanks to Harry Thompson’s views which colored mine completely, and on which the most amusing bits are completely based on.)