The year that will be known most commonly as 2006 was particularly exciting for gamers worldwide. Next generation console gaming finally arrived, despite the stock-shortages and pre-Christmas stutters. On top of that a whole host of brilliant games were released in 2006; Company of Heroes, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Half-Life 2: Episode One will always be remembered by gaming enthusiasts fondly. Since gaming really became mainstream, 2006 has to be classed as one of its better years.
That’s not to say 2007 won’t be better though; the way things are shaping up, signs are all positive. We’ll see wave after wave of next-gen titles hitting the shelves. Of course, what’s good for the consoles is good for the PC, with tons of games set to be released designed specifically for those hardcore users, rich enough to afford the top end equipment we all know and salivate over.
Many games tried very hard to get on this list, some a little too hard. Unfortunately though, many had to be put aside. This is a list focusing on the games that are ‘Most Wanted’. These are the games we’re most excited about. It’s not, as is traditional with these New Year lists, a prediction of what will be the top 10 games come the end of December 2007. Taking a look back to our Most Wanted Games of 2006, many of them still haven’t seen the light of day – has anyone seen Duke Nukem – I think he’s got lost again.
Without further ado I present to you our list of most wanted games.
Editors note: Top 10 lists like this are always controversial, and this is just one slant on the Top 10 games for 2007. Tons of games, some of which will actually be mentioned in the article, have had to be missed otherwise this might never end. We really want to hear your Top 10 list too, if you think we've missed something crucial out. Drop by the forums and let us know what you agree with on the list and what you don't agree with. What have we missed out? What should be on the list? Let us know!
Why is it good: First up this year is the 'Lord of Stealth', Solid Snake, and the latest incarnation of Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid series. Don't let the fact that Snake is old, grey and has a look not dissimilar to Dick van Dyke fool you; he's still as bad-ass as spies come. Nostalgically pairing up with his bespectacled mate, Otacon, Snake will get his hands on a whole range of new kit which should make for some interesting new gameplay styles.
Octocamo, inspired by the way Octopi (the plural of Octopus) can blend into their background, will now allow Snake to camo on the fly. This suit/mask combo will even allow the spy to play dead, with his mask turning his face into a bloody corpse-like pulp. This is not Snake's only new gadget. He'll also be able to use his new Solid Eye system, which should replace the nightvision and thermal vision goggles seen in all previous games.
The game will once again rely on a strong storyline. Set after Metal Gear Solid 2 (thankfully no sign of the long haired pansy Raiden) the game takes place in what looks like an urban warzone. The slogan "No Place to Hide" has been attached to the game by the director with the intention being, not to disillusion fans of the sneaking and stealthy game, but to emphasise the dynamic nature of the game. The fourth game will feature environments that will be far more realistic in the way they react. If a building is teetering on the edge of collapse, a loud noise like an explosion, can send it toppling to the floor. Exciting stuff!
What could go wrong: The last time a new generation of consoles arrived, the first Metal Gear Solid game to be released was the highly anticipated 'Sons of Liberty'. Unfortunately, the game missed the mark, with critics considering it too story driven and too self-indulgent. It was only with the release of Metal Gear Solid 3 did the series re-establish itself as Premier League. One worry for the directors must surely be that the same thing could happen here, especially considering the ambitious nature of their design aims.
One such aim, which may annoy fans, is the plan to remove the alert alarms that usually pop up over Snake's head when he is spotted. The reasons for this are justifiable; the look of a cartoon exclamation mark over Snake's head in the ultra realistic graphical environment of the game may look slightly silly. The reaction to this announcement that the warning graphics would be removed was met with dismay, and so rumour has it that they will be putting it back in as an option. The team needs to be careful to maintain that balance of what made the games great in the past whilst still embracing the future and driving the franchise forward.
Why is it good: When you look at Bioshock it's hard not to think SystemShock. The game, which comes from the same developers, is being described as the 'spiritual successor' (a flavour-of-the-month phrase that every developer and his dog seem to be throwing around at the moment) to those games. No bad thing considering how great they were. When thinking of Bioshock though, I see a comparison with a totally different classic: Deus Ex.
Bioshock is an FPS come RPG that's been in development since 2006 and will be launched on multiple platforms. The game will be set in an underwater city and will contain 'Emergent Gameplay'. Let's cut through the bull and smear it out; emergent gameplay basically means a dynamic, open-ended universe in which you can play the game as you feel with your decisions having an affect on the direction the game goes. Think GTA, think Oblivion, then take away the Elves and the gangsters and instead throw in a whole bunch of Sci-Fi and an underwater city and you're probably getting close to what Bioshock really is.
Not only will the game look sexier than me in a thong (Urgh - Ed.), but it also promises some cool features. The storyline for instance, could possibly be the deepest and most engaging in FPS history. The enemies also should provide a bit of interest; evil mutants are always good fun to kill and the complex levels of AI interaction should make for some very interesting scenarios. Being able to think as well as shoot will be an absolute must, as ammo in the underwater dystopia will be in short supply!
What could go wrong: Ambition is a good thing, being overly ambitious is foolhardy. Bioshock looks stunning, the concept is inspired and the potential is enormous - yet when aiming so high it's easy to miss. Some critics have expressed concern over whether the game will offer enough variety in its enemies for instance, and such a small flaw may completely unravel the game's appeal. Bioshock could easily be the game of the year, then again it could be the blow-out of the decade, at the moment it's finely balanced.