Game of the Year – The Orange BoxPlatform:
PC, Xbox 360, PS3
It had to be, didn’t it? Whether you look at The Orange Box
as one game, three games or five games – whether you’re a newcomer to the series who wants to play it in his living room on a console or a hardened fan who wants the PC experience, there’s still no faulting The Orange Box
. If nothing else there’s still just an enormous feeling of value
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
is perhaps the most perfect and appreciable of the Half-Life
experience yet. The meaty part of the story, Episode 2
picks up directly after Episode 1
and sees Alyx Vance and Gordon Freeman desperately trying to make it to White Forest Base to deliver a message of the utmost importance to the resistance.
The story is brilliantly told and the pace is kept fast so that players are constantly moving, barging through obstacles and knocking foes and trials aside. There is no pause, no relief save those shared between characters at pivotal moments of the plot.
Portal, click to enlarge
There is always something to overcome and, if nothing else, Episode 2
generates a fantastic sensation of motion – of constantly striving closer to a goal. By the end you’ll be collapsed over your desk, feeling like you’ve just managed to accomplish something for the first time in your life. It always, honestly feels like the characters are real, that they depend on you and that you are Gordon Freeman, their salvation.
At times the story will move you to tears, at others to laughter but, for the vast majority of the time you won’t have time to think. You’ll be stuck on the edge of your seat like an indecisive emo on a clifftop and you’ll be concerned only with doing what you can to save the characters which have become your friends and unveil more of the slowly revealed nature of the GMan.
Then there’s Portal
, which tells the story of Chell and GlaDOS – the test subject and examiner of Aperture Science respectively. Portal
takes an entirely different tack, slowing players down and giving them a relaxing and oddly romantic story which ties directly in to the events of Episode 2
Team Fortress 2, click to enlarge
Using the brand new game mechanic of the portal gun, players can progress the story at a mostly leisurely pace, savouring a truly dry sense of excellently written humour.
Then Team Fortress 2
, the much delayed sequel and office multiplayer game of choice. Streamlined to perfection in a way not seen in any game before, players get a chance to frag their friends in style by hopping around in a cel-shaded arena of death.
No matter what style of play you prefer – sneaky spies like Tim, saw-toting medics like Rich or slippery scope-eyed snipers like me – there’s just something for everyone. And that’s what makes The Orange Box
so great as a whole – there’s something for everyone and, to be honest, each and every one of the games in the box could stand to be in the top three on its own.
For the first time we don't have one game which tries to be a jack of all trades, cramming in multiplayer modes which are clearly unsuitable or puzzles which don't mesh with the game world at all. Instead, we have three games each of which is dedicated to a single purpose and then honed to a brilliant edge. You've got Episode 2
for your story-loving action heroes, Portal
for your humorous case-crackers and Team Fortress 2
for when you haven't got anybody else at all.
Put them all together and you've got our Game of the Year.
Think you can do better than us in selecting the top ten games of the year? Join us in the forums to share your own top ten games of 2007!