Of all the gaming platforms out there, I think its safe to say that Microsoft has taken the cake this year, as no other platform has seen it's share of triple A titles like the Xbox 360. Both in terms of exclusives and cross-platform releases, in 2007, the Xbox 360 has become the serious gamer's platform of choice.
Now, as 2007 draws to a close, its time for Arbiter's Judgement to award the top three titles on the Xbox 360 released this year, and its a difficult choice indeed. I feel, however, that quoting back from our 2005 Xbox Game of the Year Awards will help describe our selection process best:
"Now because we're not an official gaming publication, we don't get free titles for review purposes from anybody. Thus, the only way we can review and properly comment on titles is buy either purchasing, borrowing, or renting them.
In creating a "Game of the Year" list, like this one on this site, the thing to keep in mind is that since we don't get freebie titles, we're basic consumers like you, and we tell things as we see them, as regular Joe-Shmoe customers see them. Thus, the best way to make a year end award list for anything is simply to see what we, as customers, liked enough to go spend our cash on and based on those titles, which we felt were the best."
Now, on to the awards!
3) Halo 3. Being the most anticipated title for the console, and simply by being one of the most successful video games in the history of the medium, Halo 3 is bound to be on just about everyone's list. In my opinion, Halo 3 did not live up to the hype, however that doesn't mean that its not a great game. While not innovative to the level that Halo 2 was, the gameplay in Halo 3 is solid, featuring quite an enjoyable Single Player Campaign and intense, fast-paced Multiplayer. From a Single Player standpoint, there's enough variety in the Missions that Halo 3 is worth multiple play-throughs (I've already done 4) and from a Multiplayer perspective, not only is Halo 3 the most played title on Xbox LIVE, but its also going to be the LAN party title of choice for a long time to come. With Halo 3, Bungie has certainly concluded one of the most compelling and extensive video game trilogies ever made.
2) BioShock. When all was said and done, BioShock was my most anticipated game this year, and it certainly didn't disappoint. While not as RPG heavy as its spiritual predecessor, System Shock 2, BioShock is a gem among the crowded shooter genre. While most shooters today are set in the future, BioShock is set in the '60's in a unique, art deco themed underwater dystopia called Rapture. The game makes exceptional use of Unreal Engine 3 to bring Rapture to life, with exceptional water effects, lighting, and style, not to mention the wonderfully creepy and pitiable Splicers that roam the world, BioShock is truly a unique experience. The inclusion of weapon upgrades adds variety, and the Plasmids are simply fun to use, and such a great and unique way to interact with your environment that you won't find anywhere else. Also hats off to 2K Boston for the inclusion of the Little Sisters, as it took a lot of balls to include little girls and the moral option to save or murder them in our censor riddled world. Also, with a play time of about 20 hours, BioShock is an incredible Single Player game that's well worth your time, and the recent addition of new Plasmids and Tonics all for free only add to the game's appeal.
1) The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Game of the Year Edition. I know that most of you were expecting me to give Game of the Year to BioShock, what with how I've always gone on about it, but when all is said and done and after careful consideration, I have to give the nod to Bethesda's masterpiece, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Game of the Year Edition. While The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released in 2006, this year we saw its expansion, The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles, and a retail repackaging including both titles, and its to this compilation that I give Game of the Year. No other game in 2007 has sucked up more of my time, and no game world has been so richly detailed, so alive, so full of exploration, conflict, and wonder as the province of Cyrodiil that Bethesda Softworks has crafted for us. I've wasted over 200 hours playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and I don't even want to think about all the time I'm going to waste playing and replaying The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles. There is simply so much to do, to see, and to experience in Cyrodiil, that every play-through truly is so different, so unique, so varied, that I can not find the words to describe, to truly express, what playing through this game is like. Its simply something you need to pick up and play to believe, and even then you'll need a few hours to truly see the scoop and potential in the game, as there's just so much content here, from the NPC's, to the weather patterns, and varied Quests, I could go on and on and on. Instead, go get yourself a copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Game of the Year Edition, and prepare to loose yourself to the fantasy.