Thursday, December 28, 2006

Final Blog Post of the Year

Well, as mentioned in the title, this will be my last blog post of the year. During this time I'll be hanging out with the family, catching up on some old games, finishing up some projects I’m working on (articles, reviews, stories, etc.) For the duration of the break I’ll be on Xbox Live (probably playing Gears of War, my newfound gaming addiction :P) and AIM so if you wish to contact me, you have both of those options…oh and there’s email. As 2006 comes to a close, I think I use my final blog post of 2006 to reflect on the past year of gaming.
The Year 2006 in Retrospect (Abridged version)

The Xbox 360 has really hit its stride this year after its pretty rocky launch in 2005 spilling over into the first few months of 2006. March however saw the releases of several highly anticipated games for the Xbox 360, GRAW, Fight Night Round 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, all worthy of your gaming dollars even today. There was a bit of a lull after that point, as there were no really good titles until the summer. Early summer was met with Chromehounds, a vastly underrated and underappreciated game in my opinion. Late summer saw the releases of two much talked about and surprisingly good games, Dead Rising and Saints Row. These managed to tide 360 gamers over until the fall when some of the best quality Xbox 360 games released. November saw the releases of many great games such as Viva PiƱata (which was another shocker) Rainbow Six Vegas and the most hyped game this year, Gears of War. It completely lived up to its massive amounts of hype and as such, has been named GameSpot’s 2006 Game of the Year. In the end, I think it’s safe to say the Xbox 360 has done an incredible amount in its first full year on the market, and I hope it continues to deliver.

The runaway hit Playstation 2 also had another exceptional year, and with the release of its big brother the PS3 looming on the horizon that was no easy feat. But the six year old PS2 showed everyone it still had some legs and stood strong once again with a killer lineup of exclusive games proving that you don’t have to upgrade to the next generation of consoles to have great gaming experiences. Throughout the year there were a ton of stellar releases including the much hyped Okami, Final Fantasy XII, Guitar Hero II, Singstar Rocks! (which I really want to play), and Bully.

The Playstation 3 on the other hand didn’t have such a year leading up to its release this past November 17th. E3 2006 was not too kind to the Playstation 3 (I’m pretty sure everyone remembers the “Giant Enemy Crab” and “Ridge Racer” debacles during the pre-show press conference) and for some time afterwards it had its fair share of bad press in the months that followed. Even after launch, it still had bad press coming from all angles, including Time Magazine and the New York Times. Still though, the launch of the Playstation 3 was pretty smooth, despite missing intended shipment marks (an estimated 200,000 consoles reached North America on launch day instead of the promised 400,000). There were very few of hardware malfunctions that plagued the Xbox 360’s launch (and quite frankly, even now) and despite missing their original shipment targets, they have kept up a steady stream of PS3’s coming to keep retailers relatively well stocked (I recently called a local Best Buy store and they told me they had some PS3’s in stock). The actual launch titles fared about as well as 360 titles did the previous year with a few highlights (Resistance: Fall of Man) and a few flops (Genji: Days of the Blade, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom). All in all, the PS3 was a bit on the disappointing side this year but, to its credit, almost all consoles have a shaky start (as did the PS2, and we all see what happened there) and its first full year on the market and some of its biggest blockbuster titles are coming up in 2007.

The Nintendo Wii on the other hand has seen its share of good press. At E3 2006, members of the gaming press got their chance to play the Nintendo Wii (some for the first time) and see how their new fangled motion sensing controller affected the way games would be played on the system. Since then, very little bad press has come Nintendo’s way, as those who had the chance to play it often left with great first impressions. Nintendo also decided to give gamers across the United States the chance to try the Wii out for themselves before it released at the Nintendo Fusion Tour this past fall. After my first time at the controls, I was very satisfied as were many others who had the chance to experience it. The launch went very smoothly, and although Nintendo didn’t meet their goals of shipping 1 million Wii consoles to North America on launch day, they still managed to get 600,000 units stateside. The launch titles were as expected, with one really huge game (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) and a bunch of other great titles (Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, Rayman: Raving Rabbids) to round out the collection. Surprisingly, there was a pretty big flop in the form of Red Steel, but other than that, there wasn’t much to lose sleep over. 2007 looks to be a good year for the Wii with three big name titles (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brothers Brawl) on the way.

All that said, this was a very good year for gaming. I plan on expanding this short feature in the next week so look for it when it’s finished.

Well, that’ll do it for my last blog post of the year. I’ll be back next year in full force so be on the lookout! :D. I hope everyone here has a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year!