I’m really out of the mainstream, I suppose. I just don’t get into MMOGs, so BF1942 isn’t on my list. In fact, my list will really show how out of the mainstream I probably am:
Total War: Medieval - what a sleeper.
NOLF2 - Love the attitude.
Morrowind - I’m a sucker for open-ended games.
CMBB - The game that changed the paradigm in wargaming gets significant improvements.
Champ Manager 01/02 - I still start playing this and look up and it’s hours later than I thought.
Based on amount of time played and overall enjoyment (read: fun) I’m going to have to choose between Battlefield: 1942 and Age of Mythology. I know, boring and obvious, but honest. Madden 2003 PC deserves mention as “most stunningly improved series” but that’s largely because the 2002 version was based on the 2001 console version. 2003 is in line with the 2003 console, so it’s only a big leap on the PC.
I’d vote for Neverwinter Nights. (I made some of this argument in the “most disappointing” topic before I realized it was in the wrong place.)
I pretty much agree with the criticisms of the single-player campaign, but I’d anticipated going in (from experience with Unlimited Adventures in the early '90s, I guess) that the campaign would be a demo for the editor, rather than a game in its own right, so I didn’t have many preconceptions to dash.
Frankly, the editor is incredible–it lured me back into scenario-making for the first time in 10 years–and the scenarios out there just get better and better.
I don’t have anything against the board favorites (Battlefield 1942, Total War: Medieval, No One Lives Forever 2 and Age of Mythology). They’re all good games and maybe NOLF2 in its beauty and detail is better than just “good.”
But I’ve seen most of them before in various incarnations–Battlefield 1942 in Tribes, Medieval in Shoguna, AOM in AOK–and I think a “never seen before” quality that should attach to a GOTY.
If you judge NWN just as a single-player game, I guess I can understand your disapointment … but you’re also kind of missing the point.
As I mentioned, I took the campaign as a demo for the editor. A game editor with this level of power, freedom and ease of use (well, relative to the power, at least) is what I’d never seen before.
Understand, despite writing about games for 14 years, I’ve never made a scenario for anything–apart from one abortive attempt with Bard’s Tale Construction Set that was more or less forced on me by the review I was writing–but this editor sucked me right in and kicked me out of a creative lull.
All of a sudden, I’m thinking like a game designer. And I think I can translate most of my thoughts into a game.
I wrote in the other topic that NWN isn’t a game but a thousand potential games, and I’d stick by that. I’d urge you to try some of the scenarios available online. There are some amazingly fun experiences out there–for single player as well as multi–and they just seem to get better and better.
America’s Army or Asheron’s Call 2. Kicks BF1942’s ass all over the place. Battlefield was fun in our 30-man LAN games here at work… but the fact that I could be shooting at a guy’s head from 5 feet away and still not kill him just drove me completely nuts. Possibly the most frustrating game of the year for me, but not even in the top 20 for my GOTY pick. The demo, maybe, but the final game… not a chance in hell.
I will no longer touch CS with a ten foot pole. I want to try out some other mods like Natural Selection and I used to play FLF all the time. After upgrading to XP I can no longer play Internet Half Life games so I haven’t been able to try any newer mods.
The only game I played this year that actually came out this year was Dungeon Siege, and that certainly doesn’t make game of the year.
So, for personal games of the year (of the games I played this year):
System Shock 2 - great fun was had with this oldie, and it was a very different gameplay experience the second time around. First time I was a hacker, this time a psi guy. Plus, it was almost a multiplayer experience because a bunch of guys from Gone Gold all played through it roughly at the same time, so it felt like one of the “new” games that everyone online was talking about.
Diablo – yup, the first one. My niece came up for a week this summer and we fired this up on the LAN and had a great time hacking away together. It also saved me money because it was all she wanted to do, so I didn’t have to spring for movies, museums, and various touristy crap.
Console game of the year:
Grandia II on the Dreamcast, because it’s the only console I own, and it’s the only console game I played to completion.
Board game of the year:
Twilight Imperium – if you can get six players together this is the MOO2 of board games with a unique board every game (building the board is part of the game, and a key to your starting strategy), lots of political wrangling, about 800 ways to screw the other guy, and many die-cast plastic pieces.
Card game of the year:
Burn Rate – made by out of work dot-commers, about the dot-com industry, this offers a nice blend of chance and strategy. Everyone starts of with $100 in VC and the last one to go bankrupt wins. Again there are about 800 ways to screw the other guy, by giving him bad ideas which he must support until he can release them, making him hire too many managers, and all sorts of other nasty things. It’s gotten so we know all the managers in the deck by name, which is kind of scary.
Heh. I forget such things since I just entered the world of console gaming when I got a PS2 early this year.
Well, then. Console game of the year goes to… um… Rez? No, also 2001. Well, I guess I’d better reserve myself to discussing the Best Console Games of the Last Two Years, cause my collection is pretty shameful by Dave Long standards.
And I was already feeling pathetic because I hadn’t played lots of PC games this year like Hitman 2, Battlefield, or Metal of Honor.