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2002 Games of the Year

/ Dec 31st, 2002 No Comments

Gaming Illustrated reviews the gaming year of 2002 in this exclusive commentary…

Best Game of 2002

Jamie Wharton: Morrowind

I’ve debated over this…it was nearly Splinter Cell, then Mafia, then Eternal Darkness, then Medieval…but ultimately it really had to be Bethesda Soft’s remarkable RPG Morrowind. It’s got a dodgy combat system, the music gets repetitive but it achieves its goal in that it creates a world where you chose how to play, you chose what to do, there are next to no restrictions at all.

I have recently got my anti-RPG friend playing it and he described it as ‘badass’. To emphasize how you can play the way you want, my current character is an Imperial Guard…I am going round of my own accord freeing slaves and killing smugglers…my friend is playing a Murderer, systematically eradicating life in each village and is on his way to have a meeting with the evil Dagoth Ur. I have spent hours and hours on the game and progressed hardly at all in the games main story with any of my characters yet I have still achieved a great deal. Even GTA 3, the only other game that has such an open-ended style forces you to progress by doing the missions it sets you. Sometimes I load up the game, get out the paper map that you get with the game, choose somewhere I haven’t been and go off for a little walk.

Morrowind is an amazing achievement, the fact it is available to console owners on the X-Box is great for games too. Anyone who has only ever played console games will be utterly astonished by Morrowind’s flexibility. It wins me over simply through offering something unlike anything else available today.

Roy Rossi: PC: Neverwinter Nights

They finally did it. Bioware grasped the distinction of creating the ultimate Dungeons & Dragons computer game experience. With its fun single player game, plus the robust and *relatively* simple Aurora toolset, hundreds of player-designed modules as well as mods are available, and there’s going to be much more in the future (including a Bioware designed expansion)!

PS2: Ratchet and Clank

Insomniac Games follows up their stellar Spyro series with a new precedent for platform games. Although Super Mario Sunshine was probably a more involving game for the master platform gamer, Ratchet and Clank combined its beautiful graphic world with the right balance of difficulty and length, making it a game that every PS2 owner should at least rent.

GameCube: Metroid Prime

The masterful controls coupled with the real sense of traversing the wrecked halls of a derelict space station make this game not only a worthy successor to the lofty legacy of the series, but also stands as the best translation of a first person shooter to a console system.

Sean Gibson: PC: WarCraft III

There was so much hype behind this game that it barely stood a chance coming close to the lofty expectations, yet somehow the people at Blizzard showed the industry once again why they only produce the top games on the market. WarCraft III continued the legacy and tradition of top notch A+ games for the PC.

XBox: Splinter Cell

Although I’m not the biggest FPS mark on the planet, or even up for much strategic combat games, this title really impressed with it’s graphics and depth. Finally XBox is getting the titles that really showed us why it had so much promise in the beginning.

gaming story of 2002

Jamie Wharton: The Doom 3 Alpha Leak

The Doom 3 Alpha leak was all about technology, it was a glimpse of the future that wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago. Since the broadband connection has really taken off the idea of downloading a 400mb file isn’t so humorous… so when the news that an Alpha version of Doom 3 was seeping through Usenet then everyone’s ADSL connection came into its own. God bless Kazaa. Where did the leak come from? Well, the demo is the same one being used at E3…by ATI…hmm…well this writer hasn’t got a clue…

Now again, technology is the key here, I can’t judge Doom 3s gameplay on this, it is after all Doom 3 v0.02. What we can look at is the graphics, an idea of what games of the future will look like, and if games are gonna be this pretty then we have a lot to look forward to, it is all utterly jaw dropping…and we are all gonna have to buy a Geforce FX at some point. The glorious animation on the shuffling zombies, the shifting shadows under a swinging lamp…there are no shortage of stunning effects…I even managed to avoid attack when I saw the reflection of a demon in a pane of glass coming from behind me. The pinnacle of the demo is the third level where a demon drags a corpse into a bathroom. A cut sequence driven by the game engine shows a bloodstained bathroom, the demon mauling the corpse on the floor, blood splattering across the tiles and the body twitching and flopping about very limply. The demon rips out a mouthful of intestines and throws its head back to swallow it, all the time its shadow sliding back and forth under a swinging lamp and reflected in a mirror. The sheer realism of the sequence is astounding, if the promised story emphasized gameplay can be put into place alongside this horror then Doom 3 could be something special.

Roy Rossi: Sims becomes best selling game of all time

Love it or hate it, the Sims is the best bridge between games and the mainstream ever (well, the Sims and professional athletes who play games). It doesn’t matter that I can’t find anything interesting in controlling these virtual people pets; the fact remains that more gamers = more money = more games. Go Sims.

Sean Gibson: Sims becomes best selling game of all time

What could possibly be a bigger story? The best selling game ever – what an amazing accomplishment for a game that started out as something us in the industry thought was a novel, cute, and innocent little game. Little did we know half the planet would be addicted within months.

Most overhyped game of 2002

Jamie Wharton: Starfox Adventures

I was really looking forward to this as well… Codemasters may have put a hell of a lot of effort into promoting Yet Another Colin McRae Rally 3 but it didn’t really have the public as excited as the return of a AAA name did. Starfox was one of the Gamecubes key releases this year and it is just so, so disappointing I could cry. Starting off as a game on the N64 that had nothing to do with Fox McCloud, the Starfox team does feel just tacked onto the plot and it doesn’t really work. Graphically it is astoundingly good, but gameplay wise it is exceedingly thinly spread.

I would describe this game as Zelda Lite, it has identical play mechanics to the N64 Zelda games but none of the charm, none of the fiendish puzzles and certainly none of the memorable characters. The potential is there it just doesn’t gel together, I didn’t care about the dinosaurs plight and despite the graphical finesse, I wasn’t bothered about exploring the lands. It is a shame that this was the final contribution from Rare, a company that pretty much carried the N64 all the way, we can only hope for better things from them on the X-Box.

Roy Rossi: I pass. BMX XXX off hand but I haven’t played it. Dead or Alive XXX? Anyone? Anyone??

Sean Gibson: Robotech: Battlecry

I don’t know about you, but I was the biggest Robotech mark this side of Macross city. When they announced a Robotech game, I seriously hit the ceiling with anticipation with the screenshots sent out that floated on the net. Playing it at E3 was a little disappointing, but I held out hope that what I saw wasn’t the final product. Sadly, it wasn’t far off the mark.

Worst game of 2002

Jamie Wharton: BMX XXX

An easy decision. There is just so, so many things wrong with this game I’m quite embarrassed by its mere existence. First things first, its an extreme sports title…sorry, ANOTHER extreme sports title is how that should have read. I don’t have a problem with the baggy pants, I don’t have a problem with people jumping off things and hurting themselves, ok, I may have a problem with the dodgy punk-pop music but this current obsession of the games industry with pumping out all these identical titles is ridiculous. Tony Hawks 4 (FOUR!!) is a perfect example, BMX XXX wins though through it’s ‘adult’ aspects, but its gameplay is a carbon copy of the Dave Mirra series.

The XXX part of the game is the bit that you really want to be upset about though, it’s quite pathetic really. The humor is low, dogs urinating do not make me split my sides, it just makes me feel sorry for the guy who thought it was a good idea. Now the women…I admit I enjoy looking at a pretty girl as much as the next man but can’t we be grown up about this? To get people to buy Dave Mirra BMX again by throwing a few nipples into the equation is shameful. Considering this is meant to be a piece of adult entertainment I can only see it appealing to early teens, who are thankfully too young to buy this rubbish.

Roy Rossi: PC: Civilization III: Play the World

Yes, it’s an expansion pack, but Civ III: PTW was the most disappointing gaming experience I’ve had this year. Although the additional units and civilizations are up to Firaxis’ high standards, the multiplayer game caused numerous crashes and plenty of lag. Firaxis deserves credit for quickly patching things up, but Civ III: PTW was a definite case of not being ready for prime time.

Sean Gibson: WWF RAW IS WAR

Wow, this game was a stinker. Some people liked it, which boggles my mind, but this was supposed to be one of the showcase games for XBox when that platform got launched. Instead gamers were treated to missed deadline after missed deadline, extended the release date by nearly 6 months. The reward for our patience? An excruciating experience that left us wondering what THQ was really up to with this title.

GI Staff

GI Staff

This post features writing by members of the Gaming Illustrated staff. Thanks for reading, and follow us on Twitter @GamingIllustrat
GI Staff
GI Staff

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