Game of the Year|
Publisher: 989 Studios
Developer: Verant Interactive
"All you need is to find a like-minded adventurer or two, and all of a sudden EverQuest stands to become one of the most memorable gaming experiences you've ever had." - Greg Kasavin, GameSpot Review
For the last several years, a great many industry analysts, game developers, and gamers have predicted that multiplayer gaming would be the wave of the future. The games of 1999 suggest that these predictions were accurate: Nearly all of the year's biggest and best games featured multiplayer support, and some, like first-person-shooter heavyweights Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament, were geared specifically toward online multiplayer gaming. Given the increasing emphasis of competitive and cooperative play, it seems more and more evident that multiplayer-focused games aren't just a passing fad. If online games really are the future, then we've already caught a glimpse of it running on the surprisingly stable server connections of EverQuest, Verant Interactive's online fantasy role-playing game.
GameSpot broke with tradition this year by awarding its highest honor exclusively to EverQuest. In previous years, GameSpot's Game of the Year also won the award for best game in its genre. However, EverQuest lost the title of Role-Playing Game of the Year to Interplay's Planescape: Torment, whose intriguing story and cast of characters made for a more engaging, if more traditional, role-playing experience. Nevertheless, the online world of EverQuest has proven itself to be as significant as it is popular, making it the natural choice for Game of the Year.
It's true that EverQuest has been roundly criticized by even its most devoted fans for any number of flaws, which are resolved and reintroduced on a seemingly regular basis with Verant's frequent gameplay updates. However, none of EverQuest's problems have kept its many thousands of hopelessly addicted subscribers from coming back night after sleepless night to the land of Norrath. EverQuest's combination of clean, colorful graphics and easily identifiable fantasy archetypes have provided the game with an extremely broad base of appeal and have created a truly immersive fantasy world that takes hold almost immediately and doesn't let go easily. Despite whatever else may be said about it, EverQuest has firmly established massively multiplayer online gaming as a medium that's not only capable of surviving, but also of thriving. As such, EverQuest isn't just a fiercely addictive game; it's also both a technical feat and a tremendously important achievement.
Following EverQuest's release in March, the whole gaming industry effectively ground to a halt. At least one prominent game developer blamed EverQuest for product delays, and for several weeks GameSpot's editors were spending more time exploring Norrath than they were doing their jobs. That's because exploring the world Verant created is an incredible experience, especially when you can do so with friends. And knowing that Norrath will continue to grow, both through Verant's continual addition of new zones and the forthcoming expansion, only adds to the impact of the game.
EverQuest isn't the most technically refined game of the year, but it's certainly the most ambitious and the most important. You can rest assured that people will remember their first journey from Qeynos to Freeport long after they've forgotten most every other game of 1999.