A year(ish) ago I made my first ever public New Year's resolution, to play more games (specifically anything scoring 8.5 or higher on GameSpot). Twelve of the best months in gaming for a long time later, and I'm not surprised to report I have fallen woefully short. I started off strong, but it all started to go downhill when Pokemon Diamond got a high enough score to mean I had to play it. I just really couldn't bring myself to play a Pokemon game. Partially because it's Pokemon and, you know, Pokemon, but mostly because I don't ever want to be able to talk with any level of expertise about Pokemon, a man's got to have some standards after all. Pokemon Diamond, of course, was not one of the games of the year so I might be able to let it slide. Not really, let's have a quick run through the GOTY nominees to see how many good games I missed out on this year.
Bioshock - I played the demo when it came out on Xbox Live, but that's it. My excuse? Absolutely none whatsoever. I wanted to play it, had the opportunity and time to play it, but just never played it. Chalk up another game for me to play when it gets a price drop.
Call of Duty 4 - Played through the single player on PC, yet to get into the multiplayer. Very good game, but I felt that the relentless forward motion normally required in Call of Duty games didn't sit so well in a modern setting. Nevertheless the Chernobyl and AC-130 missions are two of the best individual levels I have played for a long time.
Crysis - I have purchased, installed and started playing Crysis. I also spent nigh on $3000 buying a new PC to play it on, including SLI 8800GTs. Just to let you know, that's not enough, you still have to mess around with the settings an awful lot to get the framerate at an acceptable number. Besides that, I haven't played enough of it to form a serious opinion of the game, except to say that the first hour or so is pretty underwhelming.
Forza 2 - Haven't been near it, not interested. I really don't do racing games.
God of War 2 - I've given my thoughts on God of War 2 previously, but here's a summary: Bigger and more impressive than the first, with some truly epic boss fights. The story and atmosphere of the sequel, however, is a long way short of the original. Probably one of the best games to come out on the PS2.
Halo 3 - I've played through the single player campaign in co-op about one and a half times. To be honest, I lost track of the Halo story about halfway through Halo 2, so I have nothing to say about it as a concluding chapter. I also think that changing the primary enemy from elites to brutes changed the dynamic of the game for the worse. Because the brutes do not have recharging shields the player is no longer required to play in a run-and-gun style, which turns Halo 3 into a much more standard shooter in which you sit behind cover taking pot shots at enemies until they die. Multiplayer-wise, Bungie continue to set the mark for online community features with the replay features, improved stat-tracking and so forth. Regardless of whether or not you like Halo's multiplayer, the quality of the features surrounding it is unmatched.
Rock Band - Wouldn't know, it's not out in Australia yet, and in fact it still doesn't even have a solid release date here.
Super Mario Galaxy - I've played a fair amount of Galaxy and I have to say that it hasn't impressed me a whole lot. Rather than repeat someone else's words, check out the Zero Punctuation review of the game. It's worth noting that this was definitely the best Wii game to come out in 2007, but that's really a feat on the order of winning a fist fight against Stephen Hawking.
The Orange Box - From a GOTY perspective, we have to ignore Half-Life 2 and Episode 1, which just leaves Episode 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal. For my money, Portal is close to being a GOTY contender by itself. Add in Team Fortress 2, which I haven't played but has caused sleepless nights among quite a few people at my work, and you need a very good reason to not make The Orange Box Game of The Year.
World In Conflict - I have bought this game, but not yet played it, so that's probably all I can say about that.
So of the nine nominees, I've played 3 enough that I feel fully qualified to talk about them, and another 3 a bit. Maybe I'll do better next year. It's probably best not to bother with a resolution though, try and keep the amount of self-inflicted failures for the year to a minium.
On an entirely unrelated note, I spent a few days over the Christmas break coding and putting up a blog at http://stripeshop.metagnome.net mostly as a coding project because that's the kind of totally not-nerdy-at-all thing I do when I'm on holiday. Anyway, it's going to be serving as a place for my musings on more esoteric and technical game design stuff, including board games, card games, any games I can get my hands on really and whatever I get up to with the XNA toolkit. GameSpot is staying as my usual outlet for rants and comments on computer gamery and other random stuff, but if you don't get enough metagnome with my sporadic GameSpot updates, feel free to check out the Stripe Shop.