Game of the Year: Halo 3
Who would have thought? No really, who would have thought? Bungie outdid themselves and other developers this year with Halo 3, packing it full of features, technology and gameplay that is yet to be seen in any other game of 2007. Don't get me wrong, other gems like BioShock and Mass Effect are amazing in their own right and GOTY worthy to some, but I weigh re-playability, online functionality, community and multiplayer much higher. And surprise, surprise, Halo 3 has it all. Let's look at the list. Four player online campaign co-op with a scoring system, a delightfully satisfying story, a nearly flawless matchmaking setup, insane (crazy insane) amount of stats and data available on Bungie.net, a loyal community, screenshot and film sharing, a Theater mode and a little thing called the Forge. Oh friggin' yeah. True, it has its share of imperfections and has earned the reputation for being the whipping boy among the gaming community (people love to hate the popular), but the inconceivable amount of technology, re-playability and fun that can be had makes Halo 3 my creamy indulgence of 2007. Much love to Bungie.
XBLA Game of the Year: Carcassonne
This may be an odd choice to some, but only to those who haven't had the honor of playing this tile game-o-fun. Carcassonne is one of those rare Arcade games that perfectly packages together board game fun with enough strategy to keep things fresh every time you play. Simply put, Carcassonne has a bit of a learning curve that can never be mastered, but that's the appeal. Strategy and dancing game pieces equal greatness.
And to those of you who missed out on Carcassonne when it was a free download during LIVE is 5IVE, you should be ashamed. You missed out on a chance to experience XBLA GOTY greatness for free. Though, redemption is but 800 Microsoft points away.
Best XBLM Demo: BioShock
2K Boston (Irrational Games for purists) handled the BioShock demo release nearly perfectly. Not only did they build up enough pre-demo hype to bring Xbox Live to its knees, but the demo ended up being just enough gameplay to pull in an audience without giving away too much. 2K Boston rather smartly started off the BioShock demo exactly how the retail build did, introducing us to the world, the characters and gameplay as intended. It left me and countless others wanting more, which is exactly what a demo is supposed to do. I guess it helps that the game is hella' fun too.
Most Surprising Announcement: Peter Moore heads to EA Sports
I'm pretty sure nobody saw this coming as we were all in awe when the announcement was made that Peter Moore was leaving his Xbox 360 throne to take control of EA Sports. And our hearts have ever since been broken. We'll forever miss our Moore, his honesty and love of the platform, but it's time to move on and let go. If he's happy with his position at EA and new found million dollar fortune then I'm happy for him too. Viva la Moore!
Best XBLM Download: Rock Band's entire music library
Instead of chosing one single download I've instead picked Rock Band's entire download library as my Best XBLM Download award simply because of Harmonix's commitment and support. To be honest, I was skeptical of their weekly downloadable content promise, but so far they're batting 100 and are beating Guitar Hero III's pricing structure. Continue offering Rock Band downloads at attractive price points in a timely fashion and I'll never cheat on you Rock Band. Never ever.
Most Anticipated Game of 2008: Halo Wars, Condemned 2: Bloodshot and Castle Crashers
It's a three way tie! I couldn't narrow my Most Anticipated Game of 2008 to just one game. There are three worthy contenders that stand out in my mind and I refuse to choose. So, let's just get to them and dream about what's to come.
Halo Wars is my cautiously optimistic pick for 2008. I'm extremely interested in seeing how Ensemble Studios pulls off an RTS on the 360, but have kept my expectations rather low. No console RTS has made me a believer yet, but it's entirely possible that Halo Wars' theme alone will turn me to the dark side of console RTS gaming. We'll just have to wait and see.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot is only a few months away and I'd be a fool to say that I'm not intrigued. Monolith looks to be on track to delivering a brutally violent sequel to Criminal Origins with crisp and clean cut scenes, new gameplay tweaks and a tiny new addition called the Hobo Fight Club. Enough said.
Finally we've got one of the most anticipated XBLA games ever releasing sometime in 2008 and it's Castle Crashers. The Behemoth showed off a demo earlier this year at PAX, but with their build it, tear it apart and rebuild it again development schedule, they've pushed Castle Crashers back to an '08 release. Four player Xbox Live gaming, an inspiring art style and awkward humor make Castle Crashers a guaranteed XBLA hit. It's safe to say that these colorful knights will rule the Arcade next year.
Worst Game of the Year: Yaris
It's pretty simple. Yaris sucks! And I have never ever been so confident to say that no matter what retail or XBLA games released in 2007, Yaris takes the crown of being the Worst Game of the Year. Whoever green-lighted this mess should be slapped with a salmon, poked in the eyes with chopsticks and paraded naked down the Vegas strip with a neon sign dangling from their neck that blinks the word "idiot" every three seconds. It's like the Yaris developers took recycled sprites from some random un-released Japanese game, coded a horrible control scheme and passed it off as a "game". To hell with that. Yaris doesn't deserve the title of a real "game". I will now and forever refer to Yaris as a "chore", "torture" or a "burden" and never a "game". Funniest thing of all is that Yaris was supposed to get me and all US Live subscribers to love the Yaris vehicle brand. I now laugh at people who drive one.
That's it fanboys, those were my Best 360 Games of 2007. It was a crazy year that was full of A+ titles that left everyone's bank accounts empty and our gaming hearts satisfied. Here's to 2008 and what the video game industry will bring us, but we will always remember what we played these past twelve months. Long live the memory of gaming in 2007.