Despite all the big news in 2007 – Grand Theft Auto IV getting delayed, the saga of the four different PlayStation 3 models and price drops, the GameSpot/Gerstmann/Eidos fiasco, etc. – our Game of the Year Awards honor only one thing: the titles that made 2007 a fantastic year. As always in this hobby, it's all about the software, and now's the time to examine the best of the best. Last year, the PS2 dominated with the likes of Final Fantasy XII , but we've officially ushered in a brand new generation and we've enjoyed some truly outstanding PS3 and PSP titles.
Oh, but let's not forget- the PS2 had one last blockbuster in the form of God of War II this year. Even though it's a "last-gen" game, is it good enough to topple all the top contenders from the current generation? Could it be possible…? Well, no more talking. Let's find out who took home our coveted awards in 2007!
Winner: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
This really came down to a battle between Assassin's Creed and our winner. While it's true that Ubisoft's production is meticulously designed and unbelievably sweeping in design, we had to give the edge to Uncharted: Drake's Fortune . The lighting and color was just a bit better, and we had to admit the frame rate drops in Creed – as rare as they were – hurt the visual presentation just a tad. But just about everything in Naughty Dog's awesome PS3 exclusive is a joy to behold, and despite stiff competition in this category, it prevails.
Winner: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Yes, two very sweet music-based titles came out this year, but we just couldn't ignore the unbelievable polish and intensity we heard in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare . Infinity Ward's wonderful FPS is nominated for several awards this year, and it takes home this category after a close battle with Rock Band and Heavenly Sword . Every impact, every explosion, every bullet fired, just about every voice…it was all exquisitely fashioned and implemented, which makes the latest Call of Duty entry a truly involving experience. More games should take a sound cue – or two – from this game.
Winner: Heavenly Sword
We saw several examples of incredible acting this year, which we consider to be a nice change of pace. As games become more cinematic in nature, this category becomes more and more crucial, and as gamers, we have to recognize that. While both Uncharted and The Darkness can be considered strong contenders for Best Acting, the award has to go to Ninja Theory's beautiful action game, Heavenly Sword . The blending of facial animation and outstanding voice acting is absolutely unparalleled, and we were continually impressed at every turn. This is something we haven't seen before; if every game was able to depict emotion like Nariko and Co., we'd be treated to endless amazing cut-scenes. The moral here, is- the more professionalism you utilize, the better off you'll be.
Best Multiplayer Game
Winner: Unreal Tournament 3
Depending on your gaming preferences, you could make an argument for any game on that list. However, when it came right down to it, we had to give the nod to Unreal Tournament 3 due to its inherent multiplayer roots. After all, without multiplayer, UT isn't a fraction of the game it really is, and UT3 is an exercise in ceaseless online – and even offline – entertainment. It won out in a close battle with Warhawk , primarily due to how well Epic Games optimized their latest creation for the PS3. With everything UT3 has going for it, most especially user-generated content on the PlayStation Network, it's a multiplayer beast. Plain and simple.
Best Artistry/Art Direction
Assassin's Creed and Heavenly Sword shine in more than a few areas, but Folklore was all about artistry. Sony's atmospheric and beautifully designed game may not be a prominent fixture in this year's awards, but there's no denying what it accomplished. Every last Folk is painstakingly crafted, and the environments constantly exhibit a level of achievement and originality that's second-to-none in 2007. The amount of effort displayed throughout the adventure is pretty damn impressive, so we couldn't let that go unnoticed. This win is well deserved, and we hope more gamers looking for something unique will give Folklore a chance.
We had to pass on it in the Best Multiplayer category, but we weren't about to do that here. Once you start playing Warhawk , you just can't seem to put it down. Our fascination with this excellent online title began with the beta last summer and only grew in intensity when it released in late August. Now that the new booster pack, Omega Dawn, has arrived, this multiplayer blast is more fun than ever! The combination of third-person action (complete with vehicles and everything) and flawlessly controlled flight is intoxicating, and impossible to ignore. From the moment you take out your first bogey with a Homing Missile to the time you crack into the top ranks, you will be hooked. It's the originality and the completeness of this experience that gave Warhawk the edge.
Best Puzzle Game
Winner: Super Puzzle Fighter HD Remix
While the PSP unsurprisingly dominates the nominees in this category, it's the high-definition remake of an instant classic that takes the win. A PlayStation Store title from late summer that managed to hook the unwilling once downloaded, Super Puzzle Fighter HD Remix is one of those puzzle games that's both ingenious and addictive. Be it against the computer or a friend, this title is more than just a remix or a remake- it's the glorious resurrection of an oldie but a goodie. And they made this more than "good;" they made it award-worthy.
Best Music/Rhythm Game
Winner: Rock Band
Yeah, the third Guitar Hero is great, of course, but with everything Rock Band offers, it's just too good not to win this category. Harmonix has provided music fans with the most complete and fulfilling title in this relatively new genre, and while it's a tad pricey, it's well worth the investment for those who adore this kind of thing. With a few friends, you can suddenly step into the shoes of a popular rock band, and oddly enough, you never feel silly doing it. No, this game just kicks ass from top to bottom, and hey, if you're not into the guitar, you've got a couple other options! Maybe you're a better singer or drummer and you excel in those areas; either way, Rock Band has you covered.
Best Racing Game
Winner: Need for Speed ProStreet
We have to say, this wasn't an easy category to decide, simply because there really wasn't a clear winner. Without a Gran Turismo , we just didn't see a 9+ racer from the PlayStation consoles in 2007, so it was close. It came down to DiRT and the eventual winner here, and in the end, we just had to go with the game that gave us a giant number of options and made us feel the "speed." EA took the next step by throwing in car damage for the very first time in series history, and that worked extremely well. It may have annoyed some of the hardcore followers of the franchise, who wanted to keep it strictly arcade-style, but you can't please everyone. Need for Speed ProStreet is a great game that gives most racing fans everything they could possibly want, from a bunch of game modes to online play to customization. Winner winner, chicken dinner.
Best Sports Game
Unfortunately, most of the sports games in 2007 were just more of the same. They've been using the same formula over and over, and it was just painfully evident this year that most haven't truly advanced into the new generation. Therefore, almost by default, we had to give this award to SKATE , which is the only title of the bunch that portrayed a significant level of singularity. Yes, NBA 2K8 and NHL 08 were good, but neither showed us much of anything new. While SKATE certainly took some cues from the series that originally blazed the trail – Tony Hawk – the end result is an entirely new kind of sports game. Skateboard fans should've been most happy to get this one in 2007.
Winner: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The PSP made a very strong push with Jeanne d'Arc and Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions , and we eventually had to make the decision between the latter and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblvion . They're about as different as night and day, but as awesome as the FFT remake is, we have to admit that Oblivion is more than just a remake. When it released, it was a slightly superior version to 2006's Xbox 360 version, and it instantly became a must-have for any RPG fans with a PS3. The open-endedness and ridiculous level of freedom and customization offered by Bethesda's sweeping title is insane, and even highly addictive. If you're talking about "bang for your buck," few titles will give you the sheer amount of entertainment Oblivion offers, and that alone is almost enough to win this category.
Winner: Unreal Tournament 3
We were facing a head-on battle between Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Unreal Tournament 3 , but in keeping with the "cost vs. value" tradition set by the last category, we gave the edge to UT3. CoD4's single-player campaign is only 5-6 hours long, and while UT3's campaign isn't as engrossing, at least it's longer. And besides, if you hadn't noticed, Epic's FPS already scored the Best Multiplayer award, so it has that going for it as well. All the way around, the game is extremely well-crafted and once again, we have to repeat: because the developers worked so hard to optimize the game specifically for the PlayStation 3, the final product has both spectacular visuals and almost immaculate gameplay. It just doesn't get much better, folks.
Best Action/Adventure Game
Winner: God of War II
When looking purely at action and adventure elements, nothing tops God of War II . Some of those other titles certainly excel in other areas, but for the action/adventure genre, this outstanding sequel is king of the roost. Not since…well, not since the original GoW did we see such a splendid blend of fluid combat, nicely designed puzzles, accomplished platforming elements and outstanding pacing. Ninja Gaiden Sigma might be faster and deeper from the fighting end of things, Assassin's Creed may outstrip GoWII in terms of detail and world design and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune may compete favorably in just about every aspect, but it all boiled down to action/adventure quality. And quite simply, nothing beats God of War II .
Best PS2 Game
Winner: God of War II
In the biggest no-brainer of the awards, God of War II wins in one giant landslide. Granted, we got several great RPGs from the PS2 this year, and Tomb Raider: Anniversary was a surprisingly good action title, but nothing even came close to touching SCEA's amazing sequel. It had some big shoes to fill after the original raked in plenty of Game of the Year awards back in 2005, but GoWII stepped up to the plate…big time. After establishing a nigh-on perfect foundation, the uber-talented Santa Monica team delivered even more thrills and absurdly refined combat action. It's good enough to challenge even the best in the new generation; is that a precursor of things to come? Perhaps…
Best PSP Game
Winner: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
We had some great titles for Sony's handheld in 2007, and that includes the second Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops , an excellent strat/RPG in Jeanne d'Arc , another more-than-solid Syphon Filter , and an amusing and highly polished action/platformer in Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters . But despite the competition, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions must be the winner. The original remains one of the best games ever created, and the remake only reminds us that it's difficult to improve on an almost flawless strategy/RPG production. We get another Job class in the form of Dark Knight, though, and with the addition of head-to-head combat for two players, the new FFT stands up and nabs PSP Game of the Year.
Best PS3 Game
Winner: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
In one of the most hotly contested categories, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune ekes out a win by edging Unreal Tournament 3 . It's easily one of the best games of the year – or maybe the best…? – and Naughty Dog has definitely provided PS3 owners with a real treat. It's unfortunate that so many potential "AAA" titles had to be delayed into 2007, but as you can see by the above list, we were hardly lacking for top-notch titles. Uncharted just gives us an all-around fantastic experience that never grows boring and the fun factor always remains sky-high. It doesn't suffer from many of the negatives we find glimpses of in those other games, like the repetitiveness of Assassin's Creed , the brevity of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare , or the fact that Oblivion is basically an enhanced version of a game that debuted in 2006. No, Uncharted has it all, and therefore, it wins 2007's PS3 Game of the Year.
And now, the moment of truth…
Game of the Year
Winner: Tie- Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and God of War II
Yes, we had to do it. We declare a tie between the PS3's Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and the PS2's God of War II . On the one hand, Uncharted is everything we could hope for in an action/adventure title; an overall amazing package that grabs us right from the start and never lets go. It's not perfect and we do see room for improvement in the next generation, but the foundation it cements is pretty damn solid. There really isn't much we didn't like about Naughty Dog's title, and if you can't have fun with this one, you don't like video games. We can't make it any clearer than that. From the astounding visuals to the wonderfully implemented combat and platforming, this is one adventure that no avid gamer should miss. In our estimation, it is the reason to be a PlayStation 3 owner in 2007, because it really is that good.
On the other hand, God of War II takes a pre-existing formula – one that was nearly perfect to begin with – and builds on it even more. SCEA honed and refined the gameplay, adding in little bits here and there that left us grinning ear to ear. You'll never have more fun with a game, especially if you're an action fan, and this game pushes the PS2 to maximum limits. Comparing the two titles proved difficult, because both represent different things: one represents the pinnacle of a previous generation while the other shows us just how unbelievable the current generation will be…and in some respects, how awesome it already is. For these reasons, we must come to the only logical and reasonable conclusion that Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and God of War II must share PSX Extreme's coveted Game of the Year 2007. We hope you're not disappointed…but how can you be? This just means there's not one, but two titles worthy of such an honor! Yes indeed, this year really was excellent.
Here's looking forward to a 2008 loaded with even more interactive sweetness!