Here is my annual year in review. Normally I post this on Usenet, but whats the point? Where I like the 10 best, and 10 worst games I bought and played. Well, that’s the idea anyways. Unlike previous years, I pretty much had the same computer the entire year. The specs:
AMD Athlon 850.
Ram: 384 megs of ram
ATI Radeon All in Wonder 32 megs ddr
Creativelabs Soundblaster 128 pci
10 worst games for 2001(could of easily made is 20 but I’m trying to limit the negative)
10. Tropico – I don’t know what I was expecting but this game isn’t it. About as fun as watching stucco dry, Tropico takes a truly interesting concept of being a dictator of a tropical island, and turns it into a virtual daycare for 500 kids.
9. Arcanum – Whats the use of creating a rich rpg world where magic and industry met when you are going to make magic mind numbingly hard to play and tack on a combat system inspired by drunken dwarf wrestling?
8. Max Payne - Should be called Minimum Payne. Ok, the game is ultra short. As in complete in a single afternoon short. As in my god I blew $50 on this short. While there is some decent moments of guns a blazing action, the game is marred by lousy effects, gimmicks that fall to add to game play, and some of the worst AI this side of single player Extreme Paintball.
7. Stupid Invaders – Can’t expect much from a game with stupid in the title but, my god, click and point adventure gaming is like 17 years old. To screw up basics like “click on door, walk through door” is unforgivable.
6. Oni – A fighting game, that is controlled by the mouse. About as much fun as a FPS controlled by a controller. Luckily we had Bungie to thank for both this year.
5. Conquest: Frontier Wars – There is nothing wrong with this title. Its just another “me too” RTS when I expected so much more.
4. Red Faction – Another big disappointment. Its just another average fps, with a bellow average them, failed technology, and empty promises
3. Tribes 2 – The winner of the 2001 Derek Smart achievement in Quality.
2. SW: Galactic Battlegrounds – Lucas Lucas Lucas. You have gone so far beyond whoring out your child. Really, please put a stop to this. This isn’t a game. It’s a $40 graphic set for AOE. What’s next? The Sim Wars, where Luke and Han fight against the evil backed up kitchen sink?
1. Black and White – Lying Head took OVER FOUR MONTHS to make this game playable beyond 15 hours. Bugs so huge that Rainman could have caught them while watching people’s court, in a Kmart in another STATE! Worse, features liked in the manual weren’t shipped with the game. Later after a hail of protest, Lyinghead agree to supply “bonus add-ons” to get the game be what was sold in stores. Most of these add-ons failed to work.
The 10 errr 8 Best games of 2001. (I had the really dig for these 8.)
8. Fallout Tactics – It was based in the fallout universe and had cool graphics. Has quite a number of massive problems but I got some enjoyment out of it.
7. Adventure Pinball – Kind of neat. Fun Pinball Action. Not great but for $10 it was a great buy.
6. Half-Life: Blue Shift – It included Half Life:Op For which made up for the shortness of the main game. Gave some better graphics. Had many quality hours back in the Half Life Universe.
5. Civilization III – It’s a fun new take on the classic game of Civ. Doing right where others have done wrong.
4. Startopia – A fun little title that had lots of personality and style. Could have been so much more, but beggars can be choosers I guess
3. Spiderman – Out side of the save system and low polygon counts, Spiderman was an extremely fun game with excellent action, and great work on the sound track and voice acting.
2. DS9 The Fallen – The best Star Trek game and one of the best 3rd person games I’ve ever played. The camera was great and never left me unable to see my foe. The different characters just extended the game play in a good way since they had significantly different play styles and different areas to explore.
1. Deus Ex – Rereleased for this year in a GOTY edition, Deus Ex was finally playable on average hardware. (ofcourse thats because the average machiune is a giant leap from last year) This game’s story was extremely meaty and the interactive environment gave me the closes to “I’m really there” experience of any game. Ever.
I must add that Wizardry 8 and Return to Wolfenstein could have been on my best list but both came out with high prices at a time I was rather low on funds.
One game I wish to mention is Dreamland Chronicles. It was to be the successor to the original Xcom and it was canceled early this year. It will be missed.
By Rob on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 01:43 pm:
Oh, oh, me too:
3. Civ III, give me that SMAC gritty polish and films, not cartoon characters better off in EE.
2. Anarchy Online: a combat system that works for fantasy, is just dumb for sci-fi
1. Black and White: there is no game here
4. Kohan: cool game inspite of bad graphics (IMO)
3. DAOC: this is a blast, it works and the system makes sense
2. Opflashpoint: what a masterful effort this is, really gives more than one would expect
1. WW2OL: way underrated, I think I may have logged more hours of this than any other game this year.
My darkhorse is Gothic. This game makes me yearn for Dungeon Seige. I've only played the demo, but I'm getting closer to picking up the final version.
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 01:55 pm:
I don't even think I played 18, let alone 20 games this year.
By Anonymous on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 02:21 pm:
*sigh* everybody knocks EE.
By Anonymous on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 02:27 pm:
My best and worst of 2001.
1) Bejeweled: Insanely addictive for the several hours I played until the demo locked me out. Not addictive enough to make me buy it.
2) Avernum 2: Is this a 2001 game or a 2000 game? Anyway, the best RPG I've played since Baldur's Gate II. And in some ways better.
3) Wolfenstein: Ok it wasn't really that good, but dammit I shelled out $60 for it! Also, best. textures. ever.
4) Empire Earth: A 3D AoE clone is redeemed by an excellent aircraft system in the WWI-modern eras.
Uh oh, I think I listed all the 2001 games I played in the "best" column.
Hurm. The only other recent game I can think of is "Sea Dogs." One of the most beautiful screensavers I've ever seen. But seriously, looks like some fun Pirates!-esque action if I can ever be bothered to master the fencing so I can actually capture a goddam ship for a change.
By Sean Tudor on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 03:48 pm:
My list is fairly short since I have not purchased that many games this year :
1. Operation Flashpoint - a game that I keep coming back to no matter how many times I have played it.
2. Sub Command - hardcore modern sub action.
I have no worst game list as I tend to wait for reviews to come out first but there is one exception .....
1. Black & White - beautiful graphics, initially interesting gameplay, BUT some woeful gameplay decisions made especially in the latter worlds.
Following some dude around a mountain and 90% of the time losing sight of him and therefore losing the mission is not my idea of fun.
Now if someone would make a Magic Carpet III I would be in heaven.
By SiNNER 3001 on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 04:24 pm:
When did Hogs of War come out? That was my favorite of whatever year it was published.
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 04:46 pm:
Hogs of War was released in 2000. So was Avernum 2. Mobygames is your friend. :)
For some reason, I played fewer games this year than normal. I can't decide if it's because of reduced gaming time, or if the games I'm playing are keeping me entertained longer. Maybe both.
My personal favorites this year were Operation Flashpoint and the BG2: Throne of Bhaal expansion. It's a shame about Black & White and Arcanum. They had too many flaws to qualify as favorites.
By Sean Tudor on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 04:55 pm:
Oh shit I forgot to add another great game to my list - Diablo II Lords Of Destruction !
By Doug Jones on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 06:19 pm:
The only game I was incredibly disapointed in this year was battlerealms I had been looking forward to it for a long time and I havn't been able to make myself play more then four hours of it.
As for best probably EE it's the greatest multiplayer rts ever as far as I'm concerned.
By Jason Becker on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 06:25 pm:
May Payne: Just a plain fun action game, that takes what could just be just a gimmick and makes it into a fun gameplay element.
CivIII: Its the return of the king. TB Strategy at its best.
Throne of Bhaal: Best expansion pack. A great ending to an awsome series.
B&W: This is easily the most overhyoed game of the year. Started great but became less enjoyable the more I played it.
Arcanum: They bit off more than they could chew. Big game but hindered by many small flaws. I hate uncontrollable NPC party chars.
Wolfenstein: Mediocre gameplay wrapped in really good graphics. Fun MP but only 8 maps.
Pool of Radience:God what a screwed up game.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Thursday, December 6, 2001 - 11:43 pm:
Because I choose my buys wisely -- and because, like Alan, my gaming time has been cut a little short the last two and half years (since getting married, basically) I'll just throw this out there:
Civ III gets my vote for best game this year, hands-down. Not that it's without issues, but I'm TOTALLY in love.
BGII Expansion -- wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
Really enjoyed the Arcanum demo, but that's as far as I've gotten with that game. Anyone looking to sell a copy cheap?
Oh, and Patrician II -- most underrated game of the year.
By Alan Dunkin on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 01:02 am:
Glad I got you Pat 2 Murph :)
Speaking of Popcap, been playing the new one, Big Money, which I don't think is even linked online yet, but here it is:
The fast method is just to rapid click on everything till you knock away some blocks. Unfortunately it'll put you on the fast track for carpal tunnel syndrome.
By mtkafka (Mtkafka) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 01:15 am:
Operation Flashpoint - Everything war
Wizardry 8 - a great CHALLENGING crpg, not much like it
DAOC - Gameplay is fast (compared to other MMRPGS) and the graphics imo are the best. Nice mix of classes etc.
Arcanum - has the best character develpment in a crpg since fallout 2. Nice gameworld and story.
No game was terrible for me this year. I know what I like and what to buy!
Overrated (but not terrible):
Max Payne - Too short. no bots or multi
Civ 3 - Whats with the chunky interface, CTP2's interface is a godsend compared to Civ 3.... imo
Throne of Darkness - A nice diablo ripoff that Tom Chick ripped a new asshole in the recent CG. Tom, it aint that bad! Problem with balance for me.
Summoner - Consolish crpg with nice graphics, a bit too easy, but has a good gameworld and story.
Evil Islands - imo, the best mix of rts and crpg out, more tactical than the BG games imo.
Overall, OFP is my clear favorite... open ended warfare with tons of great missions on the net keep me coming back for more. DAOC has sucked my last two months and Wizardry 8 tells me that some developers stick to there own "vision" while still keeping to die-hard fans wishes, no compromises. Also a good crpg year, better than last year imo...
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 01:25 am:
Oh, mtkafka, I didn't realize that you liked Op. Flashpoint... :-)
Yeah, Alan, I liked Patrician II a lot. Thanks for sending it my way!
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 05:29 am:
Because it just dawned on me -- I wanted to take a chance to defend Tropico, even though I'm pretty sure that it came out last year...I could be wrong.
I love that game. As builders go, I'll put it ahead of Zeus and Pharoah, just behind -- or maybe neck-and-neck with -- my very favorite, Caesar 3.
By Yoda on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 08:31 am:
By Dave Long on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 08:49 am:
Tropico is a 2001 release and it is certainly not in the "worst" category. Though looking at Rob's list, his ten worst reads more like a ten most disappointing games (for him) rather than bad games.
Believe me, there's always some really horrible odors coming from the shelves every year. Road Wars and Mayday were two of those I had to play for review. *shudder* Most people don't play stuff like that though so the perspective is totally different. When you read a review of something that's so totally ass like The Untouchable, you know to stay far away from it's area of effect.
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 10:45 am:
Ooo! My turn! I'll keep it to five each, however, to match my short attention span.
Worst (or should we say, Most Disappointing):
Black and White: Interesting idea. Terrible execution.
Anarchy Online: CTRL-C, CTRL-V. See above.
Independence War 2: All right, it's not actually a bad game. But it could have been so much more. All the pieces were there, and that makes it all the more disappointing.
Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor: This game plummeted from the top of my "most anticipated" list to the dregs of my "good lord, could they possibly have screwed this up WORSE" list. An unmitigated flop.
Fallout Tactics: An unfortunately flat tribute to the greatest role-playing game(s) of all time.
Civilization III: Need I even comment?
Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns: A breath of fresh air for real-time strategy. And I think the graphics (which are colorful and clean and anti-aliased) look just fine... =P
Undying: A real sleeper (did anyone play this other than me?), with loads of atmosphere and solid action, but some annoying boss fights (which is pretty much par for the course in any shooter).
Arcanum: My personal pick for best RPG of the year. Yeah, it had some issues, but it also had an amazingly detailed and original setting and the best (and most dynamic) story and writing of any game since Fallout. The first RPG that I've actually liked enough to finish (twice) in a long, long time.
Dark Age of Camelot: The game that made me like online RPGs again. I'm not sure how, since it's little more than EverQuest in spiffier clothes, but it did.
By Desslock on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 10:46 am:
>Also a good crpg year, better than last year imo...
2000: Baldur's Gate 2; Diablo 2, Icewind Dale, Deus Ex, Vampire.
2001: 2 expansion packs, Wizardry 8, Arcanum, Pool of Radiance 2.
You could also add in the MMORPGs released this year.
By Denny on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 11:03 am:
In the simulations department...
F/A-18 Precision Strike Fighter, Xicat. It was a good game when it was first released by GraphSim. FOUR YEARS AGO.
B-17 Flying Fortress II. Not actually bad, but very disappointing. Multiplayer was excised when the developer was sold and reassigned to console games. Could have been an amazing experience.
If you've every enjoyed a flight sim, you MUST check out IL-2 Sturmovik. It's very realistic, but has the accessibility of the old Dynamix Aces series. Stunning visuals and audio, and very playable.
Flight Sim 2002. Okay, not much of a "game", but a fascinating sim if you've ever wanted to fly real planes. Microsoft has fairly realistically recreated the entire freaking surface of the planet earth. Which is sort of creepy, if you think about it.
By Jason Levine on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 11:39 am:
"Microsoft has fairly realistically recreated the entire freaking surface of the planet earth. Which is sort of creepy, if you think about it."
Just makes it that much easier to control it.
Seriously, agree with Ben on Civ III, Kohan and Arcanum. Haven't played Undying or DAOC. Wizardry 8's going to be my Chanukah gift so I'll be opening that next week and I have a feeling it will make my list. The other game on my favorites for this year is very modest in terms of flash (and system requirements for that matter), but long on enjoyment: The Corporate Machine.
By TomChick on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 12:12 pm:
I think if you'll look on the Chinese calendar, you'll see that 2001 was the Year of the Strategy Game. My list for 2001 would be strategy game heavy, including Civ III, Rails Across America, Dominions, Tropico, and Kohan, probably in that order. I would also be tempted to make room for Europa Universalis II, Corporate Machine, and Starships Unlimited.
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 12:31 pm:
It really was a good strategy year, wasn't it? There were also a lot of really good solid games such as Patrician II, Zoo Tycoon, Stronghold, Startopia... the list goes on. And hey, I'm not complaining. I love a good strategy game.
By Bruce_Geryk (Bruce) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 02:08 pm:
"I would also be tempted to make room for Europa Universalis II"
Why not Europa Universalis? They were both released in 2001.
EU is a much better game than Kohan, for God's sake. Or than Tropico. Or Dominions. Or CivIII.
By Jason Becker on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 02:36 pm:
I'm guessing you fell down't and really smacked your head on something before writing this...
By Bub (Bub) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 03:02 pm:
"Undying: A real sleeper (did anyone play this other than me?), with loads of atmosphere and solid action, but some annoying boss fights (which is pretty much par for the course in any shooter)."
Undying had some truly stupid weaponry, bad pacing, and I agree completely about the uneven boss fights, but it had great atmosphere and some truly awesome monsters. A heck of a lot more presence than Wolfenstein (which I'm enjoying, but only intermittantly).
By William Harms on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 03:15 pm:
>A heck of a lot more presence than Wolfenstein (which I'm enjoying, but only intermittantly).
I'd say that Wolfenstein is the most disappointing game of the year. Maybe it's just a demonstration of how stale the action genre is getting, but it seems like every level is something I've seen or played before. After a few hours of playing, I wanted to stop.
By Bub (Bub) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 03:26 pm:
The tram ride was cool, but then it ended, after the second stop. I guess I like the zombies.
It reminds me a lot of Kingpin actually. This is Xatrix all right. Only without even a "Sheist" ... they don't even cuss in German.
I love the multiplayer. And I'm not actually a big FPS multi fan.
By TomChick on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 03:44 pm:
Bruce wrote: "Why not Europa Universalis? They were both released in 2001."
Both Europa Universalis and Europa Universalis II on the list? EU1 was first, but EU2 is the superior game.
"EU is a much better game than Kohan, for God's sake. Or than Tropico. Or Dominions. Or CivIII."
If you say so. I love me some EU2, but I prefer Tropico's charm, Dominions' scope, and CivIII's charm, scope, *and* accessibility.
Hey, wait a minute, you haven't even played Dominions!
Subliminal implant: CivIII vs. EU2, The Geryk Analysis.
By Peter K on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 03:58 pm:
I'm curious about the changes from EU to EU2. I have the original game and liked many of the gameplay concepts, but I had problems with knowing what to do and how well I was doing.
By Bub (Bub) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 04:12 pm:
Speaking of Tropico's charm...
I haven't played it since June. But I still hear that soundtrack in my head. This isn't a bad thing at all though.
I'd very much enjoy that Geryk analysis, btw.
By Bruce_Geryk (Bruce) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 04:14 pm:
"Only without even a "Sheist"
What the hell is a "Sheist?" Do you mean "Scheisse?"
Tom: I sure have played Dominions!
Peter: The changes from EU to EU2 are minor in mechanical terms but significant for gameplay. Sam Parker did a nice job of summarizing the changed gameplay in his GameSpot review:
They also put in a "Patrol" button for fleets, which is the single best change as far as I'm concerned.
By TomChick on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 04:48 pm:
"They also put in a "Patrol" button for fleets, which is the single best change as far as I'm concerned."
Amen. Being a naval superpower used to require more work than it was worth!
Some of the rules changes that seem minor have a significant impact on how you play. EU2 is really just EU with a heavy does of tweaking based on player feedback. Which is a good thing.
In terms of getting feedback on how you're doing, PeterK, it's a matter of just keeping your eyes on the prize: take special missions, watch the victory points, and pick your friends carefully. EU2 doesn't really improve the overwhelming sense of being plunged into a labyrinth of historical relationships, but it does smooth out the experience of eventually getting used to it.
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 05:11 pm:
"I'd say that Wolfenstein is the most disappointing game of the year."
Oh, god--it's not even close. Even without the multiplayer, Wolfenstein would be a solid (if not a standout) shooter. The multiplayer pushes it into "excellent" territory, though.
It doesn't even come close to the disappointment of Pool 2, or World War II Online, or Black & White. IMHO, of course.
Re: Undying: I actually liked most of the "weapons," although they were rather unusual. I thought the pacing was mostly good (not as good as Wolfenstein's), although it dragged in a few places. Shooters tend to do that, though--even the great ones. Half-Life had a heckuva mid-to-late game drag.
By Jason McCullough on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 05:20 pm:
Disappointing? Arcanum is it. felt like I was playing a design-document version of the game. The game world felt so.....empty.
Serious Sam is the best bang for buck I spent all year, by contrast. Bugfree Robotron 2084 action. ;0
By Jason McCullough on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 05:23 pm:
"Disappointing" in that I expected it to be a lot better, that is. It's not like a Molynauex releasing a lousy game after talking about how it'll be full of "emotions" is a shock. MMORPGs crashing and burning don't really make the monocole pop out of my eye, either.
By Peter K on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 05:25 pm:
Bruce & Tom: Thanks for the information on EU2. It sounds the sequel might ease some of the my problems with the original. Perhaps I will give it a shot during the next game drought.
Andrew: Now I'm going to have the Tropico theme in my head for the rest of the afternoon.
By Mark Asher on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 06:38 pm:
It's not PC, but Halo is a great game. I started replaying it on a harder setting. Lots of fun.
By Sean Tudor on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 08:11 pm:
I have just realised I have purchased NIL RTS games this year even though it was a bumper year for the genre. Although I did purchase Warlords Battlecry but that was a budget title and a 2000 game.
Since buying a house I have had to rationalise my game buying habits so I have had to fall back on my favourite core genre - combat simulations.
Is anyone else in the same situation ?
By William Harms on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 08:42 pm:
> Even without the multiplayer, Wolfenstein would be a solid (if not a standout) shooter.
The AI is crap, the story makes no sense, everything in that game has been done better somewhere else, and they actually made killing Nazis boring. That makes it far from solid in my book.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Friday, December 7, 2001 - 09:10 pm:
Hear, hear. Definitely one of the more joyless 6-hour game experiences I've had. If it wasn't for the multiplayer, which is absolutely fabulous and totally redeems the box, I'd be forced to declare a jihad on RTW. You know, to save hapless game purchasers from actually buying it.
By Anonymous on Saturday, December 8, 2001 - 12:02 am:
The AI isn't crap. It's not great, but "crap" AI would better characterize, say, Elite Force or Serious Sam. (Or would that be "no AI?")
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Saturday, December 8, 2001 - 12:23 am:
Yeah, but Serious Sam is a better single player game than RTCW. Hands down. The AI is a factor, but it's not the only reason.
And again, I can't say enough good things about RTCW multiplayer.
By Jason McCullough on Saturday, December 8, 2001 - 02:38 am:
'The AI isn't crap. It's not great, but "crap" AI would better characterize, say, Elite Force or Serious Sam. (Or would that be "no AI?")'
You don't need AI when you just throw hundreds of enemies at the player. I think I counted something like 50 monsters on the screen at once in one of the harder areas of SS.
By Brian Rucker on Saturday, December 8, 2001 - 08:15 am:
Europa Universalis is the best PC game I've played this year - that came out this year. Grand Theft Auto 3 is the best non-PC game and overall my favorite game I've played this year.
No, I haven't played Halo, Civ III, Dominions or EU2 (though the last two are high on my to-do list).
By Casper on Thursday, December 13, 2001 - 06:29 pm:
my favorite game of this year was Air Command 3.0. If you like heart pumping action, this is the game for you!
Thanks to tom for letting me borrow it!