2004 in Review
And there endeth another year. And here cometh another yearly roundup. 2004 was a great year for gaming. There were some disappointments of course, such as the way licenses and gaming franchises dominated the sales charts again and how it seemed that more than ever original IP's are increasingly a thing of the past. However, it would be downright rude to not celebrate the many good things that 2004 bought us. Yes, sequels should be boring but when they are as good as the likes of Halo 2, Half Life 2 and Burnout 3 then you won't find too many folk complaining. This year also saw the handheld market take the spotlight in the most spectacular fashion. In one year we both saw the announcement and launch of two fantastic handhelds, albeit not on European shores. As if that wasn't enough, it wasn't just Sony and Nintendo battling away; a few other companies wanted a piece of the action too.
Yet despite all of this the real winner was the games themselves this year as gamers found themselves treated to some fantastic titles with a few companies making great strides to take console gaming further than it has ever gone before. So, without further ado, here are my personal gaming awards for 2004. It's worth noting, before you all shoot me down in flames in the comments section, that these offerings are purely my own. Don't get angry. If you don't agree with me, then feel free to politely let me know but please bare in mind that I am not you and therefore have slightly different tastes. If I was you things would get complicated; there would be two of us and all sorts of existential complications would undoubtedly arise. Celebrate our differences and, if there are any, also the views on which we agree.
Talk of the Year - Driv3r
Oh, controversy. How we love it so. There are no weapons of mass destruction? Lying swines! Michael Jackson knobs kids (allegedly)? Filthy beggar! Certain review scores were somewhat inflated in return for early and exclusive review code? Burn them all! Yes, it's the Driv3r fiasco. Lots of folk would like us to forget it but unfortunately for them the whole debacle is already part of gaming folklore forever.
Now, so far after the event, we can all see clearly that Driv3r was a huge disappointment. It also seems that Atari felt this way too. Knowing it was releasing what was fundamentally an unfinished and severely flawed game, we not only had review embargos slapped on websites but most magazines were refused receipt of review copies. Other than a couple of select Future Publishing magazines that is, who as it happened both heaped praise on the game and granted it 90% ratings. Now, in fairness there were a few websites that subsequently also rated the game highly but on the whole it was clear to see that the title was far from a classic. Of course, no actual evidence of bribes or payments ever emerged but there are few who believe nothing untoward occurred. Maybe one day we will know for sure but until then let's just savour the sweet aroma of the succulent juice of controversy.