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This blog series is all about the best games of the last 20 years. George and Matt from the Monitor Audio team take a look at each year and pick their favourites. In this post, we’ll be going back to the year 2007.
With the PlayStation 3 launching in late 2006 (and early 2007 in Europe due to technical issues), Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo begin their ramp up of the new generation of games. The red ring of death hits early Xbox 360 consoles rendering them unusable, we got the worst Sonic the Hedgehog game of all time and and Wii Sports became the bestselling single platform game of all time.
Naughty Dog | Sony Interactive Entertainment | PlayStation 3
After the Jak and Daxter series, developers Naughty Dog returned with action-adventure blockbuster Uncharted, as you hunt for the treasure of El Dorado.
You play as Nathan Drake, the descendant of explorer Sir Francis Drake, known for his circumnavigation of the world and the capture of Spanish treasure ships. You are joined by reporter Elena Fisher as you recover the coffin of your ancestor, after discovering coordinates on Drake’s ring. The location of El Dorado is determined upon reading Sir Francis Drake’s diary, found within the coffin. After pirates attack their boat, Drake’s mentor Victor Sullivan rescues them in his seaplane, dropping Elena off at the dock and continuing on to El Dorado. They soon realise that El Dorado is a golden idol, not a city, but before they can follow clues to the mystery island, which holds the treasure, mercenaries seemingly kill Sullivan.
Drake and Elena make their way to the island, but are soon separated after anti-aircraft fire forces them apart. Elena now has to free Drake, after pirates, led by Raja, Navarro and Roman, briefly hold him, before they make their way inland. Soon they discover Sully survived and is pretending to help Raja and Roman, in order to send them off route. Drake, Elena and Sullivan soon find a treasure vault, after navigating their way through tunnels of a monastery. As the pirates and mercenaries argue amongst themselves, they finally find Sir Francis Drake’s body. Moment’s later, mutated humans attack and kill Raja, as Drake and Elena escape to an abandoned bunker. As Drake enters, he realises the statue is cursed, which causes anybody who open it to mutate and Sir Francis Drake was most likely killed by the same virus, trying to keep it from leaving the island. Drake regroups with Sullivan and together they go after Roman and Navarro, who are making their way to the statue and have captured Elena. Navarro is well aware of the curse and sends Roman to open the statue, which contains a mummy. The mutagenic virus is now airborne and after killing Roman, Navarro plans to leave the island with the statue and sell it as a biological weapon.
Alongside the statue, Drake follows Navarro onto the boat and soon sinks the sarcophagus, alongside Navarro to the bottom of the ocean, as he leaves, alongside Sullivan and Elena with several chests of treasure from the vault.
The combat was great fun, with cryptic puzzles, not found since the early Tomb Raider games. With heart stopping tension, it was a joy to follow the endearing story and this was just the beginning in the immense Uncharted series.
2K Boston | 2K Games | Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3
This spectacular first person shooter from developers 2K Boston set in the fictional underwater city of Rapture was intelligent and original.
You play as Jack, surviving a plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean; you make your way to a lighthouse, which contains a deep-sea terminal, leading to Rapture. Rabid inhabitants begin to attack, but a man named Atlas contacts Jack via radio to lead him to safety. Atlas is responsible for recruiting disillusioned citizens to fight Andrew Ryan, the founder of Rapture. After civil war turned the city into a dystopia, Ryan apparently became ruthless and the moment Jack arrived, Atlas tells him that Ryan’s paranoia led him to believe that he is a government agent, sent by the KGB. Soon, Jack encounters a Little Sister, but before he kills her, Dr. Tenenbaum stops him. Tenenbaum is the "mother" of the Little Sisters and a geneticist who discovered ADAM, which is a chemical substance that has the ability to rewrite genetic material. Little Sisters are young girls, who have been genetically altered and conditioned to reclaim ADAM from corpses.
As Ryan attempts to kill Jack, you eventually find a terminal that leads to his office, resulting in a confrontation. You find that Jack is the illegitimate son of Ryan, who was sold to Dr. Tenenbaum and Dr. Suchong on behalf of Frank Fontaine without his consent. Fontaine is a criminal mastermind and the man that led to Rapture's collapse. After an affair with Ryan’s wife and Jacks mother Jasmine, Fontaine planned to use Jack as a sleeper agent against Ryan, planting fake memories of his childhood, until he was ready to use him. After Fontaine supposedly died, Jack lived out a normal life, but without knowing it, he was activated and instructed to return to Rapture, hijacking and crashing the plane himself. The reason Ryan was trying to kill Jack, was for his own safety, as a trigger word could result in Jack being compelled to kill him. After Ryan proves that Jack has been a slave under the control of Atlas, who is in fact Fontaine, his fears come true, as Fontaine instructs him to kill Ryan using a hypnotic trigger.
After Little Sisters, who had previously been rescued, save Jack’s life, Dr. Tenenbaum helps to remove the control that Dr. Suchong set on him. Jack then moves to face Fontaine, injecting himself with ADAM, becoming a monster, before defeating him and his security drones.
As you navigate the mesmerising run down city, luring enemies into traps and dispatching them using plasmids, you are blown away by the detail. With a wonderfully engaging story, Bioshock has many disturbing and scary elements, and offered a mind-blowing adventure, showing astonishing imagination.
Ninja Theory | Sony Interactive Entertainment | PlayStation 3
Cambridge based developer Ninja Theory released a far-eastern inspired hack and slash epic Heavenly Sword during the PlayStation 3’s debut year.
We play as Nariko, a doomed heroine out to avenge her warrior clan that’s almost entirely destroyed by the tyrant King Bohan. When her father is captured by King Bohan, Nariko has only one choice, to take up the Heavenly Sword, a hugely powerful weapon. The downside is that the sword drains the life of those who wield it, giving Nariko precious little time to defeat the King and save her clan.
As she makes her way towards the King, Nariko defeats waves of enemies and powerful bosses, in a style inspired by the likes of God of War. Helping her along the way is Kai, a wild and erratic girl who uses her crossbow to take out enemies from afar.
Being one of the first showcases of the powerful PlayStation 3, the game delivered incredible visuals throughout, with realistic physics and mind blowing action sequences. It took advantage of the motion controls on the Sixaxis controller to help guide arrows and other thrown objects in real time.
Using motion capture technology to capture character’s movements and performances, Ninja Theory brought in world-famous motion capture performer Andy Serkis as the dramatic director and to play the role of King Bohan.
The adventure squeezes tons of action and style into its short length, and is a must play for those who haven’t had the opportunity.
Valve | Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & Windows
An incredible game compilation from developers Valve contained Half-Life 2 and Episode One, with its new expansion Episode Two and puzzle game Portal.
After covering Half Life-2 in our 2004 pick, we briefly look at Half-Life 2: Episode Two and concentrate on Portal. Episode Two was the second in a planned trilogy, continuing the original story as protagonist Gordon Freeman. After escaping the city with Alyx Vance, you learn that the transmission Alyx is carrying is a key to close the super-portal within the Combine overworld. Gordon must defend Alyx as they make their way to the base at White Forest. After fighting off the troops, the scientists search for a research vessel containing sophisticated teleportation and portal technology. After using explosives to kill the remaining forces, the super-portal is soon sealed, trapping the remaining Combine on earth.
In Portal, you control Chell, whose objective it is to escape and navigate through a series of rooms, within the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, by teleportation. As you awake, you are giving instructions by GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System), an artificial intelligence super computer. Using the Portal device and gun, you move through each portal, using objects around the environment, but as GLaDOS begins to direct you, you are unaware of who you are or why you have been chosen. GLaDOS claims that Chell is an orphan, has no friends, but will be given cake as an award for escaping. Through various records that an employee of Aperture Science left behind, you discover that you were a test subject, previously rejected after being found to have "too much tenacity".
As you are treated like a lab rat, GLaDOS's shows no regard for your safety, as its motives and behaviour become sinister. The tests become more and more dangerous, as you avoid hazardous liquid and live-fire. After failing to lure Chell into an incinerator, Chell escapes and upon moving to the maintenance area, GLaDOS tells more lies and it soon becomes apparent that it has killed everyone in the centre. After finding GLaDOS core hardware, despite pleas not to, Chell drops it into the incinerator. She then destroys more of the backup personality cores, despite GLaDOS attempts to kill her by firing rockets. As the last core is destroyed, a malfunction brings everything to the surface, as Chell lies unconscious next to the remains of GLaDOS.
Each game offers a unique experience, with highly detailed, innovative and well-balanced action, there has never or will ever be a better game for value.
Realtime Worlds | Xbox Game Studios | Xbox 360
Set in a dystopian city, developer Realtime Worlds introduced a very different style of nonlinear gameplay, as you cause utter carnage and mayhem to the world around you.
Located in a hotel in the centre of the futuristic open-world of Pacific City, The Agency is an organisation that operated cybernetic soldiers. After a sudden rise in crime, The Peacekeeper police organisation were overwhelmed and got in contact with The Agency to restore balance. You are an Agent, sent from The Agency, tasked with taking back control from the three major crime organisations; Los Muertos, Volk and Shai-Gen. The Agents are super soldiers, whose cybernetic technology allows them to scale the city heights and navigate each island with ease. Whilst keeping the Peacekeepers safe, you set out to eliminate each gang, in whatever order you see fit. There are several districts and areas, divided among four islands. Each gang has a Kingpin, who you must defeat, in order to ensure the area is crime free.
As Director Goodwin monitors your progress, he provides progress reports. As you collect orbs throughout the city, your skills improve, allowing you to improve on your driving, firing and climbing abilities, which are all key to defeating the gangs generals. The entire city is open from the beginning of the game, should you wish to explore and locate the various hideouts and plan your strategy. As more supply points are open, you can travel to those locations at any point, using fast travel. As you begin to concentrate on a particular gang, the “wanted” level system attracts unwanted attention as you become more notorious. As you engage in all out war in the middle of the street, you can choose to be wary of the citizens and Peacekeepers. If they are killed too often, The Agency send hit squads, as you are considered a rogue agent, which can slow your experience gain, making it harder to progress.
After defeating everyone, Director Goodwin admits that they had actually empowered the gangs, to inject a real sense of fear around the city, to ensure that The Agency would be hired to take back control. The Agency now plans to instil this same fear in other cities, thus creating a New World Order.
The online two-player cooperative play mode was a lot of fun and very amusing, allowing you both to explore freely, or join up to create havoc. Despite its repetitiveness, climbing and jumping from rooftops and towers causing devastation was unbelievably addictive and extremely satisfying.
BioWare | Xbox 360
Ubisoft Montreal | PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Check out more of our favourites