2008 sucked compared to 2007

December is always good for a fight. As gamers – and as gaming journalists – we use this time each year to argue over everything, from the “best new shooter” and “greatest graphics” to the “worst voice acting” or “biggest disappointment.” We award our favorites, mock our least favorites and shout at anybody whose opinion differs from our own. It’s a wonderful holiday tradition.

The one thing we can usually all agree on, however, is that gaming has progressed. Gaming has evolved. Gaming has, over the past 12 months, grown at least a little more advanced than it was over the previous 12 months. Right?

Not this year. 2008 was, in my opinion, an overall step backwards for our hobby. Games were less original, less groundbreaking, less surprising, less exciting and – in many cases – simply less good when compared to the games of 2007. Here are five examples why.

Share your own, or tell me why I’m wrong, in the comments below.


Unexpectedly lost in a deranged and deteriorated environment, you must adapt to survive your new, self-contained surroundings. You must creep down shadowy hallways plastered with suspiciously cheerful and retro propaganda. You must collect audio logs and diaries, slowly piecing together the tragic story of a failed society and the unorthodox philosophy behind it.

You must battle the remaining population - murderous mutants who were formerly normal human citizens. To do so, you must improve your weapons and armor by purchasing upgrades from vending machines. You must take orders from conflicting personalities who may or may not have your best interest at heart. And, near the end, you must face a major and shocking revelation about yourself.

So, which of the above shooters am I describing?

Both, of course. In essence, 2008’s
Dead Space and 2007’s BioShock are the same game - simply replace a bunch of water with a bunch of space. The difference is that BioShock came first. Its heady narrative and groundbreaking departures from genre convention were a surprising and refreshing change of pace to players who had come to expect more of the same from their shooters. The developer’s System Shock formula had finally enlightened the mainstream.

Dead Space, while a good product and while hitting most of the same notes, feels like a copycat cashing in on last year’s phenomenon. The “refreshing change of pace” is suddenly just “more of the same.”


I could waste this space complaining about the franchises that insist on rushing out a new entry every year, thereby diluting their own brand and their games’ overall quality. Our hobby is a business as well, though, and demand is strong. Customers seem more than happy to buy a new Call of Duty every November.

Still, we should expect - and we deserve - at least  a small bit of evolution in these annual releases. 12 months is enough time for some progress, isn’t it?

Apparently not. If anything, Call of Duty: World at War pulls the franchise back. Back to World War II, obviously, but also back to generic characters, forgettable weapons, clichéd missions and almost nonexistent story. Modern Warfare took real risks last year, tackling the topic of worldwide terrorism and occasionally placing you inside the perspective of a dying soldier. World at War plays it safe, asking you to storm beaches and chase Nazis for what feels like the gazillionth time.

Many parts of the sequel are satisfying, but usually only because they were xeroxed from the truly revolutionary Modern Warfare. Earning perks and unleashing air strikes in the multiplayer? Studying the art of sniping from an older, grizzled and temporarily injured mentor? A surprise, slow-motion ambush at the very end of the game? All cool. All reruns.

Perhaps if Call of Duty 4 hadn’t pushed the boundaries of the series so far last year, I wouldn’t be so critical of redundancy from Call of Duty “5” this year. It did, however, so I am.

I do appreciate the addition of co-op, though the scoring and skulls - er, Death Cards - feel awfully inspired by Halo 3. I also realize that the two Call of Duty games had two different developers. You think maybe that’s part of the problem?


  • CHIAVARONE10 - December 20, 2008 3:49 p.m.

    oh and gear 2 kicks halo 3's ass. Sorry fellow nerds!!!!!!!
  • CHIAVARONE10 - December 20, 2008 3:47 p.m.

    Im not usualy one for trash talking but here it goes. THe only reason why idiots think cod4 is better then codwaw is because they suck at it. Simple as that. It takes a lot more precise shooting to kill somebody that has juggernaut on while using a ww2 weapon. The only thing they should fix about it is the horrible spwning in gametypes like headquarters and war. If any thinks different come and play me. GT=CHIAVARONE
  • GwaR - December 19, 2008 9:49 p.m.

    FriendlyFire and DozerKing's posts are spot on. There were so many ground-breaking and innovative games in 2008 that it makes Charlie's article seem embarassingly under-thought. Which makes me wonder why he even wrote it... My guess, he wanted to enrage the fanboys. Which, judging by the amount of Halo vs Gears and Dead Space vs Bioshock posts there are, he succeed. Way to go Charlie.
  • LOUDcarBOMB - December 19, 2008 8:36 p.m.

    i agreed with most of this article though Gears 2 is about a tie with Halo 3. since Gears 2 makes you value your life in multiplayer and Halo 3 has most people playing it. Bioshock had great originality since its during the 1960s, had great replay value since you can play the storyline again with different plasmids, as well that you're controlled by someone else without NOTICING! also Dead Space put the fact that everything cant friggin die by a simple headshot. but all in all, the choices were right in this section.
  • -FABLExFAN- - December 17, 2008 4:29 p.m.

    biosaber is way to right there.
  • -FABLExFAN- - December 17, 2008 4:27 p.m.

    and i loved 08 too, left 4 dead, fable2, cod:waw, gears2,resistance2, LBP, i loved em all
  • magicwalnuts0 - December 17, 2008 4:59 a.m.

    WOW Halo 3 groundbreaking? I loved the game but that's definitely a stretch and GOW 2 is pretty damn good. Fallout 3; amazing. MGS4; amazing two of some of my all time favs now. Ill definitely give you that COD world at war is a rehash....because it is, and the RockBand/Guitar Hero ripoffs are out of control. I won't even go near the Nintendo catagory.
  • SOLIDSNAKE1983 - December 16, 2008 8:34 p.m.

    Well done, excellent article. It boils my blood when people spend full price on a "game" like COD; WAW (which is essentially an expansion pack of COD 4) and then moan when original games don't do well.
  • thephntm - December 16, 2008 8:17 p.m.

    accf is awesome, nuff sed
  • Wolf007 - December 16, 2008 8:03 p.m.

    Animal Crossing kicks THE GAYEST MARIO GAME EVER's A$$
  • jm42445 - December 16, 2008 3:59 p.m.

    The only games this year that were truly innovating were Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3
  • Texasman27 - December 16, 2008 1:59 a.m.

    CALL OF DUTY 4 OWNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Kapwan - December 15, 2008 11:28 p.m.

    This article makes perfect sense as long as you only look at Q3 AND Q4 releases. In Q1 and Q2 there were some innovative titles like No More Heroes. However he is right about most other games this year, you'd be hard pressed to find a game that wasn't a sequel or reboot.
  • AXELSTORM44 - December 15, 2008 11:15 p.m.

    i have to agree with just about all of these... but even though Mario Gallaxy is amazing, i dont think u can compare it to animal crossing... theyre 2 completly different games. as for Gears 2 and Halo 3, i would agree, but halo is no where as addicting as Gears.
  • jar-head - December 15, 2008 4:19 a.m.

    flare149 "Is Bioshock just like System Shock" Dude, because they both have "shock" in it's name does not mean they are the same...One fish two fish, red fish, blue fish.......
  • AFilthyIbis - December 15, 2008 12:09 a.m.

    to flare 149: Bioshock was jut system shock. But have you tried playing Systemshock lately. It's unstable, unpretty and there was just something about it that just felt uninteresting. Gaming in general is getting pretty stale. Here is a summery of every post half-life fps: stranded in a tropical island/research complex/space station shooting soldiers who are fun to outwit. you have inovative weapons/environments/physics. Oh shit Zombies/Mutants/Aliens better get out the shotgun and run down tight passageways. Gotta say i'm sick of it (tho zombies are pretty cool). great article
  • NelosAngelos - December 14, 2008 11:55 p.m.

    I thought 2008 was pretty good actually, why is it they focus on all the bad instead of the good? Not saying any of these games are bad, but come on, those games are innovative...except every new fucking CoD they hack up every single month. Some I've never played, but from what I've seen and from what others tell me, games like Dead Space and Bioshock aren't just "survival horror, shoot what comes running after you",and GoW2 and Halo3 are not just "shooters"
  • Coolbeans69 - December 14, 2008 5:39 p.m.

    Rock Band Pwns!!!!
  • rago - December 14, 2008 4:18 p.m.

    Some, NOT ALL of this year's games were bad.Some were indeed better than last year's.
  • John-117 - December 14, 2008 3:21 p.m.

    Mirror's Edge, PoP. LBP, L4D, Valkryia Chronicles and Gears are all games I'd consider that make 2008 a better year. I agree on mostly everything else though and I'd say that 2008 and 2007 were nearly on par with each other. The games in 2008 are more appealing to me though, besides the COD games of course.

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