For myself, I will highlight what I liked gaming wise, and how my year progressed...
Starting the year was a fresh round of EQ2. My wife and myself really enjoyed ourselves here. But, it was during this time we started to also question the extent of MMO's. What did they offer us, and why would we play a game that seemed to offer the same things over and over for our playtime.
We would log in, kill 10 of this, craft 5 of that...and go gather resources to make money to...well, do it all over again.
Level, kill, craft, level...chat a little, kill, craft...
I guess the social aspect is the most important part of these games, but when people started to not log in about March or April, we felt the weight of a game that was made for friends, when friends were not interested.
We took a break at this point, and I started to ponder Age of Conan. Beta kicked in shortly therein and I started to see the effect of the hype versus the actual quality of the code.
When the miracle patch hit, I was totally enamored with this game. The first 20 levels are probably the best beginning to any MMO I have ever played.
Yet, the drag of the content and quality of itemization started to suffer as you leveled.
I left after 30 days.
Then I started an MMO limbo again. What was I to do?
I then looked back to my past and remembered the joys of Guild Wars. I took it upon myself to rejoin with the latest expansion, Nightfall. I was hooked.
I also brought my wife back in.
My wife herself had an interesting year of MMO's.
Originally she had QUIT 100% after the debacle that was LOTRO. Thus that game ruined MMO's for her, and she thought she would never play again.
She quit MMO gaming in 2007 for over 6 months.
I finally was able to bring her back in with EQ2. She was finally happy again (and is still adamant to this day to never touch LOTRO ever again).
But, as we started to get near mid level, and I started to lose the luster to login, she also fell back on puzzle games.
Guild Wars brought her back, and all the old memories flooded in for us.
We tackled that game for 3-4 months, leveled to max, and started the Eye of the North expansion. We set certain goals and attained those. It was nice to have a game that had end game criteria in mind without mindless raids or the same ole login, kill, level, logout mentality.
During this time we deiced to also look at an Xbox 360. I will come back to that.
Later after we decided to log back off Guild Wars, I convinced her to go to Age of Conan. I wanted to go back and see the fixes and changes there.
We had a blast again. We leveled through the first 20 together. We made an effort to finish all the quests that were NOT part of the main storyline. We had a goal again, and then we finished the Tortage experience by talking to the smuggler and leaving for the mainland. We are now in Stygia and await the next fixes and merges to take place, along with DX10.
As for our 360 time, we found love in several games.
Fable 2 was a major highlight for the whole family. EVERYONE (including our son) finished the main campaign. The game is also considered one of our best for the year.
We also played through quite a few others with Silent Hill being a highlight for my wife along with Culdecept. For myself, my newest venture, Deadspace is my other highlight.
Overall though, we found in one game the mechanics and concepts that we feel encompasses the game we vote as our most endearing and most loved...
Hours on end we spent, solving the puzzles, working through the storyline with the morals system, that truly felt realistic, in that the choices were not always black and white, almost like life.
With a very fun potion crafting system, and a combat mechanic that was quite unique, and required work to learn..and visually a stunning game to boot..we all agree that this was time well spent.
And as a bonus, the game is slotted to be remade for the 360, with new visuals, combat mechanics, story arc changes...and thanks to the morals system, means we can play the game again, and have a whole new experience.
Looking ahead, 2009 looks bland when it comes to MMO's, and I do have a few on the horizon that are currently in my list (DDO, a return to AoC), but if anything the year looks brighter for the 360.
With the mention of the Witcher for year end, a couple of others really make the mark.
Lord of the Rings:Conquest - Looking massively fun. RTS type of massive combat, without the resource issues, and a super fun looking combat system will rock.
Resident Evil 5 - Using the same engine from Capcom that was used for Devil May Cry (a gorgeous game itself), with co-op play, and a more action oriented combat system, this looks to be right up our alley.
Sacred 2 - Though disappointing on the PC maybe the 360 version will prove to be more fun.
And with that, I am off again for a few days. I hope everyone had a safe and Happy New Year, and here is hoping 2009 really makes some changes to how we all play!