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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | Review of 1998
   

>Review of 1998
  — by Gestalt

Games of the Year

So out of all the games (FPS and otherwise) that have been released in the last twelve months, which are the ones that stood out?

Fargo has a couple of definite favourites - "Shogo shows a lot of promise with the new net patch and all the tools being released, and Half-Life knocked me out in single player and continues to be fun in deathmatch. I can't wait to see the Half-Life mods..."

But there is one game that beats even Half-Life. All Fargo would tell us was "Zelda on the N64 Ownz me".

Gestalt's game of the year was "Thief : The Dark Project"

"Where other games like Half-Life and Unreal claimed to be revolutionary, Thief delivered. It's a whole different style of play to anything else out there, with most of the levels being easiest to complete if you sneak around in the shadows, picking off the guards one at a time, or even better just sneaking in and out without anybody knowing you were there!"

"It can be a little tedious at times as the pace is very slow - the running speed in Thief seems slower than walking in Quake, taking on more than one or two guards at once is generally suicidal, and you have to spend most of the time hiding in dark corners and sneaking around on tip toe. But if you're patient the game is incredible - the story and atmosphere are more immersive than any of the other games I've seen this year, and the game is fun and truly innovative."

Mix prefered Heretic II (which Gestalt bought two weeks ago and still hasn't got around to installing!) -

"Is it because of the gorgeous architecture and the furious action, or is it because it runs better than any recent game on my paltry system? I'm not sure, but the deathmatch is loads of fun with the over-the-top spells alongside the quick and satisfying violence of the blade."

Joost is another Heretic II convert - "I thought I wouldn't like it at first, but it turned out to be a refreshing change to the shooter scene."


Under-Developed

This year has also seen a lot of changes amongst game developers. As Mix says, it's been a year of "start-ups and break-ups. Crack.com going under while ION Storm still lumbers on somehow. It all goes to show that this business is a fickle one, and nothing is stable when it comes to game development."

Fragmaster agrees - "So many startup companies have formed this year, does this lead to a dilution of the industry talent pool? Only time will tell. But we're already seeing people leaving recent startups to form other startups, and that certainly isn't good."

Gestalt is worried as well - "There's been an explosion in the number of 'start-ups' this year. It seemed like almost every week brought a new mass-defection, with the likes of Cavedog, Blizzard, Lucas Arts, IonStorm and Ritual haemorrhaging talent. I'm sure we'll see a lot of the smaller companies and new start-ups going under in 1999 unfortunately..."

On a more positive note, although id is still following a relatively "lassez faire" policy when it comes to the gaming community, many other developers have taken a more active role... Fargo explains -

"One trend I noticed (and really appreciated!) was the amount of developer and publisher support for the fan community. It used to be that nobody paid attention to the web, but Quake/id Software changed all that, and it's been the most dramatic in the last twelve months."

"Now companies like Monolith are totally stoked about keeping the online fans happy and helping web sites cover their games ... it's wild. And great for the fans."

Of course the FPS glut has led to problems - "You need a certain number of fans following an individual game to make the mod/editing scene etc. worthwhile."

Gestalt agrees - "With so many great games to choose from, it's certain that some will fall by the wayside. Despite the continuing lack of source code or support from Valve and the ridiculous situation where the only patch for the game so far wasn't available for European players, Half-Life looks like the game that is going to survive."

"Shogo is fun as well - we're already seeing some great little mods appearing for it, and Monolith's hands-on approach to the community can only help. Some of the other games like Blood II and Sin risk falling by the wayside though, and the less we say about Klingon Honor Guard the better... ;-)"


The Year That Was

1998 has been one hell of a year, as Bastard says -

"I don't think ANYTHING turned out the way I expected it to! One thing is certain - 1998 was a phenomenal year for action games and for GameSpy. 3 Million GameSpy users can't be wrong!"

And with a strong line-up of games due for release in 1999, many of them set to support GameSpy out of the box, it looks like being another great year for gamers...


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