Remember back in 2005 when the first salvo of the modern generation of gaming consoles was launched? All of the gaming sites and magazines were debating who was going to win this generation. What was going to have the best games and set the bar for the next decade of gaming. Six years later, the clear answer is that no one has won. In fact, the real answer is that they are all winners. Sure, Nintendo has sold more consoles; however, if we were able to truly gauge what systems are played the most (and for the longest), I can guarantee you that Microsoft and Sony would be very strong contenders. Throw in these companies’ boundless supply of micro-transactions and I can confidently say that all three companies have made out just fine.
With that little riff in mind, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane to revisit games that were once considered important early titles for the new consoles that have since been forgotten. I won’t be focusing on games that were endlessly hyped and, yet, failed to deliver, like Perfect Dark Zero. Instead, I’d like to take a look at some fantastic games that have been lost in the non-stop stream of video game releases.
Tom Clancy’s GRAW
One of the top nearly-launch titles for the Xbox 360 was Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. While you may remember the title, you might forgot just how good it really was. Although GRAW didn’t actually launch with the console, it came out early enough to quickly stand out as one of the best looking games so early on. Metacritic has it scored at a 90, which leaves it behind Gears of War and Oblivion as the third best game of 2006. That’s pretty great company. I have fond memories playing through this game with it’s stylized graphics and extensive co-operative play. GRAW still stands as one of the best games on the console even though late adopters may have never given it a chance.
Remember when the controls of the Wii were revolutionary? Now that motion controls are available for all three platforms the novelty has worn off. Still, in the early days, there were a slew of titles that took advantage of this new technology in a multitude of ways. SSX Blur is a great example of game willing to really push the Wii and it’s players to the limit. The biggest complaint, the difficulty in mastering the controls, became the title’s biggest asset. While a lot of players didn’t get to complete SSX Blur, those who spent tons of hours mastering the controls reaped the rewards. Although this is the last SSX title to be released, it seems to be forgotten now that the novelty has worn off and many hardcore gamers have left the Wii behind.
The Outfit & Gun
I combined these two games together because they present an interesting issue for games released early in the console cycle. Five years after the launch of the Xbox 360, neither of these games stand up well to the test of time. Graphically, they’re stuck in the gap between two generations — when developers were trying to figure out how to unleash all of the hardware’s potential. Gun was a hold over from the last generation that was upgraded to sell on the new console. The Outfit was a game probably designed before dev kits were even available. They are both awkward looking games that under their surface are still enjoyable and playable. However, because they were both B-grade games at launch they were eclipsed by the marquee first-party games. It’s kind of a shame because, although these games aren’t great now, they were solid entertainment at the time.
Madden 2007 (Wii)
Another forgotten launch title, Madden 2007 was highly regarded for it’s innovative approach to using the Wii controls. It provided the perfect experience to bring in dejected regular people who have long been turned off by the complexity that is the modern Madden game. Too bad sales were light and this breakthrough release was over-shadowed by the higher res versions on the Xbox 360 and the PS3.
Call of Duty 2
You might be surprised to see a Call of Duty game on this list. However, now that we’re five years in, it’s fair to say that Call of Duty 2 may have been forgotten. That’s not because the game isn't excellent or because it didn’t sell well. Instead, I contend that it’s because since the release of Call of Duty 2, over 25 versions of a Call of Duty game have been released. Count that as five versions of a Call of Duty game per year being released (including some PS2 and DS versions I didn’t even know existed). Call of Duty 2 was a must buy at the launch of the Xbox 360 and has been played through thousands of time. Nevertheless, with never-ending onslaught of new Call of Duty releases, Call of Duty 2 fades further and further away into the cloudy past of the modern generation of console gaming.