Find out why one writer thinks that 2007’s Call of Duty 4, Super Mario Galaxy, BioShock, Mass Effect, and many other titles make it the best year in video gaming history.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my peers claimed that 1998 was the best year in gaming history. At first glance, I had to agree with his assessment. After all, 1998 was the year that the Pokemon craze exploded outside of Japan, and 1998 was also the year that gave us gaming masterpieces such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Metal Gear Solid. Yes, 1998 would be tough to beat, but after thinking about it a bit longer, I think I have found a year that was even better for video gaming: 2007.
2007 was the year that the seventh generation of consoles really hit their stride. The PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, and PSP all had great games release that year, some of which are now considered must-play classics in the medium. 2007 saw the release of what is currently the highest-rated game of all time, and it also featured the introduction of new IP that are now juggernaut franchises in the industry. For these reasons, I think 2007 is the true best year in gaming history.
Let’s start with the new IP. First, 2007 saw the release of the first game in the Assassin’s Creed series, which is a franchise that is still going strong today. That initial release into the time-bending world of Assassin’s Creed proved popular enough to make the series Ubisoft’s flagship franchise, leading to countless sequels, spinoffs, and even an Assassin’s Creed film adaptation that is due for release later this year.
The BioShock franchise was also introduced to the gaming world in 2007, with the first game in the series earning near-universal critical acclaim. It was joined in the sci-fi genre in 2007 by the first Mass Effect, which also received glowing reviews from critics, and again, successfully launched a franchise that stands as one of the strongest in gaming today.
PlayStation 3 owners were treated to a new IP in 2007 that would go on to define Sony’s console offerings for years to come. That new IP was Uncharted, with the first game in the franchise, Drake’s Fortune, setting the tone for the games to follow. While Uncharted 2 is when the series truly took off, Drake’s Fortune laid the foundation, and was one of the first PS3 exclusives that justified buying the system. Fast forward to 2016, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is right around the corner, and hype for the franchise is at an all time high. Indeed, Uncharted 4 could be the biggest release of 2016, but its legacy started in 2007.
Besides strong new IP, 2007 was also a great year in terms of console hardware and other services. For example, Microsoft released the Xbox 360 Elite, which managed to avoid many of the Red Ring of Death problems that plagued previous Xbox 360 models. Nintendo expanded its digital storefront by bringing WiiWare to the masses, and continued raking in the cash from the massive popularity of the Wii. Yes, big moves were made outside of the software space in 2007, and these moves helped solidify the seventh generation as one of the best.
Some moves made in 2007 are ones we are still feeling the ramifications of today. For example, the success of the Xbox 360 Elite console could be fueling Microsoft’s apparent desire to release a new Xbox One console. However, one of the other news stories of 2007 has had an even bigger impact on gaming, and that is Bungie splitting from Microsoft.
Bungie announced plans to split from Microsoft after releasing the massively successful Halo 3, which remains one of the highest-rated games in the series – and a really good reason to pick up Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One. Though Bungie split from Microsoft in 2007, it would stay close to release a couple more Halo games, while also preparing its big multi-platform venture: Destiny. Destiny was a massive sales success at the time of its release, and if Destiny 2 rumors hold any water, it’s well on the way to joining the likes of gaming’s other biggest franchises. Just as the story of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End started in 2007, so too did the story of Destiny‘s development, proving to be a defining moment in the industry’s current landscape.
The combination of strong new IP and industry-shaking events like Bungie’s split from Microsoft helped to make 2007 one for the ages. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why 2007 was the best year in gaming history. In the end, it all comes down to the games, and even though 1998 definitely had its fair share of classic titles, I think 2007 has it beat.
Let’s start with one of the best gaming compilations ever released, The Orange Box. The Orange Box, which released in October of 2007, includes Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Portal, and Team Fortress 2 in a single package. Not only did it make the wait for the ever-elusive Half-Life 3 much harder, but it also launched a new quirky franchise with Portal, which is often listed as one of the best games of the seventh generation.
At this point, I think I’ve made a pretty good case as to why 2007 is the real best year in video gaming history. But I haven’t even named some of its other highly rated games. 2007 featured the likes of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Forza Motorsport 2, Crysis, Rock Band, God of War II, and many other critically-acclaimed titles along with the games I’ve previously mentioned.
And all of those are on top of the two games that I view to be titles that could be considered the best of all time. The first one is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which turned the Call of Duty franchise into an unstoppable force that still tops sales charts to this day. Call of Duty 4 also revolutionized online multiplayer for first-person shooters, and I view it as one of the most influential and important video games ever produced. We even named Call of Duty 4 the best Call of Duty game, and with 12 titles in the main series so far, that’s saying something.
The other 2007 game that I think could be considered one of the best video games ever made is Super Mario Galaxy. Super Mario Galaxy dethroned 1998’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as the highest-rated video game made to date, and in my opinion, is the greatest Super Mario game – period. Its wonderful orchestral score, gorgeous visuals, and near-perfect gameplay make it one of my absolute favorite games ever, and I think that it is by far the best game to release in 2007 – and one of the best games the industry will ever see.
Super Mario Galaxy, BioShock, Mass Effect, Call of Duty 4 – the list goes on. If 1998 wasn’t the best year in gaming history, then it was definitely 2007, and I can’t wait to see if any other year will ever come close to topping it. As it stands, 2016 is off to a great start, but we’ll have to see if this year’s E3 event brings any big surprises before we can start talking about 2016 possibly surpassing 1998 or 2007.