January 31, 2010

Rolling the clock back to 1998

Erik Kubik says, 1998 was a great year to be a gamer. Gamers were trapped in a bubble of awesomeness: there was the N64, the Playstation 1, the dying Sega Saturn and the PC. I was a 14-year old back then and I finally had a decent PC. The N64 gave gamers true 3D with 4-player multiplayer. The Playstation continued to expand its library with the release of great games and greater sequels. The PC showed the world what people already knew; it was capable of gaming greatness.

The 1998 game list is dominated with classic titles like Banjo-Kazooie, Tekken 2, Rainbow Six, Fallout 2, Xenogears, Starsiege Tribes Unreal, Metal Gear Solid and Grim Fandango.

With so many great titles, it’s tough to list the winners and losers. The PC world alone had at least eight games that were major releases. The console market swelled with greatness in all genres, including action, adventure and RPGs.

Being a PC gamer back then I truly remember Starcraft and Half-life. Those two games are considered the most influential for the period. Starcraft is still played today, whether it’s in Korea or in college dorm rooms around the country. Half-life 1 was the first FPS to have a solid story. This game spawned tons of mods. But will Half-Life be remembered for the creation of Gordon Freeman and a story-driven FPS, which pushed an aging Quake 2 industry to its fullest, or the creation of Counterstrike?

There was one other PC game that kept me locked in my room even more than World of Warcraft, it was the PC game known as Baldur’s Gate. It was such a marvel of Western RPG elements. I hated AD&D at the time; I’m still not a big fan. But Baldur’s Gate was a 5-disc masterpiece, hours of hours of exploring and character customization. The original is by far the best when compared to the sequels and spin offs.

Console gamers were also treated right in 1998. How about Legend of Zelda OoT? This was the first 3D Zelda game. Some say it’s one of the greatest games ever made and it’s held up pretty well. I remember the game was a lot of fun, but I was captivated by the musical score.

I was a huge fan of Resident Evil 2 for the Playstation, so a sequel only meant good things: better and bigger monsters getting blasted by bigger guns. The plot twisted and turned more than the first one and introduced characters whose legacy would shine as the series evolved to the next level. Although Resident Evil 2 has held up poorly, despite numerous ports, the original is still the most fun to play.

1998 was truly a year for games, and it’s hard to say if there has been a year since then with so many good releases, maybe 2006? Who knows what 2010 will bring?