Hello, welcome, and sit down. Beyond all reason, it's December, the time of year when our minds get all reflective, and we ponder the twelve months past. What made them great? Or interesting? Or at least weird? Why was 2008 the best 2008 for PC gaming on record? Join us this month as we get all Andrew Collings/Michael Ian Black (understandable references for at least two reading continents there) over the year gone by.
Gordon Brown tells the Sun newspaper that he wants to see knives removed from all videogames.
"I am very worried about video and computer games. No one wants censorship or an interfering State. But the industry has some responsibility to society and needs to exercise that."
John: What I love is his long-term commitment to this idea. It could so easily have been a lazy sound bite, thrown out in an attempt to appeal to frightened parents, but he's stuck to his guns and oh wait. Of course, this was then later followed by the Byron report, where it was concluded that violence in videogames has no appreciable effect on players, after which Brown issued a full retraction for his earlier comments and oh wait.
Jim: It's been a good year for old men not knowing what they're worrying about. I'm particularly enjoyed Boris Johnson slamming games as "soul-draining" a couple of years ago and then releasing a Mayoral statement saying how much he liked London Games Festival.
Kieron: Boris Johnson not knowing anyfuckingthing shocker. Actually, on a similar note, we didn't actually write anything about That Lawyer being debarred, did we? We're making progress, I think.
Alec: I want to see quick-time events removed from videogames, but that's not going to happen either. I'm hoping that economy woes means politicians' focus has shifted away from rabble-rousing about videogames, but with a UK election likely next year, some uninformed, knee-jerk oaf is bound to try and prop their campaign up by taking another swipe at our beloved flashing pixels.
John: And what a splendid thing it was too. Frankly, it could have been about moving a mouse cursor around a box and it would have still been great with that name. However, it happened to be an enormous amount of fun, running full physicsy 3D prettiness in a web browser, in which you were asked to control a monocled, hat-wearing velociraptor driving a Jeep, trying to run over other dinosaurs, or do stunts. If there was a button that made all games be about trying to run over dinosaurs or do stunts, I'd be damned tempted to press it.
Jim: I've always been a big fan of physics, and this was one of 2008's most dinosaur'd physics. It was also startling weird, even in a year crammed with oddities. Good job.
Kieron: On a similar note, "The splendid jetpack dreams of an aptosaurus called brontosaurus" was the most evocative sentence in gaming this year. Shame the game wasn't up to Velociraptor Safari, but still! Splendid Jetpack dreams.
Alec: If I'm honest, this never made me giggle as much as the name itself did. I'm dead excited about Minotaur China Shop, however. Smashing fine china whilst whistling is my idea of a good time.
Jim: I like to think that RPS really touches on human universals in its game coverage. Here we outlined one of the fundamentals: being a fucking moron. It's something we can all identify with.
Kieron: Me especially.
Alec: I like to think the RPS writers and readers are like the archetypal absent-minded professor. We can perform amazing word-calculations, but we're too dim-witted to realise that the glasses we can't find are, in fact, on our head.
Finally, some notable game releases:
Pirates Of The Burning Sea
Jim: I wish this had been a little stronger on launch. It was almost Eve Online with sail boats and hats, but the PvP wasn't quite interesting enough, and the land-lubber missions were too devoid of majesty. I wonder if anyone is still playing this, or has started playing now they have a free trial going. Readers?
Kieron: I played the tutorial, and meant to come back, but never did. I also forgot to cancel my credit-card, which lead to a couple of months money going to them. Which is probably the most actual money I've directly given an MMO developer all year. I'm not sure what this proves. [See above - Ed]
Alec: Spent a couple of weeks in the beta, and almost liked it. I was hoping for Pirates! online, but while it certainly had a lot of commonality it sacrified much of the joy for clumsily-presented technicality. There was enough of the right stuff there that it wasn't beyond saving with canny updates, but I'd imagine it's not been successful enough to warrant that. Oh, and it needs a jump button almost as much as The Witcher does.
PDC World Championship Darts 2008
Jim: This was absolutely incredible. It really captured the stern, swollen faces of modern-day darts champions. Brilliant.
Kieron: I'm pretty awesome at darts in GTA4. KING DARTS!
Alec: I was fortunate enough to review this for PC Gamer, back when the game release drought was so crippling that they'd give any old guff a page. Astoundingly, it didn't even do darts well. Its worst feature was a mandatory, artificial stress element that kicked in whenever you went for a third treble 20. Unavoidably, your character would start behaving like a liver-failing junkie at the peak of skag withdrawal, their arm waving uncontrollably all over the shop, a deafening heart-pound noise would overcome all else, and the screen would blur over. Yeah, maybe that's like pub darts after 38 pints of Large, but it didn't strike me as terribly World Championship. If a player gets himself into that sort of state as a result of nerves, he's never going to win. More importantly, you can buy a dartboard and darts for less than the cost of this game. Escapism entirely unnecessary.
That, as they say, was January. Funny how that's a month that sounds like an adjective.