The 2007 Edge award for Best Game
Super Mario Galaxy
It’s the first steps that show Mario’s maturity. The gentle introduction to his earthbound movement on the way to Peach’s castle. The rabbit’s call of ‘Let’s play’ when he arrives on his first planet. The glimpse, as he jets between planetoids in the first full level, of the shower of discrete droplets of play he’ll be provided with throughout the game. And then the nod to more open Super Mario 64-style adventuring in the Honeyhive Galaxy.
In these formative moments, Janus-headed Galaxy confirms that it has everything you were hoping for: bright flashes of the new and the comforting warmth of the old. But it never feels old. Always shifting the ground beneath Mario’s feet, whether literally or by constantly changing the nature of his challenge, Galaxy surprises and delights at every turn, placing both familiar and new tasks firmly in its own, distinct, masterpiece of a universe. In short, it’s utterly true to Mario’s roots, and yet is fixed firmly on his future, too.
The Orange Box
Format: 360, PC, PS3
It’s not that The Orange Box is just an incredibly good deal. It is, of course: three new games on one disc. It’s not just that it also includes the still-inspirational Half-Life 2. It’s that every element of this package of games is so tuned, so focused, so considered. And while each is a contrasting and self-sufficient experience in its own right, they fit logically into a brilliant whole.
Few games have had to live up to the scrutiny that Halo 3 has. It had to satisfy lovers of its multiplayer. It had to atone for the perceived failings of Halo 2’s singleplayer. It had to build upon all the principles the series has worked so hard to establish, principles that are now taken as standard tenets of FPS design. And, even beyond expectation, it has succeeded.
The 2007 Edge award for Best Innovation
Halo 3 is indisputable proof of how closely Bungie knows its games’ players. It knows what they value, why they play and how they play. It therefore built Halo 3 to express what its fans dreamt it could be: four player online co-op, a level editor, screenshots, and the best matchmaking system in the world.
But Bungie made Halo 3 much more than just what its fans thought they wanted. Instead of a vanilla screenshot mode, it has a full theatre mode. Level editing is live and collaborative, and even part of the multiplayer itself. Co-op includes a deep scoring system that provides welcome competition while battling together. It allows players to share their films, screenshots, maps and gametypes with each other. While none of these features is truly new to videogames, they have never been so thoroughly and accessibly incorporated into such a supremely coherent whole. Halo 3 is the result of a company considering its games’ players like no other.
Technically, Crysis is a vision of the future. Well, it will be when your PC is capable of running it with all the options cranked up. It’s a roadmap for the next few years of PC technology, a framework for creating worlds that behave and appear that little bit more natural. And with Sandbox2 it also includes one of the most versatile level-editing tools ever made.
Format: 360, PC, PS3
Publisher: EA / Valve
Portal is the true successor to the triumphs Valve achieved with Half-Life 2. It presents a new tool with which to manipulate game environments, a set of puzzle scenarios that perfectly exploit it and an affecting story that’s as nuanced as you care to interpret. Its subtle but powerful recasting of videogame conventions profoundly reinvigorates the medium.