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The Games and Events of the Year 2000
Basically, the (gaming) year 2000 was the year of the sequel. If you think about the games that have captured your attention this year, you'll more likely than not stumble upon a "2" or even higher figure in the games' titles. Of course, there were some exceptions, and there were some events that took hold of the gaming industry and sometimes even of the public. Below you'll find a brief look back at the last twelve months, where I've taken only the most important games and events into account.
January - March 2000:
NoxJanuary promised that the year 2000 would ring in the final comeback of role-playing games, since Origin's Ultima IX - Ascension, the long-awaited last instalment of the Guardian trilogy, was published. With its gorgeous graphics, gripping story and virtuous gameplay, the game was a worthy sequel, which was only flawed by high system requirements and a couple of bugs. But also Interplay's Planescape Torment was one of the RPG winners of the year, impressing with a captivating story and Baldur's Gate like graphics.
In February, Westwood showed with Nox how an easily accessible and less gloomy action adventure can look like and helped waiting for Diablo 2. Maxis' The Sims from designer legend Will Wright revolutionized the genre of economic simulations, proving that running a household is by far more difficult than running a company.
With reference to games, March would nearly have passed by uneventfully, except for the almost tragic end of one of best software houses ever, Looking Glass. With titles like Ultima Underworld, System Shock, or Dark Project, they had written gaming history, but after a series of commercial failures they were forced to throw in the towel.
April - June 2000:
Deus ExIn April, Raven Software's Soldier of Fortune set doubtful standards in the field of realistic killing methods, but Looking Glass' last game Dark Project 2 helped forget that with brilliant gameplay and slightly enhanced graphics.
In May, opinions diverged on Shiny's overly brutal Messiah, while Infogrames' Big Brother - The Game transferred the idiocy from TV onto CD-ROM.
In June, the games' quality improved, since Ion Storm published Warren Spector's ingenious genre mixture Deus Ex. But also John Romero from id Software finally managed to complete the still great Daikatana after four years of development. That month's best sports game was Microsoft's Motocross Madness 2, giving you pure joy when accomplishing the wildest of stunts on your machine.
July - September 2000:
Heavy Metal FAKK 2July turned out to be the temporary climax of the year: Blizzard's Diablo 2 finally shipped. Modified in nearly all aspects, the action advenure made the renewed hunt for Diablo an unparalleled experience, and since then it ranks first in the international sales charts. Overshadowed by these events, Activision's likewise wonderful role-playing game Vampires: The Masquerade Redemption went almost unnoticed.
August was hot as well: Valve's Half-Life: Counterstrike continued its success story, while two top representatives of their respective genres were published with Microprose's Grand Prix 3 and Interplay's Icewind Dale. However, Phenomedia's Moorhuhn 2 (Grouse Hunt 2) surpassed everything. The new hunt for grouses was downloaded more than 5 million times, brought production in many a company to a standstill and even aroused the public's curiosity. Phenomedia is already working on part three.
September was the month of power lady Julie Strain, who had to defend her home planet against hideous aliens in Ritual Entertainment's Heavy Metal FAKK 2. In particular, the marvellous graphics based on the Quake 3 engine riveted your eyes to the screen.
October - December 2000:
Colin McRae Rally 2.0In October, Bioware's graphics and complexity miracle Baldur's Gate 2 finally hit the shelves. Although the complete AD&D rules had been integrated, the game came along with a motivating story and an impressively dense atmosphere. Since then it competes with Diablo 2 for the throne. In the strategy sector, CDV's Sudden Strike and Westwood's Red Alert 2 fought for the buyers' attention, who were faced with a difficult decision given the quality of both games.
But in November, that attention was inevitably drawn to 15 young developers from all over the world who, as Rewolf Studios, had finished their works on Half-Life: Gunman. Although the game offered more action than depth, they succeeded in delivering a worthy total conversion to Half-Life. Another surprise was Human Heads' Viking saga Rune that featured a dense nordic atmosphere and lots of motivating swordplay.
December began astonishingly enough, since Chris Roberts left his own company Digital Anvil after it had been forced to stop production on some promising titles due to disagreements with publisher Microsoft. Apart from that, Codemasters' sensibly modified Colin McRae Rally 2.0 left all its competitors far behind. No other racing game has so far managed to convey such a unique driving feeling and fun as Colin 2. But also LucasArts' 3D Guybrush in Monkey Island 4, Electronic Arts' innovative action thriller No One Lives Forever and Lara's last appearance in Tomb Raider Chronicles (Core Design) are worth mentioning.
© 12-21-2000 by CE