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Bare Knuckles | Bioshock rules '07; suggestions for '08

Developers, give PC, console gamers a way to play together.

It's the end of the year and you know what happens. Writers, regardless of genre, pontificate about the last 12 months. For video-game columnists, it's all about the top games and game of the year.

This year most would agree there is little to debate on the top titles: Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, Super Mario Galaxy, and Guitar Hero III. Sorry, Rock Band, but those nonworking controllers spoiled a great experience. Sorry, Crysis, the game was a stunning achievement, but PC gamers largely balked at the cost of getting it to run in all of its splendor.

A game of the year selection for Bare Knuckles is easy. Bioshock immersed gamers in an underwater art deco nightmare that simply kept us freaked out till the wee hours. The term "Big Daddy" might have been a reference to some '70s blaxploitationesque moniker before this game, but now it means something else entirely, a new foe, permanently enshrined in the Video Game Hall of Fame for Bosses.

The game didn't need a multiplayer component to measure its worth either, a rare occurrence these days.

As for 2008, things look murky except for Nintendo, as most folks will still be looking for a Wii, but the DS is stomping other handheld game devices.

The problem with the Wii is that many third-party developers aren't making any money off the console, and thus the variety of titles is lacking. Even though Nintendo is crushing Sony and Microsoft in console sales, Microsoft is leading both companies in games purchased by far. Some gamers are already talking about the Nintendo console's getting a Wii-bit dusty as it sits on their shelves.

Though it is set to debut in early 2008, we still don't know much about Sony's free online network, PlayStation Home. Sure, you can design your own online digs and hang out in a virtual town, but what that means for interaction with PlayStation 3 games isn't exactly clear. I do have an idea. Suppose the virtual somebodies at home could go to a virtual stadium and watch Madden 09? Gran Turismo? Even fighting games? That idea is on the house, Sony.

Microsoft had its best dunk with Halo 3 in 2007. What else does it have left in its clip in terms of sure shots for mass consumption? There are good games coming (Grand Theft Auto IV will be out next year for the Xbox 360 and PS3), but nothing like the Metal Gear Solid or Killzone titles coming exclusively for the PS3. Since I am already in a giving mood, I will throw them a bone, too. Xbox Live is by far the easiest, most interesting gaming portal right now. It's time for a huge, Xbox Live-only game where hundreds could play in a constantly evolving world(s). In other words, it is time for them to at least begin to talk about MMOGs.

PC gaming is such a fluid environment it's hard to judge what will happen there. The costs of playing the latest games in all of their glory are still prohibitive for most people. Couple that with consoles' getting more powerful, and one has to think its growth should remain steady but never as explosive as it once was.

There has to be a way for PC gamers and console gamers to play together. Not so much against each other as with each other. Maybe it should be a real-time strategy game (still done best on a PC), in which the first-person shooter and other close-up elements are done on consoles. Whatever it is, 2008 should really have PC developers considering something like that to maximize their "cha-ching."