Last night, a team of Navy SEALS took out a man who had been at the top of the FBI's most wanted list for over 10 years. In reality, he was on the list since 1998, for his involvement in bombing a US embassy, but the public didn't really know who he was.
That changed of course, on September 11, 2001. In a span of 102 minutes, Bin Laden took 3,000 American lives, and immediately became the single most wanted man in the world, as every American ached for revenge.
We came close at Tora Bora, but he slipped away, and went into hiding for ten years. Last night, we ended that shit. Nearly ten years of tireless search ended with two bullets in a masnion twenty miles from Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. We should mention by the way, he was killed with a headshot.
So, to honor this event, I thought I would take a look back at how gaming has evolved and changed in the time we were hunting this man. The best games, innovations, series, all of it.
So here we go:
Halo: Combat Evolved was released on November 15, 2001. By this time, US forces were already well on the hunt for Bin Laden. In fact Halo was released just 2 weeks before the battle of Tora Bora. Halo introduced many gaming innovations that have become staples of modern gaming, including:
Heavily story focused gameplay
Combat Evolved received major acclaim, and was the mian reason for the Xbox's success.
In 2004, Halo 2 brought online multiplayer to the series, and it would remain atop the xbox live charts for two years, until the release of Gears of War in late 2006. What it lacked in original innovations, it made up for with the best competitive multiplayer on consoles.
Another three years later came Halo 3, which ended the saga of master Chief and brought the Halo series to next-gen consoles. Hailed as the greatest multiplayer game by many, it appeared Bungie was through.
And yet, in 2010, they released Halo: Reach, a prequel to the original game. Not only did it bring the series full circle, offering a darker, and arguably better story, it brought new innovations, which most of the series had skimped on since the original. Safe to say, it was the series' best. And though other companies may very well take up the Halo mantle, Bungie's time with it done.
Terroroists (Call of Duty 4 (Rainbow Six)-Present)
It's myth that Call of Duty 4 was the first military shooter to be set in present day. Actually, Conflict: Desert Storm, released in 2002, was based on military operations in Irag during the Gulf War. Even before that, the Rainbow Six series focused on covert operations against terrorist cells.
But when Infinity Ward decided to leave their comfort zone of WWII, they introduced millions of gamers to the horrors of fundamentalist Islam. Following the epic intro featuring an attack on a frieghter, the player lives through the final minutes of the President of an unnamed Middle Eastern country, as he is executed by a radical leader.
And it wasn't just Muslim terrorists, as Russian extremists quickly became the major focus, carrying over to the less-than-stellar sequel, Modern Warfare 2. Since then, countless copies have seen players mowing down countless scores of Islamic (and Russian) extremists.
Motion Controls/Rhythm Gaming
Dance Dance Revolution started out as a Japanese arcade game, and quickly became a major gaming sensation. Taking advantage of this new sector of the industry, Activision gave us Guitar Hero, which allowed us to be the rock stars we all wanted to. From this spawned several sequels, the arguably better Rock Band, and even DJ Hero.
Sony's Eye Toy was marketed to make the human body into a controller, with such awesome gameplay ideas as-washing a screen. Then, in 2006, Nintendo released the Wii, the first console to make any serious effort to take advantage of human motion for gaming. Since then, those few good Wii games that have worked well with the concept have convinced both Microsoft and Sony of the gameplay benefits of motion controlled gaming.
Or more likely, they were interested in the Wii outselling both PS3 and 360 combined.
Story-Driven Gaming/Videogames as Art
Of course, story had been a large part of games since the 90s, particularly with Final Fanatsy and Zelda. However, beginning with Halo, popular games saw a major improvement in writing and plot.
Since then, the best games ave been those that could mesh impressive gameplay with powerful story and writing, the Mass Effect series being one of the best examples. In fact, any Bioware RPG (ME, Dragon Age, KOTOR) could easily fit into this category. They, along with Valve, have spearheaded the effort to create story-heavy games.
Consequently, a major debate has recently developed over whether or not videogames should be considered as art. Shadow of the Colossus, one of the greatest PS2 games ever made, is the premiere example of how the line between art and entertainment is being blurred. And with every new crop of mediocre, cut-and-paste videogames, there are those that continue to further the cause of games as an art form.
Touch Screen Gaming
I wanted to say 'hand-held gaming' for this, but since the gameboy was originally released in 1989, that doesn't very well fit the topic. Instead, let's focus on a far more recent innovation: the touch screen.
With the enormous popularity of Apple's iPhone, many developers are reaching out to a whole new market of on-the-go quick-release gaming. Titles such as Angry Birds or World of Goo are great to just mess around for a few minutes, while other such as Superbrothers (pictured above), play out more as fully-realized games.
And as the market for these titles continues to grow, we can expect the quality to get better...hopefully.
So, those are just a few of the major developments in the gaming world that have occured since Bin laden changed our lives forver. And though he is dead now, hopefully the gaming industry will continue to grow and improve. However, before I leave, I will say this:
I know it has become such an old joke to poke fun at this, because it's been going on for so long, but I can't resist. July 14, 2011. That is when Duke Nukem Forever releases.
That's right, it took longer to make a single fucking game than it took to catch Osama bin Laden.