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Letters from the Front

2004 was a very different period in gaming history, the Playstation 2 and the Xbox just turned 3 and games were just very weird. The early 2000’s were defined by invention, seeing what worked and what didn’t but 2004 was very different when compared to 2001 or the early years of video games like the 1990s. 2004 was about redefinition, reinvention, and refinement in many ways. 2004 was a year of setting standards by which the new generation would be defined and judged on and in the process of setting that standard, the games that released would establish themselves as absolute masterpieces and would enter the annals of gaming history; 2004 was in many ways the year of the sequel and the year of the shooter given how many shooters released that year.

2004 was the year of the sequel and the year of the shooter, their successors would outmatch them in every way as a new generation followed in 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360 with the successors of the games that launched in 2004.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto III was the game that defined a generation and defined the open world genre, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would do both again.

Set in the 1990s, CJ returns to San Andreas to bury his mother and then soon he is dragged into a criminal underworld inspired by the hip hop scene of the 1990s and the real gangs of Compton and Los Angeles like the Bloods and the Crips. San Andreas was the final game where it had silly antics attached to it as future games like Grand Theft Auto IV and V were heavily dramatized and heavily story driven with somber and mature tones.

Half Life 2

The game that would go on to define 2004 and define PC Gaming for the rest of the 2000’s. Half Life 2 deserves to be described with no words , I can’t say anything about it that hasn’t already been said about Half Life 2, a game that is so unique that no developers have tried to copy its successes.

As a result of its uniqueness, Half Life 2 still remains a timeless game and thanks to its nicely paced exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat makes Half Life 2 stand above its peers in the genre; even in the present day it cannot be matched.

Halo 2

The game that would define Xbox and Xbox Live.

Halo 2’s multiplayer put Xbox on the map and defined Xbox Live. Halo 2 was the best game on the Original Xbox, if you owned the system but didn’t own the game then you were a chump and a loser. Halo 2 wasn’t a perfect game but it was almost a near perfect game and it did everything so well, Halo 2 was a true sequel in every aspect of the word.

While the campaign garnered a lot of praise, its multiplayer stole the show and what made Halo 2 one of the greats. Halo 2 Online was seamless as it could get in 2004, this is one of the very few games that allowed you to add a friend and play with that friend or his friends in a party while chatting in-game. Halo 2 Online made the Xbox Live service worth it and did the service justice. It was easily one of the best multiplayer services of the early multiplayer days.

Battlefield: Vietnam

Battlefield: Vietnam took the franchise to the Vietnam War and expanded upon what made Battlefield 1942 great while still retaining some sort of realism and authenticity.

The Vietnamese would be stealthy utilizing mobile spawn points and wage guerilla warfare while the Americans were loud and brash with helicopters and heavy machine guns blasting from said helicopters. Vietnam was more asymmetrical gameplay in where each faction had their own weapons and vehicles, it helped with balance and general gameplay plus DICE further expanded on the game by adding a 3D minimap and bringing towable vehicles, a feature that wouldn’t be seen again until Battlefield V.

The game launched with 14 different maps all based around the most famous battles of the Vietnam War like Khe Sanh while including lesser known battles like Operation Hastings and Operation Flaming Dart. Vietnam wasn’t just Jungle warfare but also urban combat as it also included the Siege of Hue and the Battle of Quang Tri in 1968. Battlefield: Vietnam ended up being a classic PC game and if you weren’t playing it then you were simply a chump.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft changed the world forever when it released 15 years ago.

Leave it to Blizzard to look at a new genre that was still in its infancy after its introduction in the mid ’90s, take away the fluff, and introduce the most dominating game of not only the 2000s but the dominating game in the MMORPG genre in the present day. The end result was one of brilliance and Blizzard broke new ground, what Blizzard set forward was a tactic that every MMORPG tried to copy as a tool for success just like Blizzard had done but to no avail. By 2008, the MMORPG market had grown and World of Warcraft was the dominating game in the genre by that time and a year later, it broke ground by being the most popular MMORPG by player count of nearly 10 million. Today, in the present, it is one of the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time.

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