If I name-drop just a few of the releases from that year it's pretty easy to note why. Metal Gear Solid. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. Half-Life. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. Heck, even Fallout 2. They all released in 1998, a year which, in hind-sight, has long been considered the most important in video games' relatively short history. But just six months into 2010, we already have five fantastic game of the year candidates, each of which would emerge conclusive winners in any other period. With reflection, 2010's looking magnificently strong.
It's taken 12 years. 12 long years in which we've seen brilliant, brilliant games. But we're yet to re-encounter the magic of 1998 - a twelve month period in which not one or two releases shine, but an entire top-ten is compiled of potential winners. 2010 could change that.
It struck me as I played Red Dead Redemption and considered - just five months into the year - my favourite games thus far. Heavy Rain, Red Dead Redemption and God Of War III are all contenders for varying reasons. Heavy Rain is flawed, but pushes the boundaries of what we've come to expect from digital entertainment. It's a benchmark, a paradigm shift if you'll excuse the hyperbole. God Of War III is the exact opposite to that. God Of War III is a game so supremely polished, so well routed in traditional design choices that it's able to push every instance of its execution into new waters. The gameplay remains largely untouched from it predecessors, but it's the technical spectacle of the package that pushes it above and beyond everything else on the market. It's a loving homage to the franchise as a whole, a love-letter of all that makes the God Of War franchise great, amplified. Red Dead Redemption is a mixture of the two, a game fixated in Rockstar's development traditions, but so realistically crafted that it offers an immersion unparalleled by other open-world games.
What's interesting to me is that they're all game of the year contenders. They're all vying for the same platform of acknowledgement. But in many ways they are all winners. In any other year, each of the games could take home a respective game of the year gong, but in 2010 only one will receive it. It's worth re-iterating then, that we're in June.
And Nintendo and Microsoft fans must not be left unheard neither. Mass Effect 2 is one of the highest rated games of all time, providing an experience almost all are lavishing in praise. Likewise, Super Mario Galaxy 2 once again proves that Nintendo are the masters of intuitive yet innovative level design, and are blowing the house down in terms of critical acclaim.
They are just five games in roughly just as many months. And we still have announcements to be thrown upon us during next week's E3. Some of the stuff we know about, LittleBigPlanet 2 (a game of the year winner from 2008) and Halo: Reach are sure to be critical and commercial successes, while Treyarch's new Call Of Duty game looks to be the most well considered since Call Of Duty 4 — a game of the year winner in 2007.
I already believe 2010 rivals 1998 in terms of sheer quality game releases. Perhaps 2010's yet to find its true innovator, its Ocarina Of Time if you will - a game that changes the way we think about the art itself. If 2010 doesn't find a game of that magnitude, then perhaps it will be destined to sit just behind 1998 in terms of importance. But is that really the way we should judge things?
Alas, we're barely six months into the year and we've already happened upon five strong game of the year contenders. 1998 should, at the very least, be looking over its shoulder.
Twiggy is an anonymous PushSquare columnist who has been spotted in three major cities across the globe. Its rumoured hes on the run from the British monarchy.