2006:s Game Design Viking Style!

[Originally posted on 1Up.com]

This year has been an great year for gaming in general, but for those of us in the Nordic countries in particular 2006 has really been a high-watermark. While most of the countries have had established development studios creating IPs with worldwide recognition for many years now, I do believe that this year was the most intensive year for Nordic game releases and announcements of upcoming titles thus far.

So what titles have been released this year? Well, going from west to east, Iceland-based CCP:s EVE Online, although not a new title this year, was, like is the case for all successful MMO:s highly topical, it has been getting a fair amount of press and recognition from gamers through out the year, with plenty of adds both on-line and in print publications, culminating with the release of the expansion Revelations in December.

From Norway, we got Funcoms's Dreamfall the much anticipated and well received sequel to The Longest Journey, one of the last great 2D point-n-click adventure games. "Anchored by a wonderful cast of characters, the very well-crafted sci-fi story in Dreamfall will leave you anxiously wanting more." says GameSpot.

The Hitman series has been around for quite some time now and IO Interactive have delivered several high quality titles in the series, Blood Money is no exception, and this year they made sure gamers had Denmark in their sights once more.

Swedish DICE have been producing plenty of Battlefield titles the last few years after the first games mega-success, and although future warfare in 2142 is not as revolutionary as it's 1942 counterpart made it, it still delivered a solid experience. As if to compensate for the game not breaking new ground, two other studios also released highly acclaimed games: The PC version of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter was made by Swedish GRIN and new-kid-on-the-block Avalanche Studios released Just Cause, showing off their tallents with an over-the-top action-filled "GTA-Island" game with a game-world many times larger than San Andreas with fantastic graphics (on the 360\PC, PS2... not so much).

Quite a year for Norse game designers then, but what about the future? Well the coming year looks to contain some real interesting projects from the region. Funcom is coming strong with Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures which has already received several awards, as well as Anarchy Online - Lost Eden. IO Interactive's Kane & Lynch takes an interesting spin on co-op play while DICE aim more toward fleshing out the single-player experience of Battlefield with Bad Company. Another Swedish studios is back, Starbreeze (of Chronicles of Riddick fame) with an interesting take on the comic The Darkness. Speaking of comebacks, Finnish Remedy, makers of the Max Payne games is working on, in my opinion, one of the most interesting games on the horizon, in Alan Wake, a best-selling suspense author who escapes to a small town to recover from the mysterious disappearance of his fiancee, it is "mission-based with a deeply engaging and suspenseful story line unveiling new twists and profound character revelations at every turn". Looking at the screen-shots and seeing the short videos available so far, it is easy to draw comparisons with Twin Peaks, one of my favorite series of all time.

So here's hoping for another great year in gaming in general, and a fantastic year for the "home team". Go Vikings!

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