Between today's name reservation for World of Warcraft Classic and me putting the finishing touches on my classic gaming room, I've been thinking a lot about the late 2004 period in gaming.
Every holiday season sees a huge uptick in gaming releases. But for me personally, holiday 2004 held an unusually large number of games that dominated my play time for years to come:
10/25 - Ace Combat 5. One day I'll have to wax poetically about my love for the Ace Combat franchise. I eagerly awaited the follow up to my still beloved Ace Combat 4. It didn't turn out quite as good, but I'm going to replay through the whole series in order coming up soon and I can't wait.
10/26 - Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Probably the game I played the least on my list, but its simply too important to leave off.
11/1 - Counter Strike: Source. At some point Steam forgot all of my tracked playtime up to a certain date. I realize now that this was less likely a bug as it was an act of mercy.
11/8 - Everquest 2. It may always be my "#2" MMO, but hearing that theme song transports to Norrath every time. Just typing this has the Commonlands background music in my head.
11/16 - Half Life 2. On any given day it's my favorite game of all time. Yearly play through with its older sibling, no question.
11/17 - Metal Gear Solid 3. I actually never finished and never liked it. Not for lack of trying. I probably have more hours played in the first few levels than I do for entire MMOs. I should try again sometime soon and see if the years have changed my perspective.
11/21 - Nintendo DS. I resented it at the time because despite Nintendo's insistence I knew this would usurp the Game Boy Advance. Ended up being my daily driver in college and long afterwards. The Switch is nice, but the clamshell design that actually lets me put a console in my pocket is what I miss most about contemporary gaming.
11/23 - World of Warcraft. I've talked enough about this game in the past couple of days but it always struck me that even during such a busy holiday release season, everyone knew just how important WOW was when it released. This game basically doubled as my instant messaging program in my high school and college years.
12/28 - Gran Turismo 4. I have 100% four different Gran Turismo games including this one. I don't even like to drive in real life. I drive a base model Subaru. I don't understand why I love, only that I do.
Going through the Wikipedia article on 2004 in gaming shows so many other important titles that I've never even played. It's probably just luck, but I always felt that this two or three month stretch had such an outsized influence on both me and the gaming industry as a whole.