We don't really do lists on Eurogamer. We've done them before (all this week, for example), and they do get the hits, but I've always thought them a bit desperate (all this week, for example). With this in mind, here's my favourite features on Eurogamer this year, in no particular order. That ought to fill some space.
"Join us now as we board the Shame Train and take a look at some of the games so bad their publishers wouldn't send us free copies." Unfortunately, the Shame Train was so popular it ran itself off the tracks: we've had relatively little trouble getting hold of this sort of thing since. There have been a few holdouts, however, and the Shame Train may yet return. Choo-choo!
Generally speaking, developer access in the games industry is controlled by publishers. The exceptions are the lunatics we find who'll speak to us away from the PR schedule, and the lunatics at Valve, who do their own stuff. For example, flying Oli Welsh and dozens of other journalists halfway around the world to basically go, "Stop being mean to the PC. It's totally wicked." The result was a barrage of interesting stats and facts from Gabe Newell, Robin Walker and other Valve folks. "I don't want anyone between me and my customers," said Walker at one point. "I want to write code today and I want all my customers running it tomorrow." That's roughly how we feel about websites, although you have to substitute "code for "typos" and "running" for "mocking".
Of all the things we've written about LittleBigPlanet this year (including several more on one of the five days ahead - hint hint, but how much of a hint?), Christian's thing about sitting next to one of our readers for a whole day while he made a custom level is my favourite, and also includes one of only two references to sigmoidoscopy in the nine-year history of Eurogamer.
Not content with that, Christian also went to Las Vegas to an MMO festival, struggling to emulate Hunter S. Thompson but writing some interesting stuff about elves, live quests and being haunted by Barry Manilow instead.
We've always wanted to get Sony and Microsoft in a room and make them fight, but so far we've failed. However, we did manage to speak to Kaz Hirai and Don Mattrick separately at E3 this year, and ask them the same questions. The results were interesting, if waffly. Here's an abridged version: Most important breakthrough of this generation? Mattrick: Xboxes! Hirai: PlayStations! Most important product? Mattrick: Xboxes! Hirai: PlayStations! Are you active or reactive? Mattrick: Xboxes! Hirai: PlayStations! Who is winning? Mattrick: Xboxes! Hirai: PlayStations!
Never mind the New Xbox Experience, how about the new Eurogamer blue and white tables?
Whether you agreed with the verdict or not, it's a fine review of a tricky game. Although I do slightly regret not taking Kieron Gillen up on his offer, which was pitched to me along the lines of, "If those people think that's a negative review, you should get me to do it." Poor old Snake. Also memorable, for me, because Oli and I were both abroad at the time, pinging messages to each other from distant hotel rooms, and I remember waking up at about 6am, firing up the website and wondering why there were 800 comments two hours after publication. We honestly had no idea.
Partly because it's very nicely written, but also because relentlessly polite and lovely Simon Parkin submitted his copy with a note that asked if I could be gentle subbing it. "I would never normally ask, but I've been writing this review for pretty much the last ten years," he wrote. Aww! I cut it to shreds and changed everything, clearly.
Finally, there's nothing that award-winning, campaigning internet journalist Ellie Gibson likes more than interviewing a Z-list celebrity about a game they're being paid to like, and 2008 was a great year for that, as she asked a one-armed man if he liked Guitar Hero and talked to Gemma Atkinson about who was fitter, among others. But my favourite has to be this month's interview with former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq. Notionally about SimAnimals, it ended up with Konnie turning the tables on our intrepid Gibbo, who was asked if Eurogamer's Dan Pearson is fit and whether she would kick him out of bed. I'd burn down the bed afterwards, too.
The good news is, we're putting Ellie on the trail of even bigger fish in 2009, starting with an actress and musician of actual renown on 12th January. You won't want to miss it, but it would be good if some of you did so I can recycle this format next year when we run out of features again. Merry Christmas!