Top critical review
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on 6 March 2011
"What place, nostalgia? Sometimes it pays to be harsh on history. While it owes its very existence to Doom, there's no way Half-Life 2 would cede its place in the canon to the former in terms of gameplay and design. Such titles are interesting from an historical perspective, but only those looking for a nostalgia hit will really derive much value from them; others will most certaily get more out of later games." - The Rough Guide to Video Games, p.16
Whether or not you agree with the above paragraph will probably speak volumes about how much you enjoy this book, or how much it will frustrate you! But for a book purporting to be an overview of gaming history, a self-confessed bias towards a well made but hardly revolutionary sequel compared with one of the most fun, atmospheric, well conceived, and (arguably) single most influential computer games of all time, really annoys me!
The history section of the book is well done, with tiny shout outs to all the right people, companies and even those games along the way which are apparently deemed too old by the editors to be enjoyed by most gamers. (Including Doom.)
But otherwise the main part of the book is the detailed reviews - the "canon" - which unfortunately seems to merely equate to games the editors have recently enjoyed playing. Out of 75 game choices, most are from 2005 onwards, with only ten games coming from before 2000...all from the late nineties, in fact. (Well, fine, there's a Monkey Island game from 1991.)
If you think that Half-Life 2 is a worthier game than Doom then buy this book, it'll be your thing. If you'd rather have a slightly less biased view of worthy games, I suggest the brilliant "1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die", which lets an expansive (though admittedly not perfect) selection of games speak for themselves.