Best Role-Playing (RPG or MMORPG) - World of Warcraft
What can we say about World of Warcraft that hasn't already been said? This isn't just a game that we love talking about -- it's a game that just about everyone at GameSpy is playing constantly, and we can't stop. (Even Sluggo, who never plays MMORPGs, has a level 12 warrior after his first week). It might seem like hype to put it this way, but we'll do it anyway: "It's more of the patented Blizzard magic." Shoot us. It's true.
In that Blizzard-esque fashion, World of Warcraft takes everything we love about these sorts of role-playing games, distills it down to the elements that makes them fun, and removes anything that gets in the way. What emerges is a fast, fun, and streamlined massively multiplayer online RPG that actually feels like a game. The worlds are beautiful and resplendent (while not being overly taxing of your hardware), and the whole deal is rendered with a level of character very rare in these sorts of games. Blizzard is indeed onto something here, and we can't wait to see how much farther it will go.
Best Adventure Game - Myst IV Revelation
We saw the adventure genre start to make a bit of a comeback this year with a number of solid titles, thanks in no small part to the efforts of The Adventure Company, which published a lot of interesting titles that might not otherwise have reached shelves. However, the game that sticks in our memory the most this year is Myst IV: Revelation, which in some ways could arguably be labeled as more of a piece of art than a video game.
After getting mixed responses to the 3D URU: Ages Beyond Myst, the series returned to its roots for Revelation, both in its point-and-click interface and with a story revolving around the fate of the brothers Sirrus and Achenar, imprisoned twenty years ago in the original game. This time the family is deciding whether the brothers have served their sentences, but when the patriarch Atrus' ten-year-old daughter Yeesha goes missing, you're sent on another tour of strange worlds filled with amazing sights and sounds and ingenious, imaginative puzzles.
At times, the puzzles were a little too devilish for their own good, but with Myst IV, Ubisoft showed that there's still plenty of life in the adventure genre, marrying storytelling, technology, art design, and puzzles in a way rarely seen before.