15 Years Later, November 2004 Might Still Be One Of The Best Months In Video Game History

Today is the 15th anniversary of the release of Half-Life 2. A big game for sure, but it was just one of many huge and popular games that were all released in November 2004. Those weeks in late 2004 saw the release of World Of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, Metroid Prime 2, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Halo 2, just to name a few.

The end of the year is usually when some of the biggest and most anticipated games of the year finally release. So it isn’t unusual for a month like November or October to have two or even three blockbuster games dropping all in the same week. It happens.

But November 2004 had a lot more than just two or three great games. By my count, there were 15.

November 2004 started off with a bang with Counter-Strike: Source released on the 1st day of the month and the following day saw the release of the wonderful Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. On the PlayStation 2, Killzone was released. I don’t necessarily count this as a good game, but it was important to Sony and would become more important as a franchise later on. So worth mentioning.

A few days later, on November 4th, The Legend Of Zelda The Minish Cap was released and received a lot of praise from critics at the time. Gamespot gave it a 9.1, praising its visuals and music. The very next day, Bejeweled 2 was released for PC. This is a bonafide classic in my book and is still one of the best puzzle games out there.

Three days later, Everquest II was released on PC. 15 years later, Everquest II is still alive and still getting new expansions, with a big one planned for next month. Over on the Gamecube, a totally different type of game was also released on November 8th, Mario Power Tennis.

24 hours later, on November 9, Halo 2 was released on the original Xbox after months and months of hype and teasing. It was a huge success, though its ending was a giant disappointment. On the PlayStation 2, Jak 3 was released. A darker and more serious instalment in the Jak And Daxter franchise, Jak 3 was also the end of the trilogy.

The next week, on November 15, Metroid Prime 2 was released for the Gamecube. The follow-up to the extremely popular Metroid Prime, the sequel was heavily praised by critics and fans and is considered a classic today. Though that week I was playing something else. That same day saw the release of Need For Speed: Underground 2, which was a game that most kids in my middle school and later my high school were obsessed with for years. To this day, Underground 2 is still a game NFS fans mention whenever a new NFS game is announced. It also contained one of the weirdest and most confusing remixes.

November 16 was the day a lot of people had been waiting for. After numerous delays and leaks, Half-Life 2 was finally released. I remember a friend bought the game at Walmart a few days after release and was angry they had to have an internet connection. Something called Steam was needed to play it. He was annoyed.

The next day, November 17th, was the day we got arguably the best Metal Gear Solid game, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The camo system was great and the boss fights are some of the best in the series.

Three days later, on November 21st, the Nintendo DS was released and launched with Mario 64 DS. The DS would later go on to become one of the most successful consoles of all time.

November 23 saw the release of another MMORPG, this time it was the launch of World of Warcraft. Just a few weeks after Everquest 2, WoW launched and suffered some technical issues. Eventually, things started working and 15 years later, WoW is still around and still one of the most popular MMORPGs available.


That was only some of the games that came out in November. Wikipedia has a great list of everything. And what’s wild is just before November, in October 2004, some other big games were released including GTA San Andreas, Ace Combat 5 and Tony Hawk’s Underground 2.

There have been some great months in gaming, but November 2004 might still be one of the best. The month had a little something for everyone, including the launch of a new Nintendo console and TWO big MMO releases. Many wallets and bank accounts were drained that month. And a lot of parents had an expensive Christmas.


Comments

    Halo 2, one of the greatest disappointments of gaming with its incredibly half assed campaign that had so much potential until it ended way too soon. 2 and 3 really should have been merged to be one decent length campaign rather than two short ones. Since I don’t play the multiplayer it’s irrelevant to my feelings on it.

      Yikes. That’s a seriously hot take.

      Playing Halo 2 local co-op on legendary with a friend is one of my peak gaming memories.

        For me it was one of those experiences where the disappointment with the ending overwrote all the fun I’d been having up to that point. And I had been enjoying it, especially the levels you got to play as the Arbiter.

      Halo 1 was just perfection so it had no chance of living up to the hype. I've gone back and payed 2, It was still a very very very good game.

        Admittingly I haven’t played 2 again since that first 3 hour or four playthrough. However, it was very much a case of it getting started and building up and being slapped in the face with ‘to be continued’. I was very regretful at my ex wife having paid full price to get me the CE of it.

        It being followed up by Halo 3 where I finished the campaign in the time it took for my ex wife to go grocery shopping put me off the series.

        Halo 1 was definitely perfection and the best of the three. I’m always happy going back and replaying it either by myself or with a friend or sibling.

          That's one of the strangest takes I've seen for Halo 3. I'm not going to insult you for not liking it or whatever but yanno, I spent countless hours in H3's campaign, alone and with friends. Great memories on levels like The Ark and The Covenant (two of the biggest in the game). Not to mention all the skull shenanigans.

          Were you rushing through it? How long did your ex take do buy groceries?

            Not sure about rushing but I didn’t find any skulls. Just went from point A to point B killing things as necessary. Would have been two hours? I had checked the clock when I was done and was surprised that it was over already.

              That can't be right. Ark and Covenant are like, 1.5 hours each.

                It might have been a bit longer? It was a very long time ago, so it may have been a bit more than two hours, but the circumstances were what they were. One play session while she was out shopping.

                Unfortunately I had to replace the 360 so I don’t think I can see the ‘total playtime’ anymore.

    2004 in general was just a great year for gaming, there were just so many good games.

    Now it’s AAA titles rehashing the same games but less successfully, and a glut of indie titles that mostly look the same or try to copy previous successes.

    2004 was a great year for games. However, it happened to be a poor gaming year for me because I bought no games at all.

    I held off on MGS3 because the most common complaint in reviews was the top-down camera. It wasn't until MGS3: Subsistence was released in October 2006, which introduced the fully 3D camera, that I finally purchased it.

    Didn't play Half-Life 2 until 2011 when it came to the Mac via Steam. Still waiting on HL3! ;)

      I still haven’t played Half Life 2, but then again I prefer to play complete trilogies so maybe when they release the third one. ^~

      MGS3 I didn’t play until the PS3 compilation package and then I was blown away by how fun it was. Some of the boss fights in it were really top notch. Of course, no kill runs ftw.

        I did no-kill runs after I completed the game. I think it was to unlock something or trigger something else. My memory is vague. I haven't played MGS3 since early 2007 when my fat PS2 died. :'(

        The most frustrating thing was trying to get the stealth camo. IIRC you had to shoot at all the green kerotan frogs. Not an easy thing to find even with a guide! Got it done in the end.

          Yeah, the Kerotans were a massive pain, especially during the bike sequences, luckily you could also get the stealth camo for beating the game with no alerts IIRC. I don't think there was a reward for no kills though, well, besides getting the camos from each boss.

    So I click the Snoop Dogg Ft The Doors remix, and it immediately took me back to NFS:UG2. Thats a good remix if it can still do that after 15 years.

    But man, what an era for gaming. That stretch from October through November 2004 is one we'll never see again.

      Never say never!

        Been playing games for nearly 45 years now, and theres rarely been an era as ripe for legendary games as that was. MMO's had hit their stride, 3D gaming had gotten all the kinks out, consoles were outstanding, and developers werent trying to nickle and dime everyone. Always online hadnt happened yet, so no standard Day 1 patches, Day 1 DLC, MTX, etc.

        So we just got good games trying to outdo each other, in an era where all time great franchises were releasing sequels. Have a look at the games listed and none of them are a new franchise. All are remakes or sequels. Damn good ones at that.

        Thanks to the always online mentality with gaming these days, I really dont think we'll see such a golden run again. Developers are happy to release flawed products, and still try to get more out of us after release. That leaves a sour taste with enough gamers that it flaws the product. 2004 was a perfect combination of circumstances that we wont see repeated.

          One can still hope. Better days are yet to come.

            Oh, we'll see better games, theres no doubt. But so many in that short a period? Some YEARS cant match that Oct/Nov 04 period. They were pretty much all AAA franchises too, which you just dont see happen these days. If you look at the Wikipedia page, you could argue another 5 or so that were almost to the listed games standard.

            If we get 5 these days in the pre-Christmas window, its a good year. Its 2 or 3 for November this year, depending on whether you include RDR2 on PC or not. Death Stranding, and Star Wars: Jedi Order being the other 2. How will they hold up in 15 years? October might have 1 with Outer Worlds, so it hasnt been a great year for pre-Christmas releases.

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