Hi all, it has indeed been sometime since the last entry, hope you've not all forgotten about it....
This originally should have been "Best bestplay", but I think that's lacking in focus and could ultimately end with people picking their favourite game as opposed to gameplay. Mechanics however I feel is more particular and not necessarily reflective of the gameplay, although linked. Anyway, enough babbling.
One of my favourite games ever and needless to say I'd argue (until the end of time or until someone gags me) that it's the best deathmatch game ever made. Every single aspect of the player movement, level design and weapon system is perfect and is as exciting to play now as it was when it came out.
Brutal and unexpected, bit of an emotional sucker punch. :s
Red, my mad and only friend in the darkness. I discovered that Red had essentially grown up in the darkness of the mines, praying for death but was unable to carry out his final wish due to powers unknown. He gets into and setup an incinerator such that I can't release him from it, while holding a key that I needed. The only way to get out and continue my escape is to turn it on, burning him alive. I searched that room for another way but found nothing. His screams of pain filled me with an incredible sense of loss, sadness and guilt like nothing I've felt in any other game. Genius.
I find music is a very important aspect of games, responsible for communicating the tone of a scene to the personality of a character. Personally I find that a game with poor, or badly placed music can turn me off it almost immediately (thankfully the music in Stalker is optional).
I've picked Outcast for best soundtrack not just because of the quality of the music (composed by Lennie Moore and performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra) but because of how integral it is to the game. The feeling of being alone and confused on an alien world and all of the danger, discovery and enlightenment that follows is conveyed through the music as well as the gameplay. From the epic operatic chanting of the opening to the tribal stomping of the battle music it transported me into the world in a way that just could not have been done without the soundtrack.
Outcast at the time was one of the first games to have a full-orchestral soundtrack, which in today's climate is relatively common. However, I guess this is partially nostalgia, but I feel that few titles have managed to integrate the soundtrack and game so successfully. This was a tightly contested place for me (runners up included FF7, Doom, Mirror's Edge, Crusader: No Remorse and Radiant Historia) and to be honest, I think depending on my mood any one of them could have taken it. Still, every time I listen to Outcast I get returned to it's world in a way most other soundtracks do not.
At first I thought there is not that many to choose from but after pondering it some more, there really is a lot of couples out there in video gaming. Simple choice for me today though:
Monkey and Trip - Enslaved: Odyssey to the West - Xbox 360, PS3
Although their relationship doesn't get off to a good start (she enslaves him), as the story progresses this changes vastly. The voice acting, dialogue and animation work together seamlessly to bring these characters to life and create a believable relationship which I could get on-board with. Not only that, both characters depend on each other and Trip proves her worth regularly and never becomes annoying. This developers is how you do NPC escort stuff, make me care about the character I'm saving!
Would love to give this to Vanille, but I've not actually played FFXIII. Instead I've heard and seen her by proxy and damn, she's right up there. Mr Potato Head from Hasbro Family Game Night was a highly placed contestant but he's so bad I don't think he deserves any more attention. It's got to be:
I know he's not an NPC but he's probably induced more rage in me than any other video game character ever. He is about two-feet shorter than everyone else in the game, meaning that fire would fly harmlessly over his head while the smug bastard that picked him shot my knees off. In the time before proper FPS controls on consoles, picking Oddjob was basically cheating. This t-shirt exists for a reason:
To everyone that thought playing him was fine, I hate you. So much.
Almost picked a character I'd like to be for this one but at the last minute realised I do have a character I can relate with. Applies more to my younger self, but nonetheless I certainly feel we have a lot in common:
I kinda feel the character description in the link explains most of it but for clarity; during my teenage years and early-twenties, I was a moody, angry and angsty little bastard. More than a touch melodramatic (which is still true to an extent) and prone to shunning people and keeping people at arms-length.
True enough, I didn't go through some sort of crazy life-death situation to dissolve my barriers but still. In the game he grows to become more open and trusting which is ultimately why he survives, not because he's incredibly powerful.
Plus, he has spiky hair, loves blocking out the world with music and has a sweet skull on a chain to boot. Nice. :)
There has been much deliberation on my part about this one, do I select a game which I actually feel guilty playing (i.e. spent too long playing it when I really should have been doing something else). Or maybe it's a bit rubbish and I know it but enjoy it anyway or maybe it's something I do within the game and in retrospect feel a bit ashamed of.
I certainly have examples for all three: I definitely spent too long playing Black & White during my study leave for 4th year exams and I know MGS4 was ridiculous and more movie than game but loved it anyway. The one that makes me wince a little has to be this though:
For those that haven't played it before, F.E.A.R. is an FPS with a heavy dose of Japanese style horror. The primary difference between F.E.A.R. and other shooters of the time was the rhythm change from spooky-scary to bloody-shooty. The gore and hit-box system was enthralling and visceral, grenades would tear people (well clones) apart showering bloody mist across any surface. Slow-mo would make the perforation of enemies into some kind of sickening beautiful art form as air-trails turned to bloody streams and limbs were ripped from bodies.
My guilty pleasure was to record these, erm, "artistic" death-scenes in all their glory. This would often mean I'd replay the same fight scenes, over, and over, and over to get that "perfect" carnage and capture it. Depending on the arrangement of the enemies, I'd experiment with different weapons to get the best effect:- Perforator for sticking enemies to ceilings, arranging them on walls etc. the machine-gun for great bullet slow-mo effects, HE grenades and of course lets not forget the mini-gun...
Judge for yourself if I'm sick and need help but at the time, it was damn good fun. However, in retrospect, it's a little weird and I think that it qualifies for the guilty pleasure award.
Here is some of my findings: (WARNING, OVER 18's ONLY!)
Well head of the curve in terms of technology when it came out in 1998, but unfortunately suffered due to lofty ambitions and numerous project management issues. It actually still held up in terms of playability when I reviewed it back in 2006:
Due to it's unconventionally realistic setting and use of real-time physics; at the time standard machines couldn't keep up (average was probably 2-3fps) but the Trespasser engine was remarkable and still is impressive. It featured the first game world to be completely influenced by classical mechanics and was also the first game to use ragdoll physics. Yup, HL2 was NOT the first game to have physics based puzzles! :)
The game is clunky by today's standards but the sense of isolation, being hunted, the vastness and detail of game world is something few games have ever attempted since. Far Cry on the PC is probably the only game that has managed to create a similar world but it's not the same. Trespasser's finest moments have more in common with the lonelyness and fear of exploring the wastes of The Zone in the Stalker series (Pripyat in particular) and the discovery of ruins and past-events in Shadow of Colossus and System Shock 2 respectively.
Hammered for it's poor performance on launch and wildly unorthadox approach to FPS, I think Trespasser is the prefect example of an underrated game. This is not the train-wreck everyone said it was, and for those that can see past the rough edges there is an exceptionally intelligent FPS adventure here to be immersed in. The community is still alive and kicking too making new levels, mods, all sorts of exciting stuff.
This was a bit of a tough one for me, ended up with quite a list but finally narrowed it down to:
April Ryan - The Longest Journey, Dreamfall - PC, Xbox
I only played through these games recently but she stands out to me as one of the most interesting and developed characters I've seen in gaming. The arc she develops over in each game changes believably; to begin with in TJL she is inexperienced and naive before developing into a confident young lady. In Dreamfall, a stern leader of a resistance group gradually being crushed by her lack of self-belief.
I think this is helped by the diary she keeps over TLJ allowing for a much deeper insight into her as a person. There are many characters that are arguably as interesting as April, but none of them let me get as close. She's no action star, she doesn't blow shit up, wear suggestive clothing or shoot guns but I could believe and empathise with her in a way I've not felt with any other game character.
I actually started this yesterday on my local forums, Pause Gaming but thought I might as well post it in here too. Seems like it'll be fun so far!
Not actually 100% about this one, would have to ask my grandfather this one to be sure that's going to be difficult. Might have been Digger but I think it was:
Space Invaders - Amstrad PC1512
Remember this more and I'm pretty sure it's my first game. Those beeping steps getting faster as the alien hordes marched towards your little ship and the annoying bonus ships flying about the top of the screen. Guess it's much the same these days despite the lick of new paint it gets every couple of years. Still fun? Hmmm, not sure I'd enjoy playing this version any more but the game design is still decent and is fun for a quick 10 min blast. Oh, so yeah it would have been played on a machine like this: