By morecowbell24 13 Comments
Every year I play a lot of old games. We all got backlogs, I have one too and I'm constantly scooping up old games I've always wanted to play to add to it. In fact, I probably fall further behind on my backlog every year. There are simply too many old games, but these, in no real order, are the ones I enjoyed, really enjoyed didn't enjoy, sort of enjoyed and almost enjoyed this... last year.
These are the ones I enjoyed, sort of enjoyed or almost enjoyed.
I’ve played a good deal of Mortal Kombat before. It might even be my favorite fighting game series. I’d not ever tried to actually beat them though, until this year. The fights are downright cheap especially towards the end of the ladder, but I’m happy to say I got through them all. Kintaro, Motaro, Goro, Shang Tsung and even Shao Khan just weren’t quite bullshit enough to stop me.
Cheap hell shooter thrills are abundant in Metal Slug. The action is relentless and the plots of each game become more and more ridiculous in a fun, silly way. The animation and look still holds up. They seem like they were probably difficult games, but the Steam versions of each are easy to complete in a half-hour to an hour. They didn’t really leave much of an impression, but I had a decent enough time spent with them.
Wave Race 64 
I probably would’ve adored Wave Race 64 had I played it with my friends back when it was released. It’s got a unique feel to it as far as racers go, and I had a good enough time plowing through all the circuits by myself. I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore racing game fan, but I do enjoy a less conventional racer from time to time. Wave Race is exactly that.
Beyond Oasis 
Beyond Oasis is the Sega Genesis’ attempt at a Zelda game. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were Sega fans still out there that swear that Beyond Oasis is better than A Link to the Past, they’d be wrong, but that’s because A Link to the Past is pretty outstanding and not because Beyond Oasis is bad. Actually, it’s quite good.
Tron 2.0 
I honestly haven’t seen either Tron movie. My only experience with Tron up until playing this are the arcade games Tron and Discs of Tron. While I don’t have great endearment to either of those games, I really appreciated how Monolith took the license, and at least to my uninitiated eye, ran with it. It’s not the most impressive game, but at least it’s not just another shooter.
Star Wars: Republic Commando 
Speaking of just another shooter… This game isn’t horrendous, but I didn’t get the same level enjoyment from it that I got out of most of the games even on this middling list. It’s an okay game, but my only thought while playing it was how much better it should be. (my review)
Tribes: Vengeance 
The Tribes games are so fun to move around in, but the multiplayer doesn’t really appeal to me. This is largely because if you try to play it now, people are so stupidly good at it to the point where it’s unfair. That’s where Tribes: Vengeance comes in. Ken Levine and the folks at Irrational took a multiplayer game and made a singleplayer game out of it. Towards the end, the ideas you can see that the ideas began to run a little thin and levels get repetitious, but I still enjoyed finding out what a singleplayer multiplayer game might look like.
Metroid Fusion 
Super Metroid immediately became a favorite of mine after playing it for the first time a few years ago, and over the years I’d heard a lot of praise for Fusion, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Needless to say I wasn’t overly impressed. It’s a decent enough Metroid game, but it comes nowhere close, like it’s not even on the same planet as Super Metroid. That’s probably just because Super Metroid is that good though.
These are the ones I didn't enjoy.
Call of Juarez 
It’s a western FPS that might have been decent in 2007, but these days, it’s seems pretty garbage. The setting was probably a big selling point then, but we’ve since had Red Dead Redemption and even a fine entry in the Juarez family in Gunslinger. I’ve not played the other two Juarez games, and after playing this one, I’m not sure I will. It’s ultimately pretty bland, and I’m not sure why I committed myself to finishing it. I suppose it was probably the absurdity of blowing people away while reading the Bible to them.
Streets of Rage 
Beat ‘em Ups just don’t feel as good as they used to. I still don’t know what it is, but they were super fun back then, but now they seem really bland. I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of Streets of Rage 2, but after playing its predecessor I discovered a pretty massive gap between the two. The first Streets of Rage is pretty basic.
Like, I get that this came out three years before Painkiller, but Painkiller what Serious Sam would be if it was good. I can only take so much “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” when I play a game.
Aliens versus Predator 
The Aliens campaign is interesting, even if the objectives are a bit hard to interpret. The Marines campaign is god-awful. The Predator campaign is pretty cool. The concept behind this game is great, but seriously, what was up with that marine campaign? Multiplayer was clearly Aliens versus Predator’s bread and butter, but I wasn’t overly impressed when I finally found some people to play with.
Command & Conquer: Renegade 
Without a doubt the most braindead AI in all of video games lies in this one. I still remember half way through the first level when I noticed how bad it was, but I was on such a C&C nostalgia trip that I thought I might be able to let it pass. It's actually so relentlessly bad it ruined the entire rest of the game. I did manage to suffer through it, and I’m still disappointed in myself for doing it. Like AvP, multiplayer was probably where it was at, and it actually seems quite similar to Halo 5’s Warzone mode based on a loading up a map by myself, but sadly the servers are down.
These are the ones I really enjoyed.
This rerelease is about the only thing I can claim to appreciate Gearbox for in the past decade. I should really get on playing that sequel.
My Old Game of the Year Runner-Up. AHA! You thought I wouldn't arbitrarily rank some games did you? I fooled you. This is the second best old game I played of the games I played over the past year.
My love for Looking Glass studios conquered my doubts about Terra Nova based on its screenshots and reading about it. “Squad based FPS in Power Armor from 1995” might sound like a nightmare, and when you look at a screenshot it definitely looks like one. As it turns out it was one of those pleasant dreams you want to continue so bad you force yourself back to sleep. I was actually so ready for it to be unplayable that it was the driving force to even buy the game. I was quite dumbfounded when it turned out to be quite intuitive and more importantly, fun. I actually had to stop playing for a minute and ask myself if I was crazy. It's got silly FMV cutscenes and a fun mole hunt plot. The power armor can be customized, as in, this game has loadouts. In 1995. Missions take place in wide open environments and there is a hint of what Tribes would become here. There is more depth to the squad mechanics than we'd see in other shooters like Republic Commando a decade later. For a 1995 game Strike Force Centauri is all the more impressive, and it showed me the landmark game it is despite basically no one having talked about it in the twenty years since it came out.
Shogo: Mobile Armor Division 
To me, this feels like the game that brought Monolith into the fold. I played Blood a few years back and I thought it was a trashy Duke Nukem wannabe, and I thought Duke Nukem was a trashy Doom wannabe. Shogo on the other hand is great. As far as shooters go, it had its own thing going for it in 1998. There are your standard intimate missions in doors, on foot and mixing things up are missions where you prowl the streets in towering mechs. Titanfall actually kind of replicated this in a multiplayer format last year. It must’ve really sucked to put this out and then have Half-Life come out a month later. While I do enjoy me some Half-Life I found some things I enjoy about Shogo more. Is Shogo better than Half-Life? No, but just because Half-Life came out a month later doesn’t make Shogo bad.
Thief II: The Metal Age 
I played The Dark Project a few years ago, and I was really impressed by the stealth mechanics of it. Sleuthing around is among my favorite things to do, and after playing The Metal Age I’m not entirely sure Thief I and II don’t remain the best stealth games available. There are certainly some great stealth games out there, but Thief II: The Metal Age and its predecessor still feel like they’re on another level. Thief II also has some of the most ridiculous dialogue exchanges between guards I've ever heard. At one point there was a lot of screaming from across rooftops and that turned into arrows flying across rooftops. I’d probably have liked The Metal Age even more had the straight out of Bioshock villain not sounded like a silly cartoon character, but that is a small gripe in an otherwise fantastic game.
The bots in both games actually hold up quite well. I wasn’t really able to find much action online, but ploughing through a singleplayer tournament in each game enlightened me on what I missed out on in during that era of shooter.
Target Earth 
Target Earth is a really cool game. It's a bit too hard for its own good, but what this game was dishing out in terms of spectacle is something I can't say I've seen in many games from the era. It’s straight-forward sci-fi with a shot of cinematic space opera. (my review)
Rise of Nations 
I can only wonder why it never got a sequel. It’s as if Age of Empires and Civilization had a baby, and it’s delightful.
My Old Game of the Year. Yes, I will rank No One Lives Forever above the rest for your pleasure or displeasure, however it may suit you.
I’ve wanted to play The Operative for many years, I got caught up in rumors until my dreams were crushed when Warner Bros. denied Night Dive the opportunity to resurrect the series. I decided it was finally time to get a physical copy to work on a modern system myself. I did just that and made it harder on myself than I ought to have, but I got it working. It is far and away, across the sky, etc. etc. the most fun I’ve had playing a game this year. I don’t know that I can explain why or how. I’d like to think the process of installing it tempered my expectations, or that I realized that my growing hype from year to year was probably getting to be a bit overblown, but I was clearly not expecting as good of a game as I got. To most, it might not even be that great. It is a FPS with stealth elements that has fun with its characters and story. Whether it's serious or silly, I love me some espionage. Every mission feels like it was ripped straight out of a Bond film to spectacular effect. I'm not sure I fully believe in how good of time I had, but No One Lives Forever is somehow a fantasy come to life, a marvelous blend of two of the things I love, video games and spy stuff.