By Nadafinga 0 Comments
With new consoles on the horizon, I felt it was time to look back on the current gen and what it brought to me. Obviously this was the generation that brought online play, DLC, and social aspects of gaming into the forefront. But this isn't a list of the most influential or important games of this gen. While Call of Duty 4 was the game that popularized the perks & progression for online play that you see in every shooter these days, you won’t see it in my list because I ended up not really playing that game very much. (It has a relative that did make my list though.)
No, these are the games that got their hooks into me, and got them in deep. The games that had me playing them way beyond completing the main story or finishing all the levels. Games that I kept coming back to time & time again, sometimes even years later.
Borderlands – The slick marketing said it had “87 bazillion guns” and that the RPG and FPS “had a baby.” It all sounded cool, but it also sounded ridiculous. So I really didn’t expect to play this for dozens of hours, then jump right into a new game plus to do it all over again. This loot based shooter really kept me looking for that next awesome assault rifle that had +4 fire and higher damage with a shield regen mod. All the color-coded loot never stopped giving me that little drip of endorphin every time I saw an orange weapon pop out of an enemy or crate. Gearbox crafted a shooter that allowed me to team up with my friends, blow shit up, and laugh out loud throughout. I feel like they really figured out post-release that the humor in the series was one of its strongest points, as the DLC was even funnier than the main game. I never did hit the final level cap, but I came close. While the sequel certainly took the best parts of this game and removed the worst, it was a small iterative improvement on the original that was a revelation when it was released in 2009.
Assassin's Creed II – This is another game that was followed up with a sequel that was iteratively better that its predecessor, but Assassin’s Creed II remains the biggest leap in the series’ long annualized run. While Assassin’s Creed 1 was a fun (if repetitive) game ACII made the original feel like a simple proof of concept demo. The game opened up all sorts of city management, upgrades, and different locations that the original was severely lacking. I went back to collect all the feathers not due to some urge to be a completionist, but only because it was just so damn fun to traverse around those cities.
Red Dead Redemption – GTA in the old west; the game sells itself. While it always bugged me that the game suffered from the old Rockstar “the main character is basically a bitch for every NPC he meets and just does fetch quests and assassinations that have nothing to do with the main story” just like GTA did, I still had so much fun running around in that old west world, a world that was changing, evolving, dying. So many smart systems were implemented so that this huge open world never felt oppressive, like convenient fast travel, & bullet time slowdowns to get you out of a jam. It also contains one of my favorite game moments of all time, where you’ve crossed the border into Mexico, and are riding into town towards the sunset, and a Jose Gonzalez song plays. I was transfixed, a small grin on my face, knowing that this game was something special.
Portal & Portal 2 – OK, I’m cheating adding two games here. While I consider Portal 2 a better game in nearly every respect, Portal 1 is an amazing experience in its own right, and an integral part of one’s enjoyment of Portal 2. Hands down, this is the funniest game I’ve ever played; the writing and voice-acting are simply on another level. The difficulty of the puzzles was perfect, not too easy, but never leaving me scratching my head too long either. The story of a rogue AI testing you, trying to trick you and kill you is cleverly told and immersive. The last part of the first game where you find out that the building you’re in is abandoned and it’s just you and GladOS was an amazing twist. Co-op was a great addition, and I wish I had the PC version so I could mess around with other people's creations from the map editor. I just love everything about this game, and the additions to the mechanics in the sequel were perfectly implemented.
Mirror's Edge – When this game first came out, they emphasized that you could play the entire thing without ever firing a gun or killing anyone. This really intrigued me, and I went through the game the first time doing just that. What a rewarding experience, performing all those first person acrobatics, sliding, wall jumping, and disarming guards. The sense of momentum and speed were done wonderfully. The main criticism leveled against the game was that it really stopped being fun when you lost that momentum. Which is fair, but as someone who played through the story multiple times, and completed all the speed run trophies, all I can say is that once you know exactly where to go, that stops becoming an issue.
PixelJunk Eden – How many nights was I up late trying to get all those Spectra? A game that I played the demo for and thought, “this seems fun enough.” Little did I know that each level would introduce a new mechanic, constantly making you adjust how you play. As I guided my little grimp across the levels, swinging around and climbing the levels higher and higher, I often got frustrated, but never got bored. The game’s timer can be brutally short, and some areas quite difficult to reach, but Eden had some of the most rewarding gameplay I’ve had this gen.
Fallout 3 – This game really intimidated me initially. It was my first open world RPG (I never played any Elder Scrolls), and I got to the point where you leave the vault, and blink into the sunlight, and set out into the world. I remember being slightly frozen with uncertainty, not really sure about what to do, where to go. The freedom was actually scary. So I put it down, and didn’t turn it back on for a couple months. Eventually I made my way to Megaton, befriended the sheriff, and got the confidence to head out into the unknown. I eventually put over 60 hours into the game, completing every single side mission there was, and emerged a confident roamer of the Washington DC wasteland.
Red Faction: Guerrilla – As a fan of the original games, I was following the development of this game for a long time. Their switch third person was at first worrisome, but hearing the developers talk about how the change makes the game work so much better kept me interested. This was obviously going to be a much different game than its predecessors. And it was. The environmental destruction was unlike anything I had ever seen, and I soaked up everything this game had to offer. I ran around and collected all the audio logs, mined every ore location, destroyed every propaganda tower. And the online…boy oh boy the online was fantastic. At the end of every match, the arena was in complete ruins, with guys blasting through walls with the Rhino backpack, taking down sniper towers with sledgehammers, and using the jetpack/arc welder combo to rain death on opponents. It was the first competitive online game that I really played with regularity, and I kept coming back to it over and over. I have trophies dinged from 2009, ’10, ’11, and even this year.
Guitar Hero 2 – Guitar Hero 1 was great, but the sequel was better in every way. The gameplay was improved, the track list was better, and I plugged away at this game for months and months, trying to get 5 stars on every song. I was underwhelmed by GH3, so I stayed on the Harmonix bandwagon, following them into the Rock Band series, which I also voraciously ate up. Given the choice today, I'll play Rock Band, its a better game. But GH2 was the game that initially hooked me deep into rhythm games, and the only one where I played the songs over and over and over to keep getting more stars & beat my high scores.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – 500 hours. I put 500 fucking hours into the online of this game. There has never been a game in my life that I have been more thoroughly engrossed in than Bad Company 2. I played it constantly, going through and getting gold stars (100 kills) with every single weapon, vehicle, and gadget. Once again, the ability to completely level buildings and leave the map looking completely different than when you started never ever got old. While there are some minor gripes I have about certain design decisions (elements that were for the most part fixed in Battlefield 3, which I’ve put a few hundred hours into as well), this game is, by far, my Game of the Generation.
I know this generation isn't over yet. There are a few games due out this year that could very well make a huge impression on me still (Last of Us, I'm looking at you). Even so, as PlayStation 4 gets ready to launch this holiday, I look forward to seeing what developers and publishers have in store for us in the coming years. I can only pray that as many innovative & fun games come out next gen as did the current one. Thanks for reading.
Love and kisses, Nadafinga
With the announcement of a new console just over the horizon, we sit in a pre-dawn light of possibility. With Sony squarely in second place behind Microsoft, they need to really "wow" people in order to make a move to become the console leader again. This post is not meant to be a fanboy rant, nor a Microsoft bashing post. It's simply some ideas I have that might get Sony back in the hunt to become a leader for consoles again.
Sony has already made some moves recently that makes their system more compelling. Most notably is PlayStation Plus. With PS+, subscribers get free games on an almost weekly basis, and it makes MS Gold subscriptions look more and more like a rip off. While MS has actually had the gall to jack up their price by $10 recently without offering a whole lot new or useful (why would I pay money to use Explorer?), Sony has been slowly winning people over by offering a rewarding, worthwhile program, without holding anything back (online play, Netflix access, etc.).
With this momentum, I think Sony is poised to really win people back over to their side, but they really need to set themselves apart...its not going to be enough to simply come out with a new console with better tech specs and graphics. They need functionality that players can only get from them. People are emotionally tied to their Xbox Gamertag and friends list, so Sony needs to really make a compelling argument to get people to switch sides. Here's some things that I think could really make a difference:
Offer what the current Xbox 360 currently does - you know the list; cross-game chat, voice messages, automatic trophy synch, etc.
Continue free online play - Sony has always hung their hat on their ability to provide online play for free, and its crucial that they continue this into the next generation. If they buckle and start charging like MS does, there will be little incentive for people to make the switch.
Continue PS+ subs into PS4 - This will most assuredly happen, those of us who have PS+ need to be able to continue our subscriptions into the new PS4 storefront, with freebies and discounts for the early adopters. It will make an argument right off the bat for people to come into the Sony ecosystem.
Mirror's Edge 2
Battlefield 4 (with 64 player online)
(So, I guess I like DICE...?)
Thanks for looking at my ramblings!
Shit, man. I did it. I hit 50.
Normally I’m not one to really play a single game for an extended period of time. Very rarely will I go through a SP campaign more than once (But Nadafinga, you played through Uncharted 2 three times). True. But shut up.
I’ll go for a platinum trophy sometimes, if the game is especially fun and I don’t mind mucking around in the gameworld for awhile longer (C'mon Nada, you can't look me in the eye and tell me those speed runs in Mirror's Edge were "fun." ) OK, OK, but let me get on with this.
Even with some of the best online experiences I’ve had, like AC: Brotherhood, my interest dries up after a month or two and I move onto the next thing. (For shame Nadafinga, the MP in that game is awesome!) I know dude!
But in March 2010, I got my grubby little mitts on Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Now, other than playing a bit of BF: 1943 the previous year, I was a Battlefield virgin. But after I put this game into my PS3 and jumped online, something clicked in my brain. The gunplay was incredibly satisfying. The classes, weapons, abilities, gadgets, and balance were all wonderfully crafted. And it helped that a few of my friends were into the game, and we formed a a weekly play night on Sundays. I had found my own version of video game cocaine.
Now, because I have a job, a house, and a wife, I wasn’t able to hit this mark in a couple months like some crazy insane people were (seriously, how is that even possible?) I know, right?! But I played it pretty regularly over the course of the past 15 months. 459 hours later, that crazy distant goal of max rank 50 dinged on my screen. I felt a strange mix of both pride and shame…Now, the game is certainly not perfect, it has some serious issues, but I was able to see past them. During the best games, it was bordering on video game Nirvana. During the worst games, I’d never rage-screamed louder at my TV. (Yeah, remember when you slammed that controller on the table and broke it?) Shut up man! Nobody knows about that!
Thanks for reading my blog...and nevermind that cynical italics guy. He's a jerk.
Let me start off by saying that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a great game. I love it, it's a glorious shooter that has sunk it's hooks deep in me. I bought it on launch day, and have logged over 190 hours into it. This might not seems like a lot to some of you, but I can honestly say I've never played a video game as much as this one. I have earned every pin, every insignia (except for one, grr!), every trophy, and gold starred 37 of the 46 primary weapons. Now, I'm by no means great at the game, I manage a measly 0.92 k/d ratio, but I try not to put too much stock in those stats since repairing, reviving, and spotting are just as crucial to winning as getting kills is. With a SPM of 195, I consider myself...decent. It's also worth noting that this is only my 2nd foray into the Battlefield franchise, with last year's 1943 being the first. So I'm pretty new to all this, and while I might not have the experience of someone who's been with the franchise since it began, I also can offer a unique perspective of someone coming to it without very many preconceived notions.
But the game has some problems, and after putting this much time into the game, I think I'm qualified to present some criticism. Many of these points have been brought up elsewhere, but I wanted to get my thoughts on them down. This is not a bug list, that would be a whole other blog entry (and a long one at that), these are major design issues that I feel would help make this great game even better.
So the next few months are going to have some serious gaming decisions for me. First up is the Playstation Move in September, which I'm still on the fence about. I've seen some cool demos and ideas, but I'm kinda skeptical. I think it would be great to have on hand for when I have parties and family over, but it will remain a secondary gaming peripheral for me. That being said, I already have a PSeye, so I only need to drop $50 for the wand. But....then I'll have no games for it, so there's still more money to spend.
I feel as though I'm better off waiting, especially since I'll be dropping some serious bank the following month, in October. Fallout New Vegas ($60) and Rock Band 3 ($120 w/ keyboard) are both day one purchases. Bad Company 2: Vietnam is also due out soon, which is also day one for me. So with dropping over $200 on those games, I just don't know if I can justify another $50 on a Move and even more money on some games for it.
Looks like the Move will have to wait for the time being...there's too many "must buys" for me to spend money on a less than sure thing.
Use your keyboard!
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