I played this at PAX East and had a blast. Hopefully I’ll have my Live account ready to go when this hits next week.
Day 22: A Game Sequel That Disappointed Me
Insterstate ’82. Hands down. Developed in house at Activision it dumbs down the customization options for vehicles (not quite to Twisted Metal-like levels) and given the emphasis on “don’t get out of the car” in the first game the fact that you can leave your car in the second game makes little to no sense. The game is such a non-entity that I can barely remember the plot save that involved tracking down Groove Champion. Simplified mechanics, lackluster storytelling, and “advanced” graphics that lack the charm of the original make for a decidedly sour taste on the tongue.
Day 23: Game You Yhink had the Best graphics or Art Style
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. To this day I think the vibrant cell-shaded graphics are more expressive than any Zelda game since. Some decried the move, especially after the realistic Gamecube tech demo at the time, but I thought that Wind Waker’s bright colors and fluid motion were absolutely gorgeous.
This one goes hands down to role playing games. Not that massively multiplayer garbage. Old school, 40+ hour, RPGs. With cloth maps! Hack and slash or story based there are few kinds of RPGs I don’t enjoy. Over recent years there has been a lot of RPG bleed through into other genre. In some cases this is a mechanical effect: loot, experience, levels and in others it is a bit more subtle. Something like Mass Effect 2 is an RPG, but at the same time it’s action heavy gameplay mean it trends towards an action game as well. I used to joke that ability enhancing equipment in Tiger Woods were magic items; was I wrong? Everything from Call of Duty to Halo: Reach have turned to the carrot of experience points (or credits, or whatever) to lead you ever onward.
I’m not a fan of survival horror games. I’ve just never really been able to play them. So, when I give my best story nod to i Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem you should know that I don’t do so lightly. It helps that I’m a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft and while Eternal Darkness doesn’t use the Mythos proper the world and metaphysical elements are strikingly similar. Denis Dyack and the crew at Silicon Knights managed to weave together a compelling mystery that stretches across several time periods into a single cohesive and engrossing narrative of cosmic horror. The twelve playable characters spanning over 2000 years of human history serve as the vector for an intricate plot that always ties back to the present day (2000, at the time) in a surprisingly effortless approach that despite the breadth of the action is never overwhelming.
This is problem one of the best games of the last generations and deserves more recognition and maybe a new game set in the same world. I’d love to see what type of horrors Silicon Knights can conjure up with today’s hardware.
He has the best intro music, bizarrely wonderful character design by Yoshitako Amano, and he is bat shit insane. A maniacal and psychopathic nihilist he engenders no sympathy and is about as true a villain as there ever was.
Say one thing about this challenge, it definitely calls to mind what aspects of video games I gravitate towards and which I don’t. The topic for Day 17, favorite video game protagonist, is pretty difficult mainly because there isn’t one I really feel excels above others. If you were to extend this topic to “fictional protagonists from any media” you would be hard pressed to find any video game characters in the top 10 or even the top 100. Since apparently I can’t help meddling in things I’m going to split this topic into two things: a video game protagonist I really really like and a video game protagonist I think is really really interesting.
The first half of that is actually a really long list. The name that pops into my mind most consistently is Gordon Freeman. Silent, inscrutable, and iconic he is perhaps the most bad ass physicist to walk this world or any other.
Of course like many video game protagonist he is proxy for the player. I feel very few video games have managed to create and introduce protagonists that are worthwhile characters in their own right. This brings me to the second part I mentioned: a protagonist I find interesting. The video game protagonist that fascinated me the most was Grand Theft Auto IV’s Niko Bellic. Violent, cynical, with a checkered past I was fascinated by his complicated nature. Bellic remains, to this day, one of the few (if not the only) character that felt in some way real to me. Which is sad since the gameplay of GTA IV was not enough to keep me playing; Niko’s story remains unfinished. Part of Niko’s realistic portrayal is the stunning voice work by Michael Hollick but the solid writing lends him an unexpected level of emotional depth.