30 Day VGC Day 15: Best Cutscenes

Day 15 is supposed to be a screenshot the game I am currently playing.  Since I don’t have a screenshot at the moment I’m swapping days 15 and 16.

Game with the Best Cutscenes

I’m going to give this one to Interstate ’76.  By and large I don’t like cutscenes but something about the stylized polygons of I76 and the well-acted characters hit all the right notes.

30 Day VG Challenge Weekend Edition!

Day 13: A game you’ve played more than five times.

I’ll be honest, I barely have time to play a game once let alone five times.  Even games I love I’m not sure I could play five times.  Though I haven’t played them to completion I have started characters and campaigns in the Baldur’s Gate series more than five times.  That’s about as close as I’ve gotten.  If you extend this to multiplayer games, particularly those that don’t really have a single player component, then top honors (by a longshot) goes to the Battlefield series by EA/Dice.  Between Battlefield 1942 (and its glorious mod Desert Combat), Battlefield 2, Battlefield 1943, and Battlefield Bad Company 2 I’ve logged way too much time.

Day 14: Most recent gaming wallpaper.

I had some Mass Effect 2 wallpaper a while ago.

30 Day VGC Days 11 and 12

Missed another day!  This has been a busy weeks as I finally have some kind of feedback on a work project.  Anyway, here goes.

Day 11: Gaming System of Choice

This one falls by default to the PC.  Despite having more friends playing on other systems the PC has been the rock solid foundation of my gaming world.  From early modem-to-modem DukeMatch to dabbling with the original EverQuest to glassy eyed clicking on the hordes in Diablo I have always been a PC gamer at heart.  Sure I’ve strayed in the past and even now I’ll sometimes pick up a multiplayer shooter on the 360 since I’m more likely to find friends there but by and large I’ll take my trusty mouse and WASD over any peripheral ever made.

Day 12: A Game Everyone Should Play

You’ll likely see this title again further on in the list but it’s about time I looked back on Interstate ’76.  Say what you want about arcade car action games but no game world, especially an original game world, has ever enthralled me quite so much as the muscle-car strewn world of fuel-seeking auto-vigilantes.  After the game came out and after its expandsion the franchise saw ever increasing simplification spawning the Vigilante 8 series which abandoned the simulation, story, and customization parts of the game for a more Twisted Metal like approach.  But the original….oh the original.  From its wondrous funktastic soundtrack, fast-paced action, unique characters, and undeniable attitude Interstate ’76 is a game that every fan of action games should play.  I still long for an in depth return of this franchise.  Thankfully for an inexpensive $5.99 you can still experience this game! (Assuming you can get the game to work properly this is not Good Old Games best work.)

30 Day VGC Day 10: Best Gameplay

Another really hard question.  With the types and mechanics of video games so varied across the board choosing a “best” when all games aren’t even doing the same thing is kind of difficult.  Several friends picked Batman: Arkham Asylum as their choice.  Not a bad selection with its solid fight mechanics, fun detection mode, and tons of things to find, explore and do.  It is an interesting amalgamation of mechanics that when taken in aggregate create a rather (sorry to any GWJers) create a rather compelling package.  But, if I’m being honest, the gameplay for all of its bells and whistles boils down to an elaborate key hunt.  Sure there are lots of little treats to distract you on the way but the game, gently but not without some force, leads you by the nose.  Of course this is true in just about every game and straying to far from a directed experience doesn’t necessarily make for better gameplay.  Arkham Asylum is the best interpretation of Batman gamers have ever seen and a stellar example of what solid gameplay is all about.  But it isn’t my choice.

When I think of games whose gameplay have captured my imagination and challenged my skills in a meaningful way two games come to mind: Crysis and Red Faction: Guerilla.  Bizarre choices I know but the open world combined with clear objects were the perfect brew of freedom and directed experience.  For Crysis this mostly involves the first half of the game without aliens.  The variety of modes in your suit combined with the freedom to pursue your object however you see fit was just about a sublime an experience an FPS junky can have.  Red Faction: Guerilla might not have the most stunning narrative in the world but like Crysis the open environment and freedom to pursue your object however you see fit.  What is telling about both games is that they sort of fall out when those choices are taken from you.  The beauty of the gameplay in either is in the choice and freedom and when the game tries to direct how you play things get a little ugly.

Red Faction: Guerilla (this vid is long but provides a nice example of some freeform destruction)

Crysis

Red Faction: Armageddon Demo is out.

So, some of you might remember that I was rather a fan of the most recent Red Faction game, Red Faction: Guerilla.  It had its flaws but by and large it was a game that quite honestly never ceased to entertain me.  When it was announced that its sequel Red Fact: Armageddon would take place (at least partially) underground I was a tad skeptical.  How could a game designed around the destruction of property work in an underground environment?  My answer: it couldn’t.  So while I’ve by and large ignored the game since when I noted the demo on XBLA I decided to give it a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Sure there are some things the demo does wrong (a cinematic chase scene that was fun to watch but would have been more fun to play) but by and large this is the same of whiz-bang explodely gameplay I loved from the original….with some added material.  Most notably is the addition of your ability to repair objects.  Accidentally destroy something? No problem, just hold down the left bumper and you’re good to go.  And the weapons.  Oh the weapons.  Liked remote mines in Guerrilla?  You’ll love   the mine gun.  Like singularity bombs?  You’ll really really like the Singularity Rifle.  Of course the best new weapon is the Magnet Gun.  Essentially you shoot two oppositely charged spikes that rapidly accelerate two objects towards one another.  That is precisely the amount of fun you think it might be.  On normal the game was pretty easy but still rather fun to play as things exploded all over the place.

I don’t know if it can live up to its predecessor but I’ll be damned if it won’t be fun.  Grab the demo over on XBLA  (or, presumably the newly operational PSN) and give it a shot.

30 Day VGC Day 8: Best Soundtrack

I missed Sunday but I suppose everyone needs to rest a day.  Anyway, onwards!  Of course this is the easiest day to answer for me.  While I have listened to and enjoyed music from many games there is only one game whose music has stayed with me since Day 1.  Nobuo Uematsu’s score for Final Fantasy VI has been my long standing favorite for years and few, if any, soundtracks have come close to changing that over the years.  From the mournful sound of Gau’s theme, to the triumphant fanfare of Locke’s theme, to the epic Aria di Mezzo Carraterre I have listened to and enjoyed these songs countless times.  Hand’s down Final Fantasy VI is the best soundtrack of all time.

Aria di Mezzo Carraterre:

Locke’s Theme:

Cyan’s Theme:

Terra In Black (OCremix):

Aria di Mezzo Carraterre (Live @ Distand Worlds):

30 Day VGC Day 7: Favorite Game Couple

2 Way Tie!

Sten and Shale from Dragon Age: Origins.  They bond over their contempt of humanity.  It’s rather adorable.

The other spot belongs, oddly enough, to Master Chief and Cortana.  It was never something expressly explored in the series but there was a nice connection between the green armored Spartan and pink glowing lady.  I was smiling pretty hard after retrieving Cortana in Halo 3.

Runners Up:  Shepherd/Garrus (ME2, Romantic/Bromantic), Joker/Normandy (ME2), Locke/Celes (FFVI), Gordan Freeman/Alex Vance (HL2)

30 Day VG Challenge Day 5: Game Character You are Most Like

Given the punishment my lack of skills often forces upon characters I’m not sure I’ve ever wished I was a game character.  My answer as best as I can come up with is Sten from Dragon Age: Origins.  No, I don’t spout pseudo-eastern philosophy nor am I a bad-ass warrior.  Rather it’s Sten’s taciturn nature, his recalcitrance in sharing his past and thoughts with others that bears a similarity to my own tendency to keep to myself.  Of course, my tendency to respond to situations with comical despair and sarcasm is also similar to Alistair from the same game.