We gamers are fools for nostalgia. There has to be some established connection between the parts of our brains that remember video games and the parts of our brains that process adolescent emotion, because it’s staggering how big of suckers we are for the games we played in our early years. There are some titles where just seeing a screenshot or hearing a few bars of music can instantly transport me back to the first time I played a game – that sense of wonder, that yearning for discovery.
Sadly, we can’t really get those first times back, short of some memory-erasing Men in Black contraption that makes everything old new again. But man, what if we could? Lately, I’ve been listening to the Final Fantasy 7 soundtrack and thinking back to the summer I first played it. How my brother and I spent hours trading the controller back and forth, playing it through the day and late into the night, and how sucked in we were by the entire saga. I know it’s cliche, but sometimes I long to experience it all over again for the first time.
I feel the same with a few other titles such as Suikoden III or Knights of the Old Republic. And even though I’ve played all these games multiple times and loved each playthrough, there’s nothing quite so magical as that inaugural one, the one that creates and cements all those wonderful memories.
What about you guys? What games do you wish you could play again for the first time? Is there anything you would do differently in your playthrough? Go!
One of my favorite TV shows of all time is AMC’s Breaking Bad, the story of how a mild-mannered chemistry teacher becomes a hard-core crystal meth dealer. In the opening few episodes, the central character is told by his junkie accomplice that you just can’t start “breaking bad”, implying that if you’re a kind person at heart, you just can’t start doing things that are incredibly out of the norm for you.
I feel this way about moral choices in video games. I’ve just started replaying the entire Mass Effect trilogy as a Renegade female Shepard and I’m finding it difficult to “break bad” as it were. I subconsciously find my conversation wheel hovering over the Paragon dialog choices before the option is even up, and when it comes time to make a Renegade decision I get a little sick in my stomach. Continue reading Breaking Bad in Games
Gamers come in all sorts of different flavors, and I’m not just talking about casual and hardcore. There are some who don’t play single player, some who only play single player, and then there are the kinds that give game designers of any type nightmares. I think I’m probably in the last category, specifically when it comes to Western RPGs. Given that games in those genres these days have branching stories, multiple conversation outcomes and more hidden bonuses than you can shake a stick it, it tends to drive OCD completionists with a lot of time on their hands (e.g. me) crazy.
That’s when I turn to the most forbidden of texts, the horrible tome know as the “FAQ”. Deep within the dark recesses of the Internet, I find my brethren, people who restart dungeons because they missed one chest after defeating whatever horrible creature inhabits that cave. These are the people who don’t play RPGs for the story or the characters or the experience, but rather to accrue every possible trinket and stat bonus the game has to offer. We can leave no stone unturned, no party companion un-romanced, and we do so by exploiting the game to its maximum. Not through exploration or discovery though, but by distilling it down to the most bare bones, no frills, maximum return type of experience. This is how I’ve come to destroy any Western RPG I’ve played.
Continue reading How I Ruined RPGs with the Internet
Dragon Age: Origins is the newest RPG epic from Bioware, creators of other notable titles such as Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire and Mass Effect. Their newest game takes things a little more old school, returning the quest programmers back to the days of yore, where dungeons waited to be crawled and dragons were there for the slaying. The studio has repeatedly said that Dragon Age: Origins was always a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate, and they weren’t kidding. But is it any good?
Yes. Yes it is. Very good, in fact. This may spoil the rest of the review for you, but Dragon Age: Origins is simply one of the better RPG experiences in this generation.
Continue reading Review: Dragon Age: Origins
Welcome back to Cross-Contaminated Media, a series in which I explore successful franchises that have made the transition to video games from other media, and vice versa. I know that in my previous article I promised that I would look at Blizzard’s franchises, but I felt that it would be appropriate, given the recent release of the Ultimate Sith Edition of The Force Unleashed, to take a look at George Lucas’ eminent sci-fi empire.
When the original Star Wars movie was released back in 1977, few predicted that it would become the massive entertainment juggernaut that it is today. For good or ill, George Lucas had the foresight to retain international merchandising rights, and once video games were beginning to enter prominence as an accepted form of entertainment media, LucasArts was founded to capitalize upon this new venture.
LucasArts didn’t find its early success with Star Wars titles, though; in its beginning days it was well known for its clever and inventive adventure games ranging from Maniac Mansion to Monkey Island. The first Star Wars title produced in house was X-Wing in 1993, a fairly deep space-combat simulator made for the DOS operating systems. Though the graphics and game-play appear dated now, the game is still highly regarded in fan circles with the TIE Fighter game being declared the favorite of the series.
Continue reading Cross-Contaminated Media: Star Wars
Two great single player games are coming out today, in case you didn’t know. That’s right, both Uncharted 2 and Brutal Legend are dropping today, and from the reports, they are both awesome. In fact, Adam Sessler referred to Uncharted 2 as the greatest single player game he’s ever played. Ever. While it’s usually hard to take such grand statements seriously, I can’t help but get hyped for this game.
So it got me thinking about what the greatest single player game I’ve ever played actually is. There are quite a few of them, to be honest. Knights of the Old Republic, Mario 64, Final Fantasy 7 and Suikoden III come to mind. Also, Shadow of the Colossus is a strong contender for number one as well.
I’m very much aware that this topic of discussion is the complete opposite end of the spectrum from one we had last week, but I wanted to explore it anyway. So what about you guys? What’s the best single player game you’ve ever played? And are any of you going to pick up Brutal Legend or Uncharted 2? Go!