Much as I love my desert island location for these little snippets of what I love this particular one is a bit tricky because of the requirements. I need a TV; preferably a big one, I need electricity and a comfy chair and I need something to play these five video games on.
Today I’m going to drop my favourite video games and the systems that they appeared on. Some of what’s in this list may surprise you, it’s in no way definitive and it only reflects what I love to play. This was partly inspired my completion of MW3 on Veteran yesterday and how dissapointed I was by the game. It’s not a bad game as far as an FPS goes, but it just wasn’t as good as I expected or as good as it promised to be. After the irritation I felt over Black-Ops I was hopeful that MW3 would redeem the franchise in my eyes – sadly this wasn’t the case.
It got me thinking about what I love about games and the sort of games I love to play – hence this list. So, without further ado I present my Gaming five…
Resident Evil – Playstation
I first played Resi on the SEGA Saturn and it was a rather creepy and enjoyable experience but it wasn’t until I picked up the Playstation version that I really began to appreciate the game. It almost single-handedly spawned one of my favourite gaming genres – survival horror and gave me a few scares along the way. The set up is a simple one; a viral outbreak that turns people into zombies, an elite police unit sent to investigate and a spooky mansion house.
From the opening scene featuring real actors (and some terrible dialogue) I was hooked. The chance to play the game through as two different characters who each uncovered unique elements of the plot was very cool indeed. It wasn’t a fast game, you moved slowly even when you ran, turning was excruciating to watch and the load sequences of doors opening took forever. But it had something that drew me in and kept me playing into the wee hours of the morning time and again.
The environment is amazing, the creatures are astounding and the final big bad boss fight with the uber-monsterous Tyrant left you with a sense of accomplishment. The game has flaws, but even now I prefer the original to the prettier re-vamp that appeared on the Gamecube. The re-play value alone will keep you coming back for more and the ultimate gaming test of completing it with just a combat knife…hardcore.
Final Fantasy VII – Playstation
Let’s face it; if you don’t know what makes this game so special then you’ve missed out. The first of the series to appear of the Playstation FFVII took advantage of the disc format to delive a HUGE game of epic proportions. Magic and guns, love and loss, revolution and redemption; it covered some pretty big themes and did it well. From the opening FMV sequence you’re drawn into a futuristic world on the brink of revolution, populated by incredible characters and creatures.
The combat system is sweet, the materia that you use to summon GFs (who are amazing in themselves) is a nice touch to the standard magic in an RPG. Everything about FFVII screams class at the top of its lungs – even the mini games and little touches like making your hero dress up as a woman to infiltrate a building add to the quirkiness and longevity of the game. It does bear repeated playing, especially if you want to track down all of the materia and turn over every rock, explore every nook and cranny. You have the awesome Chocobo breeding program and racing to keep you amused and it also has one of the single most tragic and moving deaths of a major character in any game ever!
HALO 2 – X-Box
I loved HALO Combat Evolved for what it was – a nice, futuristic FPS that had a huge mythic feel to its backstory and locations. It ticked all the right boxes for me; a diverse alien menace to battle, a unique location to fight them and an array of devastating weapons at your disposal. Master Chief and Cortana make a great team and the prospect of the first sequel had me very keen to get playing. HALO 2 delivers on the promise of the first game and expands upon the universe in surprising ways.
Allowing you to play as the Arbiter (essentially the bad guy) for parts of the campaign story was a bold move that payed off well. It was a shame it wasn’t continued into the third title, but oh well. I love everything about it – the look of the game, the feel of the gameplay, the suptuous environments and sometimes frantic combat. Above all I absolutely adore the music – the HALO 2 soundtrack is one of the single best for a video game ever in my less than humble opinion.
The multiplayer was as fun as the campaign and Bungie delivered a game that really did improve on the original in every way.
Zoo Tycoon – PC
A long time ago I had a new PC. I swore I would never play games on it. Unfortunately for me I slipped the free disc that came with the PC into the disc tray one day, installed Zoo Tycoon and lost a chunk of my life for a while. It’s a simple Tycoon style game where you build and maintain a zoo. You can play challenge games or free play. The graphics were adequate for a PC game of that era and the sound did the job it was meant to; providing ambience to your game.
ZT had two winning factors in its favour though – the addictive nature of its gameplay and the ability to creat your own objects and animals and import them into the game. Once I found out about user created objects I ended up on a forum called Zookeeper’s Lounge where I found myself doing rotation fixes for objects people created. Somewhere around the world people have stuff in their ZT games that I worked on! The expansions brough marine animals and dinosaurs to the zoo and endless world building possibilities.
I was actually playing this again last weekend and I still love it.
Super Mario 64 – N64
If someone asks what my favourite video game of all time is then Mario 64 wins hands down. It wins on three major points; it’s fun, it’s fun and it’s FUN!. I picked up my 64 the day they went on sale in the UK, hurried home, opened up the box and was greeted by the imortal line “It’s-a me, Mario!”
Everything about this game is pure joy from the graphics to the music. The levels are superbly designed with some of the later ones having a tremendous challenge factor built in. The ability to fly, turn into metal or phase like a ghost add twists to the gameplay and the endless exploration you can do on each level is always rewarding. Seeing Mario, Toad, Bowser and the Princess in 3d for the first time was a real mind melting experience. Running from Boos, creeping past Pirahna Plants, surfing on a Koopa shell – this game has it all.
The big challenge is to collect every single star in the game – 120 in total although you can complete the game with only 70. The biggest challenge is to get EVERY coin – which I did once (and never again!). My favourite thing in the game is an easter egg where you can find Yoshi sitting on the roof of the Princesses castle.
Honourable mentions –
Legend of Zelda – The Ocarina of Time (N64) an absolute classic that I still love as much today as when I first played it.
Yoshi’s Island (SNES) one of the best platform games ever and one of the greatest to appear on the SNES.
Fable 2 (X-Box 360) for bringing the world of Albion to life and offering so much to do in a wonderfully realised game.
Assassins Creed 2 (X-Box 360) for taking a great concept and a pretty, but repetetive game and turning it into something just a little bit special.
Silent Hill (Playstation) for making me jump, creeping me out and making me work so hard to get all five endings.
and there you have it. It’s not a definitive list and it certainly doesn’t include every game I love to play (we’d be here AGES if I did that) but these are my favourites to play. What are yours?