Archive for the 'Games for Windows' Category

The Beautiful Game(s)

Don’t you love to be sucked into the experience of a game? You know, the kind of game that has such an intriguing story and cast of characters that you wish you could (and sometimes do) play the game for hours on end? The kind of game that can have flaws, but they simply do not matter? The sort of game that feels like you are getting on a ride you do not want to get off of? Those are the sort of games I look for. In this article, we pay tribute to the top 15 greatest game experiences of all time. If you disagree, feel free to comment on this post with your own top 15.

15. Mortal Kombat

Finish Him! Nuff said? For those who can remember the crowds that would gather around a Mortal Kombat arcade, that is probably all you need to jog your memory. While this game will be remembered for the sight of seeing worried parents, and rabid gamers gathered around an arcade, its game play revolutionized fighting games forever.

14. Psychonauts

After reading about how watered down the ps2 version was by a respected video game magazine, I almost didn’t play this game. But I was very pleasantly surprised to experience one of the most creative platform games ever created. I still do not understand why this game didn’t sell better than it did. If you have not played this game, go buy it, now. Definitely one of the funniest and most entertaining games ever created.

13. Maniac Mansion

Girlfriend gets kidnapped by a green looking Martian family? You have to sneak in, talk to tentacles, microwave hamsters, and radio to other planets to save her from a creepy dungeon beneath the house? What’s not to love about this game? And why hasn’t there been a sequel announced for any systems beyond the NES? Keep the point and click system! Just make it more intuitive, give us voiceovers, and updated graphics! Truly, one of the most imaginative experiences ever in the history of video games.

12. Asherons Call

World of Warcraft fans. Time to pay tribute. Asherons Call was put out by Microsoft back in the late 90’s. For people who saw thru the crap that Everquest was, Asherons Call offered an “ahead of its time” arena in which to pown monsters and guys in black armor, endlessly. Many of its genius ideas were later taken and perfected, and we call that game World of Warcraft.

11. Street Fighter 2

The fighting game of all fighting games. I am hoping Microsoft’s recent decision to acquire Capcom means we may get a respectable online Street Fighter Game. While the EX series was popular in Japan, it did not do as well in the states. The series still has a lot of potential to grow, and I hope to see some enthusiasm around this series again in the future. For now, if you decide to play the classic SF2—no, you cannot attack the elephants in the Dhalism level. You just can’t.

10. River City Ransom

The first game to introduce frequent vomiting. River City Random. *BARF* For those of you who actually had a life in the 80s, let me fill you in. Every time you defeated a character, they would usually throw up. Poor Japanese translation at its best, River City Ransom let you explore small Japanese towns, where you could read and learn about new abilities, eat sushi, burgers, and the smiles are always free! Worth a play on the GBA port for the humor alone, but truly meant to be played 2 player on the NES. Come on Virtual Console!

9. Dance Dance Revolution

D-D-R! I believe this game was made by the government to fight obesity in gamers. OK, not really, but it is a really fun work out. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on one in a shopping mall on your first try, but to wake up and get down to some Sean Paul as a start to your morning work out is pretty nice. Then if you actually like it, get in touch with me so I can own you in online mode.

8. Donkey Kong Country

The colors, the music, the rendered graphics, and the flawless game-play. These things truly made Donkey Kong Country a world in which you could spend days and days in. Too bad it was only a few hours long. This is an example of a game that really did not need to be changed much. Keep the old formula, and give us new graphics to look at, and we will be happy!

7. Zelda 3: A link to the past

Two words. Master Sword. Who can forget running in the sunlight towards the master sword as the animals parted a path for you? If you really want to feel like you are the savior of the world, this is your game. As you adventure into the world, it is not just the story that will keep you playing, but the desire to improve your game experience by acquiring new items. Also a wonderful example of how puzzles in video games should be made.

6. Golden Eye 007

While the Nintendo 64 didn’t offer many hits, the hits it offered were phenomenal. 007 lead the charge of four player game play that has now been adopted by every video game system. All hail. Oh yeah, and paintball mode rules.

5. Tetris DS

Who can’t appreciate the pure genius of this puzzle game? I believe this game was meant to be multiplayer as the online Nintendo DS version shows. Being able to connect wirelessly to anyone in the world to school them in a game of Tetris is pure gamer bliss.

4. Final Fantasy 4

As we all know by know, this was Final Fantasy 2 in the states. The first RPG to come stateside that had such a rich story line. Almost every character dies, and you feel for each one of them. As you progress towards your goal of saving the world, seeing your favorite characters sacrifice themselves for you to continue meant you couldn’t stop till you got there. I am also guessing you still have some Final Fantasy 4 music on your ipod?

3. StarCraft- with Battle.net

Easily the one game that I have spent the most hours playing. Blizzard revolutionized RTS games with this entry. Not only was the game exciting to play by itself, it developed a community of gamers who supported the multiplayer mode with fresh new maps, multiplayer RPGs, clans, tournaments, and all of the online mayhem you could ever ask for. Part of the downside of Blizzard getting rich off of WoW is we may not see a sequel for a long time. Please? Blizzard?

2. Final Fantasy 7

The game that brought RPGs to the mainstream. Final Fantasy 7. If you played RPGs before FF7 came out, you were probably a closet gamer who had to pay $80 for a copy of Final Fantasy 6 for your Super Nintendo. But once Cloud and his gang came to the rescue on the Playstation, in a game that was originally supposed to release on the Nintendo 64, by the way, you were safe to come out of the closet! There with you were a few million other gamers who enjoyed what I consider to be the best story written for a video game, ever. As well as revolutionary FMVs, cut scenes, and an imaginative world which sucked you in from the beginning. I also appreciated the amount of Japanese culture they left in the game. I sort of wish they would keep more of that in the current round of games coming out.

1. World of Warcraft

Here it is. The best gaming experience available right now. World of Warcraft. It appeared on South Park, it has over 6 Million Subscribers (probably more by the time you read this), and it will consume your life, if you let it. It is the alpha and the omega. The perfected MMO as we know it. If you don’t currently own it, its because you’re scared. I will close by quoting Cartman, “Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you.”

Dave Trager

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Vega Baby – Part 2

card_charlej_small.gifContinuing his review from last time, Charles digs deeper into RainbowSix Vegas..

The AI in the game uses different scenario based voice commands and you get this sinking feeling regarding the yell for reinforcements. And everything is three dimensional. The first time the enemy drops into a room using fast ropes, if you aren’t using tactical overwatch moves, everyone is going to get wiped out. At the very least it has you closely examining every dark corner for a sniper, and every high ceiling casino floor for fastroping terrorists.

vegas2.gifSquad level tactics is a topic I wrote an online manual for another, turn-based play by email game three years ago (ed – Charles is writing an article on Laser Squad Nemesis coming soon). Using this background in a first person shooter with a co-op mode by itself is highly addictive.

Add in a real world friend in the same room, who knows the same basic moves and everything turns into a precision event. Every room sweep is a blast, and we are totally sucked into the experience. My palms sweat as they grip the wireless controller, and seeing a good sized splitscreen with 1080i detail makes it easier to pick off the waves of terrorists that we wade through. One level’s kills – 35 for me, 40 for Ben. That’s after we worked three hours to clear the single stage (Dante’s). Brutal yet somehow strangely relaxing.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Tom Clancy’s second best move was to get into interactive gaming. In the late 1980s, Red Storm Rising was a game that was actually encouraged to be used by aircrewmen as training in both sight recognition of Soviet warships and in basic antisubmarine warfare. With his franchise rights for Rainbow Six going in several different directions, the accuracy and detail payoff tremendously. This is a game with multiple replayability in co-op and single player mode.

And that’s not even covering the XBox Live experience. But after playing with a good, skilled friend, I think the Live with random teammates will pale in comparison.

Vegas Baby – Part 1

card_charlej_small.gifBen, one of my Navy flying buddies is staying with me as a geoBach (Geographical Bachelor). He is midway through refresher training for his role as a carrier-based helo Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) air-crewman. Think The Guardian because that was Ben’s exact job when he was training in Pensacola.

He and I went through jet training for the S-3 Viking as enlisted backseat guys together in 1990. A few years back he transferred to a training command for an instructor tour, so Ben’s kids and wife are still back in Pensacola.

vegas.gifThe fun we get from playing Rainbow Six: Vegas is extraordinary. Never mind the stunning graphics as this Tom Clancy inspired FPS is brought to life on a wall-sized HDTV 1080i LCD with Bose wave acoustic sound ripping machinegun fire and explosions, it’s the cameraderie I get from sitting next to one of my best friends and doing in the bad guys with a team effort. He’s had the training through his CSAR experience, mine was privately held in the deserts of New Mexico, but we both are able to adapt to calls of:

‘Loading… Moving… Supppressing the hallway’

He and I will play from about six to nine at night, each of us talking to our significant others on our bluetooth headsets as we pause the game to answer calls. Believe me, if we were where they were, we wouldn’t get the chance to spend so much time in front of the 360, so we savor the opportunity.

Counter Strike

cs1.gifMaybe because it was a community sponsored mod that Counter Strike had the stones to enter the controversial terrorism arena.

The purity of the game was simple. A first person shooter with two sides: terrorists and counter-terrorists. Each side had their own tactical advantages. But more importantly each had their own particular thrilling and tantalising experience.

Let me set the scene; ! stand with five men in pre-game, our objectives clear and familiar, we choose our weapons from the available arsenal, we grab some body armour, ammo, grenades or flashbangs and we’re set.

This is no random match making but a long standing clan, We all know our purpose and we all have a role. Some hang back for covering fire, some push forward with the heavier weapons. Once we have our positions, we wait. Wait for the other team to make their move, to give away their position or blindly run past. Without headsets the preset voice commands somehow added to the tension, ‘stick together team’ “enemy spotted”.

Whether freeing hostages or diffusing bombs, the whole experience is heightened by how easy it is to die. Body armour can help but still a death in counter strike is a quick one without respawns.

The longer you survive the more of the mission falls in your lap alone. You fight on with the rest of your dead team silently egging you on. The sweetness of a miracle victory is never sweet than when you are watched by five of your fallen team mates.

These are the moments that give counter strike a soul. Pouring time into this game never felt like anything but pure value. I still look back with honour that I was part of the Counter Strike world.