Friday, October 12, 2012


I will be occasionally posting reviews and impressions up here, in general they are just my thoughts and opinions. I am not aiming to always keep the tone neutral, there are plenty of professional game sites for that, seek them out.
I also will not always play a game to completion before a review is published, if I know how fun it is I'll say so (I'm often of the mind that if you get a strong start sometimes the end doesn't matter) and if it's that bad I don't need to see all 20 hours to tell you it's bad.
Unlike professional reviews I will add suggestions and point out shortcomings. I'll also taken a leaf from Kotaku and instead of a score provide a yes/no system recommending a game (or not)

Look out for reviews in the near future, I might start with a favorite terrible game.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Well here is the obligatory apologies follow up… If you didn’t like my choices well tough really.
Half-life as I kicked of this series by saying it’s just never a series that hooked me. Maybe it was the motion sickness but I just personally could not include it.
Warcraft was a bit of contentious one. This was around the first RTS game I ever played and it was awesome, if it was a top 12 list it may just have made it.
I apologise for the games in series that didn’t make it. Diablo could have and would have, as would San Andreas and possibly any Mario game, especially 3, which is the pinnacle of gaming, in my opinion of course, but the original as the first game I EVER played I just couldn’t go past.
Zelda, well here’s a shocker I’ve never played a Zelda from start to finish they just never hooked me. I like them enough, now my experience is greatly increased from even 12 months ago but any Zelda would still struggle to make a top 50 let alone my 11.
Final Fantasy not making it as a series may seem somewhat controversial but truth be told I’ve only completed I and XIII and those are hardly worth against those that made it, oh and VII doesn’t hold up very well, deal with it fanboys.
The original Monkey Island I hate that I had to leave this out. As far as I am concerned this is the pinnacle of adventure gaming. As much as I wanted I couldn’t find room for it.
Also Broken Sword 2, in particular from that series was a shame to leave out.
More recent games that failed to make it that may stand the test of time include Borderlands (this really satisfies my loot addiction), Diablo 3 (probably still wouldn’t edge out 2), Crusader Kings 2 (by virtue of satisfying my penchant for open ended games and being a Grand Strategy RPG, oh, and it is the best Game of Thrones game around, if you are willing to download a mod) and LA Noire (As much as I loved this game I don’t think history will judge it very well.  
Well I haven’t made too many excuses here because really I don’t need to justify my decisions, it’s just my preference.

Well that’s my favourite games, some 2,000 words worth over 3 weeks I hope you know a bit more about what I like and what resonates with me which I do believe influences reviews and general opinions on games. What would like to have seen up there? What did I miss? Is my list comparable to your tastes or way out there?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Number 1: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

I had so much internal debate about this particular position. Diablo was only just pipped and well this was a toss up between Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas and Vice City itself. So good are both these games that I almost broke my one game from a series rule.
When it came down to it had to be Vice City. I just did everything right, the soundtrack the look the feel it just too you right to the 80’s. The soundtrack was the strongest of the series, the first game to have a fully licensed soundtrack.
It’s strongest feature was giving you a cast of characters the were quirky, and had real motivations.
Add to this excellent mission variety. Who could forget bombing Cubans with a toy remote control plane? Or distributing fliers for an ‘Adult’ movie via a sea-plane? Or driving around a rock band at high speeds so a bomb dosen’t go off. I know I can’t. It all just felt right. Add to this all the extras, hidden packages, Fire Ambulance, Police, races it goes on and on. There is so much to do pack into those 3 islands.
It felt like you could be a complete manic, and the missions were so diverse that you never got bored. It never became a dash from mission to mission just to be done, like GTA4 was for me.
It added much needed customisation but didn’t make it so overwhelming that there were too many choices, I’m looking at San Andreas in this respect.
The gameplay still holds up quite well today although the graphics have dated, the draw distance is really quite low and textures and buildings popping in are very frequent, which is a bit of a curse of the open world game. Despite this I have no real complaints with the game it’s just so completely awesome.
This is a game I always go back to…in fact it may be time to go back to it now, maybe you should to.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Number 2: Diablo 2

There has always been a soft spot for Blizzard games for me add to that that I have been enamoured with Diablo since I clicked on that first demon. It’s not a sophisticated game that is for sure, click to move and attack, right click to cast a spell. That’s really all there is to it.
Apart from this there is a heavy amount of looting, in fact this is what makes the game so compelling in the first place. Arguably it’s the loot that drives the player not the clicking of the demons and it’s hard not to agree. There is always the temptation that the next great piece of loot is just around the corner, and more often than not something is.
The RPG nature of the game gives you many different skill paths to follow, sure you’ll be doing exactly the same quests over and over the more you lay through it, but how you play the game is different almost every single character you create. There is a great joy in uncovering new skills and finding builds that suit your playstyle.
The graphics at the time we spectacular, although they have aged fairly quickly and look nowhere near as sharp as some other games of that era even.
The cutscenes, although pre-rendered were so excellent you couldn’t help but be drawn in from frame one of the game. The story is fairly basic, you’re chasing the Lord of destruction as he traverses the countryside, taking you to many exotic locations trying to stop his reign of terror.
As you might expect there is a lot to kill maim and destroy as you move from place to place.
This game is one that since its release has constantly drawn me back into it, every couple of years I will pop the game back in the computer and have a go at looting and clicking. For such a simple game, that doesn’t have a particularly strong story to keep pulling me in it is a special game indeed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Number 3: Knights of the Old Republic

Here’s the obligatory Star Wars game. Truth is it would be a worthy podium finisher, even if it wasn’t part of the Star Wars cannon.
I must admit before KotOR I had barely picked up this style of RPG. In fact I’d barely touched any RPG’s to date and I really only purchased this on the strength of the Star Wars universe itself.
From beginning to end I was blown away. The story is so unbelievably good, the choices you make feel that you are affecting the universe and the events therein. I have played through the game several times and still don’t think I have seen everything it has to offer is testament to the choices and methods you can go about to achieve goals. There is also an open ended nature that allows you to explore in your own order. Admittedly on most of the planets there is only one main goal, although it may take a visit or two to get there, but generally once you have invested in the main quest on a planet you are there for the long haul.
 The story takes you on many different planets and gives you a good feel for the motivations and allegiances different parts of the galaxy have.
To skip how good the story really is, is to ignore the greatest strength of the game. It gives you characters and situations that feel real, motivations feel real (even if they are alien motivations). There has been a lot said about the ‘twist’, it is one of the most awesome turn of events in any game period. The thing is if you are paying complete attention the clues are there, they are just not so easy to spot. It completely changes the way you look at the main character. Although I have to say that the story reaches a point where it asks you are you sure that you want to commit to this path,  allowing to completely reverse the character consequences with the final choice is a bit of a cop out.
Another downside is that your companions do feel a little contrived so there are no holes in your possible, a Jedi of each class, a soldier, a thief, a combat and utility droid but their back stories have been so well fleshed out that the don’t appear superfluous to the game and most importantly fit the universe.
The combat is fairly fast paced and is generally handled manually, by pausing, queuing commands and doing this for each of your party members. Similar to other RPG’s this game is also about acquiring new and better loot, deciding what is better for what characters. It actually doesn’t do all that much new but what it does is outstanding in almost every way and for that it makes my list, and a worthy occupation at that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Number 4: Civilisation II

I’ll admit that this game was got grudgingly. It was a birthday present and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was playing Age of Empires. That was my personal choice too. So imagine the disappointment at getting something that even for its time was uglier (I’m not sure if it really was uglier but I sure do remember thinking that it looked bad the first time I booted it up), seemingly clunkier and not as action packed. I can even recall only booting it up the first time to please my parents and assure them that they hadn’t wasted money on me.

Yeah, It's not so pretty now

Despite my plans I was hooked within the first 10 minutes and played it and played it and then played it some more. The cliché ‘just one more turn’ really is quite apt here. There was many a night where I would be sorting out an epic counter attack, storming cities, expanding my empire and building an economic powerhouse, spreading democracy or brining more comrades into the fold and often it would be midnight before I even knew what was
In the early days there was the temptation to set and forget, fix tax rates and science rates then hope, but the real joy comes with managing every last little detail. It’s admittedly not for everyone but it has me hooked the fact that no two games are strategically the same very much appeals to my love of open ended games (if you haven’t already detected a theme here).
Again, there have been better, more in-depth, and some may say more definitive versions, Civ IV immediately comes to mind. It doesn’t change the impact that Civ II ha on me. It wasn’t pretty, but it was so darn addictive and got me hooked so readily. It will always hold a special place for me.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Number 5: Super Mario Bros

This is where it really all began I remember Christmas 1990 (or was it 89?) and unboxing the NES, I was wrapped. I had never played so much as a game, let alone owned a console or a PC.
Of course the console came packaged with the Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt Combo. Admittedly the sway of the light gun was initially too strong to resist and a fair amount of time initially was spent shooting ducks (often at point blank range).
Once the novelty wore off, there was Super Mario Bros in all its glory.

1990. NEVER Forget.
It is the epitome of easy to learn hard to master. The game is simple D-pad to move, one button to jump, one button to use fireballs and sprint. That’s it.  The challenge comes in the level design. All of which is outstanding and does a great job of changing things up.
It also has the knack of being brutally difficult as the levels progress and the opportunities for extra lives are fairly limited, so often you will find yourself having only 3 or 4 chances at completing a single level.
I am slightly ashamed to say that despite my best efforts I am yet to get completely through this game. Like most platformers my patientce defeats me as much as the game. It has always had a knack of defeating me, although of late I have picked it up again and have breezed through the first few levels. So there is hope yet.
Yes it isn’t the only platformer out there, it may not be as pretty as the third iteration but it was the original and without it, I probably may have never got into gaming. Sure many of the Mario Games out there have improved on the formula and advanced the platforming genre more but for its influence on me and the gaming industry alone I really can’t go past the original.