Monday, 8 October 2012
Top 25 Video Games I Like The Most (10 - 6)
10. Rayman 2: The Great Escape
So now we're at the final ten, the ones that really impacted me as a gamer. It may be sort of odd to note that the choice I start off with is this one, as it isn't one of those games that most lists of this caliber would have, let alone on the Top 10. It still is recognized as a great game by most if you mention it, especially if you were talking about the Playstation ports. I started off experiencing this game in the N64 port, as I can still vividly remember blowing into that green cartridge and pressing it onto the console so that I could finally immerse myself in it's world. The first time I played this game, it was afternoon heading into night-time. It was probably the best time to simply look over the opening scene as the atmosphere was incredibly complimented by the aura. I'd spent my time simply looking over the bright and enchanting detail of the forest levels and eventually I would get to working on the task at hand. It also felt like a really good platform, much better than Super Mario 64 on aspects. Not only did the atmosphere feel better and was implemented more fluidly but the camera didn't interfere much as it would with Super Mario 64. That's not to say it never interfered, but this was back in the day when 3D platforms were merely sucking on the industry's teet.
Other aspects that benefitted Rayman 2 was having a greater cast of main characters. There would be your silly friend Globox, the helpful but annoying Murfy, the mysterious and friendly Ly, the wacky Teensies, the maniacal Razorbeard and the omnipresent Polokus. Each of them get the sufficient amount of screentime they deserve, and allow you to get to know these characters a little more and attach to them, as a good game does. What really makes Rayman 2 shine though is the versatile gameplay. While the main aspect of the game is focusing on jumping from place to place and shooting enemies with energy balls, you also have a substantial amount of climbing, floating, swinging, swimming and riding that mixes up the feel of the game. Each level presents itself with something new, either in it's terrain or the tasks that you must complete, which continues to allow you to become more well-versed with the future challenges that face you in the game. One of the parts that I really enjoyed was riding the rockets. Sure, it was tough and I did have to redo it a lot, but the way those courses where constructed and the sense of speed made it really entertaining for me and kept me on my toes.
Even as I revisit the game now, thanks to the PSN, the amount of enjoyment I got from this game still manages to be present. It still feels creative, it still has a sense of variety and it still manages to get me playing for just a little while longer. There are still the glaring camera problems though, but other than that, it feels to me that this game has managed to age well.
Bosconian is simply a simple game. All you do in this game is shoot as much as possible and progress. What gets you ahead in the game is destroying enemy stations. There's not much else to it, it's like Tetris. And like Tetris, I'm really addicted to it. There are other games that follow the similar idea of "shoot things in space", and it's fair to say that these games are around the same level as Bosconian in terms of addictiveness and quality. But if they're all the same soda with different labels, then I guess I just really like Bosconian's design. The space stations are what really makes the game look cool, as they're not only stylized but provide a sense of choice of either wiping them out easily and finishing the game as fast as possible, or taking your time and fighting off more of the enemies, as an endurance test. It's a game that also requires you to play it a lot, because if you don't, you can get out of the loop quite a lot. Once you do get back into it though, it can lead to hours and hours of fun.
8. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
There is doubt in my mind that out of all the Kirby games out there, Kirby 64 is by far the best one of the bunch. That may be if only because of the double abilities, but it's still a great concept. Part of the fun in the game was just seeing what each combination would eventually lead to. Some of the best ones being the bomb shuriken, the fridge, the dynamite, the drill, the electric rock of justice, the ice skates and the snowman bomb. There's a lot more out there to choose from, and it would have been really cool to see that concept carry over to some other Kirby games, especially with the amount of zany powers Superstar Saga had. Nonetheless, this game not only shares an interesting game mechanic that manages to mix up the gameplay a bit, it also has some great scenery. While it mostly plays off as 2D game, the 3D look manages to help with the look of some of the set pieces and the planets. It's also really nice to see that levels surround themselves more around a theme based on the planet. From ice based, to water based, to nature based to rock based, there's a certain idea of what the levels will be based around if you know the planet. The boss battles are also great, ranging from fighting a shark, to a giant mech, to octahedral crystals to even having to fight characters that eventually end up helping you (that happens at the start of the game though).
The music is also fantastic as it usually keeps the feel of a Kirby game, but it can also fit to the theme of the levels and can also get to the proper momentum needed when you encounter a boss fight. Some of my favorite music from the game centers around Shiver Star and the boss battles not only by how fitting they sound but also by how catchy they can be. While the game can be relatively short, you do have to be able to collect all the Crystal Shards to face the true final boss who may not be completely difficult, but the concept art and the music surrounding the character is just a tad more haunting than usual. In fact, the true final boss is one of only characters in the Kirby game that "bleeds" so to speak. Also, the multiplayer games, while a little tacked on, can be pretty fun if you get some friends together to play it. I just seemed to find myself playing the game constantly just to see what kind of combinations I could make, and how I could finally get another one of the Crystal Shards that I perhaps missed. I do hope to see another game like this in the future, especially with a greater library of abilities.
7. Max Payne
I remember downloading this out of curiosity. I had some PSN Points and figured that I should try out this Max Payne game. While I waited for it to download, I looked it up (spoiler-free), and found it was about a hard-boiled PI who has been wronged by someone and seeks revenge. Being that I enjoy film noir in all of it's cliched goodness, I assumed that I would have a ton of fun with this game. And I did...but I also got really frustrated and somewhat startled by what I was going to encounter. First off, let me address that when I completed this game for the first time, I cluttered my Twitter with constant talk about my experience so far with the game. For a game to get me talking about it to others on something like that shows that it's doing something right. That or it just shows that I'm incredibly obnoxious. The gameplay's solid. It can be a little hard to actually land a hit with the somewhat stiff controls, but a good portion of the time if you ended up dying, it was your fault. That doesn't necessarily mean there weren't a good amount of cheap moments in the game, but the game still has a good sense of genuine challenge. Being that I've grown up in a world where FPSes rely on you ducking in a corner to get your health back up, it's good to see one where you need to get something that boosts your HP every once in a while and that you have to moderate it. There's a greater sense of challenge and you really have to train yourself to become more skillful at the game.
The story's really gripping. The characters are dark as all hell, but that's what gives it an edge. It had enough balls to show a woman and her baby getting killed, and even though it's in it's low-res gore, the sounds and atmosphere make up for what it can't deliver. I admire something that takes a risk such as that, and managed to also handle it pretty well too. Max Payne is the epitome of the "nothing-to-lose, I-aint-breaking-my-gritty-monotone" quasi-dirty cop, and it's awesome hearing some of his lines. It's interesting that Max Payne was simply dragged into this catastrophe not completely by his job. Sure, he deals with having to convict criminals, but according to the main villian, somehow his wife got in the way of the master plan. It also really drives the point home of a character that has absolutely nothing else to lose, and is simply trying to get to the bottom of why he ended up in this whole mess. There still is that sort of edge that there may be parts of Max's past that he's covering up, and that he's not as clean as you'd think. Payne's got a little more of complexity to him, which makes revolving the game mostly around him that more interesting. Other characters in the game range from being absurd and insane, to typical and cliched to "I've said too much" sort of helpful to just plain cold-hearted.
The graphics can really distract a while though, and sometimes the game gets the kind of hard that's not challenging, but rather cheap because they try to do as much as they can to fuck you up. I'm sure that if this game got a remake with better graphics (and perhaps better controls), while sticking to the same plotline (and maybe extending it a little more with some extra missions or perhaps adding some form of a multiplayer mode), it could end up becoming a good hit. But with what Max Payne already delivered, it's still an absolute marvel. It's just impressive seeing a game that goes to that sort of lengths in terms of story as well as one that while incredibly difficult at certain points, can still drag you in with it's engaging gameplay.
6. Red Steel 2
I think this probably one of the few games in the Wii's library that managed to implement the motion controls into the game almost to a point of pure perfection. That's not to say that there aren't games that use the motion controls well, but Red Steel 2 combined shooting and slicing people up with it's interesting combination of cowboys and samurais coated with a semi-urban feel. On the shooting side, there's the choices of a revolver, a shotgun, a Tommy gun and a lever-action rifle. While these sound standard, the look of the guns are incredibly stylized and the sounds that are emitted when you fire from these beauties are absolutely marvelous. Not only are they fitting and sound incredibly powerful but they have a sense of uniqueness to them. As if you could you tell that someone was playing this game simply by hearing the gunshots. From the sword aspect, you can do the standard moves such as a simple slice and blocking attacks from others, but you can also unlock combo moves as well as special moves that allow you to not only rake in more combos and money but also defeat the tougher enemies that you encounter further in the game. Being able to combine these two can help if you want to finish off enemies in clever ways or if you're thinking of a good strategy that allows you to progress further in the game.
Something that will constantly stick to me about this game though is the look of it. The combination of the Western with the Eastern along with the olden days with the more refined touch of the modern times works great to distinguish this game from the others. It's especially present when you look at the architecture of the game. Some of the buildings look more like one style than the other, while others manage to get that perfect blend that allows both to have equal influnece on it. The choices in colors while basic continue to accentuate such a creative style that the game has surrounding it. This is especially present in the look of the main protagonist as it not only combines the walking justice demeanor that a cowboy usually has but also the mysterious and threatening aura that comes off from a samurai. The music also shows this same stylistic choice, especially when you consider the main theme combines the koto/shamisen with the guitar and whistling. The story may share the same sort of combination of both worlds, but it generally didn't catch my attention that much. The gameplay, music and graphics though were the most impacting for me, and this was by far one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had with a third party Wii game.