Retro Review: Theme Park

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Theme_Park_coverWelcome back to the Retro Review, where we ride around the rollercoaster of Nostalgia and throw up the very best, or worst, of video game history.

“Following on” (it’s been FIVE years?!) from my Retro Review of Theme Hospital, we’re taking a look at another Peter Molyenux classic (before we went crazy and started creating generic micro-transaction-based God games), Theme Park.

Unlike the lightly odd setting of Theme Hospital, Theme Park gives players the opportunity to fulfil a childhood fantasy, to design your own Theme Park, and more importantly, build your own rollercoaster! There is a catch, however (unless your name is HORZA), you have to successfully build your business in order to be able to build the park of your dreams.

You start off with a small plot of land in the Bedfordshire countryside, a few thousand pounds, and all your hopes and dreams. The first thing you do on this game is build some paths, a bouncy castle, and a toilet. Much like Theme Hospital, you’ll pick a starting strategy and it’ll be with you for life. Hire staff to clean the park, run the shops and repair the rides, and set your prices to keep your guests happy and the money coming in.

themepark_005All the usual dubious business practices can be used to make cash quick; sell fries for cheap as chips, if you pardon the pun, but absolutely riddled with salt, then charge a fortune for drinks. Strategy for entrance and ride pricing depends on your attractions, a higher entrance fee with few, cheaper rides is a good way to start, but building towards a cheaper entrance fee and a high price for your premium rides in the long term. You’ll occasionally have to negotiate wages with staff, with harms flailing around a negotiation table to try and reach a deal. Try and get the cheapest option you can and only hire staff you absolutely need.

Once you’ve got your basic park built, you will need to start putting money into researching new rides such as rollercoaters and Ferris Wheels. Eventually you’ll have earned enough money and built the park to the point where you can sell it for a large profit, and move on to another part of the world, where the terrain, weather, economy and land value all vary.

There’s over 30 rides in the game, and depending on which version you’re playing, you can walk around your park and “Ride” the rides. Unfortunately, unlike later games in this genre, the “rides” are just FMVs of the ride and don’t correspond to the layout of the ride you built or it’s location, sadly.

main_002Despite being basic in comparison to future titles such as the hugely successful Rollercoaster Tycoon series, or the less-remembered follow-up, Theme Park World, this game was the genesis of the Theme Park management genre, and without it, I doubt any of the games that followed would have been what they are..,

Speaking of Theme Park World, I need to cover that game one of these days, it’s an often overlooked game that I personally really enjoyed, but paled in the shadow of the new king on the block, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3….

But that’s for another time.


Danny’s Retro Rating:

So, 1K subscribers, huh?

Categories: News / Events, Personal, Site / Project News
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I can safely say that I never expected to reach over 1,000 subscribers on YouTube. That’s 1,000 genuine, random, totally unique people who saw one or more of my videos and thought it was worth subscribing to me for. Pretty amazing, really.

y3Each time someone subscribes, it’s pretty cool to me. It’s the ultimate expression of appreciation for what I’ve created. I know, I know, 1,000 people is a small number, right? I’d have to get 100x as many subscribers before YouTube sends me a shiny plaque with a silver play button in it. Well, not to me, to be honest. 1,000 people. That’s a huge number of people.

If you’re a stand-up comedian and 1,000 people turn out to a gig, then that’s a pretty successful night, right?

Each time I do a show, or a video, the numbers vary, and it largely depends on the video (and, I suspect, how kind YouTube is being that day in putting the video somewhere people can see it) – sometimes only 40 or 50 people turn up. Sometimes 100, 500, sometimes 75,000 in a couple of cases.

I’d love to have 75,000 views on every video I do, but to have two or three with that number is amazing. Having 10 or so with 1,000+ views is amazing. Having views on any video, no matter how big or small, is amazing.

Anyway, I’m not sure what my point was here, except to say thank you.

I’ve got a bit of free time this week, the main criticism of my channel these days is the lack of videos. I’ve kinda attempted to get bigger and bolder in the videos I’m making, they therefor take more time, and as I find myself with less and less time, it’s becoming a bit of a downward spiral. But, I’ve got another week off, and I intend to try and use as much of it as I can to film as many videos as I can which I will space out over the coming weeks.

Retro Review: WWF Attitude

Categories: Nonsense, Retro Reviews, Retro Reviews
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WWF_Attitude_LogoWelcome back to the Retro Review, the column that takes those crazy childhood gaming memories and turns them into tangible bundles of blogging joy. Following on from the last retro review on WWF WarZone, we’re taking a look today at it’s much acclaimed (if you pardon the pun) sequel, WWF Attitude.

The WWF was really starting to catch fire by the end of 1998. It’s main rival, WCW, was plagued by creative and political problems, causing it to fall further and further behind, while WWF’s storytelling was at the best it had ever been. Edgy, bold and pushing the envelope, this was WWF with attitude.

The WWF took full advantage of this, making this it’s main marketing slogan. The period is now fondly remembered by wrestling fans and historians as the “Attitude Era” – arguably the golden age of wrestling.

Not so much the golden era of video games, though. Following on from the previous outing, WWF WarZone, comes a sequel that more or less manages to do more of the same, but bigger, better, and just as bad. The actual gameplay has changed very little, it’s still a clunky 3D wrestling game, although there is now a much wider selection of wrestlers (and therefor, moves) to choose from. Although in the ring the game feels more or less exactly like WWF WarZone did, the one thing the game expanded upon greatly was the features.

398216-wwf-attitude-playstation-screenshot-triple-h-entranceAs mentioned, there was a much expanded roster of wrestlers to choose from, consisting of most of the current roster from late 1998 / early 1999, including, and I’m not kidding, the ability to play as Al Snow’s head, and Paul Bearer, of all people. This made a welcome change from the dozen characters available from WWF WarZone, although I am sad Gillberg was not included in this particular game.

Still, I’m well catered for in that regard by the improved Create-A-Wrestler feature, which made it’s debut in WarZone. Apart from having much greater control over the characters features and appearence, there is now the ability to customise apparel, introduce custom movesets, and choose entrance music and lighting setups for the character. This includes exclusive music tracks just for created wrestlers, and also spoken names which announcers can call your character by! Very posh.

Not only can you create wrestlers, though, but with the popularity of “stables”, or groups (such as The Corporation, D-Generation X or The Ministry of Darkness) in the WWF at the time, a feature called Create A Stable was added. Band together your badly created wrestlers into one stable! They even came out together during the same entrance…

The match modes are where the real fun is though, as this has been expanded upon hugely from the small handful of match types available in WarZone;

  • Triple Threat – A regular match with 3 participants. The first one to meet the win conditions won the match.
  • Triangle – Similar to a Triple Threat, but meeting the win conditions only eliminates one participant. The match ends when all other participants are eliminated.
  • Fatal Four Way – A regular match with 4 participants. The first one to meet the win conditions won the match.
  • Fatal Four Way Elimination – Like Fatal Four Way, but all opponents must be eliminated to win.
  • Handicap – A match with 3 or 4 participants. Most of the participants are aligned to battle 1 singular opponent. This can be ‘1 vs 2’, ‘1 vs 3’ or ‘1 vs Tag’ (where the advantaged team works within tag team match rules.
  • Toughman – Adds an Elimination rule to the handicap match, requiring the disadvantaged player to eliminate all of his opponents.
  • Gauntlet – A match with up to 6 participants. Player 1 must beat 4 other opponents, one after another. Alternatively, Player 1 must use his tag team to beat 2 other tag teams, one after the other. The match ends when Player 1 is defeated, or has beaten all challengers.
  • Stable – A match for 4 teams. One member of each team begins the match. When someone is pinned or is submitted, they are eliminated from the match, and then the next member of their team continues the match. Once all four members of one team has been defeated, the entire team is eliminated. The final team remaining wins the match.
  • Battle Royal – A Fatal Four Way Elimination match in which the only win condition is to throw all other opponents out of the ring. This is done by performing an Atomic Whip or a Body Slam when the opponent is stunned.
  • Falls Count Anywhere – The match can be won by pin attempt outside of the ring. Ring out counts are disabled.
  • “I Quit” – Similar to Falls Count Anywhere, the match can only be won with a submission attempt.
  • TKO – A player is automatically defeated if his health bar is completely depleted.
  • Last Man Standing – A hardcore match. The only way to win is to knock out your opponent. This can only be achieved if the opponent is lying stunned on the ground, and is left untouched. If the count reaches 10 before they recover, they are defeated.
  • 2 out of 3 Falls – Once the win conditions are met, the winner is awarded 1 point and the match continues, with the loser gaining a health boost. The first person to win 2 points wins the match.
  • Iron Man Match – When someone meets the win conditions, they score 1 point. The match continues with the fallen receiving a health boost. The person with the most points when the time limit expires win the match.
  • Finishers Only – This match is won when a player performs the Finisher move.
  • First Blood – Opponents are defeated by causing them to bleed from their head or midsection.
  • Royal Rumble – A battle royal for 30 participants. The match begins with just 2 participants, as more are added at regular intervals. This continues until 4 men are in the match at one time, and no new participants will enter until someone else has been eliminated. The match ends when 29 of the 30 participants are eliminated. The last person remaining wins the match.
  • King of the Ring – A tournament made up of 7 matches in all, for 8 participants. Each match winner advances in the tournament while losers are removed. The overall winner must win 3 matches to win the tournament. In single player mode, this allows no rests in between matches.
  • Survivor Series – A tag team match with 4 participants on each team. It starts like a regular tag team match. Once someone is defeated, they leave the area and are replaced with another team member. All 4 members of the opposing team must be defeated to win.

That’s a HUGE number of match types compared to the old game, I mean, inexplicably huge. There’s a lot of match types in here that haven’t been featured at a wrestling event since Lou Thesz hung up his boots. This is detail.

Unlike WarZone, this game features full entrances for the characters, including music, pyro and stage. Even more incredibly, you can create your own arena in this game, customising the TitanTron, ring aprons, and other colour schemes / logos to suit your taste, and create your own wrestling event.

All these bells and whistles didn’t really do a lot to save it from the main problem dogging WarZone though – it was arse to play once you were actually in the ring. It was more fun to create wrestlers, entrances and fantasy cards than it was to actually wrestle in the game. Sadly this is what lead to it’s somewhat mixed reception. It’s not unplayably awful, but it could be better.
….. maybe developer THQ can do better? Maybe I can do a 3-Part Retro Review? Maybe Vince McMahon can screw The Rock out of the title? We’ll find out next time….

Personal Top 10 Games!

Categories: Gadgets & Reviews, Personal
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That’s right folks, it’s time for an ever popular Top 10 list, the staple diet of bloggers who have nothing to write about.

top10I’m going to go through what I consider to personally be, to me, the Top 10 games of all time. Before I get started I want to make clear the emphasis on the words “personal” and “to me” – I have no doubt everyone who reads this will disagree with it completely, but that’s ok; these games are what I consider to have been the most memorable or most influential games during my lifetime, it’s personal to me. For the record, it wasn’t easy creating this list, there’s a lot of great games that haven’t been included due to my artificial limitation of only being able to have ten things on the list, but anyway;

A few ground rules; firstly, I will only include series of games instead of individual ones, unless otherwise stated, so the list isn’t made up entirely of Sonic and GTA games. I may call out a specific game in the franchise, but broadly speaking, that game will represent the series it comes from. Secondly, the ordering of this list is roughly from “worst to best” – but there is no worst here, these games are all fantastic and their ordering shouldn’t have too much stock put into it.

Anyway, groundwork out of the way, lets crack on with the list!

10: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

In a blatant disregard to the rules I just laid out above, this entry does specifically refer to this game in particular, and not the entire Mario franchise. The rest of the Mario games are fantastic as well, but I don’t really have an affinity for them, with this and Mario Kart 64 being the golden exceptions.

untitledWhy? It’s hard to say really. Super Mario 64 was the flagship Mario game on the new N64 console, and Mario’s first foray into the world of true 3D platforming. This is where it gets interesting, because, unlike my favourite little blue hedgehog, the pesky Italian plumber took the transition from 2D to 3D in his stride. I mean, he knocked it right out of the park. If anything, Mario is better in 3D then it ever was in the old NES days. Mario’s slow paced platforming style actually lends itself perfectly to the N64. The sound, graphics, level design, are all perfect.

The approach to gameplay was interesting; everyone’s least favourite victim, Princess Peachstool or whatever her name is, gets herself kidnapped once again, and Bowser takes over her castle. During our adventure through the various paintings in the castle, which inexplicably warp us to different worlds, Mario is tasked with collecting golden stars hidden throughout the levels, with different challenges having to be completed to collect enough of these stars to unlock other parts of the castle.

I have to admit I’ve never actually completed this game, as truly shocking as that is. I’ve got very, very far in it, and I’ve played those first X number of levels hundreds of times, but for some reason I just never managed to see it through to the end. I really don’t understand why, and it’s something I intend to remedy one day. Infact, if I ever do a completes series or a live stream, this is the first order of business. We’re going to finish this one together!

9: Driver (Playstation)

This might seem like a slightly odd choice to some, as the Driver series has never been widely regarded from Driver 2 onwards, but the original game for the Playstation was the most exciting thing I had ever seen in my life. It was amazing.

cover driver ps1I remember very vividly the first time I got to try this game, with a 60 second demo on a PS1 demo disk. The demo consisted of a cop car chase where you had to evade capture for 60 seconds. Just trying to see how far we could get before the timer ran out was hilarious but frustrating fun; we had contests to see just who could get themselves the farthest. The map was so huge, and that tantalising 60 seconds, just trying to see that little bit more of the map before the game came out, was just crazy fun.

You see, we’d never seen anything like this before. An open world sandbox game, in full 3D? Sure, we had the likes of Grand Theft Auto to provide us with open world sandbox goodness from a 2D top-down perspective, and we had the likes of Gran Turismo for 3D driving round a track, but this was a wonderful blend of both of these thrown together. It seems hard to believe but back then, we had never thought this possible. Just a few years earlier we considered the Mega Drive the pinnacle of gaming technology…

The game wasn’t just set in one city, either, it had Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, all fully realised in, what was at the time, glorious three dimensions. Even Grand Theft Auto only had three cities in it, of roughly the same dimensions, and the level of detail didn’t even approach this. Fully 3D modelled pedestrians, sitting down outside cafes, for example, this was just mind-blowing. The only downside was you could never leave your car…

While the Driver series unfortunately never repeated it’s initial glory, I truly believe this game lit a fire under DMA (Rockstar) and was the pre-cursor to the open world sandbox games we have today, like GTA V, Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire.

8: Alex Kidd in Miracle World

alex-kiddWell, back where it all started, Alex Kidd in Miracle World. This was the first game I ever played, as it was built into the first games console I ever had, the Sega Master System. I can remember spending hours upon hours with my Dad, trying to get to the end of this game, and finding it mesmerising.

Alex Kidd was Sega’s attempt to create a mascot to rival Mario. By trying to copy Mario’s gameplay style and looks, however, was where Alex Kidd fell down flat on his arse. It looks like a knock-off of the Mario games, despite being somewhat original and very competently made. This game is, on reflection as an adult, unbelievably difficult. You’re given just 3 lives, and once you loose them, that’s it, you’re right back to the start, regardless of how far you’ve gone. The cheap enemy placement and dodgy collision detection really doesn’t help with this, you can quite quickly and cheaply loose all three lives, Therefore you really need to be on your toes to progress in this game.

The two things I’ll remember most about this game was the games of Rock, Paper, Scissors for the first three boss battles, and the castle level, which was really fucking scary to me as a child. The music from that level still sends chills down my spine.

7: Fallout 3

fallout-3-screenshot-21This was a bit of a weird one for me. I remember first getting Fallout 3 for the Xbox 360, many years ago, and having no idea what to do with it. The tutorial levels were easy enough, but once I got out of Vault 101, I found myself wondering, what do I do next?

I know, it’s a fucking dumb reaction, but this was the first role-playing open world game I’d ever played. It was up to me what happened next! This game was like a revelation of how games could be. It was the first game I’d ever played where I felt like I was truly shaping the story of the game, and not just following a bunch of pre-determined plots. This wasn’t the first game to be like this, of course, Fallout had 2 previous instalments, albeit in isometric 2D, and The Elder Scrolls had been doing it for years and years, but to me, it was like, holy shit this game is so good.

The intense mystery around the setting of the game was just so rich, too. The entire mystery of Vault-Tec and the vault experiments, the great war, and the various shady dealings that were undertaken by the US Government and corporations prior the great war, make this post-apocalyptic Washington DC a surprisingly interesting place to explore.

And the great thing about this game? There are so many places to explore, and so many different outcomes and variations to the storyline based upon your actions, that you can just play it again, and again, and again, and you’ll see and hear something new every time.

6: The Mystical Ninja Starring Goeman

Another odd choice, but this game is just filled with happy childhood memories for me. I remember spending so much time playing this, quite frankly, bizarre Japanese game and just being mesmerised by the brilliant music, bizarre storyline, and wonderful platforming action.

Infact, this game is so hard to describe in words, you should watch this video I made about it instead;

5: Bioshock

Is it someone new?

bioshockBioshock was the first time I had ever played a First Person Shooter on a console, the Xbox 360. I remember flicking through the Xbox Live store looking for demos to try out, when I stumbled upon the demo for this game. I was hooked from the very first second I saw Rapture from the window of that bathysphere.

My word, what a brilliant concept. Bioshock is set in the underwater city of Rapture, built by everyone’s favourite maniacal genius, Andrew Ryan. Intended to be an underwater utopia, Rapture soon took a turn for the worst when it’s scientists discovered a substance known as Adam. Simply put, Adam could be developed into various Plasmids, which gave the user super powers, such as the ability to shoot lightning from their fingertips, set something or someone on fire, or summon a frenzied swarm of killer bees, y’know, if that’s your cup of tea.

Sounds good, except for one thing. These Plasmids had a bit of an unfortunate side effect. Like most injectable drugs, they turned everyone a little bit batshit. The player, who has just survived a plane crash in the Atlantic ocean, discovers the decomposing remains of this once great city, only to find himself trapped down there with nothing but Splicers for company.

The plot twists and turns in this game create more questions than it answers, and over the course of the following two games, especially Bioshock Infinite, things just continue to get more and more interesting. But for scoring ten points on story, atmosphere, level design and gameplay, Bioshock is by far one of the best games I’ve ever played.


4: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I was hooked on Role Playing Action games after trying Fallout 3 and it’s sequel, Fallout: New Vegas. So, when The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released by Bethesda, I figured, why not?

skyrim_nord_2I’d never played any Elder Scrolls game before, and I now intend to go back and visit them. The only problem is, these games are just so vast that they just never seem to end. When I embarked upon my journey across Skyrim, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.

Lets put it this way; I started my current save game on the Xbox 360 on  the 14th of June 2012. I’ve still not completed the game.

Sure, I’ve not played it for hours on end every single day, but I’ve been playing it fairly regularly for a good few hours a week, and I’m still on the same adventure. Still with the same character. I’m actually getting quite near to completing most of the quests now, so that is quite sad, but just like Fallout 3, the story of the game is determined by you, so I can just start it all over again and have an entirely different adventure!

But you see, one of the unique things about Skyrim is that it never really ends. Thanks to something called the Radiant AI, the game constantly generates random quests and adventures for you to partake in, meaning the game literally does go on forever. I mean sure, these quests are never going to be particularly heavy on story, it’s mostly retrieve Item A from Dungeon B or Kill Person A and report to Person Z, but my erratic use of the alphabet aside, this is a really nice touch.

Skyrim is what Fallout 3 was but on a much grander scale. The scale, depth, atmosphere and setting of this game is just spot on. I don’t think I have ever felt so immersed in a game ever before.

3: Grand Theft Auto

Now this one is definitely a mention for the whole series, which has yet, in my opinion to deliver a game which didn’t live up to it’s hype, but lets go back to the beginning;

grand_theft_auto_iiiGrand Theft Auto was another game I discovered via the wonderful Playstation demo discs. Parental guidance lacking, GTA’s free-roaming, politically incorrect sandbox environment instantly became a hit around the schoolyard before the game was even released. I can’t say I have ever played the first two Grand Theft Auto games the way the developers intended, the mission system was somewhat broken, as was the gameplay, and failed to hold my interest for very long. To this day, I can’t play GTA or GTA 2 the way it should be played. Hell, I didn’t even know it had FMV cutscenes until very recently.

But where Grand Theft Auto fell down on gameplay and story, it made up for it with the sheer hilarious fun that could be had simply by dicking about. Running over pedestrians, rallying cars around, trying to run over the marching Hare Krishnas, or just going on all-out rampages, followed by the obligatory cop chase and fight for survival, just made this game hilarious free-roaming fun. It was liberating, to be honest.

Grand Theft Auto III, on the other hand, for the Playstation 2, really brought the series to a new level. Now fully realised in wonderful 3D graphics, this was all the wanton destruction and violence that we had come to love of Grand Theft Auto, but suddenly, the storyline and missions seemed to be more interesting than simply arsing around. I like to think this is partly due to growing up a little bit, but there’s a definite marked improvement in gameplay, storytelling and mission structure that really pushed this game over the top.

The series has never looked back, with Vice City, San Andreas, GTA IV and now GTA V all continuing to improve and evolve the genre, along with side-games such as Vice City Stories and China Town Wars for handheld consoles.


2: Sonic The Hedgehog

Well, it had to come at some point, right?

sonic2titlescreenYou might be wondering why this isn’t number one on my list, and I’ve had a hard time wrestling with that, but ultimately, the downfalls of the Sonic series do kinda outweigh it’s positives, unfortunately. But my God, what positives.

The first Sonic game I ever played was Sonic The Hedgehog 8 Bit, for the Sega Master System. Unlike it’s bigger Mega Drive brother, this game featured limited sound and graphics, and only contained some of the same levels (Green Hill, Labyrinth and Scrap Brain) – albeit with new level layouts. It also introduced it’s own level gimmicks, such as Bridge, Jungle, and Sky Base. In many ways, that only served to make it all the more impressive in my eyes. The Mega Drive version is often applauded for it’s ability to stretch the Sega Mega Drive to the limit with speed, graphics, gameplay and power. Imagine trying to do this on an older, 8 bit console?

Of course, it wasn’t long before I was hooked with Sonic. There was a boom of fantastic games featuring the blue blur around that time, including Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (8 Bit), Sonic Chaos, and finally, when I was finally allowed to have a Sega Mega Drive, the sheer wonder and amazement of the works of art that are Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic The Hedgehog 2 for the Sega Mega Drive revolutionised, for me, what video games were all about.

I say works of art, and I do mean it, these games are true works of art, as are many video games since, but I find it hard to say that about anything that came before.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles for the Sega Mega Drive really was the peak of the series, in my eyes. The ability to tell such an epic and intricate story, without using a single word of text on screen, a single line of dialogue, well, it’s just mind-blowing really, isn’t it?

The series was never the same since. Sonic Adventure for the Sega Dreamcast was a weird one for me, while I look back on it now with a sense of nostalgia combined with a new-found love for the game, at the time, I resented this transition in Sonic to reliance on cutscenes, dialogue, extra characters and weirdly realistic settings.

Now, of course, I’ve come full circle, and appreciate the Sonic games for what they are. Sonic Adventure and Adventure 2 are now some of my favourite games of the series, as are recent titles like Sonic Colours, Sonic Unleashed and hell, I even have a guilty pleasure for Sonic 06, a little.

But as a whole, this series is essentially what defines me as a gamer, I can’t imagine my life without it.

1: Half-Life 2

This game is simply the gold standard in First Person Shooters.

untitled (2)It’s the main reason I fell in love with FPS games, and really took the genre to the next level. It was more like a movie than a video game, and it changed the way I saw video games as a medium forever.

I remember getting my boxed copy of Half Life 2 for Christmas, I want to say around 2003-4. To date, the only First Person Shooter I had any interest in was Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force (a game I found VERY hard to leave off this list, infact, had it not been for a misprint on the CD key for the game, I’d never have found FileFront, became FileTrekker, and met all the people I’ve met as a consequence!) – so when I first looked at the box, I was a little perplexed. What is this game? Will I even enjoy it? I hadn’t even played the first game…

Holy shitballs.

First and foremost, the PC I had at the time was, even by the standards of the time, a pile of shit. It was a Compaq Presario and had a Pentium 4 processor running at 1.4Ghz, a mighty 256mb of memory, and although it had an internal nVidia graphics card, I can’t remember what it was and, regardless, it wasn’t that great.

So imagine my surprise when Half Life 2 ran on it. Perfectly.

It’s kinda hard to describe just how much of a step up this game was compared to games gone by. If you had a machine that could run Half Life 1, it would run Half Life 2, but now you had high quality environments, realistic water, an amazing physics engine, and motion captured movement, even mouth movement that synchronised with the dialogue, it really was a step up above anything I had ever played before.

But not only did it make me drop my jaw in awe visually, it was backed up with what was one of the most in-depth and fully realised storylines in a video game to-date. All my earlier mentions, Bioshock, Fallout, Skyrim, they all start right here. This game paved the way and showed how a video game could be just as good as, if not better, than a movie, in terms of the quality of story.

The AI was something revolutionary too. Elizabeth from Bioshock directly takes influence from Alyx Vance from this game; She was the first AI character that, while not perfect, was not a hindrance either, she felt like a true companion, who actually assisted the player (especially in the DLC Episodes). It was hard not to feel an emotional attachment to her, and in turn, the other characters in the game. It was an interesting dynamic, with Alyx essentially doing the talking for the player in order to progress the story.

The reason for this was Half Life 2’s interesting approach to telling a story. Rather than breaking the player out of the immersion by introducing cut scenes or having dialogue spoken on the behalf of the player, you never loose control of the character. You never leave the first person view, and you never hear Gordon speak. You are Gordon Freeman.

This lead to a level of immersion that I had never felt before, and really re-ignited my passion for First Person Shooters and gaming in general.


So, what did you think of the list? Shit huh? Sound off in the comments and let me know!