What makes video games memorable?

A few days ago, I started wondering, what made all those games I remember from my childhood and teenage years so good and memorable! And taking into the consideration that I have the attention span of  a gold fish, something REALLY impressive must have made a big impression on me back then for me to still remember exactly where the NPC positions were in the first Diablo, how Griswold’s shop was next to Ogden the tavern owner’s, right in front of Cain which was in turn in front of Peppin the Healer’s hut, or how that one extremely frustrating Terran campaign mission made me quit playing Starcraft altogether (it was one with a 30 minute count down timer where you had to defend your base against hordes of Zerg), then I realized, it was all about the music, it’s always been all about the music! And when I gave it some more thought I came to the conclusion that video games have some of the best musical scores you’ll ever listen to, and I’m going to list some of my favourites, and some which some friends recommended.

To the Moon is a game that has not been released for so long, yet is probably one of the most incredible games in terms of story telling and soundtrack, one of the few games that actually made me tear up.

Diablo has always been known for it’s dark, grim music, and here are three fine examples from the three Diablo games spanning a development duration of 16 years! And it’s all still dark now, that’s why I love these games.

Torchlight II may be a Diablo clone, it may have taken an idea here, and idea there, maybe even waited long enough to be released just so Runic wouldn’t make the same mistakes Blizzard did, but that definitely does not make it a lesser game, or have a lesser soundtrack, by all means, this is a fine example of how Torchlight II is reminiscent of Diablo II while keeping it’s own identity.

Bayonetta was one of the fastest, most intense, weird hack n’ slash I’ve had the pleasure of playing, ever. EVER. Ever. Ever. Now that we have that out of the way, let me show you exactly why I loved this game so much.

Assassin’s Creed II was hands down the best of the Assassin’s Creed series so far, ask anyone and I doubt they’ll argue, the story was engaging throughout, the cliffhanger was as irritating as it could get, and it wouldn’t have been that good without the good guys at Ubisoft making an epic soundtrack for it.

Another Ubisoft marvel was Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within, it was my favourite of the trilogy (Yes, I don’t consider the last one part of the franchise, it was THAT awful), and for good reason, it had an amazing score behind it! Being a bassist myself, I especially loved that one track.

Now who in their right mind would make a blog article like this and not post The Elder Scrolls in it? At least Skyrim, I mean, it had one of the most epic soundtracks in a video game!

If you own a Playstation 3, you must have at least played one of the three Uncharted games, if not all of them, and you might have also noticed how the menu theme is persistent in all three games, and for good reason, it’s freaking awesome!

What sets a certain game apart from the pack though is how the development or distributors decide to go about the soundtrack, and thankfully, Valve are saints, proving time and again how Portal 2 might very well be the greatest puzzle based game to be ever made. (P.S.: Science IS fun.)

MAG has taken quite some time from my life, this game has 3 separate soundtracks for each faction, I personally have played both Valor and SVER, never Raven, so I don’t know much about their music, but here you go.

Now for a game that had me practically in awe for how amazing its music was, I would honestly just start Dark Souls, and leave it in the load screen, and listen to the music for hours on end, the load screen music, Gwyn’s music, and Dark Sun Gwyndolin’s music.

I haven’t yet played Killzone 3, for OCD-ish reasons (I absolutely need to play the first two before this one), and I’ve heard all sorts of rants on how bad the story is, but this, this here, more than makes up for it.

Without mentioning how purchasing Gravity Rush justified my Vita purchase (No sarcasm there, it actually did, game is fantastic), or how hot Kat is, the game has one of the jazziest tracks you can here in any video game out there!

Rayman Origins on the other hand, takes another route from anything you’ve ever heard before, the music is actually extremely funny that you find yourself hysterically laughing over it, or just have a wide smile on your face, which made this game an amazing platformer! (Also better played on the Vita than console or PC!)

Continuing on the Blizzard glory, we have Starcraft! That irritating son of a bitch game that kicked my ass so many times over the years, yet I always remembered that Terran theme and how it made me just want to go slaughter more Zerg.

Now for something truly old, the first Mortal Kombat’s soundtrack, who didn’t love that? Seriously?

Duke Nukem. Megadeth. I don’t think I need to say more.

Back in my Playstation 1 years, I loved Megaman X5, absolutely adored this game and it’s main menu music, I loved it so much I actually recorded it on my old (yet extremely cool at the time) Nokia 3650.

My cousin owned a Dreamcast, and Sonic Adventure on it, and before he forsake gaming, he actually had the potential to be a hardcore gamer, anyway, him and I would play Sonic Adventure all day long, and sing along to this track, it was awesome back then, it still is now!

Bastion is one game that took the Diablo formula, and twisted it in its own, marvellously addictive way, it does not have dark gritty music, instead it has some very memorable fight music that will make you really wanting to go back and play it some more.

Last in my recommendations is a game that I have mastered, and wasted SO many years of my life playing, Red Alert 2, I loved that game so much! And it was mostly because of the Hell March track!

Last but definitely not least, some recommendations by my Facebook pals.

ATV Offroad Fury:

Trine 2:

Zone of the Enders 2:

Shadow of the Colossus:

Metal Gear Solid:

Let me know what your favourites over the years were, or if I’ve missed an absolute essential 😉

FPS Showdown!

It’s the battle of the big guys here tonight! And it’s going to be fierce, Battlefield, Call Of Duty, Crysis, and MAG… Fasten your seat belts people, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Let's get ready to rumble

The first game I got for my PlayStation, was Call of Duty: Black Ops, and let me tell you this from now, Call of Duty series = BEST single player story on an FPS, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I enjoyed every single step into that campaign! But, the campaign needs to end some day… And with that, came the replay-ability that the multiplayer is supposed to add, I was, well, we can say entertained, since I didn’t have any other games at that time, and I had heard legendary stories of hero-ism on the Call of Duty multiplayer front, and for every single gamer, you’re all pretty familiar with how COD’s multiplayer works, and it could be summed up in these 5 steps below:

  1. Run around.
  2. Kill people.
  3. Get kill streak.
  4. Use kill streak to kill MOAR people.
  5. You’re done.

So after a while, you’re bound to get bored, unless that was the very goal of your life to begin with, but people are different, sparky! I was then in a debate with a friend of mine, defending Call of Duty to my very last breath, with a mixture of fanboy-ism and the internet tested and never failing concept of simply trolling

You will die for your insolence.

My friend was then telling me about Battlefield Bad Company 2, little did I know, BFBC2 was the game that would change my opinion about FPS games for good, I then decided to give it a try, and let me say this from the beginning, the single player campaign, is terrible, I personally could not go through with it, the conversations in the game were so, clichee, for some reason, the multiplayer though, man, beyond amazing! You actually have to think before you go around and shoot people! Imagine that! The game has 4 classes to choose from, Medic, Engineer, Recon, and Assault, each with their own specialized arsenal of weaponry/tools that unlock as you progress through the multiplayer, you can actually get to the top of the score board without killing a single enemy (if either you’re invisible, or the team you’re playing against is mind numbingly dumb), you can just run around, as a medic, heal, and revive people, you’ll be a very valuable asset to your squad, and your entire team! That’s not saying the Medic, or the Engineer should get all the glory, the Assault class can restock ammunition supply, along with being a bad-ass AR sporting soldier! And the Recon is just your good ol’ school Sniper, of course this guy has C4 charges and a motion detector!

I then got MAG from my friends as a birthday present, I didn’t really start to play it until another friend got it, but damn! The maps in this game are HUGE! To be able to accomodate 256 players, in a single map, and run at 30fps with no drops, they had to reduce the graphics, so if you’re too picky about the visuals, you probably won’t like this game, but you’re missing out. It’s a bit similar to that of BFBC2, except you don’t have to stick to a single class, you can mix and match, I personally play a hybrid of a field support (Full Medic + Engineer) and Direct Action, it’s a combination that has proven very effective to me, as I can run very fast, without my stamina draining out, and heal and revive all them fallen bastards on my team! Bottom line for MAG though, it’s extremely enjoyable!

Now, onto Crysis 2, let me start off by saying, neither the PlayStation, nor the Xbox versions stand a chance in comparison to their PC counterpart, graphics wise, and I didn’t play it a lot, but I did watch a couple of friends play it, and my first impression was that it’s eerily similar to what I witnessed during the Killzone 3 multiplayer beta, it’s really A LOT like it, but I haven’t played it enough to judge anyway.

So bottom line here is, if you’re into strategy, go for Battlefield or MAG, if you just want to pwn some n00bs, Call of Duty will bring you lots and lots of joy, Crysis mixed between the two, which was fun.

A little MAG eye candy:

Gadget showdown! Move vs. Kinect vs. The Wiimote.

While it is certainly clear to everyone who reads this blog that I’m a die hard (no, not the one with Bruce Willis) PlayStation fan, I do have certain points of view concerning the gadgets that have been outed a year or two ago (or in Nintendo’s case, 5 years ago).

Let’s start with the Wii.

Oh the humanity!!!

My sister got a Wii on her birthday 3 or 2 years ago, and it was the first “Next Gen” Console in the house for a while, and since this is not a console review, but merely a motion sensing review, I will refrain from saying my opinion about the console itself, the sensor bar that came with the Wii works on infrared (yeah, it still exists) emitted from the Wiimote, as well as an accelerometer for the Wiimote itself, now how could this combination go wrong, you ask? Well, it’s not as accurate as you may have hoped, but of course, most gamers at one point or another have seen for themselves that the Wii isn’t the best motion sensing console out there, and evidence of that is Nintendo releasing a small gadget called The Wii Motion Plus that “enhances” the motion tracking of the sensor bar and the Wiimote, apparently. And as far as the games are concerned, playing Call Of Duty on the Wii was a pain, but that goes for basically any FPS game without a camera control stick, you’ll have to drag the Wiimote all the way to the side of the screen in order to turn, in other words, if someone has a classic controller, you’re screwed, but COD isn’t what Nintendo are famous for! They’re famous for Mario and Zelda! I’m not a Zelda fan, so I won’t be commenting on this front, but as far as Mario Galaxy went, it wasn’t very bad, but the controls were a bit uncomfortable.

Microsoft however, took a different approach to the motion sensing technology, introducing the world’s first controller-less motion tracking device, the Kinect (or as it was previously referred to, Project Nathal)

It's a webcam! WITH AN EXTRA LENS!!! ZOMG!

While the technology behind Kinect is nothing short of amazing, the games that accompanied it so far are, well, meh-inducing to say the least. How Kinect works is (not applicable to non white Americans without a perfect grasp of the American English accent) that you need a well lit room, and a tremendous amount of space, so yeah, you’ll need to throw that couch away… However accurate the Kinect maybe, it lags a bit, not too much, but you can tell that your actions aren’t carried out in real time. I was only able to play Child Of Eden on Kinect when I was in Game, in England, well, I only got as far as the menu until I gave up, for some reason (it’s cause I’m not white, damned racist camera!), the Kinect wouldn’t pick up my motions anymore. Though in last year’s E3, when Future Soldier was demoed, it was pretty impressive, with the voice controls, and the dis assembly and re assembly of weapons with hand gestures, it was pretty neat, as well as the voice commands in Mass Effect 3.

Now how Sony decided to counter the two companies’ efforts was to (yep, you guessed it) merge the technologies! Creating the PlayStation Move

It's not what you think, no.

Since we all know that the idea behind Kinect originally came from the PlayStation Eye, released initially for the PlayStation 2, the Move uses the Eye, as well as the Wiimote technology, but instead of infrared tracking, the big ball on top lights up, and the eye picks up the movement of the light, and the Move itself has six axis functionality, just like the regular DualShock 3 controller, while it is FAR more accurate than the Wiimote, and faster than the Kinect, the game selection is still not the best, so far, the only Move only game I’ve enjoyed was The Fight: Light’s Out, and you’ll need another one of those light bulbed sticks to be able to enjoy the game, and play it as it was meant to be played, however more and more games are having Move functionality, like Killzone 3, MAG, and Heavy Rain, to name a few.

Kinect and Move are still new gadgets that need more time to stand on their own, and I think we might be seeing impressive games in the future that will use these technologies to their fullest potential, until then though, I suggest you all save your money.