Saturday, 23 February 2013

1up Blog #40: My 25 Greatest Games Part II: Done and Done (03/03/2007)

Here it is, I actually decided to fix that mess up and rewrite those five impressions on the most important games on my list that mysteriously vanished. Wait, you never actually read the original ones in the first place!? Still, I have to say that these are much better written than they were before (maybe a brake in-between those twenty other games could've helped)!
5. Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) Slick, awesome, cool, beautiful... these are the thoughts going through my mind as soon as I: get a new weapon, see a new area or boss, or even if I just go into a regular battle! First thing about Gaiden: If you merely want to make it passed the first chapter, you'll have to learn to use your block button (a lot), and when you have an open spot to attack, you'll have to figure out whether you should use your strong attack, quick attack, Ninpo, or go back to blocking! I died frequently, but not to the point where I was throwing the controller (well, except on higher difficulties). Second thing: Gaiden is not God of War: God of War keeps you confined to small paths the entire game, no free-look camera or anything. Gaiden throws you into massive environments, and basically allows you to do anything you dream of doing (wall-run, bird-flip, swing, etc.). The bosses are much, much higher in count, and they don't repeatedly give you life either. Third thing: Ryu is badass!

4. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) There's a good reason why the transition from 2D graphics to 3D graphics went over so well, and you can place a lot of the blame on the first 3D Zelda. It was a game that, while sticking to the same things that made a Link to the Past so good (the special weapons, huge fields, mighty bosses and puzzles), it managed to feel so much different, and really (at least to many Zelda fans out there), so much better. (Though sometimes I can't shake the feeling that its 3D version of that said game!) It wasn't necessarily because 3D was more suited to its sword-swinging, arrow-slinging gameplay, but more so because it nailed everything so well that (from the camera, right down to the precise controls) it really feels like OOT was Miyamoto's true vision for the long-standing series. It's too bad that all 3D games can't pull off that transition as well as Ocarina.

<u>3. Halo (Xbox)</u> What's the deal with Halo? If you've seen my page before, you've probably thought, "If you like Halo so much, why don't you like very many other shooters?" It's simple... well, maybe not, but it's clear Halo does what it does really, really well. Like you've heard somewhere else, you can jump into it feeling like its any other shoot-a-thon in the genre, but it eventually grows on you so well that every aspect feels so natural. Playing the sequels for the first time, I can grab a weapon and instantly get a good grasp of it, but there's still something in them you want to know more of. The enemies themselves, rarely (if ever) make a laughable mistake, yet it hardly feels like the future of AI. What can't I put a finger on here? The story too, seems far from poetic. Some have compared it to the likes of Hollywood, but there's something that tells you there's much more. Is it the massive vistas, or the pin perfect shooting, or the hypnotic score? Whatever it is, I want to play more until there's nothing more to find out.

2. Legend of Dragoon (PS1) On the surface, LOD seems like the most generic RPG ever: Dragons and spiky-haired youths are leagues away from innovation in PS1 RPG's, add in the word Legend to the title and you got the majority of the gaming population rolling their eyes. Look deeper though, and you'll see something much more mature and sophisticated. True, for quite a while the story seems hackneyed, but does that really matter when the whole package is pulled off so well? Middle age overtones are deep in the game's inspiration, but well-conceived mythology and intriguing side stories make the story and setting a thing of beauty. Whilst the combat seems to be just another iteration of Final Fantasy turn-based fare, you'll find the battles to be much more engaging; A huge portion of the boss encounters bring a unique twist to ensure it has your attention and interest. One boss waits in higher ground and poisons you to test your preparation; while another one recharges its HP until you answer it's questions correctly. The levelling of Dragoons and weapon combos (which only advance based on usage) are more than enough to make regular battles worth the effort. Still, these things may seem more like gimmicks to some, making LOD a very love/hate deal. While that may not be a very convincing statement to put LOD this high on a best-ever list, I can assure you that if you're in that love territory, you'll know why.

1. Final Fantasy VII (PS1) When I first saw the cover of FFVII, it wasn't hard for me to imagine the greatest game ever. Yeah, there was that killer sword on the back of some hero, but what I thought I saw in the background wasn't a reactor kind of thing, hell, I thought it was some sort of castle. I had heard bits and pieces of its so-called brilliance (I wouldn't have bought it otherwise): Aeris' death for instance. Why, that must be the princess dieing before her prince could save her! Boy was I glad I miscalculated. Of coarse, that story and setting sounds incredibly unoriginal not, but maybe that's only so because my view on story in games has evolved since FFVII. The gritty, not so mythical setting seems almost modern. Think about it: a corrupt and greedy government, small, violent rebellions, and the strangely global warming-esque mako killing off the world, even though its end is impending. If none of that rings a bell then maybe we never noticed how far FFVII was ahead of itself. Its combat may have been more or less done in previous instalments, but there really was no hook like the materia system (which I still believe I've yet to truly master). I really haven't played anything better than this game. Maybe in my dreams one day I will see a better game, but then again, all I can see for now is a guy wielding a killer sword and a reactor as the backdrop.

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