Friday, February 22, 2008

My Favorite Video Games

Usually, I talk about politics and ideas. But today, I'm going to talk about something different. My favorite pastime is video games. I enjoy playing them. They are more interactive than television and actually make me think about the things I'm doing. It helps to think the way I normally do when solving a problem, I guess.

Anyway, here's a list of my favorite games:

-Serious Sam. This first person shooter (FPS) is like no other. Think of Doom, where you are facing off against monsters, demons, and cybernetic monsters, but multiply the number of enemies by 100. That's Serious Sam. One of the bosses you fight is actually just a hoard of exploding toads (complete with boss meter). To date, there are three Serious Sam games, although the first two could be counted as one since they were both released close together and used the same engine. The very first game was apparently a test run to see how well their game would fair. All of them are enjoyable, but the first game was probably the best of the three.

-The Legacy of Kain series. This little known video game series is an ongoing story of the struggles of the fantasy land of Nosgoth. Starting with Blood Omen, you follow Kain, a newly raised vampire and his uncertainty of what he is and his destiny. Soul Reaver was the sequel where you play as Raziel, Kain's firstborn "son" as he seeks vengeance on his former master for, well, you'd have to watch the introduction. Soul Reaver 2 follows Raziel as he travels through time, first to catch up and kill Kain, and then to unravel his own destiny. Blood Omen 2 deals with the struggles Kain faces after the events of the original Blood Omen (the twist with this game is that the events take place as a result of Soul Reaver 2's ending). Legacy of Kain: Defiance brings us back to the main storyline with Raziel trying to find an escape to his terrible fate and Kain trying to determine Raziel's true purpose and seek out his own, unfinished destiny. Both characters are full fledged anti-heroes, with Raziel doing the wrong things for the right reasons and Kain doing the right things for the wrong reasons. The series has yet to finish, though, and I'm eagerly awaiting Eidos and Crystal Dynamics to complete it. Lately, I've had my doubts, although they did end the final game on a more positive note than all the previous games, so it's not a total loss.

-Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. This game is probably the best H.P. Lovecraft adaptation to date. It's a Survival Horror game that really captures the horror of Lovecraft's works. The game is mainly a retelling of The Shadow Over Innsmouth but also draws from The Shadow Out Of Time and makes references to pretty much all the lesser beings in the Lovecraft Mythos. From Innsmouth natives to Deep Ones to the Flying Polyps to Shoggoths, this game features a slew of Lovecraft-based enemies. Don't play this game in the dark with headphones. I freaked myself out doing that.

-Diablo II. This is probably one of the more addicting games I've played and is fun to play. Released in the summer of 2000, this game can still be found on the shelves of most mainstream game stores which tells you just how popular it is. This is a role-playing game which features you fighting the forces of Hell in an effort to save the land from Diablo, Lord of Terror, and his brothers. The strategies and various of players you can create with this game is extensive and the gameplay is just fun. I'd recommend playing in single player mode, only going to multiplayer with friends and family since random strangers have a tendency to be really annoying.

-Godzilla: Save the Earth. I generally don't like fighting games because they require complex movements that take hours, if not days, for me to master (I still can't do that flying uppercut move in Street Fighter II). But this one is pretty simple and easy to understand. Not only that, but you get to play as pretty much every monster in Godzilla's long, 50 year movie history. Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, Gigan, Megalon, Rodan, Mothra, and most of the others are all there. My hope is to some day gather together a bunch of friends and play this game in a kind of tournament. I just have to acquire the X-Box and the game (probably the only reason I would get a non-PC gaming system). Maybe look into getting a projector for it so we don't have to crowd around a TV.

-Sonic the Hedgehog 3. While the first two were good, the third game was spectacular. I have yet to see anything add up to it in the long Sonic series. (Great news for PC users, Sega Genesis games are all available in emulators for your PC, so you can replay games like Sonic 3 without having to go to a garage sale.)

-Hexen and Hexen II. This game changed the whole concept of FPS being just a series of linear levels where you have to kill monsters and find keys. The first Hexen changed all that by creating a hub system, where you had to visit various level repeatedly in order to move on. This made the game much more fun and made room for much more complex puzzles. Hexen II continued this tradition but in the realm of 3D models. The expansion to Hexen II was probably the best expansion pack to a game ever.

-Aliens vs. Predator 2. While the first AVP for PC was pretty decent, this one blew me away. As a space marine, you really get that creepy feeling you got when you watched Aliens but you have shoot the xenomorphs. As the Predator, you get to be the badass who takes trophies and sees things in infrared. As the Alien, you get to be the creeping thing seen only in the shadows and usually when it's too late. Plus the plot is pretty solid. The expansion pack to this game was pretty well done as well, although it lacked the original's quality overall. Multiplayer for these games is great too. I enjoy playing human vs. Predator games with me as the human trying to out hunt Predators (who are usually cloaked).

-Freedom Force. I enjoyed this campy strategy based game where you play as original superheroes fighting supervillians all in the style of the Silver Age of comics. The sequel was probably pretty good too and added a lot to the game. What's even better is that this game can be modified extensively (AI's can even change if you know Python scripts) and there is a huge group online who has created all the popular Marvel and DC comic book heroes and villains, as well as many of the lessor known ones. There is even a website that has Godzilla models.

Well, that's about the bulk of the list. I don't play as often now because I work 9 hours a day on weekdays and have other responsibilities outside of work, but I do it from time to time. I still enjoy many of these games, even though I've upgraded to Vista, and hope that the current crop of video game developers gets better. Right now, I haven't seen much that interests me. And no, I don't feel like paying money to play a fantasy game like World of Warcraft or Everquest. The investment isn't worth it considering the amount of time I would need to play it.