My Favourite Game Of All Time
My favourite game of all time? Now there’s a tough question!
As most of us gamers know, there are just so many great titles out there - how could you possibly choose just one? What makes a great game to begin with, in any case? Then again, the biggest question of all would have to be: what, exactly, is it that pushes a game from being ‘great’ to being a ‘classic’?
Is it the shelf life? The fact that you can just keep coming back to that great title, year after year, and still be just as engrossed in it as the day you bought it? What about a lasting first-impression, those first 5 minutes where you say “this game is just unreal”, and get a buzz that you’ll always remember? The sound, the visual effects, or just the gameplay itself, the feeling that you just don’t want to stop playing it…
For me, personally, a great game’s not all about the glitz and glamour. Great graphics are all well and good, and a rocking score and well timed sound effects kick ass, but me? ‘Classic’ does mean shelf life. I want to be able to come back to a game over and over again and not care that it can’t take advantage of the latest and greatest hardware. Hardware shouldn’t matter.
Genre might, though. Each of us has our own favourites in this regard. For example, I really love a feeling of freedom within a game; I want the world to be my sandbox, to make my mark on it. I guess that’s why I like RTS – it gives me that freedom, if only to a certain degree. Then again, there’s nothing better than a great FPS online. I love the rush you get when play; the confusion, the sounds, the adrenaline and the satisfaction you get from pitting your skills against a worthy adversary and coming out victorious.
Other genres I’m less taken with. MMORPG’s for one. Mind you, I’ve found myself trying a few MMORPG games in the last 3 or so months and, from a shelf life point of view anyway, I can see why people love these games: you basically have a never-ending world that you can keep on playing in. What more could a gamer want? There’s nothing worse than playing a game you love to the end and then BANG. Game over. MMORPGs never leave you with that feeling.
I’ve come back to shelf life, it seems. I guess I really do judge a game on longevity. I look for a game that never leaves me, that I really become attached to and keep coming back to. I remember in my early days games like XCOM, Command & Conquer (including Red Alert), Starcraft, Total Annihilation took up most of my gaming hours. Come to think of it, if you want to talk about hours of gameplay, what about Dune 2, or the Diablo games? I can’t be the only one who gave up hundreds of hours to these titles.
A little further down the line, I moved into FPS, with the classics: Doom (1, 2 & 3), the Battlefield series and the granddaddy of them all, Wolfenstien. In the later years came Crysis (oh the graphics!), and, before that, Far Cry. Speaking of great FPS’, what about STALKER? There’s a title that offers a lot for the gamer, with great graphics and a shelf life that’ll probably last at least as long as the exclusion zone it’s set in.
Call of Duty 4 - those first 5 minutes in COD4 were just priceless. The graphics, the sound, the confusion of battle… you actually felt like you were there. I only have a few hours in the game, but, damn, those hours were fantastic! But Medal of Honour, on the Playstation 2, trumps even that - I still can’t get the beach landing chapter out of my head. It was just breathtaking – insane. You really felt like you were on the battlefield, and that level of immersion makes it a classic in my mind.
Talking about confusion on the battlefield: what about Rome: Total War? Now that has to be a classic RTS. I just love every aspect of that game, from setting to sound design and everything in between. The Total War series really did lift the bar for a whole generation of RTS games, and it’s sure to go down as a massive stepping stone for the genre, similar to the way that Crysis lifted the bar for FPS.
My first MMORPG was EVE; visually stunning is perhaps the best way to describe it. EVE’s the game really changed my way of thinking about MMORPGs - until that point, always been about fantasy elves in my mind. It wasn’t just the visuals though, that got me: the complex trading setup, the player dynamics, the sheer scale of it all… it’s never-ending.
I haven’t really talked much about story yet, have I? For great storylines, you can’t get much better than the last few Grand Theft Auto games. I know I played the hell out most of them - just fantastic! Max Payne is another great game with an even better storyline (pity we can’t say that much for the movie). Forged Alliance has a fantastic storyline as well and, with Cossacks, make two great little story-driven RTS games.
I think it’s very easy to say that the games of today are much better than the games of ten or more years ago. A lot’s changed since then, and modern producers are able to build from the shoulders of the giants that came before them. But, to me, most games these days come in just two basic packages: great bling (graphics, sound, etc) and MMORPG. Neither flavour on its own has a great deal of replay value to me, and it’s hard to find a game with a mixture of both that I like. Sure, there are gems that’ll keep me coming back for two or three years - some I’ve mentioned, like STALKER and Rome: Total War, and some I’ve not (Fallout 3, Supreme Commander and Sins of a Solar Empire, to name just three) -, but most games these days are just blips on the radar. Here today, forgotten tomorrow.
I think, in the gaming community, we tend to find a game that we really love and stick to it through thick and thin. But it’s a matter of finding that one game, that one game we love and play the butt off.
I still really haven’t answered the question now have I? My favourite game of all time. Hmmm. Well I don’t want to now. There are so many great games out there, and so many that I haven’t mentioned. I can’t pick just one.
Wait, what’s that? Editor says she’ll frag me and do unspeakable things to what little remains if I don’t choose?
Well, ok, then. No need to get pushy. Here it is: Dune 2.
Developed by Westwood Studios and published in 1992, we can look back on it now as being the game that started RTS, really, as we know it today. That alone would make it a classic. But, when it comes right down to it, Dune 2 is what started my craze for PC games – well, for games in general – and that, at the risk of sounding trite, is what makes it truly special. Here’s to another 17 years!