Some people deride video games as some juvenile experience where all you do is murder, or shoot, or something equally disturbing if done in real life. I can understand if they’ve only seen/played those games, but there are so many more titles out there that can be genuinely fun, interesting and engaging for other reasons. Here are a few of my favourite games.
We start with a doozy of a game from Valve, the universally-accepted-as-brilliant Portal. I’m going to include the sequel – imaginatively named Portal 2 – in this item too, because they’re both fantastic. In essence, your character wakes up in a near-bare room with no idea what’s happening, a strange computer narrator starts giving you instructions and guiding you through puzzles – rooms with obstacles that prevent you easily reaching the exit. Soon you’re given the Portal gun, a strange device which can create a linked pair of portals on two surfaces which you, the player, or any objects can pass through. In essence, it’s a personal teleporter. As you progress through increasingly complex rooms the computer that’s observing you becomes increasingly unhinged and starts throwing insults constantly, which gives this game some of the funniest dialogue you’ll ever hear.
At times challenging, but always hilarious, the Portal games are a modern classic. You just have to play them.
The first game from point-and-click adventure game – and more recently, Kickstarter – legend Tim Schafer‘s Double Fine Productions, released 2005 and is now available on just about every platform. The game takes place in a summer camp for psychic children, where they can develop their psychic abilities in the hope of one day joining the Psychonauts. You control Raz, a boy who snuck in to the camp against his parents wishes, and you end up unravelling one of the strangest mysteries ever. You’re able to go inside peoples minds and explore a world based on their personality – sometimes to find out information, sometimes to “fix” problems so that person can help you in the real world. It’s a platformer/action-adventure with a perfect amount of wit and charm in it’s zany goings-on, and it’s absolutely one of my favourite games to play through.
I recommend you view the Zero Punctuation review, which sums it up brilliantly.
There had to be one shooter in here, and for me it’s Halo. I understand others distaste for the game, highlighting how repetitive it is, how basic as compared to a game like Call of Duty it is, but I was young when the first Halo rolled around, and it’s the game that made me buy an Xbox and sort of renewed my love of games. I love the storyline as much as anything; Bungie were story tellers, Halo 2 alone contains over 2 hours of cinematics which is insane. In between all that repetitive run-and-gunning there’s a feature length movie. If you love good SciFi, Halo might have something for you.
Besides the main story arc with the Master Chief, several other games have been released under the Halo brand: Halo Wars is a real-time strategy ala Command and Conquer, which lets you controls fleets of vehicles and troops to repel the enemy – it’s not bad; Halo: ODST was originally an expansion for Halo 3, and has a gum-shoe detective feel to it – as one of a team of five ODST troops who dropped in to New Mombasa (the city destroyed at the beginning of Halo 2) you search the city trying to regroup with your team mates; Halo Reach is a prequel to all the games and tells the tale of a group of Spartan soldiers and their last stand to defend the planet Reach – a large human colony – excellent through and through. Recently of course the game returned to its roots under new management from 343 Industries – and what a surprise, Halo 4 is actually pretty damn good.
Trailer for the first game is below, because it’s excellent (and Halo CE: Anniversary means you can play it on 360 with pretty graphics).
Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse
Co-founded by one of the Bungie co-founders, Wideload Games’ first output was Stubbs the Zombie, based on the Halo 1 engine and set in a futuristic Jetsons-style American town in the 50’s. You control a zombie awoken at the towns opening ceremony, but in your life you were a salesman who found love – though unfortunately, your love’s father happened to own a shotgun. Now you’re back and searching for that lost sweetheart. This game is just so much fun – you can obviously eat brains which is great enough, but it’s so much better. Eating brains changes people in to zombies, whom you can then command and control, sending them in to battle ahead of you to weaken the humans. You also have other weapons: Stubbs can pull out a vital organ and throw it as a grenade, or detach his head and bowl it at the enemy, or even remove his arm and have it scuttle up to a human so he can possess them. It’s sweet, funny and downright charming, I love this game despite it’s many flaws, and you really should play it (available on all major platforms).
Some gameplay from the first level, and the trailer are embedded below.
That’s all folks! Definetely check these games out if you haven’t already, they’re awesome.