Relationships in Games That I Actually Cared About

I’ve talked before about the various trends over the past year that I’ve found exciting and one that I’ve been particularly excited about is the maturing of game writing and the increasing complexity and realism of storylines and characters. I like a beat ’em up/hack’n’slash/2D platformers as the next and there are plenty of games that I loved despite their crappy stories. Fun comes in many forms and ultimately it still comes down to gameplay and mechanics for me. That said though, there’s something magical about a story and characters that truly engage you. It’s like being transported to a different world and seeing through someone else’s eyes.

Even more rare in gaming history than those truly inspiring stories is the realistic and nuanced portrayal of relationships between characters. It’s understandably difficult. The limits of technology have often meant that relationships are often reduced to giving gifts or going through stilted lines of conversation to get people to like you. Obviously, that’s not quite how relationships work (at least most of them)! Even if the relationship is somewhat realistic, it’s even more difficult to make it compelling. However, I think the industry has really shown that it’s evolved beyond that now and that it can create realistic relationships between people that you actually care about. And I’m not really talking about romantic relationships here as you’ll see below. So here are my personal top 5 relationships from games I’ve played that got me right in the feels. Yours of course, might be completely different! Of course, I’ve heard about other games that have great relationships like Red Dead Redemption, but obviously I can’t comment since I haven’t played it. Feel free to add your own favourites in the comments below! Also beware that there are minor hinted spoilers – nothing major, but you may want to skip the entry if you don’t want to find anything out about the game. Continue reading

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My favourite games of all time or games you should play before you kick the bucket!

UPDATE: I promised to expand this list to include my top ten favourite games quite a while ago (back when this blog was still brand spanking new), so here’s me finally getting around to doing it! This one is going to be a little more difficult than the last one, because once we’re out of the top 5 I can think of a ridiculous number of games I love for many different reasons and in many different ways, but I’d said I’d do it goddamit, so I will!

I’ll mark the titles of the new additions with the word ‘new’, because as you’ll soon discover I’ve actually replaced one of my previous top 5 games with a new one, so it won’t be as straightforward as simply adding entries 6-10. Let me just say now, it might surprise you which game got forced out of my top 5 and which one replaced it!

As I haven’t done anything like this yet and this is still a fairly new blog, I thought it might be nice to write down a list of my all-time favourite games both to introduce myself a bit more and to recommend a few games to you guys as well. Keep in mind that I’m not necessarily saying these are objectively-speaking the ‘best games ever’ even within their respective genres, so if you think any of them are a load of rubbish, that’s absolutely fine! These are just games that captivated me in some way and brought me immense personal enjoyment. I think whether you like a game or not is mostly a subjective experience. I’m not suggesting that a game can’t be judged only on its technical merit. I’m merely saying that enjoyment and preference, the things that are probably most important to your average gamer simply can’t be quantified in any meaningful way. For instance, I can’t deny that the first Uncharted and LA Noire were technically superb games that made great strides in animation, but they just didn’t have that extra quality that makes a game pop to me. There are lots of people, however, that would probably strongly disagree with my opinion of Uncharted and I completely respect that. There are even some games that I spent a lot of time on, like World of Warcraft, but looking back on, although the game brought me a great deal of immediate pleasure, I can’t say it’s a game that brought me much lasting enjoyment.  I think the best reviews of games that I’ve read are the ones that try to weave those two elements: personal experience and objective judgment, together rather than attempt to ignore or deny the existence of your personal feelings. Although, this piece might be leaning more towards the ‘personal’ side than usual, that’s the kind of style that I’ll be trying to bring my blog and I hope it’s one you enjoy!

Last thing I’ll say on my choice of games is that it was a lot harder than I thought it would be to list only a few of my top games. There are lots of games I really liked, but just didn’t make the final cut. Why didn’t these games make the list? Sometimes, like the games I mentioned above, despite being decent in quality and fairly fun, they simply didn’t fulfill that core need that I have, that all gamers have. You know, that part of you that is only satisfied by playing a really good game that works for you. Clearly that core need is different, whether it’s a desire for an excellent narrative or just a need for escapism and I think it’s what makes you pick this game rather than that one. Of course, there are some I love to bits, but just didn’t quite make the top 5 like the original Fable, or the first Halo, Goldeneye or Unreal Tournament. You can probably see a bit of a trend here, I love RPGs, first-person shooters and and open-world games, although as I’ve mentioned before I’m open to playing anything really.

I’m sticking to the best of the best for me, but I may add to this as I find new games that I think are worthy of ‘the list’ and maybe add on a few more if I get the time. Also, as these are not full reviews of the game, they’re probably less detailed than you might expect if you’ve read any of my other pieces as I really just wanted to write down some of my personal thoughts and feelings on them. If there are any games on there that you haven’t played before, I’d really suggest you give it a shot and see if you can’t get the same kind of pleasure I got out of it.

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Dishonored: Do you really have a choice?

Oh Dishonored, how I misjudged you! At first I thought you were just Deus Ex in Victorian England with slightly better graphics, but I was WRONG! You’re so much more than that! Like Far Cry 3, I found that Dishonored to be the kind of game that grows on you the more you explore and learn about and interact with its world, until you suddenly find yourself completely drawn into it. Dishonored is a first person stealth-action game (or a stealth or action adventure game, whatever you prefer) and was developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It’s evocative visuals, cohesive and fully realised world and intriguing characters are some of what made this one of the memorable games I’ve played in recent times and was what earned it numerous awards. I won’t deny it’s also a flawed game in many ways, but it’s still one of the strongest gaming experiences of 2012.

Dishonored 2013-04-30 00-33-00-65

Look out below!

The story follows Corvo Attano, Royal Protector to the Empress and takes place in the industrial, dirty and rat plague-ridden city of Dunwall, the capital of the Empire of Isles. It’s a city rotting from the inside with power-hungry and corrupt leaders fighting and scheming among themselves to attain ultimate control of the Empire. The real story beings when the Empress is assassinated, her daughter kidnapped and Corvo framed for both crimes. It’s up to him to either restore the delicate power balance or to seek revenge against those who have wronged him.

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50 Subscriber giveaway: Half Life 2! [Closed]

Well, that was quick! Thanks for all the support and encouragement, guys! It’s been much appreciated. You’re all great. 🙂 Also, hello and thank you to the new subscribers for pushing it over the 50 subscriber mark. I hope you’ll stick around and see what else I’ve got in store for you guys! Now, it’s time to get this started!

First of all, I could not praise Half Life 2 enough. It truly is a seminal game of our time. It’s also one of my personal favourites and sits firmly at no. 3 of my favourite games of all time list. Also it’s for the PC, which is arguably my favourite platform as well, so now I’m just  throwing my favourite things at you left, right and centre. For more info on HL2, check out the list here

If you want a chance to win this game, just subscribe to my blog if you’re not already and leave a comment to this post saying ‘I want Half Life 2!’ The only other requirement is that you have Steam. If you don’t have it, just go to their website and download it for free. The giveaway will end noon on Monday (GMT) and I’ll be picking the winner randomly after that. Good luck! 

UPDATE: And the winner is… drumroll please … Toastie!

Congratulations! I’ll be emailing you at the email address you provided to ask for your Steam ID, so watch out for it! For everyone else, better luck next time! Watch out for more giveaways that I’ll be doing in the future. I’ll be looking to give away awesome indie titles as well as AAA titles (when I’ve got the cash to spare), so hopefully there’ll be something to suit everyone!

50 subscriber giveaway!

Yup, I know it may not seem like a huge number to some, but hey I think it’s really exciting and I love all of you guys so I want to give you a little something back for supporting me thus far! I haven’t been blogging very long, but the support from the community and all of you guys has been awesome. I’m currently on 49 subscribers, but I thought I’d go ahead and announce it now anyway. Many of you probably have this, but the gift I got was Half Life 2 for PC. I wanted to pick something from my favourite games list and Half Life 2 is way up there as you can see. If you haven’t played it, you’re seriously missing out and so hopefully I’ll be able to rectify that! I’ll announce more details when I hit 50 subscribers, but essentially you’ll just have to be subscribed or subscribe if you haven’t already, probably leave a comment indicating you want in and have Steam. Anyways, more information will be coming soon!

Realism in games – a step in the wrong direction?

Hello my pretties! First things first, you may have noticed from the title that this post is not going to be on the PS4. I toyed with the idea for a while, but decided that many amazing people have written very informative posts on that already, for instance LadyCroft3. You can check out her post here for an excellent rundown on the big PS4 reveal that happened last week and what it might mean for the future of console gaming. Instead, this week I’m writing on an issue that’s close to my heart – realism in games and the general trend in the games industry of making games that are more and more realistic. When it came out, everyone was gushing about Half Life 2‘s physics engine and the ability it gives you to manipulate objects or affect the environment in ways  that closely mimic real life. With every new innovation in technology, we are brought closer and closer to games that not only look like real life, but actually behaves like it and contains people that seem as solid as you or I. If you aren’t convinced, just take a look at Quantic Dream’s impressive tech demo: 

It’s incredible isn’t it? People love this kind of thing and it’s no wonder that developers are scrambling over themselves to provide it for them.

You might think that being a huge fan of immersive RPGs like the Mass Effect series, I would love realism in my games. I’m not denying that it has its place or that I am eagerly awaiting the day where virtual reality becomes more than a game and becomes almost like a second life. However, I believe that there’s more to games than that, that we can take the medium further and that this obsession with realistic graphics, physics engines and AI and so on will have a negative impact on the industry we love so much.

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