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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Top 5 Favourite Characters of All Time

Characters can often make or break the game. In the same way that I find it baffling when devs say that story doesn’t matter, I find it hard to wrap my idea that some people don’t think characters matter, because for me at least, they’re almost always one of the most important elements in any game. Whether your character is well-developed and full of personality like Geralt of Rivia or a vessel in which to place yourself like Gordon Freeman from the Half Life series or a little of both, one thing’s for sure – who they are matters. It’s the person whose eyes you’ll be seeing through (for first person povs) or whose perspective you’ll be viewing the world through (for third person) and personally, there’s nothing worse than an irritating or lacklustre main character. I don’t think that simply because the character doesn’t talk or the game doesn’t go into detail about their past, that automatically means the character’s uninteresting. Gordon Freeman might a silent protagonist, but rather than being boring he’s actually the more mysterious for it. You gain snippets of insight into who he is from how his long-time friends and acquaintances interact with him and what they say about him. Also, being able to put yourself in his shoes makes the game all the more immersive.

The same can be said for all the other characters in a game. A game with mediocre gameplay can be livened up with some interesting characters, whereas an otherwise excellent game with dull generic characters won’t really stick with me. Of course, I don’t mean to say that character development matters for every game, but even games like DotA 2 can be made better with interesting looking characters. So, here’s a list of my personal top 5 favourite characters of all time. These are characters that were invaluable in making the game a memorable experience in some way.

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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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Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC – The Final Piece

Wow. There are so many things I could say about Bioware’s last piece of DLC for the much-loved Mass Effect trilogy, but I’ll try to just tell you why I think this is for me the best DLC out of the Mass Effect franchise and possibly even the best story arc in the whole series (not from a technical standpoint, but because… well you’ll see). Also, anyone who’s played this series will understand why this DLC in particular is so personal and there are many things that I feel you just have to experience for yourself. It’s truly one big farewell party, a way to hang out with the friends you’ve made over the years and it gives Shepard the rare chance to let his or her (metaphorical) hair down and just enjoy their company with no Reapers to worry about in the immediate. This is not going to be a long winding review about its merits. Instead think of this more as a recommendation. I would basically suggest anyone who’s a Mass Effect fan buy this if they can, because I absolutely thought it was worth every penny. However, if you’re one of the people who won’t be happy unless Bioware changes the ending, then I’m sorry to say you probably won’t be appeased by this, so in that case, it’s up to you to decide whether you feel this is worth playing. I wasn’t a fan of the ending, but it didn’t ruin the whole experience for me and the Extended Cut DLC pretty much addressed my main issues with it and left me at a place where I was fine with it, so for me this was truly the icing on the cake, something that will leave me glowing for a long long time. That’s the last I’ll say about the ending, because I don’t want this post to be about that at all. That’s not what ‘Citadel’ is about. It’s for the people who still love the series and who want to come back for more. Yet, it still felt like a real finale, a true ending, even if it wasn’t the last mission.

The trailer:

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