DavidStrife7's 5 Games to Try #6
5 Genuinely Great Games You Should Try. No Honestly. We Mean It!
You know the drill; I'll list 5 games that I think everyone should try out. Not because I think they are good games and that I know what everyone should be playing, but rather because they are interesting/unique/innovative in some shape or form, and that they might broaden everyone's horizons a bit. Sometimes I pick terrible or annoying games, just to remind everyone what a truly bad game is capable of becoming, and to be a little more forgiving of decently made Video Games in future. They are hard to make after all, I should know; I make them!
Game #1: Silent Hill 2
Those of you that love horror games, if you haven't played any of the Silent Hill series, then open a new tab, go to your favourite shopping website, and order yourself the first 3. The first 3 Silent Hills are the best in the series, with the 4th entry onwards progressively getting worse, most likely as some of the core team members either left or simply lost direction (I'm only guessing at what happened, but I'd bet it was something similar to what happened to Team Ninja's games when the main producer/designer left and lost their identity a little). Whatever the case, it's generally agreed upon that the 2nd game is the best in the series. The first did a brilliant job of setting up the universe, whilst the 3rd nailed combat and gave us a slightly more interesting character, but the 2nd one has a particular charm about it that sets it apart from the others. There were numerous versions released, beginning with the initial PS2 copy, then the Xbox port came a while later, with an added scenario and extra content, the PC version also arrived, and then finally; the new content made its way into the PS2 platinum/best hits copies.
With a gripping story, and what was at the time groundbreaking graphics, Silent Hill 2 managed to nail storytelling, character development, and atmosphere in a time where games were still trying to find their feet with this brand new technology and power that gave them a wider canvas. Fortunately you can still play Silent Hill 2 even if you don't have an original PS2 or Xbox copy. You could get the PC version (which is incredibly rare, as are the other two copies), but you can easily grab the 360 version of both Silent Hill 2 and 3, which are both part of the HD Collection. There's also a PS3 version, but many have complained this version breaks and stutters more than the 360 version (not a port issue, simply that both games transferred poorly to the next gen consoles). There are also minor things in the HD Collection that refrain it from being the same experience as on the PS2/Xbox/PC. The added graphical power for one, means that the draw distance is increased which removes a lot of the fog in the game, meaning that you can see areas of the map that aren't even designed/placed there, simply because on the PS2 the thickness of the fog to mask the draw distance, meant that you weren't supposed to see 'unfinished' areas. Now that the fog has been lifted a little with the Xbox 360 and PS3's greater processing power, this has left the game feeling less moody, and also a little unfinished unfortunately...
Game #2: Zone of the Enders
After Hideo Kojima created the brilliant Metal Gear Solid on the PS1, it was time to bring something to the PS2. Although it was certain that a MGS2 was on the way (there was even a demo included in the first Z.O.E game on the PS2's release), Konami had decided to try their hand at something new, the result; Z.O.E. Konami always stylishly places their own little 'genre' tag at the top of the game titles they made, whereas MGS had “Tactical Espionage Action”, Z.O.E has “high speed robot action”. It's beautiful how eloquently Konami manage to summarise the entirety of both games in the series, in only 4 words. They are both exactly that, incredibly fast paced robot action. The first set a fairly high graphical benchmarks for any PS2 game, let alone the launch titles, but it was the 2nd one with its cel shading brilliance that really gave it shine. The first game's story was mainly told with CGI clips, and some gameplay events played out as well, but the 2nd game had short 2D clips that were animated in an Anime form to tell the story, complimenting the cel-shaded graphical style perfectly.
Both are great games, but Z.O.E 2 gave more gameplay elements and weapons to use, and a more interesting story. Whereas the first was very simple and lighthearted, in terms of being a typical 'save the world' narrative, the 2nd was a lot darker and more mature. For instance, the main character gets shot, and must remain inside his orbital frame (robot) to stay alive. The music in both games is incredible as well, and any fan of Metal Gear Solid will love what Konami has to offer here. Typical Konami syndrome (well, Kojima really...) of incredibly long and cinematic cutscenes, but as with every other Konami/Kojima game, the payoff is worth it. As with Silent Hill, both games are available on PS3/Xbox360 in a HD collection, with a PS Vita version planned as occurred with MGS HD collection.
Game #3: Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis
Back when Theme Park games were still fairly popular, JP:OG came onto the scene. Most Theme Park style ideas had already been done by this point, we'd had the regular theme park, we'd had SimCity, we'd had Theme Hospital, Rollercoaster Tycoon type affairs, the market for park games or sim games was slowly becoming saturated with recurring ideas. Then came JP:OG, breathing new life into the genre with something so cool, that everyone grew excited at the possibilities of the amount of hours they would invest in creating a perfect park; Dinosaurs. Jurassic Park is a cool idea in and of itself, but it came along at a time where Park Sims were still fairly popular, and as I said, just before the ideas began getting stale, it rejuvenated the market. The gameplay was fairly deep yet simple to grasp, and gave you a variety of gameplay scenarios to take part in. Not only could you shoot with a ranger from a helicopter, but you could also pilot the helicopter, drive a jeep and take photos on a dinosaur safari, look through your viewing platforms into the dinosaur enclosures, research and invest in different technologies and search sites for dinosaur dna, and this was all on top of the main task of running the park.
The only let downs were things such as only being able to dig up 3 sites around the globe out of a possible 10 or so, which left a good 7 sites undug, which meant there were dozens of dinosaurs that would not be in your park, unless you started a new game and dug in different places. This was probably a memory issue, as storing all of the different dinosaur models and rendering dozens of them in the same scene would probably cause performance issues, but you could still have a good 3 or 4 dinosaurs from each site, and you could choose 3 if I remember correctly, which meant at least 9 dinosaurs in the park in one game. Dinosaurs would escape, fences would break down, storms would hit the island etc., everything happens as it does in the film, but you can regain control of it where the characters in the film failed. Not exactly an 8/10 game, barely even a 7/10, but it was an interesting idea, and one that was executed well where it could have failed so badly. Simple to pick up and learn, and with the philosophy of simplicity behind it, it created a fun and genuinely interesting scenario to play out.
Game #4: Croc: Legend of the Gobbos
Everyone remembers Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. Not everyone remembers platformers like Croc however. A small little green crocodile, taking in by fuzzy little Gobbos when he was left an orphan. Typical situation of an evil monster wrecking havoc, and our hero needs to stop them. Unlike Spyro and Crash which had 3D movement controls, Croc had 'Tomb Raider' or 'Resident Evil' syndrome, where you needed to push forward to run forward, and then steer yourself with left and right. Tank controls. Not many games have gotten away with this control scheme in the past, Bubsy 3D being the main culprit, but somehow Croc manages to pull it off.
There are moments of frustration in being able to control him properly, but considering how much precise control you have over achieving things like side jumping (can only be described as strafing in the air), this doesn't really warrant major problems. His tail swipe and butt stomp are fairly iconic and particular to his character, and the fuzzy Gobbos add a little charm to the game that wouldn't have come from Croc himself, or any other characters that resembled him in say a small Croc-like village (also think of the fuzzy creatures in Oddworld etc.). Certainly one of the best platformers on the PS1, and only got better when Croc 2 came out. It's a shame we haven't seen another major game since.
Game #5: Gregory Horror Show
Based on a CGI/Anime show of the same name, GHS is Capcom trying to do cutesy horror, instead of grim/realistic horror such as Resident Evil or Dino Crisis. Quite sincerely, I admit that this game is creepy in all sorts of ways. The juxtaposition of the cute, Anime like quality the game has, in comparison to the hideously dark undertones to the entire game, it's a very unique experience in that sense, and has not been emulated since in the same manner. Fairly difficult to get a hold of at one point in time (websites would list it as high as £20 years after the PS2 had become last-gen), but for whatever reasons has become fairly easy to nab for £5 online used. As the main character, you are staying in Gregory's hotel. You discover a troubled and creepy neighbour to your Hotel Room, who discloses dark and disturbing information of the Hotel to you.
You eventually meet Death, who tells you to go and collect the souls of your fellow Hotel guests, in order to ensure your safety and escape. Gregory remains polite and indifferent the entire time throughout the game, which only gives him an even creepier vibe to the entire experience, as if he knows what he's going to do with you, and you know it yourself, but he neither tells you nor knows that you know. It truly is frightening if you're old enough to read between the lines, for children, I doubt this will be more than a cute horror game that might give them a few chills, or jump a few times, but it's more to do with tension that the soul destroying undertones that more mature players will notice and discern for themselves. A game with no combat, the souls must be acquired through means of stealth, and as more guests come to stay in the Hotel, each of their daily routines must be learned so that you can find a 'weak spot' in terms of their routine that they leave themselves open, and plan your escape to hide and deliver the soul to death. As you collect more souls, it becomes harder to avoid every Hotel Guest, and if they catch you, well... I really do suggest that you play this game, as it is quite possibly Capcom's greatest achievement within the horror genre, surprising since their flagship series is Resident Evil, and Dino Crisis was equally as important (before 3 threw Dinosaur Zombies in space and ruined it all). Quite easily one of the top 50 games of the PS2 era, for some; the top 20.
Indie Game Developer, Machinimist, Musician and Writer.
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