So we are now at the final stretch. During these times we see 2 console generations, the first being stretched out to about almost 10 years due to many factors including the recession, the second being relatively under-powered compared to the jump from the 6th to the 7th generation of consoles. This is also the time of the “indie” not only for software, but also for hardware. The 2 giants, Sony and Microsoft, were trading blows and were racing for the top spot, while Nintendo introduced innovation in the form of motion controls and took the world by storm. Today for the last time we will go over 3 games that I played and lost countless hours to, see how they were made, and what made them special. So without further ado, here are my 3 games:
(Quantic Dream) 1 Player – 2010
Heavy Rain is an interactive drama action-adventure game for the PlayStation 3 that is pretty much a film noir thriller. The player interacts with the game via actions highlighted on the screen related to motions on the controller, and sometimes performing a series of quick time events. All of your choices in the game will have consequences and will affect the ending to your story. It was a successful game, winning multiple Game of the Year awards and sold over 3 million copies. It is slated to be re-released as a remaster for the PlayStation 4 in March 2016.
The game was first announced at E3 2006 as a tech demo and was originally for the PC. The director David Cage wanted to create a message to players to see how far they were willing to save someone they love. As he wanted to tell a personal story, he took inspiration from having 2 sons and his fatherly love, and based the theme around that. It was important to David that the game wasn’t a free roaming city because he didn’t want the flow of the story to be hard to control. The city that the game was based on was Philadelphia due to him liking M. Night Shyamalan movies which are situated there. Another interesting thing was that he wanted people to play the game just once “because that’s life.” The reason was he wanted the experience to be unique for everyone.
With my countless hours playing this game, it really felt like I was playing a movie that I took part in. I’m not going to spoil the game for you because I really do think that everyone needs to play this gem of our generation. It’s something unique and I feel that it really pushes the boundaries of what games can be: an interactive movie. I cannot recommend this game enough, and once it re-releases on the PS4, I will be picking up a copy.
(Crytek) 1 Player – 2007
Crysis is a first-person shooter for the PC that received ports for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 later in it’s life. It is the first game of a trilogy and a separate game was made that was from a different narrative perspective making it 4 games in total. Crysis was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews and was considered a milestone in graphical design and as the game required high end hardware for all the bells and whistles turned on (maybe beyond that was available during it’s release). The game is based in a future where a ancient alien-made structure was found in the Philippines and you play in the role of a US Army Delta Force soldier named Nomad. You use a “Nanosuit” which basically gives the player super human powers.
Crysis used the successor to Far Cry’s CryEngine aptly named “CryEngine 2” which was among the first to use DirectX 10, an API created by Microsoft introduced by Windows Vista. The game was often used as a benchmark in computer tests, even creating a meme where reviewers and gamers would ask “can it run Crysis?” But even that didn’t help it with sales, as the Developer’s lead Cevat Yerli saying that the 3 games have just about broken even in which he believes that the series’ popularity (or lack thereof) may have been a factor. Nonetheless, the game’s popularity among PC gamers was enough to allow the company to expand to multiple studios.
It was the year 2008 and while I had a PS3 with it’s cutting edge Cell Processor, I heard the rumblings of a game that basically put computers to it’s knee’s. When I first booted the game, my jaw dropped as the gorgeous visual rendered in front me. I didn’t care about the story; I just played the game as a sandbox and reveled in the game’s real-time physics simulations. I didn’t have much of a computer at the time, but being able to run it on low was enough for me to feel like I was already experiencing 8th-gen level graphics. Today, the game doesn’t hold up as well due to the industry catching up to that level of detail, but during the games hay day, it was something I will never forget.
Shadow of the Colossus
(Team Ico) 1 Player – 2005
Shadow of the Colossus is an action-adventure game released originally for the PS2 and received a re-release for the PS3. The game is considered a spiritual successor to another game by the same studio called Ico. The storyline focuses on a young man who enters a forbidden land and must travel across a vast world on horseback and defeat 16 massive bosses called “colossi”. Shadow of the Colossus is cited as an influention title and often regarded as an example of video game art due to it’s minimalist landscapes, immersive gameplay, and emotional journey. It’s commercial reception was positive, with sales of 140,000 copies in it’s first week in Japan, reaching number one in the charts.
With a team of 35 people, the game began development in 2002. Lead designer Fumito Ueda and producer Kenji Kaido held their team to a high standard throughout production. Only 2 out of 500 artists met the lead designers criteria. The programmers were tasked to have the colossi mimic realistic physics in conjunction with the protagonists movements climbing the colossi. They also wanted the game to have a unique presentation in that the game will only feature colossi, each with their own behavior patterns, and could only be approached one at a time. It is thought by Ueda that because the programmers only focused on the colossi, it ensured that the quality would be as high as possible. All elements of the game were used to achieve an atmosphere of a “lonely hero” which Ueda considered important in the development.
The version that I had was the PS3 version and I made sure to turn on stereoscopic 3D whenever I played. The sheer size of each enemy (colossi) is only realized in 3D. The quietness and serenity between fights is one that really contrasts the dynamics of the game. The controls are unlike your average adventure game as every aspect of the players movement is governed by a meter that represents the amount of time you have left to be performing that action. For example, you have a grip meter when climbing a colossi, as well as a “swing” meter for how big of a swing you take when stabbing the colossi. With a perfect mix of simulation and fantasy, this game is an absolute treat to play (coming from a simulator buff) and is regarded as one of my favorite games of all time. I cannot recommend this game enough, and I am proud to present this game as my last.
So with the advent of VR, were are now at the cusp of a brand new era in gaming. A few have also predicted the fall of consoles where games will be streamed to your TV as opposed to having the rendering done locally. With mobile devices having a much bigger fan base, you now have companies changing their focus to cash in on the casual market. For me, I believe there will always be a market for consoles and that a company will always come to fill that need. It’s been a pleasure taking this journey with you through the gaming years and I hope you’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
Thank you for reading, and keep playing those awesome games.