Okay, so I’ve done my hate campaign. But we all know that really I do love playing games, so to balance the scales, here’s my top eight things that make me go giddy, weak at the knees and my heart skip a beat.
Exploring New Worlds
Thanks to many hours spent playing games, I’ve been into space (in your face Buzz Aldrin), landed on alien planets and explored Egyptian ruins. I’ve walked through cobbled streets of pseudo-Medieval towns and villages in the likes of Oblivion and flown on the backs of dragons. I can’t even drive, but I’ve driven through the streets of London, Tokyo and New York. And all from the comfort of my sofa.
Being in the Zone
The best gaming moments happen when you’ve reached that special place. You’re feeling relaxed and confident, your heart is racing at just the right speed and it feels like nothing can touch you. If you could jack into a game, this is what it would be like. You’re raining down vengeance with perfect head shots and this is the best run you’ve ever had on Ikaruga. You’re in the zone and all those gaming hours are finally paying off.
Sometimes games devs get it so right and make you smile because somehow they knew what you would do and pre-empted you. The early Tomb Raider games were good at set pieces. I’m thinking of "the hand of Midas" and the mirror image mummy moments. And more recently, the remote control, giant dinosaur in Bulletstorm – I mean, that’s a geek dream come true, right there.
Sorry Todd, but when an MMO works well, there’s nothing quite like it. City of Heroes was one of those near perfect games for me. It indulged my love of comics and games in one neat little package, but it was the community that really made me come back for more. There’s nothing like standing in a city populated by supes and watching them zip around in bizarre and varied ways.
Whether it’s supes just hanging, having costume competitions or grouping for the next mission, the community is all. A good MMO makes you feel part of another world with a bunch of readymade friends. For the price of a cinema ticket you get a month of perpetual fun.
There’s nothing like scrolling through 20 different noses and sets of eyes to really make my day. If it’s an RPG, I want good character creation and that means endless hair styles and the chance to tweak the shape of my eyes. I can sit for a good hour and marvel at the combinations, before I’m even ready to go into the game. Don’t rush me when I’m sculpting my character, after all, I’m going to be looking at their backside for a good 30 hours of my life.
The cut scene is a much maligned thing and I think we’ve got Hideo Kojima to blame for that. Judicious use of cut scenes gives the player time to sit back, relax, let the pad slip from their hand and admire the graphics. It gives the dev team a chance to show off their pretty characters, lighting effects and cinematography, while hopefully moving the story along, so it’s a win-win. Final Fantasy has to be the king of the cut scene, as is the Metal Gear series (despite gross overuse, they looked very pretty), but more recently, the likes of Red Dead Redemption and Assassin’s Creed bring character, not just pretty pixels to the table.
I live in the UK, where gun ownership isn’t par for the course, unless you’re a drug dealer or live on a country estate and have pheasants to shoot. I have no urge to own or shoot a real gun, but will spend hours trying to unlock that mystery weapon that looks like the mofo weapon to end all mofo weapons. When it comes to games, big guns are cool. They make things go phooom and eviscerate the enemy.
Getting to Kick Serious Arse and Save the World
Most played: Call of Duty: Black Ops
Most Wanted: Hunted: The Demon’s Forge