In one of my first posts just over a year ago, Five Videogames I Love (And a Brief History of My Life as a Gamer), I gave a rundown, believe it or not, of five videogames that I love. Click the link to discover what they were and why I love them.
The thing is that choosing five games wasn’t too easy. I like loads of games for varying reasons. That’s where this post comes in.
I had always planned to do a kind of follow-up to that post, though the intention wasn’t to leave it as long as I have. I’m not exactly an avid gamer. Not anymore. I can go weeks without touching my PS4 and months without playing games on my laptop (mainly because, when it’s on, I’m either writing or doing a set to put on Mixcloud—games don’t get much of a look-in).
Despite that, I do still very much enjoy my games. I’m never too far from my next session on GTA V/Online. I’ve just completed a second play-through of Dead Island: Riptide and loved every minute, just as I loved every minute playing the original Dead Island. Football Manager still gets my attention every so often when I can’t fully concentrate on my writing and I’m still persisting with the 2013 version owing to the game I’ve got going on there.
I think I’ll always be, at the bare minimum, a passive gamer. I enjoy playing videogames and I can’t see that ever changing. They’re a good way of killing time when I just don’t feel like concentrating too much and need some quick and easy entertainment. I say quick, but it’s tough not to end up playing for several hours once I get going, leading to many a late night!
Anyway, without more ado, I’ll get on with a further list of five games that have really floated my boat.
Sid Meier’s Pirates! (2004) (PC)
I don’t know how many times I’ve played this game. I know it’s a lot. Despite that, I still get the urge to play it all the time. It’s so fricking good! It’s essentially a remake of a 1987 game of the same name and furiously addictive.
The basic gist of the game is that you start out as a young swashbuckler whose family has been taken prisoner by an evil Spaniard and the main aim is to find and free them. The best thing about this game, however, is that you don’t actually need to follow the main aim. You can, in fact, do whatever you like. There are treasures to find, infamous pirates to hunt, governors to schmooze, towns to sack, and ships to sink or claim as your own. You’re free to traverse the Caribbean in whichever way you choose.
This game was the inspiration for me choosing to start writing my novel series, The Escapades of William Hart. William Hart himself is based very roughly on the protagonist from the game; physically speaking anyway. That’s how much this game got under my skin.
It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The swordfighting mini-game is notoriously tricky once you move beyond novice level and losing a swordfight can cause you to lose your flagship, which is quite annoying. It’s a little problem in an otherwise fabulous game. If you haven’t played it before then I urge you to do so.
Far Cry Primal (2016) (PS4)
My aim has been to write up a review of this game, so I’ll keep the details minimal in case I do. I can, however, say this with a great deal of passion: this game is absolutely incredible!
I’ve never, to this day, played another Far Cry game. I hear they’re good. This one was always going to catch my attention though, simply because of the fact it was set in the Stone Age. On learning that to be the case, I pre-ordered the game without a moment’s procrastination.
I admit there was a moment of disappointment when it turned out that Far Cry Primal was a first-person game. I’ve always preferred third person games. Dead Island was the only first-person game I’d played up to that point.
It turned out that my disappointment was unfounded. The game swept me away with its story, its scenery, and its aura. The flora and fauna, coupled with the landscape, presented me with arguably the best setting of any game I’ve played. It’s filled with colour, vibrancy, and variety. It’s the right blend of entertaining and challenging.
To the day, it’s the only game on which I’ve achieved the coveted platinum trophy on PlayStation Network. I was determined to make sure that this stunning game was completed to its fullest. Even though I’ve achieved that feat, I still always get that desire to play it again.
Red Dead Redemption/Undead Nightmare (2010) (PS3)
No game has ever pulled on my heartstrings more than RDR, the sequel to Red Dead Revolver. The ending is so upsetting! That wouldn’t have been possible if not for the protagonist; easily one of my favourite leading characters in fiction, never mind just videogames.
Both RDR and Undead Nightmare are set in a fictional early 20th-century southern American frontier land at the back end of the Old West era. You play as cowboy, John Marston, who is assigned the task of taking down the leaders of his former outlaw gang by the newly formed FBI. If he doesn’t comply then it will have ramifications for him and his family.
The story is as gripping as the scenery. From the deserts of southern America and northern Mexico, through swamplands and farms, to forests and towns, there are several places to visit across the game. There are also a plethora of animals to hunt—or be hunted by! The challenges never stop and they’re each as engrossing as the next.
Undead Nightmare is much of the same, except there’s a zombie apocalypse going on. It’s up there alongside Dead Island as the best zombie-themed game I’ve ever played.
Both games combined make for something pretty much flawless. The game draws you in; to a point that you almost find yourself romanticising over that time and place. I do plan to sit down at some point and see if I can’t fashion a synopsis for some kind of cowboy themed story. If not for RDR then I doubt I’d have ever gotten that urge.
RDR2 is out next year and I simply cannot wait. It’ll have to produce something special to be better than the first one, however.
Killer Instinct (1994) (SNES)
Most everybody remembers Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. They’re iconic fighting games and rightly so. Both games and the ones that have followed in the respective series’ have been laden with unforgettable characters and moves. I haven’t met many people who aren’t aware of what a Hadoken is.
As great as those games are, they pale in comparison to Killer Instinct. It’s the best fighting game I’ve ever played. It just seemed like there was so much more to do in this compared to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. There were more playable characters as well.
Choosing a favourite character is difficult. Jago, B.Orchard, TJ Combo, Glacius, Riptor, Sabrewulf, Spinal, and Fulgore were all cool in their own special ways. Having said that, I think my favourite is either Cinder, a genetically mutated man made of fire, or Chief Thunder, a tomahawk-wielding Native American. Both were not only great to fight with but such great characters too with some really cool moves.
The ‘boss’, as in the last person you have to fight to win the game, was a genetically engineered lifeform called Eyedol, a freaky looking, two-headed character, and very hard to beat.
One of the best things about the game was the music. The developers knew it too because they compiled a CD named Killer Cuts with remastered versions of the music from each stage, as well as other bonus tracks. I actually featured one of the tracks from that CD, It’s A Jungle, in a recent Mixcloud session I did (Old Skool Breakbeat Hardcore & DnB Sessions). The music is really good!
Other versions of Killer Instinct have been released since; none of which I’ve actually played. I couldn’t comment on how good they are for that reason. I do know that Cinder was no longer available in Killer Instinct 2 as he was, in-storyline, killed by Glacius. That’ll never do! I’ll just stick with my happy, violent memories of the first game and have done with it I think.
Enter the Matrix (2003) (PS2)
This game wasn’t just brilliant because of the gameplay, graphics, and all other elements that make a game such a joyful experience. It was brilliant for the fact that it filled in so many gaps that were left open by the movies.
Anybody who’s watched The Matrix Trilogy knows that the movies follow the path of Neo aka Thomas Anderson. I think many of us were quite surprised to realise that Enter the Matrix actually follows other people who are merely supporting characters in the movies. Niobe, played by Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Ghost, played by Anthony Wong, on the hovercraft Logos are the protagonists. Sparks is their trusty operator.
The game essentially follows the plot of The Matrix Reloaded, starting shortly before where the movie begins, and you get to see events unfurl from a completely different viewpoint. It’s extremely interesting from that angle alone. I found the game a delight to play. The controls were easy to suss out and it was a good challenge, especially as the game progressed. I often have flashbacks to working my way through the sewers, an airport, and a transformer field at a nuclear plant. It’s a game I’ve never forgotten about. Another good thing is that Niobe and Ghost’s games are marginally different to each other’s. I really liked that touch.
Ghost was my favourite character. Thanks to this game, he’s one of my favourite characters in the entire Matrix series. He was just such a cool guy. Very deep and zen, often quoting philosophers—at one point, even my favourite, Søren Kierkegaard. He delivered all the best lines and I even preferred his game to Niobe’s. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Niobe’s game; it was just that her character wasn’t as relatable for me.
The Path of Neo followed a couple of years later; where you play as Neo from the very beginning of the trilogy right through to its conclusion. That was also a good game though not as good as Enter the Matrix.
I think the saddest thing about the games that accompanied the movies is the fact that they’ll never be reprised. A Matrix game on PS4 would look absolutely incredible. Alas, I just don’t think people care as much about the movies anymore as I do. Damned fools!
There you have it. Five more videogames that rock my world and that you definitely need to play if you get the opportunity. Is there a chance that I’ll list another five games in the future? Statistically, I would say the chances are pretty high…