Video games are an truly unique artistic medium. They have the power to give gamers incredible experiences that up until now have not been possible in other art forms. They offer a hugely wide array of settings, from massive universes to steampunk alternate realities, and a diverse range of stories that allow the player to live through the game instead of merely watching passively. Some games, not all but some, can bring you into a rich and wonderful world, where the real world around you melts away. They can immerse you in a life and story that other mediums just can’t do the same level. So for lack of anything better to write about this week I though I’d share some of my favorite games. I haven’t selected these games because they would score a ten on anyone’s review site or because they’re the best in their genres. Instead I picked these games because I think they offer really different and unique experiences and should definitely be checked out.
Now you may have noticed that I tossed around the word “experiences” a lot up there. There are only a few games I could name that in my opinion can truly be called an experience, the best of the best. Dawn of War II (and all it’s expansions) is high on that list. The biggest reason for why I found it so compelling was because it is the only RTS (real time strategy) I can think of that brings the player so close to it’s characters. Part of the reason for this is because in stead of having massive armies to throw at the enemy the player has only a few squads, lead by the game’s interesting, unique and jaw droppingly well voice acted characters. When one of them goes down, you can’t just train another like in many other RTS games. It makes you try your best to get them all home safe and brings you that much closer to them. The game does a great job of making the player feel like they are in command of only a handful of men against thousands. Sometimes you feel quite alone and isolated, far from support with enemies all around.
The game’s sound design is some of the best I’ve ever seen in gaming. Actually no it is, in fact, the best I have ever seen in any video game, ever. I can’t stress it enough, the game sounds amazing. If you watched the video above you can probably see that the voice acting is good but it’s not just the acting. A game’s sound can mean the difference between just playing through a sequence and being completely immersed in it and THQ hit the nail on the head…with Mjolnir. The game’s plot and gameplay are good by video game standards but it really is the deep atmosphere and wonderfully characterized, incredibly well acted characters that give the player that relentless insomnia that so few games seem to these days.
Impossible creatures is a fantastic game. It’s an RTS where the player can combine animals together to create their own personal army of oddities. Each of the animals you combine together imparts its own traits on traits onto the creation depending on how the player designs it. For example the player could combine a wolf and a hawk together and take the talons and wings of the hawk and the head of the wolf, imparting a savage bite and pack instincts to a flying beast. There are hundreds of combinations and as you might imagine you can get pretty creative. Each animal bringing something unique and allowing the player to specifically tailor their army to what they’re facing. Pro tip: combine everything in your army with lobsters. They allow the creature to heal on it’s own and do crushing damage to enemy buildings, they’re massively over powered. The story isn’t the most compelling plot I’ve ever heard and it’s full of cliches but I still found it quite good and had fun playing through the single player. But if the single player doesn’t strike your fancy you can have a lot of fun just seeing what interesting combinations you can make with the creature creator. One has to wonder though what would happen to our biosphere if this kind of combat ever existed. There would be Porcu-whales and Lobsta-wolves everywhere. Our ecosystem would never recover… Maybe I’m thinking too hard about this. Moving on!
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, Warhammer Online, is a WoW clone. I can’t argue with you it does follow the same basic formula as Blizzard’s behemoth. But I do think that Warhammer differs from WoW in a few ways that make the game interesting and unique. Firstly the game is entirely PVP (player versus player) focused instead of being PVE/raid (player versus environment) focused. Each new realm you enter is in a pitched battle with the realm opposite it and how well your kingdom does in that battle does have an effect on the PVE throughout the realm. A small effect, but an effect. The game substitutes raid for siege battles. Players can battle on the walls of castles and fortresses that can be really quite big in some cases. They can mount and use a variety of siege weapons to batter down the gates or bombard the castle from a far and its incredibly satisfying to land a cannon shot in the middle of an attacking force, scattering them. Each class also has a few abilities to help defend or attack in sieges. A tank class for example might have the ability to block boiling oil from falling on their fellows. This really makes each player feel like the have a useful role in the battle.
Secondly the game has a lot of diverse classes. In theory each race has four classes that are unique to them, amounting to twenty-four classes. In practicality each class on one side of the conflict has a mirrored class on the other side. Their core mechanics will be the same but their look and play style will be slightly different. For example the Warrior Priest of The Empire is mirrored with the Disciple Of Kaine of the Dark Elves. They both heal allies and build their healing power through combat but the Warrior Priest is built for armour and the Disciple of Kaine is built for damage. There are twelve pairings and I won’t go into them all here, there are just too many and their differences too diverse (leave a comment below if you’d like me to explain the classes further in my next post). But they’re all really cool and they allow the player to pick a class that specifically tailors to their play style.
Well would you look at that. This post is getting kinda long and I’ve only talked about three games. I wanted to get through about five and yes, I realize two of them are Warhammer games. What can I say? Warhammer games are good. Anyway I guess I’ll wrap things up here and put the rest into another post a week or two down the road. I urge everyone to try different kinds of games and give everything a try, even if you aren’t used to games of that genre. There are some very cool game concepts out there that can shift your reality and allow you to experience a whole new world, a new universe. Thanks for reading!