Video games are very important to me, and hopefully for a lot of you too. In this blog I'm going to be talking about games that "changed my gaming life" - as in games that have had some kind of impact on me and either how I view games as a whole, or just something that I've spent a lot of time with and it's something that's special to me.
This list is intentionally in no particular order. Also, there won't be spoilers in the subheadings, because if you haven't played these games I urge you to, and doing it spoiler free is much more fun.
Crash Bandicoot (Playstation Series)
When I was growing up, I had a Playstation (there's an Alternative Universe where I had an N64 and I'd be talking about Mario and Zelda games in this spot). The Crash Bandicoot series was the game I kept going back to as a kid. The series had a multitude of Secrets to obtain, and (at least when I was growing up), some tricky platforming - but it was also fun and engaging. In my opinion, the 2nd game in the series is it's peak, it perfects the formula of the first game, makes the controls a little tighter, and is a tonne of fun.
An honourable mention for this era of my gaming life goes to Spyro 2, which I 100%ed before the disk got scratched beyond repair (thank goodness for steam and not needing to store disk based games anymore).
Knights of the Old Republic
I was introduced to this game by playing the 2nd in the series (The Sith Lords), at a Friend's house. I can't remember when exactly I picked the first one up. It combined my love of Star Wars (I think this was around the time when the 2nd or 3rd prequel film was coming out), with my love of gaming perfectly. This game has, to me, been the best Star Wars story I've ever seen, possibly just because I was the one playing through it and it seems like "mine". The game suffered a few problems taking mechanics very literally from tabletop roleplaying games (this was, IIRC one of the last Bioware games to do that).
Ok I really like Bioware games, and I really like space. I fell in love with the worldbuilding of Mass Effect, the characters and races, and the places you go.I got into the game pretty late in the series (a few months before the release of Mass Effect 3), and after completing Mass Effect I went straight on to Mass Effect 2, which - gameplay and tone wise was quite a shift from the original.
Although I love the characters and worldbuilding from the rest of the series too (there are some really good payoffs in Mass Effect 3), it feels like it was written by some very different people, and so whilst I love this series (and can't wait for the new game that's coming out sooooooooooon) I disagree with a lot of the writing decisions in those games, and will launch into a loud fanboy argument about how out of character Shepard's actions were in some places of those games. I'm sure people who have played the first hour of Mass Effect 2 know exactly what I'm talking about.
Wiki: Mass Effect Wiki
If I didn't play Guild Wars, I might well not be here. Although my first MMORPG was RuneScape, Guild Wars became an obsession. I started editing the GuildWiki on Wikia, and became an admin there a few years later, and I haven't left wikis since.
The plot of the original Guild Wars is quite good, there are a lot of twists and turns, and it truly feels like an epic adventure. The gameplay is also fairly unique, you need to construct a build of 8 skills, utilising synergies and a limited pool of attribute points (you reach the level cap around half way through the game, and much earlier than that in the expansions) in order to defeat tougher and tougher enemies.
Nowadays, when I have time - I'm playing the sequel (Guild Wars 2), and slowly but surely building up my legendary weapon. It's a very different game, but also super fun - and very welcoming to players who don't want to spend a long time playing. It's also free to play (with a paid expansion, but no subscription fees). Check it out here.
This was the first FPS game that I played properly. I remember playing Halo at a friend's house, but it was Half-Life 2 that got me out of just playing RPGs (a trend I was in back then).
This game is beloved on the internet, and I'm sure the wait for the sequel (Half-Life 3) will be over any day now! Naritivly it's a great example of "show, don't tell" - from the opening scene's dystopian view, you don't need to be told that the Combine are the bad guys. The gameplay is solid and there is a wide variety of different encounters across the game's runtime.
Wiki: Half-Life Wiki
I played a lot of HL2 mods after I finished Half Life 2, and for several years afterwards. The one I recommend most often is MINERVA by Adam Foster. A mod with fantastic level design that re-uses areas to great effect. I absolutely recommend that you check this out if you've never played it. As a testament to the mod's abilities, the mod's author was hired by VALVE and worked on (at least) Portal 2. It's also free, so play it.
The other 2 mods I highly recommend were both explorations of narrative in games, you may have heard of them when they were re-released as full games (with improved visuals and audio). They are; The Stanley Parable and Dear Esther.
For information about how to mod Half-Life 2, check the VALVE developer wiki
So that's 5 games (with some bonus mods) that I really enjoyed
Next week, I'm going to be finishing off this series with another 5 games I feel changed my gaming life.
Until then, may you find joy in your favourite game.
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