Every gamer probably has a short list of games that left an indelible impression on them and makes them remember why they enjoy this hobby so much. These games have provided many good memories that wont soon be forgotten. Certain games can change your view of gaming and enlighten you to the possibilities of the medium. No matter how many games you play afterwards, these select few delivered such a memorable experience that few games could ever hope to match it. They can serve as a reminder on why we fight to save gaming from destruction.
Here are a couple of the games I fondly remember:
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater
This was my first experience with the MGS series and left such an impression that I doubt future games in the series could ever quite match. I still vividly remember little details about that game more accurately than large aspects of many games I have recently played. I recall that strange bellowing sound from the jungle that could be heard every now and then as if I had played the game recently when I haven’t actually played it in years. That James Bond imitating theme is still stuck in my head and can bring me right back to the experience upon hearing it whereas most game soundtracks fade into oblivion soon after first hearing them. The music was silly and exquisite.
There were many memorable moments accumulated while sneaking around the jungle silently cutting the throats of enemies and eating snakes when trying to stay undetected, but one part of the game stands out: the sniper-vs-sniper mission where the player is stalking, and absolutely being stalked by, a master marksman alone in the woods.
The thrill I felt when I caught a glimpse of the old man’s rifle glinting in the sun or the dread that old bastard could inspire after long periods of silence, knowing his scope could be trained on my head or he could be sneaking right up behind me, were rare levels of emotion for a game to conjure. That level generated a nervous glee during slow crawls through the woods looking for any sign of the presence of your adversary while always looking over your shoulder.
Disappointingly, Snake Eater included a female equality fantasy character that destroyed the tone during certain segments. A cutscene which depicts Snake, the super-soldier agent single-handedly saving the world, desperately trying to defeat his female mentor in hand-to-hand combat but failing miserably and ultimately getting his ass kicked by a superior female fighter, is the type of stupidity that shouldn’t be mandatory.
Despite the equality absurdity, this game will forever be remembered as one of the few that provided such an enthralling experience that it stands out among most games of its time.
Kingpin: Life Of Crime
1998/99 was an exciting time for PC gaming. Most gamers would probably choose the groundbreaking Half-Life, which was released shortly before Kingpin, as the game they remember most from this period but there was a game that stuck with me even more. Kingpin was unlike any game I had ever played. I vaguely remember having to use trickery to even get my hands on a copy. Before being able to play I had to consider using a “safe” version which included no blood or profanity.
The graphic violence was brutal and completely over-the-top and the characters cursed every other word. This game had more utterances of the word “fuck” that all Tarantino movies combined. I heard “die you rat fuck!” so many times that it was permanently branded onto my brain.
While these aspects were slightly amusing at the time, the game was so much deeper. The level of violence wasn’t just defined by chucks of flesh flying when you shot someone, you could actually target specific body parts and see the damage you inflicted as injured enemies left blood trails. Not only could you cuss at someone, players were allowed to interact with NPCs in a manner that dictated differing outcomes.
The dialogue options, although simply a choice between “positive or “negative”, added an extra element to the gameplay. It frequently became an act of simply shouting insults at random shady people until they were sufficiently pissed off enough to attack you, but it was a welcome gameplay mechanic that was rare for shooters of the time. It was nice to know you could actually talk to NPCs and I still smile when thinking about walking up to hookers and calmly but bluntly saying “hey, you fuckin want some of this?”.
The single player campaign was captivating and online play was just as good. The action was well paced and the maps and game modes provided some truly great matches. That sweet sound of money that could be heard when taking cash from corpses or planting money, that was stolen from an enemy team, into your safe was delightful.
Kingpin created a mood that was unique. Everything from the music, the atmospheric graphics, the thick character models, the weapons which included a Tommy Gun and the best shotgun I have even seen in a game, all combined to form a distinctive identity that was more than the sum of its parts.
SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle
SWAT 3 could be described as Rainbow Six with police. When most shooters back then and even today cast the player as a unstoppable force capable of destroying entire armies by himself, SWAT 3 was based on authenticity—one well-placed shot could end your life instantly. This was not the type of shooter where players could expect to rack up body counts in the hundreds.
In fact, players were discouraged from killing anyone. A unique aspect of SWAT was its emphasis on not shooting people. Players were expected to behave like actual police by arresting suspects instead of shooting on sight (despite what Black Lives Matter protesters may claim). You were even deducted points from your final score for killing armed suspects and allowing a single civilian to be killed meant a massive score deduction if not outright mission failure.
This game provided a level of challenge that was immensely refreshing. The tense gameplay was frequently exhilarating. Missions were difficult and successful completion provided a satisfying sense of accomplishment. Tactically moving through a TV station besieged by hostage-taking gunmen until all suspects were arrested and civilians safe was a sublime experience.
Another thing I loved about SWAT was its wonderful unpredictability. Suspects and civilians were randomly placed each time a mission was started. Players were allowed to choose their method of entry: place an explosive charge on the front entrance and toss in stun grenades or sneak around the back and silently pick the lock, its up to you. Despite how well you planned out the operation, players could never be certain where the suspects would be. This meant that every playthrough of a mission was equally tense, not knowing if anyone was behind that next corner.
The atmosphere this game created was superb. It provided a real challenge and dealt harsh penalties for mistakes.
These are a couple of the games that have left an enduring legacy that reminds me how great gaming can be and how much of a shame it would be to allow it to be destroyed.
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