Merry Listmas everyone! That’s right the most list-tacular blogging holiday is back this year, and it all starts today!
Just like last year, this Listmas season United We Game and Murf Versus are challenging our fellow bloggers to put together lists of any and every sort! Your favorite games, least favorite foods, the top 5 dog breeds that resemble other animals (if you so desire)! From now until the 31st, list to your hearts content and tag it with #Listmas2014 in the title! We’ll be looking for those lists to add to our master Listmas List, which will link back to everyone else’s lists and will be updated at least weekly depending on how many lists we find (up to 5 per blog).
December 31st will be Relistmas Day! On that most list-tastic of days, the full and final Listmas List will be available for all to see and enjoy, and everyone who published their own lists is encouraged to relist their own lists for those who might have missed them the first time.
There’s only 17 more days until Relistmas Day now, so what are you waiting for? Let’s get listing!
I’ve never been happier to be wrong about a game. Never.
I was all set and ready to write-off Destiny as a game I wasn’t going to like. Aside from its universe and setting, it seemed like most everything else coming out about the game was giving me reason to balk. Borderlands-style open world? MMO mechanics? “Deadlier” multiplayer? It was sounding like a mash-up of several kinds of gameplay I personally dislike; twitch-shooter meets pointless wandering, meets busywork and level-grinding. So it was only that last bit of curiosity that got me to sign up for the Alpha.I was fully expecting it to confirm my suspicions, but that’s…not what happened. Continue reading Destiny: How The Alpha Totally Changed My Mind→
So here it is, after a lot of whittling down we have finally reached UWGs number one game, Mass Effect 2, it’s a giant of a game and one that really made me fall in love with the whole Mass Effect series. When the original Mass Effect was launched it was a game that I liked a lot, but by no means would I have put it in my top ten, but when the second instalment came out in 2010 I was absolutely blown away. I remember always liking the concept a lot from the original, the idea of what is pretty much a free roam RPG set in space always had fantastic potential but in Mass Effect 2 they turned that potential into a masterpiece and really pushed the series forward a lot.
It’s a privilege and a burden to be given the task of evangelizing the Walking dead to the you, the good readers of United We Game. Unlike the other games on this list, the Walking Dead is not a trailblazer of ground breaking game play. The other, rightly vaunted, games on this list tend to stick in the memory for bringing new mechanics, control schemes and interactions with the game worlds to the fore.
The Walking Dead, however, uses a fairly basic graphic adventure game. The usual complex puzzles are stripped back to their very basics and take very little thought to complete. Graphics are low rent and the control scheme adequate at best.
This all pales into insignificance however when the true merits are considered. This is the game that finally treats the slowly ageing gaming population as the adults they’ve become. Gaming finally growing up but don’t worry there are still zombies in it.
Like all the best fiction, the zombies, become only a secondary adversary. This game isn’t about zombies, it’s about people, just like Jaws isn’t about the shark. Both these movie monsters serve only to drive the characters into situations where they can do nothing but show their true colours.
So for those don’t know, in this game you play Lee, a convicted murderer (whether or not he did or didn’t do it is left ambiguous for a good portion of the game) on his way to jail until an unexplained zombie outbreak kind of gets in the way. He happens upon a young girl called Clementine (Clem for short) and the pair quickly form a bond as he becomes her protector and she gives him a reason to survive. As mentioned above, there is a basic adventure game template but puzzles are straight forward. They are meant to keep you moving along, interested in the plot and serve as convenient time to wander your environment and talk to your ever evolving group of compatriots.
Nearly everything in this game is in place to serve as character development. How your comrades react to changing situations, the locations they’re in, the conversations they have, the looks on their faces and their reactions to your choices. Choices, indeed, this game gives you choices. Remember that claim I made earlier about this being an adult game? The moral choices you make are what defines how you play Lee but they are not the usual cartoonish moral choices that first appeared in Fable and Black and White. These are real characters and your choices mean consequences for them, suddenly the weight of the choices is real because each character has been subtly developed throughout the game.
The whole “Good” and “Evil” path was developed many years ago and has not really developed in games. It was seen as enough to let you be a devil or an angel. A few games began to iterate such as Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Introducing grey areas to your choices or making you really think about the outcomes of your decision. Too many games basically rely on there being two separate play throughs, right up to the modern day, a good one and a bad one. You do the good one because you’re a nice person and then do the evil one to see the difference.
The Walking Dead gives you choices but there is no right choice, no wrong choice. There’s just a choice, your choice. Sometimes it’s completely instinctual. Each choice has a timer, you can’t sit and ponder. Let me give you an example, in the first episode (the game is split into five episodes) you have to decide which of two characters to save. You’ve spent perhaps twenty minutes in total with these people, you have but a few minutes of conversation with each of them to base your decision on. There is no right choice. You’ll question your decision for the rest of the game. Therefore justifying the need for the dilemma to be there in the first place. There’s no point to having a choice if you decided at the start which of two options you are going to select each time.
This interaction between character and player agency is the true genius of the game. In reality, there is no branching path, your choices don’t effect the final outcome of the story but that doesn’t matter because this is your story. You are reacting to these characters because of how you feel about them.
This is why I champion this game, it may not be the genre defining entry that some other titles on this list are but it pushes forward the template for the whole medium. Now, characters can be more than electric ninjas and busty maidens and they can mean something real to us because they are flawed but striving for the best world they can. Players can make a choice that felt truly important. Conversations between characters can be for more than just plot development.
All this and I haven’t even mentioned the fantastic voice acting and brilliant plot. They are all part of the package. Due to the episodic nature of the game, certain sections are stronger than others but each is an important development to the harrowing conclusion. Oh, and that conclusion. The less said for the uninitiated the better. Just experience it. If you haven’t played it then grab a copy and spend an evening with some complex, annoying, strong, terrified and brilliant people.