Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
What first impressed me about this game, was the level of accuracy the game developers acjieved in recreating the animated series but for a video game. I was initially put-off by a ridiculous review (you know who you are... Mr. Sam Delaney), who claimed that the game had glitches because a seagul had the sound of a commercial airliner. When in fact, the game level he was on had commercial airliners flying overhead and a seagul just happened to fly overhead at the same time. He didn't even take into account that those who loved the animated series would love this game. He just reviewed it as if it were just another 'run of the mill' shooter type game.
The intro to this game is very cool, especially if you like anime and its not often that you get to see the use of robots (called 'Gears' hence the game title 'Xenogears') in a role-playing game. The game has some well-designed machines, by a well known Gundam designer, who manages to create machines which are unique and yet familiar. The game has is unique in terms of environments and characters, with my only gripe regarding the limiting factor of the games fuel feature. Use too many moves and you find yourself limited to what you can do in battle, with the options to charge only returning a miniscule amount. It becomes rather testing when you need to use fuel to restore your 'Gears' health-points. Thereby adding a much unecessary level of difficulty to the game. overall Xenogears is a much unknown gaming gem.
Final Fantasy 12
Probably the last gem on the PS2. when I saw the intro demo I couldn't believe how Square-Enix had managed to push there full motion video to a higher plain. I think this game is excellent in terms of graphic and the fact that you can see the enemies, rather than being randomly warped into battle. Some hardcore RPG fanatics might not like this FF update, especially as it draws upon the style of gameplay found in Vagrant Story on the Playstation. Well it would, as the man behind the game also made that other Square title.
Soul Calibur 3
I there was an award for a game that provides value for money then this would be at the top of the list. Not only those this game have astonishing graphics for a PS2 game, it also allows you to create your own characters. Using items and clothing purchased, and items that have been unlocked. With your created characters matching the appearance of existing characters in terms of graphics. Unlike in games such as the WWE: smackdown game series' where custom made characters are inferior to existing wrestlers and have no final graphical polishing. Soul Calibre 3 also has an impressive story mode, where they have revitalised the interation of the endings seen in Soul Edge/Blade throughtout the story of a character. Then there is the campaign mode which replaces the much loathed quest mode seen in Soul calibre 2. The only drawback to this game is the loss of game save data, if a game save created before your Soul Calibre data file is erased or modified.
Virtua Fighter 4
The greatest most complex fighting game that there is. Not only does this game have lots of combination throws, combos and stonking graphics. It is also very fast. Despite using a three-dimensional game engine, the speed of the game is phenominal. After playing VF4 I couldn't believe how slow Tekken 5 seemed to appear.
Dragon Quest 8
This game is very cool. At a time when it seems like the traditional Role Playing game sems to be lost, with the graphic intensive new releases it seemed as if the RPG's which followed the good old formula seemed to be dying out. But my faith was restored when I first played this game. Not only is there good humour in the game, but the Western release was declared the best version of the game, and overshadowed the Japanese version because the changed the musc probably the best version as they improved the music, even using a live orchestra, to create more atmosphere in the game. All this talking and I haven't even got to the part where I say: "The characters are designed by Akira Toriyama... aka Dragonball". And the game doesn't shy away from this fact. When I first played this game I named the main character Gohan because I couldn't really think of another name. Not realising that something extraordinary happens when he reaches maximum tension... he transforms into a super saiyan.
Probably the greatest 2D fighting game there is, well at this point in time anyway. It puts the woeful street fighter to shame in terms of graphics and has enough combos and unique moves to keep you busy for years. All the complexity of a game such as virtua Fighter but in a two-dimensional format, what more can you want. The only draw being the lack of knowledge most western gamers will have in terms of the ongoing story and where the game they are playing fits into the story timeline.
Gran turismo 4
It's funny how the way you look at games has changed. I remember looking at the first Gran Turismo and thinking wow! The rear headlights light up when you break, the cars have suspension... look the wheels are bobbing up and down when you drive over the grass. And they added even more cars in the second installment. The only quarm then, was if only the draw distance was better so you could actually see the corner much earlier and if only the graphics were such that the cars looked even more realistic.
Well my dreams came true with Gran Turismo 3. I couldn't stop looking at the game. I watched every replay, drooling. But then something happened. I began to get used to the graphics, till the game just looked normal to me. I'm sure this has happened to others as well. Like a drug addict looking for another fix, one that'll give them a bigger buzz than before. Or an adrenaline junky looking for something that'll give 'em the ultimate thrill ride. Perhaps this has happened not only to me but to the industry and those who comment on it.
When a new game comes out, the focus is immediatelty on the graphics. When a new console comes out, which one has the most power, the better graphics? And those who try something different are mocked i.e. Nintendo who had the stereotype that the Gamecube was a kiddies machine, being reinforced and reinforced. Maybe it was done to cut into Gamecube sales so that consumers chose to buy X-box's instead.
Anyway back to the point I was previously making. I recently put on Gran Turismo 4 after not playing it for quite a while and my eyes were shocked by the graphics as well as the amount of content, like taking pictures of your cars. What I'm getting at is that not only is graphical detail important, but content and imagination. For example imagine a game of a post office queue that was almost real looking. Yeah great. If you squint your eyes they look almost real. But at the end of the day it's a boring game based on a post office queue. The reason why Gran Turismo sells is people don't just want to drive ferrari's (Project Gotham Racing). They want to drive crap cars as well. Is it me or has X-box just taken Sega's place. Think about it. The dreamcast used Windows CE. So were they bumped off and their games stolen. Let's see Project Gotham Racing aka Metropolis street racer. Shenmue, Panzer Dragoon, Jet set Radio etc.
Metal Gear Solid
I remember when this game first came out. "it's got too much talking", some complained. Well don't play it then! It's supposed to, because the idea is it's supposed to be like watching an action film but you get to do the running around. Have you noticed that people who know a lot about a sport, say football, are not seen as nerds. When they can tell you who scored the winning goal in the 1980 world cup final. The players who were on both teams. The person to score three hat-tricks with three different clubs etc. They are seen as cool. But when it's someone who knows a lot about Star Trek, or trains etc. They are classed as nerds. Funny stuff! I take my hat off to Kojima for offering the video game industry a new kind of gaming. One where the sole aim is not to mindlessly shoot everyone, but to be cautious and thoughtful.
After playing Final Fantasy 7, I saw a clip of this game on a video game review programme. The name of which I cannot recall. Mainly due to the fact that there have been so many over the space of say 10 years, with many only lasting for just one or two series'. Anyway, This game was weird when I first played it because I couldn't figure out the combat system and how you performed magic. Mainly because of my laziness, as I didn't look in the game manual and just jumped straight into the action. Well, when I eventually did get used to the battle engine it provided many hours of joy. Mainly because it was innovative and different. You couldn't just summon powerful attacks, but had to first change the field to the corresponding summon colour before unleashing a powerful attack onto the enemy. What made the game hard was that you couldn't reuse the same magic attack item twice. So you had to instead carry multiple copies of the best skills and magic. The final thing that stood out in this game was the fact that the game has multiple endings, giving it the added bonus of longevity. Added to this, you could also keep your experience, weapons and skills (except for rainbow weapons and summons) from the previous outing, so replaying gets easier and easier the more times you replay.
This game is a lot of fun, from a time when Capcom was making fun fighting games. On the outside it looks like a kiddies game, but with experience you can do some serious combos. Not to mention the comedy aspects of the game. From the insane super-combos, especially the ones involving Dan's father and Tessa turning into a giant dinosaur. To the backgrounds featuring characters from the street fighter universe. To the insane normal combos, many of which involve the character transforming into someone else or a change of costume. A great game!
King of Fighters
I could have put this game under the Dreamcast heading, but since most of the versions I own are for the Playstation I thought it best to put it here. This game, when compared to the original Street Fighter rocked! 15+ hit combos, realistically proportioned characters, a diverse character range this game had it all. My favourite versions are King of Fighters (KOF) 97 and 98. I love the Monaco stage in 97, with the only let down in the game being the slightly ruggish game response, which was imporved in 98. The King of Fighters series has been through its ups and downs but rightly takes its place in my opinion as one of the great fighting game series' of all time.