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Hi, here's a fave game list, everyone else have them (no order):

Ape Escape
Batman: Arkham City
Beyond Good & Evil
Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
Pacman Championship Edition DX
Rayman 2
Rayman Legends
Rayman Origins
Shadow of the Colossus
Sonic 2
Tekken 3
Tekken 5
Wario Land 2
Wario Land 3

Platformers are my favourite genre, followed by third-person action adventures. I do enjoy a wide variety of genres though, with the only ones I tend to dislike being RPGs and, to some extend, RTSs (go ahead and pronounce that last one).

I also really enjoy series like Zelda, Mario, Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank, InFamous, Jak & Daxter, GTA, Saints Row, Worms and Metal Gear Solid, and indies like Limbo and Guacamelee. Not putting any of these at the absolute top though, otherwise this list would be crazy long, and I prefer to keep it short and personal.
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It's a shame that MGSV has gotten a bit of a bad rep recently due to how expensive the whole thing is going to be if you buy both parts of it as soon as they come out. It means that a lot of people (myself included) are going to wait for a more reasonably priced complete edition, which is unfortunate. That said, I personally look forward to playing the actual game, enough so for me to make a wish list of items and weapons I'd like to see in either this game or future installments.

Being an increasingly deep series of stealth action games, Metal Gear always allows for a wide variety of tools that the player can use. Anything from grenades and combat knifes to cardboard boxes and crocodile hats is fair game here, and it's that kind of potential that often lets the imagination run wild, so here we go:

10. Stink bomb

Basically a form of long lasting stun grenade that makes enemies pass out from sickness. Unfortunately, it is every bit as effective on Snake, unless he happens to be wearing a gas mask or something (if those are even in the game). I've always liked being able to use stench againts my enemies in games, and it's way too rare that I'm allowed to do that, so I think it's about time that Metal Gear sets a smelly example.

9. Spoon

We've already had a fork, so why not? While this would be totally useless against enemies, it should allow Snake to dig tiny holes in the ground, where he might find some burried goods.

8. Boomerang

Hidden weapon. Throw it like you throw any other item, only this one will come back. Unless there's something in the way of course, at which point it will fall to the ground, ready to be picked back up.

7. Vuvuzela

Also hidden. Equip it, press the action button, and lure over tons of enemies with some goddamn CULTURE! Very effective, but also dangerous, as enemies may come from all sides. Use with caution!

6. Long sword

Definitely well hidden. MGS has already experimented with knifes and even katanas, so having Snake being like a fucking knight seems like a logical step forward. Extremely powerful against nearby enemies, for obvious reasons.

5. Time Net

This one needs an explanation: I never got to play Snake vs. Monkey, which sucks, because I fucking adore Ape Escape. They should totally bring it back, but properly, with the Time Net. Of course, the best way to do this would be to have the net be controlled by the right analog stick, as it was always meant to be. Simply unequip the item if you wish to change the camera angle, then equip it again once that damn monkey is right under your nose!

4. RC car

Another Ape Escape-inspired idea, although this one would totally work even without SvM. Also controlled by the stick, same rules as above apply. It's gonna be like War of Wonder all over again!

3. CornerShot

Developed in Israel and commonly used by SWAT teams as well as special forces, the CornerShot is handy in that it lets you fire around corners without exposing yourself to enemy fire. A perfect fit for this series if you ask me. While you could argue that this might make the game too easy, who is to say that this will only be used by you? Give it to a couple of enemies too, and I think it's fair for all.

2. Booze

Equip, press item button and watch Snake go bottoms up! He then gets super-ass drunk, and unlike in many other games, remains drunk for a long period of time. Self-imposed super hard mode! Drunken CQC! Terrible aim! Drunk driving! Hallelujah!

1. Luchador mask

The would be the kind of super secret item that's usually reserved for the second playthrough. More than a cosmetic change, this would replace basic CQC with wrestling moves! The usual throws would become suplexes and piledrives! Interrogation would have Snake hold his enemy's head in a tight grab under his arm! Basic punches would be slower, yet much more powerful! Snake would be able to body slam any enemy on the ground! Tell me you would not want all of this! Tell me!

Do you have any ideas for weird or cool items and weapons? If so, feel free to share!

Some villains are more evil than others, and these are those. Ok, have nice read.

5. Blinky (Pac Man)

Of all ghosts that Mr. Pac Woman has ever had to deal with, this is clearly the spookiest. This guy doesn't fuck around, but goes straight for the money whenever he has the chance. He simply just wants Pac Man dead, no matter what it takes, to the point of it being some sort of obsession. That's pretty damn evil if you ask me.

Why are you so evil, Blinky? Weren't you a living being too, at one point? Don't you remember how much it sucked to die? Yet this seems to be exactly what you wish upon this round, yellow cheeseball of a man. Oh Blinky, I hope you learn one day.

4. Volgin (Metal Gear Solid 3: SNAAAAKE EEEAAAATEEEEEEEEERR!!!!!)

Metal Gear usually has villains that aren't that bad, and tend to have some pretty decent motivations for what they do. Volgin nuked a fellow Russian village for the fun of it. He's quite an exception.

There's nothing about Volgin that isn't evil. He's got the evil scars, the evil laugh and the evil voice down to perfection. He has weird electric superpowers for some reason, and uses these to torture people all the time. What an ass! I bet has an evil way of doing everything. He eats in an evil manner, brushes his evil teeth in an evil manner, and shaves in an evil manner. I'm sure his entire morning routine is evil!

3. (SPOILAHS!) Neyla (Sly 2: Band of Thieves)

An unexpected choice, but it really shouldn't be. Neyla steals a lot of shit, betrays a lot of people, somehow manages to start a civil war somewhere in Prague, and directly kills her much more sympathetic boss. This is all so that she can trap her mortal body within a giant mechanical bird, and become this super powerful being named Clock-la.

What's her motivation for doing this? Beats the shit out of me! It's never really explained at any point, so all we can do is assume that she's just causing shit to come crashing down because she enjoys it, and being a huge robo-bird makes all that evil stuff much easier to do. Pretty sure that's the kind of stuff that brings you to the top of Santa's naughty list.

2. Zinyak (Saints Row IV)

It's not hard to agree with me when I say that you have to be a special kind of dickhead in order to destroy simething you like, simply to show off. But that's exactly what Zinyak did. In spite of Earth providing him with some of his favourite classic culture, and having potential to produce more, Zinyak blows up the planet because he's pissy that the leader of the Saints managed to escape from the Matrix. What a sore loser, c'mon!

He then proceeds to dick around and ruin the Saints' fun time back in the Matrix, to the point where he ruins their Biz Markie sing-along. That's just being a jerk, and totally uncalled for!

Unfortunately, there are rumours that not being included in Destructoid's 'Character of the Year 2013' list has made him even more evil. That's pretty evil! 

1. Me (Roller Coaster Tycoon 3)

Imagine if Jigsaw had a huge budget. That's a pretty scary thought, but it pales in comparison to the thought of me building an amusement park, as said park would quickly turn into a park-sized death trap.

Which one would you like to try? There's the Wallsmasher, a rollercoaster that launches you in the general direction of a large, conveniently placed stone wall. There's Buffalo Drownabout, a fairly innocent ride that just happens to be placed right over a large pool of water, with no way back to the main path. Then there's the rollercoaster named Straight to Hell, which drives you directly into a long hole in the ground. I even made that last one look like it comes around all the way, so you might fall for it even if you're not completely stupid.

No matter how you look at it, I am clearly the biggest monster in video game history. There's never been an entity in any video game that has been this devoted to making people suffer. Maybe I shouldn't have judged Blinky after all, now that it seems that there's at least three levels of evil between the two of us.

It's been fun making this list, but now I must go trap some people in a cage along with fifteen angry gorillas. And name all the people 'Testicle'.
Photo Photo Photo

El Dango
11:28 AM on 12.21.2013

ATTENTION: Resized images don't seem to work for me. If you have the same problem, just imagine those lines of code as pretty images.

The idea that water levels are inherently worse than other types of levels is not at all the fault of water levels themselves. It's mostly because swimming controls aren't that easy to get right, so many people fuck it up, and as it turns out, that's pretty much all it takes to ruin the entire experience. So, you think the Water Temple is bad? Well, that's probably because all you have in Ocarina of Time is a shitty dive, so you have to depend of the metal boots to weigh you down, and you have to equip and un-equip those through the pause menu. Of course, that's not really the dungeon's fault, it's just a flawed mechanic. But even then, there are plenty of games that do it right, yet get overlooked, so in the end the common water level is still looked down upon by a majority. Seeing as this is an injustice, I wish to stand up and speak out for water levels!

Water levels can be wonderful! The element of water adds a lot to an environment, and allows for a ton of really well made game mechanics, not to mention that it's often beautiful to look at. Being full of potential for both eye candy and interesting level design, it's not hard to understand that water levels continue to be present in video games, despite the hard times they get online. As much as you may dislike them, if they were gone, they'd leave a big, water-shaped hole in our hearts.

So here's 10 of them.

#10 - Jowai Resort (Ratchet & Clank)


Ratchet & Clank has become a gigantic franchise at this point, and one that has shifted focus a bit since the beginning. Not that much, granted, but it took a very combat focused turn already by the second game, and it hasn't looked that far back ever since. Because of this, the very first game is notable for having levels that are far less like battlefields, and much more like traditional platforming levels, with a greater focus on exploration. Swimming especially was something that was done much more often in this than the sequels, and Jowai Resort probably makes the best use of swimming in the entire game. It's a level that's very basic to begin with, but it really opens up once you get the O2 mask, at which point you can swim around endlessly, exploring the level and its secrets in a completely new way. It's the kind of level that was worth going back to, and that's what earns it a spot on my meaningless list.

#9 - Aquatic Ruin Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 2)


When you think about games that have done water well, you probably won't be thinking about the Sonic games. I'd argue that this might be intentional, as water is mostly used as a mild punishment for missing a jump. The most interesting case of this would be Aquatic Ruin Zone form the second game, as this is basically split up in two "lanes". There's the dry land on top, and water on bottom. Both will lead you to the end, but the dry lane will give you a much easier time. This is in my opinion a very interesting way to design a level, and I'd like to see more be done with this idea at some point. If you want me to pick between Act 1 and Act 2, I'll go with 2, mostly because of the goofy boss.

#8 - Zora's Domain (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)


People forget this! Everyone is busy complaining about the Water Temple (which I also like, btw), but nobody seems to give much credit to Zora's Domain, especially not this version, even though it's totally the best! I'm guilty of this myself, but after recalling this place, I really do think it's a shame that it gets so overlooked. It's a really nice landscape, it's pretty to look at, and it's fun to play around in. Even though I consider myself a 'challenge' type of player, I like areas like these to break up the action, especially for games like Zelda.

#7 - River of Pain (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)


Is it called the River of Pain? I'm not entirely sure, but in any case, this place is dope! It's essentially a huge reward screen, but a very subjective one, in that it's up to you to decide what's considered a "reward". Do you like a nice, quiet walk down the river, or do you prefer being greeted by tons of burning people who scream in pain? Well, what you get depends on how you play the game, specifically how many people you kill, and how you do this. Aside from that, this place has some really cool secrets, and even though The Sorrow isn't really a boss fight as much as he's a trick by the developers, it's still a really cool trick.

#6 - Lost Fleet (Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon)


Yo harr ho, we're in fuckin pirate land, tomateys, what up!?

It might not be the best pirate level in the universe, but I still like this one a ton, and it did some cool stuff for its time. It's also good fun to play, so I give it the number 6 spot. It's far from the last pirate level on this list, so don't worry. There isn't that much I can say about it, unfortunately, but it's still one of my favourite levels in the game.

#5 - Beach Bowl Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy)


Jolly Roger Bay would have been a nice and pirate-y follow up to the last one, but if I claimed to like that over Beach Bowl Galaxy, I'd be lying so hard my pants would be ashes within milliseconds. BBG is pure bliss! It first comes across as more of a playground than a level, but every star has a new and interesting objective, and I recall a kickass secret star in there, too! Still, the simple joy that comes from swinging, exploring and playing in the water is pretty amazing. It's one of the most relaxing and vacation-like levels that I can think of (Super Mario Sunshine might have it beat though, not that I've played it myself).

#4 - Dexter's Island (Ape Escape)


"Water". Or, more specifically, a gross combo of saliva, mild stomach acids and other fluids that you don't want to think about. Still, it's definitely a water level, if a less traditional one. It doesn't hurt that it's awesome, considering it mostly takes place inside of a huge dinosaur named Dexter (who has a comparatively tiny head)! Swimming in Ape Escape is not very precise, but it never really has to be, and it's easy to pull off, so capturing the monkeys swimming around in this level shouldn't be a problem (why are they doing that anyway, ew!). The ones to look out for are those who have somehow taken over parts Dexter's body, now using it as some sort of machinery. Poor silly looking giant dinosaur...

#3 - Escape from the Tea Cup (Wario Land II)


Sunken ship levels are cool by default, but what if you yourself sunk the ship? What if it was just a regular ship level until you fucked it up? For those who don't know, Wario Land II is a brilliant game, for countless reasons, and this is one of them. The standard objective of the SS Tea Cup level is to drop the anchor, in order to stop the ship from escaping. But if you manage to find to hidden weak point, you can destroy it, causing the ship to sink. The following level is a flooded, broken down version of the previous one.

Is your mind blown right now? Yeah, thought so...

How fucking cool is that!? It's such a genious way to change up a familiar level and have you approach it in a completely new way! The following underwater ruin levels that you then unlock are cool too, but god DAMN! This is probably the biggest reason I've always been pro-water levels. This is like the anti-Water Temple!

#2 - Blood Bath Bay (Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves)


If you wanna beat out the anti-Water Temple, you gotta step up your game!

Strangely enough, this one is from Sly 3, a game that I considered mostly inferior to Sly 2, especially when it came to the level design. Then everything changed when this level appeared and slapped me in the face for being a fool! Another pirate themed level is great in my book, but naval combat? That not only came out of nowhere, but it was awesome! I spent so much time on that part of the game, sinking thousands of enemy ships in the process. Super good times!

The reason Blood Bath Bay is this high on the list is that it not only showed that water levels can be great, but that a water level can be the best level in an entire game by a long shot!

#1 - Gloo Gloo (Rayman Legends)

This level features a (somewhat) sillier version of Woo Hoo by the 5, 6, 7, 8's. Not only that, but it has you run, jump, kick and swim to the rhythm of the song, while dodging several obstacles on the way. The backgrounds are all hand drawn, and amazingly detailed. It's beautiful to look at, beautiful to listen to, and beautiful to play. It's something I never thought would exist, especially not within a franchise I already knew and loved.

This level is fucking unbelievable! Every complaint that you could possibly have towards water levels is destroyed, and replaced with fast, fun and flowing gameplay, resulting in the purest of joy! It's number one because I believe it has the power to forever change the belief the water levels suck by default, should it be exposed to enough people. Smooth, charming and infinitely replayable, this level is an absolute masterpiece! Cheers!


If there are any other water levels you think are cool, feel free to write about them below. Not that this message is needed or anything, you'd totally do that no matter what. Fun times ahead!

So this is a tough one to tackle...

How do you even talk about Oddworld? Like, how do you even introduce it to an audience? It seems impossible to properly explain it to anyone without simply confusing them. This is probably why these games seem to be destined to only achieve semi-popularity at best, which is a shame, considering their impressive ambition.

But seriously, people have tried, and it's never been easy. Some describe them the same way they would describe Mario, or Sonic, or Spyro, as a series of nostalgic platformers from the 80's and 90's, without considering the huge difference in tone and content between those games and Oddworld. On the other side of the fence, there are those who revel in the darker, grittier and more serious aspects of the series, forgetting that the comedy is a significant part of its overall personality (as well as the fact that it has a fart button). Others do a better job of it. I like how Dtoid member Benny Disco describes the games as the punk rock of gaming, due to their heavy criticism of society. Then there's the increasingly popular Youtube reviewer/entertainer Caddicarus, who reviews one of the games by simply trying to sum up all the different aspects of it, many as there are. Still, I think it takes more than words and sentences to give a newcomer any idea of what exactly Oddworld is. It's the only franchise I can think of that I'd say you really need to see for yourself in order to believe.

It just so happens that the first two of these games, Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus, have a special place in my heart, and here's why...

In my best efforts to explain the overall plot, it pretty much goes like this:

Oddworld is a planet inhabited by many different types of creatures, some more intelligent than others. Both of these games take place on the continent of Mudos, the majority of which is under control by the Magog Cartel, the government behind a very class-based society, in which certain species are considered significantly more important than others. The Glukkons are considered among the top dogs in this society, as they are in charge of the many different companies, products and services on offer. Profits are what the Glukkons care about the most, which has had unfortunate consequences for many of the other species of Mudos, as corporate greed has resulted in slavery, extinction and suffering.

Abe's Oddysee, the first game, begins in a meat processing plant named Rupture Farms, located in a land once ruled by ancient tribes of Mudokons, a species that has since been reduced to slavery. Rupture Farms is responsible for the production of several different meat products, created from the local wildlife. Our protagonist is a Mudokon, named Abe, who one day overhear a boardroom meeting. As it turns out, the mass production of meat products has sent several species towards extinction, and this has had a very negative effect on profits. The Glukkons' solution for this is to create a new product. That product, as it turns out, would be Mudokon Pops, a snack which (as you can probably guess) is made from Mudokon meat. Naturally, Abe is freaked out by this, and makes a run for it. Unfortunately, he is spotted by security, and now the whole factory is out to prevent his escape at any cost. His goal from here is to save himself and his people from Rupture Farms.

The lore of Oddworld is, in my opinion, some of the best you'll find within a video game franchise, and it helps a ton that it's got an amazing visual style to hold it up. Environments all look very detailed and gritty, yet they're still colourful and fun to look at, as well as very unusual in a lot of cases, both when it comes to nature and architecture. These environments are also massive in scale, which gives an incredible feeling of actually being part of a larger world.

Character designs are fantastic too, some of the best I've ever seen. To this day I still consider my favourite video game enemies to be the Sligs, the common enemy of the game, who have an amazing design that used to scare me pretty badly (they still creep me out a bit, honestly). The sheer creativity that went into making the different creatures of Oddworld is unbelievable, and it's a great example of what you can really do with a fantasy universe once you free your mind from the usual tropes.

So here we go, the stage is set for the making of something truly special, and the big question from here on is whether or not the gameplay can properly convey the feeling of being part of this unusual world. Thankfully, the gameplay manages to do not just that, but to significantly add to what was already there to begin with.

Now, there is some complexity to the core mechanics of both these games, and the best way to describe them is probably to split them up into three layers: Platforming, GameSpeak and possession.

The platforming is of a rare type known mostly as the 'cinematic platformer'. Honestly though, that is a terrible name, as these games aren't cinematic in the slightest. Ever seen a movie in which the everything is shot from one side? I prefer to call them 'realism platformers' (or a variation of this), since their deal is that you have just about the same limitations as in real life when it comes to jumping, running and falling. Stuff like Flashback and Prince of Persia, belong in this category. The effect of this is that you control a much more natural and believable character, but also a much weaker one than in most games, which in return gives everything a much greater sense of danger.

In Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, this is what goes as well. You can't jump very high, or very far. You have no direct attacks. You take time to climb ledges. Then, on top of it all, you go down in a single hit. You can run, and even roll around, but attempting to go head to head against an enemy will result in death. The Sligs are armed, and will shoot you on sight. Other creatures will attempt to kill you too, including the wildlife. It's a cruel world, and you're on the bottom of the food chain, which is something that the gameplay will be sure to remind you of. In other words, this is a hard game, and it doesn't get any easier in the sequel.

The actual deaths are remarkably brutal by the way, and there's a ton of ways to go, which includes getting blown up by mines, shot, crushed, splattered and torn to pieces by meat grinders! Fun for all!

All this can happen to other Mudokons as well, which you will want to avoid, as saving the other slaves is part of the objective. This then leads us to the second layer of mechanics: GameSpeak.

GameSpeak is a unique system that manages to take the concept of conversation and turn it into an organic and meaningful gameplay element. The way it works is that you press a button (while holding down another button on the PS1 version) in order to make Abe say something. Since you want to save Abe's buddies, the primary commands you need to use are "hello", to gain their attention, and "follow me", to bring them along. More commands become useful later in Oddysee, when you have to whistle a password, and in Exoddus, when you get the "anger" and "sympathy" commands.

This is a creative, useful, easy-to-use system, not to mention one that completely invalidates the need for dialog menus, which many games still use. With that in mind, it could be said that GameSpeak was so ahead of its time that said time still has yet to come.

Once you get the Mudokons to follow you, you lead them to a nearby portal (presented as a circle of birds) and chant to open it. Chanting is a mechanic that has more than one purpose though, which now leads us to the coolest thing: enemy possession!

All you have to do is to chant when an enemy is on screen, watch as said enemy panics, and then the magic happens! While Abe is still in a state of chanting, you now have full control over your enemy, which comes with a lot of benefits. The fact that you will mainly be controlling Sligs (the only creature that can be possessed in Oddysee) means that you get quite a bit of a power rush, since the Sligs (in their regular state) have guns, and said guns one-hit kill every creature you'd come across. Besides, it's a free chance to explore without worrying about death, as dying as an enemy will simply take you back to Abe, who might even have the chance to possess yet another one nearby.

You also get to use GameSpeak while playing as Sligs, neatly combining the two mechanics, and making the game feel more tight as a result. It isn't necessary to use that often, only in a few locations that have voice-activated doors.

I think what really, truly make these games so amazing is that, in spite of all the stuff that I just described, all these different mechanics, and a couple others (didn't even mention that you can throw stuff), it really isn't that complicated. I mean, there is a bit of a learning curve, yeah, but the fact that it uses as few interfaces as possible means that it's a lot more simple than it could be. This could've easily been an example of a game that would have collapsed under its own ambitions, something that has happened many times in the past, yet it succeeds in every aspect, and makes for a damn impressive experience as a result.

As for Abe's Exoddus in particular, a lot of people seem to believe that it's essentially "the same game" as Oddysee, but I'd like to think otherwise. Firstly, it added a lot of neat things. Quicksaving was a very welcome addition, one that allowed them to dial up the difficulty even further, and it revealed much more about the world, taking you through several different Glukkon companies, as well as an ancient Mudokon burial ground.

Aside from this, it got much more involved with the species of Oddworld, and actually gave Mudokons different emotions, which you'd have to take into account before rescuing them. It also allowed you to possess different creatures, some of these even having entire platforming segments to themselves. Exoddus has a lot of great things going on its own, and shouldn't be dismissed due to its shallow similarities with Oddysee. In general I'd say that Oddysee is a game about Abe's journey within Oddworld, while Exoddus is more of a game about Oddworld itself.

Regardless, both of these games are incredible! They are absolutely timeless, even if they get pretty difficult at times. Besides, the universe they created is my favourite in gaming, maybe even in general. It is world building at its best, and the setting of Oddworld has tons of potential for new games! It's a shame that the only game we've really seen branching out like this so far is Stranger's Wrath, which is a damn good game in itself, and evidence that Lorne Lanning and OI is so much more than a one-trick pony.

This might not be a series that appeals to everyone, because does stray pretty far from the norm, and it has some pretty heavy anti-corporate themes to it. But to me, this is a wonderful, unforgettable franchise! Abe's Oddysee was the perfect beginning, and Abe's Exoddus expanded on it brilliantly!

I'm definitely looking forward to something New 'n' Tasty!


Previous cockblogs:

Game Thing - Ape Escape
Game Thing - Arkham City + BGE
Game Thing - Doom

Next up is Pac-man Championship Edition DX! Gonna be quite the party!

El Dango
12:14 PM on 11.06.2013

I like first person shooters. They get a bad rep these days due to over-exposure, and the fact that most modern ones take on this grey, gritty and overly serious military theme. And because said shooters tend to have underwhelming campaigns with way too many quick time events. And because playing these games online has become infamous for all the unpleasant types of people you might encounter.

This happens to almost every genre though, it's all trend to have video games that are super serial all the time, ones that are a bit too simplified for some people, and ones that don't offer as much choice as we might wish. It's not a fault of the FPS at all, it's a great genre, and I will defend it with my life!

That said, in spite of having played a lot of FPS games (very different kinds) that I really enjoy (Such as Half-Life, Battlefield Vietnam, SWAT 4, Bioshock Infinite, Stranger's Wrath and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon), only one appears on my list of favourites, and it's one of the earliest ones ever made. Why is it that Doom is the only shooter that clicks this well with me? Suppose it's time to find out.

Although it's probably just because I've never played Painkiller...

Doom was made in 1993 (so was I) by John Romero and his team of sci-fi obsessed metalheads at id Software. As we all know, these were the days before Mr. Romero made every single person on Earth his bitch, which resulted in him dominating the world. See, back then he wasn't the all-powerful dictator that he is today, but a humble game designer, who simply wanted to make shooting a possible thing to do in first person. I'd imagine it was pretty hard to aim before those days.

In Doom, you find yourself in the middle of an invasion of demons (from HELLLLL). The space marine that you play as has no distinct personality in the actual game, but who is perfectly characterized in the Doom comic as an escaped mental patient who has absolutely no awareness of his surroundings, yet seems to deeply care for the environment.

In all honesty, while people might not like the comic adaption, aside from the weirdly placed environmental message, it fits the gameplay perfectly. The gameplay Doom is famous for being fast-paced, wild and chaotic. Your time with Doom is spent running like crazy around different environments, checking every corner for weapons, keycards and supplies, fighting different types of demons with your arsenal of death! It's a ton of over-the-top fun, and very easy to pick up and play at any time.

What's interesting here is that the actual objective of the game has nothing to do with shooting (aside from the boss battles), and everything to do with getting to the end of the level, which is where the keycards come in, as you need to find these in order to open different doors. Why bother fighting the demons, then? Because they make up a significant threat, that's why! This alone is one big reason to love this game. The best kind of game design is the kind that makes you want to do something, rather than forcing you.

There are more reasons to want to fight these demons, however, as the weapons themselves are insanely satisfying to use, with some amazing audio feedback. The shotgun especially is fucking sweet when it comes to this! Good sound design is important in any game, but especially when it comes to making a gun sound powerful in a first person shooters. Unfortunately, a few games don't manage to do this well (Doom 3 is a good example), and that's the kind of flaw that sticks through the entire game. The original Doom has an excellent sound design all around, and it makes every killshot all the more satisfying.

I think the key to why Doom has aged so well is that it never tried to do too much. It's a very basic game with simple controls, with most of this simplicity being due to technical limitations. But the simplicity is also the very reason why it has been able to stand the test of time. Even though aiming and jumping have both become a standard of first person shooters today, they aren't missing in this game, because it plays almost nothing like today's shooters. It's much more like an old top-down shooter, only seen from a different perspective, and that is exactly the reason it's held up. The ones to suffer in its place have instead been the games from the awkward transition between Doom-type shooters and modern shooters, as old technology only starts to show its age whenever you use it to make something too complex.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that I love secret areas? I mentioned in the Ape Escape blog that I love being teased by a game, but aside from that, secret areas are my jam! Exploration is fun, and having a game reward me for it always excites me, because it's pretty much like being rewarded for having a great nap, or eating a slice of delicious blueberry pie! It's awesome! It helps that the rewards often include weapons, and the weapons in this game are very much worth finding. The legendary BFG 9000 is one such weapons, so you clearly have a strong incentive to explore the levels as much as possible. Because BFG!

Oh, and the soundtrack rocks too, but you knew that, everyone knows that.

When it comes down to the question of why Doom is the only FPS on my list of favourites, I'd say the answer is that it combines simple controls with clever, open ended level design, and then adds a ton of non-stop chaos by adding a variety of different monsters that pose a genuine threat, while making the act of killing these monsters as satisfying as possible. This is pretty much my ideal formula for a traditional FPS, but it's a rare formula, which even some of the best shooters out there stray from in some way, including those that I mentioned above. Hopefully Doom 4 will return to this, and stray as far as possible from Doom 3's awkward attempt at atmospheric horror. Some evolution would probably be required though: it would be nice being able to aim and jump.

That's it, really. It's very difficult to talk about Doom and actually add something that hasn't already been said a number of times, and I might even have failed to do so. Hardly matters though, this series is only here to explain why these games are my favourites, and this gets the job done, so there.


If you missed my previous two blogs about Ape Escape and Arkham City + Beyond Good & Evil (seriously), those are still up!

The next one is going to tackle the first two Oddworld games, Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus. Fun times are coming!

Ooooooh, an unexpected double feature! Yeah, I'm doing two games at once, something that I plan to do again in the future, as some games on my love list are from the same franchise.

This isn't the case here, I know, but I'm still gonna do these two back to back, as they actually do have a lot in common, to the point where it would be very difficult for me to do a separate blog for both without constantly repeating myself.

Firstly, I'd like to point out that I've yet to play Arkham Asylum. I should probably look into changing that at some point. There's Arkham Origins too, which I think has already been released in some parts of the world, so that's nice. What matters is that I've played Arkham City (the middle point in the series), and that it reminded me a lot of the beloved 2003 game Beyond Good & Evil.

Clearly though, the big question here is: how are these games so similar? The answer lies below...

Second of all, nobody seems to ever mention these two games together, but everybody should totally do that all the time! The elements that make these two games so good are pretty much exactly the same once you come down to it. It is of course understandable that people don't compare them, seeing as, when it comes to style and narrative, they are completely different. One is about a planet being under attack by aliens, in which you play as a freelance reporter and photographer who gets involved in what appears to be a huge conspiracy. The other is about the goddamn Batman who gets thrown in prison but he doesn't even care because he's Batman, he's just there to punch some criminals and solve some mysteries. One looks like French animation, the other looks more like a gritty comic book brought to life (which is kind of is). But there's much more to video games than simply style and narrative, and both these games have a special kind of appeal to them in the way that they work.

The first similarity is the fact that they are in the same genre. They are both Zelda-likes, which is what I'd like to simply call action adventure games, but everything gets called that these days, so let's call them traditional action adventure games. What I'm talking about is the kind of game in which you are given an open world to explore, and the objective is to go to different locations ("dungeons") of the world in order to solve a series of puzzles. This is then spiced up with some action, usually in the form of combat. It's similar in some ways to a sandbox game, but significantly tighter and more restricted in its nature, which might seem like a negative, but it makes for a much more polished experience.

In my honest opinion, we seriously need more games likes these. They are brilliant! The concept behind them just works so well, and it makes for some fantastic games. Besides, you can do anything with it games like these, which is exactly why we have two similar games right here that still manage to take on completely different themes. I hunger for more games like these, no joke, if you got any recommendations, feel free to share. I only know of a few that I've yet to play.

Okay then, back to Beyond Good & Batman. See, outside of genre, these two also share something that I consider to be WAY too rare, which is a good sense of flow. This is the main advantage that the two have over Zelda. See, Link doesn't have any flow in the way he moves. He has to awkwardly line himself up whenever he wants to open a chest or pick up something. He has to clumsily climb his horse when he wants to go for a ride. In combat, he either swings his sword wildly around with no direction, or relies on a stiff targeting system. Zelda games always have these little breaks in gameplay which, while hardly ruining them (I really do like Zelda games), does tend to make them seem a little slow and awkward at times.

But AC and BGE have none of this stuff. You never have to line up to do anything, you never need to wait through long animations, and there is no such thing as targeting, as it isn't at all necessary. These games never feel awkward, even in cases where you fuck something up, which is pretty remarkable in itself. I'll be using the word 'flow' a lot, because it's the best word to describe the way that these games work.

Okay then, time to talk about the combat. In Beyond Good & Evil, you fight with a staff. You can use this staff to attack in every direction, and you will automatically attack the nearest enemy within this direction. You can quickly chain attacks together, and moving the analog stick (on consoles, of course) will make you do a combo. There's a dodge button too, should you need it. This combat system absolutely blew me away when I first played this game, and I'm so glad that Arkham City took this exact system and built upon it, adding counters, stunning moves, and more complex ways of dodging attacks. Indeed, the combat system in AC is pretty fucking good, you didn't need me to tell you this.

My theory for why this kind of system works so well is that, while it admittedly does some of the work for you, it only cuts out the busywork, the running around, the non-fighting. You still get to deliver all the blows, and you still have control over the situation, so you still get all the freedom you need when it comes to approaching your fight. Furthermore, it takes a lot of skill to master as well, since you now have to quickly make a wise decision when it comes to who you take down first, as even a small misstep will likely result in you taking a hit. On top of that, there's a wonderful sense of elegance to it, as you move quickly from enemy to enemy, rather than having to target each individual one. It's incredibly satisfying, and it's easy to see why it has pretty much become the new standard for games that have you fight against large crowds, even if it's not everyone who gets it right.

The only significant difference in the combat system is that BGE gives you a partner, who you can work with to perform launch attacks. AC, meanwhile, has all of Batman's gadgets being usable in battle, including Batarangs and a grappling hook. Both do a lot to spice up the fights.

Another big thing that these games have in common is that moving around the world is a ton of fun, and a big part of the experience. Both of them feel fast, and both flow directly into different aspects of the game, as with everything else. In BGE, when not on foot, you get around using your hovercraft, which controlled more or less like the player character, Jade. There's a button to attack/interact, a button to jump, a button to go faster, and a button to heal. It isn't exactly like Jade herself, who has a lot more functions, but it's similar enough that it doesn't feel like a completely different game once you step into the hovercraft, something which itself is done simply by walking towards it, automatically letting the game know what you want.

On the Batman side, you have the cape and the grapple hook. This must have been like a wet dream come true to a lot of hardcore Batfans, and the game makes great use of it, allowing you to use the hook from anywhere, letting you grab on to the nearest edge by the press of a single button, as well as allowing you to do a dive, which you can use to gain momentum. But the coolest part has got to be the fact that you can get into a fight whenever you want, choosing to glide kick any thug on the map. This is probably the best way to start a fight in any video game I have ever played, and it really helps making the game feel like a power trip, as no criminal is ever safe from you.

Then there are the "dungeons" of the games, the puzzle-solving locations, and the focus of the campaign in both games. There are four of these in BGE and that's technically the case too in AC, although you do visit one of them twice. Both games have a nice difficulty curve, and provide some interesting puzzles. Enemies are often fought between, and even during, these puzzles, with just enough combat to spice the gameplay up, while never becoming bothersome. I really appreciate the ability to balance out gameplay like this, because it makes a huge difference; too many enemies might make it stressful, while too few might instead make it a bit dull.

Aside from all that, both games have a stealth mechanic, to make the meal even spicier. BGE has you sneaking past guards, while AC has you taking out all the thugs in a room, scaring the shit out of them in the process. The contrast between the two is actually pretty interesting, as one has you crawling around on the floor, desperately avoiding attention, while the other has you on the absolute top, making sure that your enemies regret ever meeting you. The latter is much more of a power trip, yet both are very tense in their own way, as they both provide a really good challenge. They also do switch up the pacing of each game considerable, in a way that only seems to enhance the overall experience.

Aside from the ability to create flow, however, the biggest strength of either game has got to be the variety of hidden areas and side quests to be found, not to mention collectibles. Arkham City has the Riddler trophies and Beyond Good & Evil has the pearls, both can be found in spades, anywhere on the map, and give a good incentive to explore, as they come with rewards. The open worlds are very well designed, and interesting on their own, so filling them up with actual things to do was a great decision. Exploration is a damn good time in these games, and the little things are ones that make up the majority of the content in each one.

Here's the thing though: What you actually get to do between the story missions is actually pretty different in each game, and might be one of the main reasons that they are rarely compared. For one, AC has a deeper combat system, and enemies can appear almost anywhere in the overworld, so you can spend time on that alone. Then there's the Riddler trophies that have you solve a small puzzle, as well as the actual riddles, which require you to find a certain location or object based on a few given hints. It also has a challenge mode, allowing you to test your skills at different aspects of the gameplay.

In place of all this, Beyond Good & Evil has the more living and breathing world (seeing as it doesn't take place inside of a prison city), with stores, NPCs that you can talk to, minigames of different kinds, and the game-long side quest of taking pictures of the different creatures that you meet. It has a more relaxed, slow paced feel to it too, which goes along pretty well with these design choices.

To end this off I'd like to point out that the stories of these games are both worth a mention. Of course, there's no need to go on about the elements that makes the story of Batman work, we've all heard it a million times. Yet in spite of this, the performance of Mark Hamill as the Joker can never get too much praise. This has got to be a difficult character to pull off, and that makes it so much more impressive how Hamill nails it every time. The Joker wasn't even that big a part of the story itself, it had way more to do with Hugo Strange, but he still stole the entire show. His Joker performance here is probably one of his best ever, and it was definitely a high note for him to end on (which was exactly what he wanted).

On the other hand, the big show stealers of BGE would be Jade and her companion/uncle, the pig-man Pey'j. These two have a really good dynamic going between them, and they make for some of the most enjoyable conversations you'd ever hear in a game, mainly due to how casual and silly they are. I wouldn't have enjoyed the game's plot nearly as much if these two hadn't been so consistently likable, and it's a good example that endearing and entertaining characters can be much more valuable than groundbreaking storytelling and shocking twists. Jade herself is often used as an example of how to write a strong female character, but I find this to be pretty unfair. She is much too good to be used as a generic role model for gender specific character writing (which is something that shouldn't exist anyway, but that's a separate issue). I do hope that this will eventually change, and that Jade will be remembered as a really good character in her own right, rather than a wandering 'how to'-guide.

But yeah, these games are both pretty damn great, and this greatness comes down to their understanding of variety and flow, allowing them to cover a large number of gameplay styles, while never feeling too complex or cluttered. Hopefully, many more games in the future will learn from these two.

Next on the list is the original Doom, and why it has aged so well despite all of its technical limitations.

If you missed my last entry, in which I praise the fuck out of Ape Escape, click here.

See you next time! :)