I'm an English/Australian living in Melbourne, Australia.
I love games (!!!), music, gigs, film, fucking, fucking on film, singin' and dancin', wasabi peas, Jack Daniels and sleep. Don't mind a bit of the old ultra-violence either.
My film tastes include Blade Runner, Tarantino flicks, Sin City, The Shining, Lord of the Rings, Die Hard With A Vengance, Bond flicks, etc.
My music tastes include alternative/indie/rock bands such as Faith No More and Kaiser Chiefs, through to metal acts such as Fear Factory, Opeth, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Devildriver and Lamb of God.
I also sing in a cover band, and enjoy headbanging to Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch. I have no shame.
I can speak and write Japanese, but have lost most of my ability to do so out of fear of becoming a Weeaboo.
Additionally, I would love to say that I am alcoholic, but I am not that cool.
Looking forward to:
MASS EFFECT 2
Tomb Raider: Underworld
Prince of Persia.... sorta...
Gears of War 2
Halo 3: ODST
Banjo Tooie XBLA
My favourite games:
Deus Ex Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Majora's Mask, Link to the Past, Wind Waker
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Final Fantasy IX, VI, VII
Secret of Evermore
Half Life 2 & Episodes
Metroid Prime 1 & 2
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
God of War 1 & 2
The Halo series is undeniably the most important series in gaming over the past decade.
Before you scream bloody murder… hear me out as I present to you the 5 reasons Halo series not only deserves respect - but demands it.
Unlike anything before it
1. Groundbreaking gameplay
The FPS genre has had a long and storied history since the early nineties - from forerunners such as Catacomb 3D and Wolfenstein 3D, through to modern day blockbusters such as Call Of Duty 4 and Vietcong 2.
However, no other title can match the impact that a certain game had when it launched in November 2001 with the revolutionary Xbox entertainment console. Originally designed to be a real-time strategy title, the game was overhauled to become a 3rd person shooter for the Windows and Mac platforms. Developer Bungie then revamped the game once again to become the masterpiece of design that we now know today as Halo: Combat Evolved.
Taking the world by storm, Halo: Combat Evolved transported hardcore gamers to stunning battles on alien worlds, intense firefights atop moving vehicles, and tunnels after tunnels of gripping gameplay against the most intelligent game AI ever created.
Gamers were bombarded with innovation after innovation; recharging shields, vehicular combat, limited weapon supply, multiple styles of grenades, seamless loading, procedurally respawning enemies, high definition graphics with real physics, sniper rifles - none of which had ever been seen in the world of FPS games before. The title also paved the way for the popularity of online FPS multiplayer - a flag which was later carried on with pride by games such as Counterstrike, Quake 2 and Unreal Tournament.
Proof - the impact and subsequent fallout from Halo can still be seen in many of today’s popular titles; Left 4 Dead (only carrying a maximum of 2 weapons at a time and dual-wielding pistols), Call Of Duty 4 (ranking and matchmaking systems) and Gears Of War (emphasised melee combat and grenade tagging).
2. Narrative Genius
Before the release of Halo: Combat Evolved, plots didn’t exist in FPS titles. Fuck, they barely existed in gaming at all. Sure, it was always about some space marine heading to alien worlds to battle alien monsters using huge guns and explosions… but nothing really too complicated.
Then came the Chief.
The word ‘masterpiece’ is thrown around too often - more often than not at undeserving and superficial fairy tale archetype narratives that fail (or are too scared) to push the boundaries of this interactive medium we all love called gaming.
But Halo? Put simply - the introduction of Master Chief into the gaming narrative landscape is comparable to the impact of On The Waterfront to film, Dark Side Of The Moon to music - or Animal Farm to text.
A modern day Beowulf, the chronicles of Master Chief are intricately woven through tales of loss and death; life and love; betrayal and redemption. Even after the end of the story with Halo 3, The Chief lives on as a literary icon - Cortana his Juliet; The Arbiter his Mercutio… his adventures likened to those of Odysseus, Oedipus and even Jesus.
Spartans! Turn the other cheek!
3. Cultural Impact
The biggest hurdle for the medium of computer entertainment, is that video games are seen as nothing but a ‘toy’ by the general non-hardcore gamer public. Although the medium displays equal (if not more) propensity for cultural stimulus and sensory gratification as do text, music, film and fine art - games are simply not taken seriously.
Hence - the more impact a game has on culture outside the world of video games, the higher the chances of the medium gaining proper recognition.
Thanks to Halo, we are now seeing credible Hollywood directors such as Peter Jackson and Uwe Boll taking chances with blockbuster film adaptions of popular games.
Thanks to Halo, we are now seeing Mass Effect and Gears of War books on the shelves in Borders, right next to A Tale Of Two Cities, The Lord Of The Rings and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Master Chief has become arguably almost as recognisable as the Pope (the dead one) or Mother Teresa (circa 1997). With this amount of cultural integration - who can argue against the importance of Halo as the most viable ambassador for the artistic medium of interactive entertainment?
Which leads me to the next point.
4. Women love Halo
If the biggest hurdle for video games is earning fair and just recognition as an artform in today’s post-modern society - the biggest hurdle for hardcore gamers these days is easily not being able to get their dicks wet.
Before Halo came along on that dusty Thursday in November 2001, the only ways hardcore gamers such as myself could get any action involved one of two things; sedatives or money - sometimes both just in case.
But after Halo: Combat Evolved launched and blew the whole world away, gamers could finally get a chance to finally blow a load off and actually have the confidence to ask chicks out. Why Halo, must you ask? Well, we can all thank that mountain of mancock otherwise known as Master Chief.
The Chief might as well call himself Master Pimp after all the ass he’s herded gamer’s way since launch. Why women are so universally attracted to the Chief I’m not entirely sure; either it has something to do with the ‘Tall, Dark Stranger’ thing, the macho buff hero complex women are conditioned to be attracted to - or that he’s packing a 12″. Either way, that is a whole seperate debate. All you need to know, is that the only reason you or your friends have ever gotten laid was because of this man.
Which brings me to my 5th and final reason for why Halo is the most important series in gaming over the past 10 years.
Firstly, I must say that I am one relieved gamer. Whilst I appreciate free speech and relaxation of censorship (justifiably), just knowing that I'll be able to enjoy this upcoming masterpiece has made my day.
Honestly, if they have just renamed the drug items in the game to something fictional as opposed to 'Morphine', I honestly couldn't give a shit. Just like I don't give a shit that I can't fuck hookers in GTA: San Andreas whenever I play it. These are trivial issues - visceral and gratuitous, that hopefully will not affect the overall experience or simplify gameplay.
HOWEVER. If this does mean that significant features have been axed in order to get the game to meet our FUCKING IDIOTIC classification system requirements, I'll be pissed.
I remember, roughly 6 years ago, doing a presentation to a Mass Media & Communication class I had when I (briefly) studied journalism. The topic of the presentation, and it's complimentary report was 'The Failure of the current Video Game classification system in Australia'.
6 years ago.
Has anything changed in 6 YEARS? No.
I watched Pulp Fiction when I was roughly 13 years old. I might not have understood every detail in it's rich and extreme storyline, but it opened my eyes to many things. It was a LEARNING EXPERIENCE. If I can act responsibly as a 13 year old watching a movie about gangsters shooting people whilst reciting passages from the bible, redneck gun shop owners with a downstairs bondage playground complete with gimp, and a struggling actress snorting pure cocaine and overdosing.....
As a 24 year old, I can't make my own choices about what interactive entertainment I wish to experience?
Australia is not a country full of conservative racist bigots like I'm sure we come across to many in the world, but I'll be damned if we're not ass-backwards regarding our OFLC system.
Games are an interesting medium.... one that is both grossly misunderstood and at times, undeservingly criticised. For every Postal, we have a Katamari Damacy.... for every Solider of Fortune, we have a Shadow of the Colossus. Many detractors of the video game medium are, in my honest opinion, either ignorant through lack of experience/exposure, or simply choose to distance themselves away from what they still consider to be mindless entertainment with no redeeming qualities, bar visceral entertainment.
So, I'd like to put forth some games, that for whatever reason, transcend simply an 'interactive experience' for me, and actually hold a genuine dear place in my heart.
Whether or not all of you agree with some of my choices is beside the point entirely - I'm sure I'll feel the same about many of your suggestions.... just like a good book, film or album, the medium of video games is a completely objective one - we're all affected by different games in different ways.
1. Bubble Bobble (Arcade)
Obviously, many of our fondest memories are rooted in our childhood, and the joys of being easily amused. Some of the greatest memories I have from my childhood involve me heading down to the local milk bar (general store) and playing Bubble Bobble on an old coin-op. The game blew me away.... at that point, the extent of my video game experiences had involved our old Atari 2600 sitting at home with River Raid practically glued to it. the game affected me to such an extent that I constantly hum the theme song off the top of my head, even around other people - hoping that somebody will recognise it.
2. The Addams Family (SNES)
Now, when most people think of their fondest 16bit memories, games like Super Mario World, Zelda 3 and Street Fighter 2 Turbo are probably likely to come to mind.... but myself? What is the one game I probably played more than any of them?
Granted, when my family got our Super Nintendo (Atari 2600 to SNES.... good jump), we were over the moon, and probably would have loved any cart that was plugged into it, but it was our first game, and in my opinion, one of the greatest and most challenging classic 16bit platformers of the era. To this day, the conservatory level still kicks my ass, and I've beaten them game probably close to 30 times.
3. Terranigma (SNES)
When discussion come up regarding which game most emotionally affects people, or brings a true tear to their eye... I am always incredibly happy to see Terranigma constantly brought up, because in my eyes it is possibly the most underappreciated piece of gaming this side of Beyond Good & Evil. It is honestly very hard for me to put into words really just how much of an impact this game had on me. I played this game pre-FF7, and before all future RPGs that really tried to tug on your heart strings with hours of CGI cutscenes and overdeveloped characters.
This game didn't need to 'try'.... the sense that you were a lone character attempting to accomplish an impossible task was immense. The game is perfect case study for the benefits of a 'silent protagonist', because even though Ark didn't speak, I became so involved in his character experiencing all that he did.
Terranigma had such a profound impact on me, that I had to force myself to finish the game. It was almost as if I didn't want it to end. I spent over 100 hours levelling my character up, almost as a way out of finishing the story. But when I did finish it....
Goddamn it... the only time I've ever cried because a game was because of that bloody ending. I urge everybody who has not experienced this game to play through it.
4. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PS2)
Lastly, the most recent game to completely suck me in, and one that I am sure many of you would include on a similar list yourselves. I won't waste much time/space saying things that have already been said a million times over.... but this game fucking rocks.
The characters rock, the atmosphere/setting rocks.... just play this damn game if you haven't already.
One small note: I personally find the character of EVA to be one of the most interesting and enigmatic characters I have ever seen in a game before. The fact that we hardly still know anything about her is a testament to the pure genious of character writing from Kojima & co.
Deus Ex - my favourite game of all time
Secret of Evermore
Test Drive 2 (Amstrad style~!)
Final Fantasy 9
Zelda: Majora's Mask
Donkey Kong Country 3
Well, cheers for reading if you got through all that. Now I must ask:
What games hold a dear place in your heart, for whatever goddamn reason?
I haven't obsessively played a Tekken game since the glory days of Tekken 3 for the PSX. My only experience with Tekken 4 and 5 had been random games whenever I noticed it in an arcade - more out of curiosity than anything else.
I thought I had been cured....
Last week I bought Tekken 5 for PS2 for about $20 (AU).
AND I FUCKING LOVE IT.
God help me... I can see myself wasting away for the next 6 months with this game.