Honestly I would have to talk about Turok 2 for the N64.
Though it didn't exactly start my love of games, it is the game that taught me the lesson that games have the potential to be more entertaining and powerful than even the biggest Hollywood blockbusters.
Simply put, the game blew my mind!
Eye popping graphics to the side, here's why I loved it:
Well the first Turok game was based on a long line of comics to begin with so right off the bat there are all kinds of great material to work with. But whereas the first game didn't have much of a story, Turok 2 is overflowing with it. You play as Joshua Fireseed (not the Turok from the first game, but someone within the same mystic bloodline) and you're basically summoned by a strangely pale yet attractive woman named Adon to save The Lost Land (a parallel version of Earth but with the timeline all screwed up).
You see, now The Lost Land is being torn apart by more than just massive, angry thunder lizards. The evil warlord Primagen, from across the stars, orbits the planet in his giant lightship causing a general feeling of despair all across the the world. Not to mention the mysterious figure known only as The Oblivion (the main villain from Turok 3) pops up from time to time to throw a monkey wrench in your plans.
Back in the day, most games were down right difficult and Turok 2 took that trend to a whole new level. Everything in the game that moves can and will kill and eat you. Health isn't that easy to come by and the massive levels only have one maybe two save points.
Luckily Turok is all about shooting. So where health packs are few, ammo is a plenty. And the guns are real weapons of mass destruction. You've got the Firestorm Cannon that sprays an endless ocean of bullets, there's the Cerebral Bore that drills right through an enemy's skull and blows up the brain from the inside,
there's my personal favorite, the Scorpion Launcher that shoots several heat-seeking missiles at a time. And let's not forget about THE NUKE... use your imagination.
Plus, the levels were nothing short of epic and I'm sure they pushed the N64 to its limits.
Each of the highly diverse levels had its own unique back story and mythology along with unique enemies (sometimes primitive, sometimes futuristic, but always nasty and fun to blow up) all of this leading up to heart-pounding boss encounters.
When you would beat a level, you really felt like you accomplished a feat no other mortal had.
The music was the best of any video game at that time and in my opinion was not matched until God of War came along. The score would go from subtle and haunting during the game's few quiet segements to sweeping and heroic during heated gun fights. The music would calm you as you took a moment to enjoy the safety and comfort of a save point and it would crash down on you with dread and torment as you approached a boss.
In the case I haven't got my point across let me finish with a little story. I was playing through an early level, I was low on health, low on ammo, and I could hear the Raptors closing in on me. I had just crossed some scary platforming and I was heading for a shimmering pyramid in the distance, a structure that I knew to be a portal to the game's save point system. I stepped through the gateway thanking my lucky stars that I had finally reached a temporary haven from the madness... but... it was a trap. I was on my last leg and I had been transported to the lair of the Flesh Eaters, the deadly offspring of the before mentioned Oblivion. Somehow I survived and I was awarded a piece of THE NUKE that I would later be eternally thankful for when fighting Primagen himself. That little war story may seem lame compared to today's standards but back in the N64's lifetime... man!
What else can I say? If you played it I know you loved it, and if you haven't you really owe it to yourself to check it out.
I'm sure everyone remembers a few years ago when The Punisher starring Thomas Jane and John Travolta was in theaters. But does anyone remember the THQ video game based on that movie? Said video game was actually really cool. Imagine that: a video game based on a movie that not only doesn't suck but is actually better than the movie its based on!
You see, The Punisher I know and love comes in two forms...
A) The ultraviolent, gritty, sometimes disturbingly funny comics from Garth Ennis.
B) The dark and bloody 1989 film starring Dolph Lundgren. Even though he doesn't sport the infamous white skull t-shirt, he's still exactly what Frank Castle should be.
... the video game mentioned earlier was much closer to these great source materials. The game's Punisher was brutal and unforgiving. The game's script was top notch (probably thanks to Garth Ennis' involvement). And how could anyone forget those interrogation... or should I say tortue scenes that could be performed on any enemey at any time. It was just the kind of inventive mutilation of criminals the 2004 film was lacking. The Punisher is not your friendly neighborhood vigilante, he's THE PUNISHER! And he will kill you. Period. Take a look...
Well here's to the hope that the upcoming Punisher: War Zone movie will really knock it outta the park... or if not hopefully we'll get another great game based on the franchise.