The Games That Define Me
In this series I am going to talk about the games that ahve defined me as a gamer. They might be worldwide hits, overlooked gems and anywhere in between. I am going to solely focus on games from the current gen back to the days of the Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation. For me to consider a game to define me as a gamer it must do a few things. First and most important of all whenever I talk about it I must be able to reflect upon it as if it was just yesterday.Secondly it must have brought something new to the world of gaming for me. Lastly it must be a game I could find rather easily today. I will also do my best to keep this as spoiler-free as possible just in case someone hasn't played these games.
For my initial entry to the series I could easily start with a game like Shenmue, Final Fantasy VIII or WWF No Mercy. However, I am going to start it off with the current gen. When most people think of first person shooters they think of the Halo series right away, and I do not blame them. However I don't play most first person shooters for the story, that is a rule I started when I first got my hands on Halo 2's multiplayer. I am talking about a FPS I played strictly for the story, The Darkness.
The Darkness was released by Starbreeze Studios on June 25, 2007. Starbreeze Studio already had another of my favortie games under their belt, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. The first thing I asked myself when I saw that was "Can it be as good as Riddick?" and the answer is "Yes, yes it can."
In The Darkness, you play Jackie Estacado who on the eve of his 21st birthday finds himself with a hit upon his head, however he soon gets a way to settle the score in the way of "Darkness Powers." There are various convential weapons in the game like guns, but the "Darkness Powers" really take center stage. Through the game you can summon "Darklings" who are some dirty little bastards who will run around attacking with anything from a baseball bat to a chaingun. But those are just one of the perks of your Darkness Powers. You also have tentacles that impale your enemies ripping out their heart, and my personal favorite "Creeping Dark" which looks like an eel from hell that you control that can sneak up on people killing them by eating their heart.
Who needs a monkey in armor? I want a Darkling!
As far as locales on your "Tour de Vengeance" you get several places based on New York City including the subway complete with strangers I wouldn't look in the eyes, your Aunt's house, an orphanage and even a flashback to WWI. All are rather well detailed, before everything goes to hell at your Aunts I wanted to sit down and have some dinner there and the graffiti throughout the game was even made by a group of Swedish graffiti artists. However there are two places that really stole the show for me and are the main reason why I am so in love with this game.
Romance in my FPS?! NOOOOOO!!!!
This game did something that very few games have been able to accomplish with me, it made me care. Let me start from the beginning. In the game you have a girlfriend, Jenny. You end up at her new apartment curled up together watching some old movies on the TV with her falling sleep in your arms. It really is a tender and serene moment that really struck a nerve with me. I WANTED to sit there and watch the movie with her, I could have gotten up and left at any moment with the press of a button and I didn't. I didn't do it for the achievement you get, hell I didn't know that was an achievement until I got it, I stayed with her until she fell asleep because I WANTED to, the game made me actually care about her
Those three or four moment lead to a part of the game that actually made me sad. Once this moment happened I instantly knew how the FFVII fanboys felt when Aeris died. After failed attempts on your life, Mafia Don "Uncle" Paulie decides to do the next best thing, kill that which you love more than yourself. He and corrupt cops have you come to the orphanage where you and Jenny grew up and what happens next I really can't do justice with words so I'll just let the game do the talking...
After that all I could do is just put down the controller, hang my head and light a cigarette. Even now I get a little emotional watching that. I cared about her, I actually cared about someone in a game and they killed her! I want revenge, and revange is what I get... and that revenge is fucking sweet. But I will let you discover that for yourself if you haven't already.
Out of all the games I've played, the only time I've ever been emotionally invested in the story was FInal Fantasy VIII with Squall and Rinoa, but that's for another day. After compsing myself from Jenny's death I had to do a private chat with my buddy and tell him to go get the game. A few days later even he called me "Those bastards! You're right! You do care about her! I was pissed when they killed her, actually I'm STILL pissed about it!" The game still comes up and everytime I am in EB Games and I see a copy of it on the shelves I instantly smile but at the same time my heart drops a bit.
The Darkness got rather mixed reviews, however I believe it sold rather well; well enough that people including myself are waiting with baited breath for a sequel. But when it comes to a sequel the best we've gotten thus far is "We can't say Darkness and video game sequel in the same sentence, so Darkness. Wink. Sequel." at Comic Con '08. Hopefully now that the rerelease of Riddick is finished and out Starbreeze will announce The Darkness 2 at this year's E3, but I have a feeling they won't.
That wraps up the first entry in "The Games That Define Me" and I hope you all enjoied it. If you've played the game I'd love to hear your througths on the game, and if you haven't yet you really must track down a copy of it. After a quick look on EB Game's site you can snag the 360 version for under 15 and the PS3 version for under 20. If I was able to shell out 20 bucks for Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust then smash it with a hammer and burn it, you can easily scrape together some cash and go pick this gem up on the cheap.