IVG’s Games of the Generation – Part 2

This is Part 2 of IVG’s five-part Games of the Generation feature. Click here for Part 1.

It’s been a crazy generation.

We’ve seen so much volatility that it makes the manager’s job at Chelsea seem stable. From horse armour to Steam machines, there’s a lot that’s been done in a rather short time span.

All along the way, amidst the cries of one platform or another dying (PC gaming is still dead, depending who you speak to), there have been oodles of games to play and be played, which makes this piece all the more difficult.

Trimming down to my five favourite games was no easy task, but these slivers of digital goodness are to me what represent the best of what has passed. Or so I hope. Because hey, it’s been a crazy generation.

bioshock

5. Bioshock

All the historical ramifications in the world pale in comparison to facing off against a Big Daddy for the first time.

Ah, Bioshock. Introducing gamers to the pleasures of killing legions of drug-addled residents of an erstwhile underwater paradise since 2007. Sure, the plot still holds up and if it didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have had a sequel (and the amazing Minerva’s Den DLC) or Bioshock: Infinite or Gone Home (made by the folks who brought us Minerva’s Den).

All the historical ramifications in the world pale in comparison to facing off against a Big Daddy for the first time. Oh, and unleashing a swarm of bees on unsuspecting foes never gets old, even as we fervently chuck our PS3 and Xbox 360s for something more cutting edge.

Fun fact: India never did get the game even remotely on time, thanks to confusion around who would be distributing it.

skyrim

4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

While it has all the trappings of fantasy we’ve come to know and love, shaping the world in your likeness and by your actions is pretty darn awesome.

Dragons, political intrigue, magic, and thanks to Game of Thrones and the Hobbit movies, high fantasy, have become mainstream clichés. But before everyone and their grandmother’s cat jumped on the bandwagon, spouting the difference between an elf and an orc, there was Skyrim.

You can end civil wars, assassinate emperors, hunt for treasures hidden deep within caverns, or do what I did for a good part of my 80-plus hours – watch giants and dragons square off in combat, kill the victor who was already weakened by the battle and steal their loot, which I’d then sell to concoct potions to give to unsuspecting…err…nevermind, where were we? Ah, yes *ahem* and while it has all the trappings of fantasy we’ve come to know and love, shaping the world in your likeness and by your actions is pretty darn awesome.

The sheer attention to detail and intricacy made this an instant pick. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some potions to peddle.

tf2

3. Team Fortress 2

Few games can boast the longevity and support it has had over the years or a strict adherence to the free-to-play model without ever being pay-to-win.

Hat trading simulator to some, FPS multiplayer madness to others. For a generation that’s had more multiplayer games than porn stars have plastic surgeries, Team Fortress 2 remains my go-to fix when I need to incinerate, blow up, shoot or heal other human beings. Originally shipping in 2007 with The Orange Box that had two other big draws in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and Portal, I ended up either healing inept Heavies as a Medic or burning down everything in my path as a Pyro for the better part of two years straight.

Fast forward to 2014, a billion patches and a slew of new features later, and I’m still playing this when I can. Few games can boast the longevity and support that Team Fortress 2 has had over the years or a strict adherence in adopting the free-to-play model without ever being pay-to-win. You can keep whining about your Half-Life 3; I’ll just waiting for more Team Fortress 2 updates instead, thank you very much.

me

2. Mass Effect

From the first mission all the way up to the tense choices that the endgame gives you, there’s a sense of never-ending wonder that it so effortlessly exudes.

Yes, the story has more than a tinge of Babylon 5, the combat was clunky, and the way the trilogy concluded resulted in enough hate spewed to start an intergalactic war. The first Mass Effect game being on my list doesn’t mean I’m not aware of its shortcomings, but in spite of them, it still is an insanely replayable, densely atmospheric game.

My first tryst with it was in 2008 on the Xbox 360 (which I bought used, just to play Mass Effect) and I was hooked from the start. Even now I have chills hearing the opening track. From the first mission all the way up to the tense choices that the endgame gives you in Viremire and The Citadel, there’s a sense of never-ending wonder that it so effortlessly exudes. The number of character class options, rich back-stories to alien races, and even the dialogue was memorable.

Other franchises may have executed the concept of carrying over save files from one game to the next, but none have done it as comprehensively as Mass Effect, which wouldn’t have been possible without the original. More than the game, the community that formed around it on IVG was quite sweet. We called ourselves the Mass Effect Defence Force (much bias, wow), made custom signatures for members, and revelled in tales of how different (or same) the game played out. It was one of the few games that made me a more social person. Are you happy now, Sam? Looks like I’ve had my Oprah/Koffee With Karan/ Simi Garewal moment.

vanquish

1. Vanquish

There’s an unforgiving tempo to Vanquish’s action; one that grabs you by the gonads and forces you unlearn how you play third-person shooters.

Every once in a while comes a game with an idea so good that it could flourish regardless of the setting. While Platinum Games decided to go with a firmly tongue-in-cheek tale involving terrorists, robots and space marines, the game wouldn’t be too bad if it were about saving your cat from atop of a tree either. That is, of course, if you were decked up in an awesome suit, could slide across at rocket speeds, slow down time along the way, land a million punches on any obstacles in your direction, and proceed to backflip and somersault to your destination.

There’s an unforgiving tempo to Vanquish’s action; one that grabs you by the gonads and forces you unlearn how you play third-person shooters. Instead of running to cover and shooting enemies in the face, you’ll be running away from cover as you blitz through the battlefield, avoiding gunfire and rockets all aimed squarely at you.

The action is refreshingly over-the-top to the point where even when the game slips in the odd QTE or two, you’re perfectly fine with it. It might not have sold millions, and we’re probably never going to have a sequel or an HD remake, or even a PC port, but that doesn’t make Vanquish any less of a success.

Playing an action game as raw and as unfettered by convention gives me hope that there is room for a different take on the familiar that can yet be extremely enjoyable. I can’t possibly think of another game this generation that I have had so much fun playing, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Check back on Monday, 20th January, for Part 3 of IVG’s Games of the Generation by Amit Goyal

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