Our 2008 Gaming Moments: Part One
The year that was 2008 is over: Its happenings are currently being carved into archaic stone tablets by underpaid librarians to be placed on the great Metal Shelving of the Endtime. So, anything good happen? Read our in-no-specific-order list of what we thought were some of Gamedom’s most memorable moments over the last year.
Rez HD: The first playthrough
Somehow, I managed to skip the PlayStation 2 release of Rez. Color me embarrassed. But I had no excuse to ignore the game once the high-def remake came out on LIVE last January. I may have been out of the loop for seven years, but Rez HD managed to hook me right from the start. Having heard about the interactivity of the music, I figured I already knew what was coming. Instead, linking together low-poly wireframe models into aural-enhancing chains was so intuitive and still genius by today’s standards that the gameplay easily burned a hole of “Awesome” through my cranium. Thus, Rez HD takes a spot in our 2008 list, even though it would be more at home on a “Moments” compilation from 2002.
GTA IV: Drunk driving
The fourth Grand Theft Auto did a lot of things right (relationships, i.e. having them), and it did a few things wrong (relationships, i.e. maintaining them). But the game truly shined in one of its more controversial moments: driving piss drunk through Liberty City. The first time you grab some rounds with your favorite friend, flame or family member and stumble to your car, stepping from the curb and tumbling over, you begin to see exactly what GTA IV is about: reality caramel-coated with hilarity. Sure, that could sum up every GTA to date, but number four chose to tone down the jetpacks and weight gain to provide players with “reserved” chaos. For instance: While driving drunk, a police car notices and speeds off in pursuit of you and your horrified passenger. Suddenly, a pedestrian flips over the hood of your car in a fantastic display of pseudo-physics. You then knock over a fire hydrant and hit the adjacent wall, causing your body to launch from the windshield while your car, still running, is lifted into the air by the extreme amount of water pressure from the tipped hydrant. Truly, Rockstar didn’t take away the over-the-top experiences of San Andreas, it redefined them through a lens of feasibility.
Fable II: A dog and his ball
Fable has always been the little-franchise-that-could. Stepping back from the shadow of negative internet press over Molyneux’s boasts and the constant bellowing about undelivered gameplay promises, Fable and Fable II have ended up being extremely fun and unique titles at their respective cores. With the second game, Lionhead delivered 2008’s DogTech 2.0 (working title of my own invention); The sheer joy of playing with ol’ rendered rover was miles above shooting your billionth bullet in FPS Sequel 13. Stepping out from the gates of your adopted Gypsy home into the rays of sunshine reflecting off of Bowerstone Lake was impressive enough. But watching your dog realistically play fetch and adore you in the way pets do put the game over the top. The plot moments and combat tweaks in Fable II kept it exciting. However, the dog caused the title to rise to the developer’s promises of true choice and emotion in a videogame, making Fable II truly memorable.
Metal Gear Solid 4: The ship-top Street Fighter battle with Solid Snake and Liquid Ocelot
Nick picked the microwave tunnel part of Metal Gear Solid 4. He has a thing with Hot Pockets. Now I agree that it was memorable, but having been a fair-weather MGS fan after number two (it wasn’t because of Raiden), I tend to look past those cinematic and “deep” elements of the series and focus on what made me the most amused and satisfied in the end. For me, the final battle between Solid and Liquid could be called epic, and it totally deserves that worn-out word. The old school fighter presentation was great. Seeing both hero and villain slow down and struggle to fight back was a nice touch as well; it illustrated the vulnerability of Solid Snake’s rapid aging syndrome better than having him cough every five seconds and saying “damn!