Following is a list of games that have impressed me a lot over the years. I will not do full reviews (I’ll include links for those), but briefly state why I found them so appealing. I have included the Plot summaries from wikipedia
System Shock 2 (1999)
I have always been fascinated with Sci-fi, FPS & space. System Shock 2 combines all this with the horror genre and the result is a very addictive and mesmerizing game.
I got this game from Sector 17, Chandigarh, unfortunately, just before Diwali. I was so engrossed in the game that I spent most of Diwali playing it and ignored everything else.
The reason I liked this game so much was because it conveys a feeling of loneliness. You are the only human (almost) in a city-sized spacecraft light-years away from home. Everything is deserted and the enemies appear suddenly, scaring you.
Also fascinating for science fiction lovers is how the overall structure of the Von-Braun and the Rickenbacker are slowly revealed and you discover how the spacecrafts are built to sustain an entire ecosystem. You feel sad, lonely and scared most of the time.
It’s a pity that there was no sequel to this fantastic game (even though the finale is open-ended). However, irrational games did release Bioshock, which is called the “spiritual successor” of System Shock.
Tomb Raider Series (1996 onwards)
Many would consider the Tomb Raider series as girly. Some others (who have only watched the movies) might have a different perception of the character. However, I found the games very fascinating due to the following reasons
- Most of the time, you are alone in a deserted location. This conveys a feeling of loneliness & mystery.
- The locales are just fascinating. Lara Croft travels through exotic locations, like the City of the Dead, Angkor Vat, South America, the Arctic Ocean etc. A full map of her adventures can be found here
- You get to walk, run, jump, drive vehicles, swim underwater etc
- The path forward is not always clear. You have to find your way most of the times, time your jumps, look for clues etc.
- The soundtrack is fantastic. Most of it, composed by Nathan McRee. They can be downloaded here
The later parts of the games have migrated to more modern settings, however, the earlier versions would remain closest to my heart,
Janes USAF (1999)
Jane’s USAF is one of the many Combat Flight Simulationsreleased by Jane’s Combat Simulations, but undoubtedly one of the best. You get to fly several US Air Force planes like the F-105 Thunderchief, F-4E Phantom II, F-16C Fighting Falcon, F-15C Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle, A-10A Thunderbolt II, F-117A Nighthawk, and the F-22A Raptor to different sorties, major missions like Vietnam and Desert Storm and 2 missions set in the future. You can switch from one plane to another within a mission as well.
The controls were very slick and the graphics very good for that era. Too bad the game refused to run at all on Windows XP onwards.
Rogue Trip: Vacation 2012 (1998)
Rogue trip is a vehicular combat game and one of the few games I’ve played extensively on my friend’s Playstation (PS One). Even though I played it in Black & White (He has a PAL system but NTSC discs), the game was very enjoyable.
The main aim is to take aliens on a sight-seeing trip in various locales in the US. There are other cars who want to do the same, so there’s stiff competition as they try to kill you and vice-versa.
The cars are fun and you have a bevy of weapons including ballistic missiles. I have very fond memories of playing this game. The soundtrack is especially good including the Rascal King by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Here’s the song
Max Payne (2001/2003)
This is the game that changed it all. It put my graphics card, my processor and my overall computer to shame. I had to invest money into buying new hardware for my computer, especially to play this game. With an almost brand new system and a lighter pocket, this game was a pure pleasure to play. Some things that stand out for this game
- Unique storyboard based gameplay
- Amazing haunting music
- The innovative gameplay style featuring Bullet-time motion, with slow-motion stunts. You can see bullets slow down and travelling through the air, causing shock-waves while you dive for cover and fire back at the same time
- The snowy landscape of New York is a joy to travel through
- Unique weapons like the Molotov Cocktail
I still vividly remember the opening cut-scene
The sequel, though not as great as the first part is still pretty amazing.
Grand Theft Auto (1997 onwards)
My first sojourn with a Grand Theft Auto game was when I played GTA II demo on a Chip CD. The gameplay, though 2D as still quite enjoyable.
GTA-III started the 3D era for the GTA series. GTA-III onwards, the gameplay features a sandboxed city, in which you can navigate to complete different missions. The main points are
- You are given access to an open world. You can go anywhere in the city you like, steal an vehicle you can find (including a Tank)
- An innovative “RADIO” system. You can switch between radio channels and listen to the obscure in-game radios.
- You can sleep off your injuries
GTA-III had one of the best gameplays/graphics of that era and subsequent sequels improved upon it and maintained the high-standards.
The latest version, GTA-IV is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time. Again, I had to spend a lot to upgrade my computer to be able to run this game. If your computer is up for it, the graphics are pure bliss. No other game till now has managed to re-create such a beautiful city in its entirety
The best part about such games is that the game never gets over. You still have the whole city to explore and you can just roam around for hours killing people, fleeing from the police, stealing cars and bikes.
Some other games worth mentioning are Microsoft Flight Simulator, Microsoft Midtown Madness, Crysis 2