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Choice Games from a Final Fantasy Fan
Final Fantasy XIII PS3 cover
I have been interested in video games since I can remember. A child of the 80's, computers intrigued me. As I grew up and computers became more and more accessible, I began to immerse myself in the world of computer and video gaming. And those games have come a long way from the games of my childhood. Yesterday, was released for the PlayStation3 and XBox 360. The release of this artistic meeting of technology, beauty, and entertainment led me to consider the electronic games that I have truly enjoyed -- and continue to enjoy -- and what makes them so timeless. Final Fantasy XIII
The first video game that I remember falling head-over-heels for was Sim City on the PC. Other old favorites include Tetris and Super Mario Brothers, both on the original Nintendo Game Boy. Clunky and pixelated though these games were --not to mention worlds away from technological masterpieces like the just-released Final Fantasy XIII -- I loved every second of them. Why? Because they got my attention and then held it, at times indefinitely. These simple, primitive games sucked players in with engrossing gameplay. Even today hardcore fans keep going back to the original versions of these classic games, so much so that the console manufacturers like Nintendo and Sony converted such games to be playable on current systems.
A recently released PC title that similarly captures my attention for hours on end is The Sims 3, as well as its expansion, World Adventures. The premise is simple: control a population of characters, or "sims," and help them to achieve their life goals. The Sims 3 is a life simulation, and the concept is brilliant. Producer EA Games hit the jackpot in creating a game where, through the sims, players live. End of story. And yet, as ridiculous as it may seem, the premise sells. It definitely sold me.
Puzzle Quest for the Nintendo DS is another engrossing title. This game is a melding of Bejeweled and Tetris, with some basic RPG elements thrown in to give the player a sense of story and progression. Just like the original Tetris, Puzzle Quest is simple -- and simply fun.
If these games spark your interest, you may want to check out these titles as well:
- Lego Star Wars (multi-platform): Users play through the Star Wars saga -- in Lego Land. This game delivers on goofball humor, fairly intuitive controls, and a whole lot of fun for all ages.
- Zoo Tycoon (PC): In this simulation game, players create and maintain a zoo, which is a task easier said than done.
As I began to experience more varied games, I began to appreciate the value of a good story. Now, if a game's story does not capture my imagination, it usually stays on the shelf. One of the first games that engaged me in this way was the puzzle game Myst. From there I explored a more story-driven title in the adventure genre, The Longest Journey. The Longest Journey, as well as its sequel, Dream Fall, boasts masterful storytelling. I felt as if I was experiencing a living novel while playing both of these titles.
My entrance into console gaming began with another classic story-driven game, Final Fantasy X for the PlayStation 2. This game is beautiful, and the story arc powerful. While the voice acting leaves something to be desired, no other aspects of this game are less than superb.
For gamers who want a hefty dose of action along with their plot, I recommend the Xbox and PC title Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This game allows players to alter the course of events unfolding onscreen through their choices. Players ultimately must align themselves with the dark side or the light, and then reap the consequences.
Another story-driven action game are No One Lives Forever and its sequel, developed for the PC and PlayStation 2. Here, players take on the persona of a smart and sassy British spy Cate Archer as she takes on the bad guys, who operate under the flag of a group known as H.A.R.M. Campy and silly, this title is also suspenseful and tons of fun.
Other excellent story-driven games include:
- Drake's Fortune (PS3): Play as an updated version of Indiana Jones and search a lost fortune.
- Half-Life 2 (PC, PS2): A sequel, this sci-fi first person shooter is touted as the best of the two, and story plays no small part in that success.
- Heavy Rain (PS3): This game was just released in February 2010 and was heralded as being a pioneer in story-driven video gaming. The plot in this mature crime drama is dark but is said to be very emotional and compelling.
Final Fantasy XIII Trailer (English)
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Final Fantasy XIII (PS3 & XBOX 360)
I am a geek at heart. And as a geek, I get excited over the latest techie innovation or invention. In video gaming, this means that I have a particular fondness for new and unique concepts. Electronic gaming is itself fairly young, but already manufacturers are creating amazing new products. In my opinion, the Wii and its games reign over the crowd of nifty new knickknacks and gadgets.
I own and "play" EA Sports Active and Wii Fit Plus regularly -- if working out on a console gaming system can truly be called playing. And yet, even as I'm sweating it out in front of my Wii the concept is appealing. The Wii is virtual reality in my living room. I remember when I viewed a far simpler version of virtual reality at a science museum as a child -- and now that technology's superiors are available at Wal-Mart. The Wii's motion-controlled sensors not only make for a good workout but also provide innovative game play.
If physically active gaming is not your cup of tea, however, there are other truly unique games to be had. The Katamari Damacy PlayStationseries stars a little prince rolling a sticky ball around town to see how big he can make it. Little Big Planet for the PlayStation 3 features sock puppet-esque characters and allows players to create their own obstacles and game levels, then challenge friends via the online PlayStation Network.
Still not unique enough for you? Try these titles:
- Psychonauts (XBox, PS2): A psychic boy sneaks into a camp for kids with gifts like his, then finds a mysterious plot brewing within the camp that only he can stop.
- Okami (PS2, Wii): In this action-adventure game based in Japanese mythology, players use the main character to paint his way through the game in the style of ancient sumi-e art.
When home internet access became the norm, the PC gaming industry quickly developed the first of an ever-growing collection of online games. Most of these community oriented games fall into the genre of massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs), in which players interact in-world from their remote locations. The first online game that hooked me was Ultima Online. From there I tried EverQuest, which I found more to my liking.
Of course, both of those titles lost their appeal when World of Warcraft took the stage. This game is only half-jokingly referred to by gamers and non-gamers alike as "World of Warcrack." The goal of most online role-playing games is to advance one's character to the highest level possibly through fights, quests, and similar tasks. A vast fan base of World of Warcraft players continues to make this the most popular online game in the industry, and I used to be one of them. I enjoyed my time as a gnome mage, trekking through swamps, battling unearthly creatures, and adventuring with fellow players. However, the monthly subscription fee, which is a standard feature of most online games, began seem rather ludicrous, so eventually I left my World of Warcraft days behind.
I did not, however, leave online gaming. The Guild Wars series boasts online RPG-style action, but without the monthly fee. Instead, creator ArenaNet attempts to keep the series fresh and organic through the regular production of new expansions. The latest expansion is Eye of the North, and a sequel to the series is expected in 2011.
If none of the above online games strike your fancy, check out some other solid titles in the genre:
- Lord of the Rings Online (PC): Dive into Middle-Earth with this MMORPG, which boasts plenty of solo quests as well as community action.
- City of Heroes/City of Villains (PC): Be a super hero -- or a super villain. Both sides of the law are quite fun in this game.
- MapleStory (PC): This online game has no monthly fees and looks like a 2D console game.
- Star Trek Online; Lineage 1 and 2; Final Fantasy XI; EVE Online; Aion: I have not played any of these titles myself, but they all have a strong following and are worth checking out if you're looking for a new online game.