*rasies right hand* Hi everyone. My names Kelly and I’m a massive nerd.
Something has struck me recently. Well I guess it’s been coming for a while really after my realisation that I don’t have time for “me” anymore. You see, I’ve sort of fallen in to the trap that most parents seem to after their first child. I’ve become a “mum”. And that’s about it. My whole purpose in life now is to look after a tiny human rather than look after myself.
I’ve always been a bit of a nerd – particularly when it comes to video games and technology – so today I want to post about something far more “me” and far less “mum”. My top 5 xbox games. All of these hark back to the days of the XBOX 360 rather than the rather watered down cruddy XBOX ONE (that’s a post for another day) and each of them will forever hold a special place in the nerdy portion of my heart that’s reserved for LEGO mini figures, Star Wars and Dr Who.
How could this NOT make any top game list? Halo 3 so beautifully demonstrated what the franchise was capable of and as the final game in the original trilogy it will always be the one I return to when I want to spend some time mindlessly killing covenant or getting my ass kicked on multiplayer.
I remember the first time I played Halo 3. I was hungover. So very, very hungover. Mr Sussex and I decided that the beautiful September sunshine was far too bright for our semi-closed, blurred vision laden eyeballs to handle so instead of enjoying the last of the summer we opted instead to sit on our backsides eating biscuits and drinking copious amounts of tea as we played the campaign on co-op together. We had completed it on legendary mode by 10pm that night. THAT is the mark of a good game. We didn’t move; we barely stopped for a wee; we just…played. Obviously we then spent the the rest of that month mindlessly obsessed with online multiplayer too.
The campaign story is effortless in Halo 3. The graphics were a massive step up from Halo 2. Playing as the arbiter (and therefore having a covenant carbine on me at all times) was a wonderful deviation from previous games in the franchise. But the best bit about Halo 3 for me is that it’s the one game that so totally encapsulates a time “pre-mum”. If I think back to Summer evenings drinking wine with friends, it’s Halo that we are playing together. Halo that we argued and laughed over. Halo that I was quite clearly so much better at than them. You can’t buy memories like the ones I have of this game. And I really don’t care how ridiculous that might sound.
As an aside; I challenge anyone who has had a shitty day to not be cheered up by 1) shooting fictional characters and pretending they are whatever annoying work colleague/aquantance that has wound you up that day and 2) the sound of the grunt birthday cheer when you get a headshot. A true, timeless classic.
Fable 2 hadn’t even registered on my gaming radar before a friend turned up with it one blustery October evening and said “you have GOT to see this opening sequence”. My intrigue was piqued, as I hadn’t even heard of Fable 1, so we popped the game in not expecting a great deal. I can vividly remember sitting in almost pitch black (as suggested by this friend) and watching what was the most beautiful intro sequence I had ever seen. I was immediately hooked. For those that haven’t seen it here it is. But bear in mind that in 2008 this was a huge leap in terms of graphics capabilities in games. We forget sometimes quite how far the gaming industry has come in such a short space of time – this, and what followed in the first ten minutes, was almost mind blowing to us.
At this point we weren’t sure what the game actually was and I was expecting a button bashing smasher that didn’t live up to this mysterious and climatic opening. Boy was I wrong. If you haven’t played Fable 2 you really really need to. Not only is the setting of a Victorian-London-esque town completely captivating, the game play is totally unique. Whilst you work on building up your experience and expertise in your chosen area (magic, combat, weaponry etc.) and pick and choose various mini-missions to complete for townsfolk, you are also given the option to use “facial expressions”. The way you interact with other characters and passers using these expressions shapes the character you become. Essentially you make a choice – the biggest choice that there can be in gaming – good or evil?
It seems daft writing this but it was such a huge revelation when I first played it. Traditionally a game will be programmed in such a way that you will, generally, be playing a protagonist who is endeavoring to “save the world” or save a group of people from a threat of some kind. But here, you can actually be the threat. And whilst the large missions still play out in the same way, the end goal is entirely different. Depending on how you’ve played the game you can choose a different path once the big bad is thwarted. You can opt for greed and selfish gain or you can opt to take the righteous path and ensure the safety of this little world. Or you can choose a bit of both. Obviously I’m trying not to spoil it for you by telling you outright what can happen but needless to say it’s an incredibly clever and dynamic game that is beautifully put together.
I like to think that with games like this – games where there is a choice to be made – that our dormant personality traits have their chance to shine. Mr Sussex is generally, in real life, a bit of an ass hole so naturally he always plays as a “good guy”, whereas I am far nicer in real life and will always, without fail, opt to be as nasty and evil as I can. Far more fun if you ask me. The detail in this game depending on that choice is so beautifully crafted – my final character was fat, uncouth, had sprouted devil horns and was laden with deep scars across her face; a visual indication of the life that character had lived. Mr Sussex’s on the other hand was slim, attractive, had a glistening halo and was always the center of attention from adoring fans.
This game is a marvel and everyone should play it. I haven’t even touched on half of the possibilities; getting a job to earn money, trading goods, using brothels, making people (of both sexes – so kudos for that) fall in love with you and marry you, having children, buying a home, sacrificing your children for evil gain – the list is endless! I also haven’t touched on the incredible voice acting and casting – Steven Fry, Julia Sawalha, Zoë Wanamaker, James Corden to name a few!
Utterly sublime. But don’t bother with Fable 1 or 3. Seriously.
Mass Effect 2
Considering that my favourite part of Fable 2 is the ability to go a bit “psycho Kelly” and that I also have an unadulterated love of science and space, the Mass Effect trilogy was always and very inevitably going to be one of my all time favourite games. Although this list isn’t in any order of preference, I think I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t say that Mass Effect was the greatest game series I have ever played. And Mass Effect 2 is the epitomy of this greatness.
Like Fable 2, the decisions you make in Mass Effect 2 (as well as 1 and 3) effect the way your game and story unfolds. But unlike Fable 2, the number of decisions available to you are enormous. Truly and totally enormous. The scale of this game is insane and if you were to play it through multiple times and make slightly different choices for each game I still don’t think you could play every option if you kept going for several years. Don’t get me wrong, some of the decisions are far more minor than others but each of them carries a certain game changing element. Like Fable 2 you have the ability to choose a “good” or “bad ass” path which the franchise calls “paragon” or “renegade” Any bets as to which one I always choose? I mean come on, who doesn’t want to be known as a renegade? It is impossible to put in to words the scale and enormity of this gaming trilogy – I liken it to real life in many ways – every conversation, every relationship, every choice, every decision to walk past or act will have an effect. A Mass Effect. Geddit? The decisions you make in 1 will affect gameplay in 2 and 3 and on it goes for ever and ever until the climax. Amazing.
Mass Effect 2 is the most perfect game in my eyes. It was more streamlined than Mass Effect 1 (though I did miss being able to pick up and customise every weapon and I *really* missed being able to land on and scavange every tiny planet in every system) and seems far larger in scale than Mass Effect 3. The music for this series alone is enough to send shivers down my spine and have me reaching for my controller, itching to play. I can’t even put in to words what happens in the game because I would be here forever – just go and play it and see the awesomeness for yourself! As I have sat here typing this I already know I’ll be playing it all over again as soon as I possibly can. That is the mark or a true gaming Goliath.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2
You’ve probably realised by now that I love a bit of local co-op. If I’m not playing fully immersive “decision-based” games then I’m playing something with Mr Sussex whilst we drink tea and munch Foxes crunch creams. Sadly these lazy gaming days are far more limited now we have Baby Sussex but it’s still my favourite way to play. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is definitely at the top of my list for local co-op gaming. Vegas 1 was also fantastic but the game play is so much smoother and far more refined in 2.
Playing on Realistic mode is both exhilarating and anger inducing – think “one bullet and you’re probably a goner”! This means that teamwork and utilising your AI team mates is vital to success and makes the whole experience far more realistic AND strategic. Levels are so well thought out and whilst there is slightly less story than in some of the previous games I’ve discussed, you are still totally engrossed in what’s going on – particularly if playing on realistic mode. Abseiling down walls, scaling the building and sending camera drones under doors to identify enemies before you breach the room and blast the door off its hinges are incredibly subtle and endlessly fun touches that really make this Tom Clancy classic stand out from other first person shooters.
You also have the added bonus of plying “terrorist mode” away from the campaign as either local co-op, solo or online with friends. It’s one of the most hardcore add-ons to a game I have ever played and is both ridiculously frustrating and completely addictive.
There is no end to my love of the Rainbow Six Vegas series. It’s one of the finest examples of a game that so completely and utterly encapsulates HOW modern gamers like to play; at home, on the sofa with their significant other or friend and with the option to play online with others. None of this “online multiplayer only – no local co-op” bullshit – just true quality gaming with a friend beside you – I just wish they’d hurry up and make another!
Left 4 Dead
I haven’t played this for AGES but when I was perusing our game shelf my eyes were immediately drawn to it. If you are looking for a zombie slashing adventure then this is the game for you. It can be played local co-op and online for up to 4 people which means we have spent endless hours hacking away at zombies with various sharp implements with our friends together from the comfort of our sofa.
What makes this game extra interesting though is that for each level you are trying to get to the evac point and any member of your team can be “left 4 dead” and not make it. Queue endless amusement as you leg it for the chopper and leave your mate behind behind as their body is consumed in a cloud of rabid zombies who are madly chomping on their legs. Seriously, this will *never* get old! My only ever qualm was that I wanted more levels but you can still get a lot of hours out of this by repeating levels (and attempting to get your mates left behind) before you get bored! It may not be an all-time classic but it’s certainly great for playing with mates – and that’s what a real game is all about, right?
So those are my top 5 xbox games – What are yours?