Playable Perplexities: Oldies

So, I’ve been hiding in my house this past month…playing year old video games.  I have tons of new ones I could be playing, but something compelled me to finally go through the backlog – old games that everyone was telling me to play forever.  I in fact, after about 3 days, dropped the new SSX and dove head first into Dragon Age: Origins.  It’s utterly taken over my life!  No, I said, how come I didn’t listen to all my friends? THIS GAME IS AMAZING!  How many other games did I just skim on by that were phenomenal?

So this week I’m going to go through 4 that have triggered my obsessive switch, and if you haven’t played them yet…get on it!

 

Note the tin foil hat!

Note the tin foil hat!

PSYCHONAUTS

Because I honestly will never get tired of telling everyone to play this game.  I don’t care what kind of gamer you are, this game is probably one of the most brilliant things to come out of the industry.  Critically, this game scored excellent, but like Beyond Good and Evil, it just slipped by most of the mainstream audience, and those who weren’t utterly loyal to Tim Schafer at this point.

The game stars a circus runaway names Razputin (Raz for short).  He runs off to a summer camp for psychics, so he can learn and develop his powers.  From the very first NPC you talk to, to the very end of the game, the writing is funny and in most cases, still some of the best  I’ve encountered.  The world is so weird and charming, I was sucked in immediately.

Psychonauts is a platformer/puzzle game.  Each level is a trip into someones subconscious mind, so naturally you go to some pretty silly places.  You collect powers, upgrades, and figments of the imagination.  You can also find and sort emotional baggage (I’m serious, its amazing).  It’s a standard control setup, no funny business in that department, and the only problem I ever really had was in the last level of the game.  To avoid spoilers if you’ve avoided them thus far, I won’t go into too much detail – but I can tell you I think it may have been the game that broke one of my PS2 controllers.

Now, don’t fret.  You don’t have to go back to PS2 or Xbox to play this bad boy.  Its available on Steam for Mac and PC (and looking pretty beautiful to boot!) and also on XBLA if you prefer console style.  Its $9.99 on Steam and its well worth it.  Go!  Go now!

 

Ah high school, all cell phones and saving the world.

SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: PERSONA 3

This game was my first introduction to the dark Japanese series, and I picked it up on a whim after a recommendation from a friend.  I played it first on PS2, but Atlus released a new version on the PSP just a few years ago, and honestly it makes a much better portable game.  And you can play a chick!  They actually went through the effort of recording brand new dialogue for the female main character to reflect the new relationship options.  This is kind of huge for a game that as far as I know wasn’t largely popular when it first came out.

The game is as Japanese as it gets.  It’s an RPG, but its damn weird.  As the others in the series, Persona 3 involves a group of high school students who fight demons at night by invoking their ‘personas’ by shooting themselves in the head repeatedly, with special guns.  I told you it was weird.  Its a pretty basic RPG, and the personas you have dictate what spells and abilities you can use.  Your party members are limited to only one, but you can go crazy-go-nuts and get a bunch.  At a later point in the game, you can take the ones you’ve collected and combine them in strange ways to make new ones, sometimes all powerful, sometimes lame.

Persona 3’s main combat area is Tatarus, or, your high school at night that turns into a multi-hundred floor tower of doom. You fight monsters RPG style, and rescue people and sometimes complete quests.  Something worth noting though, if your main character falls, its game over for you.  By day, you attend high school like a normal kid.  You make friends, have relationships, and these relationships strengthen you personas.  Its part dungeon crawler, part dating sim!  Its amazeballs!

I bought this game about 3 different times, and I still haven’t managed to get to the last boss.  I think I’m at 90 hours or something silly – so if you want some bang for your buck on PSP I would definitely give this game a shot!  The story is quite involved and the voice acting is actually really really good!

 

Jumps that make your stomach drop.

MIRROR’S EDGE

Out in 2008 on PS3 and Xbox 360, pretty close to the PS3 launch I believe.  Before trophies even!  *shudder*  Thankfully they’ve added them into this game, unlike some of its other unlucky launch buddies.  The game is set in a dystopian future where the government controls just about everything.  You play a message runner named Faith, tasked with being one of the only ways to get information around that isn’t traced by the freaky government.  And man, does the government really not want you to get those messages around!

I’m not really sure how to classify this game.  I suppose its like a platform, but its really so much more in depth than that.  Unlike most games that incorporate climbing, this game has a more fluid, run and jump dynamic.  Everything you can interact with is painted red, though there is an option to remove that if you wish, though why the hell you would need to make this game harder is beyond me. You’re almost always on the run from something, and you need to get around fast.  The controls honestly were a little hard to get used to at first, and even well into the game I spent a lot of time falling to my death or being shot by some jerk.  Like, if you don’t hit the roll button after a long fall you’re actually just dead.  She breaks and ankle and its just over. You have no weapons, and about all that you have to defend yourself is to not get caught (or the occasional ground slide!). You can occasionally steal weapons from guard, and punch/kick them, but really, you should just run.  The whole thing is a tad nerve wracking if you ask me.  Mirror’s edge is entirely first person, with the story portions completed in slick animated cut scenes.

For being just about 4 years old, the game was pretty damn beautiful.  Its got a solid, engaging story line, and its bound to be around the $10 mark at Gamestop by now.  Worth it.

 

Eat fireball asshat!

DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS

I’m sure I must have been probably one of the only people that was foolish enough not to have played through this before, but just in case, here it is!  Out about 3 years ago on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, it is kind of ass on console, but hey if you are bad a le computer like I am, its a way better way to go.  Made by writing masterminds Bioware, the story and characters are so rich, I became embarrassingly attached to my love interest and wanted to cry when my adventure was complete.  Having never actually played a North American RPG in my life, I began to question a few of my gaming allegiances (haa haa!).

I have honestly never played a game that put more effort into its characters and their interactions with you.  You play “the Warden”, your created character, and just about every situation involves your input in one way or another.  Your decisions affect how your party will talk to you, if they like you or not, and sometimes, if they leave you or not.  Everything you do has a consequence, and the more involved you let yourself get, the more fun it is.  I played a sassy Mage and I was a giant dick for the first portion of the game.  Its almost like D&D!

The story is one of political intrigue, king-slaying, and world-saving.  It take a bit of effort on the players part to get involved, but I guarantee once you get past a few of the starting areas, it will sink its teeth into you and not let go.  The game is a North American style RPG, a little more toned down magic, and  more realistic fighting, but you still hunt down new equipment and level up your spells and abilities while adventuring.  You can swap control between you and your other 3 party members and  dictate their movement and abilities.  On PC you can pause and issue commands, and on console you can swap and use each character in turn.

There is a multitude of quests to plow through, each fully voice acted and of substance.  This game can send you on a 90 hour + adventure, or you can complete the main story in about 30 or 40.  But honestly, you’d be missing out on a ton of wonderful content.

The combat on console was dumbed down a bit, and its a little bit uglier, but if you gotta play it, you gotta play it any way you can!  The damn thing is $20 for the game + expansion + all the DLC.   You can’t say no.  You can’t.

There are tons of game that I missed, but these are a few I felt I should rave about.  They’re all decently priced, so if you ever run out of games to play (pshhhh whatever!) you know where to look!

 

 

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