Since this blog is starved of fresh content, I thought I should just go crazy and write about anything I get my hands on. And I do mean anything. What I planned to be a 1,000 word post became five times as long, which says a lot about the way I write and why I found being prolific rather difficult in the first place. So, here’s a blog post on a game meme I responded to on a whim over a week ago.
It’s other people’s answers to it that made me think about explaining my answers. I do have a bit of imposter syndrome when it comes to being a gamer, feeling like I’ve not played as many games as other people, thus making my knowledge of them rather shallow in comparison. Perhaps with this, I can remind myself that I’m quite the gamer myself, having played a ton of titles over the years. In the end, I know what I like.
A friend on Facebook posted his answers, along with a template. It interested me enough to answer it. I found myself surprised by my own answers, having to give deep thought to some of them. Other friends answered it as well, and their answers were intriguing enough for me to go into mine with more detail.
Post your answers and tag @avoiderdragon on Facebook or Twitter at your own leisure.
My Answers to the Game Meme
Here is mine. I put a bit of effort into it by adding the box art of each game. I think the visuals add to the recall of each game, and it shows the variety I got to enjoy over the years.
Let’s look into each item, detailing the reasons behind my own answers.
Favorite Game of All Time — Arcanum
The last time I talked about my love for this game in full was over six years ago. I wouldn’t say it’s the best game. I wouldn’t even say it’s better than the old Fallout games. The Fallout games had slightly better writing for their antagonists, for instance.
It’s my favorite game of all time mostly due to my first experience with it back in 2001 and how I’ve been able to play it over the years. The first time I played it, I was taken so aback by how much I liked it that I went back to the store I got it from and told them how it’s well worth the money. I’ll never forget how jazzed I was then.
Perhaps my dream project is making my own video on the game. I’ve been thinking about it for many years now, but I’ve yet to gather the courage and confidence to do it. Someday, I’ll catch this white whale and do the game justice.
Best Story — Fallout: New Vegas
It was a toss-up between Fallout: New Vegas and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II for this category. Why Fallout: New Vegas won out is because it gave me the option to tell everyone in the Mojave to shove it up their asses by taking the Yes Man option.
The only reason I didn’t put Planescape: Torment here is because I never finished the game; I only watched let’s plays and video essays to understand its story. Therefore, it doesn’t count.
I didn’t put Arcanum here because of how it ends. While still beautiful and thought-provoking in its own way, the charisma option in the final boss fight isn’t as good as that of the first Fallout.
Favorite Art Style — Deus Ex: Human Revolution
This has been mentioned repeatedly on this blog that I liked the aesthetics of Deus Ex: Human Revolution so much that the design of this website was inspired by it. I’ve since changed the header fonts from Orbitron to Proxima Nova, and I may change it again to Scout (from Rainbow Six Siege).
This process shows how games influence not only how I choose to pass my time, but also how it informs my aesthetic choices. While my current aesthetics still retains a lot of my edgy teenage preferences, especially with the dark background, my choice of colors and overall presentation did change. If I made this back when I was a teenager, it would’ve been black and red.
Never mind the piss filter in the original release of the game. That was an artistic choice that made even me scratch my head. But the interface and atmosphere of the game stayed with me somehow, enough that it got me to copy bits of it while I was learning web development in college.
I know it’s not the most intricate or distinct art style ever in a video game, but I did like it anyway. Perhaps I would’ve taken more from Mass Effect 2 as well, a game that I also liked for its visuals. But somehow, nanopunk won me a bit more than outer space.
“I’ll finish it someday.” — Dishonored
I think I know why even with all the times I’ve tried to start with this game, I have not even approached the middle part and just let it languish in my Steam library all this time. It’s the distinction between high chaos and low chaos gameplay.
I learned early on that high chaos yields a bad ending and low chaos yields a good ending. While I’m definitely more of a low chaos sort of person since I grew up playing Deus Ex and Thief: The Dark Project, I watched a ton of combo kill videos when this game was first released.
High chaos is where all the fun stuff is, and I feel like I’d be missing out if I want a good ending. Then again, the solution to that is to play it twice. However, while I was trying out low chaos, I noticed that there’s an achievement for each mission called Ghost. You get it when you complete the mission without being spotted even once.
The last time I tried to play this game, I got spotted once in the first mission. I then stopped playing again due to being busy with other things. I know this is the sort of game I’d be into, but that distinction between high chaos and low chaos gameplay is throwing me for a loop.
This year, I’m putting a stop to that. I’ll finish it in 2021, hopefully live on Twitch.
Big Personal Impact — StarCraft II
What hooked me into StarCraft II back in 2010 is the same reason I got into chess back in 2006, which is learning more about something I’m supposedly bad at. It was an effort to shore up a weakness through a game. But what kept me hooked was the hotkey-centric gameplay and multitasking, which challenged me to get better.
I was able to reach Platinum league, which was more than what I wanted. In the five years I played 1v1 multiplayer ladder semi-seriously from 2010 to 2015, it taught me what it takes to turn a weakness into a strength. My weakness of not being good at thinking on my feet and making decisions on the fly were shored up to an extent.
It taught me much about the learning process. While I no longer play at least ten ladder games every day, I still carry the lessons I learned from that time. So yeah, this game had a big personal impact on me.
Best Combat — DOOM Eternal
If there’s one game that gave me the same itch as StarCraft II in terms of skill-based gameplay that hits every button for me, it’s DOOM Eternal. Right from its gameplay trailer, detailing all the new mechanics, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to play it, so I played the hell out of DOOM 2016 in anticipation. It was the one thing I was looking forward to when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
It was released five days after the lockdown, and I went through hell trying to buy the game. My card wouldn’t work for some reason, so I had to find a way to add funds to my GCash. This was before I linked my bank account to it, so I had to go to find a nearby 7-11 that could let me do so. I was able to get the game just a day before release, which was practically a pre-order. While I usually have a rule of never pre-ordering a game, this had to be an exception.
DOOM Eternal was my companion for most of 2020. Once I learned about quick-switching and realized that I had to change my key bindings, it got even more fun. Perhaps you can say that 300+ hours in a game played throughout a year are rookie numbers, but every minute of that time was quality.
You like, but everyone hates — Fallout 4
The writing and dialogue in Fallout 4 suck. They make the game sub-par, which is a shame since the system itself is actually pretty good. I’d even double-down on that and say the role-playing system in Fallout 4 is superior to the older Fallout games.
I haven’t posted a write-up on this yet, but I have a draft on a comparison between Cyberpunk 2077 with The Outer Worlds and Fallout 4. I conclude there that Cyberpunk 2077 combines the best gameplay features of the other two and other open world games and immersive sims, as well as the more compelling story, while The Outer Worlds is the one with the more unique setting and Fallout 4 has the best role-playing system.
What Fallout 4 ended up being is a platform for future conversion mods that some indie outfit can make a full game with several years down the line. Bethesda’s unwillingness or inability to make a game with the same narrative cohesion and depth as Fallout: New Vegas makes Todd Howard look like Vince McMahon in pro wrestling.
I would go as far as to say that Fallout 4 is even more of untapped potential than Cyberpunk 2077. It goes to show that no matter how good the gameplay is, a single-player game will never get long-term recognition without significant narrative substance.
You hate, but everyone likes — League of Legends
This is mostly my fault. I was never able to get into the MOBA craze of the mid-to-late 2000s. I did play DotA All-Stars back in 2005, and the experience pretty much scared me away from team multiplayer games for the next several years. I just don’t like getting berated while playing.
I’ve talked about my qualms with playing MOBAs before on this blog post, and the five reasons I listed down there still stand. Besides, there’s no one who hates the game more than a veteran League of Legends player.
But why did I answer League of Legends here and not Dota 2? The answer lies in my ability to follow their respective scenes. Personally, I find the stories in Dota 2 to be more compelling, especially with the history of OG and all the other anime-like tales in that scene.
I never felt that with League of Legends. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t paying enough attention. While there’s a lot more to Riot Games’ production value given to the game and its scene, it never really captured my attention for some reason.
That’s the reason for my answer here. Everyone else seems to like it, but I don’t.
Underrated — Mafia
I’m talking about the original here. I like this game so much, I made a video about it over four years ago. I have yet to follow it up with the remake, and I’m still working on that. It’s the source of my current anxiety, as far as my middling online endeavors go.
Anyway, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven was a game about Italian-American gangsters during the Prohibition era that was developed by a Czech company. That meant it was likely more based on a movie than the actual history, GoodFellas in this case. I don’t know how much the designer did his research, but it does seem like he’s a history buff as he went on to found the company that developed Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
The remake was great as it got more of the history it needed to add more depth to the setting and narrative. But what the original had on its own was already quite substantial with its story of family, betrayal, and reckoning.
Overrated — Overwatch
Overwatch was a salvage of the ill-fated Project Titan. It was an admirable and successful salvage, but still a salvage nonetheless. It’s not to say it’s a bad game; far from it.
But with the addition of Brigitte and the advent of the GOATS meta, we see how little idea Blizzard has for the game. They’re making it up as they go, and they would only make things even worse as they implement features like Role Queue to fix the situation.
I’ve said everything I could about my thoughts on Overwatch as far as its future and how Blizzard steers it. You pay $40 for a game that’s barely figured out, both in its gameplay and its lore. It’s such a waste since it has one strength that made it succeed in the first place, which is excellent character design.
“Why do I like this?” — Overwatch
Despite my many misgivings with it, I still like Overwatch. It was my 2016 Game of the Year and my #7 Game of the 2010s. It was still fun while I played it and helped me connect with friends during a crucial time. While I never really got good with it, which is the usual as it takes considerable effort for me to get good at games, I still got a lot of value out of it.
And even if I don’t play it anymore, I still enjoy seeing the characters, whether it’s in the increasingly sparse official material or in fan art (including porn).
Game You Always Come Back To — StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
This is about the first singleplayer campaign. While it lacks many of the gameplay updates of the next two installments, I still hold Wings of Liberty as the best one of the three. Perhaps it’s because the Terrans being human and Jim Raynor being a down-but-not-out revolutionary makes it a lot more relatable.
You get to hunt down pieces of a McGuffin, acquire awesome war machines, glimpse into the future, and topple a dictator throughout this campaign. You can play with units that are not available in the multiplayer ladder. You have achievements to complete in each mission and side objectives to earn more upgrade points and credits.
But what makes it good enough for me to want to play over and over again is the mission variety. While the branching missions it has fall a bit flat for me, it does have different upgrade rewards that make them somewhat compelling if you care enough about those particular units. But that only plays a factor if you’re skilled enough to make them work. Perhaps you eventually will once you get to a level that lets you beat it in Brutal difficulty.
Every time I get back to it, I’m a little better at the game. The last time I got back to StarCraft II, I was able to increase my APM in ladder games from 80 to 120 with a simple tweak to my gameplay. That also let me be better able to beat campaign missions in Brutal, which I couldn’t before.
Even if I’m not that active in the game anymore, I still improve as I mature as a gamer and as a human being. That’s not something I get often from a game.
That Atmosphere — S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
It’s supposed to be gritty and somewhat depressing. Its survival mechanics should make it disempowering, and the environment of the Zone should make it dreary. But somehow, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is like a warm blanket in a weird way.
Perhaps it’s the part of me that’s always been interested in stuff like prepping and survivalism. I’m not far down that rabbit hole to be paranoid about SHTF scenarios and government surveillance, but it’s enough for me to like the atmosphere in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. Perhaps I should finish the other two games in order to confirm that, but I think experiencing Shadow of Chernobyl that way is enough for me.
It’s sitting around a campfire with other stalkers, enjoying some vodka and a can of Tourist Delight, listening to guitar music or Bandit Radio, and just chilling in the Zone that can give you a sense of that slavic charm in this game.
Bad Cure Day — DOOM Eternal
It’s not just a bad day cure, but a bad year cure. The year 2020 felt like a black hole sucking my soul out of my body, and DOOM Eternal kept me from turning into a husk. I get to kill demons and be a badass, which is weird for me to say since I’m sort of an anti-escapist in the way I play video games.
DOOM Eternal is a bad day cure for me because it lets me focus more on getting better at a difficult game that I enjoy playing, which then encourages me to live my life with that same improvement-focused mindset when I do step away from it.
That’s similar to what StarCraft II has done for me, but the difference is that it entered my life at a crucial time—in the Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Twenty.
Whenever I finish a hard mission, having been able to kill demons more efficiently, and come out beaten but not broken, I feel like I can do the same against the demons in the real world.
Favorite Protagonist — Garrett from Thief Series
This one took me a while to figure out. I realized that most of the protagonists in the games I played growing up were devoid of character. They were either silent protagonists who were designed to channel the player’s power fantasies or templates for acting out approximations of player choices. There weren’t a lot of distinct characters who were neither one-dimensional nor with cringe-inducing levels of edge.
And that’s why my choice for favorite protagonist ended up being obscure and still somewhat edgy. The only reason why I could be confident with my choice for Garrett from the Thief series, sans the 2014 reboot, was him being a reluctant hero.
He was an orphan who was taken in by the Keepers, an organization of scribes and scholars who maintained the balance in the City. He was taught their ways, but he didn’t want to be a disaffected ghost like them. He decided to go rogue and ply his skills as a thief.
It’s not to say his choice of rebellion was admirable—far from it. However, it was a career choice nonetheless, like being a black hat hacker nowadays. It let him better understand the power dynamics within the City while serving his own needs.
But with the latter, you’ll see throughout the game how he’s actually a bumbling fool. He always comes upon setbacks that could let him retire from burglary and maybe move to the countryside. The foolish part is that he doesn’t.
Meanwhile, the Keepers constantly pester him to go back to them. He just wants to do his own thing, while his former mentors want him to fulfill his potential as they see fit. Despite that, he brushes them off and tries to live his own life.
And perhaps that’s why I relate to Garrett. I’ve been in the same situation as Garrett with family breathing down my neck to make the most of my talents. But now, as a man in my mid-30s, they now look at me with tired eyes as a kid who wasted his potential.
On the lighter side, Garrett does have a sense of humor, so he’s not totally a stone wall. He does try to seem cool like how guys in their 20s try to act like Ryan Gosling from Drive, but he does have the moxie to back it up and is not lost for words most of the time.
And yet, I wish to not yield to what I came to see as an undesired path in life, like how Garrett saw the Keeper life. Like him, I’m pretty good at what I do and content with my way of life. He lost an eye, I lost my youth. Despite everything, we still keep on keeping on.
Don’t know if that’s a proper interpretation of his character, but it’s good enough for me.
After Work Relaxation — DOOM Eternal
I don’t know if it’s still entirely true, but I do find myself opening the game for a mission or two when I finish work. I haven’t been doing that as much right now as of this writing due to Cyberpunk 2077, but I see myself getting back to DOOM Eternal once I’ve exhausted the content in that game. Much of what makes it relaxing is why it’s my bad day cure as well.
Biggest Letdown — Watch Dogs
I was hyped for this game when the trailer first came out. It looked good, the hacking made for interesting gameplay, and the open world teased great possibilities. Instead, it came out rushed, with plenty of things wrong with its open world. The hacking was nice, but it was dragged down by its poorly written protagonist.
Aiden Pearce is one of the worst protagonists ever committed to any sort of media not because he’s boring like most other Ubisoft protagonists, but because he’s so unlikeable. He takes many parts of Batman, but without the heroism and Bruce Wayne’s ethics. He’s depicted as an angry white boy in a trench coat and even as a bad uncle. I couldn’t keep playing because the guy I was playing turned out to be such a downright asshole.
There’s now a much better version of Watch Dogs, where you get to hack enemies in combat as well. It’s called Cyberpunk 2077.
“Back in the Day” Game — Quake II
Comparing all the Quake games with each other, Quake II can never be seen as the foremost title in the franchise. Quake had the most novelty and fame, not only for being the first, but also for being so imaginative in its own right. Quake III Arena had the best multiplayer by miles. Quake IV was the most disappointing on all accounts, even if it did much to expand on the whole war against the Strogg.
Quake II is middling compared to them. It’s a result of what was happening in id Software, as well as the kind of stuff coming out of the woodwork in the late 90s. But it’s my first FPS, and I still play it every now and then. While DOOM Eternal has somewhat ruined it for me as this old-ass game doesn’t have quick-switching, I can pop in the Berserker mod to freshen it up.
It still has the easiest boss fight on earth, the dreariest levels ever rendered on a Voodoo card, and the dankest prisoners in video game history, but Quake II is still my regular nostalgia trip. High school sucked, but this game made it better for me.
I read a comment on Civvie 11’s video on Quake II that summed it up quite nicely:
“Daikatana shows how much Romero needed the Carmacks.
Quake II shows how much John Carmack needed Romero and Hall.
One of these games is infamously terrible and often analysed for just how many things can go wrong even when a superstar developer is involved.
The other game is mostly remembered for its colored lighting, when it’s remembered at all.”
“Not the best, but having fun.” — Cyberpunk 2077
This blog post details how much fun I’ve been having with Cyberpunk 2077. There is much to hate about the game, from its unfulfilled promises, numerous bugs and glitches, patch updates that always seem to break something, unoptimized performance, all the missing features, and how hard CD Projekt RED cracked the whip at their employees to get this game out the door.
Despite all that, I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into the game. I can’t get enough of making my way up the food chain in Night City. Somehow, even with all its flaws and broken promises, the soul is there. If they had gotten into its development a lot earlier and the guys at the top didn’t exert pressure to launch it within 2020, the potential would’ve been fully tapped.
It doesn’t just have a polish problem; it has a Polish problem. There are some shitty ass boomers over there. The Witcher 3 really blew their heads up. They’re well within their right since they still came out with a fun game, but I wish they didn’t get overconfident.
Criminally Overlooked — Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II
This was a really close second for my answer as the best story in a game. I can say this game has the best characters out of any story-centric game. Perhaps other top contenders like Planescape: Torment, the Fallout games, and Arcanum have some really good ones, but the characters of KOTOR 2 pulled me in.
Both the protagonist Meetra Surik (or whichever custom character you choose to play) and Kreia are incredibly written. The antagonists (both overt and covert) and companions have deep backstories and motivations that drive the plot along, and they all converge and clash in such beautiful ways. To think they only had 14 months to cobble it all together, that game was an amazing achievement that’s seriously overlooked.
Perhaps that’s why I’m not too bothered by the sequel trilogy (even if I did review two of them badly). The ultimate Star Wars story already exists, and it came out in December 2004.
Depressing Game — Spec Ops: The Line
I should replay this game, but I remember my sole experience of this game being both excruciating and profound at the same time. When it came out, it was lauded by games media as a deconstruction of the then-popular military shooter genre, much like how Unforgiven was a farewell to the western film genre back in the early 90s.
For me, it was just a third-person shooter with fucked-up things going on, like burning civilians with white phosphorus, having your subordinates yell at you for being a bad officer, and the antagonist being sort of an old and grizzled military version of Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Those are spoilers I don’t mind dropping since Spec Ops: The Line is not about the twists, but the overall experience despite them.
The main reason why I feel like I have to play it again is because I sucked at cover shooters when I first played it. For some strange reason only known to my subconscious, I would play most shooters like I’m still in the 90s, so I would just charge in. Yeah, that’s no good for modern shooters, and especially so for a cover shooter like this game. It still depresses me to this day.
Favorite Active Franchise — DOOM
Before 2016, this was far from reality. But now, with DOOM 2016 and DOOM Eternal in existence, it looks like there’s a lot more to come for this old franchise. The developers have shown their creativity and moxie with updating this age-old intellectual property that used to have a barebones story into something that’s both serious and tongue-in-cheek.
The amount of lore you can go through in the codices of the reboot games show the amount of thought put into updating this classic, and they don’t get in the way of mindlessly enjoying the gameplay. All you have to care about is that the Doom Slayer is a badass and everyone is scared of him. He also doesn’t like authority, and he will rip and tear demons until they’re all done. I think that’s just great, and id Software has done an awesome job with it.
Indie Pick — Hotline Miami
I’ve played plenty of indie titles over the years, being the owner of a Steam library with over 700 games as of this writing. I had what I like to call “The Great Bundle Binge of 2015”, which made sure I had plenty to plow through for years to come, and the free games in the Epic Games Store only make that task more daunting.
There were other titles I could’ve put here, like FTL: Faster Than Light and Sunless Sea. But there was only one title that came to mind as my top pick. Hotline Miami swept through the Internet when it first came out in 2013, a time when most indie titles were platformers.
While it has the typical faux retro pixel art graphics of indie fare, the gameplay is what sets it apart. It’s both casual-friendly and deep at the same time. Perhaps the only thing missing is a multiplayer mode, but developers had an artistic vision that kept the series at two games. They’ve shown everything they wanted to show, and then moved on.
There’s now a whole genre built on Hotline Miami and maybe someone will make something that’s truly better by building on those games while bringing something entirely new instead of being another clone. However, finishing the games, seeing every secret I can find, replaying missions I liked, and playing the soundtracks on loop will be hard to top for me.
“Not usually my thing, but…” — VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
The most I’ve played visual novels was back in high school when I got to play eroge like Snow Drop, Water Closet, Do You Like Horny Bunnies?, and Sensei 2. As you can see, they’re of a certain persuasion, one which was supposedly not appropriate for my age at that time.
I haven’t been interested in playing visual novels since then, and the closest I’ve gotten to playing another one is VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action. What makes it different is the mixing of drinks that require some skill and use of one’s memory, which made it more engaging than most other visual novels.
Of course, what caught my eye was the “cyberpunk” in the name. It’s not that I have anything against the visual novel genre—far from it. I like good writing in any game, even in a genre I may not be that into. But with this game, the worldbuilding and characterizations are so well done, and the art style adds to its charm.
I should really do more with stuff like this. The obvious answer is to make video content with it, but that’s easier said than done. I’m trying to get back into streaming, and I can edit the VODs for let’s plays, highlights, and so on. Let’s see if I can indeed do that for 2021.
But hey, at least this 5,000 word blog post is a good start.
Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.
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