Friday, December 5, 2014

20 Years of PlayStation | Five favourite games of each PS Generation

Source: Sony

On 3rd December 2014, Sony celebrated the 20th anniversary of the PlayStation gaming console. The PlayStation may not be as old as Nintendo's NES but it stands proudly beside it's competitors as a memorable and loved home console among gamers.

For it's anniversary, I decided to share five of my favorite and memorable games on each PS console that I grew up with, and five games that I'm looking forward to for the PS4 (Add all that up is 20. Get it?). So sit back and enjoy the nostalgia trip. Oh and these are not in any order.

Playstation (PSX)

1) Metal Gear Solid
The hallmark of excellence in terms of presentation, gameplay and story during the PSX generation. I never imagined a game to have cinematic and action packed cutscenes (real-time too!) accompanied by a deep driven story to boot. The stealth mechanics were amazing and the amount of interactivity was mind-blowing. Everyone remembers the boss fight with Psycho Mantis! Switch to the 2P controller so he can't read your mind? THAT'S GENIUS! That and all the other brilliant easter eggs in this game made it a must-have for the PSX. Truly a masterpiece.

2) Tekken
To be fair - it came out in the arcades first, but having a home console port is always a welcome for fans of the 3D fighting game genre. Tekken is one of the major titles for the genre apart from the Saturn exclusive, Virtua Fighter. It was more fast paced, emphasized on combos and juggles. It was also backed by flashy special effects and a cast of awesome characters. It still remains as a fan favourite on the PSX and soon enough the sequels (Tekken 2 & 3) were also released on the console.

3) Tenchu
What was there not to like about this game? You play as ninjas in feudal japan and each level requires you to traverse buildings, landscapes and idiot guards to assassinate your target. The coolest thing about Tenchu is the arsenal of items in your inventory, which you can use to your advantage against guards and bosses. Overwhelmed by guards? Smoke bomb! Boss being a dick? Landmine his path and grenade him! It's definately a game that allows you to tackle it in a variety of methods and paths that you see fit. Sadly, the Tenchu franchise didn't age well but the first game will always be in my fondest memories.

4) Final Fantasy 7
Would you believe FF7 is my first ever JRPG? It's true. This was me back in the day without knowing who Hinorobu Sakaguchi, Yoshitaka Amano or Nobuo Uematsu are. Importantly, Tetsuya NO!mura was still an up-and-coming character designer in Squaresoft so I had little reason to hate him.
FF7 was a revolutionary title for JRPGs in the 3D gaming era. It's presentation was delivered in then-beautiful pre-rendered cutscenes, it's adorable in-world chibi characters and glorious action packed in-battle character models. It had features such as the Materia system that allows you to summon creatures and also customize your character's attributes, the ATB system that fusions real time and turn based combat, and the Limit Break system that grants every character an exclusive special move in combat.
With all that, FF7's story and music will forever be etched in our memories. Remember Aerith? Good. I'm not sorry.

5) Grand Theft Auto
Before it made headlines as one of the most controversial game in the modern world (several times too!), GTA was a top down car-jacking, people-killing, hit-and-runnin' and objective based game on the PSX. It was a blend of 3D environments with 2D sprites of people, vehicles AND BLOOD! It didn't have cutscenes or established characters as it's sequels but it was loads of fun with lots of activities to do. Looking back, I was amazed at how huge this game was. The original versions of Liberty City, Vice City and San Andreas are all packed in this one game. Sure, they are not as distinctive as their current counterparts, but it was impressive back in the day.

PlayStation 2 (PS2)

1) Devil May Cry
The action game that revolutionized action games. No other games before the original DMC allowed fast action sword wielding mixed with gun shooting combat mechanics accompanied with a dash of retardedly cool over-the-top cutscenes. It had the campiest of characters and story but it was tough and fun. A whole new experience and challenge to gamers of that generation, it was a must have for PS2 owners. There was never a Devil May Cry 2. Nope. Never. Don't talk about it.

2) God of War
After DMC's success. Over-the-top action games spawned furiously, but not as furious and merciless as God of War. GoW innovated the fast-paced combo driven combat mechanics and then some. It also showcased the most goriest of kills in a video game, and could satisfy any male teen that just came out of puberty. It's graphics were mind-blowingly gorgeous that ran at 60 fps and it was hard to believe the PS2 was capable of powering this game. GoW is truly a masterpiece that belongs in the must-have title for the PS2.

3) Silent Hill 3
I know it's kinda weird that I favoured SH3 rather than the groundbreaking SH2. I loved SH3 because of it's story and how it relates to SH1. The graphics and cutscenes were rendered beautifully in real-time with advanced lighting tech of it's time. I actually liked Heather as a main character and she managed to break the whole damsel-in-distress cliche' by being a badass in her own right. SH3 may not have good ol' Pyramid Head but it had it's best scare moments and surprises.

4) ICO
A system seller, this game was. ICO was a whole new take on adventure games. Not only you had to solve environmental puzzles, you were tasked with the responsibility to keep your companion, a mysterious princess, safe from harm. ICO was beautiful in terms of graphics as well as the world it was build on. An interactive work of art.

5) Metal Gear Solid 3
Kojima never fails to impress with his ideas and innovation. MGS3 stepped back in time and re-introduces one of the most important character in the series, which is Big Boss, in his younger days. MGS3's story is as strong as ever and the overall game system is filled with delightful elements to keep you occupied. Features include a camouflage system to keep you stealthy, a new CQC combat system, stamina which you have to refill by eating, and a medical system for healing your wounds. MGS3 has it's fill of memorable boss fights with The End's sniper battle being in the top of the list. What other boss in any game dies of old age if you left his battle hanging for a week? Brilliant.

PlayStation 3 (PS3)

1) Metal Gear Solid 4
Yup. Another Kojima and MGS game in the list. It truly deserved it.
MGS kept on getting better and better as the series grows. An emotional entry as we greet farewell the game's protagonist, Solid Snake. Old and battered due to his rapid aging caused by cloning defect, Snake still remains an awesome and respectable character to the end. With more innovation to the stealth mechanics and combat system, the game feels much more improved compared to its former titles. The final moments of MGS4 is truly one of the most memorable moments and packed full of feels in any video game played.

2) Uncharted 2
An action adventure game done by the same guys who did Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter? People had doubts, but when the first Uncharted was released - it blew people away with incredible graphics, fun combat and a lovable protagonist with his supporting cast of characters. Uncharted 2 basically one-upped it's predecessor by miles apart. It boasts improved graphics and combat, clever puzzle solving segments, brilliant platforming and a lot of additional content. UC2 also introduced players to various locations to explore unlike first game, which was based only in the South East Asian tropics. Uncharted 2 has always been my favorite entry from the series, thanks to it's memorable moments and awesome final boss battle.

3) Killzone 2
Killzone 2 was controversial thanks to it's too-good-to-be-true graphics when it was first revealed in a tech demo trailer in E3 2005. The talented developers at Guerrilla Games slapped everyone in the face when Killzone 2 was released. They successfully proved that the graphics in the demo was possible on PS3 hardware. And man, they blew us away with not only gorgeous graphics but with an amazing game in it's entirety. The gunplay of Killzone 2 vastly improved compared to the original Killzone on the PS2. The experience was fun and the story was full of engaging moments. It's multiplayer feature was also magnificent. Namely the Warzone mode, which changes multiplayer objectives in real time (such as capturing control points to assassination to team deathmatch and so on) as the match goes on.
KZ2 is one of the console exclusive games that truly proves what a powerhouse the PS3 can be.

4) Demon's Souls
The predecessor to Dark Souls and it's sequel. This game was a revolutionary action rpg title that had a unique control scheme and combat system. Not only the player is able to play the game with their preferred play style, this game was infamous thanks to it's insane difficulty. Like it or not, you will die constantly in this game. It's a video game example of being thrown into the wilds and you have to teach yourself how to survive and triumph it. Oh, this game has tutorials, but it won't hold your hand after the first 10 minutes. I'm not joking. After you learn the basics, BOOM! motherfucking game throws a boss at you. Usually the level of unfairness within a game will make one rage quit in a heartbeat, but for Demon's Souls - this game taunts you to beat it.

5) Heavy Rain
Quantic Dreams, the developer behind Heavy Rain claims that this game is to be considered as an interactive movie. Truthfully enough, it does feel that way. Presented in a cinematic style but rendered in stunning real-time graphics, Heavy Rain wants you to enact the story interactively as you watch it play on screen. Aside from the basic movement controls, the game relies heavily on Quick Time Events (QTEs) by involving every button on the Dual Shock 3 and it's six-axis motion feature. It's story is also well delivered as it revolves around four different playable main characters and how they coincide with each other's paths.

Games I'm looking forward to for the PlayStation 4 (PS4)

1) The Order 1886
Developed by the same people behind God of War, The Order 1886 is a third person shooter based in an alternate universe of a steampunked Neo-Victorian England. The game's amazing trailer and gameplay videos caught my attention. Will be looking forward to the final game.

2) Uncharted 4
The latest entry to the Uncharted series. The teaser trailer suggested a darker tone to the story while presented in a glorious next-gen graphics engine. Not much else is known about the title aside from the teaser. Expect more to be revealed in 2014's PlayStation Experience Expo.

3) No Man's Sky
A space sim MMO that goes beyond any other. It promises a whole new level of exploration ranging from on-foot, to spacecraft, to inter-planetary, to inter-galaxy and then some. Just a trailer as far as that was revealed. Keeping my eyes open for anymore updates on gameplay and features in future announcements.

4) Project Cars
I'm sorry Gran Turismo but Project Cars totally caught my attention. Amazing attention to detail in terms of graphics. I can't wait hop-in and give it a drive.

5) Bloodborne
Considered a spiritual successor to the Souls series. From Software promises the same brutal level of brutality and a whole new combat experience which involves gunplay. No sunshine and rainbows here,  just darkness and a lot of gore.

So there you have it. 20 Games - 15 games I loved to play on 3 generations of PlayStations and 5 games I'm looking forward to when I get a PS4. Happy 20th, Sony PlayStation and thank you for the wonderful experience.

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