If you missed part 1 read it HERE
Timesplitters 2 (Playstation 2 – first played 2002)
Good old Timesplitters, an FPS that certainly approached the shoot ‘em up genre with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. Whether it was hearing gun wielding snowmen screaming pathetically “I’m meeeelting!” when they got fried with a flamethrower, or unloading a plasma rifle into a small army of ‘handymen’, Timesplitters 2 always had fun as its focal point.
Though the game was a light hearted affair in terms of mood, I remember getting terrified when playing the virus mode. You’re the last one left alive, frantically running away from a bunch of screaming infected through a disused hospital, seconds from getting the platinum award; pure adrenaline pumping tension. Stone golems chasing after you brandishing grenade launchers was also a stand out brown trouser moment.
With Free Radical going out of business it seems that we’re no closer to getting a next-gen instalment any time in the near future. Sad news indeed. It’s not too often that bucket loads of humour and FPS’s go hand in hand successfully, but the Timesplitters series made the union seem effortless. Here’s hoping that the monkey obsessed franchise can be resurrected one day, especially with the wealth of online options we now have access to. 16 player snowman/flamethrower deathmatch on Xbox Live? Yes please.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (Playstation 2- first played 2004)
Still my favourite in the long running series to date and one of my most loved games of all time. Of course, technically GTA IV was miles the superior game, but San Andreas is the one that evoked the most emotion in me while playing it.
From the sun soaked streets of Los Santos to the high rolling Casinos of Las Venturas, San Andreas made me feel a sense of journey that I’ve yet to come across in game since. It’s the ultimate rags to riches story with so much variety crammed into the sandbox that still makes it a joy to play.
Even now I’ll listen to all the K Rose songs on YouTube, (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=search_playlists&search_query=k+rose&uni=3) remembering riding across the desert at sunset blasting out Juice Newton’s ‘Queen Of Hearts’ at top volume and singing along, or leading the police on an epic chase across the countryside with ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’ as the soundtrack.
From monster trucks to superbikes, jet fighters to jetpacks, the vehicles of San Andreas were undoubtedly the most outrageous and fun of the series. Fair enough GTA IV went for a more gritty, realistic approach, but piloting airliners and soaring around on jetpacks mercilessly slaughtering innocent people was unrivalled entertainment.
I loved the balance between the urban and rural environments. After spending the first five or six hours in the gang ridden ghettos of Los Santos, when you come too in Angel Pine, there is a real sense of being stranded miles away from home, capturing the essence of two completely different worlds perfectly.
The scale of San Andreas took everyone by surprise when it first came out, dwarfing Vice City in comparison. Just walking/driving/flying around exploring, shooting and soaking up the atmosphere, to me was more fun than the actual missions, and an experience that will forever be etched in my gaming psyche. Is a San Andreas Stories too much to ask for? I hardly ever play the PSP but that would be one release I’d make an exception for.
Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube – first played 2005)
After reading numerous high scoring reviews and critical appraisals for RE4, the only thing I could physically think about doing was buying a Gamecube before its impending release. I thought RE4 would be good but not that good. It got to the stage when even my non -gaming friends were inviting themselves round just to sit and watch me play it.
All three of the main areas felt unique and dealt the horror out in generous brain splattering amounts. Every boss fight was unique and memorable, from hideously mutated fish and mountainous ogres to the tentacle lashing deformity of Salazar.
Some critics cited that for a ‘survival horror’ title, the game was too action orientated, but the vast majority praised the bold new direction the rapidly stagnated series had chosen to explore.
The very moment I finished RE4, I immediately started again, something I don’t often do with games. It was that brilliant that you never wanted the experience to end and although through replay you know what to expect, the essence of tension and struggle for survival remained ingrained during every play through.
Let’s be honest RE4 was a hard act to follow and RE5 fell quite a way short, but that’s the price Capcom had to pay for setting the bar so high. Being a follower from the very first, painfully slow door-opening debacles of the original mansion to RE5, I can say with clarity that personally, RE4 was the outstanding moment of genius from the franchises lifespan. When I think about all the reasons why I loved and still love the game, the sudden urge to dust off the old gamecube one more time is almost too much to resist. Who says nostalgia can’t be a wonderfully horrific experience too?
So there it is. I didn’t want to go too much further than 2005 as the closer it is to the present day, the less ‘nostalgic’ it becomes and more of just a recent memory. As I said in part one, I’d love to hear which games readers cast their minds back to most fondly and for what reasons, which titles, that when you reminisce about them had a profound impact on your gaming life. It’s all good getting all hyped up for future blockbusters, but the odd bit of reflection certainly doesn’t go amiss either.