Archive for April, 2010

Games Recommendations

What games would I suggest for someone trying to introduce themselves to videogames?


Different videogames are on different platforms. The reason for this is, simply put, brand name–certain consoles are associated with particular companies, and particular titles are exclusive to particular platforms. I would base my judgement on what games I do want to play.

In the 90s, computer games were, for a time, the most popular games, with good reason–game consoles at the time were still extremely limited in hardware and technical capability, compared to PC games. Today, there are a lot of problems with PC gaming–Draconian DRM solutions can make gaming rather tedious, system requirements can vary depending on the game, and can be extremely high for the average consumer. Operating System may be an issue, too–the majority of games are made for Windows, although some titles are supported by Mac OS X and Linux.

That isn’t to say, however, that computer games should be avoided. There are still plenty of high profile titles on the PC, (Team Fortress 2, the upcoming StarCraft 2, etc.) and the PC is a better choice for niche games, such as aircraft and racing simulators, which are a rarity on other platforms.

A portable gaming device by Nintendo which relies on a dual screen (hence DS), with one screen that supports touch sensitivity. It is cheaper than the PSP, and has a number of innovative titles (i.e. Trauma Center, Nintendogs) that you most likely won’t find on any other console. However, the DS, along with the Wii, also has a hefty amount of shovelware.

PlayStation 3
The main rival of the XBox 360. IIRC, the PS3 holds a higher user base in Japan over the 360. While mostly similar to the 360 in terms of hardware, the PS3 has the added advantage of a BluRay drive, the Cell Processor (which has yet to be used to a great extent by any game) and the option of a third party hard drive. (The last option is possible on the 360 as well, but not officially supported or endorsed) Additionally, the PS3 has better support for third party controllers and connectivity with the PSP. It also relies on the PlayStation Network as a means of online gaming and as a digital delivery service, which, unlike XBL, is free. However, online gaming performance is not on par with XBL.

PlayStation Portable

To say that Capcom understand multiplayer would be something of an understatement: their Monster Hunter series is (probably) responsible for 16% of Japan’s GDP, though its decidedly Eastern flavour – and fiddly controls – have yet to catch on in the West.
(Martin Gaston)

Although this quote is out of context (it is meant to be a hands-on review of the upcoming Lost Planet 2), it pretty much summarizes what is particularly notable about the PSP. The PlayStation Portable is the Nintendo DS’s main rival in handheld consoles. While not as innovative as the DS (It does not have a touchscreen) its main advantage over the DS is titles such as Monster Hunter, as well as upcoming PSP titles such as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker–which greatly take advantage of social networks and parties on the fly. It is more pricey than the DS, however.

The distinctive feature of the Nintendo Wii over any other console is its motion-based Wiimote, (now replicated by Sony’s PlayStation Move controllers) which allows the player to exert him/herself physically in order to perform in-game actions. The Wii was initially more popular than the 360 or the PS3–however, that popularity is beginning to wane. The Wii has online connectivity, similar to the 360 and PS3; however, its connectivity is limited in comparison. As a home console, the third-party game lineup of the Wii is also generally inferior to what is available on either the PS3 or 360–there are probably only a handful of noteworthy third-party Wii titles, the rest being shovelware.

XBox 360
The most popular console in North America, there is a larger user base in American gamers than with any other console. The 360′s popularity primarily stems from best-selling high profile exclusive titles, (i.e. Halo) and the XBox Live online service. However, the XBL service, unlike any other service, charges a subscription fee. To compete with the advantages of the PS3, the 360 also asks the user to buy dedicated hardware, (i.e. a first party Microsoft Hard Drive, wireless adapter, etc.) which is more expensive than setting up your own solution, such as relying on a wireless hub and third-party devices–however, this is not endorsed by Microsoft.


There are a lot of games out there, and even though arguably there is a definitive, mainstream title (as of this writing, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2), there are plenty of games catering to specific interests. Games also vary in level of content–the majority of mainstream games, mostly T and M-rated titles, tend to be focused around violence.

Here are a few examples of possible titles to look at:

Super Mario Bros. and other first-party Nintendo titles
Nintendo Wii and DS titles. The easiest ones to name are first-party Nintendo titles, which always tend to be family friendly, or T-rated at most. Other than Mario, other notable entries here include the Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Super Smash Bros., etc..

For PlayStation 3 and PSP. Listed here because it’s very family friendly. At its core, it is a simple platforming game which can be played cooperatively with friends, online and offline. One of the most important titles of the PS3, LBP is notable for its cutesy presentation and emphasis on content creation–players can create and share their own levels for others to see.

Rock Band
Multi-platform, available on most consoles by now. Requires, at the very least, a guitar controller to play. A game that initially started with Guitar Hero (major dev team members moved on to create Rock Band), Rock Band is at heart a party game. The objective of the game is to play rock music, and ultimately become a high profile rock band; with the aid of a guitar controller, drums, vocalism, and optionally the assistance of up to three other friends.

Metal Gear Solid
Primarily a Sony title. I just wanted to make a note out of this one. While it is primarily an M rated title, the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for PSP will be rated T, which is an attempt to reach out to younger players. Metal Gear Solid is primarily a stealth action videogame series, with an emphasis on cinematic narrative and storytelling. (Some gamers complain that the games are more like movies than they are games) Despite the military atmosphere, there is a pacifistic theme underlying within the game, usually commenting on the futility of nuclear deterrence and the effects of the battlefield on individuals.

My favorite game is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, but that is a bit old and is on the PS2. However, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is a direct sequel to MGS3, and I’m looking forward to it, perhaps moreso than the PS3′s MGS4. Both games tell the story from the perspective of Big Boss, arguably the central antagonist of the entire Metal Gear series.

Other titles
Off the top of my head are T or M-rated titles, or more complicated, high learning curve games such as IL-2 Sturmovik, so I won’t go into great detail on them here.