Sunday, August 12, 2018

5 Specific Things That Make Great Games Better

The games I'm talking about are great for far more reasons than the ones I'm going to talk about, but these small details that we sometimes neglect to think about make me love them even more. What's great about a list like this is that there are so many games with minutia similar to the ones here that I could turn this into a running series if I chose to.

That being said, let's not waste any more time and jump right into the list.

Active Reload in Gears of War

Few things are more satisfying in Gears of War than nailing that perfect active reload. For those unfamiliar, when reloading in Gears, a small meter appears on your HUD. If you manage to stop the bar within the specified area (which is different on each weapon), not only does it reload your weapon faster, but you're also met with a very satisfying sound effect.

However, active reloading isn't simply about speed and sound, executing a perfect active reload also makes the first few rounds of your next clip more powerful, so you have a very good reason to try and nail it every time.

I also wanted to give a shout out to the battle-ending guitar riff. That riff has been there since the beginning and I would be genuinely disappointed if it were ever removed or altered.

Goal Explosions in Rocket League

Rocket League's goal explosions are like bat-flipping after a home run, spiking the ball after a touchdown, or giving my wife an nWo crotch-chop and "suck it" after I beat her at anything. It's the perfect exclamation point.

When the game is tight and all 8 players are near your opponent's goal furiously trying to score/defend and you watch every player fly backwards from the force as the ball crosses the threshold is one of the most satisfying feelings you'll ever get in a competitive game.

Rocket League is without question my favorite multiplayer game of all-time (I've played it consistently since release). It still would be even without the explosions, but if you've ever played the game yourself, you can't deny that they add a lot to the Rocket League experience.

Alucard's Glide in 
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Symphony of the Night is a masterpiece. I play it every year around Halloween, I always 100% it and never get tired of doing so. There is such an attention to detail and so many moments that stand out. Some of those special touches are so subtle that you don't even notice, like the bat wings that briefly appear over Alucard when executing the double jump, the giant eyeball that peers in the window from the long hallway, or the fact that there's an item called the "Secret Boots" that make Alucard one pixel taller and serve no other purpose. There are probably still aspects of Symphony that have gone undiscovered.

But you know what no one ever talks about? Alucard's glide. No, I'm not referring to the backward dash that you see speedrunners use, I'm talking about the short glide that Alucard does when he begins moving again after a complete stop. I wouldn't be surprised if you told me you've never noticed it, and I can't properly articulate why I love it so much.

Unfortunately, I can't find a good gif of the glide move I'm talking about, but in the one below, you'll see it just after the player ducks the axe the second time.

When we did a retrospective on Symphony of the Night for the Error Machine Podcast, Luke Roberts and I discussed the glide, and I think Luke put it best when he said "that glide is Alucard." That's the perfect way to describe it and I have no idea why. It's just such an Alucard thing to do.

The Complete Tonal Shifts in 
Deadly Premonition

(If you've read my writing for any period of time, you're probably tired of me talking about Deadly Premonition, but I genuinely love the game and you need to love it too)

If you've played Deadly Premonition, you know how weird it is. You probably also know that the early 90s television show, Twin Peaks, was its primary influence. Twin Peaks is a hybrid crime drama/dark comedy/supernatural/sci-fi bonanza from the deranged/genius mind of David Lynch. Deadly Premonition is also an amalgamation of all of those genres.

One moment Agent York will be discussing the details of the gruesome murder of a local girl with the town's deputies and the next moment he's going on and on about how good the coffee is at his hotel. Agent York will be speaking to the absent "Zach" about the townsfolk and then immediately switch topics and start talking about the worst Superman film.

The gameplay experiences similar changes in tone. The music goes from foreboding to lighthearted in an instant. Sometimes you'll be shooting zombie-like creatures and trying to escape the Raincoat Killer in a Silent Hill-esque hospital basement, and then it's time to go fishing.

It's bizarre in a "I love this but don't know why" kind of way.

The Abstract Visuals of Metal Gear Solid

I'm one of those people that winds up buying a lot of remakes and remasters. Yes, I'm part of the problem. But it's hard to resist when you have a reason to play one of your favorite games again.

I never owned a GameCube when it was a current, relevant system outside of a brief period where I bought one with a copy of the Resident Evil remake and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. The remake of Resident Evil updated the graphics to make it even more terrifying. The updated visuals of Twin Snakes, on the other hand, robbed the original of its soul.

A lot of PSone games look dated by today's standards, but I think MGS is one of the few that still holds up today because of the way the obscured faces and limited animations of the characters add to the world. The game was meticulously designed and the visuals are a major part of that. The game was better because of what you didn't see because your mind filled in the gaps.

On another note, Metal Gear Solid goes out of its way to not show you something. Case in point: the reveal of Gray Fox prior to his fight. In the original, little to nothing is shown to you as you make your way down a bloody corridor filled with the bodies of enemy soldiers. In Twin Snakes, that scene becomes The Matrix and Gray Fox's executions are all shown in slow, insane detail. Gray Fox loses all sense of mystery.
There's just something about the way the characters move that I prefer in the original. Perhaps it's just nostalgia talking, but I'm usually the type to support remasterings of old games, but Metal Gear Solid is a case (at least to me) where you don't need to try and fix what wasn't broken.

Hey, thank you for reading. Here's the other stuff I do: