Multiple exceptional games have been released from a plethora of studios, both first and third-party. Naughty Dog with The Last of Us, Irrational games with the Bioshock trilogy, and Rockstar with both Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V. Now, whilst all of these wonderful games were released this generation, not everybody got to play them all, and recently I have asked myself quite a difficult question to answer, ‘If I could only play one game this generation what would I choose?’ Of course I am making this decision based on the facts I know now, in regards to the games overall quality, and not my excitement for them at the time of release. Over the next few weeks multiple contributors from the site will put forward their own choices, so by the end of the process it will be possible to compile a list of our games of the generation. So without further ado I am going to kick off part one of this feature by putting forward my personal answers, and revealing to you, what game I would choose if I could only play one title this Generation.
1) What makes a game special in your eyes?
It isn’t just one outstanding feature that makes a game special in my eyes, as it takes a combination properties to really propel itself above and beyond its competition. Sure, the story of Dontnod Entertainment’s, Remember Me, was interesting and different but that doesn’t mean that it was a great game, or even a good game. It was let down by slow climbing sections that didn’t come close to capturing that same freedom of movement that Crystal Dynamic’s, Tomb Raider, reboot boasted, and the free-flow combat felt sluggish and monotonous when compared to Rocksteady’s, Batman Arkham City.
This being said a game can have flaws and still be great. Spec Ops: The Line, has one of the greatest stories in all of gaming, it was dark, emotional, and took me on a journey I wasn’t ready to embark on at the beginning of my six-hour playthrough. I was captivated by The Lines story, but that doesn’t mean it was faultless. The gameplay was dull, and the graphical fidelity wasn’t anything to write home about, however this didn’t matter as the game’s story was enough to leave a lasting impression in my mind. And that to me is what makes a game special.
If games can evoke some form of emotion in me, and keep me captivated through the duration of its campaign then it has succeeded in my eyes, and if a game leaves a lasting impression on me, then I’m likely to view that title as a special experience.
2) What is more important, Great Gameplay, or Great Story?
As a person who writes frequently about games, a great story presents me with a lot more food for thought than a game with solid gameplay. Some games I don’t go into expecting a great story, and others I don’t go into expecting standout gameplay. For example I don’t go into Call of Duty expecting to be blown away by a narrative that is outstanding, I go into it expecting a solid first person shooter that can hold my interest for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. On the flip side however, I don’t play Telltale games expecting great gameplay, I go into a Telltale game expecting a well written and intriguing narrative that will give me lots to both talk, and write about.
I tend to veer more towards the Telltale end of the spectrum as I get much more excited for a game that seems to have an interesting story, such as, The Wolf Among Us, rather than feeling the need to rush out and buy a first person shooter, just because that’s what’s ‘cool.’ So, after some deliberation I have decided that, for me, a great story is more important to me than excellent gameplay.
3) Which Developer is your favourite in the industry today and why?
I don’t have a favourite developer per say, favourite isn’t the right word. I don’t favor one developer over the other, and I don’t let bad press influence my personal view of a developer. I’m looking at you EA. That doesn’t mean however that I don’t have a developer in my mind that makes the best games in terms of overall quality, because I do, and that developer is a first-party studio. In this console generation Naughty Dog have created some of the best games to ever grace any games console. Throughout this generation Naughty Dog have released the entire Uncharted trilogy and The Last of Us all to critical success. In previous generations Naughty Dog were responsible for the massively popular Crash Bandicoot, all of the Jak and Daxter games. Whether or not you support Sony and their first-party studios there’s no denying that the quality of all Naughty Dog games. Even a game that is considered the studios worst, Crash Team Racing, has a respectable 88 rating currently on Metacritic, a score that any game would aspire to be associated with.
4) What was your favorite game of the previous generation, and what made it so special for you?
My favorite game of the generation is by no means the best title to be released during the PS2’s life cycle, but it is the one that I spent the most amount of time with, and played the most with friends. I spent countless hours storming the beaches of Kashyyyk, navigating the floating platforms of Kamino, and taking down At-At’s on Hoth all in Star Wars: Battlefront 2. The objective based missions added a hint of strategy to the third-person shooter developed by Pandemic Studios. The conflict wasn’t restricted to the ground either, you could take to space in order to take part in galactic warfare, and own the skies in your X-wing. Much like every other PS2 game the multiplayer was finicky to get working however after getting it to work, it was great fun and I spent countless hours talking to my friends on Skype whilst playing, and to this very day I still go back once in a while to relive those memories. This year during the EA press conference I leapt from my seat when they revealed a thirty-second teaser trailer of a giant At-At foot stomping through the snow on Hoth, followed by an official logo for Star Wars: Battlefront 3. I can’t wait to jump back into Battlefront in the future and create some new memories.
5) So, to the question at hand, knowing what you know now in regards to its quality, If you could only play one game this generation, what would that game be?
This is the big question. I spent a lot of time, probably too much time, thinking about this answer. You may have already guessed what my choice is, from the image above. If I could only play one game this generation it would have to be Arkane Studio’s, Dishonored. Released in 2012 Dishonored is set in the fictional city of Dunwall, and you play as the royal protector of the Empress. Well, that job doesn’t last too long for Dishonored’s protagonist, as the empress is gruesomely killed, and you are blamed for her death. You then set out on a mission to find the empress’ killers and clear your name. Published by Bethesda Softworks to mass critical success Dishonored could be classed as many different genres. It could be classed as stealth, although you don’t have to play stealthily. It could be classed as a first-person shooter of sorts, although you can complete the whole campaign without killing a single person. And it’s the games ambiguity that to me makes the game so special. I have completed the game six times from start to finish, and whilst some may call that excessive, I would say that you haven’t experienced Dishonored, have you? You can complete the game in so many different ways. You can play as a brutal, bloodthirsty assassin, or you could play as a, silent, stealthy warrior. Dishonored won a horribly low amount of awards, loosing out to admittedly great games like Journey, and The Walking Dead.
Dishonored’s setting was arguably one of its best features, Dunwall was grimy, and plague ridden, yet still upheld a sense of majestic beauty. Every inch of Dunwall was drenched in character, from the graffiti painted on walls aimed at the corrupt government, to the failed business’s down the side alleys of the plague ridden streets. The tale that the game was telling was not the most engaging I have ever seen in gaming, however the heart, which is a gadget that is given to you early on in the game, was a great way to advance the story.
As I alluded to earlier the gameplay of Dishonored shines brightest when you are left to your own devices. You, the player can choose how you want to play, you could choose to slink though an area unnoticed, or you could alert all the guards, and take them down one by one. This comes with its own consequences however, as the more guards you kill, and the more notoriety that you build up, the more guards will be present in later levels, and will eventually change the outcome of your story. This freedom of choice was a welcome change, and served to really put the linear games of today to shame.
6) What sticks in your head the games defining moment?
The moment that sticks in my head as the games defining moment, didn’t actually come whilst I was playing Dishonored, and this in itself is a testament to the games overall quality, as it left me with something to talk about. My defining moment came when I engaged in a conversation with some friends the day after I completed my first playthrough, my friends were talking about how they completed a specific level, however after a while I had to butt in and say something, because the things they were explaining made no sense to me. They were talking about how they scaled the side of a building using Corvo’s blink ability, before smashing their way through
a window and taking out two guards silently, using the sleep darts from their crossbow. I myself had completed this very same level just a few days earlier and much to my surprise, I achieved the same result my friends did, albeit in a completely different way. I didn’t scale any walls. I didn’t take out any guards using sleep darts. And I didn’t break any windows. I opted for the stealthy option of finding an entrance to a sewer system which ran underneath the building that I needed to gain entrance to. I didn’t encounter any guards whatsoever when I was slinking around the guard tower,and that was for the best as a matter of a fact as I had recently run out of sleep darts, and I started that specific playthrough with the intention of not killing a single person. Needless to say, I accomplished that task, albeit with a lot of luck and effort on my side.
7) Is this game your favourite game of the generation, if not, what is?
Unfortunately, Dishonored is not my favourite game of the generation, that ‘prestigious’ award is currently held by a much more recent game. That award is held by The Last of Us. What The Last of Us possess’ that Dishonored doesn’t, is an incredible, emotional rollercoaster of a campaign. On multiple occasions Joel and Ellie’s story had me close to tears and ended in such a way that left me feeling different about how games should be made. Corvo’s tale never had a heart wrenching moment like this, and you never got to feel attached to the game’s protagonist. This in part was due to the fact that Dishonored’s protagonist was silent whereas The Last of Us was very much on the other end of the spectrum. Joel and Ellie were constantly talking, Joel reminiscing about how the world used to be, and Ellie questioning him on how we used to live. The Last of Us made you fear not just the infected, but painted the surviving humans as the real monsters, shining a spotlight on how the human race can so quickly devolve in the face of grave adversity, and resort to our more animalistic tendencies.
So there you have it, the first addition to the Thumbsticks.com game of the generation list has been named. I think that Dishonored is a very worthy entry. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the rest of the Contributors choices of the generation.