Friday, January 11, 2013

Changing my game...

As 2012 closed, I had a decision to make. I had gone back to World of Warcraft after a few months away – and YEARS of playing before that – to pick up The Mists of Pandaria expansion. And it was fun. The new content was enjoyable.


See, the problem was that it was basically the same, old game. After ten years, nothing had really been done to update the graphics. So, it always looked like the same, old game. And I had been reading about games like Skyrim and FarCry 3 and I had been getting, well, a wandering eye.

As I said, as 2012 closed and my WoW subscription came up to renew, I had a decision to make. Renew WoW? Or purchase one of the nicely priced bundles on Steam? The Bethesda Bundle, for instance, featured Skyrim and more than a dozen other games. Then, there was the FarCry bundle… hmmm…

In the end, I decided to step away from WoW again. Not only was it the same, old game but I decided it was the same old pain in the ass. I had to download an “authenticator” onto my phone just so I could log in to play the damned game! It was time I saw what the rest of the world had to offer. Vicky bought me the Bethesda Bundle and a couple FarCry games at Christmas and I readied myself to enter a new world.

… but I quickly found a familiar, old world as well. An old world I hadn’t seen in a while. You see, the Bethesda Bundle had been bundled with some newer games, yes, but also some older games as well. I had purchased, unknowingly, 20 years of gaming goodness!

I started out by playing Doom (1993). I’d forgotten just how old and old and old and old and old Doom was… It’s pretty old. The mechanics do not allow you to look up! You can’t jump! There’s no inventory and the map is kind of a joke by today’s standards. Also, the graphics have not exactly aged well. All the same, I decided to play through it for nostalgia’s sake.

And that started my OCD mind down a chronological path. I enjoy viewing things chronologically because it allows me to see how things have evolved. This applies to movies and video games as well. I decided I’d play these games chronologically and see what happened.

Doom 2 (1994) was next. And I quickly realized it’s basically Doom all over again on different maps. The mechanics are the same. The graphics are the same. There are some new and interesting bosses and, of course, I still played it because – come on! But I was amazed how quickly I went through it. I’d forgotten how short older games were. But I knew that each game that followed would take longer.

I learned this lesson in Quake (1996). It’s a much longer game. Mind you, it’s a much different game. You’ve got full 3d modeling here! Enemies that look somewhat real! Better sound! You can jump! You can swim! All this in just three years! I remember being a gamer back then – those three years felt like forever. (Mind you, there were about 13,749 versions of Doom in the meantime…)

Can I take a moment to talk about nausea? I’d forgotten how those old games made me sick when I played them for too long. I played through Doom, Doom 2, and much of Quake all at once… and then realized I was going to throw up! I quickly moved to the bed to lie down and hope the world would stop hating me… it was brutal. That’s another thing about those old days. But I knew it would get better.

And it did begin to get better with Quake 2 (1997). This was my favorite FPS to date and I remember playing quite a bit back in ’97. This game had a story, better graphics, freer movement, better weapons – again, in just one year after the original! Sure, it still lacked things like an inventory or graphics that looked anything like realistic, but it was a step forward.

I played Quake 3 (1999) for about five minutes. After all, it was intended as a multi-player game. Still, it was a big step from Quake 2. More colorful, vibrant, and just fun looking!

And that takes me to today.

Right now, I’m playing The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind (2003). Replaying it, I should say. I spent the summer of 2003 playing the hell out of this game – the best RPG of its day! And yet, wow, did it age! Not only was the voice acting at a minimum but you couldn’t do things like SCROLL, for crying out loud! Progression through menus or dialogue is done with mouse clicks. Ouch!

But I didn’t just leave WoW for games more than a decade old. Progressing chronologically, I look forward to playing…

Doom 3 (2004), which is basically Half-Life in the Doom world. Nothing wrong with that!

Quake 4 (2005). I haven’t touched this one, yet – though I’ve previewed others – because I know it’s a continuation of Quake 2 and I don’t want to ruin it.

TES: Oblivion (2006). I was very happy to get this because I never finished Oblivion and I couldn’t run my original copy in Window 7. (The Steam interface is very helpful with older games.) Looking at this game, I can already see an improvement over, and a reason to move on from, WoW. Better graphics and a more compelling story are sure to make this a fun game to return to.

Fallout 3 (2008). Have I played it? Yes. Have I played it twice? Okay, yes. But this is the Game of the Year edition, so I’m looking forward to hitting some of the new content. (And I LUV the soundtrack!)

FarCry 2 (2008). Now, I’d heard all the praise for FarCry 3, but wanted to hit the earlier open-world version first. When I previewed it, I thought it looked amazing. I’d be in for a shock later on…

Fallout 3: New Vegas (2010). What can I say? I loves my some Fallout 3!

Just Cause 2 (2010). This isn’t a new game. I’ve actually had it for a while. But it is one of my favorite open-world games and it’s a blast to play.

Rage (2011). More FPS fun!

Brink (2011). Even more FPS fun! (No, I didn’t preview either. I’m trying to save some surprises for myself.)

Dungeon Siege 3 (2011). This is another game that wasn’t in the bundle – but I have it and I haven’t finished it. And Diablo 3 was such a pain in the ass…

TES: Skyrim (2011). How can I be playing Morrowind when I have this, you may be asking. Sheer strength of will, would be my answer. Skyrim is amazing to behold and when I previewed it I was blown away. I can’t wait to get there… maybe this summer? It’s absolutely beautiful and runs like a dream!

Dishonored (2012). Another game I’m saving but I’ve heard all kinds of wonderful things.

Finally, I’ll play FarCry 3 (2012). I’m saving this for last because, when I previewed it, it absolutely blew me away. It is so immersive and so beautiful… Even if every other game sucked, this would be reason enough to leave WoW.

So, there you have it. Easily a year’s worth of games, and I bought them for what six months of WoW would cost me.

Will I go back to WoW one day? Perhaps. I won’t say “Never”. But it’ll take some effort on Blizzard’s part. An updated graphics engine certainly wouldn’t hurt! WoW was my favorite game of the first date of the 21st century.

… time to find out what else I missed…

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