Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 17, 2014

The Wii showed how irrelevant Game Journalism is

Here is an interesting take on the GamerGate situation with Slate concluding how irrelevant Game Journalism has become. It’s not that GamerGate has shown that Game Journalism has become irrelevant, it is that not even The Hardcorez will be influenced by Game Journalism.

The Wii succeeded in SPITE of Game Journalism. I remember. I was there! Nintendo specifically drew non-game journalists to review the Wii. While Game Journalists poo-pooed games like Wii Sports (I think IGN gave it a 70%), actual people LOVED the game. The Wii revealed a HUGE DISCONNECT between Game Journalism and gamers (Wii users were gamers). Remember when IGN just bashed the hell out of NSMB Wii only to have the game be a SMASH hit and sell four million Wiis in America during December 2009? Game Journalism was not successful in influencing anyone about the Wii. The Wii succeeded despite what Game Journalism said.

Why does Game Journalism exist in the first place? It is to influence consumers. The purpose of the Game Journalist is to sell the consumer to the game company. “Here is our preview. OMG! This game is SO AWESOME. You better pre-order this latest Greatest Game Ever From The Game Industry!”

Game Journalism is big fat failure on all sectors except one… the hardcore gamer. The hardcore gamer was the only one who still believed ‘the hype’. Even I would observe that the hardcore gamer is the most easily manipulated type of gamer there is. The hardcore gamer can easily be manipulated to buy ‘special editions’ of games they already own, DLC of horse armor, buy games they don’t play, etc. etc. etc.

The question no one in GamerGate is asking, but should, is “Why did game journalists think they could get away with declaring gamers to be dead?” It is because they have been so successful in manipulating hardcore gamers about everything else. That Shigeru Miyamoto is A GOD. That the PS2 is ‘more powerful’ than the Gamecube. That the Wii and DS succeeded because of ‘casuals’ (what is a casual game?) yet anyone with an ounce of gaming history knows that the Gameboy owes its life to Tetris and Pokemon, that the home console owes its life to Space Invaders and Super Mario Brothers, and that the arcades owe its life to Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. NOT Defender. NOT Dark Souls. NOT Phantasy Stars. NOT Halo. NOT GTA. The top MMORPG is World of Warcraft for a reason.

Before, game journalists filled a role of connecting the game companies to the audience. With the Internet, the game journalists’ job has become automated. We don’t need game journalists to do that. Instead of previewing something for one person, the game company can send the demo out over the Internet to anyone. I think the reason why game journalists began to offer more and more cultural commentary is because their role was becoming less and less.

Does anyone even care about game journalism reviews anymore?

Gaming will still go on. Game Journalists will not. And good riddance at that.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 12, 2014

Email: NES video by Gail Tilden

Gail Tilden (I think the editor in chief for Nintendo Power) gave a little presentation with the author of some recent Nintendo book (console wars, I think it’s called).  She goes over a lot of stuff that has already been stated before, but I thought it was funny that she mentioned Game Boy hampering the Sega Genesis when they both debuted in 1989 (I never really thought about it like that).  Also, around the 23:40 mark, she calls the Game Boy the “Tetris Machine.”  I bet modern Nintendo would despise that phrase.

 

This is a must watch video just to witness early video game history. Of course, it matches everything that you have read here, reader. The marketing, the Nintendo Power, the hostility of US Congress, the anti-Japanese sentiment…. all these are mentioned. Many people today cannot imagine Congress going after video games such as Nintendo. But they did!

 

Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 12, 2014

Legacy of the Void thoughts

I’m working as well as taking classes so I don’t have as much time to post as I did. I am slowly digesting the Blizzcon.

With Starcraft 1, I was a huge fan of the multiplayer and custom maps but disliked the single player campaign. The single player campaign of RTS games was essentially training wheels on how to play multiplayer (except with creating bad habits. New RTS players who played online always, always turtled because that works in campaigns).

With Starcraft 2, I despise the multiplayer except in OMGWTFBBQ mood of 4v4 or 3v3 games. Yes, I’ve climbed up the ladder to Master, but I don’t give a damn anymore. When you have an outside life, high APM games are not fun after dinner. The custom modes of Starcraft 2 is disappointing, but I do need to recheck it. The map editor does not provide enough ‘toys’ in terms of art assets or RPG systems to create something interesting as, say, Warcraft 3’s map editor did.

What I love, love, love about Starcraft 2 is the single player. Not the lame story (WE DON’T CARE ABOUT CHARACTERS IN RTS GAMES, BLIZZARD. WE CARE ABOUT FACTIONS. IT IS ‘TWO FACTIONS BATTLING FOR DOMINANCE’, NOT ‘GET TO KNOW CHARACTER EMOTIONS’ IN DUMB METROID OTHER M FASHION!) Ahem. The single player is very fun and is fun to replay after a while. You can raise or lower the difficulty to get it to be how you want. The missions always feel unique and interesting. Wings of Liberty though might be a tad too hard especially on the highest difficulty. (I’ve beaten them all on the highest difficulty and got all the stupid achievements. Actually, did it all within days of the campaigns being released.)

A Starcraft 2 campaign can give you 30 hours of gameplay time easily. I consider 30 hours of ‘high quality’ time to be optimal, about the same time as Final Fantasy 6 or another SNES RPG. The campaigns play more like a RTS RPG but not based on single characters (well, there was leveling up the Kerrigan) as in Warcraft 3. It’s fun. The atmosphere of the game is really cool. The story is hokey.

I really, really wish we had the game and expansions be all three races in each. I really despise this one race per expansion. The big reason why Starcraft 2’s story cannot succeed is that it cannot provide perspectives. RTS game stories show perspectives from different factions’ point of views. The Orc point of view is very funny in Warcraft 1 and 2 for example. The Zerg have a point of view too that is cool in Starcraft 1. Then there is the Nod point of view in the Command and Conquer games. The point of view is so important that the director of the Warcraft movie insisted that it be part of the movie as he sees that so integral to the experience. Blizzard screwed up by not providing perspective in the race campaigns and only by viewing them in a linear matter. Terran then Zerg then Protoss. None of the campaigns tell us the perspective of these races, only the perspective of three characters: Raynor, Kerrigan, and Artanis. We don’t care about the characters; we care about the factions.

The single player Protoss campaign looks to be fun as hell to play. I can’t wait for that. But let’s talk about the multiplayer changes.

The biggest change is that the game will start with 12 harvestors instead of 4 (or is it 5 or 6?). I’ve long complained how BORING the beginning of the game is. Even the E-sports announcers take a nap during this part and talk about their favorite food or some other bullshit. No one wants to see someone making harvestors. This not only brings more action faster into the game, it elminates so many FUCKING BORING BUILD ORDERS. “Build these number of harvestors and then this building, then that supply building, then some harvestors here, and blah blah, I am so lame that I practice build orders in my sci fi video game because I don’t know what fun actually is.”

The less mineral patches sounds good but will create havoc on team maps. Hopefully, it won’t apply to team maps. There just aren’t that many areas to expand to on a 8 player map.

The multiplayer unit additions and changes are interesting in theory, but we have to see them in practice. What I love is how Blizzard is aligning the gameplay of Starcraft 2 more in how I prefer to play. In Wings of Liberty onward, I liked the Terrans. Why? I love high mobility and harrassment options that marines + medivacs + siege tanks + other terran toys. Zerg is so lame with spreading creep and getting those queens to spawn larva. (In single player Zerg campaign, larva spawned automatically). Protoss aren’t fun to me because their units are dork like and don’t have much mobility. I do like the stalkers and their blink though.

More offense capabilities and harassment is what I want.

For inquiring minds, the Blizzcon panel of the Starcraft 2 Legacy of the Void on single player and multiplayer panels are available on Youtube. I do worry that Starcraft 2 trilogy will be like the Matrix trilogy and go backwards in player excitement: Awesome – Eh -Blargh. Hopefully the expansion will not be called ‘Void of the Legacy’.

With Starcraft 2 trilogy done, hopefully Warcraft 4 can get started.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 9, 2014

Zelda II still brings satisfaction

Finally got the Internet hooked up. Strange that being a week without Internet made me queasy. Ten years ago, people considered Internet necessary but not that necessary. It was mostly for work, right? LOL. Twenty years ago, I was just a big dork because Internet was only for big dorks. Today, AT&T profusely apologizes and “Internet is so very important!” and send a technician to me ASAP. Modern living cannot be done without the Internet now.

Being stuck with NES games taught me one thing: the greatness of NES library is how unpolished and wild the games are. The downside of the NES library is how unpolished and wild the games are as well.

I stuck in Zelda 2 and felt instantly at home. The game is SO DAMN SATISFYING. The control is sublime. The intensity of the action is fantastic. And the RPG system makes sense. I never grinded and just went on the adventure. You really don’t have to grind in the game. Only at the very end, when I had two levels left and one dungeon left, I grinded out a level by killing Lizztard spear dudes in the south eastern forest of the eastern continent. Some funny moments is that I forgot about the Master Key and thought Nintendo was being diabolical on the sixth dungeon with all the locked doors. I was turning into a fairy and going through them all! hahahahaha.

Death Mountain is the first real spike in difficulty. However, this is due to not completing Palace 2 as you are supposed to do. I found this out the hard way.

Finding the magic containers and heart containers was not cryptic.

The difficulty escalates very well. Nearly thirty years later, I’m still scared shitless on my trek to the Final Palace with its evil, evil boas and pits and nasty shit. Final Palace is still THE SHIT. Oh man. Just listen, reader. LISTEN!

In the Final Palace, I actually wondered if I ran into the Chozu from Metroid with all the bird statues and bird warriors. Those bird ironknuckles are still the scariest motherfuckers out there. They just jump all over the screen firing lasers from their sword! Thunderbird is not that hard. Neither is Shadow Link.

Zelda 2 really isn’t that hard. Anyone who says that doesn’t play other NES games, but only other Zelda games. Other NES games kick my ass. 1943 was kicking my ass. Battle of Olympus left me dazed and confused. Blaster Master was kicking my ass (but I’ll kick its ass soon enough). The Nintendo NES games have aged remarkably well, much better than the other companies. Capcom and Konami NES games have aged well, of course, but they have a different vibe that is hard to explain.

Damn, it feels good to complete Zelda II. The intensity and sheer fun of the game is just great. I don’t get that from any other Zelda. Zelda 2 might, MIGHT, begin to overstay its welcome with the ‘walk back from palace’ which isn’t so annoying as it is the forced levels on the South Eastern Continent. The road to the Final Palace is a road of sheer hell. Good thing you can continue at the Final Palace.

Zelda 2 is just remarkably well done. There doesn’t need to be MORE or LESS levels. I am completely satisfied with the number of dungeons (7) let alone the number of caves and areas. The combat is fine. The game never feels cheap except for the pits when you get knocked into it.

Perhaps the reason why Hyrule Warriors overperformed in the West is that people desire a more combative Zelda. I do love how Zelda 2 says it is Link’s most ‘adventuresome’ quest yet. Nintendo games do not take you on adventures anymore. Nintendo games feel more like Game Developer Lab Experiments. When we think of Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, we think of ADVENTURE. After all, they were the Adventure Series were they not?

I’ll start updating regularly now that I have internet. I need to absorb all the Blizzcon stuff coming out.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 2, 2014

Moving

I am in the completion process of moving across Houston near the port area. Fuck 290.

Highway 290 - Houston, TX, United States

Above: The growing Energy Corridor with the exodus of people into Texas has made highways like 290 unworthy to drive. “But Malstrom, I am from California, and the traffic there is so bad that it takes an hour to go a few feet in some places.” A California truck driver is telling me 290 is getting that bad. 290 is Construction Wonderland where whenever anything is completed construction, something else is being built. It never ends. The more the highway expands, the more people come!

290 was in a movie with Charlie Sheen called “The Chase”. The movie is bad but entertaining bad. Lots of 290 in it.

Thechaseposter.jpg

Above: This is how Malstrom rides.

Anyway, at my new place I have electricity but no Internet. Oh noes! Luckily, I am from a pre-Internet generation. I’ll consider it a vacation from people trying to contact me. More interesting is that my computer monitor has decided to turn purple. I suppose that means it is dying out. So no super-cool PC games for me except for the ones that don’t rely on strong colors (meaning pre-1990 PC games). Even better, my NES is there with a large ancient TV I’ve kept around for retro gaming. It’s like I’ve gone back in time! At least for a little while.

I even picked up these NES titles:

A dog-like enemy representing the Plutonium Boss is in the center of the image with a large, red crosshair above and off-center of the boss. Below the boss is yellow text that says "Authentic Arcade Edition!" To the left of the boss in the image are two seals of approval by Nintendo, one of them gold and the other being red. Above the boss and the crosshair, towards the top and aligned to the left, is the title of the game "Blaster Master" in brown and all caps. On the very top of the image is a blue tip that contains the Sunsoft logo in red letters followed by black text saying "for the Nintendo Entertainment System". The background of the image are closeup shots from the video game itself.

The Battle of Olympus (NES)

It’s amazing how games like these cannot be made anymore. Blaster Master cannot be made because the Game Industry would think it is ‘too complicated’ for the audience to have your guy get out of the tank and do dungeons. “Why not stay in the tank the entire time?” the suits would say. Perhaps that is why Blaster Master 2 was such a failure.

1943 could never be made today. Can you imagine a World War 2 shmup where the plan shoots lasers and summons lightning that flashes the screen? “This is not how the Battle of Midway actually occurred!” people would huff.

Battle of Olympus could never be made today because we are told that Zelda II type gameplay was “a failure” and that “no one likes that”. According to Aonuma, what people actually like is “cutting grass” and “collect-a-thons”. Swashbuckling action? No.

The games today have been neutered. They lack that edge.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 27, 2014

Terrible Amiibo ad

As bad as the Gamecube commercials. The focus should be on people playing with Amiibos together, not the stupid kid and his crush. The kid ruined it.

Who is this commercial aimed for? 13 year olds? It certainly isn’t aimed at everyone.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 23, 2014

Email: Lots of hype and nothing to show for it

Is it just me or this year have we seen a lot of super hyped next gen games falling flat really fast?  Let’s look at some of the big “next gen” titles the industry was touting.  Titanfall was going to be the big game to justify the $500 Xbox One purchase but now I don’t hear anything about it and this story emerged.
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That might improve people playing it.  Trying to make an online only, multiplayer only game is always a risk and games like this should always have an offline mode where you play as bots.  I believe Reggie stated that the upcoming Splatoon is going to have offline vs bots mode.
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Then came Watchdogs which Ubisoft was pushing like the second coming of Jesus and nearly everyone I talked to who played it was so disappointed in it by the time the WiiU version finally came out no one cared anymore.  Of course if the WiiU version doesn’t sell well Ubisoft will try to blame Nintendo’s low WiiU install base like they did with ZombiU.
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And don’t get me started on Destiny aka the Halo sort of MMO.  That was also touted as the great next gen game and of course being made by Bungie, so the Halo fans were chomping at the bit to see what they could do.  That gets me as well.  Say what you will about Miyamoto, each new IP felt like something different. Super Mario Bros. was different from Donkey Kong, Zelda was different than Mario, Pikmin was different from Zelda.  Wii Sports was different from Pikmin. But Bungie went from making one sci fi FPS to making another Sci Fi FPS just more MMO-ish.
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The sad thing is these games still sell well enough in that first month, that the industry just laughs.  The game industry really has become like Hollywood.  A lot of bad movies can get panned by reviewers but as long as the studio execs get the big numbers that first weekend, that’s all they care about.  The movies that are truly good are the ones that stay in the theaters and do well for several weeks.
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Sadly too many gamers keep buying into the hype machine and slap down that $60 (or more if they bought into the DLC season pass scam) then regret it, but I like how you point out if so many of these modern games were so good, why are so many on used racks at Gamestop.  Hardcore gamers love gushing over The Last of Us yet I see tons of used copies of it and you barely get $10 on its trade in, yet first party Nintendo games, even the not so great ones usually get $20 or more on trade in.
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I wonder how much longer gamers will keep buying into the hype though many have stopped putting any faith in reviews as anything with a massive hype machine automatically gets a 8 or higher.  What really gets me is there are still folks wanting to buy a next gen system despite nothing to really justify the purchase yet.  My husband wants a PS4 yet hasn’t seen a game that really made him want one, just wanting to get one because “it’s the next phase and eventually we’ll have to.”  It’s funny how so many gamers want the WiiU to have games to justify buying it, yet will buy a PS4 or Xbox One just because.

 

Hype needs to be earned, not manufactured. When a game company has a good track record, like a good author, it is normal for people to be excited about their next product. I’m hyped to see what Nintendo will offer as successor to the 3DS and Wii U for example. However, I am not hyped for Wii U Zelda because of Aonuma’s track record. Manufacturing hype would be someone like Aonuma saying the next Zelda will be like ‘the original Legend of Zelda’ when it is nothing like it. It would be like showing a cool tech demo of Zelda and then the actual game is anime style bizarro weirdness.

Maybe I’m getting long in the years, but it seems we’re seeing a type of Law of Gaming go in effect that the further in time we go, the less value games are having. There are many reasons for this. Computers were once rare. Now, they are everywhere. Video games are no longer as special. But also games lose value so rapidly due to being so dependent on online values.

I find classic games attractive to buy not because of ‘nostalgia’ but because the value is clearly known. You cannot hype a twenty year old game. We know what it is. I’d rather drop $60 into a KNOWN value instead of an UNKNOWN value.

Do people even rent console games anymore? Has that died out? What a shame if so. My ways of gaming, where I’m sure many of you were similar, in that I would rent a ton of games. However, the games I OWNED was about ten. Very, very few games to own. Not all games were worth $50 even back during the ‘golden eras’ of console gaming. Looking back at some of the very few games I owned, I can see why I bought them. Super Mario Brothers 3 is worth owning. So is Final Fantasy I. I remember renting Mega Man 1, thinking it was a good game but very frustrating and uneven, and not thinking it was worth the money. I rented Mega Man 2, got totally blown away, and bought it on the spot and bought Mega Man 3 the day it came out. I bought Mega Man 4 when it came out, got very disappointed, and didn’t buy Mega Man again.

Some of you guys bought a lot more console games back in the day. This is all fine and good. There was a hype industry back then just as there was today. However… looking back, Nintendo Power tried to hype the good games. After twenty five years, we can safely say this. They put Metal Storm on the cover. They put Vice Project Doom on the cover. It didn’t work in selling the games.

Because of the online nature of so many games today, I think that is why there is such a ‘first month rush’ factor. People see their friends playing a game so they have to get involved as well. Hype Industry used to be about AMAZING GRAPHICS or how this new game would CHANGE GAMING IN HOW WE WOULD KNOW IT. But today, hype industry is now a Jones Effect. Your friend Bob is playing Industry Game #224, why are you still playing Industry Game #198? Sadly, Nintendo is trying to get in on this which is what Mii-verse is all about. You see everyone playing a game, and you want to join.

Old Way: Buy a game your friends play because you played it at friend’s house and found game to be fun.

New Way: Buy a game your friends play because you don’t want to be left out. Game quality doesn’t matter.

Hardcore gaming is becoming more like the Fan Tan club of old women gathering to play boring card games not because of the games but because of the company. MMORPGs are already there.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 23, 2014

Rock and Roll Racing is more RPG than racing

Here is a blast from the past: Rock and Roll Racing for the SNES. It was made by Blizzard before their Warcraft hit. I had fond memories playing it back in the day, however, if you play it today I noticed two things. One, this game feels more like a PC game than a console game (aside from the very bright graphics) due to all the options of being able to turn off the announcer (thank God) and other options. The big thing though is how this game feels more like a RPG than a racing game.

Rock and Roll Racing works in that you are on a series of tracks (Rookie, Veteran, etc.) of about eight tracks that just cycle over and over. Winning gets you more points where you can eventually ‘buy’ your way out into another circuit. The AI is like Super Mario Kart in that there is no rubber band. If you outrace them, you will be far, far ahead of them. But if you buy the upgrades, you are nearly guaranteed to outrace your opponents. Your engine and tires are better so you will be ahead. These upgrades are necessary for greater difficulty tracks. You’ll eventually want to buy the hovercraft or tank to deal with the ice roads at the final track.

Rock and Roll Racing hits those pleasure centers that are related to RPG than racing. I just want to ‘build up’ my car, kick ass, and win. It’s as if Square made a Final Fantasy racing game in a way.

Rock and Roll Racing is moderately expensive for the SNES at around $50. Is it worth it? I don’t think so as a multiplayer game. But there is an addictive quality of taking a little car and just upgrading it. Not sure how many times you can do that until you get bored but then again I still find playthroughs of Final Fantasy IV and VI to be fun every now and then.

With the massive sales of Mario Kart, there is definitely room on the PC for a crazy racer. Did not Activision make a deal with Metallica for a combat vehicle game? As much as I dislike games going 3d (because they don’t fit), racing games are the exception and fit 3d well. A new Rock and Roll Racing for the PC, made by Blizzard, being fully 3d, would be a hit. It would also fit a Free-2-Play model of people buying (or unlocking) new cars and tracks.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 21, 2014

GamersGate is a Consumer Uprising

This Forbes piece gets it right. GamersGate is a consumer movement created due to a deattached games media that has become hostile to gaming. There is also nothing new here except the game media removing their mask and going totally hostile. For many years, they have been disdainful of gamers and talked down to them. But the outright hostility is what is sparking this. The Zoe Quinn episode was just the spark to an Internet of black powder. Gamers felt this was a problem while the Game media, such as Neogaf’s Evillore’s contemptuous put-downs on anyone who thought this was a problem, just pissed everyone off. The dam has broke.

GamersGate is also winning. BMW has pulled their advertising from Gawker. While the games media keeps calling for ‘calm’ while insulting gamers, some are calling for ‘discussion’ which only happens when they are losing. If they were not losing, they certainly would not be calling for discussion. They never called for discussion years ago, did they? No.

Many are trying to turn this into a Right vs. Left political thing, but it is really about a consumer movement. People have no idea how pissed off the consumers are with gaming. No idea. The Big Clue should have been the Wii revolution itself. DS and Wii didn’t just succeed because of ‘blue ocean’ and ‘expanding the market’, they succeeded because they tapped into being More Than Just Consoles by being a Consumer Movement itself. People who were attracted to the Wii were Not Happy with the Games Industry.

This site has always been Anti-Game Industry and Anti-Game Journalism. It’s long been noted how game journalists would rather be considered an ‘insider’ instead of aligning with their readers/viewers (you know, gamers). It is funny to me to watch people in the game media be so stunned at the pushback they are receiving. They thought this would be like movies or music with little resistance. But enthusiast gaming has the highest concentration of men. Many people are gamers because there is nothing on TV for them to watch, there isn’t much worthwhile going on in movies, and books aren’t as fun as they used to be.

But you and I know that people are not upset over GamersGate because of what the believers of it think and feel. They don’t care what they think or feel. They know they have felt distraught for so long. It is the tactics GamersGate is using that is truly upsetting them. Other people are noticing this too.

 

At the risk of engaging in some questionable psychoanalysis, allow me to suggest that one of the reasons the left is so disturbed by the rise of #GamerGate is that this is the first time in many years that these self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors have met any sort of organized pushback. And they find it doubly infuriating to see the tools they have used so successfully—the Twitter mob, the email campaign, the claims of grievance—turned against them.

This is why you see Whedon et al resorting to dull ad hominem. “#GamerGate is a hate group” is an easy slogan, one that can be used to intimidate media outlets trying to give the story fair coverage.

 

I do admit I am enjoying seeing the Social Justice Warriors type look like they ate a stove with all this unexpected pushback coming at them.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 21, 2014

Unreal Tournament is still fun

I think I might need to buy a new mouse to play it though. So much fun!

I was someone who didn’t even like FPS aside from some Wolfenstein and a little Doom back in the day. Unreal Tournament attracted me because of…

1) Bots (the bots are very impressive and got you trained to be ready to play multiplayer. Thanks to bots, UT can be played even if no one joins you. Offline FPS for the win!).

2) Rich environments (not just space dungeons. Love the castles, space ships, skyscrapers, the game really sparked the imagination and made you think it had a universe itself).

3) Many ways to play (Many modes like assault, the mutators, and all the weapons made it so you can play the game in so many different ways).

 

Unreal Tournament is a definite classic. Excuse me while I go play.

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