Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some of my, completely personal, favorite gaming moments in 2008

January is always a time to debate which games were the best of the best in the previous year. I thought I’d take a more personal approach, and list some of my favorite experiences that I had while gaming in 2008. So without further ado…

Some of my favorite gaming moments in 2008:

Endless Ocean is all about looking, and even though the game isn’t in HD, my jaw still dropped when I finally got to see the bottom of the deepest, darkest abyss. Swimming deeper and deeper, the light faded away. All I had was my flashlight, the rhythmic sound of my breathing, and my personal soundtrack – Air’s Pocket Symphony. There was a moment of absolute darkness and then a glimmer of light appeared – revealing a bizarre, alien looking fish, glowing red and blue. When I finally saw ground, there was a giant whale carcass, bones jutting upwards while crabs crawled all over it.

There was a day that I stayed home sick and spent the entirety of the day playing Advance Wars: Dawn of Ruin on the DS. Being sick never felt so good.

I finally got my PS3 in June; my way of stimulating the economy. I impatiently waited for my special edition to arrive at work, and lugged it home. It was certainly a big moment, opening the box and unwrapping the shiny new console, complete with MGS4, while my fiancé, Sarah, rolled her eyes in the background.

When Sarah’s cousin, Josh, came to visit, GTAIV was hot off the presses, or at least still warm off the presses. I suspect Josh had never played GTA at all before. I’ll never forget the sound of him laughing maniacally as he ran over pedestrians; no one was safe from his mini-van of doom.

I finished MGS4 on a brilliant summer afternoon when I got off work early. It was clear that Snake had become an utter badass by the end, when I was unloading round after round from the grenade launcher, killing unending waves of robots, and racking up millions of points.

There was a time when my younger brother, Tim, played many more games than I, but now that he has a toddler and a newborn, he’s busy as hell. Tim came to visit in the early fall and we stayed up late playing Warhawk online. He got the hang of it pretty quick. At one point we thundered into an enemy base together, him driving a jeep while I manned the gun on back. We were taking out guys left and right. He hopped out, grabbed the flag, and got us back out in a flash. I left a wake of heavy machine gun fire as we sprinted to victory, yelling the whole way.

PixelJunk Monsters didn’t seem like a game I’d get hooked on, but on the first night I stayed up until 2 a.m. rescuing my little villagers and listening to the soothing soundtrack.

I picked up The Darkness cheap, with not very high expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised by how rich the experience was. There’s a moment early on where you sit on the couch and watch a black and white movie with your girlfriend. The whole scene unfolds in first person, making it feel completely immersive; an eerie out-of-body experience to have while sitting on my own, real-life couch.

LittleBigPlanet kept getting delayed and delayed, only to finally be released on a Saturday while I was driving to Baltimore. I didn’t get it until the following Monday, while I was still exhausted and unshaven from the 12 hour drive. My dad was visiting at that point, and amazingly played through the first third of the story levels with me.

Resistance 2 had some huge bosses, but the moment that stood out to me was when I was suddenly chased by a swarm of tiny aliens, which simultaneously behaved as one giant beast.

Just when I thought the whole year was wrapped up, and there were no more exciting releases, Lumines: Supernova came out on the PSN. It’s a favorite for Sarah and I, so I downloaded it immediately. We battled it out in the competitive mode on Christmas day. We’re each so evenly matched now that it has become almost more about endurance, but still plenty of fun.

It’s funny how, looking back, most of my favorite moments involved playing game with a person. I did have lots of fun on my own, playing through games like Heavenly Sword, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, and Lost Winds, even if they didn’t really have one moment that stood out. I’ve also already had great experiences with games this year, so 2009 has had a great start!

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