The circumstances in your life dictate when you join a new generation of games consoles. Mine meant that I was almost a whole year late to the PS3 party, and I had a lot to catch up with. This generation has given me so many wonderful experiences – and it has seen the medium move onwards and mature in a way that seemed quite unlikely in earlier generations. I could probably have written this list five more times and had different points on each one but these are – for now at least – my moments of the generation.
Helicopters Over Liberty City.
I’d had lots of little moments in my first few hours with the PlayStation 3 but this was probably my first truly next-gen moment. I wasn’t in a position to buy the PS3 at launch but the pull of a new GTA game and a price reduction was too much to resist any longer. I bought the bundle, with a few other games and rushed home to commandeer the HD TV.
Despite the (warranted, in my opinion) criticisms about GTA IV being a little more serious and workmanlike than its predecessors, I loved it. There was plenty about Niko’s New World adventure to enjoy, once I’d got used to the bouncy cars, and I loved the virtual New York setting. But my breath was literally taken away in one moment that, for me, defines the shift to HD (even if it was only 720p).
It was sunset – or perhaps sunrise, those details blur over time – and I was taking off in a helicopter somewhere on the south side of the city. As I rose above the skyline, that horizon loomed and the low sun set fire to the sky. It was astoundingly beautiful.
Snake Smoking Cigarettes.
Right. This is the brutally honest bit of my countdown. Load times, install times and progress bars were an embarrassment during the PS3 years. Regular updates are good. Regular updates that get in the way of you playing your games how you want to are bad.
This little install-masking sequence in MGS4 epitomises the PS3 in many ways. It was stunningly well rendered, strangely fawning, lasted way too long and was completely without purpose – other than to act as an obfuscated progress bar that bore no relation to what was actually going on. That’s all very PS3.
So it was nothing more than a digital distraction to the egregious (and necessary) install times and it was right in the way of me playing a game I anticipated like few others. I loved it though. Good job, Kojima.
Downhill With Journey.
Journey is the best piece of interactive entertainment ever made. If you disagree with that statement, you’re wrong. Sorry.
It’s not the best game out there and I can certainly see why many people might not enjoy it but as a piece of art, it’s almost perfect. The ambiguous narrative, the multitudinous interpretations, the moments of heart-lifting beauty, soul-crushing sadness and visually astounding landscapes. The unspoken interaction with others. Journey is modern art.
For me, the moment racing down the red sands, through ruined buildings – I always assumed they were temples – was unrivalled. It was exhilarating, engaging and gorgeous to look at. I felt free and empowered and there was a rush of emotion – a kind of release of pressure – as I slid down that valley, leaping and soaring along the way.
I was also struck with the feeling that thatgamecompany had inadvertently made the best snowboarding game of the generation.
Burning Pot Fields In Far Cry 3.
We mash up the place, turn up the bass and make them all have fun.
And we a blaze the fire, make it bun dem.
We mash up the place, turn up the bass and make some sound boy run.
And we will end your week just like a Sunday.
It induced a weird kind of power-hungry maniacal feeling. A release of endorphins in a scene that might have looked something like the bit of Watchmen when The Comedian is napalming Vietnamese villages. I had madness in my eyes. I cackled. Spittle flew from my lower lip as the dulcet tones of Damien Marley thumped along with Skrillex’s discordant glitch-ridden production.
The perfect blend of storyline, game mechanic, visual effects and soundtrack has rarely – if ever – been done better. Burning the pot fields in Far Cry 3 was such a strongly executed idea of something that has become deeply ingrained in videogame design in the past few years: the set piece.
It’s difficult to think of a narrative-driven game in recent years that hasn’t at least dabbled in this engaging little element of game design. It’s not complicated: spend a level or two positioning the player into a feeling of emotional attachment with the scenario and then put them into an area with one clear goal and time your game events around it. It’s usually like a funnelling of the action, as you drift ever closer to that narrow bottleneck when you can no longer avoid the inevitable.
And then you make it bun dem.
Collecting Nuka Cola Quantum In Fallout 3.
I loved Fallout 3, Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic walking simulator. I loved the post-nuclear setting, the seemingly never-ending spread of differently realised and portrayed characters and I loved the propensity for random moments of unique meaning to the player.
So why the Quantum? Well, that’s why it kind of symbolises something significant about this generation for me: trophies and achievements.
Fallout 3 was the first game I ever got a platinum trophy for. It’s still one of only two platinum trophies in my virtual cabinet (the other is Assassin’s Creed II). I pursued Fallout 3’s, in spite of generally not caring at all about trophies, because I was close after I’d completed the game and I was happy to have something more to do in that game world.
The final quest I needed to complete, in order to win the trophy that would secure the platinum, was the collection of this glowing blue beverage. The last bottle I got was in the back of a truck somewhere in the wilderness, behind a couple of other crates with less interesting drinks in them. I knew this was it. The final collection. I knew my reward was imminent.
I have no attachment to any of my other pixelated e-peen augmentations and I generally have no desire to ever chase any other trophy or achievement. But that Fallout 3 platinum is special. It’s so special that I immediately went out and bought myself the special edition of the game so that I had the Brotherhood of Steel statue with which to commemorate my virtual award. It’s here now, on my shelf, looking proud.
We’ll be back in a couple of hours with more memories from the last generation of gaming, this time coming from Tuffcub.
More than anything, just look at the diversity of games you mention. That, for me, is where my love is for the gaming industry. The fact that I can go from shooting topless girls at the Playboy Mansion (GTA V) and within a minute, load up the likes of Journey and be effortless gliding down a glistening dune of sand with my metaphorical jaw on the floor with all that fills my vision.
That, right there, is why I love the Playstation brand.
Ahhh Fallout 3. It also introduced the greatest weapon system of the last generation (in my opinion, ofcourse). The MIRV launcher. I mean, the mini nukes were great, but a launcher that fired 8 mini nukes at once was epic. Especially when fired at night, into that carpark….
MGS IV, Journey and Fallout 3 would definitely figure amongst my highlights.
All three thatgamecompany games gave me moments to remember, from the first time i played flow and was so engrossed in the gameplay i didn’t realise i had been standing up the whole time while playing it.
The same thing happened when i took my PS3 to a friends place, he stood there, silently engrossed and gently swaying with the sixaxis. I still dip into it now and again – and when i’m not feeling too lazy i play it standing up for the ‘authentic’ experience ;)
Flower’s peaceful beauty and Journey’s heartache and joy will i’m sure have touched many, and they both transcend any list i could come up with.
And now for my surprise .. Tumble. I thought it was awesome how i could reach in and manipulate those blocks in a 3-dimensional space using the Move, such a shame it was never developed any further but it was the defining moment for me in terms of motion control in gaming. I don’t think any other game since then has done anything as impressive in terms of giving the player 1:1 control.
Great article, it just made me purchase Far Cry 3 on Steam :D
Platinumed it on PS3 but really want to play it again! Same goes for Fallout 3, though I will wait til that is on offer again!
Oh Fallout 3 how I miss thee. Roaming around the barren wasteland with Fawkes by my side tearing apart everything that stood in our way! Good times.
However that mission in FC3. Oh my god!! I distinctly remember sitting there not knowing what awesomeness was about to take over my tv screen in the coming minutes. With a massive, and likely sadistic, smile on my face burning all the fields to Skrillex was just about gaming perfection for me. In my opinion, possibly the best mission of the generation!
I like how you considered moments over games specifically.
Mine would be;
Fallout 3: walking into the wasteland for the first time.
Uncharted Drake’s Fortune: That sense of reward after grinding through on crushing.
MGS4: Oddly enough, the first multiplayer game I had and I really enjoyed it too.
Machinarium: The start when your presented with a delightful world of animation.
Warhawk: Too many moments to name-but taking down a Warhawk when its in full speed with a tank was a real win for me :)
Great article and a great read. I have a load of great gaming moments, too many to list in fact, but one that stands out was my very first platinum trophy…as it dinged, I sighed in relief and thought ‘thank fuck that’s over’.
Ha! Same for me as I got the “Stunt Master” trophy on Infamous. Trying to nail the last stunt took me bleedin hours of frustrating button-mashing, even after resorting to youtube I still couldn’t do it. I think it took pity on me, because when it finally dinged I didn’t know how I did it. 1st plat, & my most cherished of the small amount I’ve managed to stick with a game long enough to get one. ;p
I definitely agree with the crop burning in far cry 3! I just thought it was great. I also agree with fallout 3,which was also my first platinum,so many hours spent in the wasteland :-)
Mgs4 the first time u step into the base in Act 4!
Gta 4 when I first saw the dustbin men actually hanging off the back of their truck, and a man sweeping the streets,
Uncharted many of the set pieces but the start of 2 and u knew u were in for an awesome ride
Some of the HD collections, when I knew I could play through them again and they would actually look pretty good in the HD tv, with trophies as a bonus!
And The first platinum you get on any game that made u collect sooo many things..