Memories Of A Generation: Greg

The PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation came at a time when changing circumstances in my personal life meant that I had both more free time and more disposable income. That was a dangerous combination with so much new gaming on offer.

I’d always only really had one serious gaming platform at a time over the years, migrating from the Spectrum to PC gaming in the late ’80s, then to the PlayStation in my final years of university. The natural progression from there was to the PlayStation 2 (though I picked up a Nintendo Gamecube too for its exclusives) and I had every intention of picking up just the PlayStation 3 when it released as my console of that generation.


Gibbing friends with a Gnasher

Thoughts of waiting for the PS3 took a back seat when I saw how much fun some friends were having playing Gears of War on their new 360s. I had never played any online games before and being able to play the campaign in co-op online with a friend was a revelation.

One that paled into insignificance once I got into the Team Deathmatches online.  There were eight of us, the perfect number for Gears’ 4 vs. 4 online setup. The rest of the group had a couple of months head start over me and had found their favourite weapons, whether it was the trademark Lancer with its chainsaw bayonet or the Torque Bow.

The shotgun didn’t seem to be anyone’s favourite so I set about making that weapon my own. It took some work as its short range meant an intimate knowledge of the game’s maps was required but I eventually mastered it and to this day I don’t think I’ve had as much fun online as I did in those Gears matches with those seven friends.


Going with the flOw

thatgamecompany’s flOw was the first PSN game I downloaded. I put it on for a quick go later that evening and promptly lost four hours of my life.  But what a four hours it was.  I had never in twenty five years of gaming played anything so beautiful.

The gorgeous, crisp, simple high resolution geometric shapes painted in soft colours married with in-game sounds that almost had you composing your own ambient symphony as you played. For a long time if I ever needed to unwind and chill out flOw was my go to game for losing myself in.

It is the most game-like of thatgamecompany’s three PS3 titles with its literal levels that you descend down through, the organic power-up mechanism of eating to grow bigger and the fact that you are your life bar. I don’t see it as a game though and resented to a degree its further ‘gamification’ when trophies were later added.

Thanks to those simple high resolution graphics it hasn’t dated as much as some of the other games from early in the generation and still looks sublime today.  In fact I think I’ll have to fire up my PS3 later and dive back into those deep blue waters.

Capturing the Chernovan flag

If there was one thing that I learnt early in the generation it was that online competitive multi-player games were where you could find the worst experiences. From the repugnant potty-mouthed, music-playing imbeciles to those people who seemingly played the same game everyday for 18 hours and had all the perks and had fully ranked up to Sergeant of the Master Sergeants Most Important Person of Extreme Sergeants To The Max.

For someone playing more casually the inability to compete with that took the fun away. Then along came Warhawk.

There were no perks and rank didn’t really matter unless you wanted to play on servers limited to a particular range of ranks. Everyone had access to the same weapons and vehicles all the time, every game. Once you’d learnt the maps and the spawn points of the weapons it simply came down to skill and bravado.

And the way the game was balanced so that it didn’t matter whether you were on foot or in a jeep, tank or one of the titular Warhawks was just incredible and, as Tuffcub mentioned, has yet to be equalled or beaten. There’s little to beat the joy of racing back across the map in a jeep carrying the flag desperately trying to dodge incoming fire. Just brilliant!


Finding Paradise in an open world

I was a huge fan of the Burnout games on the PS2 and Gamecube. Outstanding short-track arcade racers with some fun extra mechanics (Takedowns!) thrown into the mix. My early experiences of open world games were not good and I could not see how Burnout could transition to one for the forthcoming Burnout Paradise.

Out of brand loyalty I downloaded the demo when it became available on PSN and absolutely hated it. So it is hard even now to understand why I bought and downloaded the full game when it became available on PSN.  But I did and giving Burnout Paradise another chance was one of my best gaming decisions of the generation.

After a few hours of playing it something just clicked and the open world suddenly made perfect sense. It quickly became my go-to game by virtue of having bought a digital copy and not having to find the disk to play it. And then I discovered the online aspects.

It’s five years now since a bunch of us here on TSA starting meeting weekly for Burnout sessions and we had such enormous fun racing, crashing and trying to get all the various challenges ticked off for everyone. I spent hundreds of hours on the streets of Paradise City, often with TSA community members like freezebug and Manorhowse.

Hosting those Burnout Paradise meets once or twice a week got me much more heavily involved with the TSA community than I had been which ultimately led to me joining the otherwise very talented writing team. So you’ve really got Burnout Paradise to thank for the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve committed to screen for TSA since. You are thankful, right?  :-)

A heart-breaking ending

Okay, so heart-breaking is perhaps a little over dramatic and I have to stress I have no issue with the Mass Effect games themselves or the story they tell. I did not even have a problem with the ending. It was the actions of those that did that have left a bitter taste in my mouth with regard to the PS3/360 gaming generation.

With Mass Effect, and Dragon Age, BioWare have done an amazing job of telling a linear story while giving the illusion, and it is only an illusion, of player choice. As the story develops there are unavoidable parts that everybody plays through.

Sure you can pick and choose some companions at times to affect the tactical make-up of your squad and some of the lesser story beats you can play in different orders or skip altogether. The main thread of the story though is pretty much the same for everybody. Sovereign will attack the Citadel and Earth will be attacked by the Reapers.

It was unfortunate for BioWare that they had done such a good job of weaving their illusion that, come the end of Mass Effect 3, a significant number of overly-entitled gamers had bizarrely come to the conclusion that they owned the story, not BioWare and its writing team.

As tens, if not hundreds, of  thousands of gamers hopped aboard the hate-laden dissension train and ever increasing levels of vitriol were directed towards BioWare and its staff I was disgusted by the actions of these gamers and their “Take Back Mass Effect” campaign.

That they couldn’t understand that you cannot take back something that was never yours and seemed to assume they represented gamers everywhere was too much. BioWare compounded things with their small concession and we see many smaller incidents around the gaming sphere now and crowd-funding will only increase feelings of entitlement and ownership.

These are worrying times and its difficult to be optimistic that common sense will prevail. Gaming has fought for decades to become an acceptable hobby and yet as we were getting there it seems that gamers want to give their detractors all the ammunition they need. I just hope gamers prove me wrong.


  1. I also love Burnout on Gamecube, and lost count of the hours poured into Paradise on PS3

  2. I also loved those games except the Mass Effect series. I still can’t see why they were so popular.

  3. Got my Burnout platinum on a meet here, 3 years after the game had been released :)

  4. Yeah, those Burnout Paradise meets were absolute classics, Thursday for cars and Sunday for bikes if I remember, I think we saw everyone complete the challenges eventually with a variety of teamwork….well, chasing after lost drivers to give them a nudge anyway :P
    Liquescentshadow, Shockwave, Manor, Badboyboogie, to name a few of the regulars….oh and a very young Tobo!

    • I think we did get the regulars all their challenges and I was actually one of the last, spending all the time getting those that others needed. I wonder how many times we’d done the Wildcats Meet by the time we stopped. I remember sometimes doing it two or three times a night as different people joined and left.

    • I think the challenge that alluded you for so long was the “turn back time”? where as a team we had accumulate oodles of flat spin off the Rockridge cliff but it was a tad glitched and kept resetting peoples flatspin scores to zero…..or something like that! Many many attempts lol.

      • Yeah, that was trying to collectively get 30(?) 360 flatspins in 2 minutes or something. What a nightmare that was with all the inadvertent (mostly) takedowns on the curves on the way back up and the run up to the jump itself.

      • Nearly; after a quick check the challenge consisted of 6 players on a timer with 7:30 mins (originally 5:00 before patch) to accumulate 6000° of flatspin combined in between accidental? takedowns on the hillclimb. :P

    • By far, my favorite game on the PS3. So many hours and so much fun. The 102% in my avatar pic is all TSA’s fault!!! :)

  5. Now this is a very good account of what happened with respect to Mass Effect 3. As I’ve played it later on, when it became part of PS plus, I didn’t get what was going on at the time. But when playing the game through, I loved it and couldn’t believe how gamers reacted this stupid to the ending, irrespective whether you like it or not. Well, maybe we just shouldn’t expect gamers to be more clever than the general public…

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