The original Xbox changed gaming for me – it introduced me to online gaming and a new community of gamers, relegating my beloved PS2 – which had previously demanded all my attention – to dust collecting duties.
Before long I was in a fully fledged “gaming clan” where I had a group of friends on Xbox that I met up with online and played with every night (not like that, Tuffcub) – the trouble was, these guys weren’t getting new consoles yet, so neither was I. That was until something came along that changed my mind:
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
After seeing the adverts for this game I quickly decided I needed it. Not want, NEED! It wasn’t long after that I found myself walking back from the shop with a copy of Oblivion, a nice new Xbox 360 to play it on and a massive smile on my face. From the moment the intro (voiced by Patrick Stewart) rolled, I knew I’d made a good decision – the music still gets me every time.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was unlike anything I’d ever played before. Venturing out from the sewers, I was greeted by a vast open world of unparalleled potential, not to mention beauty. For months my then next-gen console was a stand alone Oblivion machine, as I explored the sights and sounds of Tamriel – it was the only game I needed.
Attack and Defend, Calypso Casino (Rainbow Six Vegas)
Before Call of Duty 4 crash landed on the online gaming scene, Rainbow Six Vegas was the dominant force in online shooters. Services like XBL have a bit of a bad rep when it comes to the foul mouthed players that frequent them, however Rainbow Six actually had a mature, self regulating community, where everyone was on the same page.
Attack and Defend was a multiplayer game mode that required communication, co-operation and tactics to win – something that is very hard to achieve with a group of random people on the internet. Yet somehow (probably due to the popularity of this particular mode and map combo) this was a feat that Rainbow Six consistently achieved.
On any given night, I could drop into this game mode and participate in a cohesive team effort with people I’d never met before – leading to some of the most rewarding online gameplay I’ve ever experienced. The community even went as far to develop its own set of unwritten rules where, if the attackers captured the package early, they wouldn’t score it until the dying seconds, essentially flipping the dynamic of the game. Truly a rare and refreshing occurrence in gaming.
To me, Sackboy is to Sony what Mario is to Nintendo and Sonic is to Sega. This guy revived my love of platforming – a love that I thought had fizzled out and departed me forever. Oddly, I largely ignored the creative side of the game. It may have been one of the games key features, a great feature in fact, but I was having too much fun in the games own vibrant and brilliantly crafted levels to give it much attention.
This game has an instant charm, instigated by the elegant tones of Stephen Fry and mixed with a pleasing artistic style, yet coupled to a challenging blend of platforming and problem solving. On taking the game online with friends, a frantic humour takes hold as you clamour through the levels in a semi-synchronised mess – laughing at each others mistakes and adding in the occasional comical slap down for good measure; it’s the gift that keeps on giving, even if it is at the expense of the team.
Minecraft is the definitive sandbox game. In fact when it first launched on Xbox, it didn’t even have an “end game” – it was a literally down to you to create your own fun from within the confines of the game world.
I think the reason that the memories from this game are so profound is because they stem from my own imagination. That castle I built was all my own creation. The Indiana Jones style temple (complete with booby traps) I decided to build was not part of some scripted mission, it was simply an idea that popped into my head. The only limits were that of my own creativity.
The best bit though was sharing it with friends. Be it creating something together – like the time me and a friend stayed up till the early hours making a massive cube (in a world of cubes) – or simply showing off your latest creations, playing Minecraft with friends gives you that motivation to keep coming back for more as you share those moments together.
One of my fondest childhood memories is of my Dad occasionally coming into my room to plays some Columns with me on the Mega Drive. It felt like he was making the effort to come into my world, take an interest in my hobbies and that we were really connecting. Plus, he was bloody good at the game – I think he may even retain the crown of highest score.
For Christmas one year, I got a Kinect for my Xbox with a copy of Kinect adventures. To be honest, it wasn’t something I was overly interested in, but I took it around to my parents house boxing day and set it up on the TV. We all then proceeded to make fools of ourselves as we flayed around wildly, trying to volley virtual balls back at targets, steer rafts down white water rapids and plug leaks in an aquarium. During a moment of overzealous jumping, I managed to smash my head on the light fitting and my Dad proved to be quite the dab hand at popping bubbles in space.
It was something and nothing really, but gaming with my dad again was a flashback to my childhood and to me that’s a very happy memory.
Have to agree with LBP as a game-changer. I had the same feelings towards the create side of things but can’t help but think that a PS4 adventure for Sackboy and co. would be even better with touchpad an tablet interaction.
I went as far as getting a sackboy for my desk at work.
Hah! Me too!
I have a sack bit figure that holds my dual shock 3!
Here’s my five:
Gears of War (series)
The Last of Us
Assassins Creed (last 2 were real let downs)
Red Dead Redemption
Metal Gear Solid 4