RPS Asks: Aren’t Games Great?!

By John Walker on July 19th, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

It's about time my niece finally appeared.

Sometimes RPS gets accused of being too grumpy. We like to think of it as standing up for gamers’ rights, and campaigning against what we see as wrong or unfair in our fair industry. Potatoes, portaloos. But the reality is we’re actually very cheerful and enthusiastic. It’s why it matters to us so much when that happiness gets pooped on by evil corporations like Big Poop. But right now, right this moment, it’s time for unbridled positivity. We want to know: what about gaming have you thought is just great recently?

For me, most recently, it’s been the simple pleasure of becoming completely involved in a text adventure, and all the accompanying reminders about just how potent and powerful gaming can be with the simplest interface, and that magical ingredient of interaction. I’ve also been playing Scrabble on my phone, and Avadon on my Android tablet, and just revelling in the way gaming can follow me around, and so engrossingly absorb spare moments.

Also today, I got an email from someone who’d just played To The Moon for the first time, after I linked my review from the post about Richard & Alice. I’ve never received so many emails about a game, and certainly not so many from people writing just to thank me for having brought it to their attention – that’s not normal in this job. So as I did with all the previous emails, I replied asking if it mad him cry. He replied saying it had, five times – more even than me! – explaining just how amazed he was that he could care so much about a fictional character. What a fantastic thing to hear, and what a fantastic game to hear it about. And talking of Richard & Alice, I’m telling you now to start getting enthused for that one.

But what about you? Did a game recently surprise you in a superb way? Have you been taken aback by a moment you weren’t expecting, that raised your expectations? Did you go back to a game you’d almost forgotten, and discover it’s still just as great?

Your uninhibited positivity below please. (Anyone who comes in being a grumps will get appropriately edited!)

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271 Comments »

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  1. OJSlaughter says:

    Grumble Gr- I love flowers and rainbows and flowers under rainbows! – Ed

  2. Premium User Badge

    bglamb says:

    I’m excited by the emerging possibilities of the cloud.

    Like arcades in the old days when they would build specialised and dedicated hardware that could do things far in advance of home computers, soon games will be running on super-machines in company headquarters and we’ll just dial in.

    It makes computational advances possible that reach far further than we could otherwise expect from our computers.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Between this and Diablo 3, you’re on fire with the deadpan humour today.

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        bglamb says:

        Haha. Well I’m gonna take that as a compliment anyway, but I don’t get what’s funny about this post! It wasn’t meant as a wry take on the state of DRM.

        Soon you’ll just have a kick-ass monitor and a 10Gig pipe (or whatever) and all the graphics and AI will be taken care of server side! I’ve not really heard anyone else espouse this theory yet, but I don’t see why that’s not where we’re headed. The cloud is the future!

        Listen again to that talk Gabe gave about Valve making hardware and consider that if they build specalised PC hardware to run awesome next-next-gen games (because consoles won’t and PC development is sabotaged by piracy), why on earth would they put them in individual boxes and into people’s homes at massive expense and risk to everyone involved? Valve would just build a load of supercomputers back at HQ and stream games to you real-time! The tech’s already half-way there, and I expect Valve to be the first to take the next step (though give them another 5+ years maybe).

        I can understand why people wouldn’t want to take me seriously about D3, but what’s not to love about this one?

        • Stiletto says:

          If it were only that simple… but ’tis not.

          Sorry to say, but you’re being a little bit too optimistic about that sort of gaming service.

          Afterall, who doesn’t like have their own gaming(not only) rig at home to do just more than running games? If I only needed a darned monitor and a hyperspeed internet connection, I’d be a very limited person in terms of possibilities.

          Edit: Missed something there.

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            bglamb says:

            Well……you wouldn’t chuck your PC out obviously. This would be an extra tier of gaming that PC and console owners alike could access.

            Like how maybe if your PC isn’t up to scratch today you can just OnLive a game, well it’ll be like that. Some new ‘must have’ game will be dropped by Valve and it’ll play on their hardware via the cloud. Maybe being Valve they won’t charge a subscription, but I can’t see any reason why this wouldn’t happen, and more will follow.

          • HothMonster says:

            Yeah, when the pipes get big enough we are going to be doing everything but the most basic tasks on VMs. Why buy a 1000$ gaming pc and pump a couple hundred a year into keeping it top notch if you can get better performance buying a 100$ one of these ? Obviously you’ll want a local machine for some stuff but I think virtual machines are going to become a lot more prevalent in the next 20 years.

        • tnankie says:

          what is not to love? Living in Australia and hence a ping of 200ms to the best American servers and 300+ to anything European. No matter how big the pipe is the ping time is unlikely to massively improve and thus anyone who happens to live somewhere a bit remote will suffer regardless of their bandwidth.

          Playing DayZ locally (Sydney) gets me a 15-30ms ping, WoT the best I have ever had is 220ms; it isn’t unplayable, but I wouldn’t try DayZ at 230ms And I certainly wouldn’t want to play a single player game with a 230ms ping.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            Why would you be using servers in the US and Europe? Valve serves Steam content from servers in Australia, why wouldn’t they do they same with cloud gaming?

    • Tams80 says:

      Only when broadband services get better. I don’t see where I live getting anything above 5mbps for a reasonable price anytime in the next decade. Maybe I should just move…

      Anyway, there’s more to streaming than just bandwidth (which is not up to scratch in most places). Latency is a serious issue, as is availability (access to the service). Cloud gaming has a long way to go. At the moment it is laggy and the resolution rather ‘muddy’ (though it works on the whole). The major problem at the moment though is that it is overpriced (especially when you consider the need for a fairly decent broadband connection).

      • wodin says:

        Srever side AI and running the game..have your played RO2??? You have to compensate for latency when you fire for god sake. I want my rig at home with all the hardware I bought for it.

        Also do you really think there are going to be the same type of graphic advancement…when no one needs to buy a new graphics card???? People not buying new cards will mean less money going into research for the cloud based graphic cards..which will mean stagnation. Oh no cloud based gaming will totally finish of the PC is a viable gaming platform. It will be cloud based TV boxes..you think things are bad now…wait till everyone is having to play games with ancient graphics tech for 5 or 6 years because a ATI and NVIDEA most likely one wont be in business anymore and two they’d be selling so few cards it’s doubtful they will have resources to put into new tech. Cloud based gaming is going to be a restrictive nightmare for gamers.

        How about this aswell. Once it all hits the cloud what do Indy developers do??? They can’t make great looking games because no one has the hardware in their rigs to play them, if they can’t get on a “cloud” they’ve had it.

        Cloud based will mean only the huge corps will make games and run their clouds..Choice will go out the window. Also no you won’t be able to not go the cloud way because as I said it’s very unlikely new cards will be coming out and I doubt the Indie game business will be so big it could fund the hardware business enough to keep the graphic cards being made.

        Oh dear a positive article has now lived up to RPS standards and has dropped into depressing negativity ;)

  3. Brun says:

    Emergent Gameplay (in a variety of games, such as Skyrim, Stalker, etc.). Bought the Stalker pack for $10 yesterday on Steam and I’m loving the emergent gameplay elements there. That’s what should be the future of gaming.

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      HicRic says:

      What are some of your favourite examples of emergent gameplay in Skyrim and Stalker?

      • Shazbut says:

        For me, in STALKER, it was when I had to do a fetch mission for some guy, but halfway through the mission I failed for seemingly no reason. I later found out it’s because he just so happened to have died in an ambush. When I reloaded an earlier save, he managed to survive.

        That is the real fucking deal, right there.

      • noom says:

        I have, for some reason, one very small and largely insignificant event in STALKER CoP that really stuck with me. Not long after arriving in Pripyat itself, I set out into the middle of a thunderstorm, and found myself walking past a children’s play park. Swings/slides/etc. as well as a little statue, like a little cheerful bear or something. Can’t remember exactly what animal it was. Just so happened that as I took a moment to glance at said statue, a flash of lightning hit, and for just a split second its smiling face transformed into, to my perceptions at least, some kind of grinning skull mask.

        Not precisely an example of emergent gameplay as such, and had it been scripted or happened in a film or some such I would probably have dismissed it as rather trite imagery, but the fact that it was pure chance, and happened in such a way that really resonated with my feelings playing the game at that precise moment, did lend it a peculiar salience.

        • Sarganym says:

          Nice, thanks for sharing Noom.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Ooh! Yeah, great story.
          I love it when stuff like that happens in games. Something not necessarily programmed into the game itself, but arising from the state of mind the game puts you in – especially games with complex systems with good scope for emergence.
          It’s like when I briefly thought that friendly count in Mount and Blade was trying to shove me towards the enemy on purpose for political reasons.

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          VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          I’ve had the exact same experience! Though I’m sure it’s not intentional, as the bear statue is based on a real one.

      • Inglourious Badger says:

        I’ve had a bit of a second wind with Skyrim this last week and been picking up all my unfinished quest lines my lvl37 stealth elf reached. The thing that strikes me with Skyrim is not so much how emergent the gameplay can be, Besthesda keep quite a tight leash on everything despite the free roaming dragons, but how they occasionally nail that feeling of emergence in a story based quest. Primary example being that Markarth quest that starts with you witnessing a murder. It seems such a passing random act that when a bystander draws you in to the quest to investigate it I didn’t expect it to go anywhere. So when, (SPOILERS) a good hour or so later, I’m busting out of prison and leading a riot against the corrupt authorities, it felt like I’d done it. It FELT emergent even though it’s clearly just a well written, setpiece-laden story. To my mind nailing that feeling in a story is a more impressive feat than a sandbox world that once every few hours throws up something neat.

  4. Beelzebud says:

    I’ve recently been playing through Deus Ex Human Revolution, and holy living shit did they nail that game! That team really knew what made Deus Ex so damn fun, and they actually delivered. I’d put it right up there with Deus Ex, and I never thought I’d be saying that after the lame 2nd game. Here’s hoping they keep that team together, and let them make more Deus Ex games.

    • Shazbut says:

      I’m playing the DLC right now for the first time and it’s reminding me how brilliant it was. A really incredible acheivement by them considering the pressure they were under.

    • BenLeng says:

      Me Too! I spend all my free week being a cybernetic Ninja and can’t stop obsessing about it. Great design, really smart about basically everything.

    • AJ_Wings says:

      I absolutely loved the Missing Link DLC. Not from a story perspective because I think if I was more into the Deus Ex lore I would’ve aprreciated more, but dear me did they nail level design and atmoshpere in that DLC. Seriously it’s 9-10 dollars on steam now, go grab it people! (Unless it gets discounted further more).

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      TheApologist says:

      Hear hear! Loved this game. I got this over my Christmas break and spent two or three very happy days working through it. It was engrossing, well written, brilliantly designed, and the first time I glided down from a great height with electricity coming out of my hands felt frickin’ brilliant.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      Oh yeah, Deus Ex:Human Revolution. It’s Deus Ex designed by Habitat (RIP).

      I’m replaying it now, and by God it was just so much fun. Even the little meta-touches, like the email on one of the terminals telling users that their email accounts were now universally limited to three emails per person per inbox, and the SWAT guy at the end of the first level doggedly kicking the unopenable door.

      Edit: forgot to mention: it also features one of my favourite paintings: ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicholas Tulp’ by Rembrandt, and the music is just brilliant too.

      Definitely my game of 2011, I’m going to be coming back to that time and time again.

      Really hoping for more of this.

    • Urthman says:

      I’ve just been playing DX:HR myself. Last night I arrived in China for the first time and was knocking around. I was amazed at how much everything feels exactly like Deus Ex. It’s almost like a re-make of the original game, with all new locations and lots of details that are different but still in the same spirit. And it looks and runs great on my 5-year-old computer.

      I think it’s the best next-gen sequel since Tomb Raider Anniversary.

      Also, I know the party line is that the bosses suck, and the first boss fight and related cutscenes were pretty stupid, but I found a way to easily beat him using some of the particular skills I’d been focusing on (arm strength and tasers), and that felt pretty good.

    • wodin says:

      I tried to get back into it. However I fail to see what people love about it. I found it rather dull and boring. Not sure why, I can’t put my finger on it.

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    Clavus says:

    Technically not PC titles but a few months back I picked up and played the ICO and Shadow of Colossus bundle on my PS3. I heard they were great titles but I didn’t expect them to be THAT amazing. Some of the most wonderful gaming experiences you’ll ever have.

    • McDan says:

      Damn right, two of the finest games ever mace. I still keep my ps2 around to play on them, as well as persona 4 which I highly recommend to everyone.

    • mashakos says:

      Technically it’s PC as the original PS2 discs can now be played on an emulator at HD resolutions, with a mouse and keyboard if you like (bad idea!)

      • paterah says:

        The ps3 bundle looks better than the ps2 game on an emulator because they actually improved the graphics though

        • mashakos says:

          not really. The game art and assets were untouched. The PS3 version is the same PS2 version running at 720p. Meanwhile on my system: it’s running at 2560×1600 mwahahaha!

          EDIT: Would like to add that I was also pleasantly surprised when I picked up the collector’s edition of SoC at a bargain bin and ran it on PCSX2 3 years ago. That was the highlight of my gaming experience since the PS2 era. For one thing, I finally felt good about buying a high end cpu and wasting hours in overclocking it, in addition to being blown away by what is essentially a puzzle game. Last time that happened was with the original Lemmings, almost 20 years ago.

  6. Two Sheds says:

    Everything about Spec Ops: The Line pleasantly surprised me. Well, not “pleasantly” necessarily, but you know what I mean. What I thought was going to be just a boring old military fist-bump manshooter turned out to be so much more. The ending put an expression on my face that I’m not sure any other game has left me with. Just terrific.

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      liquidsoap89 says:

      I just finished that game last night, and I LOVED it! The fact that they even partially managed to make me feel bad about what I did was a huge achievement in game storytelling I think.

    • mouton says:

      Believe it or not, in certain fields, this is one of the best games I ever played. Storytelling, insanity, war trauma.

      When a soldier at the end asks “how was it?” I started laughing hysterically. For a second I understood how veterans feel, after they come back from war and no one can possibly relate to them.

    • wodin says:

      A game that again for me shows why well made linear games can give a far better experience than an open world one.

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    mrwonko says:

    Recently replayed Psychonauts and it’s still great as ever.

  8. mire says:

    I’ve been repeatedly surprised by The Secret World. Most fun I’ve had in an MMO in years. Great writing, music, animation, settings, design, and progression system.

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      tumbleworld says:

      Yes, the writing and voice acting are fantastic, and the lore / mysteries / puzzle intertwining makes for a glorious experience. The skill wheel is fabulous. The combat however is really annoying — protracted and brutally unforgiving — which is spoiling my enjoyment, but I’m still totally hooked, and really optimistic that it spells the beginning of new trends in MMO design.

  9. Vinraith says:

    Well done, well done. It’s easy to forget that the whole reason things piss us off so often is because they’re screwing up the amazing fun that games can so often provide. So yes, we should focus on said amazing fun for a change!

    I’m playing Mass Effect 3 right now. I must admit that the mechanical changes in 2 made me a bit of a grump, but I’ve been honestly thrilled to see what they’ve done with this one. Weapon variety without an annoying inventory, real skill decisions, weapon mod and upgrade decisions, I actually feel like I’m playing a (very light) RPG again. Awesome! Honestly I’ve subsequently grown to like 2 for what it was, but this is a beautiful middle ground, and I can’t tell you how rare and wonderful it is to see a developer move away from excessive simplification. Maybe there’s hope after all!

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      AmateurScience says:

      I hesitated about mentioning my recent time with ME3 because of all the internet grump, but holyflirkingschnit did that game get under my skin! I can’t think of another game that’s subjected me to such a wide gamut of emotions: moments of pure melancholy and pathos, times where I’ve actually whooped with joy and raised a fist into the air (that has NEVER happened to me playing games or watching a film, and only once when reading a book), I could go on. And (for me) it was mechanically pitch perfect, loved it. And of course a lot of that was to do with the preceding games too, certainly some of the greatest moments in gaming for me. It was the first game since Grim Fandango where I had a hollow feeling inside for a day or two after I finished, because it was over. Yay for Mass Effect!

      • westyfield says:

        The Mass Effect series has been the most emotional work of fiction in my life – more so than any book or film. I’m replaying ME3 at the moment for the Extended Cut and I’ve still been affected by those moments. I’m not looking forward to the ending though… partly because you know why, and partly because it’ll really be the end then. No more reason for me to play it through again – I have no desire to roll a male Shepard, or a full renegade/full paragon Shepard, or to romance, sacrifice, etc. someone else. It’ll be the end of my Shepard’s story, which for me will be the end of the only Shepard’s story. If that makes any sense.

        Anyway, them’s good games. Play ‘em!

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          AmateurScience says:

          Spoiler free but the last few scenes before the grand, controversial denouement are some of the most genuinely gutwrenching moments I’ve ever had (outside of actually real gutwrenching moments ofc), just a really difficult experience – but in a good way if that makes any sense.

          I have tried replaying from the start as a more renegade character – not arbitrarily picking renegade options, but definitely a hell of a lot tetchier that Mr (mostly) Lawful Good Hero Sniper Doug Shepard*. Both to try out a new class (vanguard seemed appropriately…impatient), and to hear Jennifer (I do *all* the voices) Hale’s performance. It’s been fun so far, but I’m under no illusions that it’ll be as impactful as the first time through. And it’s difficult to avoid gaming the system to manipulate the future.

          *I thought Mr Meer’s (no not that one) performance was fantastic btw, but I can see why Ms Hale’s is lauded.

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        liquidsoap89 says:

        ME3 is the game I was going to mention as well. I think for me the moment with Mordin (you know which one), and the decision I made with Legion and Tali were 2 of the most powerful moments in the entire series. I know the game gets a lot of flak for the last 10 minutes (10 minutes of which I didn’t mind), but to me, those bits throughout the whole game are the ending to me. The whole of ME3 is the ending to Mass Effect, not the god child bit; and THAT is why I really think ME3 was incredible.

      • Ross Angus says:

        Amen, brother. What surprised me about Mass Effect 3 was how emotional it was to get the team back together again. Something about time passing in the real world, but also in the game world.

        At several points, I had to stop myself, and just feel so lucky that all of this great content was created, just for me to wander about in.

        Plus I really liked Cortez. He was the best new character by far.

      • stryker619 says:

        I’m replaying ME3 as well, having just replayed 1 and 2. It’s the only game that’s ever made me feel like I’d just been punched in the gut. I’ve also never had a game make me this angry. But not at the developers, at the bad guys. At Mr. Plot Armor who I wanted to kill so badly that I actually had to stop and calm down. And SPOILER Dr. Eva, who I thought was going kill Ashley after I’d already sacrificed Kaidan to save her END SPOILER. I think I actually yelled at the screen. The only thing that comes close for me was when Alyx got wounded in Episode 2.

        • westyfield says:

          Ugh, plot armour dude made me so angry. The mocking email he sent after the fight had me slamming my fist on the desk. I immediately went and spoke to Joker, he made a dumb joke (as is his wont) and I yelled at him. From then on, whenever I went to chat to him, he would always respond in a colder manner than before. I genuinely felt bad – for losing the fight (even though it’s scripted I still felt like I’d failed), for taking it badly, for yelling at Joker – and his growled ‘Commander’ was a constant reminder of that.

          The renegade interrupt with the sword was one of the most satisfying moments in any game, ever.

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            AmateurScience says:

            ‘That was for *redacted*’

            Definitely a moment of pure catharsis. Like the whole of Taken boiled down to one well timed left click.

          • stryker619 says:

            I was playing a complete paragon. That was the only renegade interrupt I took in either ME2 or 3. Didn’t even know what it would do, I just reacted because I wanted him to finally be dead. So worth it. One of the best moments of the game.

    • jalf says:

      Oh yeah, that!

      I’m not currently playing through ME3. I played it before the Extended Cut, and I plan to play through again to see the new endings (And probably also replay ME2 if the DLC *ever* gets offered at a sane price).

      But until then, I’m watching a Lets Play of ME3 on Youtube. And that’s a pretty great experience too. It is a very emotional game, and as fun as it is to experience it all yourself, it’s also very fascinating to watch someone else experience it for the first time.

      What else? Been having a lot of fun playing Civ 5 against a friend. Oh, and some Diablo 3 with a couple of other friends. On hardcore. Just finished normal difficulty.

      Oh, and FTL. Damn, that game is addictive!

      Oh yeah, and I dug up the World of Goo soundtrack to listen to at work. Show me a person who can stay in a bad moof while listening to that, and I’ll show you a person who has no soul…

    • NathanH says:

      Mass Effect 3 was five minutes away from being one of the best games ever made. They found the perfect level of simplicity: the first game was too bloated and the second was too streamlined. In ME3 it’s just right. It’s nice to have a story-based game where the actual gameplay is also really fun. Not many games get even close the managing that.

      • Alceste007 says:

        Up to the last five minutes Mass Effect 3 was by far the best game I have played this year. I am still enjoying playing multiplayer with some buddies. I was really leery of multiplayer in Mass Effect 3, but adding a coop horde mode turned out well.

    • Damien Stark says:

      I rarely comment on RPS, because by the time I read a story I can just scroll down to see that Vinraith has already said whatever I was thinking.

      But I’m glad RPS posted this, as the pile of (usually legitimate and well written) criticism does tend to build up into a giant ugly pile of negativity, when really things are fantastic.

      Generally, games are cheaper, more accessible, more varied, and of better quality than they have ever been. Specifically, Mass Effect 3 made my year. For me, the characters, story, and world were some of the best in any series of any media. But not just that – as Vinraith says, ME3 feels like they finally mastered the mechanics of it.

      Even the conversation mechanics – I love that people on your ship move around now, both to different spots on the ship or to recreational spots on the Citadel. I love that when you don’t have a new conversation available with someone, you don’t have to “go into conversation mode” and click the same investigation wheel items looking for new dialog in a menu, but rather they just say a quick line seamlessly.

      I love that Infiltrator + sniper rifle with concentration mod makes me feel like an easymode god, except then I hear a Banshee and I’m scared out of my wits, running and leaping over barriers to flee. Hell, I even love the multiplayer, and I never thought I’d say that.

      Now that I’ve gone wall of text on ME3, I want to throw in that Bastion was way shorter, but also exemplary and still gives me a warm feeling just thinking about it.

  10. Batolemaeus says:

    Eve Online. Nearly everything I have done in there.

    The most awe inspiring moments would be seeing people of all nationalities playing together to achieve a common goal, bridging language barriers by having a few people translate back and forth, and succeeding. And at the side of those huge operations, you see people from all over the world conversing, sharing experiences and talking. I’ve heard someone from Serbia put on old records for everyone to hear and reveled in incredibly terrible slashfiction involving Eve’s e-celebrities.

  11. tlarn says:

    After many years with an old PC, I’ve finally gotten around to updating it. Spent a lot of time going through games on my Steam list that I either could barely run or couldn’t run. Much of that weekend was spent marvelling at how I could run new games on maximum settings with little to no drop in a framerate I wasn’t used to having so high. I actually have to relearn how to play PC shooters; I’m so used to adjusting for low framerate and dropped frames.

    Then I got around to playing older PC games in my collection. I installed my physical copy of STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, patched it, then downloaded the Complete 2009 mod collection I’d heard so much about.

    It really does change the game drastically. It felt like such a different game, and yet it was still so very familiar. Had a large smile across my face.

    The pistol you start with is still horrid.

  12. McDan says:

    Those are crazy staring eyes, a new tag for “mega staring eyes”! I’m still quote enjoying all of my games, recently though I’ve been playing child of Eden on the playbox and that’s pretty great. So yeah, happy times actually, though I do prefer my RPS with a bit of grumpy, just saying.

  13. Chakawi says:

    I’ve read that blog post about the Bungie people watching Indie Game the movie all together at their studio theatre room. And just the kinship and the whole “we’re on the same team even if we think we’re not” feeling, make me feel really good about the gaming industry. Not because of business direction, but just because of the lovely people making it’s wheels turn.

    Here’s the article: http://www.bungie.net/News/Blog.aspx?mode=news#cid32146

  14. HexagonalBolts says:

    Starcraft 2. It just always blows my mind how incredibly neat and intricate it is, there are so many clever counters, strategies, tactics, new ways to be surprised, new combinations to play with. Every time you play it’s like opening up a watch with 100,000 gears inside and that just never gets old for me.

    I also love emergent game play, I wish more games would do it, the only one that has ever got it right in my opinion is Dwarf Fortress where there are such a huge number of factors that every single game can be extremely different. I do love it, but even minecraft doesn’t do it succesfully: it’s the same terrain formations, the same ores, the same enemies repeated endlessly like some bizarre patchwork that eventually becomes a soulless grind.

  15. Brun says:

    Also, anyone else find it funny that this article is posted by John Walker, who (at least in my experience) is the grumpiest of all RPS writers?

    • LionsPhil says:

      He’s only grumpy because he cares.

      • Defiant Badger says:

        Yes, John certainly has the biggest grump in the business.

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          Arathain says:

          Really? I think of the current crop of RPS writers John is the most effusive when he finds something he really loves. He’s the most active writer in the field of consumer rights and media portrayal, so he tends to be the writer on a lot of those more stern articles, and he can take apart a bad game better than anyone in the business, but he exudes so much joy for the his favourites.

          Kieron and Quinns could edge him out in that regard, but not by much.

  16. The First Door says:

    For me it was playing L.A. Noire after buying it in the Steam sale.

    Was the first game in ages where I’ve started it up, played through and had a constant grin on my face until I realised I was late for meeting a friend because four hours had utterly vanished. Everything from the music, to the voice acting to the lovely open world which is just there to enjoy as you drive between different parts of the mission is perfect.

    I felt like a proper detective when I cracked the first big case, I did!

    • reggiep says:

      That’s kind of a dark game to be smiling through. You’re a little twisted, aren’t you? It’s a fantastic and original game, don’t get me wrong, but definitely dark. After all, it is Noire.

      • The First Door says:

        To be fair to myself, there were several different types of smile throughout the first mission. A happy smile at how good the driving felt, a smug smile when I worked out what the mystery was about quite quickly and a geeky smile at how good the face capture tech is. Anyway, I just can’t help smiling when I’ve been attentive and worked something out, it’s why I watch crime dramas in the first place.

  17. Stepout says:

    Just bought Fallout New Vegas from the Steam sale a few days ago. From the moment I started blasting geckos in the face with my varmint rifle I thought, why didn’t I buy this a long time ago? Love all the faction stuff.

    • Torgen says:

      I *just* (as in 20 minutes ago) bought the NV Ultimate Pack for $10 on the Steam sale. Looking forward to it while I wait on Borderlands 2. Speaking of Borderlands, I lost all my saved games in a hard drive reformat (stupid invisible folders in C:/User) so cooked new characters with a mod file who are the same level as my old ones, and revisiting old area to re-unlock the achievements.

    • Premium User Badge

      Smashbox says:

      That game really is a thrill.

      I love the first several hours, when you’re a relative weakling walking around with beat-up hunting rifle, constantly looking over your shoulder. You just FEEL the environment, the desert walk, the nervous helpless paranoia, the desperation around you *rustle* “What the fuck was that!?”

      • Outright Villainy says:

        Agreed, I love that early level feeling from both 3 and Vegas where you feel seriously threatened at every encounter. A lot of that thrill goes away later on when you get power armour and a million stimpacks, but I still love the characters and dialogue from Vegas so it’s still great.

        Speaking of which, I only started playing Old world blues yesterday, and it’s just fantastic. Really funny.

  18. MiniMatt says:

    The Honest Hearts DLC for Fallout NV. Contains an incidental back story of a survivalist’s tale over many decades. Amazing bit of characterisation for a char you never even meet, who never speaks and who’s noteven alive.

  19. Malky says:

    Can I just say how fantastic ALL of gaming is right now?

    I’ve been playing Tribes: Ascend for months. It’s great. Flying at high speeds, shooting discs, it’s all I ever really wanted from life.

    Yesterday I started playing Wizorb. Fantastic fun! Tribute Games brought back a genre I never thought I’d play again.

    Bee was a stunning text adventure game. It took me two days to play through it (Varytale is great, but loads very slowly) and I was utterly obsessed. I don’t even like text adventure games very much, but the story of a homeschooled girl’s quest to win a spelling bee somehow spoke to me. Stunning stuff.

    Noitu Love 2 was the action game of my dreams. I would replay it dozens of times if my Steam list wasn’t so overcrowded.

    I bought The Real Texas last night and I can’t wait to play it. I’ve already watched the trailer four times today.

    What other titles do I have at my fingertips? Sword and Sworcery, Crusader Kings II, Natural Selection 2, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, Terraria, Far Cry 2, Dear Esther and Analogue: A Hate Story.

    Damn.

  20. Premium User Badge

    lowprices says:

    I finally got around to playing To The Moon recently. I’m appalled that none of you strapped me to a chair and forced me to play it before, because it’s absolutely wonderful.

    And, since this is a positivity-only zone so this won’t spark a riot, let me just say: In spite of all it’s flaws, I love Dragon Age 2. Replaying it now, and enjoying it plenty.

  21. Evernight says:

    Steam sale is pretty sexy and I must admit – I was feeling super down after D3 kinda kicked me in the balls. But now I have Max Payne 3, Bastion, Crysis 2 and a few others to play.

    Hooray for games.

    • The First Door says:

      Damn, I totally forgot about Bastion! I just finished that game and it is brilliant right to the end! Thanks for reminding me I need to go play New Game+ mode.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Bastion is one those games that was so good that I eagerly played it to completion even though I don’t really like the genre much.

        • MikeBiggs says:

          Heck yes on the Bastion front. It’s the only game that has gripped me so strongly for a long time. I very much look forward to forgetting enough of it to complete another runthrough of it!

          • soco says:

            I was just saying to someone yesterday that Bastion was my pick for game of the year last year.

            Man, I loved that game. The visuals, the story, the narrator, the music everything was so good.

            I have a hard time remembering a game where each weapon felt as good as it did in Bastion and you never had to make the choice of; “Well I like this weapon, but it is just so underpowered compared to this other one.”

      • Premium User Badge

        Clavus says:

        Ah Bastion. I remember going on holiday thinking I could take a break from gaming and daily life. Instead I played through Bastion’s campaign, new game+, and all challenges in just a few days. By the time my holiday was over I had all achievements.

  22. iGark says:

    I bought Torchlight and am having a blast.

    • serioussgtstu says:

      Mod the hell out of that game if you haven’t already.

      • Premium User Badge

        lowprices says:

        There is only one mod you need for Torchlight, and that’s the one that turns your pet into a Ferret.

        The ferret wears goggles. GOGGLES.

  23. TillEulenspiegel says:

    From a slightly different perspective, have a gander at this delightful Tiny Game Design Tool. It’s just a simple booklet that you can print out, accurately described as “part design tool, part motivational tool, part silly experiment”, but it instantly inspired me to start sketching out ideas.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Screwie says:

    The next Guild Wars 2 beta weekend starts tomorrow :D

    • djbriandamage says:

      Even better news – the LAST Guild Wars 2 beta weekend starts tomorrow!!

      My wife and I played the crap out of the original GW. When we were dating we’d play from our parents’ basements, and I’d often lug my PC (PC monitor and all) to her place. Now we’ve been married 5 years, have our own place, and we share a table with our PCs side by side. We’re stoked for this game to finally come out!

  25. iLag says:

    the last thing that made me a happy gamer was Deus Ex HR. that just worked on so many levels and made me think about good game design and stuff.
    the last thing that made me a happy person was watching my 7-year-old son play Botanicula without needing much help from me. both of us were totally delighted, and I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have had that much fun playing it alone. so yeah. rainbows and mushrooms.

    • Skabooga says:

      Botanicula as well makes me tremendously happy about gaming. It is more than I could ask for that such a game should be made, a game which can make me feel deep despair and boundless elation in the same sitting, all without the use of words.

  26. magnus says:

    Just finished Just Cause 2 and I was smiling all the way through the last mission.

    • Chaosed0 says:

      Oh, man, when they pulled out that title for the last mission… So clever, even if I should have seen it coming.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Just Cause 2 was the perfect surprise. I loved that game. Never could get the wrecking ball achievement though.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Except for the camera, which spits pure malevolence, that game is a pretty astounding continual sequence of all the best bits of action movies.

      Still getting all the faction missions done before I take the agency one where I have to pick sides.

  27. disperse says:

    On Tuesday I was stuck in an airport for a 2 1/2 hour layover. I found an airport bar with convenient outlets and a local amber ale and played Dwarf Fortress on my laptop. It was great fun, even when goblins followed the human caravan to my fortress and started slaughtering everyone.

    • Premium User Badge

      Altemore says:

      Dwarf Fortress for me too. Started it up after not having played for about a year and after jerkily finding my footing I have had so much fun; Losing control of water I’m channeling into the fortress, trying to contain dwarves in secretive moods and a necromancer assaulting me with reanimated hens, horses and yaks, to name a few examples.

  28. Sakkura says:

    It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to tweak my autoexec.bat just to run a game. That’s nice.

  29. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    Just how much of gaming there is right now. I played a single game for months on end when I was a child, because there was nothing else to play. I’d sit for an entire weekend repeating the same level of a demo over and over, or eeking out every gold medal (Pilotwings 64) or cheat (Goldeneye) or whatever other time trial nonsense. Now there is just an enormous, generous wealth of absolutely excellent and varied games and I am still constantly delighted and surprised by them all.

    Any time you need cheering up about videogames, all you need to do is sit back and think: holy shit, if I could travel back in time and show this to my 9 year old self, he would not fucking believe it. It’s become so incredible in so short a time. <3 videogames.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Faldrath says:

    Racing on Pikes Peak with a Celica in Dirt 1 yesterday evening was an absolute blast. More long term, playing Endless Space, that “one more turn” feeling that no other media comes close to providing, and the feeling that yes, the game is flawed, but hey, this is a PC game, the devs can improve and probably will…

    Games are pretty great!

  31. Milky1985 says:

    Recently its been playing Starcraft 2 multiplayer with a couple of mates, a good bit of fun in 4 v 4, the last ditch defense and the moment when the attacking plan comes together.

    Also loving the hell out of saints row 3 and its dlc, sooooo much to do , multiple times i have started up the game, done nothing but explore and do side missions, then realised i should have been in bed half a hour ago.

    Console wise spent a lot of time on tales of the abyss on the 3ds, that was exquisite, but a little too much backtracking!

  32. Shazbut says:

    I wasn’t that interested in Skyrim before I got it, but when I first started playing and you finally get let out into the open world with all the possibilities and things to discover, I welled up with emotion.

    I love that PC games are cheaper than they’ve ever been in my experience and that there is a resurgence in immersive sims. It’s one of the best times to be a PC gamer in history, I think, and I was one of the people who was most vocal about PC games dying a horrible death a few years ago. (Although, whilst I was wrong, I think it was a close call)

    • reggiep says:

      It wasn’t close at all, actually. While pre-built PC sales have gone down and leveled off, sales of parts are up and increasing. That means more people are building their own PCs and it’s an industry worth 10s of billions of dollars. Gaming certainly drives a part of that.

      • MattM says:

        Building your own is pretty easy these days, you need knowledge about compatibility and cooling but the only tool you need is a screwdriver.

  33. Eddy9000 says:

    Waiting for Dishonoured, best fun I’ve had for ages.

  34. Captain Hijinx says:

    Dota 2 for me!

    750+ Hours of awesome entertainment and it has cost me nothing. I feel like i’m mugging someone

  35. Pobb says:

    I’d have to say that the last game to bring me unbridled joy was, weirdly enough, Super Meat Boy. There are only four inputs.
    Left.
    Right.
    Run.
    Jump.
    The game is often sited as a brutal and punishing 2D retro platformer, but every time you die you know exactly why, and it was always your fault. The cut scenes in between different worlds are all call backs to 80’s 90’s games and the “warp zones” found in various levels are all themed from different eras or indie games.
    The fact that the game is so simple on the surface, yet so challenging, really made me happy that this type of game can still find mass appeal :)

  36. Premium User Badge

    HicRic says:

    Just endlessly, pointlessly skiing in Tribes:Ascend. Wheeeeeee, down the hill, whoooosh, up the hill. Sorry teammates, I don’t care about the flags, I’m too busy going fast. Wheeeee! (I do actually contribute to objectives most of the time, but it’s so easy to get lost in the moment and just keep skiiing!)

  37. djbriandamage says:

    Thanks for this article, John. :)

    My wife and I play WoW together. Our greatest achievement so far is killing the Lich King with the guild we helped found.

    We spent months and months working our way through the Ice Crown Citadel raid at the end of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion a couple of years ago. Many guildies came and went during that time but we maintained a core raiding team that became closer and closer over the months. At long last we killed the penultimate boss, a tough dragon named Sindragosa, and our success felt so near it was palpable.

    The Lich King is a big fat meaniejerk. We wiped and wiped and wiped. He’s a real toughie. The fight is about 15 minutes long and a single error by any of the 10 raiders is catastrophic. We spent 3 nights a week for 4 weeks making incremental progress, and sometimes regressing backward, doing our very best to topple the fiend. At long last, after about 35 hours of combined attempts, we had a fight where everything went our way. We were well-practised and at the top of our game. We fucking did it.

    http://d.demodulated.com/kingslaya.jpg

    That’s a month of camaraderie, perserverence, supportive encouragement, talent, and hard bloody work encapsulated in one screenshot right there. That moment was so tremendously impactful I was numb. I mean it. It felt wonderful but I was incapable of feeling it all at once – it came to me in waves over the next day or so. All our avatars wore their “Kingslayer” titles with pride after that, let me tell you.

    That guild is no more and most of that team doesn’t play the game anymore, but those men and women have my great respect. My wife and I keep in touch with some of them, and we drove 5 hours to meet a couple of them who served us lunch and introduced us to their kids.

    That’s some video gaming right there.

  38. pilouuuu says:

    I finally got into Fallout New Vegas and I’ve been enjoying it so much!

    I am also playing The Book of the Unwritten Tales. It’s a great adventure game, with lovely graphics and I’m glad that the puzzles make sense.

  39. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I found Malukah’s cover of the Skyrim theme on youtube – that was awesome, that a game inspired that (and the whole IGN / community reaction).

    On a similarly prodigous (though inauspicious) note, I discovered someone made a mod that puts actual fisting into Skyrim. You dress as a prostitute, and then offer sex to people. Which you get to see, accurately rendered in third person perspective. This itself does not please me, but the act of predicting that someone, somewhere HAD to have been depraved enough to do it, gave me a warm glow of smug superiority.

  40. DanPryce says:

    I liked the Pyrovision Update for TF2, or as I like to call it, the Realism Update.

  41. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    Veni Vidi Vici.

    To steal a Gillenism: I’m not sure whether I want to shake Terry Cavanagh’s hand, or punch him in the face.

    • Premium User Badge

      Petethegoat says:

      I (as I incessantly tell anyone who’ll listen) beat those levels in front of Terry. Never have I felt so much unbridled hate melt away into joy.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      I’d go for both simultaneously, whereupon I’d imagine he would do a Veridian sadface before instantly starting grinning again!

  42. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    I fucking love the soundtrack of Max Payne 3 and I hold it to be a masterpiece of game scoring, I love the gameplay and the incessant Chandleresque quips “They shot me in my second favourite drinking arm and the only way we were going to get Fabiana back was in instalments.” I cannot wait for Dishonored and Bioshock: Infinite. Eidos-Montreal in basically one glorious debut have become one of my favourite studios and I savour even rumours about Thief 4, the three aforementioned immersive simulators heralding a return to a genre I thought was increasingly sparse. Comparably over the horizon I salivate over the prospect of Watch Dogs, GTA V, the inevitable Deus Ex 4 with the next generation of hardware and of course, CDProjekt’s Cyberpunk.

  43. Premium User Badge

    Durkonkell says:

    Mods! I’m obsessed with Skyrim at the moment, which means I spend about half of my time playing it and the other half of my time meddling with it via mods. Actually, I probably spend more time on Skyrim Nexus than I do playing the game! I really love the ability to modify and extend a game beyond what it was originally able to do.

    • TheIronSky says:

      Don’t forget about fixes! Those are important, too.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Also the prostitution / fisting mod. Which oddly, you won’t find on Steam.

  44. Chimpyang says:

    2 of my fave gaming moments have come from RPS recommendations: To the Moon and Unity of Command. The former was a joy to play due to its engaging storyline and the game graphics brought memories playing early RPG adventure games (Final Fantasy, Chono Trigger). For unity of command, after a series of disappointing and unchallenging RTS game AI (for many years now), I spent turn after turn praying that the computer would not find the weak spot in my line, and even had many surprises from the AI battering weak spots that I had not even identified! A properly hard and satisfying strategy game which I am still striving to master and outwit.

    These 2 games have shone in what has been for me an otherwise quite barren period in gaming (I find quite a lot of current games very meh – but positivity ho!). Honourable mentionsmust go to CKII, which provides unending amusement. Football Manager 2011, for its simple addictiveness which keeps me coming back for hours upon hours lost in a haze of management bliss and finally to Wargame European Escalation, which had provided some of the most entertaining and thoughtful online gaming for quite some time.

  45. MythArcana says:

    PC games are great when you take the time and money to discover an entertainment investment which lasts for years. Now, the other Play-N-Toss games I can’t vouch for whatsoever as they seem like obvious time-killers with no real purpose.

  46. TheIronSky says:

    I’m actually feeling the opposite right now. I’ve been grinding out yet another Mass Effect playthrough (5th or 6th time? Doesn’t help that I compulsively have to do every single quest, every single time) and I bought Diablo 3 about four days ago. I already have a level 34 Demon Hunter and a few hardcore characters.

    And even with all these non-Steam games, I still find the time to keep my Steam rating at a 10, somehow.

    Gaming right now is a grind, but I’m doing it because I can, so I guess that’s good.

    Yes, games are great, but I might need to do some real work soon to take a break from all my break-taking. Or something.

  47. Premium User Badge

    thesundaybest says:

    I came to games quite late, having never had either a PC worthy of gaming or a console. I didn’t even start gaming until I bought a PS2, ten years after it launched. So pretty much I find everything about gaming great. Except always on DRM. That’s just shit.

  48. Premium User Badge

    barelyhomosapien says:

    I went back to Warlock and found that something in the patches really changed my opinion of it.

    I will also say the continued weekly patching of Sword of the Stars 2, while a testament to how half baked the initial release was, also warms my heart with the determination some developers have to keep going to get their game right.

  49. Premium User Badge

    Man Raised by Puffins says:

    TF2 (Pyrovision optional) + Alcohol (sufficient for moderate tipsification) + Call Me Maybe on repeat = Yes.

  50. Tei says:

    Games that recently surprised me: Dead Island, BF3, Legend of Grimrock, APB (even on the current sad state).