These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things (In PC Games)

every feature needs a montage

Some moments in some games stay with you. The right event, the right surprise or the right hats at the right time, and it’s imprinted on your memory forever. I’ve been playing PC games for almost 25 years: I’ve got a million of these, and so have you. I’ll show you just a few of mine if you show me yours.

Night on Cydonia

X-COM: UFO Defense, 1994

Any game can feature an unexpected trip to Mars these days. Most do, in fact. Oh, you’ve not got to that bit in Europa Universalis 4 yet? Back when I was 12 years old or thereabouts, finding my long-serving X-COM crew speeding towards the red planet for a climactic showdown on Cydonia, I could barely believe what I was seeing. I say ‘seeing’, but the reality was a text box, a static image then some yellow terrain. The practicalities didn’t and don’t matter: the concept was what grabbed me. Taking the fight back to the inhuman bastards I’d been battling for hours – the possibility of victory, the sense of achievement for having got this far. I don’t care that the endgame was a giant, stationary eyeball. I care that my team, soldiers I’d given names and trusted with my best equipment, had beaten the odds.

The disappointment when 2012’s XCOM didn’t feature a Mars mission still affects me. It’s a b-movie conceit I didn’t know was a b-movie conceit when I was first experienced it, and as such it remains the highest aspiration for the sci-fi heroes I puppeteer.

Fats Waller of Duty

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, 2007

here we go, here we go, here we go. Back when Call of Duty was only starting to become what Call of Duty is today, it wove moments of thoughtfulness and playfulness into its bombastic melodrama. As gung-ho macho as it campaign might be, the screeching nastiness of some later games in the series wasn’t yet in its blood. But the surprise was once it was all over. A ragtime mode, sepia tones and rinky-dink piano to accompany even the game’s most sombre and sinister moments. It was oddly therapeutic as well as amusing, but then again I suspect I could listen to weeks of ragtime without getting bored of it.

Most of all, it was much-needed levity and appealing self-awareness after all that death and all that bleakness. Sometimes, the smartest thing a game can do is be silly for the sake of being silly. By contrast, the gag that was COD zombies snowballed so far that it became a major marketing factor in later games. Big games doing consciously dumb or strange things that are purely throwaway: more please.

Independence day

Sid Meier’s Colonization, 1994

I’ve documented this before on RPS, many moons ago, but it remains one of my happiest hours in PC gaming. The War of Independence-focused Civilization spin-off was a game I wasn’t able to complete back when I first played it in the early 1990s, because, er, I didn’t have an entirely salubrious copy of it.

Fourteen years later, I returned. I freed my people from the tyrannical rule of European monarchy. I was rewarded for it. it was the simplest and most obvious cutscene, taken from the Mario playbook but with tricorner hats instead of bobbleheaded child-people, and I suppose it would be considered anti-climactic by today’s narratively excessive standards, but it made 29 -year-old me as happy as he could remember being.

Yankee-Doodle plays. Fireworks explode. Tri-corner hats are hurled skywards in celebration.
It’s everything I ever wanted it to be.

Saving Private Denton

Deus Ex, 2000

First time around, I didn’t think – didn’t even suspect – that I could save Paul Denton. I was used to things in games happening in a fixed way, because that’s what games did. It was a fleeting mention from someone else, rather than my own experimentation with Ion Storm’s ahead-of-its-time cyberpunk toolbox, that twigged me to the possibility of keeping my older brother alive. I was floored by the idea, in awe that my story could have gone so differently.

Crucially, I was also embarrassingly unskilled at first-person combat back then, so my attempts to save Paul from him the rush of UNATCO agents who arrived if I tried to step out the hotel room door were many, and disastrous. Eventually, the right combination of explosives and luck saw me through, and by God I was proud. It felt as though I’d beaten the game, escaped onto a path I wasn’t supposed to be on. Of course, the moment had been prepared for. Of course too, there are easier ways to save Paul. Armoured by blissful ignorance though, I felt heroically subversive.

Might do more of these further down the line. Now, let’s hear some of yours, please.


  1. DarkLiberator says:

    That first time when you see City 17 in Half Life 2, and got to use a Gravity gun. Will never forget it.

    Also first time seeing Washington DC in Fallout 3 is a honorable mention for me as well.

    The CoD4 nuke scene is also very memorable.

  2. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I was surprised the whole ‘ton didn’t fall down by the number of bombs I placed around key structural elements. Save Paul only for him to be crushed to death by falling masonry.

  3. Gap Gen says:

    Alpha Centauri’s quotes: link to

    • Stellar Duck says:

      We must dissent.

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      Yea they were so great and tought provoking.

    • Blue_Lemming says:

      The chap that says capillaries in a vaguely swiss/german accent

    • Lamb Chop says:

      Playing through the full game tens of times and refusing to play anyone but the Gaians or the University because I couldn’t bear to align with a religious zealot or money-grubbing capitalist. Delaying the singularity for fear of losing my civilizations’ humanity, despite its clear progress up the technology tree.

      • NMorgan says:

        Let go of your fear, human, but never let go of your freedom. Fear will always be there for you in your arm’s reach even if you let go of it. Fear is not economic behavior, and human behavior is economic behavior.

  4. Simon_Scott says:

    Recently, *that* moment in Brothers. To say what it is would rob players of the experience, but I’ve spoken to others who have played it and they generally will know what I mean. A struggle, a sudden realisation, and then your heart breaks all over again. It’s the most visceral emotional response I’ve ever had in a game.

    Your mate getting whacked in Sleeping Dogs just after you’ve completed a longform mission and successfully saved him. Harsh, but it didn’t feel like cheating – again, it made me feel some of what the character would have been feeling.

    The gag in Ghostbusters where in one of the cut scenes the camera zooms in on a television in a wrecked room. The television is at an angle so I cocked my head to see the screen properly. The game then gave me a reverse shot of all the characters standing with their heads cocked too. I barked with laughter.

    • Barchester says:

      Missed that the first time! I might have to replay Ghostbusters then.

    • eraserhead says:

      Yes, “that” moment is my favorite gaming memory of all. The whole game is building up to it and yet you don’t expect it. Wonderfully done.

      • Skeletor68 says:

        I’m sharing so many of these with previous posters!

        The Brothers moment being discussed is so powerful. Such a good combination of mechanics and narrative. Genius.

        Super Metroid’s rain-swept planet landing.

        The ending of Witcher 1.

        Beating Street Fighter Alpha 3 on hardest difficulty the first time but then being beaten by Shin Akuma over and over and over… The PS1 version would boot you back to the very end if you lost to either the Super Bison or Akuma. Shin Akuma moved like poetry though. Every time I was beaten it felt justified and just amazing.

        Morrowind: The cave in Dagon Fel with the underground ship and hidden daedric armour…

        The Diablo 2 soundtrack

        Quake 2 multiplayer with a splitter for three way multiplayer.

        So many more!

        • Volcanu says:

          The beginning of Super Metroid was brilliant. Hell, the whole thing is brilliant. One of my favourite games of all time. Such good level design, such good sound design, and incredible atmosphere.

          Can we claim it as a PC game? I think we can, given that I have also played it on a SNES emulator. So that counts.

          • Skeletor68 says:

            Glad to see another person who loved that game! I think it is pretty close to perfect :)

            The atmosphere is so lonely and hostile. First landing on the planet and then having all the local ‘wildlife’ appear… just great pacing. I think it was the first game I played as a younger person that made me see past a ‘game’ to actually appreciate its design. It was also the first game I played that felt ‘adult’ in a way that wasn’t what Mortal Kombat or Duke Nukem was offering. The moment I shattered the underwater glass tunnel was exhilirating and so typical of a game that rewarded exploration and experimentation. There is so much depth to the mechanics that isn’t explicitly described. The level design is so beautifully laid out. Beautifully integrated environmental tutorials. Music is just overwhelmingly good. Even when you get an upgrade the game music isn’t really triumphant. There is something kind of melancholic and desperate about the whole experience.

            I never had a Nintendo system since. How were the other Metroid games?

          • Volcanu says:

            Oh god yes- the moment I worked out you could shatter the glass tube I felt like such a genius, and I remember how amazing it was to even be able to do that and proceed on into Maridia. You just didn’t get to do that sort of thing in many games back then. Or discovering you could electrocute the Draygon by using conduction and your grappling hook.

            Completely agree about the beautiful music (surely some of the best in any game ever) and the whole understated yet incredibly effective way it was deployed/ created atmosphere in general. I’m itching to play through it again now! I think the only other game I have played which gave me the same feeling of constantly progressing down deeper into the world and an evermore desperate situation is Dark Souls actually.

            As for the later games, I only played Metroid:Prime 1, and whilst it’s very good (and a surprisingly good translation of metroid into 3 dimensions) it somehow didnt quite have the magic of Super Metroid. At least not for me. Some people absolutely love it though.

    • Premium User Badge

      zapatapon says:

      Sadly for me, I botched ‘that moment’ in Brothers. Didn’t figure it out, felt frustrated running in circles, looked for the solution online. Of course it didn’t have so much of an impact on me then, and I want to bang myself over the head for not getting it.

      My favorite ‘genius combination of narrative and mechanics’ is the (second half of the) last level of Braid. While the text bits in Braid are drivel, the narrative of *that* part in the game purely relies on the game mechanics and the level builds up to that realization that was right before your eyes all the time. It’s such a strong finish to an otherwise exceptional game.

  5. Lars Westergren says:

    Being asked “What can change the nature of a man?” and stepping away from the computer to go for a long walk thinking about what I thought the “right” answer was, and more importantly the character I was roleplaying thought was the right answer.

    Seeing Arkham City open up before me. All that beautiful Gothic architecture, the challenges, the puzzles and secrets waiting to be uncovered.

    Going around Whispering Rock with that awesome soundtrack, getting a peek into the “American summer camp” and thinking “I think I’m getting what this is about now”. Despite the presence of psychic bears and children having their brains extracted.

    • Morte66 says:

      “Being asked “What can change the nature of a man?” and stepping away from the computer to go for a long walk thinking about what I thought the “right” answer was, and more importantly the character I was roleplaying thought was the right answer.”

      This. So much this.

    • CKScientist says:

      Being asked “What can change the nature of a man?” and turning away to my other screen to check what response would give me the most XP / gold / items.


    • mogwins says:

      “Being asked “What can change the nature of a man?” and stepping away from the computer to go for a long walk thinking about what I thought the “right” answer was, and more importantly the character I was roleplaying thought was the right answer.”
      An absolute stand-out moment in gaming for me. The whole idea that a game could be about more than good vs evil just blew me away.

    • Volcanu says:


    • Ekpyrotic Fan Fiction says:

      Planescape’s final scene was like a punch in the gut. Without spoiling anything, finally getting there and seeing exactly what that cost me and Nameless was almost too much for me. That is the only time I have ever felt righteous anger at a game. That final scene is just amazing.

    • db48x says:

      “What can change the nature of a man?”

      100thed. I’ve never thought so hard about my answer in an RPG before! Also, the “three wishes” story that you can hear Morte tell in the Brothel for Slaking Intellectual Lusts.

      I’d never thought much about the camp in Psychonauts, but you’re right that it’s basically a perfect image of a summer camp, aside from the psychic bears.

      • Marlamin says:

        I am horrible about finishing games, and Planescape is sadly no exception. Your comment motivated me to pick it up again where I left off, amazingly right in front of the Brothel. After hearing Morte’s story, I’m excited to (finally!) finish the game.

    • manio22 says:

      This. So much this.

  6. Laurentius says:

    Here we go:

    Defender of the Crown – when you rescue saxon Lady from evil Norman, then meeting in fornt fireplace, kiss of shadowy figures and then she is your wife with her picture right next to yours.

    X-Wing intro: sound and graphics blew my mind back then.

    Grand Theft Auto demo – played it over and over.

    Uplink- just starting the game , all this loging and IPs and it was delightfull.

    • twaitsfan says:

      Good call with defender of the crown! That was such a hot scene for a 10 year old to watch…

    • Sinomatic says:

      I had entirely forgotten about that scene in Defender.

  7. Brosecutor says:

    One of Alec’s best memories is actually one of my worst. When I played Deus Ex, I also managed to save Paul, but I unintentionally shot him during the firefight. Paul took it personally and wanted to shoot me right back, and nothing I did could stop him from trying.

    I was so pissed off about this that I quit Deus Ex and never returned. So your All-Time-Top-Ten Classic Deus Ex is a game I never finished. All because I wanted to save my bro.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      What a shame. :(

    • Morlock says:

      Don’t forget that if you saved your brother but left through his apartment window instead of through the main exit, the game would still register him as dead. I felt a bit cheated during my first playthrough because I felt that the game did not recognize my actions.

      • Sinomatic says:

        This is exactly what happened to me. After Paul died the first time around, I decided to go back and try to save him; restarted that bit numerous times and eventually cleared the place out. Then (because I was avoiding the street) I went back and left via the window. As I proceeded to find out he died anyway, I thought that it must just be a scripted thing and was utterly gutted when I found out later that all I needed to do was leave via the ‘ton’s front door (though, of course, I went back and played the whole game again and have saved Paul in every replay since).

    • neckro23 says:

      Way too late now, but it probably doesn’t matter if you accidentally aggro Paul. IIRC all you have to do to save him is to leave the hotel via the front door without Paul getting killed by the troops.

  8. Gratis says:

    Aeris dying in FF7.
    Also: Playing Online for the first Time. (UT99 in my case.)

    • Thankmar says:

      SInce you mention your first online experience:
      THAT moment stays with me as well, as I just bought a modem kinda late (1999) I think and tried just for fun Quake II online. I found a server with a game running with two very nice guys who decently explained some things for me. I stayed just for a couple of minutes, though, but the experience is still with me.
      Short time after that, the Q3 demo came up (about 50 MB, an eighth of my harddrive back then), and I played that much longer. So much nostalgia.

  9. Kefren says:

    One of mine was “Ending the Doom Wars”. Nowadays I have 101 FPS games to play. Back then, an undergraduate at university with my first PC (I had to work full time at Asda for a week, sometimes 12-hour days, to get the money for my 486DX to replace my beloved Amiga 1200) I had _one_, and it was called Doom. I had played the Shareware episode again and again. Then a university lecturer lent me the CD with the full game on so I could install it, and I began to play in earnest. The rules were originally that I had to play on Ultraviolence; no saves. If I died I pressed spacebar to respawn with just a pistol. No level in Doom was impossible – it just meant a different approach as you snuck around, led monsters to fight each other, and gathered weapons all over again. In fact, that was often more fun than entering a level with a full loadout. It made it _tense_ again. Scary, even. And the feeling of satisfaction as you survived to hit the exit switch was all the better.

    At the time I lived for Doom. When I walked home across the golf course and through the woods I would imagine attacks by different Doom monsters, and how I would use the terrain around me plus one weapon (randomly selected by my mind) to take out the Cacodemons drifting down through the trees and snapping branches, or the Imps which ambushed me and threw sizzling fireballs that exploded with searing light; how I would run from the Pink Demons and try to climb up onto something high enough that they couldn’t get me. Happy times.

    Later I bought my own copy of Doom, with the fourth, ultra-hard “Thy Flesh Consumed” episode. I had completed every level so came up with the ultimate challenge:
    – Complete every level of each of the four campaigns in order.
    – Including the secret levels (so 36 levels in all).
    – Ultraviolence difficulty.
    – If I die I have to start again, E1M1.
    – No saves, no cheats. The whole game in one go without dying.

    It took a year. It was tense. It was frustrating. I would sit down for a session, get to one of the levels of Thy Flesh Consumed, and die from something stupid – an acid pit, a demon ambush, a Cyberdemon rocket. I was living in a caravan at the time, the PC set up on the bottom bunk while I at cross-legged on the floor. The caravan would rock with my yells. Then I would either resign myself to it and restart, or turn the PC off for the night, spend a few minutes getting feeling back into my dead and creaking legs, and read a book. On the bus to work I imagined an ongoing war with the demons of Mars, soldiers being sent out in transports, each armed with just a pistol, in the hopes that one would eventually win through. The fate of worlds hung in the balance. This was an epic war. The Doom War.

    And when it did eventually happen, and I made a lossless run (though with many heart-pounding close escapes) I didn’t cheer – I just felt a wave of satisfaction. I had done it. I had ended the Doom War.

    That amount of investment couldn’t happen to me now. It is not sustainable. But only with the risk of loss do you feel the joy of gain; hard work is required for reward. I felt relief, I felt I had drawn a line under the game, I could move on.

    (I did this once more, with Hexen, completing the whole game in one run with no saves, no deaths – and despite the PC crashing on the final level once. On that day was much howling, but I didn’t give up. Nonetheless, those days have passed and I hand the mantle to the new generation.)

    • Stevostin says:

      Ok, this is scary.

      • Kefren says:

        I can’t deny that. Imagination, obsession, solitary projects, and making bigger stories out of things. Probably the key factors in my writing, right there.

    • Jimmy says:

      I shall print and frame this comment. It has a wonderful Werner Herzog quality to it.

    • ankh says:

      Did you play with a mouse or keyboard only?

      • Kefren says:

        Mouse and keyboard. Arrow keys for forward/back and strafing, mouse for turning as I sped through the corridors. It’s weird to think that there was no mouselook back then (I think I first encountered that in Quake).

        • ankh says:

          Yeah. I finished doom without ever using a mouse.. not for the challenge of it but only because I am an idiot and no internet at the time. Great comment though and well done on sending those martian scumbags back to hell where they belong!

    • Kefren says:

      Thanks for reading. If you are interested in some freebie games, have a look at my BB post here: link to

      • Inph says:

        Using comments to post articles… If you’re not careful you might get hired by RPS.

  10. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    Saints Row IV and the Saints of Rage level, the end of Gone Home, and controlling the laser firing alien dinosaur in Bulletstorm. Laverne and her tentacle disguise in DOTT.

  11. paranoydandroyd says:

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I had been playing an entirely non-lethal game, as is my wont. Then about 3/4 of the way through, my helicopter gets shot down, and my pilot and I get shot down by security guards intent on killing us. I tried and tried (through the magic of save-scumming) to defeat them without killing them, but my meager skills and equipment proved inadequate. So I was given a choice: to kill and save my friend or to carry on and watch my friend die. The game would move on either way. It didn’t care.

    It was probably the first time that I did something in a game for 100% character reasons. I loved it.

    • oohshiny says:

      I was playing DX:HR trying to get the pacifist achievement, including managing to complete that particular bit with no fatalities, and then… I read that you also had to not have killed anyone in the tutorial / intro. When all you had was the assault rifle, no HUD, and presumably I just killed everyone.

      Last played: almost a year ago. Still not completed.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      I think the bit with Malik the pilot was very effective in DE:HR. On my first playthrough I didn’t manage to reach her in time, but kept playing on due to my ‘no reloads/live with the consequences’ policy. I felt bad right to the end of the game about her.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Felt really bad when found her corpse ready for augs extraction in the Harvesters’ hideout.

    • khamul says:

      Similarly – also playing a non-lethal playthrough, until the assault on the capsule hotel in Hengsha island, with augmented soldiers (Belltower mercs? I can’t remember) executing every civilian inhabitant for no obvious or necessary reason.

      I killed every single merc in the building, for 100% roleplaying reasons. My Jensen was not someone who would let that stand.

      • Harlander says:

        Yeah, I think the capsule hotel was where my switch flipped from “these people are just doing a job” to “f**k these guys, it’s bullet-stab time”

        • Carcer says:

          The same thing happened to me. I hadn’t killed a soul, going entirely for the tranq darts and melee takedowns, till that point; I still incapacitated every soldier in the building nonlethally, because delicious XP, but I shot each one in the face with a silenced pistol afterwards.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I actually took them all down non-lethally. Then I hid two of their bodies in a vent shaft. Which apparently killed them. Oh well.

        • Skabooga says:

          Well, I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who just went berserk on those mercenaries after being a pacifist up until then.

  12. Gothnak says:

    Playing NWN on the City of Arabel Server and being invited into a elite band of Players only to find out i had read the situation very badly and was subsequently murdered for saying the wrong things, best RPG moment ever…

    Hearing the sheep bleet in Powermonger on my 386SX and thinking ‘oh my god, it’s all so real!’

    Playing the same Quake 3 map after work with regular teams and shouting across the office at each other to ‘flush the toilet’ or ‘he’s on the rim’ which would have made no sense to anyone not in our group.

    Beating the bad guy down to 0 health in Microprose Shandalar MTG game.

    Playing the Master of Magic Demo about 30 times on my Uni housemate’s PC because the game wasn’t out yet

  13. Stevostin says:

    Warnin: spoilers, I guess

    Realising that I could fish in Ultima Underworld (but everything Ultima Underworld, really).

    Realising that in System Shock that actually I hadn’t finished but that instead I had a whole new plot to get down (and this several time)

    That moment in Monkey Island where you diappear behind a wall and there are all sort of silly text.

    That moment in Monkey Island when you’re under water with all the cutting tools, then two pirates come.

    Bonus room in Battleblock theater

    300h in Skyrim, finding out that huge, huge, huge cave.

    The Walking Dead, end of season 1 (not even player 2 yet, too scared)

    Fallout 3 final. Also the “virtual” chapter.

    Mass Effect 1, that moment in the plot that just make you fell so tiny vs space and time.

    So many “player” stories in World Of Warcraft. Tell what you want, that game was the best for player stories. Especially Open PVP ones. Ok, maybe EVE or DayZ are better. But for instance a friend of mine, hunting in open pvp got really doomed by the gnome mage he was chasing. Then the guy patrol nervously for him to resurrect (but remember, he was the agressor). Then some Horde trio come and my friend, shamelessly abusing the fact that you can’t get what the other faction said, put up a story of he being the hunted and the guys corpse camping for an hour, then laughed madly when the trio kicked the hell out of the poor gnome guy.
    So many story like this.

    Quake III Rocket Network (best multiplayer FPS hands down, every people doing fast FPS should remember that, especially the 2v2 part and the multiple arena maps), Clan Matches, my 5 guys team wiped, all 4 watching me and hurging me to die so we can respawan and I single handedly killed all the other team alone, which team chat coming from irritated to delirious. Yeah I know, everyone had that kind of moment (most likely in CS). A friend of me did it even better, because he was really bottom of the score table before.

    My first local network duel with that friend, still on RA. Most tensed game ever. We never did it again, too stressful.

    Still with that friend (we shared a flat): watching him and his partner in our flat ending up in 2V2 Warcraft 3 ladder agains a team with SK Insomnia (then best player world wide by all accounts) and winning after a crazy 57 minutes game.

    Doing the hack in the Leviathan’s room to reaccess the loot room in Borderland 2. Don’t know why but it was very, very intense. It’s a combination of walking on empty spaces, doing odd moves, flying in the air with a constant risk of falling to oblivion and paying a shitload of money.

    Ok, way too long. Hope someone enjoyed some of it :)

    • Stevostin says:

      Oh and: FNV, 2nd run. I play a complete psychopathe but I now have that companion, Veronica from the Brotherhood of Steel, and she’s like… really likeable. To me. Because obviously my character has to hate her. So there is this mission in that Vegas casino with the cannibal secret society. And my plan is this:
      – first I eliminate another gang (other mission) in full BoS armour so they’re accused, with her. (totally roleplay thing, the game doesn’t account for it)
      – then eliminate the witness, her, by feeding her to the cannibal (which you can do). The perfect crime. Especially because for that I offer her a dress first (needed for the plot) and she says “Ooo. Got something good for me? Is it a dress?” very candidly.

      Believe it or not, I was in agony. My initial plan was a bit too much for the game to handle but resolving to commit to my character took me a whole day of total unease, running out of the screen. I think I did it but I am not 100% sure. Well, if my memory erases itself I probably did :P

      Oh BTW, first time I cannibalised a corpse in Fallout 3.

  14. Sorbicol says:

    Manually docking a cobra in a space station for the first time in Elite. The original, mid 1980s Elite. I would have been about 9 at the time, but my brother and I had struggled for weeks to work out how to do it – line up, match rotation for it all to fail time after time. I still remember losing sight of the docking bay opening, my brother asking ‘did we do it?” And the. Seeing the concentric white docking rings play out and the stock listing displayed. Of course after that we quick got enough money together for a docking computer and my brother kicked me off it for months.

    Attempting to play Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I lasted 36 minutw before the palpable sense of dread got to me so much I turned it off and went turn all the lights in the house on. I never went back to it.

    The opening prologue to Mass Effect 2. I’ve never seen a game set up as well as that and leaving gagging to get on with the rest of the game to find out why what happened happened.

    Walking into Flotsum for the first time.

    Achieving the ‘Little Rocket Man’ achievement. Absolutely pointless and inconsequential but getting that little gnome bastard into orbit remains one of the single most satisfying things I’ve ever done in a computer game.

    • plugmonkey says:

      The thing that has stayed with me forever about Elite was the way it completely blew the lid off my expectations of what a computer game could, and should, be.

      The realisation that the question “what am I supposed to do?” didn’t have to have an answer was epoch shattering.

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      Sihoiba says:

      Seconding ‘Little Rocket Man’ here, probably the only utterly stupid achievement I’ve gone for for the sake of the achievement, but so sastifying, especially after the difficulty and frustration of keeping it on the Dune buggy.

      Completing Hulk mode on Resident Evil 2 after countlless attempts with my very last magnum round (my very last round at all) finishing off the Nemesis before it could complete it’s punch animation, leaving me on the tinest shred of health and a slow drag through the final door and the helicopter pick up.

  15. John O says:

    Realizing Doom could be modded – and easily, at that. “It’s just a game”, my friends would say. It’s the realization that i can create something great instead of just playing, i should have answered. The next years saw me creating wad files that have long since disappeared in the infinite depths of the bit ether.

    Those moments when a game mechanic became second nature and allowed me to experiment. Like wheelies in Tony Hawk 2. Once i got the hang of the controls, i’d grind those levels to the ground. The excessive search for the perfect combination felt grand, superhuman. Topping the highscores felt like a real achievement. Oh the hours sunk into that game.

    Those moments of real immersion. After the first couple of hours in Fallout 3, what were before blurred pixel textures became real walls of real cities, creatures crawling became a real threat. And there i was sitting, thinking “This game is the prettiest ever”.

    Yes, that subversive feeling of not cheating, but cleverly tricking the game. Using the hood of my car in GTA:SA to get onto that golf course with all my weapons in my inventory.

    Last but not least, getting into the sound, rhythm and feeling of a firefight against soldiers and what i remember to have been incredibly annoying Ninjas in Half Life. The satisfying cracking sound of my Revolver when blasting dudes from a cliff. Hell yes.

    Beating those tough as nails tactical combat situations of Gears of War 2. I guess they weren’t tactical really, but approaching them that way made me feel like i could achieve anything. They could kill me, but they couldn’t keep me from coming back and shooting them in their faces again, and again, and again until the last of them was a steaming pile of guts on the ground.

  16. spacedyemeerkat says:

    The betrayal in the last hour or so of Dragon Age: Origins makes me cross to this very day. Wonderful.

    • Perkelnik says:

      You mean by Zevran Arainai? I was soooooo pissed. And sooooooo satisfied once I killed him.

  17. FireStorm1010 says:

    A few of my own that jump to my mind atm:

    1-Privateer intro movie. I know it looks bad now, but it was pure magic at the time. It conveyed it all , the mystery of space, space dogfight , dangerous aliens, cyberpunk pirates, and ofc tough as nails, cool as Ice, your main protagonist mercenary pilot. Pure magic: link to

    2-Master of Orion victory movie .It just felt so right and rewarding and the right uplifting victorious music. I still remember i think nearly exactly the text ” The galaxy is mine , and all shall bow beforethe might of [your name] master of orion, master of the universe ” link to

    3-The sacrifice of Spirit cinematic in Wing Commander 2. Nowadays it seems so simple, but it stayed in my memeory me for years: link to

    4-Cydonie moment in Ufo enemy unkown definitely , just like in article.

    5- Xcom apocalypse intro and victory movies (..”We kicked their ass ” :)).Was so good for me back then: link to link to

    6-Alpha Centauri story progress and cinematics. It felt so fututirstic like you really evolve into times when calling your specie humans deasnt seem appropriate anymore, that you are on the verge of something new, both wonderful and scary.Some examplesŁ link to link to

    7-Betrayal at Krondor many moments.It was the best RPG for me ever, total magic

  18. plugmonkey says:

    In UFO, it’s the little things born of the mechanics that stay with me rather than the big moments.

    Like the ‘Chryssalid Protocol’, whereby at the first sight of a Chryssalid, every soldier primes a grenade and holds it in their off hand so that they can never become a threat to their comrades.

    Jittery rookies have slippery fingers. :'(

    • Kefren says:

      Wow, I have completed the game many times, but didn’t know you could do that – I assumed a timer of 0 meant it blew up at the end of the turn! Unless you mean proximity grenades, but I worried they would go off if you moved with one, or another soldier/alien moved near you. Since I never reloaded on the loss of troops it wasn’t something I wanted to experiment with.

      • plugmonkey says:

        Yep, they don’t go off unless they’re on the ground. You can pull the pin and hold them like you would a ‘real’ grenade, and you’ll drop it if you’re incapacitated. (Or panic.) I suspect I probably found out by accident by priming a grenade and not having enough TUs to throw it…

        The word ‘masterpiece’ gets bandied about too often, but UFO is a genuine one. The mechanics are so deep and balanced. I’d probably been playing it for a decade before I developed the Chryssalid Protocol.

  19. Themadcow says:

    My Guild taking down pre-neff Brutallus in WoW after weeks of trying. The winning effort was as close as it could possibly have been, rage timer kicked in and our rag tag group dropped like flies. A slither of health remined on the big dog but we all appeared to be dead… then… CRASH, the dog went down and a single hunter remained in the dust. The crowd, as they say, wen’t wild.

    Those first “wow, you can do this!” moments in GTA3 – most memorably stealing an ice cream van and activating the music!

    I love those ‘Denton’ impossible challenges in games. I remember a similar one in Suikoden (admitedly console) where you could save a character called Pahn who was supposed to be killed at a certain point in the game, but you had to have pretty much the best gear and level it was possible to achieve by that stage, even with meta knowledge.

    The Xcom final mission was brilliant, but then again the entire game is exceptional. If only the Firaxis remake had been 80% of the game the original was.

  20. Jimmy says:

    1. For action games, death runs are always the most exciting. So that level in HL2, Ravenholm, completing it in one sit through and no saves, against all sort of odds, having never played that level before. Everything is magnified when the odds are higher. The level is magnificent as there are so many strategies possible and lots of impromptu weapons like saw blades.

    2. Story-driven. Grim Fandango, just hanging out and exploring every nook and cranny before progressing to the next set piece.

    3. People-driven. Chivalry, HL2 DM, Zombie Escape in CSS, and all games which encourage collaboration, competition, while also permitting a lot of piss-taking.

  21. aldo_14 says:

    Freespace 2, and the moment where the big Shivan destroyer (Ravana) looms out of this thick nebula with giant pokey bits on the front. Very much a ‘F**k me, that’s menacing’ type moment.

    The first Call of Duty demo (Dawnville, I think it was?); I hadn’t played the MoH games, so the combination of sheer sound as the flak guns were blasting in the background just blew me away. I think it was the first *proper* FPS I’d played in a long time at that point, too.

    Laying down Napalm in BF:Vietnam to the sound of Deep Purple. Just a shame the game ran like an utter dog, to the extent I returned (!) it for a refund.

    *that* twist in KoToR.

    Highway 17 in HL2: I wish someone would take that idea and extend it into an entire road trip game, like Kerouac with aliens or somesuch. The simple, naturalistic animation of one rebel casually kicking a dead ant-lion sticks with me in particular; realistically animated, yet just a tiny detail you only see through an optional pair of binoculars.

    • Stevostin says:

      That moment in KoToR when they torture the annoying jedi character to make you talk, and when your dialog options totally account that while you pretend to be outraged, your actually so happy to see her hit.

    • cederic says:

      Ah, Battlefield: Vietnam. Climbing into the gunner seat on a Huey, a pilot getting in and showing me what a real helicopter pilot can do. Skimming the river through the valleys, popping up, spotting and killing an enemy vehicle then turned, ducked and gone while I’m still registering that there’s even a vehicle there. Dodging enemy fire and dogfighting enemy aircraft with consummate ease.

      I was a passenger, watching a film played through live action on my own screen. It was pure pleasure and I’ve never had another computer game provide such joy through non-interaction.

      Of course, there’s the other obligatory Battlefield moment of near perfection (not me):

  22. McB says:

    Playing Morrowind with no internet access and, being my first Elder Scrolls, discovering that the Morag Tong I read books about existed in game, finding their secret hideout and then getting to become a master assassin. Later, having read tons of books about vampires, discovering that I could freaking actually become one! It felt like that there was no limit to Morrowind’s genius (and then it crashed when I tried walking down some stairs)

  23. Synesthesia says:

    Branching Out at Day Of the tentacle for the first time, getting GW to cut down the tree. Boy it felt good.

  24. Kemuel says:

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution for mine.


    When you hear the announcement about the UN biochip recall.

    In retrospect of course it was obviously a trap, but at the time I felt so clever for spotting it. Like saving Paul, that definitely felt like I had beaten the game. Like I had somehow launched off the end of the rails without anywhere to land in sight.

    Portal 1’s ending was the same.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I took the upgrade. I drank the Kool Aid. I ate the soup.

      In other news, my Java is up-to-date.

    • Henson says:

      The DX:HR plot moment is one that doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, sure, it’s an obvious trap in retrospect, but seeing as how they already have the power to disrupt your and everyone else’s augments BEFORE you upgrade, why would it matter if I get the new chip?

  25. Phantasma says:

    Approaching Balmora for the first time in TES Morrowind.

    That scene in System Shock 2 where i found out about Dr. Pollito’s fate.

    Playing as a Malkavian in Vampire: Bloodlines and realising who my trusty cab driver might really be.

    Oh, and biting a Marine’s head off while playing as an Alien in the very first Alien versus Predator.

  26. Barchester says:

    The first thing that comes to mind: that first moment on the beach in Bioshock Infinite where you realise you have lost Elizabeth. You go searching for her, only to find her dancing and clapping with people, never having been outside properly before. Really hit me in the feels. What a truly immersive game.

  27. BrianOConnell says:

    Friend watching me playing Quake saying “you know you can use the mouse to look around?”.

    • Simon_Scott says:


    • GameCat says:

      I’ve once borrowed Dreamcast from friend and we (me, my brother and my neighbour) were playing Quake 3 singleplayer without knowing that (we didn’t know much english language back then) we could respawn after beign shot instead of just restarting whole match. Lol.

  28. Ivan says:

    (Spoilers… beware)

    The part in Act II of The Witcher 2, Ioverth’s path, when you are attempting to sneak into Henselt’s camp to get a drop of royal blood (assuming that’s how you’ve made the other choices in the Act), and you are ambushed by Nilfgaardians and basically hosed… until Roche and the Blue Stripes show up to save the day! Big Damn Heroes moments are probably my favorite “type of thing that happens” in fiction, and that was a great one.

    The beginning of Mass Effect 2, when you discover that Archangel is Garrus. Maybe that was obvious and telegraphed to everyone else, but I went into the game cold, and was really sad that after my ME1 crew was dispersed, I now had an overly-chill biotic and brunette Yvonne Strahovski on my squad instead of my past faves. Garrus was my favorite of the past crew members, and I had just resigned myself to having to get used to a bunch of new characters, until it dawned on me that sniper + vigilante (in accordance with some of the conversational text toward the end of ME1) probably meant… yes! Garrus was coming back. Awesome! (A secondary mention for the ME series would be the ending of the first game, where the Normandy helps to save everyone’s butts in the nick of time.)

    And, okay, okay, I’ll go back to the Witcher series well one more time: the part at the very end of Chapter 3, where Geralt is captured by Adda and her guards, and she informs him that she was part of the conspiracy all along, and it seems like the end of his path… until he uses his last request to ask for a kiss, and Triss (out of either obligation or jealousy) teleports him way at the last possible moment (with a, “You wish, witcher” or something similar). Yes, in retrospect it’s kind of dumb, because would she really have let him die? Probably not. But it’s very well-played all-around anyway, I think.

    • Juke says:

      Most definitely, I’ll second the ME2 Archangel reveal. I think they did a good job maintaining his anonymity until the hideout raid. The point when you realize who this vigilante badass is everyone’s been whispering about since your arrival on Omega is great. “Of COURSE it’s Garrus,” you think, and then there’s the dual thrill of being reunited with Shepard’s friend, and also the tip of the hat to Bioware for pulling it off.

      It was basically a well-planned surprise party. No shame in finding that memorable.

    • ivanfyodor says:

      I was sucked into Witcher 2 from the very beginning. I was just starting to get a feel for the game, liking the idea of being his sidekick, then boom, assassinated, while visiting his kids no less.

  29. Maximum Fish says:

    In the original System Shock I remember being stuck for a while by one of the “cortex reavers”, the big green spider looking robots. It was up on the level above me, and every time I went up the mag lift thing I’d die within seconds. I took a medpack or something, threw it on the mag lift and watched it float up to the next level, timing it with my watch. Then I took one of the timed explosives, set the timer accordingly, and set it in the mag lift, fully expecting it to not work, and sure enough my little explosive floated up there right next to robot that had probably killed me a dozen or more times by that point, and blew its ass up. That was the first time I had used creative problem solving, by real world rules/logic rather than understood in-game rules, and had it work, and the feeling was incredible.

    I also was ecstatic on a second play through of Deus Ex by saving someone, but it wasn’t Paul, it was Juan Lebedev, the guy on the airplane. Anna Navarra ordered me to kill him in cold blood, and this time, instead of waiting too long and inadvertently letting her do it for me, I just killed her instead, again thinking I’d probably broke the game. When the game acknowledged my choice as soon as I walked off the plane and went on down a different route, I was similarly floored.

    The last, (you’ll notice a trend here) was playing dishonored. I was sneaking through the docks with a crank wheel in my hands. I came around a corner and at the end of a long alley was a guard staring right at me. In a moment of panic, again reacting more in the “what would I do if it was real” line than the “what can I do in this game”, I chucked the crank at his head, and ran straight at him, cutting his throat before he recovered from a face full of rusty wheel. Again, I was pretty surprised, and very excited when it actually worked. (Full disclosure, if it had been ” real” real, I would be at least equally likely to drop the crank and crap my pants as anything else…)

    • khamul says:

      Playing system shock with my little brother, me on the keyboard controlling movement, him with the mouse doing aiming and shooting. Just the best thing, one of those memories that will be with me all my life.

    • LionsPhil says:


    • Wisq says:

      My System Shock moment was finding myself at the top of a lift, with mutants swarming down below. I wasn’t used to using grenades, but this was an obvious moment to use one, so I dutifully pulled it out, threw it … and watched nothing happen, as I had forgotten to arm it.

      I don’t recall if this was somehow my only grenade, or if I was just sheepish and embarassed and wanted to salvage the situation somehow, or if it just occurred to me at that moment. But whatever the reason, instead of throwing a second, armed grenade, I just pulled out my pistol, took aim at the grenade on the floor, and fired. And boom, grenade denotated, mutants all dead.

      After that epiphany, I seem to recall a few other interesting uses I found for explosives, particularly timed ones. But that one really stuck in my head as the “wow, they thought of everything” moment.

      (Oh, and also that time where I was hacking around with memory values, giving myself maximum health and energy, and decided to fire a plasma ball at the wall at full power. Well, let’s just say that’s the moment where I discovered that “freezing your health at 100%” is not technically the same thing as “infinite health”.)

  30. Volcanu says:

    Where to begin?

    Half-Life: The moment when you get the rocket launcher and can finally turn and face the Apache that has been mercilessly hounding you over the previous chapter. Creeping around the tentacle beast in the silo (whilst holding my breath in real life) was also amazing.

    Dark Souls – so many I could pick from this but the most moving for me has to be the final meeting with Solaire in the corridor to Lost Izalith. Seeing this noble man, whose optimism and very presence always felt like a welcome sunbeam in the darkness, finally succumb to despair and madness, dying broken in the dark was crushing and made me feel truly alone. (Subsequently I discovered you can save him, but the way it panned out on that first playthrough stands as a moment of melancholy that perfectly encapsulated the atmosphere and pathos of the game).

    Oblivion: Emerging from the dungeons beneath the White Gold Tower into the light, with a world of possibilities stretching out before me.
    Also riding hell for leather across country to try and reach Lucien in the Dark Brotherhood quest line and tell him who the traitor is and having to suddenly stop just to appreciate the beauty of the stars.

    Baldur’s Gate II – being awarded stewardship of the De’Arnise Keep and having the bar for ‘meaningful rewards in an RPG’ being lifted to a level that I still don’t feel has been surpassed.

    That and ascending to godhood at the conclusion of Throne of Bhaal, despite the pain of having to leave behind the woman my character had fallen in love with, Viconia. The little descriptions of what became of each and every cherished party member after that epic adventure was over was just wonderful.

    Xwing Vs TIE Fighter: Balance of Power – finally taking out the Super Star Destroyer with one last desperate strafing run with my shields completely gone, hull indicator flashing red and my B-Wing seconds away from destruction…

    • Wowbagger says:

      I certainly agree about Solaire, but my standout for Dark Souls was probably the onion knight – His ever joyous, bumbling descent into the bowels of the earth and his daughter turning up near Seeth was wonderful.

  31. almostDead says:

    Coming out of the vault in fallout 3 for the first time and seeing all that desolate landscape to explore.

  32. phelix says:

    Stepping out of the Census and Excise office in Seyda Neen for the very first time and realizing I could go anywhere I wanted in the (then) massive game world.

  33. Chaosed0 says:

    End of Bastion, especially everything leading up. Every revelation, hitting you hard, leading up to an agonizing choice. I played through the entire game again a few days later, because I came to the conclusion that I chose wrongly.

    • Skabooga says:

      Bastion has a double-whammy for me: the first time you hear her sing, and the ending, when you’re going around destroying everything with a battering ram, and then you come across his body.

      • Chaosed0 says:

        Totally forgot about the battering ram – should have mentioned that specifically. Some really gorgeous moments in that game.

  34. Anthile says:

    Getting Cera Sumat
    Icewind Dale 2, 2002

    All of the Infinity Engine games have extensive item descriptions and most unique items had some interesting story to tell. Who doesn’t remember the talking dudebro sword Lilarcor from Baldur’s Gate 2?
    Icewind Dale 2 took this to a whole new level and I swear they condensed whatever cut content they had into these descriptions because they tend to be incredibly well-written.
    Cera Sumat is the culmination of this. Only found towards the end, fairly hidden and acquired after what might just be the toughest fight in an Infinity Engine game, Cera Sumat’s story is so lengthy that it had to be split over two different items. It can be read here in its entirety.
    It was the final Infinity Engine game and the last proper Black Isle title, and in a way it felt like this sword was a final nod to the player, encouraging him or her to go out and destroy evil one last time.

    The Half-Ogre Quest
    Arcanum, 2001

    Perhaps the best sidequest ever. This one quest spans most of the game and as you investigate some odd skulls, things suddenly get ugly. It is difficult to explain its greatness without spoiling but it is this sidequest that made me rethink games on a fundamental level.
    “It will be the story of the century!”

    Entering The Glow
    Fallout, 1997

    The grandfather of Bloodline’s haunted hotel and Thief’s Cradle, it’s an incredibly creepy and memorable level. And then you encounter the AI…

    • Anthile says:

      Talking to your god
      Mask of the Betrayer, 2007

      When you create your character in Neverwinter Nights 2 you also choose a patron deity. There are many gods to choose from and even for clerics it has minimal bearing on the gameplay or story. However, if you make it through the main campaign and to the end of Mask of the Betrayer as a follower of Kelemvor, you will get some extra dialogue from him and he will tell you that no matter what, he will save your soul even if it means pissing off every other god there is.
      It was mindblowing to discover they had voiced dialogue for something only a handful of people would ever encounter.

  35. derbefrier says:

    Beating super mario bros for the frtst time, the first video game I had ever beaten some time in the early 90s.

    Playing my first game online after we got internet. I played unreal tournament on the shittiest dial connection you could imagine and having a blast.

    My first video card… A voodoo 3. Half life Never looked so good

    The many late nights playing action half life as a TPF member on the mountain dojo server. One of the best gaming communities ever.

  36. Unruly says:

    One of my favorite moments in any game was one that was simply a matter of timing and luck rather than something that’s reproducible on a regular basis.

    It was in Battlefield 2, playing on Gulf of Oman, with a group of 3 of my friends. I shot a jet that was on a bombing run on top of us out of the sky using the TOW missile on the LAV that spawned at River Fort. And it was one of those perfect storm situations where you had to be there to understand just how monumental it was. It’s one of those “Bullshit. Pics or it didn’t happen.” stories, but I’ve got 3 friends who share that moment of amazement. Well, 3 friends and one enemy pilot who freaked out in chat and ragequit. It has gone down in history with us as the defining moment of BF2. It’s just a shame that none of us bothered running fraps or some other recording software all the time, because it’s a moment that we all wish could have found a home on the internet as well as in our minds.

    • Unruly says:

      Also, the Butcher in Diablo. The Butcher inspired fear in me like no other boss in that game. First, you find the wounded townsman who tells you what happened and then immediately dies. Then you enter the catacombs and think “this isn’t too hard, I just have to be slow and cautious.” And then you hit level 2, and find that hallway that’s always there, leading you to the Butcher’s room. You can see the blood covered walls and floor and all the dead bodies even though the room is closed, so you know that it’s going to be something big in that room. And then you open the door and are greeted with that growl of “Ah! Fresh meat!” as the fat, cleaver-wielding demon in a bloodstained apron charges at you.

      It’s a perfect setup for what I consider to be one of the hardest fights in the game. You’re usually level 5 at best, if you’ve taken your time to clear all of level 1 and 2 before opening the door. You have little to no magic available, little mana to cast what you do have, and very low health. Trying to stand your ground and attack is suicide, because his attacks deal massive damage and interrupt you while you have nothing that gives faster hit recovery. So you’re forced to try and kite him. But he moves so quickly that every time you try and stop to attack, he closes the gap and you’re lucky if you get a single shot off before he’s back to swinging at you. And even when you do learn to kite properly, he’s got so much health that you have to keep it going for ages, all the while trying not to screw up and give him that chance to close the gap and kill you. And god forbid if you didn’t clear out the surrounding area first, because then you’ve got random monsters getting in the way, hitting you, making it all that much easier for the Butcher to make you his next victim.

      Such a wonderful fight, and something that has stuck with me for years. Even now, knowing what I know to make that fight a cinch, it still gives me a slight feeling of dread when I open that door. Because if he gets just one hit in it could mean it’s all over.

  37. Olero says:

    – Being able to possess all creatures in Dungeon Keeper (and Battlezone, come to think of it), then just cruising around with a possessed fly and finding all the secrets of that level.

    – Hearing the mercs bicker to each other and even quit because of hatred towards one of the other mercs in Jagged Alliance.

    – Psychomantis in Metal Gear Solid (Playstation, I know)

    – Seeing a Superstardestroyer for the first time in X-wing vs. Tiefighter and fly over it, wondering how the hell I’m supposed to disable that (also: co-op playing missions)

    – Actually playing Outlaws online with other people on a slow modem and having so much fun (and lag). Really friendly community that was, and I even was able to “not lose” / come 2nd place sometimes!

    – Creating my own levels with 4D driving aka Stunts, and distributing and playing them during classes of “computer technology” (“you are doing your homework back there, right?”)

    – Playing Minecraft for the first time, and being scared as hell by the sudden zombie moaning and the hiss of the creepers.

    – Seeing the land change, and my hut develop in Wurm Online (one of the most RSI inducing games that was… Hurts my arm to think about it :)

  38. mgardner says:

    Defeating Werdna for the first time in Wizardry 1!

    • Themadcow says:

      Wizardry series is a great shout. For me it was the beautiful descriptions of the view from the belfry in the towers (Wiz 6), or the mountain rising up infront of you… all the time while the only thing you actually saw was grey walls and a black backdrop. Still, it just worked.

      Some of the levels in Pools of Darkness were also incredible. Battling evil atop and inside the body of Moander floating in space (or another dimension?) was a fantastic experience.

  39. Myrdinn says:

    Playing Daggerfall as a youth with a minimum knowledge of English (so never finished it, duh), entering the capital city at night and hear that ghost scream “VENGEAAAANCE!”.

  40. melnificent says:

    Quake. Suddenly 3D was solid and looked like it had weight and volume. Watching a shambler turn on a knight and them get into a fight was amazing. Here was a game that set the Ai against each other if they got in the way of their main target… You.
    I wish that mechanic had caught on as well as the 3D had. I’d love to mess with some npc so he goes on a rampage and killing half a level for me.

  41. willy359 says:

    Well, since no one else has mentioned it, I’ll add eavesdropping in Thief games. Thief II has you sneak past a whole church full of Mechanists, just to spend five minutes staring at a door, listening to a conversation. And it’s really good! And I’m still waiting for my trip to the bear pits.

  42. povu says:

    I randomly picked up Morrowind GOTY in a store. I didn’t know anything about it going in. I played for a bit, walking around Seyda Neen and its surroundings. I was surprised at how open this level was, and the fact that I could kill random townsfolk with fireballs if I wanted to. I had never played an open world game before, and not so many RPGs.

    I was absolutely shocked when I discovered the world map and saw that this area around Seyda Neen that I had been exploring for all this time was just this tiny corner on this huge seamless world.

  43. brulleks says:

    One of my most memorable moments in gaming – certainly the one I’ve laughed hardest at – was in the demo of Operation Flashpoint, when I ordered two AI soldiers into a buggy, one driving, the other behind on the mounted gun. They careened around the map a little bit then got themselves stuck on a rut in the ground. After a few unsuccessful attempts to free them, I ordered the gunner to fire to see if it would shake them free. He unloaded a round straight into the head of the driver.

    If only the rest of the game had lived up to this buggy sandbox of death and mayhem, instead of devolving into pressurised timed levels and ending up in my Steam ‘Shit’ folder.

  44. karthink says:

    0. Sovereign’s speech on Virmire in Mass Effect. Sheer primal terror and awe. (Too bad the series had to go piss all over itself in later instalments).

    1. Opening the orange sphere in Planescape: Torment. Made all the more impactful by the game not forcing it on me, or even hinting at the sphere’s importance. It was pure catharsis.

    2. That moment in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. You know the one.

    3. So many moments in Deus Ex–Lebedev, Gunther, Simmons–but saving Paul was the stand-out. I was pleased to see Human Revolution carry the torch with multiple moments of meaningful player agency that most games wouldn’t bother with. I even missed the clever thing you could do at the end of the Missing Link DLC when faced with a terrible binary choice.

    4. City 17.

    5. The KOTOR twist. Heck, the one from Jade Empire was just as good. Obvious in retrospect, stunning in the moment.

  45. twaitsfan says:

    My best friend and I played a C64 game Murder on the Mississippi all throughout our childhood. We never beat it. In college we reunited after not hanging out for years. I found a C64 emulator and the solution to the game online. We sat down one night with a bottle of bourbon and beat that bastard. I think we hugged and cried.

    Penetrating the nonsensical morass and beating Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Atari 2600.

    The final shootout in Police Quest 2.

    Finding the totally optional romance in Codename: Iceman.

    Getting out of the Vault in both the original Fallout and the remake.

    Elijah Modnar

    Dark Souls, after listening to the amazing lore videos by EpicNameBro and VaatiVidya

    The best story reveal I’ve ever come across in videogame – Starflight 1, SPOILER BELOW
    holy crap, Endurium is alive!!

  46. dare says:

    Zork I. “The trap door crashes shut, and you hear someone barring it.”

    The original Wasteland, back in 1990. Getting stuck in virtual reality courtesy of an insane android, fighting back with pure willpower. For the first time ever feeling that the game treats my character with respect, maybe even awe.

    Finding you could play Quake I co-operative multiplayer with original Team Fortress characters. Taking on the horror of the invasion with a squad of specialists played by your mates.

    GTA III, stealing the first car and driving wherever you please, in a 3D open world.

    Rock Band, playing Judas Priest with your mates with the volume turned all the way up, screaming like Rob Halford.

    Pathologic, getting to the last day of the Bachelor storyline, feeling the pressure that has squeezed you for two weeks suddenly lifted.

  47. oohshiny says:

    Homeworld. The key point in Mission 3, and the ending. I think I’ve got something in my eye…

    KoToR. The climax, which was brilliantly executed at the time.

    • Jad says:

      “Kharak is burning …”

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Said it before and I’ll say it again, but the voice acting in the whole Homeworld series is perfect. Perfect.

        • db48x says:

          And the music too. I still think of Homeworld whenever I hear Adagio for Strings. So much pathos…

  48. dmbarnard82 says:

    Here are a few of my favorite things…other than bubble wrap of course. – Also, reading through the comments immediately dates people, don’t you think?

    The bar in Wing commander 1
    Finishing 7th guest
    Christopher Walken in ‘Ripper’ (not sure of the name now) – first hearing of blue oyster cult. Too many disks.
    The original thief, crouched in a corner listening to “I’m going down the bear pit tomorrow” – In fact generally the invention of ‘proper’ stealth.
    Fallout 3 (I think) tutorial – being born and growing up.
    The first time I got locked up in the original pirates. Also, getting torn a new one by bandits on my first play through of mount and blade.
    Sword fighting the sword master. Something about cows.
    There were a couple of moments on an old game from a bbs I was involved in when I was young. Cant remember the name now.
    Finishing the first level of hero quest – I can hear the music as I write this.
    Old amiga game called Feud – fighting my brother with random herbs.
    Amiga – ‘barabrian’ realising I could chop peoples heads off and then watching the little green body man kick the head off the screen.
    Der Clou! – Stealing Karl Marx’s bones
    The list is almost endless…..

  49. plugmonkey says:

    Watching someone complete the original Time Crisis on a single credit.

    Standing in the same arcade a rainy fortnight later, doing the same as someone watched over my shoulder.

    (Not a PC game, I know…)

  50. UnholySmoke says:

    Thanks for these, everyone, I have been struggling not to keep saying “Yes! *Yes*!” to some memories at my desk at work.

    So, three from me:

    1) Finally reaching the end of the line in Grim Fandango, and that sudden realisation that you-know-who ain’t coming with you…but somehow having known it all along and finding peace. Appropriate.
    2) Reaching the Throat of the World (at 4am my time), after starting in the foothills the evening before, and having a deep-and-meaningful with Paarthurnax, about history, destiny, duty, honour and death; as the mists clear over the mountain and you gaze out over the entire land of Skyrim. (I’ve also never been as *angry* during a game as sprinting back to the Dark Brotherhood’s lair, knowing what I would find.)
    3) Landing on Yavin’s moon as a furious ball of vengeful rage, your powers restored to their former glory, and knowing that nothing is going to stand between you and the vile, treacherous murderer Desann. Jedi and padawans fighting and dying beside you trying to retake their home – as exhilarating as any game sequence I’ve played.

    • gwathdring says:

      I had just modded my game a bit and had installed Frostfall or whatever the one that makes you cold is. I hadn’t planned it this way, but the next thing of consequence I had to do was go visit the Greys. It was my second character in the game and it really had no right to be half so engrossing. But there I was anyway, making my pilgrimage up the mountain steps, struggling to stay warm as I rose higher, nearly being torn apart by wolves (I hadn’t finessed the combat difficulty addons). I made it to the top lucky to be alive and feeling like I had truly earned something.

      The first time playing, there was nothing particularly powerful or interesting about meeting the old men in the castle on the mountain … but this time? It was magical. It felt important. I was reverent and a tiny bit awed.