An Introduction to Gaming

As gaming steadily takes its place as one of the most important fixtures in modern Popular Culture, its important to take a look at just what started it all.

The Walking Dead poster

In just a few hours of gameplay, it’s already far more interesting than the show…

Sitting in the back of a Police car is always a good way to start. Lee Everett, on his way to being incarcerated for killing a state senator who was having an affair with his wife, is deep in conversation with the officer driving, or not saying a word; it’s entirely up to you. Trying to lighten the mood the driver turns to talk to you, not noticing ‘something’ walking in the road. He hits the ‘walker’ head on and comes straight off the highway.

Recovering from the wreckage and the handcuffs that once bound him, Lee notices the officer twitch, only to then spring to life and attack Lee. Panicked and confused, you take over scrambling or any means of warding of the attack. After dealing with the problem you escape toward the nearest form of civilisation. Meeting a small brave girl who is hiding in a treehouse, you and new found Clementine embark further into the mystery of the walkers and the sudden outburst. You suddenly meet a friendly face, who assures you that his farm is a safe haven compared the hell that dawned around you in the blink of an eye. Shawn takes you to his farm to help survive the blight with his family and other survivors.

Lee, given the ability to start fresh, leaving his murder behind, him decides to do whatever he can to protect Clementine and all those around him. You, as the player, make decisions, that may be split-second or you may get time to think things over. Either way, whatever you think, say and do will affect the rest of the game. With no option to turn back, ‘The Walking Dead’ keeps you moving forward totally at whatever pace it wants you to go. Crave the quiet moments you get; they may be your last.
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Gears of War poster

2006 – when men were just manly husks of meat…

Deep inside a maximum security prison, Marcus Fenix, is freed from his cell by his close friend Dominic Santiago. Knowing better than anyone else, Dom asks Marcus for his help against the Locust Hordes, creatures that have been burrowed underneath the planet’s crust for who knows how long. As you take over the role of Marcus, you discover that the Colonel has pardoned everyone in the prison to allow them to help fight. Everyone except Fenix. You are taken through the prison into a courtyard, battling your way through waves of enemies and entering the courtyard. Upon escaping on the last helicopter out of there, you’re well met by your new Lieutenant and a new recruit and are then informed that you are on your way to meeting Hoffman, the Colonel that wanted to keep you behind bars.

After a brief and rather cold reception with Hoffman, you are ambushed by a group of Locust. Seeking shelter, Hoffman tells the Lieutenant about a plan that will end the war, but it requires something called the Resonator, which was last seen with another squad. It will map out the tunnels of the locust and give the best data to drop a Light Mass Bomb to cave in all the tunnels and end the war.

With the target in hand you embark to find the Resonator, delving deeper into locust territory, surrounded by the unknown that becomes more and more deadly. Marcus, forgets his troubled past and leads the team further into oblivion. Dom, the best right hand man you could ask for, travels alongside Marcus in search of his missing wife. Every other soldier you meet along the way works as a well-oiled machine to conquer the Locust faction in order to salvage what is left of the war-torn planet that humanity once ruled.
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Dragon Age: Inquisition poster

Lemme hear you say “Nooooope!”

Taking place one year after it’s predecessor, ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ begins with the country of Orlais enduring civil war which is threatening the entire land of Thedas. Templars oppressed the magicians until they fought back in a bid for independence. Succumbing to desperation, a ‘Divine Conclave’ is brought together; a peace summit between the higher ups of the Mages and Templars to negotiate a compromise and, ultimately, stop the war.

A new and more deadly threat rears it’s ugly head however, as the peace summit is interrupted by a huge explosion, killing every attendee on impact and tearing a hole in the sky dubbed ‘The Breach’. The tear allows loose demons to enter the world to wreak havoc. Enter Player Protagonist!

Surviving the onslaught and discovering you are the only one that wields a mark that can close the rifts that spawn reigning chaos all over, you are inducted into the ‘Inquisition’. This is a reborn organisation sanctioned by the Divine who called the peace summit. Their goal? Restore order to the land of Thedas.

Simply put, the Inquisition aim to,

  • Put a halt to the rifts that are spawning all over, threatening all in their way (that only YOU can close).
  • Crack down on the civil war, creating level ground between both sides to rise against the bigger more important task at hand (that only YOU can stop)
  • Once completing these two “simple” tasks, you will finally close ‘The Breach’ – the reason you set out on this quest (that only YOU ca- okay you get the point)

Create your Inquisitor from multiple races, different classes that aim to hone different weapons, gain allies and bring peace back to Thedas. Good luck ‘Herald of Andraste’.
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Amnesia: The Dark Decent

“No Memory: Going Down without Light”

Ever been worried that you would one day wake up not knowing who or where you are? What about if you awoke not knowing who you are, what you were doing, or what you needed to get done? Or, how about all of the above, but then being forced to travel through an abyss, avoiding certain death around every corner whilst solving the darkest puzzles. Well, in ‘Amnesia: The Dark Descent’ you will tackle all this… and more.

You begin the game as Daniel, waking up dazed and confused in August 1839 within the dark halls of a castle. With no memory (also known as Amnesia) about your persona or location all you know at this point is that you are stuck here. Oh, and you are not alone. You find a note, from yourself, explaining that you have deliberately erased your own memory for plot convenience, and to find out everything you used to know, you will need to venture deeper into the inner sanctum, find the Baron, Alexander, and kill him.

Little is left explained to you at the beginning of the game, but as you travel back through the castle, moving forward and regaining memories that you left yourself to discover, constantly halting to a standstill to stop regain your sanity, you know that if you turn back you will remain forever in the dark. As you begin to descend into the darkness (a Dark Decent, if you will) the journey itself becomes more of a metaphor, as you are descending into the darkness of your own soul. Through the use of tinderboxes and your forever faithful oil lantern, get down there, find the Baron and put an end to the horror you have brought upon yourself. Preferably before you remember why you forgot it all in the first place…
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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Poster)

Are you getting smug with me, Mask?

“You’ve met with a terrible fate haven’t you?” These words will make any seasoned Legend of Zelda player equip their favourite mask, leaving the newcomers shrouded in the mystery behind these words. Across it’s vast and expanding audience, rumours and theories make this game even more mysterious and creepy. ‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask’ was the second game of the series to be released originally on the Nintendo 64, but now has a major reboot onto the 3DS console.

The game acts as the next in the series, where, after saving Hyrule (the series’ main location) from evil, Link is found wandering the Lost Woods looking for his old companion that departed at the end of ‘Ocarina of Time’. However a strange imp like creature, donning an even stranger mask, startles Link’s horse, sending him flying. After stealing Link’s sacred Ocarina of Time and Horse, he escapes – leaving Link stranded and having to pursue the mysterious apparition in a desperate bid to get back what is rightfully his! Cue Player takeover!

Link then falls into what seems to be (as die-hard fans speculate) Purgatory, shown by the never-ending abyss he’s free falling through, and disturbing images he is bombarded with. Somehow surviving the fall, he is confronted by this imp like creature, known as the Skull Kid. Gloating and with reckless abandon, the Skull Kid turns Link into a deku scrub: a small tree like figure that, at first, seems pretty helpless. As the masked antagonist makes his exit, you are left to find your own way out.

Eventually finding a somewhat debatable friendly figure, better known as the Happy Mask Salesman, who utters the aforementioned words, Link is given his task of retrieving the Majora’s Mask and the dark news that you only have 3 days in which to do it. Bending the flow of time by slowing down, speeding up or completely restarting the three day period, players must play through Nintendo’s most atmospheric title, saving the plain of Termina from appending doom. With the most downright scary characters, eerie music and overall disturbing atmosphere, reaching the end by having to start again seems an interesting concept. Be mindful not to exceed the time limit… Trust me.

Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite (Poster)

The PSP. Oh yes: we’re going there…

One of Capcom’s most underrated series (and one of my favourites) is the ‘Monster Hunter’ franchise. In 2008, they released ‘Freedom Unite’ to rave reviews; and the introduction to the game certainly helps with this…

In ‘Freedom Unite’, you start out in the once peaceful Moga Village, until one fateful night you stumble across the ravaged remains of what used to be a very docile creature. Averting your eyes from the shattered carcass, you sharply avoid an attack from the animal’s killer: the all-powerful, all too deadly Tigrex. Unsheathing your Sword and Shield to defend against the monster’s next attack, you narrowly avoid death as you withstand the beast’s strike, falling endlessly to the bottom of the snowy mountain you ventured up, with nothing in earshot but the beast’s roar to haunt you as you land unconscious.

Upon waking up, you see a friendly face telling you that you are lucky to be alive and that you need to stay bed ridden to fully heal. Eventually jumping out of bed, you are then thrown into the games over-world hub, Moga Village. Here you experience peddling with merchants and upgrading your weapons and armour to improve your arsenal while humming the ‘Rocky’ theme tune to yourself. Oh, and a little bit of farming never hurt anyone!

With 11 different types of weapons and over a staggering 1000 different craftable variants, you continue you grow as a hunter, and presumably make some musical training montage out of the footage. Your skills and weapons increase and the monsters you square-off against get tougher and tougher. No matter how thick skinned you are, the even broader range of armours at your disposal allow you to take heavier blows, and you may feel the need to take advantage of special skills and help you attain your ultimate goal.

Taking down, and becoming more powerful than, Dolph Lundgren I mean, Tigrex.

Good luck and Happy Hunting!

Silent Hills: P. T.

It’s just you, and a big ol’ creepy town… Isn’t it?

From AAA games to Indie developed titles, Video Games always have one thing in common: a beginning and an end. But as trailers will get the player riled up and ready to jump into a game they might have been waiting a year for, gaming introductions are often perplexingly overlooked.

They come in many different styles; whether it be a pre rendered ‘CGI’ style movie, a playable tutorial or just throwing you straight into the deep end, the introduction to a video game has to set the tone, and really get the player interested.

Today I will briefly look over ‘P.T.’, the latest instalment in the ‘Silent Hill’ series. Players wake up with no instructions and no explanation as to why they were just left inside an abandoned house. Only to then find out it was not in slightest bit ‘abandoned’…

The mechanics of the game are kept hidden, and it is not until you muster the courage to take your first steps into the unknown that you receive any actual feedback. With the help of on-screen pop-ups and subtle hints, you make your way into the game – and the only way to know your actions are achieving anything, is that the game gets scarier. Brilliant. The game however has a very forgiving side… death is swift and without a doubt 100% likely to make you scream.

I highly advise you pluck up your courage with a friend who will be equally as horrified as you, and check out this ‘(P)layable (T)easer’ and experience one of the most interesting gaming introduction to come to consoles.

And to truly hammer home the point that this is a teaser, the trailer for the game comes after you finish! I don’t want to spoil too much as you need to play this game. Good luck!

This introduction receives high praise from me and I truly recommend it, I mean… Who doesn’t like free things?