Spy Hunter

With its smart weapons, awesome cars, Spy Hunter was viewed as a very stylish game back in the arcades on the early 1980s. It was a title that playing into any boy's fantasies- secret agents, nasty weaponry, and a driving lincese. Make no mistake though, it was the action packed gameplay that kept people coming back for more again, again, and again...


The year that the war ground on may have been 1943, when rationing continued to bite down hard, construction work on the Pentagon was completed, and the Japanese forces were driven back from Guadalcanal, but it's a whole lot more enjoyable if you think of it as this wonderful little vertical-scrolling shooter from Capcom, released for the delight of the arcade-going populas in 1987...


The game isn't just a good looking isometric dungeon crawler, it is THE best dungeon crawler. A simple - almost brainless trek through caverns and catacombs filled with vile creatures, not to mention all the loot. Blizzard spent a lot of time working on the generation of the game's spaces, making items, enemies, and geography be different every single time you load up the game...

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls games are best known for the fourth chapter in the series, Oblivion, released in 2006. In comparison,The Elder Scroll's Morrowind is altogether more of a curate's egg, neither as commercially successful nor critically applauded as it's successor. Perhaps because of that, however, it's also a much more interesting game...


Rogue first appeared on college Unix systems in 1980. It contains an infinite variety via a series of randomly generated, ASCII-rendered dungeons that must be explored in a bid to retrieve the Amulet of Yendor (Rodney spelled backwards) from somewhere behold the twenty-fifth level -- an unlikely achievement given the imposing difficulty of even the earliest dungeon layers.

28 August, 2011

Baldur's Gate II

Release Date: 2000
Platform: PC
Developer: BioWare
Genre: Role-Playing

In 1988, SSI's Gold Box series redefined the Western idea of the RPG genre. They took the single most important set of pen-and-paper rules -- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons -- and tied them to an epic series of campaigns that spanned entire continents and several games, breathing life into Gary Galax's legendary creation. Running out of steam in the early 1990s, however, the D&D franchise was left to languish. Until, that is, BioWare created Baldur's Gate. The effect was like stepping through the rainbow, like moving from black-and-white to colour.

Baldur's Gate was teaming with life in a way that no other RPG had ever been. Where the Gold Box games had provided hack-and-slash gaming supported by blocky graphics, Baldur's Gate offered would-be adventurers an abundance of quests and meaningful interactions across huge playing fields;across intricately detailed, beautifully rendered isometric recreations of a completely convincing fantasy medieval world.

The transition between Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn was every bit as pronounced. The sequel may have streamlined the interface, but it bulked out the playing experience. Like the Gold Box games, players could import their characters and items from a previous game, and as those characters grew in power, so the game changed to reflect their newfound influence. Building up their own strongholds and followers, they were free to lead their own way through a labyrinthine plot that weaved together divergent and mutually exclusive subplots and quests -- indeed, some subquests were as weighty and complex as the entire first game.

As far as gaming goes, it's a satisfying complexity that has yet to be eclipsed. Indeed, Baldur's Gate II is probably still the pinnacle of the Western RPG.

05 August, 2011


  • Release Date: 1996
  • Platform: PC
  • Developer: id Software
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter

Despite being a pioneer of full three-dimensional graphics in the first-person genre-- or perhaps because of it--Quake is a master class in level design. It's brightly confident in it's grasp of space and solidity; even the difficultly and episode selection is its own memorable environment. The game crams in jumping puzzles, a secret area, and is also capable as serving as an unlikely death match arena. In fact, if you pick any of Quake's two dozen or so levels, you'll find that the critical path is less a line than a rabid dance lesson.

Chiseled into rock or beaten out of metal, Quake's forbidding angles remain unique, haunted by the ghosts of the games it could have been as id's designers fought between a dark fantasy RPG and a science fiction shooter. Though it was the instigator of the "brown corridor" visual treatment, there's art and intention to the oppressive monotone. Its disconnected areas are thick with a sense of place, of eye-catching incidental detail, stranded in crushing blacks: vaults hemmed with silver crosses, the massive embossed metal Jesus, charnel house window settings for apocalyptic stained glass.

All anchored by one of the great pre-music collaborations between developer and composer. Nine Inch Nail's front man Trent Reznor's amazing soundtrack is at turns deafening, oily, and pitiless, and never less than part of Quake's texture. Aural cues sound out environmental hazards and forwarn of enemies well enough to play blind (or a blind panic). In a Quake level, Run isn't a toggle, it's a commandment, and the numerous strengths within this title turn a game that should have been a "what if" into a "this is".