I’m behind the times, I picked up my next generation PS4 a week after everybody else due to personal circumstances, and now it’s there under the TV beckoning me, my thoughts turn to the last generation. The highs and lows, the brave new worlds, the absolute disasters and how they sat alongside my life.
Some people like to look back at the last 8 years of gaming be it on the xbox 360 or PS3 picking out the games that they remember, well we can do that, in fact we will do it and no doubt they will one day be vogue retro memories to be relished. This was however a big chunk of our lives and I like to remember what I was doing living alongside these great games.
I joined the old new generation with the xbox 360, after seeing Gotham City running in a store demo and being amazed by the spectators, yes, its always the details that get me. Not long after I sat down in a closed room demo of Call of Duty 2, that was an experience, the Desert Rats assaulting a town in that CoD fashion that we all know far too well, but then it was fresh, cinematic, breathtaking. The chaos of war was all around, the supporting AI were here, there and everywhere, there were personalities, drama and possibly the most exciting First Person Shooter since, well, forever.
After that I was sold, I was there at midnight trading in everything I could get my hands on and rushing home with Oblivion and Warfighter. The first couple of months went well, Oblivion was something to treasure, especially that first night, when that music kicked in followed by Patrick Stewart. I got lost in Oblivion for quite some time, in fact I clocked nearly two hundred hours and never really bothered with the main quest. There was a reason for that and it wasn’t Gears of War.
Having become ill in the August of that year I spent a colourful four months dealing with a course of chemotherapy, both Oblivion and Gears got me through the difficult times. There were other games, but I distinctly remember them for the impact they had, drug induced insomnia being perfect for running around with chainsaw guns. Later there was Bioshock, coming at a time when I had settled into a new job that would keep me busy for seven years, the game was everything I had hoped. The Jules Verne overtones, the story and it’s delivery raised the bar and the plasmid aspect was something I could reflect on during my prolonged recovery.
There was the Auckland launch of Halo 3, where I printed my own t-shirt and stood alongside a few other cold enthusiasts as we tried to water pistol prizes from a giant block of ice. Being slightly older than the rest of the crowd, I was entertained by a couple of funny guys in the queue, who I later discovered were Brian and Wugga from the then ‘Geekpulp’ and later ‘Buttonmasher’.
It was Buttonmasher that gave me a first writing gig, in fact I posted my first review of a Fifa game there and another, Gravity Crash the day my eldest son was born. While not the review driven site it used to be, the community still stands strong and really does offer a rare island of sensibility in today’s internet. A few months later I had the chance to contribute to an NZ gaming magazine Game Console, a period I do treasure as it still feels good to hold a magazine with your name alongside the annual Call of Duty review.
This was also the time of the slim PS3, it was too good to miss out and was added to the family not long before the baby came along, I admit my relationship with the Playstation never really kicked off in those early days, but it proved it’s worth as a tortoise later in the race. At the time though it was ideal for playing Assassin’s Creed 2 with a sleeping baby in your arms.
Sometime during the following twelve months Kinect arrived to divide the hardcore from the wet blankets, I was a fan from the go, I knew deep down it wouldn’t be quite as Star Trek as I wanted, but it was getting there. Techday let me play with theirs for a while, which was a privilege and not long after I gave it back I went shopping. I still think the best use of Kinect will always be the first Sports game, developer Rare delivering something fun and functional. There were a pile of ‘me too’s in the following wind, but they never really match the intuitive pleasure of table tennis.
Then there was another baby in the house, this time the occasion was marked by a surprise arrival of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, reviewed for Buttonmasher and still one of my top contenders for the last generation. It was quickly followed by Black Ops, a mould breaking Call of Duty, as in narrative wise, with a super solid online game. In fact the online game was perfect for pulling all nighters with ‘baby duty’ as the similarly perfect excuse.
That was three years ago, there are many amazing titles that have graced our platforms in the last generation, too many to count here, these have special places in my memory banks because they are intertwined with real events. Even the last hurrah of this generation has seen some momentous titles, Tomb Raider reboot, Xcom, GTA V and especially The Last of Us. A story of hope and desperation in difficult times, an enjoyable story at it’s best, but try playing when you are unemployed with nothing on the horizon.
So, even having lost a little of the steam I had in the early days, I can salute this generation and say; “yes, I am ready to move on”. By the way I didn’t forget the Mass Effect Trilogy, Just Cause, Halo games (Reach especially), Saints Row, Uncharteds, Too Human, Minecraft, Red Dead, War in the North, Spec Ops: the line, and endless nights on the various Battlefields, they’re all there, them and many, many more.
Thanks for the entertainment, it’s been a blast, from orbit – the only way to be sure.