...and you call yourself a Gamer

Published Date
01 - Apr - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Apr - 2006
...and you call yourself a Gamer
A true gamer doesn't need an introduction to a gaming article. After years of stalking its love across message boards, the true gamer will tear off its beloved's shrink-wrap, throw away its manual, ignore its EULA pleas, download its no-CD crack, skip its cut-scenes, and proceed to have an ultimately-doomed carpal relationship, with veins a-throbbing! Does such a mortal need an introduction? Perish the thought! Suffice to say, we shall reveal games worthy of such delicious hyperbole that even grammar will fail us! Nurse! More exclamation points! Stat!

Sony PlayStation 2
We begin with Sony's answer to organised religion-the PlayStation 2, aka the PS2. The console has sold more than 100 million units worldwide. Not owning one will bring shame to your family. Buy one, play these:

Devil May Cry 3:
Dante's Awakening-Special Edition
Who is Dante you ask? He is our very own Rajnikanth as imagined by the Japanese and molded in the image of an overzealous Amrikaan. He thus transcends boundaries and culture, and is like a god; except he is the son of a demon, and has to suffer through over-the-top action, an-independent-and-yet-beautiful-woman-armed-to-the-teeth-with-guns, and one sibling rivalry straight from Bollywood. Much ass-kicking follows, with various firearms and melée weapons. Dante's Awakening also throws in some wild fighting styles to the mix. As a Gunslinger, for example, you can use two sawed-off shotguns as nunchuks, air-juggle a hellspawn, teleport to the other side of the room, use a downed baddie as a surfboard, and do nasty things to demon biology with oversized swords. The combat unleashed by this game is relentless and requires split-second timing to avoid counterattacks, and to chain deadly combos. This game will destroy your fingers, and its boss battles, your soul. But play it you must.

God Of War

If Quentin Tarantino were a game designer, Kratos would be his Samuel L Jackson, except with blades of chaos chained to his arms; so much more effective than a purple lightsaber anyway. In God of War, you play god-killer Kratos as he slices and dices his way through the entire Greek pantheon. The game unravels a rich tapestry of Greek mythology for you to spill blood on. Butt heads with every monster imagined therein, from a hydra to winged harpies. It's very satisfying to meet all this rich culture with a bloodied weapon. The combat is not very deep, though. Combos are simple to execute, and are unlocked by collecting red orbs to power up your weapons. Joining the blades of chaos are a bunch of spells and one obligatory oversized sword. God of War, however, balances good combat with a great production value and some challenging puzzles. It also uses mini-games to great effect: successfully hit a combination of keys shown on-screen, and you will shove your weapon down a Minotaur's throat, or tear off a Medusa's head. It's all very touching. How can you say no?

Shadow Of The Colossus
Battle and fell mighty colossi in this epic action-adventure to save the love of your life. Journey on horseback through a vast empty world in which you have no enemies to destroy, no dungeons to pillage, nothing much to do but fight the game's sixteen colossi. You race across silence and a barren landscape until you encounter these wonderfully-designed beasts. You then need to kill what is most alive in this strange, dead world. Each colossus is a behemoth-huge and threatening, with unique weaknesses and attack patterns.

The game explains little of motive or backstory, and you can't help feel a little depraved for the killing. Shadow of the Colossus is truly a unique experience.

Guitar Hero
This game is a gift from rock-n-roll. It is an axe from heaven to cleave asunder the mediocrity that passes for music today. Ahem! With Guitar Hero, you can play tracks from Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queen, Pantera, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, White Zombie, The Ramones, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, ZZ Top and more-for a total of 47 playable covers and indie tracks! The rocking is done to a custom game controller in the shape of a mini Gibson SG. The designers of this gem have clearly learned their rock and roll well: Guitar Hero takes you across six venues-from your basement to sold-out arenas, as you play using one of eight characters with unique looks and playing styles, and pick up from among 10 guitars that you can customise with 28 unlockable skins. Guitar Hero also lets you battle it out with one more player for the attention of a crowd, with only Rock and Roll as your weapon. You too can be a guitar god. Are You Ready To Roccccccccccccck?
Katamari Damacy
Imagine yourself as a tiny green thing with an unfortunate head. Now imagine yourself holding a small ball that resembles a reject set-piece from Johnny Sokko and the Giant Robot. Imagine rolling that ball over a paper clip, then over an eraser, then a pencil, then a ruler, then a book, then a kitten, and so on, until you're rolling over the table, then the house, then the trees, the cars, some unfortunate onlookers-and you keep rolling and rolling and rolling… like a dung-beetle making an unfortunate statement on consumerism! You roll your Damacy over everyday objects in order to create balls of certain diameters, which can then be used to order to restore the stars and galaxies. Yeah. The game works because it is fun and has plenty of charm and personality. With an excellent presentation, a funky soundtrack, simple play mechanics, and challenging levels-Katamari Damacy is the hallmark of a good, fun game. It is also an ideal vehicle to bring that girl you fancy to your gaming frat house-chicks dig Katamari.

Metal Gear Solid 3:
Metal Gear Solid 3 is difficult to pin down in 200 words or less. It is a stealth game, yes. It has you playing as a super-secret spy called Snake; stalking baddies through jungles, to stop suitably diabolical plans. Fairly typical fare on the surface, but the game is a masterpiece of complex stealth mechanics, and uses a cinematic presentation to tell a surprisingly atypical tale. It is at times self-depreciating, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, but always absorbing, peppered with intense boss battles against characters such as The Pain, The Fear, and The End. The game is set in a jungle and emphasises camouflage. To which end, MGS3 allows you to apply face paint and slip into various garbs. But even here, the game can't help poking fun at itself: it allows you to wear a fake crocodile head and even a Naked, err… skin, for Rambo-style gaming. The best bit is perhaps the Snake vs. Monkey mini-game, which pits the lead character against monkeys from the game Ape Escape-with an objective to capture all the monkeys using a stun gun.

Microsoft Xbox
It is difficult to recommend a game for the Xbox. Except for Ninja Gaiden, which is reason enough to own the console. The Xbox has few exclusive games, and fewer worth playing. Today, all the good titles on the Xbox are also available on the PC. So here's the deal: if you don't have a computer worthy of running current-generation games, buy an Xbox. Most of the multi-platform titles also look best on this console. Plus you can enjoy the few exclusives…

Ninja Gaiden Black
This game lets you play as a Ninja! Nay, as The Ninja-Ryu Hayabusa, who kicks derrières and takes names, and may or may not chew bubblegum while doing it. Ninja Gaiden Black is a game of such epic coolness that your fingers will numb to its manic button-dance, your tongue will wallow limply as you execute its savory combos, your eyes will pop out with fear as yet another boss battle ensues, and you will dance in visceral joy at your victories. With a deep, satisfying, and varied combat system, an unforgiving range of battles and plenty of replay elements, Ninja Gaiden Black is the reason to own an Xbox. Yes, it is that good. Why are you still here, you ninja dog! Go scurry forth and buy this game, and then the console. Hyaaaaayah!

FarCry Instincts
FarCry Instincts takes the much-loved PC game over to the Xbox, and does so with style. With a completely revamped engine, the game is a tour-de-force on the Xbox: it is certainly one of, if not the best looking, game on the console. If you haven't played the game on the PC due to hardware limitations, do pick up this version. For those not in the know, FarCry puts you into a lush tropical jungle, and is a first-person shooter. The pacing of the action is impeccable-its tempo rises and falls: one moment you are all stealth, the next you are Rambo let loose. The game also mixes guns, jungle traps, special animal traits, and vehicles. You can control jet skis, hovercrafts, hand gliders and Humvees, for some drive-by shooting and for traversing the enormous levels that the game throws at you. Great levels, dual-wielding of weapons, varied enemies, vehicles, beautiful graphics, well-paced action-Instinct delivers!

Forza Motorsport
Forza is Microsoft's answer to the Gran Turismo series on the PS2. These are not the arcade driving games aimed at wimps, but are simulators of everything on four wheels. Forza, for instance, lets you drive more than 200 cars from 60 manufacturers. The game throws in a varied mix of tracks as well-from real-world racing tracks to tight street races to fictional courses. Though it's a simulator, the game balances skill well, and is accessible to both newcomers as well as veterans of car mechanics. Perhaps the best feature of the game is the level of customisation it allows on your ride through paint jobs, vinyls and decals. The game also features visible car damage, reflected in the performance of the vehicle. Finally, not only does the game look good, as any Xbox exclusive does, but also sounds great: the roar of your opponent's engine to the backbeat of ZZ Top's La Grange or your own custom soundtrack-ripped to the Xbox's hard disk. The game is a stickler for detail for those who demand it, while being accessible for those just looking to burn rubber-a well-balanced addition to an Xbox owner's library.

Fable used to be an Xbox exclusive, but is now also available on the PC as Fable: Lost Chapters, with extra content thrown in. Being a Lionhead creation, the game is obsessed with virtue and good, and the shadows an ego can cast, which passes for evil. The game marches to this good/evil beat, tracking every deed you do, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, and logging it within its memory banks like some digital god. (It even tracks how far you can kick chickens. Yes, you can kick chickens in Fable.)

Unlike real life, Fable reflects your characters deeds visually-a bad avatar will grow horns, a good one will be beatific to behold. It's an interesting reflection on how our culture associates appearance with morality. The game is also laced with typical British humour; interacting with the world's inhabitants is also a joy. Women will fall in love with you, you will age and scar as time passes, you can tattoo your body and face, change your hairstyle, wear ridiculous or cool armour, walk around in your undies, go Conan with muscles if you use swords much, or bald if you cast too many spells… our most memorable experience was when one evening, our avatar got stinking drunk in the local tavern and then proceeded to get others just as drunk-while watching women throw up all over the place was nice, better was when the kids mimicked your drunken swagger and formed giggly beelines behind you. Oh yeah, the game also has a good story, a great combat and spell system, interesting quests and a unique style of presentation. Another must-have!

The PC
Consoles have certainly carved off a healthy chunk from our PC habit. With the release of the Xbox, every game went multiplatform overnight, sometimes to the detriment of our beloved computer. While console gaming has its uses, some genres are still best experienced on the Pee Cee:

Civilization IV
One more turn. Just one more turn. One more. Just another. Right through the night and on to dawn. It's the evil black magic of a Sid Meier game-Civilization IV (Civ IV) retains the addictive quality that is the hallmark of this series. If you on unfamiliar territory here, Civ IV is a turn-based strategy title that puts you in charge of the major civilizations of the world, with a view to dominate and emerge victorious. Victory is possible through a range of tactics-from war, to cultural hegemony, to scientific domination; even religion is factored into this particular outing. Role-play a variety of leaders, from Gandhiji to Genghis Khan, alone or with friends-over the Internet, or on a LAN, or even via e-mail. The game can be a bit overwhelming at its onset but once you get familiar with its key concepts, prepare to feed yourself intravenously as you stay glued to your monitor for hours at end. As a bonus incentive to buy this insta-classic-it's voiced by Leonard Nimoy of Mr. Spock fame. Civ long and prosper!

A game from Monolith is seldom wrong and F.E.A.R. just reaffirms the development studio's knack for creating games of the highest caliber. It is just as rare for a first-person shooter to communicate the visceral horror that must ebb through a gun fight. This game talks the talk. You can feel the weight of each bullet as it leaves the muzzle of your gun, you can taste the fear as wood and brick inches away, turn up clouds of dust and dirt to enemy fire; bodies slump and tear, glass shards the air, one moment there is the rat-tat-tat and the thoom-thoom of guns blazing and the next instant it's all over. Silence, bodies, dust, you live. The name of the game also points to a supernatural plot that adds a psychological weight to the F.E.A.R. motif. Let's just say bullets and bombs won't be the only thing you would be afraid of while playing this game.

The Chronicles of Riddick:
Escape From Butcher Bay-Developer's Cut
This was one of the must-have titles for the Xbox prior to its recent release on the PC. The PC edition features a few extras though, including commentary from the game designers on the game's levels and scenarios. Escape from Butcher Bay is one of the few games that immediately connect you to your on-screen persona: the beautiful graphics and a first-person view help here, but so does Vin Diesel's wonderful voice-acting, a great combat system and some truly memorable action sequences, excellent dialogue deliveries and Riddickisms (like Sid-huisms, but much cooler). The combat is truly noteworthy, especially the bits where your character relies on old-fashioned fists-fights and neck-breaks to communicate his point  of view. The game is a perfect blend of stealth, action and black humour which you  must play, either on the Xbox or on the PC. After you have, watch Pitch Black, then The Chronicles of Riddick, and finally the animated short The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury-from the same people who gave us MTV's Aeon Flux. Then, build a Riddick shrine, and pray for a sequel.

Galactic Civilizations II:
Dread Lords
eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate: the 4X genre is back with a big bang in this epic space-strategy. Galactic Civilizations II has everything that makes a 4X game a joy to play: the ability to customise a play session to your liking, a deep research and technology tree, and of course a variety of ways in which to skin the proverbial cat. You begin as one of ten available races, each with its own strengths, or you can create your own mixed-breed, customised to your liking. You then pick a galaxy, small or big-the size of the map determines whether the gaming session is a quickie or a long-drawn space trilogy with prequels. Gameplay can span genres-you will build, you will research, and you will try diplomacy, or guile, treats to appease, and every dirty trick that you can conjure up to get an upper hand over competing races. The AI is very challenging as well, and will always keep you on your toes. If, like us, you have been clamouring for some good old-fashioned 4X action, give this game a go.

Star Wars:
Knights of the Old Republic
If you have never played a Bioware game before, you owe yourself this experience. If you are a Star Wars fan, but haven't played this game, correct that oversight right away. This is it, the quintessential Star Wars game. Beautiful graphics, great character models, excellent animations, amazing party characters, the best story in a PC game, (outside of Planescape Torment), and possibly the only game which lets you live the Star Wars experience. Saber fights, force powers, battle droids, princesses, Millennium Falcon, and all. You can choose to follow either the Light Side or the Dark Side of the force, and are awarded force powers accordingly. You can also choose from a variety of body armour and light sabers-which can be dual-bladed or single, and can be dual-wielded; furthermore, special crystals can be used to change their damage properties and colour. This epic adventure takes you across the Star Wars worlds-from Dantooine, to Kashyyyk-and will leave you wanting more. Fortunately, there is more in the form of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. The Force is strong with them both.

Sony PlayStation Portable
At first an object of desire, then a portable movie machine (wink, wink), and now the Sony PSP finally got game(s):

Mega Man Powered Up
Enjoy a well-balanced side-scrolling mayhem in this update of the first Mega Man game. Beautiful graphics, fast-paced action, cool enemies, plenty of weapons and that Capcom touch.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX
Street Fighter to go! Faithfully ported to the handheld, you have to own this seminal 2D fighting game which is packed with 40 fighters, and comes with ad-hoc multiplayer. Tournaments on the go!

Burnout Legends
You can never play enough Burnout-fast, frantic racing, and fast, fitting crashing, two of our favourite things. This version packs in elements from the first three console outings to offer crunchy, juicy delight in each yummy bite. Mmm, now we are hungry. For Burnout Legends!

U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo
SOCOM delivers intense online and offline shooter action. With impressive map sizes, and a good control system, this outing on the PSP is a must-have for fans of SOCOM and strategic shooters alike.

For many months, Lumines was PSP-the sole reason to own the Sony portable. The title is an ingenious, fiendish, mesmerizing puzzle game which blends falling blocks, with good visuals and perhaps the funkiest, grooviest music on a handheld. Puzzle fans, look no further.

Grand Theft Auto:
Liberty City Stories
The same great GTA experience, now on the pot or at the bus stop. Liberty City Stories offers the same freedom, wanton des-truction and mayhem that makes for a GTA experience. This game is so good, in fact, that Rockstar is porting it to the PlayStation 2.

X-Men Legends II:
Rise Of Apocalypse
A must-own, role-playing game for a fan of the X-Men series. In Rise of Apocalypse, you can recruit not only from the band of Xavier Xealots, but also from the evil forces of the Brotherhood. Muwahahaha. Cyclops, Wolverine and Juggernaut in the same team, you know you want this!

Wipeout Pure
Perhaps the best racer on the Sony PSP. Not just because it is good to look at but because it has tight controls, great tracks, awesome music and is regularly updated with extra content. If you have a PSP, you need Wipeout Pure.

Nintendo DS
With two screens, one of which is a touch screen, Wi-Fi, and a mic, the DS seemed to be the product of the kind of insanity that only the genius possess. It is now the fastest-selling gaming console in Japan, and has sold more than 13 million units worldwide in just over two years.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Ace Attorney is part adventure game, part detecting (think Police Quest of old), part whacky Japanese characterisation, and all funny and fun! How can you resist a game which encourages you to shout "OBJECTION!" at the DS? You can't, and you shouldn't. Unless you wish to miss out on one of the best gaming experiences of the past year.

Dawn of Sorrow
This Castlevania experience is arguably the best yet. As a 2D exploration, action and adventure game, nothing beats this title. With a rudimentary role-playing element, the game offers a range of weapons, the ability to customise and upgrade them, a vast castle to explore, huge bosses to defeat, and excellent replay value thanks to an unlockable mode and a level editor.

Mario Kart DS
Single-player grand prix races across 32 tracks and three engine classes, eight characters to choose from, each with multiple karts. You can also race against seven of your friends with only a single copy of the game. Or head online. With zany items such as lightning bolts to shrink your opponents, ink-squirting squids to obscure their vision and mushrooms for boost, the game is a blast offline or on.

Tony Hawk's American Sk8land
A Tony Hawk's Pro skating game that goes back to its roots to deliver the goodness which recent titles have floundered with. With a great cell-shaded 3D world, slick presentation, an excellent soundtrack, online multiplayer, and great skate mechanics, the game is just gr8!

Age of Empires:
The Age Of Kings
The PC game we all love spawns a turn-based avatar on the Nintendo DS. Although turn-based, the game retains everything that made the PC version great. With five playable factions and more than 20 hours of gameplay, Age of Empires will satiate your portable strategy needs.

Sonic Rush
Once upon a time, Sonic was loved. Then Sega did such vile, dreadful things to our favourite hedgehog and broke our heart. We would sulk some more but in Sonic Rush, Sega's penance is at hand. This DS outing brings back everything that made Sonic so much fun-speeeeeeeed and crazy looping, jumping levels. The game makes great use of the DS' two screens to maximise the verticals and enhance the sense of speed. If you're a Sonic fan, you must not miss this game! 

Team DigitTeam Digit

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