Go Forth & Play: A Beginner’s List
by Jason Mott
As promised in my “Press START to Join In…” article, I’ve put together a brief listing of titles I feel are good introductions to the world of modern gaming. My goal here was not to represent everything the gaming landscape has to offer but, rather, to pretend I was the supreme appointed Ambassador of Gamertopia, sent to live in a foreign land where no one had ever laid hand upon a video game console in all their life and, as ambassador, represent my sovereign homeland with dignity and decorum as I learn introduce other so the ways of my culture…cause that’s how I roll.
Let us begin:
Ico/Shadow of the Colossus
Originally released for the Playstation 2, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus garnered critical acclaim and a fanatically devoted following by the capability of both games to use simple story and controls—combined with stunning cinematic sequences and heart-breaking poignancy—to create gaming experiences of staggering complexity and, yet somehow, intuitiveness.
Ico harkens back to iconic video game roots. The story is basic: rescue the princess from the tower. But as the player mutely navigates the complex puzzles and mazes of the tower, they find themselves connecting emotionally to the plight of both characters, and thinking on the topics of love and heroics.
Considered by many critics to potentially be the best video games ever, Shadow of the Colossus is the spiritual successor of Ico. This time around the player takes on the role of a warrior who, at the behest of a somewhat sinister spirit, agrees to kill the sixteen colossi—mammoth and beautiful creatures that roam the world at hand—in exchange for the return of his beloved to the realm of the living. But as each colossi falls at your hand, questions around about the cost of both life and love.
Just this September Team Ico released a combo-pack that offers both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus at one low price.
Developer: Team Ico
Platform: Playstation 3
God of War 3
The game here is simple: kill. God of War 3 follows the story of Kratos—the most killingest anti-hero in the modern gaming era. Beset on all sides by various villains, heroes and monsters from Greek mythology, the God of War franchise is a good introduction to gamers because of its ability to be both simple enough to survive by way of spastic button-smashing and, yet, developed and deep enough that, as the gamer improves, their skills are rewarded with new and exciting methods of slaying centaurs, hippogriffs and even a few gods or titans.
Developer: SCE Studios Santa Monica
Platform: Playstation 3
(Note: Not for the squeamish)
Originally packaged as nothing more than an add-in to Valve’s “Orange Box” game combo, Portal soon became a runaway success the likes of which few other titles have been fortunate enough to match.
Portal is a puzzler unlike any other. The player uses portals—bet you didn’t see that coming!—to effectively teleport from one part of the game environment to the other. Simple enough, right? But this is much more complex than you imagine because, as you play the game, you begin to realize that normal, linear thinking doesn’t quite apply when the rules of physics have been cast asunder.
Portal requires a very different type of logic and problem-solving which, not surprisingly, can level the playing field between both veteran and new gamers.
Platform: PC (with Portal 2 available on PC, Xbox and PS3)
Perhaps the most “mindless” fun I’ve had in a video game in months, Renegade Ops is simple: drive & shoot. I won’t bother talking about the game’s story. I won’t bother talking about themes or metaphors or predecessors. None of that matters. Renegade Ops is the game you play when your day has been hard and, more than anything, you need fun.
This game is what G.I. Joe would be if it became a top-down shooter.
But, after all that, Renegade Ops is a great introductory game because of its simplicity, forgiving learning curve and fiendishly rewarding gameplay. Few things in life are as fulfilling as driving across a map blowing up everything that moves!
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Category: Shooter (top-down)
Again, this was not intended to be a comprehensive list, so please don’t throw a fit if you can think of a dozen other games that you feel should be listed here. Quite frankly, I can think of a dozen other games as well, but space, unlike opinion, is finite.
But if you’ve got a game you want to add to the list, don’t hesitate to drop a comment!