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Game music has been a passion of ours roughly since, oh, 1985, but in the past 10 years, it’s come to mean something more. Don’t get us wrong, we still love the beepatronic music of the 8- and 16-bit periods (and the wave of chiptune artists it inspired), but the past decade has also seen licensed music become a surprisingly important part of gaming. Sometimes, this just means a selection of familiar hits to accompany our music games, but every so often, a game will use licensed tracks to careful, brilliant effect – and in the process, will expose legions of gamers to music they might never have heard otherwise.
What follows are the games and franchises that have been the most influential in bringing strange and terrifying new musical styles to gamers’ ears – and in the interest of making this our most self-indulgent Top 7 since that other one, we’ve asked a handful of our editors to explain what made each one important to them personally...
Whether they’ve advanced menacingly toward our camera lenses, hidden their faces when we look at them or just sort of hovered aimlessly, ghosts have been a semi-constant threat in videogames almost since the medium was invented. One of the great things about games, however, is that they’re a way to explore unusual viewpoints – and every once in a while, they give us a chance to see through the eyes of these undead phantoms, and find out what it’s like to flit insubstantially through an earthly plane that’s perpetually, almost comically afraid of us.
Only a handful of games have actually offered a chance to see things from the proverbial Other Side, but these are our favorites...
NO! We’re not talking about frigging hockey masks! Nobody has ever strapped on this mouthless, empty-eyed, bone-colored facial façade with the intent of instilling a victim with the fear and intimidation that comes with facing down a goaltender. No, virtually every game character not playing for the NHL who’s ever put on a hockey mask is doing it for one reason, and one reason only: to crib from Jason Voorhees. And that’s our incredibly loose criteria here.
With that in mind, we tried to find as many instances of characters dressing up as Friday the 13th’s hero (yes, he is the hero) in honor of Halloween. So turn out your lights and put the lawyers to bed... it’s time for Jason Masks. Let’s start with the obvious...
Tomorrow is Grand Theft Auto III’s 10th birthday, and to celebrate, we’ve been cranking out a series of articles this week devoted to the series and what we loved about the third game in particular. What inspires so much love? Well, in 2001, GTA III was something nobody had really seen before: a big, freely explorable 3D world in which we could drive around and behave like psychopaths... or not. It was freedom in a way that games had never really offered before, and – with the help of a slickly presented story and a little ultraviolence – it became a huge success and a pop-cultural phenomenon.
Because of its openness, of course, GTA III meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So once again, we’ve polled our editors, this time to ask: what did it mean to you?
Grand Theft Auto III made its mark on pop culture in more ways than one. Not only was it the best-selling video game of 2001, it caused quite a stir within the industry and beyond for its violent and sexual content. Critics loved it, overbearing parents hated it, and Australia even banned it (for a while, and then replaced it with a censored version). GTA III wasn't just the first game in its series to make the leap from 2D to 3D; it was also the first widely successful open-world, sandbox-style videogame to give you the freedom to explore, steal cabs, pick up prostitutes and then kill them and take their stuff – among other things.
Whether or not you were a fan of the game’s content, Grand Theft Auto did change the way people perceived games, and influenced how developers approached game design. With the game now approaching its 10th anniversary this Saturday, we asked some of the brightest minds in the industry to share their experiences with the game, as well as their thoughts on how GTA III has influenced gaming...
Historically inaccurate games, big ass news from the 2011 Tokyo Game Show, and Gears of War 3 thoroughly reviewified...
Thanks to the ever-expanding selection of viable digital distribution platforms - including Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and the iOS App Store - it's easier than ever for independent game developers to dream up fantastic new ideas and get them into the hands of willing players. And they're responding in kind by spawning some truly amazing and slick-looking game ideas for all sorts of platforms, many of which recently enthralled us while wandering the floor at PAX. We've collected 10 of our most anticipated indies across various platforms and genres, so if you're seeking something fresh and unique in the months ahead, here's a look at some of the more enticing possibilities on the horizon...
Deathmatch. Capture the Flag. Domination. Team… those things. These words have made up a familiar vocabulary for multiplayer games over the past 15 years or so, and they’ve been standard in nearly every game that’s allowed one player to shoot at another. These days, however, “standard” is seldom enough, and this year it seems like every other big fall release wants to reinvent, deepen or otherwise put its own unique spin on competitive and co-op play.
Some of those spins are more interesting than others, and they’re resulting in a fall lineup that – in spite of being composed largely of sequels – is doing enough big, unusual things with multiplayer to make even the most steadfast solo gamers take interest. And now that another annual 24-hour marathon is safely behind us, it seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the unique stuff that lies ahead...
What’s a grumpy little alien guy trying to catch a nap on his own planet supposed to do when hopping little Pikmin types decide they want to come over for an interstellar visit? Slap the crap out of them, that’s what!
Tilting your iPhone to run around the planets, which are big traversable spheres a la Super Mario Galaxy, is one half of the game mechanic. The other half is tapping your screen to deliver a jaw-shattering slobberknocker to the creatures in your vicinity, exterminating them from your galaxy one planet at a time...
Some do it for gold. Some do it for love. Some do it for patriotism. Some do it because the developers decided they needed an arbitrary twist. Whatever their reasons, there are few ways to make a previously loved character universally despised faster than having them turn traitor.
While some betrayals you can see coming a mile away, and some just make no sense, this list is a tribute to the traitors who really hit home. Whether they shook us to our core, or were just so sympathetic that we couldn’t harbor any resentment; these characters did more than break our bodies…they broke our hearts...