The two purposes of a game map are to show you which direction you should be heading towards and more importantly, to indicate which area you’re yet to loot for power-ups and collectibles.
But some maps are made with so much love and serve up so many with original ideas that they deserve to be listed alongside the game’s bullet-points on the back of the box. Or at least detailed in a special online journalistic list-article comprising an arbitrary number of entries. Say… seven? Yeah, let’s go with seven.
7. Mass Effect 2
Amazing because of it makes us feel like Vangelis-listening children
Not only is Mass Effect 2’s galaxy map an
absolute visual treat, it’s also delivered in such a way that it feels
like an integral part of the whole game and fits in seamlessly. When it
all boils down, it’s simply a map, but it’s a bloody good ‘un.
access the galaxy map aboard the Normandy and then pilot the tiny
replica spacecraft over a superb intergalactic backdrop of stars and
planets. There’s even a sci-fi soundtrack loop that contains shades of
Vangelis, that provides a seriously soothing atmosphere for your
planet-hopping. Even the much-maligned resource mining – where you suck
planets dry of their precious metals to buy stuff - is an enjoyable and
relaxing experience. For us anyway.
the attention to detail that’s piled into the map that makes it so
special and ultimately secures its place on this list. Each of the
planets has a unique look and description/history attached to it. And of
course, the map also allows you to visit our own solar system –
complete with a little easter egg when you <ahem> probe Uranus.
our favourite thing about Mass Effect 2’s galaxy map is that it takes
us back to happier, pre-pubic times. Steering the tiny Normandy over the
map reminds us when even a TV remote could be turned into a spaceship
as we embarked on another game of ‘spaceman’ and spun round the living
room before ‘docking’ with a startled cat – or Fur planet - as our
imaginations ran wild.
If you’d told our innocent minds that we’d
be able to do this very space travel twenty years from then, via a
video game, then we’d have laughed and possibly reported you as a
stranger danger. Well done, BioWare, your galaxy map really is out of
Amazing because it is a bloody terrifying meta-game
Doom, eh? Scary game. You don’t go
around with a name like “Doom” unless you’re intending to be scary.
“Ultra-Blood-Kill” is another good idea for a scary game name. As is
“Monster Face-Eating Party of Despair”. Or “Seething Bloody Carnival of
People Getting Power Drills Shoved in Their Eyes”. But no game title
says “This is going to be bloody scary” as simply, succinctly and
powerfully as “Doom”. Dictionary.com defines the meaning of the word as
“unavoidable ill fortune”, and no-one likes that. It also mentions ruin,
death and the end of the world. And if that was the sort of ill fortune you were looking at, you’d bloody well want to be able to avoid it.
Doom’s scariness established, it would only make sense for Doom’s map
to be bloody scary too. And it is. All too often, the video game map is
the refuge of the weak and cowardly. The paper or PDA-based shield
against all of a game’s stressful horrors. The mother’s skirt for hiding
behind, if you will, only with more geographical information, and less
gingham than the twee nostalgic, 1950s variant of that metaphorical
image we currently have in our heads.
But in Doom, the map screen
isn’t a safe place you can run away and hide in when it all becomes too
much. In Doom, the map screen is even scarier than the main game.
Because in Doom, the map screen is a playable, real-time, overhead
wire-frame version of the in-game action. A big, empty, black wire-frame
version, with none of the detail, none of the clearly visible monsters,
but all of the horrible sounds of your impending – or currently
occurring – death. In fact, with the “iddt” cheat (which shows the
entire map immediately, without the need for exploration-driven draw-in)
it’s probably technically possible to play the entirety of Doom on the
map screen, and doing so would make it the hardest, darkest, most
confusing, and ultimately manliest survival horror game ever made
It’s debatable whether it would be any fun, but that’s just how scary Doom
is. Too scary to bother considering anything as petty as your positive
human sensations like “fun”. Some versions allow you to overlay the map on top of the main game, yes, but that's just Doom's way of drawing out the wussy cheaters. So that it can eat their weak souls.
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