The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (May 2022)



  • @capnbobamous That's a very good point. Let's allow it this time and state the rule for the future.



  • Yes like the collection in-especially since the person bringing it has already written the piece.



  • Hey folks, friendly reminder that if you would like to participate, you have until the end of tomorrow to tell me your game.



  • @capnbobamous Has presentation phase started?



  • Yep, as of right now the presentation period is now open! I encourage you to look over the rules one more time, and you have until the end of the 16th (PDT) to get to your presentation in. I look forward to seeing what you all have to say.



  • Halo (Combat Evolved) is one of the definitive Next Gen experiences. When it released in November 2001, the technological prowess it displayed exceeded high end PCs in some ways, on an affordable home console.

    Bump maps and specular highlights that made surfaces jump out at you. Shaders that gave water depth and organic flow. Sparkling horizons and dynamic sun rays. Incredibly high-detailed textures that gave a new use to sniper scopes. Fog used strictly for atmosphere and not hiding seams. Rippling invisibility cloaks, blooming night vision filters, holographic control panels. And a flashlight that behaved EXACTLY like a flashlight, and not a yellow cone.

    Clip

    It impressed not only in terms of bells and whistles, but also scale. Open environments both wide and tall that didn't sacrifice detail, and had little concept of either draw distance or invisible walls. The Xbox's built-in hard drive also allowed new map zones to load in on-the-fly instead of cutting to loading screens, making each mission feel more like its own adventure rather than a mere level.

    alt text

    The soundscape was just as compelling as any other element. Distant voices and swooping spaceships that you could track in all dimensions. An array of now iconic weapon and HUD sound effects. And a film-grade music score both ethereal and pulse-pounding. All utterly crystal clear without a hint of being 'cut down to fit'.

    Youtube Video

    And the gameplay dazzled as much as the technical side did. Combat deviated from the 'guns, guns, and more guns' approach popular at the time for a limited but versatile three-pillar formula - you can only carry two guns at a time, requiring you to always think about the current situation - grenades have a dedicated button, giving you a constant option to dispatch overwhelming opponents - protect scarce ammo by getting right up to enemies and punching them.

    Then, there's the AI. No bullet sponge statues to be found here, oh no-sir-ee! Enemies hide, dodge, group together, and flank. They also show off their personality, with smaller ones running away in fear when you have the upper hand, and bigger ones getting aggressive when you damage them at close range. Their lively reactions when they see you and their dramatic death animations add some excellent flavour as well.

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    The story is quite simple, but certainly not barebones, and is expertly presented with incredible cutscene direction and voiceovers, and just past the halfway point, the gameplay nearly gets turned on its head with the sudden introduction of a brand new, relentless enemy type.

    The highest difficulty mode, Legendary, strikes a perfect balance of incredibly tough, but never cheap. You're absolutely going to die - a lot - but with the balanced AI and open level design, there's always a way to get through if you're a bit more patient and push just a bit harder. It took a long, long time, but it was the most satisfying campaign that I've ever played.

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    FPSes tend to be beloved for either their campaign or their multiplayer. But here, the two halves have an equal degree of refinement. Again pushing the capabilities of a home console, matches can have up to 16 players by hooking up four Xboxes over LAN, and they can be spread out over huge maps perfectly suited for sniper rifles and vehicular hijinks. The multiplayer excels in close quarters too, with 2v2 matches in particular having a high skill ceiling.

    (edit, fixed video link)



  • Hello, fellow EZA forum members. Today I want to nominee a very special game that, in my opinion, absolutely deserves to be called “One of the Greats” – Dragon Age: Inquisition.

    Many RPGs have wonderful stories, filled with choices and consequences. But let’s be honest, most of the time mindlessly picking “good” dialog options in every quest is enough to secure the best ending for everyone. It can still be fun, but it’s just an imitation of real life, which is far more complicated and much less predictable. Dragon Age: Inquisition embraces this complexity, which is why this game stand out. I’ll illustrate this with just one example. During my playthrough I was romancing one of my companions. Near the finale we’ve met in a lovely place, but instead of expected proceedings, he sorrowfully told me that our relationships can’t continue and walked away, leaving me standing shocked and speechless. And this happened not because I didn’t play my cards right, but because a relationship is a dance of two, and another person may have their own thoughts. Such wonderful mix of unpredictability and occasional powerlessness pushes you to always seek for the bright side and to question whether you should do the things you’re doing. Every victory feels rewarding and earned because it never was a given.

    Such complexity wouldn’t feel natural without rich and detailed world, and Dragon Age: Inquisition excels in this area. There are countless lore documents, and every named character has a story to tell. Each environment oozes with history, from remains of battlefields to subtle cultural differences between various nations and regions. You often find your companions in a different place or with different person when you return to your homebase, which further contributes to the feeling that things keep happening whether you witness them or not. And events of previous games really matter, informing actions and relationships of numerous characters.

    Your companions are complicated people, and you get numerous opportunities to discover various sides of their personalities. However, they are not just storytellers, patiently waiting to be asked to talk. They have their own world views, opinions on how to proceed, and if your approach will be drastically different, they will leave permanently. When you take them on a mission, they are not reduced to movable turrets – they talk to you and to each other, they react to their surroundings and share their knowledge (which is an excellent incentive to pick different party for each quest). Your companions aren’t the only noteworthy characters however, as those who support your cause from your base are just as interesting and complicated as your fighting crew.

    Much of those relationships and history are influenced by events of previous two games. To help players with continuing their stories developers created a special web site that enables you to not just import your previous games’ saves (even from different platforms), but also edit each individual choice and watch the result as a lovely cinematics. Also, you can create world state from scratch if you want to replay the game with different backstory, or if you simply lost your saves.

    Such commitment to giving players a choice was applied to other aspects of the game as well. Combat plays in real-time from 3rd-person perspective, but you can pause the action at any moment, switch to top-down view, move camera freely, give commands to each companion – basically play it as a tactical game. The same piece of gear looks differently on different companions, allowing you to customize their appearances and stats without worrying that everyone will look the same, or that certain armor will not fit character’s personality. Several entire biomes with all their quests and lore are completely optional. Created protagonist is fully voiced by 4 different voice actors, allowing you to choose the one that suites your character the most.

    Speaking of audio, it would be a crime to not mention incredible soundtrack. Almost melancholic “The Dawn Will Come” that your party sing at a campfire after crushing defeat to raise their spirits is followed by triumphant “Journey to Skyhold” as you travel to your new base to continue the fight. There’s mysterious and otherworldly “The Well of Sorrows”, epic “The Inquisition Marches”, background-like and echoey “Champions of the Just”, ceremonial “Val Royeaux”, anxious “Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts” – the music is just as grand and varied as the world and your journey. Oh, and there’s also a bard in your base’s tavern who sings almost a dozen of songs about your companions and your recent adventures.

    The adventuring will take you across more than a dozen of different biomes, as well as through many special levels and dungeons during main quests. Some of biomes are small, while others feel like a mini-open-world maps. The one that especially stood out for me, Hissing Wastes, is a giant desert (fully optional by the way), that seems completely lifeless, but hides numerous places of interest behind yet another hill of sand. Of course, there’s nothing new in hiding passages and locations with clever use of terrain, but usually you can easily tell where gaming secrets can and can’t be placed. But in Dragon Age: Inquisition you are walking across a giant empty space and will never know that you’re near something, unless you look. You are truly lost in a desert, one man in an enormous world.

    There are so many other things I want talk about, like how tense the battles with enormous dragons are, or how differently each class feels, or about one of many hilarious moments that break the tension of this tale… But even the most thorough description will not do this game justice, because Dragon Age: Inquisition is much bigger than sum of its parts. It is not a flawless game, of course not, but it is a very special one, the one that you remember fondly after all these years. And that’s why Dragon Age: Inquisition deserves to enter this forum’s Hall of Greats.

    Appendixes:

    1. Screenshots of dragonagekeep.com – website for importing and editing saves from previous games:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/yv65m7okofwz5p8/Dragon%20Age%20Inquisition%20-%20image1.png?raw=1

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/miy5dae2pdskkss/Dragon%20Age%20Inquisition%20-%20image2.png?raw=1

    1. Music samples with relevant gameplay footage (sorry for poor video quality – I had to capture the game on my laptop):

    Youtube Video

    1. Launch trailer that gives good impression of the scale of this world:

    Youtube Video



  • Hello all! For this third ceremony of our Hall of Greats, I bring a game I feel many critics and fans alike consider the best of its franchise:

    Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

    Uncharted receives a lot of complaints for a variety of things: “Ludonarrative Dissonance!” “There’s no stakes when climbing!” “Gunplay is terrible!” “Drake is a boring and uncompelling wiseass!” and many others. But for me, as a massive fan, I feel A Thief’s End is the series’ best in response to these areas and more. For this presentation, I want to talk about gameplay, graphics, characters, and story.

    To start with gameplay, I feel it can be broken down into two areas: Combat and exploration. For combat, the guns and grenades are better refined and interesting to use as opposed to the rest of the franchise for two reasons: Weapon variety and improved settings. There’s quite a suite of armaments in Uncharted 4, from assault rifles, shotguns, handguns, grenade launchers, etc., and each feels different from anything else. Plus, thanks to Uncharted 4’s Aim Assist for those who want to have their weapons snap to enemies (and even hyper focus on a specific body part) and unlockable cheats (one-shot kills, infinite ammo, and others), it allows anyone to tailor the combat just how they want it.

    But what’s fantastic about A Thief’s End’s combat is (my perception), there’s actually fewer “large” combat encounters than any other Uncharted (with maybe the exception of Lost Legacy). This allows for a greater emphasis on puzzle solving, exploration, and character development. In addition, with the introduction of the awareness icons and tall grass/foliage, it makes stealth more viable and productive to tackle groups of enemies than ever before in Uncharted.

    Exploration is at its most freeing thanks to the most open level design (again, 2nd to Lost Legacy’s one “open-world” esque area) and the ability to drive a vehicle at several points in the adventure. Sure, the main collectibles are still Treasures and Journal drawings (which in their own right are all varied and interesting little artifacts/pictures), but roaming around the wilds of Madagascar in a jeep or getting around small islands in a boat to find small caves, wells, shacks, and other points of interest with excellent environmental storytelling give the world itself more life and character, especially considering the dynamic conversation system.

    Graphically speaking, even six years later at the time of writing, Uncharted 4 looks phenomenal. I still remember being absolutely blown away when in the first chapter of the game having to sneak by a nun, I found a piece of paper and the game allowed me to “wave” it in real-time. The fluidity of the animations in books, magazines, documents, and other interactable items, plus the overall art design, character models, stunning landscapes, and captivating views when looking at various horizons lends this to being one of the most beautiful games to date.

    And while Uncharted is about treasure-hunting in long-forgotten ruins and getting into shootouts with mercenaries, for me, Uncharted is so much more about its narrative and dynamics with all of its main characters. Uncharted 4 is one of those rare games where long-time fans and new players alike can enjoy the story throughout (though I argue it’s still more beneficial to have played the prior games to have the additional context). By the time Uncharted 4 starts, Nathan Drake is not in the treasure hunting business, but it’s still a part of him that he can’t ever really let go, which is best exemplified in Chapter 4.

    I want to take a moment to gush about this chapter, as it’s my favorite in the whole game. There’s no combat (unless you want to count the imaginary shootout in the attic), and it’s all about the tone, the setting of Nate’s and Elena’s house, the homage to past Uncharteds, Nate and Elena’s dynamic at that time, and it all culminating in one of the most delightful Easter Eggs (which this game has a few, but it’s the only one you can’t miss). The amount of detail put into the house, from bathrooms being a mess, laundry needing to be finished, office desks being disheveled, and notes/pictures on the refrigerator all give the house a completely believable “lived in” space that leaves me fully immersed every time I play. It allows for the two main characters to really shine and it’s a segment I greatly appreciate.

    This isn’t to say this is the only great character moment in the game. Sam is an excellent opposite to Nathan, stoking the bad influences to hunt for Henry Avery’s treasure. I absolutely LOVE the fact you

    play a lie of the prison break with Hector Alcazar

    and he’s a perfect example to Nathan of what happens when he becomes too dedicated to the lifestyle. How the obsession of finding the lost treasure and making mega-millions isn’t truly worth it. This is best exemplified when the crew of Nate, Sam, and Sully return to the hotel after all the craziness of King’s Bay and Elena is there, catching Nate in his lie.

    Elena is easily the BEST character, as EVERY scene she’s in is the storytelling at its strongest, from the aforementioned house and hotel, to the conversations she and Nate have in Libertalia. The difficult talk on the elevator, plus the long silence in the jeep afterwards as you drive to your next destination... Sublime. By the time I reached the epilogue, how the game and the larger narrative of the franchise wraps up so beautifully, makes me swell with bittersweet emotion every time I play.

    The McGuffin you’re chasing is also my favorite, because there’s no surreal aspect to it. It’s all about greed undoing the “pirate utopia” for all who sought true freedom from oversight.

    Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is an incredible game, with the “Uncharted formula” perfected. Compelling characters, refined gameplay, and being stunning looking all combine to be worthy of the title, “Great.”



  • Greetings Easy Allies community!

    For my second Hall of Greats ceremony, I submit for your voting consideration - Mass Effect Legendary Edition. This is the collection consisting of Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3 including DLC that released May 14th last year. Among the three, Mass Effect 1 received the most work in terms of graphics and gameplay. Those improvements, along with some lesser improvements to both Mass Effect 2 and 3, make for a more streamlined experience when playing through the trilogy. These are great games when played separately, but playing them together with the Legendary Edition makes them feel even more special.

    Mass Effect follows the story of Commander Shepard, in a high stakes mission to stop the return of a genocidal race of ancient machines attempting to destroy all life in the galaxy. Each game has it's own focus that puts Commander Shepard in a different situation but the way each story thread is woven together into the overarching story is masterfully done. All of Mass Effect's lore and story are well presented throughout each of the games different missions. And between these missions, you have access to the Codex in your journal and you can have conversations with the games many characters.

    Speaking of characters, Mass Effect has some of the most well-realized, charming cast of characters in any video game. Each character feels representative of the world of Mass Effect, each with their own compelling personal stories and unique perspectives on things. And the relationships you can build with these characters is on a whole different level compared to most games. By the end of each game, you have such a strong bond with some of these characters, that the game becomes as much about their story, as it is about your own.

    0_1652318918036_ME Squad.jpg

    Mass Effect is essentially a 3rd person cover-based shooter, but it introduced powers you can use in combat that set the trilogy apart from other shooters. The trilogy does a great job of balancing combat encounters, making you feel powerful by flinging enemies around in one moment and also forces you to tower in fear as a Krogan charges at you in the next moment. Also, the many planets where you fight and the different enemies you encounter on your quest keep the combat from feeling repetitive.

    You choose a class for your main character, and all the classes feel meaningfully different with access to separate abilities, weapons and gear. Your squad also has access to a variety of different tech, biotic and combat based abilities that make each firefight feel unique based on your chosen squad members. Outside of combat, Shepard interacts with the NPCs through the dialogue wheel, making several key choices that will impact the course of future events. The choices you make do matter and to see the outcome of some of those decisions requires you to play through all of the trilogy. Every dialogue choice shapes your journey and it allows for multiple playthroughs to see how things could have gone differently.

    0_1652319599270_ME Combat 1.jpg

    These games already had a great visual style and this is one of the best remasters I've played. This collection gives you better visuals, performance and it's seamless when carrying your save forward. It has what you expect from a modern game in terms of performance (60fps, 4K Resolution), but it doesn't remove any of the charm of the original games. Also, the cutscene direction in these games is still the best, allowing the trilogy to still look amazingly cinematic even by todays standards.

    I don't believe the music was changed in the remastered versions but the music is another high point that is worth mentioning. Mass Effect 1 has a more synth sci-fi sound and Mass Effect 2 has more of a traditional action movie soundtrack featuring a full orchestral arrangement. While Mass Effect 3 used four different composers, giving that game the most diverse soundtrack. The soundtrack fits perfectly with the world of Mass Effect and having those different tracks playing in the background really adds to the experience.

    0_1652319089644_ME 1.jpg

    There's one thing I know I need to address - which is that Mass Effect Legendary Edition is three different games. Yes that is technically true, but I believe that these three games connect together more than any other video game trilogy ever made. The Legendary Edition plays like one big game with decisions, characters and gameplay that carry over from one game to the next. Playing all of Mass Effect Legendary Edition can seem like a lot, but if you commit to it, you’re in for one amazing ride. Whether your replaying these games for the 10th time or your brand new to the series - this is the Mass Effect experience everyone should be playing.

    Mass Effect has one of the most realized video game world's I've ever seen, it's a sci-fi epic that rivals that of Star Wars. There's no other video game trilogy like Mass Effect and witnessing it's massive conclusion again made me fell emotional towards the end. The adventures of Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy is one that should be experienced by everyone who plays and enjoys great games.


    Mass Effect Legendary Edition trailer:
    Youtube Video

    Music samples:
    Youtube Video



  • Hello fellow allies!

    Sports games have held a special place in my heart. Specifically the mid-2000’s era while I was in middle school and high school. I loved building teams and just making NFL Network-like stories about them in my head. One of the first games that brought out this imagination of mine is Madden 07. Not the 360 or PS3 versions, but the PS2-era version.

    Now, I know. Madden in the Hall of Greats. Yuck. Sports games. Yuck. I get it. Do I expect this to get in? No, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention this game at least once.

    When you start up the game, you are asked what your favorite team is. Given the answer, different players from that team will be on your menu from here on out! You get to hear a soundtrack that features a good variety of songs with the likes of Taking Back Sunday, 30 Seconds to Mars, Lupe Fiasco, and Underoath.

    Gameplay is a strong facet of Madden 07. It introduced Lead Blocking where you can choose to play as any player on the Offensive Line or be the Fullback to open up holes for your Running Back. To off-set the QB Cone they introduced in Madden 06, you get the Style stick for any positional player where if you push the right stick to the left, you Juke a defender. If you have a Power Running Back, like Brandon Jacobs, you feel them breaking tackles. You feel their slowness compared to the speedy Running Backs, like Reggie Bush.

    0_1652467413687_screenshot_pc_madden_nfl_07007.jpeg

    Before I get into Franchise Mode, Superstar Mode is Madden 07’s Career Mode where your goal is to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You are not restricted to just offense or defense though, you can be a Kicker or a Punter. Just to embrace all facets of the NFL! As for day-to-day, you start out with interviews with three or four teams and you eventually get drafted along with the 2006 NFL Draft class. No important picks are changed as you’ll likely get picked around the third round or even later. From that point on, you practice with the team and play the games. You can sign an agent and have interviews with Rich Eisen from NFL Network which is awesome, even if it’s just text based.

    0_1652467066122_748139-932193_20060822_003.jpeg

    Other modes that are enjoyable are: Tournament Mode where you can just include different teams from different eras and see who would win and Situation Mode where you can set up a game if you want to replicate the 28-3 triumph of the Patriots in 2016, this is the mode for you! These two modes are fun, but nothing substantial. Just thought they should be brought up!

    Now, my favorite mode is Franchise Mode. When you pick your team, and if you want to do a Fantasy Draft, you are immediately put into training camp drills. Here you get ten mini-games where your goal is to develop certain players with each mini-game. You can run a Pocket Drill for your newly drafted Quarterback or you can do the Swat Ball Drill for your Cornerback who needs to develop some more. After each of these, you’ll get points to put into certain skills depending on the mini-game and how well you did.

    As Training Camp gets started, you are greeted by the voice of Tony Bruno. Who has a weekly radio show that covers the NFL. One week you get to hear him talk to NFL players and another week you might hear him talk to a Head Coach. These chats can be strangely put together, yes, but this is still an immersive experience each week. Another way to know what is going on around the NFL is the Newspaper section. Here you can see the Nationally viewed biggest stories presented by USA Today, or you can go team-by-team and see every locally owned newspaper’s topics. And this isn’t a fake local newspaper, these are all real newspapers that you can read outside of this game if you so desire.

    In the Pre-Season, you have Position Battles. Each week through the Pre-Season these battles get updated with key stats and the game will choose who to play based on those stats. Now, sometimes the game is wrong, yes. But, this is still a much better system than what Madden today has in place. Where you see no position battles and you keep track of them yourself.

    Each week you get the Weekly Gameplan where you see three focus plays to prepare for and practice. Also, you get a paragraph for each opponent’s starting player to add another layer of depth. Even your own team has this feature so you can see what the opponent thinks of your starters.

    My last key point of the Franchise Mode is the off-season. After the Pro-Bowl, you have a period of time to get your coaching staff in order. If you have to fill in a spot at Offensive Coordinator, now is the time to do it. After this phase though, the first checklist item you have is Retired Players. You get to see who all retired and sort them by team or by the position. After Re-Signing players, which you can even do during the season, you have Restricted Free Agents to look for around the league and your team. Lots of other great off-season stuff, but these two take precedent to me.

    While I can talk about how great Owner Mode is or the implementations with NCAA Football 07 and NFL Head Coach, that would make this longer than expected. I believe that Madden 07 is the peak of this franchise with the amount of immersion that Franchise Mode offers and the Creative Suite it offers that I couldn’t get into. Thank you all for your time. Lastly Go Jets and Love and Respect!



  • For this instalment of Hall of Greats, I present to the panel a game that is not a Rockstar game, it is one of the headlining games of the eighth console generation. This leviathan made a thunderous impact when it arrived, it scooped up and devoured numerous Game of the Year awards, and has stomped its gigantic feet with such aplomb, that rippling echo-like waves send its contemporaries soaring into the air and falling helplessly to the ground in its grandiose wake. This juggernaut has been held aloft as an exemplar of its genre and in the past seven years, hasn’t aged a day; in fact, you could say it has aged like blood and wine. This game is non-other than CD Projekt Red’s almighty magnum opus, 2015’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

    0_1652723959539_4a40dcc5-f812-43d8-ab3d-f07222319d79-image.png
    Stunning, elegant and utterly enthralling, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a captivating and colossal achievement in game design, world building and storytelling, never letting up with the many ways it can astonish you. Wild Hunt is an impeccable monolith that can consume your days and your nights, whilst keeping you highly invested as time melts away, due to being completely enamoured and submerged in the game’s phenomenally layered lore and exposition, a rare specialty few open-world games can truly match.

    Why does The Witcher 3 deserve a place in the Hall of Greats? No open-world game boasts such a stupendous bent towards storytelling as it does. The best stories in videogames throw a lasso around your waist and pull you into the brimming struggles and strife of the characters, encouraging you to keep playing and bamboozling you with unexpected twists and turns. Many moments in Wild Hunt burrow into your psyche by making you engaged and submerged by the world you explore and keeps you there throughout.

    One hurdle where most RPGs fall and where Wild Hunt unquestionably succeeds, is it capably offers players nuanced mission variety, by constantly providing diversity so you aren’t performing laborious collect-a-thons, rudimentary tasks or otherwise engaging in a sloth-like manner akin to a lobotomized gorilla. In Wild Hunt, things are constantly changed up. At one instance, you will be following blood trails to something ghastly and hideous, the next you could be contending with a gelatinous grotty troll abomination, pelting punches at a gaggle of drunkards and witnessing the buffoonish behaviours of your quest-givers.
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    Whereas many open-world games depart from their stories to give you fetch quests and tasks that detach you from the world constructed around them, everything in The Witcher 3 feels purposeful, meaningful and absolutely stuffed with stories, all of them worthwhile and dripping in a bespoke atmosphere. There is care and attention paid from top-to-bottom and the results are unbelievable and spectacular.

    Showing off an unprecedented dedication to imbuing its world with tall tales, revelations and discoveries, Wild Hunt’s enormity and intricate details are staggering to behold. You will find yourself filled with wonder and amazement as you explore by taking in sweeping scenic vistas on horseback, entrenching yourself in pivotal and puny quests such as slaying carnivorous beasts or attempting to find an old lady’s frying pan, acclimating to the wholly unique game of Gwent, accepting contracts to slay the game’s most dangerous and ruthless monsters, and marvelling all the while, at how such a masterpiece can be forged out of it all.

    Fashioning the new and the unexpected is what makes Wild Hunt work so gloriously. At every turn, this gargantuan RPG surprises with its versatility, alluring you with its utterly enchanting worldbuilding, tantalizing titillation and its thick Arthurian and Shakespearian inspirations. It’s overwhelming just how Wild Hunt with its many fecund qualities, manages to stay together so uniformly and intact without breaking under the weight of its ambitions.

    The sheer artistry and verdant beauty on display in Wild Hunt is beyond reproach too. The fantastical majesty of every location oozes with a painterly lusciousness befitting the medieval and renaissance presentation. Drinking in the breath-taking mountainous wilderness of Skellige, the homely rural communal pastures of White Orchard, and the stately grounds of Kaer Mohn, among a plethora of other well-realized locations within the game’s wondrous map, provide a concise picture of the painstaking effort that has been wrought here to submerge you into its brand of escapism.

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    One area that receives some heavy criticism is the combat system. Geralt’s blade-wielding prowess can’t be understated, yet complaints about repetition, and lack of feedback has been a source of contention. I rebuke this stance, because the combat is vastly improved over its predecessor, with a sharper and more well-rounded focus, tinged with a strategic bent as you need to be mindful of the types of enemies you face. Sure, seeing Geralt dance and twirl around looks ballerina like, but when he’s lopping off heads and gruesomely cleaving the scourge in half, Geralt’s dancing combat grace is wholly unique to Wild Hunt’s blood-soaked identity.

    The use of magic only bolsters the combat even further. The pyrokinetic bursts of flame from an Igni attack erupts its victims with volcanic levels of searing torture, inflicting nasty scorched burns, the appearance of which makes these mangled creatures look like they were skewered over a bonfire thanks to the embers that spray off them. Combining Igni with sword strikes, and then proceeding to enhance yourself with other magical abilities such as Aard for forceful staggering attacks, turns Geralt into a super Saiyan who can eviscerate his prey with unexpected ferocity and precision.

    There is so much in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to experience and it’s uniformly excellent in its execution. I’d like to think I’ve given the panel a true glimpse at how stonkingly ginormous Wild Hunt is, and why it deserves to be entered into the Hall of Greats. Make no mistake, Wild Hunt will go down as one of the finest RPGs ever made, and I hope my presentation has served it enough justice for your individual considerations. Thanks for reading, love and respect.
    Youtube Video



  • Hello Allies, I unfortunately have been far too busy as of late to be able to make the video I had originally wanted to, however I would still like to participate this time so instead I will offer a written submission. I don’t have time to make a rough draft or anything like that, so pardon if this presentation is all over the place, I’m essentially vomiting my words onto the page and hoping they land in the right place. Anyway, on to the presentation.

    2009 was an excellent year for video games. Uncharted 2, Modern Warfare 2, Mario Kart, Assassin’s Creed 2, the list goes on. And yet, all of those were kind of a given, weren’t they? They are sequels to massively successful games, we all knew they would be good. However there was another game that came out that year that was far more surprising. It’s a game that carried far more name-value than any of the other titles mentioned, and yet came with far less expectations. It was a comic book game, a genre that had struggled in the past, so people were rightfully worried that it would be yet another iteration of the genre that falls flat.

    Until it came out, and changed the industry forever.

    The game I am of course referring to is Batman: Arkham Asylum, the greatest comic book game ever made. It’s a game that created shockwaves that reverberated around the gaming industry, causing nearly every third-person action/adventure game of the next five years to try and capture just a pinch of its lightning. Its combat is a revelation, its tone masterful, its level design superb.

    It is perfection.

    Youtube Video

    There are numerous reasons that Batman: Arkham Asylum stands tall above its peers, so let’s go over them.

    For one, the gameplay is masterful. There is a reason that its combat became so sought after in the industry. It is fluid and fast, surprisingly technical and yet deliciously brutal. There is endless joy to be had in beating up the goons in this game, and the game does such a great job of switching things up as it goes along, going from basic enemies, to knife-wielding enemies, to those with guns, to these massive Titan goons and the Arkham lunatics, only to name a few. The enemies all require different things, and the way in which they often attack you at once means you are constantly adapting on the fly to try and get the upper hand.

    The stealth is also a blast. Picking enemies off one-by-one is a remarkable feeling, and the way in which the game portrays their fear makes it all the more satisfying. If all of a sudden I heard screaming and found my buddy hanging from a gargoyle by his feet, I would be pissing myself too. It is that realism that makes it work so well, and makes them feel like active participants in this game of cat and mouse.

    The level design is brilliant as well. I can say with certainty that it is the best 3D metroidvania ever made, and traversing Arkham Island is a dream. The environments are all so rich and full of texture, and though the game often makes you go back to locations you have already visited it never feels arduous, as there is always something new to see. The world really feels lived in, and the metroidvania-style level design is so curated that I always get excited to revisit environments because I know something will have changed.

    Every single frame of the game is filled with so much detail. The game is renowned for its easter eggs, and that’s because literally every environment is so full of detail that finding references to the greater DC world is an inevitability. Look around and oh, there’s a jar full of body parts belonging to some dude named Great White Shark. Look over here and oh, here is an audio tape of The Riddler having a psych evaluation, because the game is also full of collectibles that enrich the world as well. It’s a game that you want to scour every nook and cranny for no other reason than sheer wonder.

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    Arkham Asylum also tells one of the best Batman stories ever told, heightened by its interactive nature. Mark Hamill’s Joker is at his best here, relishing in his own psychotic brutality. His assault on Arkham is something to behold, and the way in which the game integrates the other Batman villains who were on the island is wonderful as well. Bane is terrific, jacked out of his mind on a new wonder drug dubbed Titan. Killer Croc is truly menacing, stalking you from the depths of his sewers, waiting for the right moment to pounce. I have to give a special mention to Scarecrow, who easily has the best sections of the game, so delightfully trippy and horrifying that they even go so far as to make you think the game crashed. There is nothing else like it.

    Youtube Video

    Arkham Asylum is, in my humble opinion, a perfect game. I know the question is inevitable so I will finish my presentation with an answer. Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are both perfect 10s, equally on par with each other. However, Asylum has a tone that sets it apart from the rest of the competition. It’s a horror game. Danger lurks on every corner, the screams of the inmates carrying through the night. Arkham City is an excellent open world game, but Arkham Asylum is the pinnacle of the linear adventure game, and it’s a game that keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time. For that reason, I posit that Batman: Arkham Asylum should be considered one of the Greats.



  • And with that the Cross-Examination period has now begun. I encourage you to look at the rules once more, and as a reminder, anybody can cross-examine if they would like, even if they have not brought a game. With that said, ask away!



  • Question for @Oscillator about Halo (Combat Evolved).

    The phrase “copy-pasted level design” is used without good reason most of the time, but I do think it is very true in case of the first Halo. Time and time again you enter a room, go to another end, walk through some corridors only to enter the same room, only to go to another end again to walk through the same corridors that will lead you to the same room. As a result, when I’ve played this game, I regularly had a feeling that current level should have ended 20 minutes ago, and the game is just wasting my time.

    Do you agree that level design is a weak point of this game?



  • Question for @Brannox about Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

    Uncharted series is known for its set-pieces, but you’ve mentioned none of them. Is Uncharted 4 lacking in this department?



  • Questions for @Shoulderguy about Mass Effect Legendary Edition.

    The Legendary Edition of Mass Effect trilogy is a very weird spot. On one hand, improvements to visuals as well as Maco’s controls are undeniable and are strictly for the better. On another, a lot of content is missing: Pinnacle Station, original ending of Mass Effect 3, multiplayer. On top of that, the way your progress is carried is not the best: codex entries you’ve read in Mass Effect 1 are marked as unread in Mass Effect 2, Genesis and Genesis 2 DLCs are missing if you import your save. In other words, for every “yes” there is a “but”, and as a result, I find it very hard to both dismiss this edition and recommend it full heartedly.

    You’ve said that this is a version that everyone should be playing. Do all those caveats not bother you at all?

    You said that 3 games of Mass Effect Legendary Edition are so connected that we can consider this package as a singular experience. I agree that from story perspective those 3 games are tightly connected, but I think that they are significantly different in terms of gameplay. Mass Effect is an RPG with big open levels, while Mass Effect 2 is a corridor-based shooter. Guns have no ammo in Mass Effect, but they do in Mass Effect 2 & 3. Companions talk to you during missions in Mass Effect 3, but they are silent in Mass Effect 1 & 2.

    Do you agree that if we play Mass Effect Legendary Edition as a one giant game, we will have a very disjointed gameplay experience?



  • Question for @bruno_saurus about Madden 07.

    As a sports-game outsider I have an impression that each new installment replaces previous one. Can you explain what is missing in modern Madden games compared to Madden 07 and why features that present only in latest games aren’t that significant?



  • Question for @JDINCINERATOR about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

    In first act of this game, you explore two giant maps and meet numerous factions. In the second act you go to a brand-new place and participate in an epic battle. But in the third act you spend a lot of time running around the same places to talk to people you’ve met already. Also, even though you spend a lot of quality time with Ciri, her fate is decided by 5 seemingly random choices that have no reason to affect her any more than anything else she’s experienced.

    Do you agree that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt drops the ball in its final act?



  • Question for @Capnbobamous about Batman: Arkham Asylum.

    I admit I hardly remember this game as I’ve played it long ago, but I think that enemies keep spawning in the rooms you’ve visited. As a result, it doesn’t feel like you slowly conquering the Asylum – you simply go through a set of levels until the game ends. I know that this is how metroidvania games work, but this doesn't fit Batman, a character who is fully capable of securing a location.

    Do you agree that this game would benefit from more noticeable progression?



  • Hello again all! Like past ceremonies, I wanted to drop all questions in one post for all so I don’t clog up the feed. Since I’m limited to two questions per person, let’s get started:

    To @Oscillator regarding Halo: Combat Evolved:

    I would describe myself as a casual Halo fan in that I’ve played all the mainline games (so everything that’s in the Master Chief Collection plus 5 and Infinite), but when I first played the first Halo, I bounced off the series for two main reasons until some friends convinced me to jump back in with Reach. These two reasons are the source of my questions:

    1.) The level design in the back half of this game is infuriating. I understand how Bungie was crunching to get the game out and needed to reuse geometry so they could wrap up the game and get it out. But starting with the Library, the game gets confusing where to go. Sure, there are arrows on the floor in a couple levels, but the game never outwardly explains that. Even with Anniversary Edition (which, please correct me if I’m wrong, you’re nominating the Original version, correct?), while the graphics and textures were a major improvement, it doesn’t help with informing players where to go. In addition, I watched a full playthrough from a major content creator a while back and they HATED the game with this being the primary reason and as someone who has played this a few times, it cast it in a new light with that person’s perspective. SO! How do you feel this game can be (if at all) approachable to those who haven’t gotten into Halo before because of the level design? Do you think a solo player can find their way in massive levels like Halo and The Silent Cartographer or the lengthy and twisty corridors of 343 Guilty Spark, the Library, Assault on the Control Room (and Two Betryals), and the Maw without frustration?

    2.) Personally, I despise the Flood. When I heard about Halo, I only heard about the Covenant (and as someone who first played Halo during the 360 generation, the fact I didn’t know about them is a monumental feat I STILL don’t know how I wasn’t spoiled). I did NOT have fun to the point that, while I pushed myself to finish the game, I dropped Halo for YEARS. The Flood do nothing more than constantly charge you, and while there are different forms (Form bi-pedal weapon carriers to small mobs of infection forms, and the slow bulbous carriers), they don’t do anything special beyond their zombie-esque quality of getting up after shooting them down. In your opinion, how well do you feel the Flood change up the combat when contrasted with the Covenant’s different types as you describe in your presentation?

    For @ffff0 f0 regarding Dragon Age: Inquisition

    1.) As someone who has never felt the pull for Dragon Age as a franchise, but have enjoyed BioWare’s previous work in KOTOR and the Mass Effect Trilogy, how does Inquisition differentiate itself in terms of gameplay from these games from exploration, quests, combat, etc.?

    2.) How is the balance between Inquisition’s main quest and side missions? Are many side missions engaging/worth doing with just as engaging writing, or are there many the game could do without like fetch quests for example?

    For @Shoulderguy regarding Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

    How prescient was ffff0 when bringing this up as the example of our discussion earlier huh?

    Anyway, I’m fundamentally split about this. On one hand, I’m a major fan of the franchise, and for full disclosure to both yourself and all who read: In the event this does NOT get enough votes, I’m still planning on bringing one of these three (not saying which one) several ceremonies from now (But I’ve got other games I want to nominate first). So to say I’ve got lots of positive feelings and some critiques about each game is an understatement. But because of that, on the other hand, the concept of this being the ONLY collection to be enshrined if it reaches the votes count feels bizarre when we’re many iterations down the road. Because of my criticisms of each game, it actually makes it more difficult for me to cross-examine, but I do have two things that are, not necessarily uniform, but a noticeable pattern throughout the trilogy.

    1.) Combat. Personally, I prefer the first’s combat more than the other games (I know, I’m weird), and I dislike how Mass Effect morphed from an RPG with cover-based shooting to a Third-Person Shooter with RPG elements. Do you believe this evolution was for the better? Does the sacrifice of fusing powers/weapon proficiency to a class with a lot of abilities found in the first to becoming an average ammo-focused system with no real incentive to mix up MUCH fewer abilities or weapons later on serve the series better? I ask because there’s a laser beam focused weapon in both 2 and 3 that, once you obtain it, it constantly recharges ammo, so it makes Insanity difficulty a breeze, thus defanging the challenge and undoes all the different abilities/weapons the games have.

    2.) Choices. I love the Paragon/Renegade system that’s not just in Mass Effect, but in other BioWare games. However, it’s super obvious which option is which in the binary system of the conversations. Off the top of my head, there’s very, VERY few real tough choices where both options have both pros and cons. However, for the vast majority of the trilogy, if you want be a roguish Renegade or a pure Paragon, you don’t have to really think about it: Highlight the top option to be a good person, bottom to be bad. Sure, there’s the middle option, but instead of really being a non-committal choice, many are worded to skew more positive or negative, meaning in quite a few instances, a situation will fill like it’s wanting you to pick one of the two sides by presenting two of three options as good or bad. In your opinion, is the conversation system engaging enough to give players the ability to have dynamic outcomes, or because most situations have obvious outcomes in the wording of the dialogue options, is this actually a detriment in challenging/deterring players to try choices that run counter to their playthroughs/styles?

    For @bruno_saurus regarding Madden 07

    1.) For a while, I was on the yearly installment of NCAA/Madden for about 4 or so years, particularly during middle school. As such, I got tired of the minimal improvements plus my tastes being developed elsewhere. Because of this, I NEVER played a previous entry when the new one came. Leading me to ask: How does Madden 07 hold up today when compared to the many, MANY years of Maddens since? How does it really differentiate itself?

    2.) Speaking as someone who prefers the College level exponentially more than the Pros, I don’t have any inclination to play any Madden. So, I know this is an incredibly difficult question and you state in your presentation several different features that makes Madden 07 stand out, but I ask: How (or in what ways) is Madden 07, fun?

    For @JDINCINERATOR regarding The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

    There are several reasons why I’ve held off from playing the Witcher III, and two of the biggest are the source of my questions. So:

    1.) I’ve heard tell the opening area/region of The Witcher III is so massive, you can spend dozens and dozens of hours doing sidequests/activities/etc. without even having to progress the main narrative. This isn’t a selling point to me, despite finding myself playing games more and more that are taking after this format (Horizon: Forbidden West from this year and now that it’s been “fixed” as much as it can, I’m currently playing CD Projekt Red’s infamous other game: Cyberpunk 2077 to name two examples). In several aspects of your presentation, you use terms such as “staggering,” “overwhelming,” “massive,” among others. Do you think this game suffers from having too much to do/choose from where it can be too intimidating to try?

    2.) Speaking of main narrative and intimidating, this IS the third game of the series. I’m the type of person where, if I’m interested in a game/series, I go ALL in. Meaning with this self-imposed criteria, I would want to play the first Witcher before going to Witcher II, and all of that before even trying Wild Hunt. The question: Is Wild Hunt strong enough to enjoy for someone who has no affiliation of the franchise, or will new players have to play the previous games or watch YouTube videos to be caught up on the world, characters, plot points, etc.?

    For @Capnbobamous regarding Batman: Arkham Asylum

    1.) While I concur in your presentation the stealth is fantastic, the biggest reason why (for me) is something you don’t touch on at all: The Detective Vision. Personally speaking, I play the vast majority of the game with it on because the ability to always see the skeletons of enemies, interactable grates, collectibles, etc. is too good to turn off. In your opinion, do you believe this is actually a detriment being an incredibly OP tool? Do you think it takes away from appreciating the art design of the entire island when there’s no drawbacks to keeping it on?

    2.) I also agree the combat system is both simple to pick up, difficult to master with the incorporation of gadgets. In addition, I appreciate the changing up of enemy types to change up the different combat scenarios. However, once in open combat, you can easily get through most of it by punching with the occasional block/parry when the icons appear over enemies. Even though the Titan enemies require a bit more dodging and use the batterang, HALF of the bosses are just these copy and pasted fights: Bane, the Two Titans, and Joker. What is your response to the combat scenarios not being varied enough to provide a more thoughtful approach to tackling them?