The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022)



  • Hello fellow forum members. Once again, I would like to present a game from a genre that is usually ignored when it comes to accolades. I think, such neglection is undeserved, so let me make a case for one of the best racing games ever made – Forza Horizon 5.

    Let’s start with defining aspect of Forza Horizon series – open world. While many racing games allow players to drive around the map between events, most of the time they are set in big cities, where buildings, fences and other barriers greatly limit your freedom to trace your own path from point A to point B. Map layout forces you to use the same main roads over and over, and after a while you stop paying attention to your surroundings because you’ve seen them dozens of times already. Forza Horizon 5 sets its stage in Mexican’s countryside and gives players the freedom to explore every inch of its giant map. Forests can be driven through, swamps can be splashed across, and mountains can be ridden to the very top. The map is huge and features such different biomes as desert, volcano, tropical jungle, farming fields and many others, but since you can blast through these environments at 400 km/h, the size of the world never feels like an obstacle.

    Of course, going offroad just to use the shortest path isn’t very exciting, and Forza Horizon 5 gives you many other reasons to ignore car’s navigator and venture into the wild. You may stumble on a barn with a rare vehicle, discover a collectable (some of which may be very hard to reach), or simply locate a picturesque spot begging you to turn off the engine and absorb the scenery. Or you may seek nothing of those and just enjoy jumping over hills, splashing water, breaking twigs, and flattening crops. The game is designed to make your movement through the worlds as fun as possible without sacrificing its integrity. Urban beaches have chairs, grills and other objects to smash, deep river has many bridges across it, and forest areas have perfect balance of destructible (smaller) and indestructible (bigger) trees, making them believably dense, yet still drivable.

    But what if unguided exploration isn’t your thing and you prefer more structured experience? Fear not, as there are almost a hundred of various races, ranging from doing laps on asphalt to going offroad from point A to point B. Or you can try to set records on numerous speed traps, drift zones and jump pads. Or you can do a chain of themed missions coupled with unobtrusive yet informative narrative about car history and Mexican culture. Or you can jump online to partake in Forza’s version of battle-royale, test your racing skills against real players, or team up with them to smash piñatas. Or you can go through user-created levels and be amazed by bizarre creativity of Horizon’s community. With so many of so varied options to choose from some activity will surely grab your attention.

    Obviously, variety hardly matters if the act of driving isn’t fun, and thankfully, Forza Horizon 5 is an excellent racing sim with great attention to details such as grip, downforce, vehicle mass, etc. You immediately feel the difference when you switch from one automobile to another, even if you’ve enabled multiple driving assists. The feedback is great allowing you push your car to the limit without ever losing control. If you are an enthusiast of tuning, there’s an astonishing number of settings to tweak and parts to replace, coupled with stats and performance graphs to help you make an informed decision. And if you don’t want to dive under the hood, you can use auto-upgrade option, download community’s settings, or simply ignore this aspect of the game as default settings already feel good and competitive. The choice is yours.

    Similarly, Forza Horizon 5’s progression is designed around player’s freedom. Map isn’t polluted with markers when you start the game – each discipline unlocks only when you decide to do associated story event, and new events are added when you chose to go on that region’s expedition. While cross-country tracks are meant for offroad vehicles, nothing stops you from picking a sportscar and watch yourself and your AI opponents struggling to find any grip. Numerous driving and gameplay assists can be turned on and off and AI’s difficulty has 9 options to choose from. There are more than 500 cars, and you get new ones at a steady pace. Yet despite all that freedom there’s still a direction and a path to grow. If you are winning every race, the game will suggest bumping up the difficulty to get more rewards. If you are enjoying some activity, there’s an incentive to keep doing it as there’s a prize for completing the track. And this applies not just to races and stunts – you are rewarded for things like visiting places and photographing cars. Everything you do matters and playing Forza Horizon 5 never feels like a chore.

    The icing on this wonderful cake is absolutely incredible graphic. Despite being an open world game and despite enabling players to blast though these environments at 400 km/h, Forza Horizon 5 delivers better visuals than most other console titles, and it does that without compromising its performance. This is an Xbox showpiece, a game that pulls you in even if you are not the one who holds the controller.

    Forza Horizon 5 doesn’t feature unforgettable story, like The Last of Us, nor did it revolutionize gaming industry like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. But this doesn’t make it any lesser as it delivers something else – an experience that anyone, not just racing fans, even not just gamers, can hop in and have a good time with. It’s a game that welcomes everyone, a game that may very well be an entrance to the gaming itself. There aren’t many titles the same can be said about, which is why Forza Horizon 5 deserves to enter this forum’s Hall of Greats.

    Youtube Video



  • As the great Michael Huber stated during the reveal, “Kratos with an axe!”

    God of War (2018) was the beginning of a new era with the series, Kratos is a father again sure, but all in a new world that the player is unfamiliar with. The game takes place in Norse mythology, compared to the series being in Greek mythology for the majority of the series. This change gives some needed change of scenery within the series. You have forest-like areas to visit compared to town based areas in the series’ past. And many other areas I’ll get into!

    However, to complement this change is not just the camera view, you now have one of the best implemented weapons in games, The Leviathan Axe. You feel the heaviness of the axe each time you throw it at an enemy and smash through them. As you progress, you have access to various handles for the axe to upgrade different areas of its' stats, or you may attach a handle that will imbue your axe with electricity or extra frost damage.

    Another great way to use the Leviathan Axe is using it through range against your enemies, not only as a wrecking ball. You are able to stun enemies by throwing your axe at them and giving a bit of damage in that regard. You have Runic attacks that may help in this ranged regard as well. The Runic attacks are either Light or Heavy attacks that you use to get out of sticky situations, or increase your chances of winning. These can hit your enemies with crushing blows, or one that gives enemies extra frost damage within a certain area.

    Another way to fight is Spartan Rage, activated by pressing L3 and R3. An unbreakable fist of fury of attacks that Kratos gives to enemies. If you’re in a bad situation with your health, this is a great way to regain health or give you a better chance at defeating enemies for that limited time.

    The base enemies aren’t too varied. You fight draugrs, trolls, rock monsters, and other various enemies. However, the elemental types do help in this regard, as you’ll need to find new ways to fight some of them.

    A big part of enemies in the God of War series is the boss fights! Early on, the game tasks you with fighting a Stranger, who eventually reveals himself as Baldur, Thor’s brother, who doesn’t feel anything. A very formidable challenge for Kratos. A great opening boss fight!

    Other great boss fights are the Valkyries! Each of them keeps you on your toes and makes sure you’ve learned the games’ combat systems. Once you defeat eight Valkyries, you are tasked by beating the Valkyrie Queen, Sigrun. One of the most legendary boss fights in the entire series, because of how hellish this fight can be for people. Before I mention a way to help in these fights, I should mention the story!

    The game opens up by cutting down a tree with Kratos’s dead wife’s hand print so that he has wood to burn her ashes. The prior games would let you know how significant this is, but not in this game! The protection hiding the house is gone! Forcing Kratos’ hands of Faye’s wish, to go on this journey of taking her ashes to the highest peak in all the realms. Even if he feels that he, nor their son, Atreus, is ready for that journey.

    Kratos was a father at one point, sure, but Kratos is a changed man. He’s more restrained in his words and actions. Most notably when you are chasing a deer with Atreus. When Atreus is happy for getting the deer with an arrow the first time, Kratos encourages him, but does say to keep after the deer, so Atreus doesn’t lose it. After catching up, Atreus is tasked with killing the deer, but Atreus can’t do it. Kratos helps, but still does have Atreus kill the deer with his own hands. Overlooking the mountains, Kratos reaches to put his hand on Atreus’s back, but hesitates and puts it back against himself. Character storytelling at its finest!

    Speaking of Atreus, back to combat! Atreus gets skills just like Kratos that you get to upgrade. All to power up the bow and the arrow amount. The implementation with Atreus in combat is well done as it can be, as it’s just linked to one button, so it’s easy to integrate that into the combat. Atreus does not have a health bar that you need to worry about, but some enemies grab onto him during combat that you must attack, giving the combat stakes in that regard.

    God of War’s world is varied and fantastic to look at. In the first portion of the game, you’re in a forest/old ruins-like area. You then meet a witch named Freya. Freya’s house and that subsequent area is filled with colorful plants and lush trees. Something you rarely saw in previous God of War games! A few hours later, you journey to find a chisel from a Giant. This area is a snowy winter area, which is completely different from Freya’s house. You travel to different realms too, like Helheim and Alfheim, adding to the variety of the sights.

    While this is a new chapter within the God of War series, the game doesn’t forget its past. Kratos has visions of Athena and Zeus. All after you acquire the Blades of Chaos to save Atreus from sickness, as your Leviathan Axe won’t work in Helheim. The moment is impactful and pure perfection of tension. It exemplifies how heavy this moment is for Kratos to try and push away his past, but always keeps coming back.

    God of War (2018) is one of my favorite games. The combat is impactful and adds a lot of layers. The story is amazing at saying things without overtly saying it, and I love the areas of this game, so good to look at! Before I end, the music, Brok, Sindri, and Mimir are awesome.

    And let us not forget how great the reveal was at E3 2016 just by showing music. E3 2016 God of War Orchestra Reveal

    Love & Respect!



  • For this round of our Hall of Greats, I nominate a game I believe is excellence in gameplay and visceral satisfaction. In gory gratification and devilish delight. I’m bringing my sixth favorite game of all time in DOOM II as it’s, in my view, one of the best examples of the phrase “Holds up,” even nearly three decades since its first release.

    When it comes to classic DOOM, there isn’t really any story or characters, but DOOM II’s simple yet un-endingly exquisite gameplay, coupled with inventive level/map design and an excellent soundtrack bring forth constant joy in blasting demons and monsters into bloody pixelated bits. DOOM II refines the original’s gameplay in an expanded roster of the denizens of Hell. Of course, the classics carry over like the Baron of Hell, the CyberDemon and the Spider-Mastermind, but DOOM II introduced iconic creatures in the Revenant, Pain Elemental, and Mancubus among others. In all, there are double the number of enemies you fight from the first DOOM, and every enemy in the game has its own unique strategies to take them down.

    Your weapons are almost the same as the original DOOM, but of course, the one new addition is perhaps the 2nd most iconic weapon of the entire franchise: The Super Shotgun. Taking twice as many rounds, but double the power, there are very few weapons in games, even to this day, that have it all: Excellent look, powerful feel, engaging sound, and entertaining reload animation. It’s those latter two things, for me, that make me burn through the Super Shotgun first before any other of my arsenal. The ‘ker-chunk’ of reloading as I look upon the obliterated corpse of whatever foolishly tried to charge me fires the endorphins every. Single. Time. It should also be stressed DOOM II does a much better/easier job of getting you the BFG than the first DOOM, as about a third of the way through in the first of the three “Boss” levels, it’s pretty easy to figure how to reach it behind some secrets and switches. You have it for a much longer time in DOOM II, therefore I attribute the BFG to the sequel as opposed to the original.

    Another thing I want to gush about is the level design, as every level of the game has what I call the “surface design” and the “secret design.” To better explain, I’ll use the very first map as an example: When you begin, you’re on a ledge looking at the backs of two grunts with your pistol. You jump down, open fire, take them out. After collecting a couple of armor/health items, you go down the hallway and see both a left and right path before a dead end. The left is a room with a couple of grunts atop ledges with a couple switches. Kill them both, flip the switch to lower the platform, move on. The right-side leads to a larger room and more enemies, a couple high up from where you enter and a couple others behind a grate. Kill them all, open the exit, kill the last demon, leave. Surface level; pretty simple right? But it holds so much more: Did you know, before even moving at the start, if you look left, you’ll see an outside ledge with a secret chainsaw to start with? The other switch in the left room? If you interact with that first, it’ll net you a major armor boost inside a nearby wall. The enemies high up in the last room? Well, that’s where it gets most exciting: Interact with the wall -WAIT!- It’s an elevator! And atop it is a switch, unlocking another secret. Don’t jump back down! Interact with the back wall; Another switch! This one opens a secret door next to the big window, allowing you to go outside and splash in the water if you want, but more importantly, there sits a regular Shotgun against the wall of the building for your enjoyment. Think you’re done? Nope. If you go back atop the elevator and get enough speed to land on the closest light in front of you, it’s actually a pressure pad. Remember the dead end of the hallway? There’s another secret door. The prize? A Rocket Launcher. So instead of just a pistol after playing the first level, you have that and three other weapons as you head to level 2. This is what I refer to as the “Secret Design” all levels have: Enough exploration and experimentation will reward you with weapons, health, armor, powerups, and more. And this can be attributed to EVERY level in the game, including the two secret levels designed in the vain of Wolfenstein 3D (There’s only one way to get to them and is the most fun part of the whole game, at least to me). And the beautiful thing about this kind of design is it’s never mandatory, but always rewarding to you for making as much effort you put in. So whether balancing yourself on super-thin walls in massive caverns, exploring an ever-opening inter-connected massive apartment, going through the streets of Earth or the blood covered caves and palaces of Hell, every level is engaging and fun to play.

    Something I prefer in DOOM II is how it is a single run through of 25-30 levels instead of the four campaigns of 10 levels the first game has. While I understand for the sake of brevity others may think the latter is a better structure, I feel like DOOM II does a better job of having a variety to its offerings than the drop-in, play a campaign for about 45 minutes to an hour of similar looking/feeling levels and be done with it.

    To close, DOOM II does the one thing right many modern games fail to (or even attempt at all): Simplicity. You load in with a pistol and you’re instantly off to slaughter your foes from Hell and get more armed and badass along the way.



  • Hello all and happy one-year anniversary of the Hall of Greats! On this occasion, the game I have chosen to bring to the panel is a little 2017 indie game, one that made a tremendous impact on me after I played it, and it is a truly special experience. This game touches on sobering themes, allows you to play the moments before tragedy, and presents us with a truly remarkable and expressionistic participatory tale. The game I choose for consideration into the Hall of Greats is What Remains of Edith Finch.

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    Playing as the only surviving member of the Finch family, Edith Finch is a seventeen-year-old, as well as the narrator who guides you through her personal anecdotes you’ll hear often throughout this short adventure, the subtitles of which are often scrawled onto the screen in front of you. Edith has embarked on a voyage to a remote island, where a rickety weed-strewn abandoned house towers ominously in front of you as you approach-the Finch household.

    Before you even tread a dirt-slicked shoe onto the premises, you discover a postbox and upon opening it, you witness a slew of unopened letters seven-years out of date, are freshly slotted inside, giving you a clear snapshot of this time-weathered household you’re about to step foot inside of.

    Once you make your way to the house after a trek through or around the woods, you find there’s no immediate entry point and will have to crawl through a doggy door to enter. Inside, you will uncover well-furnished if dilapidated interiors, doors with peepholes, a shabby basement, a clean but cluttered kitchen containing stacks of plates, books and wine bottles, bedrooms decorated with insights into the lives of the fallen, epistolaries detailing the final moments of the individual family members, and playable memories that’ll swallow you into the game’s lucid and whimsical imagination.
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    And what a spellbinding imagination What Remains of Edith Finch has. Each story feels special and personal to each member of the Finch family, where you will be dabbling inside of the wild flights of fancy and final moments of the younger members of the Finch flock, experiencing harmonious gameplay segments within a comic book or a sequence where fatigue-inducing physical labor runs in tandem with a raucous kingly fantasy, and revealing pictorial segments emphasizing the preciousness of memory and the sacredness of photographs. Edith Finch is chock full of ideas, so much so that it makes its contemporaries one-dimensional by comparison. Perhaps more profoundly though, Edith Finch is able to, make you feel fleeting moments of autonomy and joy despite the dismal eventualities pertaining to the death of the family members, particularly the children.

    Some will argue that What Remains of Edith Finch belongs in the much derided “walking simulator” genre, a stance I totally refute. No offense to these games, but unlike your Dear Esthers and you Everybody’s Gone To The Raptures, What Remains of Edith Finch has not only a videogame inside of it, but a completely riveting videogame inside of it at that. Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture are scenic and they’re pleasant to look at and listen to, but they don’t keep you engaged with their gameplay-where Edith Finch completely and effortlessly does so on top of pampering us with a splendid audio/visual presentation.

    Walking isn’t what you do so much as discovering in Edith Finch. You are finding keys to unlock doors to secret areas, opening up hatches and descending into closed confines. You unearth the rooms, you explore the details, you ogle at the histories and backstories-but most importantly you get to take control in these stories. By comparison, in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, we don’t know what this rapture is, this mystery cannot be played, it’s a mystery we cannot be a part of, so in turn we are detached from it-and there’s entirely too much walking that it is evident that it suits the derision of being part of the “Walking Simulator” genre-by those who choose to deride.

    Edith Finch is masterful at visual storytelling too. Not only are the rooms you observe and potter around in artfully preserved to resemble the sadly deceased former residents, but objects and rooms expose more meaning, once you have listened to Edith’s commentary and perused letters, notes and jumped into the tragic tales yourself.
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    What Remains of Edith Finch belongs in the Hall of Greats because it’s an immeasurably powerful videogame. Not only is it a very capable, whimsical and touching game where storytelling is the crux, but when Edith Finch gets you interacting with its stories, it’s mind-blowing how excellently its ideas cohesively coalesce and come together into a game that you play and be awestruck by. Every memory you dive into is special and distinct from the others-that’s not hyperbole or exaggeration, that is the wholehearted truth.

    Many videogames get you to follow similar footsteps in 60+ hours, Edith Finch meanwhile, gives you complete diversity, whimsy, tragedy, shock, majesty, hope and inspiration, all in the modest length of an hour and a half. It’s honestly one of if not the most beautiful games I have played in my life and one everybody should experience.

    Five and a half years may have elapsed since What Remains of Edith Finch came out, and it certainly doesn’t feel that long ago at all. Games such as these are rare commodities, they come along, you saunter through them from beginning to end, then they leave an indelible impression on you. It’s long enough to leave a lasting impact and short enough not to be overbearing. Every inch of space from its curious beginning to its sombre ending, is stuffed with such meticulousness and care that it may bamboozle you. Afterall, you won’t have happened upon a game with such startling eloquence in how deftly it handles such morbid subject matter.

    For its richness in how it presents itself, the litany of ways it surprises through its gameplay sequences, and for being a heartfelt and utterly superb storyteller, What Remains of Edith Finch receives my thorough recommendation, and it is thoroughly deserving of your votes for acceptance into the Hall of Greats.

    Thank you. Love and Respect.

    Youtube Video



  • EZA Forums Hall of Greats — September 2022 Submission

    Youtube Video

    Not trying to get any yellow cards here so I'll keep it brief. Please watch this in full and enjoy the video.

    Good luck everyone!



  • Greetings Easy Allies Community!

    I wasn't able to put much work into this presentation but I'm delighted to nominate one of my all-time favorite strategy games for this Hall of Greats - XCOM: Enemy Unknown. This is an important game for myself and others who were new to the XCOM series when Enemy Unknown released in 2012. It's a perfect combination of strategy gameplay and presentation that surpassed all turn-based strategy games I had played before. It was a great game that also ignited a fire that I still have for XCOM style games such as Wasteland 3, Gears Tactics and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

    XCOM: Enemy Unknown puts you in control of XCOM, a secret organization tasked with defending the world from alien attacks. As the commander, you recruit soldiers, manage your base, research technologies, customize your soldiers and oversee combat on the ground. With the councils support and the support of your crew, the decisions you make could be the difference between winning and losing the war. There is always something to do between battles, with new research, launching satellites and monitoring monthly council reports. Going from combat to overseeing the base is a very satisfying gameplay loop, that keeps the game feeling fresh from start to finish.

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    The main bulk of XCOM: Enemy Unknown's gameplay is the turn-based battles, and these battles don't pull any punches. Every alien has unique strengths, weaknesses and abilities. New types of enemies are introduced regularly and they become a real menace by the end of the game. They have different abilities like mind control and poison attacks, to go along with groups of massive robot minions. It doesn't matter how your progressing with the different systems, they only get stronger as the game goes on.

    All that may sound scary, but this game gives you all the tools you need to overcome these challenges. Decisions such as squad movement and squad composition are at your discretion. Fill the squad with heavies, using their explosives to go in loud, or be more tactical with snipers, supports, and assaults. Your recruits don't start with much but they can be molded into alien killing machines. With a combination of perk upgrades through battle experience and advanced equipment through the results of your tech research. Soldiers are randomly generated when you recruit them, but you will get attached to them because of what their presence in battle means for your squad.

    For an added challenge, I like playing with the optional Ironman mode turned on. In XCOM: Enemy Unknown your troops can die in battle, losing all of their experience with them. Normally, you can reload a save but there's no second chances with Ironman enabled. This added tension helps make the tactical battles more engaging, knowing that one shot can make the difference when it comes to the outcome of a fight. Of course, this is just an optional mode and the game offers different difficulty options, including other advanced options that allow you to modify the difficulty to your skill level.

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    Strategy games are not always the most graphically impressive video games but XCOM does look great. The game features several different maps that have great detail and are interesting to explore. There's a good variety of locations including UFO's, city centers, military installations and rural locations. A cinematic action-cam is also used to show crucial moments, like when you kill an enemy with a critical hit. The user interface is key to any strategy game and the UI is presented well for playing with controller or mouse and keyboard.

    XCOM: Enemy Unknown was a huge shot in the arm for the genre when it released 10 years ago. And because of it's success, XCOM-like games are still incredibly popular with developers and players today. It took a genre which is often very dense and hard for non-strategy players, and made a super accessible, fun strategy game that many developers before that time were unable to accomplish. It did that, while still offering a challenging and immensely satisfying gameplay loop that only gets better as the game progresses. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is an all-time great strategy game, one of my personal favorite games and I would love to see it make the Hall of Greats.


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    Trailer:
    Youtube Video

    Main Theme:
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  • Here's my presentation. It's generally very spoiler-free, but some may consider the game's very conceit to be a spoiler. Idk, I kinda have to talk about it if I wish to make a case for it being a Great, but I figured I would make you aware. Would hate to ruin your ability to go in blind, so if that bothers you, don't watch it! I'd happily take the game not getting in if it meant you were able to experience the game as blind as you desire.

    My presentation:
    Youtube Video



  • Star Fox 64 is what turned me into a gamer. As of 1997, I'd never owned a gaming system. My only contacts with games were Sonic and Quake on my neighbor's Genesis and PC (though more watching than playing) and a few brief encounters with arcade games such as Lethal Enforcers and The Simpsons. I'd vaguely heard about "Nintendo", but both the name and what little I knew about them came across as 'kiddy' to me. I thought the games with 'attitude' I was familiar with were 'the place to be'. Though, I'd never felt a strong draw towards games; they were just something that existed to me, like any other fun thing to do.

    Then, around October, I happened to notice a demo kiosk running Star Fox 64. I wasn't familiar with any of it, I just knew it was a game because a controller was hooked up to a television. The moment I moved the stick around with my thumb and saw a beautifully lit, textured, and animated 3D ship INSTANTLY and PERFECTLY match my movements, I became awake. I'm not trying to sound fancy, it really felt like looking out the window in the morning and seeing the bright sun.

    Everything about the experience spoke to me. The easy to grip controller, the super tight controls, the strong colours, the clear sound effects and voices, the uplifting cutscene you get when you beat a level. It felt a thousand miles ahead of all other video games I knew. Since then, anything with lower production values has felt kind of ancient to me.

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    The feeling of flying the Arwing around holds up to this day, as does the game design. The core level design has you 'on rails' dodging around obstacles and laser blasts, with a few levels and boss battles in "all-range mode" that places you in an arena that lets you fly around in any direction. There's a large range of difficulty - if you kind of casually fly around and blast stuff, you can get through the first several levels quite easily. But, that just eases you in for the real stuff in the back half. Be prepared to get lots of game overs two-thirds of the way through a run.

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    Youtube Video

    Each run is 7 levels, but depending on how you play, the levels don't have to be the same ones each time through. Many levels have branching paths, with criteria ranging from finding a secret boss, to beating a boss quickly, to flipping switches, to finding a secret warp. Triggering alternate routes leads to higher difficulty levels. If you can find the route to go through all the very hardest levels in one run, you get a alternate final level with a radically different true ending.

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    A couple of levels have you traversing the ground in the Landmaster Tank, which is quite a different skill set, in movement speed and shooting dynamics, but nearly as fun as the Arwing. One level also takes place underwater in the Blue Marine submarine, but not only is it pretty much just a slower, chunkier Arwing, it's the darkest and hardest level in the game. That level is the game's one major annoyance, but thankfully, it's just one (and the level right after it is one of the coolest).

    There's also a basic training mode and a 4 player versus mode. The multiplayer is pretty basic, and you spend most of your time just trying to find your opponents, but it's a decently fun diversion.

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    Aside from the super smooth controls and the very cinematic cutscenes, my favorite aspects of Star Fox 64 are the weird boss designs, the wonderful soundtrack (the intro song to the first level was the first piece of video game music I ever took notice of, and I've hummed it almost every day since; it turned out to be one of the few tracks in the game done by Koji Kondo, who became my favorite video game composer via the N64 Zeldas), and the one of the game's (and the system's) biggest innovations, the Rumble Pak. When you got hit or hit a wall, the controller would jolt in your hands, and a REAL jolt, not the kinda buzz built-in rumble gives you. When you beat a boss and it self-destructed, it was like a full-on earthquake in your hands.



  • Looks like both @Oscillator and I got in right at the buzzer, which means that everybody has submitted their presentations and Cross Examination is now open! I encourage you to look at the rules one more time, but otherwise it's time to ask and answer questions. This period lasts until the end of next monday, the 26th. See you then!



  • Question for @bruno_saurus about God of War (2018).

    One feature that got a lot of attention pre-release and was hardly brought up after the launch is a “single-take camera”. I love camera work as a storytelling tool, and it’s one of the reasons why films like Gravity are among my favorites. In God of War (2018) this technique did nothing in terms of making me more immersed in the world or more attached to the characters. In fact, there were even a couple of moments when intense scene was losing its steam only because the dialog was halted while camera was changing perspective.

    Additionally, “single-take camera” increases loading times (the game has to load “transition” world first and then it spends computing resources on its rendering, physics, etc., leaving only part of PS4 CPUs for doing what you actually want – loading target location) and prevents the game from allowing players to fast-travel from anywhere to anywhere. As a result, if you want to explore or get some collectable, you have to essentially sit through multiple loading screens (traveling through “loading” corridors to fast-travel gates, fast-traveling, traveling through “loading” corridors to desired location), and I definitely felt that the game is wasting my time for no good reason.

    Do you agree that the developers prioritized the gimmick over what’s better for the game and its players?



  • Question for @Brannox about DOOM II.

    You’ve spoke a lot about excellent level design, but when I played this game back in 90s, I couldn’t pass level 24 because I had no idea where to go and was constantly falling off those tiny pathways. I wasn’t the only one with this problem – my cousin and my dad had exactly the same issue and level 24 was the end of the road for them as well. I think, when multiple people get permanently stuck on the same level, it’s a sign of poor level design. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that many secrets in Doom II have no visual, sound or any other cues, and the only way to discover them is to hit spacebar and move around the perimeter of every room. It was normal three decades ago, but by today’s standards this is a poor level design.

    Do you think someone who never played Doom II before will highlight level design if they play this game today?



  • Question for @JDINCINERATOR about What Remains of Edith Finch.

    When I’ve played this game back in 2017, I was impressed with its visuals, number of details and constant variations in gameplay. Such density was something I never seen before in videogames, and I was eagerly anticipating discovering the next thing. However, since my attention was grabbed by this fountain of ideas, the narrative went right over my head and the only thing I could tell after completing the game it that it was a family story.

    Do you think that the form overshadows the substance in this game?



  • Question for @DIPSET about The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay.

    You’ve highlighted the environment as a strong point of the game, but all locations in your footage look very similar and almost blend with each other. I understand that similarity of different prison’s corridors makes sense and that games of that era weren’t capable of filling places with lots of tiny details, but I’m still concerned that I’ll get tired of the sameness (and maybe even get lost) if I play this game today.

    Does the game do anything to keep its environments fresh for entire duration?



  • Question for @Shoulderguy about XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

    Strategy games have an aspect that some players, especially newcomers, find very difficult to deal with – you may suddenly realize that you’ve lost the game several hours ago and to fix that mistake you’ll have to replay a good chunk of the game (and you’re lucky if you’ve saved in separate slot close enough). You spoke about accessibility of XCOM: Enemy Unknown – how does it deal with that problem?



  • Question for @Capnbobamous about Outer Wilds.

    While time mechanic is crucial to this game’s narrative and design, it can also be frustrating in so many ways. You may run out of time while exploring some location or solving some puzzle, which means that you have to redo everything again. Sometimes this may mean repeating some challenging navigation or trying to remember how exactly you’ve got to where you were. This pushes you to do everything as fast as possible and if you rush at the wrong moment, you’ll miss some important clue. Additionally, there are several locations, including one vital, that can be get into only during extremely short timeframes, so if you weren’t in the right spot at the right time, you will be lost. I believe developers even admitted that clues for getting into that vital location are too faint and lots of players are struggling with it (including me – I’ve got there by lucky accident, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to finish this game without a guide).

    Do you agree that player’s enjoyment of this game is luck-based?



  • Question for @Oscillator about Star Fox 64.

    You’ve mentioned that first few levels are casual, and the back half will result in numerous game overs. How frustrating is it when the game forces you to constantly redo trivial tasks before letting you to attempt the thing you actually want to beat?



  • @ffff0 said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2022):

    Question for @Oscillator about Star Fox 64.

    You’ve mentioned that first few levels are casual, and the back half will result in numerous game overs. How frustrating is it when the game forces you to constantly redo trivial tasks before letting you to attempt the thing you actually want to beat?

    On the more casual levels (the first mission plus the next few on the easy/medium routes), the core gameplay is very fun. Dodging enemy fire, braking and taking u-turns to get behind them, dashing for powerups, it's just very consistently fun. The first level, Corneria, gets tiring faster than the rest because it's the one you play every run, but it's bright and colourful, and moves along quickly, so it's not a major annoyance. Some of the boss battles do feel like barriers because of the lack of mobility you typically have during them and their slow patterns, but they also often have the best dialogue.

    The music and crew chatter also livens the mood and helps distracts you from the repetition. It's when you're actually playing the far harder latter levels that frustration rears its head.



  • Question for @bruno_saurus about God of War (2018)

    There's an obvious narrative jump/hole with Atreus having a sudden personality shift that's very decisive for the story. That felt really weird when playing and kind of a big flaw in such a story heavy game, with developers later acknowledging it as cut content due to a somewhat troubled production. How do you feel about it?

    How do you feel about filler worlds like Muspelheim and Niflheim when you know meaningful content was cut out?

    Question for @Shoulderguy about XCOM: Enemy Unknown

    My main issue with this proposal is that it becomes difficult to justify its entry when you have the 1994's UFO: Enemy Unknown game and then XCOM 2 improving upon XCOM. I love LOVE XCOM but being a Hall of Greats why pick this title over the others. Or in other words, how will you sell it to me who played the original why this should be the one in. And why XCOM and not XCOM 2.

    Question for @Brannox about DOOM II

    This again is a question tied to the nature of the Hall of Greats and maybe being difficult to justify having both Doom and Doom II featuring in it. If we had an entry for the original Doom here today, considering the enormous relevance it has in gaming's history, do you think DOOM II is enough of an improvement to justify being in the HoG over DOOM?



  • @ffff0 I agree that the narrative of Edith Finch is under the surface while the gameplay segments take center stage, but I truly believe that Edith Finch wants the gameplay to be front and center, because games of its ilk are sneered at for being "walking simulators", containing mild interactions that can bore players. The Finch family curse elements may not be as fleshed out and evident as all of its other beautiful aspects, but I do think every element of Edith Finch is evident of a spectacularly cohesive vision.



  • I just want to say at this point that it might be impossible for me to choose a top 3 because you've all brought amazing games to this Hall of Greats.