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Article - 'The Influences of Games' by Xanqui

An item about Miscellanious posted on Jan 2, 2005

Blurb

Xanqui's most opinionated article ever. Don't say I didn't warn you. This is about the games that have sparked the biggest changes in video game history. And no, we aren't talking about Mario here.

Body

While many of us say that Mario was the game that changed video games forever, we don't see an influence in today's world of gaming. Side scrollers are becoming a thing of the past, but there are a few games that stick to these roots and incorporate this generation's standards of playability. Games like Viewtiful Joe combine the realism of 3D, the awesomeness of gun play, and the old-school roots of side scrolling.

But then there are the games that try to feel as much like real life as possible. The Sims focuses on house life, but manages to be fun by allowing complete control. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater forces players to eat and rest in order to survive in the jungle. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas also forces players to eat, but work out in order to survive in the jungle known as the city.

When you look back at how these games came to be, it's really quite fascinating. Here's a look at one of the original Grand Theft Auto games, which Rockstar might want to pretend never even existed. Or maybe they're proud of their roots, I don't know.



And here's an image of one of the Metal Gear games for the NES.



Unless you still own an NES or a Ps1 and don't have access to a newer generation console, you probably aren't playing those games. Sure, some people like to go back and play those games, but few will deny that the newer games are much better. But why would you prefer an old game over a new one? Perhaps there is a better story, or the new version just doesn't quite live up to the hype like the original. For example, the new version of Defender just doesn't quite satisfy my taste in games while the original seemed to be perfectly crafted. Too much was changed.

This article is about the more recent games that have changed the standards of gaming. Sure, Pong may have been one of the first games ever made, but it didn't really set any standards. Neither did Mario or Kuniyasha VII (AKA Random Japanese game that random people call the greatest game ever made.) (I made up that name, so don't tell me that you can't find it.)

Final Fantasy VII - Playstation
Like it or not, FF7 changed the RPG forever. Its influence has affected just about every game that has been made since. From its soundtrack to cutscenes, storyline to gameplay, FF7 changed the standards of nearly every aspect of gaming.

The soundtrack featured more than fifty original songs, each created to be pleasing to the ear, yet cinematic. At the time, it seemed like movie quality to gamers. While it wasn't orchestrated, it used a very powerful midi format that doesn't seem to be used anymore. But the cinematic part is what changed the soundtracks of today's games.

The cutscenes are also one of its innovations. While most of the game looked cheesy, there was the occasional fully-rendered CG movie, which looked beautiful. Though this seems to be a fading trend. It seems that these are left to RPGs while other games prefer to have even their most cinematic movies rendered with in-game graphics.

Final Fantasy VII made graphics an integral part of gaming. No one had ever seen a game quite like it before, and many claim that we still haven't seen anything that even compares with it.

Games it has Influenced: Pretty Much Every Decent Game since 1997.



Tony Hawk's Pro Skater - Playstation
While it sucks by today's standards, and looks like crap, THPS changed the sound and appearance of skateboarding and BMX games alike.

The soundtrack was one of the best soundtracks ever used. Instead of making their own music, the makers of THPS paid unknown bands to do their music. Some formerly unpopular bands became famous because of them, such as Goldfinger and The Vandals (I know, you probably still don't know who these guys are, but trust me, they were better off after THPS came out.) The game actually sounded very good, too. It made many gamers actually tolerate awful bands, since they were more focused on playing the game than listening to the music.

The graphics of THPS were also very good, and set many standards for the stunt games of today. Even the newest Tony Hawk Underground game still looks a bit like it, but there has been much more fine-tuning and it looks much better. But at its release, THPS was the best looking skateboarding game ever made.

Games it has Influenced: Tony Hawk's Underground 2, BMXXXX.



Metal Gear Solid - Playstation
While it may have been the original Metal Gear that introduced stealth, MGS forced players to think even harder before they blasted their way through each area. Today, most games that require you to just shoot everything without thinking first are usually regarded as crap. Of course, some people still love platformers like Ratchet and Clank, which let you just shoot everything without much thought.

What also made MGS a game that changed games forever was its cinematic feel. It felt as much like a movie as it did a video game. Many gamers today don't much like this concept, but those who love deep plot at the risk of less gameplay simply love it.

MGS has pretty much become a genre of its own. Often games like it are given descriptions such as MGS-style, or cinematic. But its influence have stretched beyond cinematic games. The requirement of using stealth techniques has changed the gameplay of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Games it has Influenced: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Half-Life 2,



Grand Theft Auto III - Playstation 2
If you know me, you know that I absolutely despise this game. I had played the original GTA games LONG before this, and I felt as if the makers had betrayed my devotion to the series. There were no motorcycles, the city sucked, and the game played horribly. The controls felt sticky.

However, and this is a big however, there was Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which gave me everything I asked for. And San Andreas is giving even more.

GTA has also become a genre of its own. Games like it are called GTA-style, and it's rightfully so. I don't have too much heartburn for Rockstar, since they made GTA3 thinking it wasn't going to be the success that it was. But what they made was genius. Basically, give the player a city, and let 'em loose! No longer were gamers restricted to a storyline, but they always had that option. When they grew bored with it, they could go off and do as they please!

Again, however, this was the same thing as the original GTA games, so it doesn't make sense why this game really sparked so much change in video games. I suppose it was the fact that it was 3D, which gamers prefer over top-down cartoon style. The acting by NPCs was also superb.

There was also the great soundtrack, which was something like three hours long. Though it could hardly be considered a soundtrack considering it only played over the radio. So really, it was more of a sound effect than anything.

Games have to be like GTA these days. It's what gamers want. Gamers want freedom, and GTA does the best at giving it to them. GTA3 may have even influenced many of today's MMORPGs, which allow as much freedom as Morrowind (crap).

Games it has influenced: GTA San Andreas, The Getaway,



The Sims - PC
The Sims may be the most influential game of all time, if games continue to go down the path that they're going. Before it, food was never even considered to be a part of gaming. Yet gamers always thought (Does my party ever eat or go to the bathroom? How are they always so clean?) We had to assume that they did it when we saved the game and turned off the console.

Now food is an integral part of two of the hottest new games: GTA San Andreas and MGS3: Snake Eater. These are action games! The Sims was a simulation game, and it simulated real life. But game companies are starting to notice that players actually like this realistic touch to games. Hopefully games will never end up becoming so much like The Sims that eating and crapping is all we have time to do, but as long as its a subtle thing, gamers will love it.

Command and Conquer - PC
Many may not remember this game, but I certainly do. The night I got this, I used the LAN to play against my brother until 6:00 AM when my dad came down and told us to go to bed. I thought it was the greatest game of all time, and it was great to build up a massive base and do a massive battle with my brother.

Command and Conquer was the first strategy game of its kind. Its influence has spread to every real-time strategy made since then. It was a new kind of game. Rather than go out and kill people, you're the one telling people to go out and kill people. You set up the strategy and execute it. All the game did was give you the tools you needed to build an army, and then it let you loose.

While the game may not even run on your computer today, it's worth playing it if you ever get the chance. The graphics were horrid by today's standards, but featured a very fun techno soundtrack.

Many of the newer RTS games since are obviously much better, like Homeworld 2, which is the sequel to what I think was the first completely 3D RTS game ever made.



The Games that Tried to be an Influence, but Failed
Zelda: The Wind Waker - Cel Shading
Gamers don't seem to like Cel Shading. Sure, it's innovative, it's difficult to make, and it costs a shit load of money, but it looks like a kiddy game. But makers tried to push this as the "cool" new thing, and gamers continued to reject it. Of course, games like XIII have done just fine with this, but it didn't look childish. Gamers want realism though, not...fakism.

Remakes
Just about every time a company tries to do a remake, it ends miserably. Only die-hard fans of the original will buy them, but they dislike the fact that such a great game has been remade.



Now, many of you will probably disagree with a lot of what I've said, but I don't care. These are the games that have sparked significant changes recently in video games, and without them, I doubt the standards of gaming would be the same.

I firmly believe that Final Fantasy VII was the most important game ever made, simply because it raised the bar on gaming standards. No longer would gamers want uninspired direction or games with poor graphics on consoles that were pushing the limits. But it wasn't the only game that changed video games forever.