As the old saying goes: if it isn’t broke — don’t fix it. And, while that may be true in most cases — it certainly isn’t the smartest mindset to have in the video game realm. I mean, sure, you can copy and paste the same best-selling elements ten times over and snag a few dozen awards, but it won’t make the experience any more unique. That’s why we’re incredibly thankful for the brave designers who step forward and take the alternative routes pre-development. Of course, it might not always bode well with the buyer — but we’ll always respect the endeavours into untamed waters nonetheless.
From the earliest days of platform gaming to the modern-day open-world — here are five of the most respected video games in the industry.
5. The Getaway
Although dating back to 2002 on PlayStation 2, The Getaway most definitely deserves a place on this list. Of course, you’re more than likely wondering why this grungey London mafia-themed shooter places on this list at all. Well, to put it short: The Getaway was a pioneer in the video game world. Thanks to years of hard work and hundreds (if not thousands) of hours slaving over a map of central London, The Getaway became one of the first of its kind for portraying a real-life cityscape, where no square mile was left to the imagination.
As expected, any Londoner who so much as glanced at The Getaway would suddenly throw themselves into the goal of trying to find their home. Although London in its entirety isn’t featured in the game, there are 28 miles of perfectly replicated vehicles, homes and landmarks to discover. And, on top of that, The Getaway provides a genuinely thrilling bit of gameplay with a stellar narrative that never fails to keep you on your toes.
4. Eternal Darkness
It’s not very often a video game steps out of its comfort zone and attempts to take control of your hardware. In fact, that’s practically unheard of in this day and age. That being said, Eternal Darkness pushed to succeed from doing exactly that back in 2002. It quite literally took control of your console. Yes, even for a Gamecube launch title — toying with your gear and playing mischievous little tricks on you was all apart of the psychological thriller experience.
Although utterly bizarre, players would often encounter an inverted control pad, random memory crashes and even fake reboots during gameplay. And, rather than hold your hand and course you through the levels, Eternal Darkness would thrive from playing on your emotions and ripping your brain to shreds. That’s quite an accomplished feat for a 2002 launch title. I mean, it’s hardly natural to be the victim outside of the actual game. Nobody wants to be afraid of a Gamecube after all.
3. L.A. Noire
Rockstar did something rather brave when setting out to build their 1940s crime drama. Not only were they heavily praised for the excellent portrayal of a post-war Los Angeles — but also for pioneering the MotionScan technology in a video game. With 32 cameras capturing every lip movement, flinch and eye twitch — L.A. Noire became the first-ever game to rely purely on motion capture to sway its bittersweet story.
Of course, we had never seen anything like this in the community pre-2011. And, even 10 years down the line since launch, developers are still struggling to fathom how exactly Rockstar managed to compress such an remarkable feat into a decade-old video game. Nothing quite comes as close these days — even with the hardware knocking at our doors. Nobody has managed to pick up where Rockstar left off with L.A. Noire, and for that reason alone, we have to praise this incredible work of art.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
There’s a reason why Ocarina of Time is still considered to be one of the greatest video games ever produced. It’s not only because of the technical and overwhelming score that plays out like an enchanting orchestra — or anything like that. It’s not even over the enormous open-world storyline that sinks into so many extraordinary subplots that we never want the quest chains to end. In fact, it all comes down to one thing and one thing only — and that is the revolutionary control patterns.
Okay, so it seems like an odd thing to bring up — but trust us on this. If Ocarina of Time hadn’t explored the locking on system and the ability to map specific items to buttons for a smoother experience — then we’d probably never have had the following tens of thousands of influenced works spring into development. Nintendo brought something brand new to the table with this chapter of The Legend of Zelda, and it was quickly recognised as being one of the few that changed the whole course of gaming history. A bold statement, yes. Though, a well-deserved one.
1. Super Mario 64
Contrary to what many might believe, Super Mario 64 wasn’t actually the first 3D platformer to grace the console. In fact, the Nintendo child wasn’t even close to pioneering the genre. That being said, what Super Mario 64 did do to the nineties era of gaming was actually quite phenomenal, and was even inspiring enough to draw new ideas to the table from the industry altogether.
You see, while the Nintendo open-world game did have its fair share of similarities when sitting next to other platform games — Super Mario 64 did build on several areas that showcased the true colours of the console’s potential. Say, for example, the many uses for the joysticks — or even the freeflow camera angles. All of these improved elements became the new benchmark in gaming, and still very much hold up even 25 years later.