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Games that you can't quite believe were possible

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I second EVE online. There is nothing I've experienced like it. The size and scope of what players will accomplish if you give then the tools is incredible. The fact it was made, and was succseful and kept going is incredible. The server technology behind it as well is monumental. 

 

Not only that but the on going narrative that they ran with devs and volunteers in the game playing the roles, all in one "shard" so if word got out about something happening you could go there and join in, although that fizzeld out after a scandal involving the volunteers abusing their powers. It was fantastic at the time.

 

The incredible depths of the economy and politics. The scope of the neferious plots. The size of the wars and the longevity of rivalries is simply unparrelleed anywhere in gaming. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Trumpets said:

GTA San Andreas had three cities and a fucking mountain in it, and you could go from one to the other with no loading, on a PS2.

Yes, this was it for me at the time, such an immense and dense map, really bowled me over. I remember nearly killing my PS2 after playing San Andreas for full day non stop, it started making funny noises.  

 

I also remember that feeling when leaving the prison for the first time in Oblivion and seeing hills in the distance that you could walk to. God, it was impressive.

 

Too spoilt on open world games these days to be overly impressed with them 

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2 hours ago, Nick R said:

A game that did something incredibly impressive at the time, but which is now commonplace: Metropolis Street Racer.

 

Recreations of real-life racing circuits were nothing new, but the sheer scale of the way MSR extended that from closed tracks to the open city streets of London, Tokyo and San Francisco was incredible. Some of the previews mentioned the thousands of photographs and hours of video footage Bizarre Creations had taken in those cities, which again seemed ridiculous at the time, but are dwarfed by the amount of research that goes into today's recreations of real-life locations.

 

I've posted these scanned pages of the way the Official UK Dreamcast Magazine introduced their review before. In 2000, these pictures were a perfect summary of the most impressive thing about the game:

 

 

 

And the natural progression of this is that now we're getting a new Microsoft Flight Simulator containing the entire world. :blink2:

 

The company I was working for at the time had an office just off Trafalgar square that I went to a lot. Being able to drive past the office door and it looked the same as in real life was an unreal feeling at the time. We take it for granted almost now but back then it was amazing.

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For me the AI in Halo has never been beaten. It felt like the Cove-y were scheming against you and re-acting to your actions, trying to flank you, draw you out of cover etc. It really felt like you were up against a conscious, sentient enemy. I've not had a game match that feeling since.

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On 15/09/2019 at 15:50, dumpster said:

For all the criticism, especially the way it seems to loop around at level 50, I really liked Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain.

 

The first couple of hours act like a barrier, almost testing your patience to the limit, with the game itself hidden behind a sort of paywall of your endurance.  Sit through this section where you drag yourself through a hospital for an hour, then another 40 minutes or so of cutscene disguised as gameplay, but beyond that, I've always felt a sense of awe at what happens next.

 

The game just opens up.  You're a bloke, on a horse. You go over there, you climb that thing.  You do whatever you fancy doing.  If you zoom in on something with your binoculars, whatever it is, no matter how trivial, you get a voice over telling you about it.  You see in the distance that there are some people, so you climb to a high point, zoom in with the binoculars, see that there are three soliders beating up their prisoner.  You get as near as you can, but you get spotted. People react. They head you off.  They escape down ladders. They flank you.  A truck arrives.  You hide underneath, wait for the soldiers to leave it, get in and drive it away. You find a puppy.  You extract it to the base.  You extract people to the base. You raise a team, send them on missions, the puppy grows up, you meet a woman in swimwear. You call a helicopter, you tranquillise a sheep.  

 

For me, it's a game I really enjoy playing, but all the time I get this sense of, "how did they even begin to make this?" . I remember sitting at my Sinclair Spectrum and typing

10 CLS

20 PRINT "WELCOME TO...

 

... and then waiting for the inspiration to come to me.  Every time I play MGS5 I just can't get my head around what an incredible thing it is, from 4 years ago, on a standard PS4.  It's enormous, epic, there's a million things happening, it's all fluid and controlable, it's fun, it's overwhelming.  It's a game that I get tonnes of satisfaction from playing then a lot more just thinking that the thing even exists.  I recently wiped my savefile so I could start it again, and I'd forgotten how that initial 2 hours leads you to think it's something that it is not.  As soon as you get full control and it's up to you to decide where to go next, it just feels like an extraordinary achievement.  

 

Anyone else identify with this, that feeling?  Any other games do it for you?

 

 

 

Well, I'm tracking down a copy of MGS5 based upon the above, I'll grind through those difficult hours to uncover the treasure within.

 

For me, Gran Tourismo sport is a frankly ridiculous piece of software. If you'd have told a 16 year old me playing Microprose Grand Prix on the Amiga that you'd be playing a game over a phone line, competing against other players from around the world in 25 years time, in real time I would have walked you back to the asylum myself. It was difficult enough to comprehend what was going on when playing F355 on the sega dreamcast, you basically raced against someone elses ghost time, and that seemed like witchcraft for its era too.

 

Most of the open world stuff such as Fallout 4, GTA or the red dead redemption series that does the sandbox thing really well is an astonishing place to be. I guess that's what makes it frustrating when games such as Fallout 76 and Rage 2 fail to live up to expectations. We want to explore and have fun in these strange new worlds, when they turn out to be an unplayable shambles we light up the flaming torches and grab the pitchforks. 

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Not from a technological perspective, but I'm astonished at Fez, as a construction. It fits together so perfectly, manages to make sense to a player, but thinking about how you assemble it from zero...crikey.

 

Some of the trickier puzzles in Braid and Stephen's Sausage Roll also do me in, in that regard.

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Probably the most accurate description of Destiny I've ever heard was "a buffet for locusts". It's a truly stupid idea for a game, one that most developers wouldn't even attempt. Having to churn out new levels, new enemies, new missions, new story content for a AAA, big-budget first-person shooter with RPG mechanics. A game that's designed to be played for 800 hours, not 8. Truly dumb.

 

But boy, for the most part, am I glad they did. 

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Playing no man's sky again now, after obsessing for a month or so when n it first released, is pretty mind blowing. Yes its the same old semi-meaningless trek through an infinite universe, but the fact that they have generated a universe with 5 quintillion unique, procedurally star systems or whatever is so awesome.  A staggering technical achievement. 

 

Especially now that people can dig / build and it stays forever, for others to randomly (never) stumble across :wub:

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A predictable entry for RE4, simply because I remember showing a clip to a friend - I think on a demo disc or something - and he wasn't having it that that that was the real game.  Pretty sure it was the cable car sequence for starters.

Well matey, it was the real game and it was BLOODY AMAZING!!! 

 

 

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I started playing games on my older brothers handed down Atari 800xl, which was their competition at the time for the Sinclair 48k and the BBC micro.  I eventually got my own computer which was a Spectrum +2, technically the +2a because it was the lightgun bundle.  One of the first games I got for it was Batman the Movie.  It was 5 levels long, Batman was made up of about 20 pixels and 2 colours.  It took around 30 mins to complete and this was a “AAA” big release at the time.  It also took 10 minutes just to load the game. That’s not an exaggeration.

 

Obviously I’ve seen games evolve a lot since then.  We upgraded to 16 bit machines while I was in high school and the 32 bit console revolution happened just as I was reaching the end.  Improving hardware at home meant that arcades struggled to offer something more appealing for the outlay and that’s when (in my opinion) arcade games started to wind down as a thing, with the exception of gimmick hardware like driving games and guns that people just generally don’t have at home.  I remember during this going to Gamesmaster Live, and on the exhibition floor they had demos of VR machines.  It was a basic tank game, but the graphics were super low poly and basic.  The processing power, we were told, needed was astronomical.  Like, the equivalent of what NASA uses to launch a rocket, whatever that meant.  Sounded like a lot though.

 

Thats why when VR started coming out, I was a bit sceptical of how immersive it would be.  Would I actually feel like I was moving around  in there? Could I be convinced that an object was in front of me and that it wasn’t just a computer image?  I still bought one, expecting to be disappointed.  The first thing I put in was Batman VR......and I spent around 10 full minutes just gasping at the menu screen.  For those that haven’t tried it, the menu screen has you standing on a rooftop overlooking Gotham.  It didn’t just trick me, it did so enough that I put my hand out to try and grab a railing overlooking the edge.  I was floored.  In my life time I’d gone from Batman being a blobby mess of 2 colours to literally feeling like I was standing in the Batcave.  If you’d have told that kid playing the Spectrum version this is where we’d end up I’d have thought you were bonkers.

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1 hour ago, George Clooney said:

Thats why when VR started coming out, I was a bit sceptical of how immersive it would be.  Would I actually feel like I was moving around  in there? Could I be convinced that an object was in front of me and that it wasn’t just a computer image?  I still bought one, expecting to be disappointed.  The first thing I put in was Batman VR......and I spent around 10 full minutes just gasping at the menu screen.  For those that haven’t tried it, the menu screen has you standing on a rooftop overlooking Gotham.  It didn’t just trick me, it did so enough that I put my hand out to try and grab a railing overlooking the edge.  I was floored.  In my life time I’d gone from Batman being a blobby mess of 2 colours to literally feeling like I was standing in the Batcave.  If you’d have told that kid playing the Spectrum version this is where we’d end up I’d have thought you were bonkers.

Yep, Batman VR makes for a really spectacular introduction to VR. The menu was great, but the intro is what floored me. 

 

2 hours ago, iknowgungfu said:

Ghostbusters on C64. Mainly for the "He slimed me" sound bite at the start and the fact you could upgrade Ecto-1 as you went on. 

Great entry! Allow me two more from that era:

 

Myth

After playing the likes of Monty Mole, playing Myth was revelatory to me. It had fantastic animation for its time, and genuinely great level design (potential rose tinting here) 

 

Stunt Car Racer

WTF!!  It's 3D!! How is this possible?? AMAZING! I had so much fun on this game. 

 

StuntCarRacer_Rennanimation.gif

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11 hours ago, robdood said:

Playing no man's sky again now, after obsessing for a month or so when n it first released, is pretty mind blowing. Yes its the same old semi-meaningless trek through an infinite universe, but the fact that they have generated a universe with 5 quintillion unique, procedurally star systems or whatever is so awesome.  A staggering technical achievement. 

 

Especially now that people can dig / build and it stays forever, for others to randomly (never) stumble across :wub:

 

I'd say the really impressive feat is the 1980s Elite. That was really original, and properly innovative. Pushing the availible technology to the absoloute limit. 

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Super Contra 3 - for being the first home console game that was better looking than anything I'd seen in an arcade at the time..

Plus it's a masterclass in changing the action up every few minutes and having increasingly spectacular set pieces..

 

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Metal Slug.

 

There's a reason they've been recycling the sprites ever since. There may never be that level of specific artistic expertise concentrated in one place with a big enough budget to make anything like it again.

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Star Control on the Megadrive had different ships with their own unique special abilities that played out like rock, paper, scissors - the little green one had an antimatter beam that you could survive by using the croissant shaped ship's shield for example - but what was amazing to me at the time was the inertia that these craft had. You'd be in a constant state of swinging around each other as you attacked, each battle became a wonderful dance to the death. On top of that you had planets and moons which you could sling shot around, slow down too close to one could see you getting pulled into their gravitational field and destruction soon followed. I doubt it was the first game of its kind to use these more real world type astrophysics, but after all the side scrolling arcade shooters I'd grown up on it was a real breath of fresh air. Probably helped that it looked super basic but was delivering this, to me anyway, crazy complex movement system.

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On 16/09/2019 at 20:20, Garwoofoo said:

I don't think anything will ever beat the original Elite for me. At the time it was absolutely mind-blowing, and it seems more impressive as time goes on that they managed to create something so expansive with the limitations they had to work with. I can't even begin to appreciate the tricks they must have had to use to get that running.

 

The new tutorial on Elite has made it more accessible, I think the only thing holding me back is being worried I'll get lost in it once again.

 

That we could go from this

 

 

to this

 

 

still amazes me.

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Here's one that impressed me back when I was obsessed with open world games back when they weren't yet a thing.

 

Tau Ceti on the C64 was amazing. It took me ages to work out the tricks behind what they were pulling off.

 

During the day you'd get shading on buildings.

 

TauCetiAnimation1.gif

 

At night you could use infra red but it was somewhat blurry and laggy just like 80's tech.

 

TauCetiAnimation2.gif

 

It even had a built in GUI back when those things were only on powerful desktops. Eat your heart out google maps!

 

TauCetiMapAnimation.gif

 

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1 hour ago, Unofficial Who said:

Here's one that impressed me back when I was obsessed with open world games back when they weren't yet a thing.

 

Tau Ceti on the C64 was amazing. It took me ages to work out the tricks behind what they were pulling off.

 

During the day you'd get shading on buildings.

 

TauCetiAnimation1.gif

 

At night you could use infra red but it was somewhat blurry and laggy just like 80's tech.

 

TauCetiAnimation2.gif

 

It even had a built in GUI back when those things were only on powerful desktops. Eat your heart out google maps!

 

TauCetiMapAnimation.gif

 

It always seemed like a good game but I never managed to work it out. In the days when games came with (and needed) instruction manuals, I never bothered to read them. 

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Leaderboard Golf must have been one of the first 3D golf sims.

 

 

I seem to remember having a fast loader pirated copy on a bumper C90 along with Commando, Ghosts and Goblins, Matchpoint Tennis, and about 20 others. It impressed me how dirty pirates could make a hacked version load in about a third of the time of the official cassette.

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18 hours ago, robdood said:

Especially now that people can dig / build and it stays forever, for others to randomly (never) stumble across :wub:

I’m still not quite sure how this is possible. So if I make a base and another player chances across my system, they can visit my base? Can they destroy it?

 

Has any other game ever had a single ‘universe’ then everyone can leave their mark on like this?

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5 hours ago, SpagMasterSwift said:

Star Control on the Megadrive had different ships with their own unique special abilities that played out like rock, paper, scissors - the little green one had an antimatter beam that you could survive by using the croissant shaped ship's shield for example - but what was amazing to me at the time was the inertia that these craft had. You'd be in a constant state of swinging around each other as you attacked, each battle became a wonderful dance to the death. On top of that you had planets and moons which you could sling shot around, slow down too close to one could see you getting pulled into their gravitational field and destruction soon followed. I doubt it was the first game of its kind to use these more real world type astrophysics, but after all the side scrolling arcade shooters I'd grown up on it was a real breath of fresh air. Probably helped that it looked super basic but was delivering this, to me anyway, crazy complex movement system.

 

I played a version of Space War in the arcades back in the 70s; you could set the centre of the screen to contain a black hole or star, whose gravity affected you and your missiles...

 

Edit: that's 40-odd years ago, now. Back then *everything* was miraculous. I love that I lived through the heroic phase of videogaming!

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2 hours ago, Pob said:

I’m still not quite sure how this is possible. So if I make a base and another player chances across my system, they can visit my base? Can they destroy it?

 

Has any other game ever had a single ‘universe’ then everyone can leave their mark on like this?

Visit, yes.  Destroy, no (just like you can't destroy the NPC buildings etc). 

 

It's insane.  And arguably more impressive than Elite.  Elite is excellent, but it's a whole lot of (highly realistic!) empty space, really, compared with the amount of.. stuff in NMS!

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10 hours ago, Thor said:

Yep, Batman VR makes for a really spectacular introduction to VR. The menu was great, but the intro is what floored me. 

 

Great entry! Allow me two more from that era:

 

Myth

After playing the likes of Monty Mole, playing Myth was revelatory to me. It had fantastic animation for its time, and genuinely great level design (potential rose tinting here) 

 

Stunt Car Racer

WTF!!  It's 3D!! How is this possible?? AMAZING! I had so much fun on this game. 

 

StuntCarRacer_Rennanimation.gif

Stunt Car Racer....if forgotten about that game. When you crashed it put cracks on your screen if I recall?

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1 hour ago, iknowgungfu said:

Stunt Car Racer....if forgotten about that game. When you crashed it put cracks on your screen if I recall?


Light impacts caused cracks. Nasty crashes put a permanent hole in the frame giving you less capacity for cracks. 

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The Last Guardian. They envisioned THAT, over a decade ago, targeting previous-gen hardware? A believable living creature at a fidelity that was beyond what was possible in prerendered CG at the time? Ueda is a genius.

 

Astro Bot. The first game I played in VR for any length of time. I didn't think games could still have the visceral wow factor of the golden age of pneumatic cabinet coinops, but it really does.

 

For my retro pick: the late era DOS games, that were still using software rendering. Things like Magic Carpet, Bioforge, Dungeon Keeper. They pulled off effects that didn't show up again for years in 'proper' hardware accelerated 3D, like deformable terrain and realtime reflections.

 

The first Mafia was quite a headfuck as well, the car models still look pretty good, and the atmosphere (ambient sfx everywhere, and bystanders going about their business) was amazing considering PC games had only just started getting comfortable with 'outside' bits. Also how solid it was considering the studio's previous game crashed every five seconds.

 

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