Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Space Marine Week #1 - Top 10 Space Marine Video Games (That Are Better Than WarHammer 40k Space Marine)

Well, the title says it all I hope, and without further pathos, let's get started. These are the ten best video games that I come up with whenever I hear the term 'space marine'. Now, let me make one thing clear - I've picked them from the games I have personally played or, even better, beaten - so you won't see Dawn Of War here, for example, even though I am completely sure it's an awesome game; just didn't have a hand on it (yet). Also, this time I'll pick one game from each franchise, to keep up with the 'ones I've personally beaten' criteria. Go go go!

Honorable Mention: DOOM

Putting it outside of the list because, despite it being an iconic game that influenced a whole genre of first-person shooters, the main character himself has little to no identity - and that was intentional, since it was John Romero who said that the DoomGuy is in fact supposed to be the same person as the player. So even while he has a face and a recognizable outfit, it doesn't really look massive enough and has nothing to do with protection (as you are collecting armor vests and shards throughout the game). Still, every space marine games list is incomplete without DOOM.

#10. Killzone

Check out my review of this underrated PS2 gem, but I'll still say a few words: it's a great futuristic Call Of Duty clone with interesting gameplay, complex map designs, several playable characters and badass storyline. I didn't like Killzone 2 much though, but Killzone 3 demo left me a bit interested. But even though I beat the second and third ones, I'm not sure if they'll fare up any better than the original, which is still a great game - check it out if you have a PS2!

#9. Gears Of War 2

I own the whole classic trilogy of GoW games, but so far have beaten only the first two. While GoW 1 was a great solid game, the storyline was a bit jumbled, starting right from the action and not ending on that much of a note. According to CliffyB's words in GoW 2 manual, the primary focus during the sequel's development was in fact the narrative update. Epic Games aimed to create the ultimate cinematic shooter that gives player a summer blockbuster experience, and I have to say, they succeeded. More rail shooting levels, more QTEs, the infamous cutscene with Dom (if you've beaten it, you know what I'm talking about), more use for the chainsaw - not only GoW 2 is everything-GoW-1-was-only-better, it also fixed and improved what was lacking in the first game, making it the ultimate modern shooter. The downside? No PC version, dammit!

#8. Turrican 3: Payment Day (aka Mega Turrican)

A third installment in the famous German lineup of run-n-guns, Turrican 3 is often viewed as the least best in the original trilogy. Originally it was developed for Sega Genesis under the Mega Turrican title, but the first version to be released was actually the Amiga port, renamed Turrican 3: Payment Day, and that's the one I'm talking about here. It's often criticized for more straightforward linear levels, the absence of Lightning Whip and revised health system - of that points I wholeheartedly agree only with the second one, while the first and last, in my opinion, made it easier and more accepting for newcomer fans, including myself. Also, it has more like a coherent story, with obviously anime-ish intro and outro that compliment each other. The music is fantastic, just like it always was, and I think this game has the most 'hits' (or, to put it in other words, less forgettable tracks) than the rest. I've once beaten it overnight, and it was a lot of fun - I'm actually planning to do a Let's Play on it. The only gripe I have with it is the uneven difficulty - it may be just me, but the second level I think is the hardest in the whole game, while even the train level (oops, spoilers) felt like a breeze. Oh well.

#7. Quake 2

Just take a wild guess on what makes this Quake different from the others - and I mean really different. That's right - first and foremost, Quake 2 has a story. It revolves around a group of soldiers descending upon the planet Stroggos, leaving only one survivor in a process, whose mission is to singlehandedly shut down the planetary defenses, rescue the comrades and ultimately, prevail in an epic one on one duel with Makron, the Strogg leader. Again, unlike the fantasy setting of Q1 and the WTF cartoony psychedelic limbo of Q3, this game is littered with rusty corridors, decaying machinery and, to quote TCRF.net, 'the best Borg wannabes late 1997-era technology could render'. The multiplayer was also a massive update, although it did blow chunks compared to Unreal Tournament release 2 years later, but that's another story. Add the amazing industrial rock soundtrack to the mix, and you got a timeless shooter, where, for the second and last time in the Quake franchise, single player was just as fun and engaging.

#6. Cyber Org

I can't imagine why Squaresoft didn't bring this outstanding action RPG to the West - hell, they already had half the text and speech in English! But oh well. Cyber Org tells a story of three space mercenaries, T.J., Gigante and Fosis, who once are assigned to escort some sort of a VIP and find their ship trapped inside a space superstructure named Bahram (iirc). From that point, all three of them have to fight their way through, cleaning up the dungeons room by room, sharing the inventory and using the shortcuts via the intricate area map system. Despite all the story messages and item descriptions being in Japanese, it is still playable and fun, although at times, the difficulty makes you wanna throw the console off the roof. Also, it has an unbelievably intense intro cinematic and kick-ass cover art!

#5. Gunstar Heroes

This colorful scrolling shooter was the best-selling Megadrive game in Japan, and all for right reasons. It was created by Treasure, a group of ex-Konami employees (whose previous work included Contra: Hard Corps among the rest), surely known for their innovation within traditional genres. The fun challenging adventures of Gunstars Red and Blue were ripped off in Rapid Reload (aka Gunners Heaven) on PS1 and got a remake/sequel on Game Boy Advance, called Gunstar Super Heroes, not to mention it's constantly released on all the 'Best of Sega Genesis' compilations for all imaginable platforms. I personally have it legally bought on Steam, XBLA and PSN (not to mention the PS2 bootleg and the obligatory Genesis emulator ROM) - it's that good. Also, quite recently I've tried playing it with my friend and the other day with my GF - we had a blast; I swear it's beyond fun and playable even to this day.

#4. Crusader: No Remorse

I've reviewed this masterpiece already, so to put things brief, it's a great isometric action adventure with gritty graphics and violence, fun challenging gunplay, puzzles, stealth elements, live action cutscenes and the legendary soundtrack by Andrew 'Necros' Sega and friends. Check it out!

#3. Super Metroid (aka Metroid 3)

Check out my elaborate review for the details, but in short, this is not only the best game in the series (doesn't say much, since only Other M is a notable stinker within it), but a groundbreaking piece of software in itself. It inspired many games, challenged many players and in 2007 got the Best Game Ever title from Electronic Gaming Monthly. Rightfully so.

#2. Contra: Hard Corps

Four playable characters? A storyline? Non-linear progression? Several endings? In my Contra?! Yeah, and it worked so well! Basically, Konami took the classic Contra formula and made everything bigger, badder, darker and creative. It never bores you, always throwing interesting twists in your face, has two secret endings (additional to the four available ones) and creates four characters that may be difficult to master, but equally awesome to play as. Also, the graphics are some of the best seen on the Genesis - unlike the bright and colorful Gunstar Heroes or Turrican 3, Hard Corps is dark and intimidating, with lots of freaky enemies and bosses you have to blast on your way. I especially like the chase/flight section where you're racing in front of a city full of Tyrell Corp-style pyramid skyscrapers. Nice touch.

#1. The Marathon Trilogy

I BET YOU'RE SURPRISED... NOT! Of course, how can my all-time favorite game not make this list? Landing on the first place, no less! What can I say that hasn't been said about it? Probably, just reprint my comment that I left for Top 10 FPS Games. Here:

To me, Marathon 2 is The Best Game Ever. Or, if you mean that it doesn't have proper evaluation... the whole Marathon trilogy has a solid and complicated storyline (some say it's ridiculously complicated for an FPS, but still it's refreshing to see something deeper than 'USA won WWII!!1 Maximum nanostrength!') that not only is exposed via Terminals, but integrated into the maps themselves, amazing hand-drawn sprites, dual-wielding (including shotguns), and overall stimulating and engaging gameplay, totally unlike Doom/Duke3D - it's slower and, like Unreal, relies heavily on ambiance. Marathon 1 is dark and creepy, M2 is bright and colorful, Marathon Infinity is arthouse and surreal... I like sequels that do not rip each other off, I like deep complex stories, I like 2,5D shooters, and to me, Marathon 2 is top notch among the trilogy... and among all games. :) Plus, they're all free and open source!

You can't beat a rocket launcher called SPNKR. You just can't.