I remember something that was pretty significant to me, being released at this time in 2008. For years, since seeing the intro and cutscene videos of Driver, Driver 2, Driv3r and Parallel Lines, evolve over time, I just couldn’t imagine how the next best thing could look, in reference to what I think can be called Cinematic CG Teaser Trailers. Beyond Good & Evil 2 released a teaser trailer that looked incredibly detailed. the textures and environmental conditions seemed so real – reminding me of computer animated movies like Madagascar, Chicken Little, The Wild, Over the Hedge, Cars, Monster House, Flushed Away, Meet the Robinsons (the very first Disney Digital 3D film i’d seen since the days of Red/Blue stereoscopic vision of the 90s), and Ratatouille. You can see a huge different in detail and render power even in such films in years as close as 4 years, between 2007’s Ratatouille and 2011’s Rango.
That November, Assassin’s Creed II surfaced. I had been tickled by the cinematic trailer that they had at E3 2009. It was the “first” first, truly cinematic, ultra realistic, computer generated trailer I had ever seen. As I had felt when I first saw Tanner’s clopping and clacking of his shoes, to the plipping and plopping of the water in the car garage in Driver’s introduction video – I now, finally have felt that “next-level” feeling of unbelief. Have you seen it? Even the Splinter Cell: Conviction trailer was unreal. Ubisoft really had outdone themselves creating these cinematic trailers (I remember hearing that they wanted to create some short films in this kind of ultra realistic cg cinematic way). I absolutely loved playing Assassin’s Creed II. it had improved on it’s predecessor in every way. Playing as Ezio, on this grand quest… just the beginning of this colossal tale.
That Christmas of 2009, I was so very lucky to receive a laptop from Santa. It was an Aldi product, under the name of Medion. What an amazingly priced system, for such a product. It had a BluRay player (no HDDVD, unfortunately. I actually loved this system – we even had a HDDVD player, but only owned 2 HDDVD’s. So we used it to play DVD’s at their full resolution, at a 1080i output) and a heap of processing power and memory. This really helped me with the things I was getting into around these times, other than gaming.
Back to GTAIV, it upset me some, when Microsoft bought rights for exclusive “episodes” to be made for Xbox in early 2009. It was pretty painful having to wait about 14 months for the opportunity to play The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, PS3 expansion episodes. But that’s alright. Two years after the release of GTAIV, in April of 2010, I had something more to complete with this beloved game. They were great additions to the story and Grand Theft Auto world. Everything ties-in.
Around-about this time, The Godfather II hit the shelves. I thought it was great fun, only that it made me and Dad dizzy and feel off at times (something to do with how it looked I suppose). I made it all the way up until the final mission, from which I let it go, and moved on.
2010, I had been following 2K Games and any news on the sequel to Mafia – Mafia II. Sometime in 2007/2008, I discovered some developers screenshots and a teaser trailer for the game. In the trailer, the bad guys forrid skin wrinkled as he moved the rest of his face. I found it unbelievable that a 3D models to have a layer of skin on it! Craziness… Even the glow of the gunshot in one of the poor guys mouth as he got shot, in the mouth. Finally, after a decade, Mafia II was released, looking shiny and clean. It took me until 2012 to finally play that game for the first time on the PC.
Being the final year of High School, we were given more slack with out time there. Sometimes in our Information Technology class, we’d play network shooting games (similar to Medal of Honor) – much like when we were strictly banned from playing, years earlier with Halo: Combat Evolved (it ate up every bit of traffic over the whole school network), but this time we were more responsible and even got to learn a bit about how the school network functioned.
Having finished all Grand Theft Auto games, not feeling like playing them again, I was fortunate that Rockstar Games had been creating a different kind of game, in the GTA style. A Western; An adaption on Playstation 2’s Red Dead Revolver – Red Dead Redemption. I remember when Revolver came out (it reminded me of Clint Eastwood’s films). It looked pretty cool and I also remember the rumor of a horseback GTA western in the works. It was great to see it actually happen, 5 years later. I think I got it for my birthday that year, September 2010. I played it for a while, until I was in Mexico, and then slowly lost time, and stopped playing it. Computer gaming took most of my time away, and even then, I had lots of other things I was doing, other than gaming. I think the next time I touched that game was in 2012, but only for a day.
It seems as though throughout this posting, I am mainly a game-a-holic. Maybe so, but only in the early years, from 1999 to 2009. In 2010, I began to prepare for finishing my Higher School Certificate, and moving onto TAFE. If ever I had time to play a game, i’d try and finish whatever game I was on, in as quick of time as possible (a week/a fortnight, max). I had lots and lots of other more important things to focus my time on, as High School started to end. I had to begin to start caring and be aware of the things I do with my time.
November 2010, as-in-every-November-before-and-since, the next Assassin’s Creed game came out (I always tried to get the collectors edition with the figure and special box). Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, a sort-of-sequel to ACII, still following Ezio, our protagonist from before. As from the last experience, I loved unfolding more about this great secretive, philosophical and historical story.
Mid 2011, Rockstar Games came out with a new game, featuring some special technology from Team Bondi – L.A. Noire. I remember seeing the black and white teaser trailer years earlier being interested by the thought of a game set in ye olde times Los Angeles (since every other game is set in New York City). This special technology had actors’ faces recorded for the animations in the game (plus whole body, 3D motion tracking). It was another great new step towards greatness. All these advancements, year-by-year are getting so, so complex, yet great to see accomplished. That was a fun experience, playing as if your a detective. I liked seeing Fringe actor Dr. Walter Bishop/John Noble make an appearance. It was too cool, and freakishly realistic (the 3D versions of the actors as characters).
That year, while enjoying my time studying the Certificate IV in Visual Arts and Contemporary Crafts, I might install a game or two every once in a while, onto my Medion laptop. I started by getting myself all the Splinter Cell games that I had missed out on, throughout the years. I’d never forgotten how cool Chaos Theory was, from back in 2004 (stepping on those chips making crunch sounds and walking through curtains, seeing the physics and animation of the curtain rag, flap and ripple were truly monumental to me). So I decided to play Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow, Chaos Theory, Double Agent (all with the help of online walkthrough guides) and since I had a laptop capable of running the new game, Conviction. I loved it! And as I write this, I am looking for some free time, sometime in the next year, for me to play the newly released (2013) Blacklist (sadly, with a newly voiced protagonist). At the end of 2011, in summer, I found a game that i’d seen sceenshots of year before (not knowing the game’s name), titled Mirror’s Edge. The graphics, are to me, and still now, beyond description. That DICE engine must have been built by extraterrestrial intelligence, because it was just so shiny and clean. The light looked real. I had a lot of fun running around in that game. I have a feeling, because of the heat we have here in Australia, plus the mixture of playing a game like that for an hour or a couple of hours at a time, I was damaging and slowly overheating my laptop. I’ll write about that, in the following lines.
September of 2011, for my Birthday – having waited so long for any Driver 5 news (the announcement of the Driver film resparked my hunt for new information, a couple of years prior), Driver: San Francisco was released, and I was fortunate to receive the Collectors edition, on my 19th birthday. I found it a little disappointing to see that there wasn’t really much of a story in this sequel to Driv3r. Discovering that Tanner was in a coma made me feel like ‘after 5 or 6 years of nothing, this is what they can come up with?’. There wasn’t much on offer. I just hope they make the next Driver more like the predecessors. That would not only be smart, but awesome.
Early November, Rockstar games released the first teaser trailer for the next Grand Theft Auto title. It was the first glimpse into what was next for the series. I personally had hoped that they would revisit Vice City (if they were to follow on from GTAIII’s/IV’s Liberty City), but to discover that they’d jumped toward San Andreas, more focused on Los Santos, still gotten me extremely excited – but still not like I had felt when GTAIV was announced. I had the day off school just to see that trailer, it was great. I had a slight feeling deep down that the main character might be an older Tommy Vercetti from Vice City, living in Los Santos (from the glimpse of the man, seen in the trailer). I couldn’t wait for more news. But i’d be waiting for a while – a whole year to be exact.
Late November, the final chapter in Ezio’s story in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was due. I really enjoyed ending Ezio’s story, after all these years learning about his character. The short film, completing Ezio’s story really rounds everything up, very well. It’s an emotional story… But a story that still grows and goes on, through Desmond.
January and February of 2012, I came across a game titled Dear Esther. I’m not sure you could call it a game as I would more so describe it as a ‘journey’. I remember spotting it because of a screenshot that caught my eye. The image I saw was of a beautiful scene – the graphics seemed to be at a level beyond what any console or PC could handle. But I was surprised, it ran on my computer with ease. At least, it ran at ease with the fans blaring as fast as possible. This game is really one you either enjoy or hate. I loved it, and the scenery on the island was truly captivating. The sad thing is, just weeks after finishing that game, my Medion screen went haywire. A colourful display of pixelated coloured dots and lines. This was my display/video card chip overheating and dying. It went kaput. And would eventually cost more to fix than to get a new laptop. So I turned the old hard drive into an external drive and we started saving for a new laptop – which was exciting because there was a game I had tried installing on the Medion, but was unsuccessful because it wasn’t compatible, power and memory wise.
This game that I wanted to play with, was called From Dust. It reminded me of Age of Empires and Pocket God (on the iPod Touch). But this game, showcased polished graphics and rendering power, like I had not seen before. From the way water reacted in real time, to dust particles doing what they do. It was amazing, and I wanted to experience it. A few months later, I was able to purchase a HP laptop – a Pavilion DV6 with Windows 7 installed, featuring an i7 processor, 8GB physical memory, 2GB dedicated graphics all clocked at 2.20Ghz (which can max at 3.1Ghz). What an amazing system, all in this light little device. It’s pretty incredible. From Dust ran beautifully when I installed it. Everything loads quick, and runs smoothly. I’d be pretty confident to even say that my laptop might be slightly more powerful than my PS3 – I haven’t checked the PS3 specifications before, but that’s what I actually feel.
With this new system, I found the time to start playing Mafia II. What a great experience, playing such a game on the computer and not on the Playstation. My computer power now, compared to 10 years ago is mind blowing. I like stories that are set in these old times. Gangster stories also in the mix, are a lot of fun and gets my imagination flowing.
Having watched Dad play Max Payne 1 & 2, I was excited to see that Max Payne 3 was nearly out of its cage. I remember seeing preview videos of the game in action and being amazed by how my control you have over the protagonists character. Maneuvering the body in all the positions you could move in, made the physics feel really flexible. When I finally installed this whopping game 28gb game, I was amazed to see such details of Payne’s shirt move as his body moved, just like a real shirt, in real life. It was intense, trying to complete all the missions without and trainers or cheats, but I did it.
August, I stumbled on a game that had just released, called Sleeping Dogs – the True Crime spinoff/reboot. I’d had my eye on it and bookmarked it a couple of years earlier (2009), and quickly gave it a go as soon as it became available. I thought it was a pretty great achievement. It reminded me a little of Rockstar Games’ “The Warriors” (the fighting system felt much like it). Square Enix has created many great games that i’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The sequel for Kane and Lynch had been out for about 2 years by this point. With my new computer, and with some spare time, I decided to play Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days next. It had some pretty impressive graphics and sound design. I liked how the guns functioned – they had a convincing pow! to them. Another great addition from Edios and Square Enix.
After having been waiting for about a year, November 2012, trailer 2 for Grand Theft Auto V surfaced with more details and solid ground presented. Wow, here we go. The second HD generation GTA game, ready to be released, almost 6 years after the previous title. In the months after November, details were still being held tight by Rockstar, and hype really started to grow.
Hitman 5, Absolution came out this November. Also alongside, the next installment in the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed III – featuring a new protagonist for Desmond to control – came about. Two stealthy assassin games by two different companies – both fun games, though I felt like I enjoyed Hitman: Absolution moreso this time around. I’d been waiting over 6 years for another Hitman adventure… It was well worth the wait. Assassin’s Creed on the other hand, I wish they’d take their time more, rather than pushing out a new title every 12 months. ACIII could have been a lot better than it was. It was great, but became pretty tedious boring. The next installment, AC: Black Flag is set for another November release, in 2013. I don’t think i’ll be preordering this one. Maybe i’ll get it for the PC this time, sometime next year (2014) when I find some time to play a game.
So here we are – September 2013, over 10 years since I owned my very first computer. So much has changed and evolved in those years, leading up to now. As I write this, I am looking forward to the future. The Playstation 4 is waiting on the horizon along with a whole new line of next NEXT Gen games (WatchDogs). Computer power gets faster and more powerful. Heat resistance is pretty key in most of this technology development. Even in the past 10 years, so much has changed with the world of Photography. A near complete transfer from film to digital systems has taken place. Where will things be 10 years from now, I wonder. Time is a conundrum that travels and passes by very fast, so new things will definitely come, before you or I know it.
As I wait for Grand Theft Auto V (featuring 3 protagonists!!!) to come out in 7 days, I daydream and picture what the experience will be like, playing GTAV. Just the other night I remembered a time back in November of 2007, Mum, Dad & I driving, leaving Los Angeles down the freeway. A yellow Viper and a red motorbike weaved and zoomed by, through all the traffic, around. They were going really fast, racing as a matter of fact. I can’t help but imagine Michael and Franklin behind the wheels of those vehicles, in-mission, looking to go save Trevor from some kind of trouble. Car racing has been a big part of my life, entertainment wise. I remember playing Midnight Club LA thinking what it would be like to get out of the in-game vehicle and walk around all these places that i’d been to and seen in real life.
To prepare for this monumental title, I went back last week to a game I never finished, determined to get the Playstation controller batteries charged, and hand-eye coordination skills in check, ready for a tour with GTAV. Red Dead Redemption – that horseback and train oriented time, set in a western world. John Marston strutted like Josey Wales throughout Mexico and the USA. This time, I completed the story in a week and a half. What a great story. I particularly loved riding up into the snowy mountains, getting chased by bears while searching for a sighting of Bigfoot. I believe I am now ready for GTAV.
As I close this posts journey to its intermittent end, I have to add that my childhood did not completely revolve around video games. This was merely an incomplete overview of my years with gaming in my life. Sadly, I could not cohesively mention games like that crazy 3D Bowling game back in 2004, and/or in 2008 when I got an iPod Touch – of which I had spent an entire stressed-out week trying to jailbreak (time proved successful), where I had a collection of Atari and Gameboy ROMs. I slaved over Pokemon on that iPod, that summer. Many more hours spent on The Sims 2 and all the expansion packs… Or even those times playing Worms World Party with all my primary school friends on hot summers days. Those were fun times. Even Disney’s Extremely Goofy Skateboarding. Also playing the Oddworld demo’s on PSOne, Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus. I remember playing those games before going out with Dad to Pop’s metal workshop some days, very early on, maybe in the year 2000. I relived those great years back in 2010 as school, when I downloaded them for PC. Namco’s I-Ninja was a fun demo to play. I remember many afternoons playing Road Rash 3D. Enjoying the varieties in TOCA, then MotoGP 2 & 3, and Project IGI on the PC + Metal Gear Solid on the PSOne. I hope they port it to PC one of these days. Maybe i’ll take the time to add a list of those great old games to this posting, someday, since I don’t play games as religiously as I used to.
Brother, brother, sister, sister, lets look forward for the future, for now. #KIFFLOM