Greatest Game of 2001: GTA 3 (Sort of)

Originally our panel choose Grand Theft Auto 3 as 2001’s Game of the Year, however, I hate that game. We’ll get to why in a minute, but first, I want to talk about my favorite game of this year, Pikmin. I’m also running down the competition by  stealing from Burner’s playbook and breaking this post into the following groups. Games I Played and Enjoyed, Games I Played that Are Overrated, Games I Didn’t Play, and Games I Hadn’t Even Heard of. Let me know in the comments your game playing experience in the year 2001.

Games I Played that I Enjoyed

Pikmin

Arguably, the last truly new and great game idea from Miyamoto (Quick sidebar: Wii Sports is obviously in this conversation but I credit that to technology over gameplay), Pikmin is the greatest real time strategy game ever made on a console. The game sported a unique play device in that you only had 30 “days” to find all the pieces of your broken down ship. Each of these “days” lasted approximately 15 minutes and you had to plan out what you could accomplish in each of these 15 minute time blocks. This created a tense atmosphere as you hurried to get as much done in a day as possible. The replayability was also incredibly high as it was easy to go back and try to get all the pieces in as few days as possible. A sequel came out a few years later that was very good and Nintendo has announced that Pikmin 3 will be shown at this year’s E3

Max Payne

The last new PC game I ever bought was a good one. The graphics at the time were some of the most lifelike I’d ever seen and the gameplay was top notch as well. Using a special ability called Bullettime you could slow down time (like The Matrix) to slow motion kill all the bad guys on the screen. The game spawned a decent sequel and a terrible movie. The third game in the series is set to release next Tuesday. The game’s creator, Rockstar, is responsible for Grand Theft Auto 3 and more recently Red Dead Redemption. Needless to say, the hype for this game is exceptionally high.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

A popular choice of game by the stoner community at college, Smash Bros. is the last fighting game that I enjoyed. I could never find a regular group to play with so I was never very good at the game but the amount of fan service provided for a Nintendo fan like myself is unmatched in any other game.

Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2 is widely considered to be one of the greatest horror games of all time. I never played this game all the way through and I believe that’s a shame because the little I played was great. An HD remake was just released and hopefully I can go back and experience it again.

Advance Wars

A great turned based strategy game, Advance Wars was one of the DS’ best games. I never knew enough people with the system to enjoy it to it’s fullest extent, but I did have a good time playing against the computer.

Games I Played That Are Completely Overrated

I understand that what I’m going to say in the following section will be pretty unpopular. If you’re a huge fan of any of these games feel free to let me know about it in the comments. Most of these games are considered some of the greatest of all time. That didn’t stop me from thinking that they sucked.

Grand Theft Auto 3

Let’s get the compliments out of the way first. GTA 3 was an incredibly revolutionary game. Its impact on the industry cannot be underscored. For the first time you really could do pretty much anything you wanted to in a game. The adult nature of the game certainly appealed to my 19 year old male peers. You could kill cops, have sex with prostitutes, or murder innocent people. The world was yours to do with it as you wished. All of this is fine and dandy and I’m not about to rail against the moral misgivings of the game, however, I think it was all a complete bore. After 20 minutes of running around doing whatever you wanted I was always left wondering what the hell I was suppose to be doing. There was a central game but it generally boiled down to fetch quests. Basically drive somewhere, shoot a bunch of people, come back. Outside of the boring repetition, the fact that the shooting mechanics were terrible and considerably behind the other games of the generation was a huge problem. I never really did understand why people loved these games and I skipped both San Andres and Vice City. It wasn’t until I played GTA IV and loved it that I became a fan of the series. As far as I’m concerned the first three games were just warm ups for the real deal.

Halo

There’s no denying the success of Halo or its impact on the industry. Halo sold Xboxs and if it wasn’t for this game we might not be playing Xbox 360 today. For that I give Halo a ton of respect. I love my Xbox 360 and wouldn’t want to think of a world without it. The controls should also be mentioned as every console shooter since has pretty much copied Halo’s solution to first person shooting on a console. Despite its impact on the industry, playing the original Halo wasn’t that great. While it was a fun game, I never found it nearly as entertaining as Bond or Perfect Dark were. Killing aliens in shooting games has always been a distant second to actual people and generally the weapons were goofy. More than anything I think this game was generational. My little brother (five years younger than me and in high school when this game came out) used to play Halo all the time. He’d have LAN parties at my mom’s house that would stink up my den and living room like nothing your senses can imagine. When I was in high school I was doing the same thing with Bond so maybe if I was a couple years younger I’d have more affinity for Halo. As it is, I never played the game much and when I did I never understood the hype.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

In my opinion, this is one of the most disappointing games of all time. Que Chas’ head exploding. Metal Gear Solid is one of the greatest games of all time and really helped take games to a more cinematic level. The sequel turning it into D movie level dreck. The plot was a complete and utter mess. Besides the fact that the “deep” issues the game tried to convey had no place in a game like this, the ungodly long cut scenes completely ruined any fun gameplay there was to be had. Add to this the fact that the dialogue was total rubbish. I have no clue how people sat through this entire game. Few games get me as upset as Metal Gear Solid 2 do. The original was so good and obviously the creator started reading his press clipping as they’d say in the sports world. (Or started smelling his own farts for you South Park fans).

Devil May Cry

Credit Devil May Cry for starting a new genre of game that lots of gamers tend to love, and I completely despise. God of War, Bayonetta, Darksidders, and a large handful of games in the same vein can all credit DMC for getting the genre off the ground. If you love hitting the X button over, and over, and over, and over again you’ll love these games. If you like any sort of varied gameplay you’ll probably think these games suck just like I do.

Gran Turismo 3

Gran Turismo 3 is less anger inducing than Metal Gear Solid 2, however, it was still disappointing. The original Gran Turismo revolutionized the way racing games could be played by bringing an incredible amount of complexity and depth to the genre. Burner described the original as a racing game without balls which is completely false. In fact, the complete opposite was true. Gran Turismo was for only for the gamers with the biggest balls. The second game built on the first one adding a ton of new cars and courses. The third one, however, started the eventual decline of the franchise to a now distant second to Forza on Xbox. In general, a lack of innovation and an inability to try new things is what ultimately doomed the game in my eyes. The game isn’t bad, it just isn’t any different from the two games that came before it.

Games I Didn’t Play

Final Fantasy X:  I think over the years I bought Final Fantasy X four different times. It just kept getting lost in the backlog. These things happen. It’s is critically acclaimed and I’m sure I would have enjoyed it back in 2001 but it’s pretty difficult to sit down and play an RPG from 11 years ago when you don’t have any nostalgia to fall back on and The Witcher 2 starring at you from behind it’s shrink wrap.

Ico:  I always wanted to play Ico and especially after I played and loved Shadow of the Colossus so much. Again, it was just one I didn’t have time for. I bought the recent HD collection and still hope to go back, despite the reviews saying it might be a little difficult after so much time has passed.

Civilization III:  I was never the biggest Civilization fan- not necessarily because of anything specific with the game, but more because of the time commitment I knew it required. I’m sure I would have liked it, but as you faithful readers know I was never the biggest PC gamer and never having gotten into the original Civilization or Civilization II I didn’t have the desire to pick this one up.

Games I Hadn’t Even Heard of

Let me refer you to the following clip:

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