On the way to work today, I started thinking about those moments in games that just make you want to put down the controller, sit back, and say wow. They're definately few and far between, but when a game has even a single moment like this, it - by itself - makes the whole game worth playing. I've heard of that moment at the end of Final Fantasy 7, but I've never played that game, although I managed to scrape up an old copy that plays on my Playstation 1. I'll get to that game someday. In the meantime, here are my five moments in videogames.
5- Insanity effects in Eternal Darkness The first time this game ever really messed with my head was when I was sitting playing it, and a green bar appeared at the bottom, indicating that the volume on my TV was lowering. I stopped playing and looked around for the TV remote. Linda? Are you doing that? Was it the cat on the remote? Nope - just the game screwing with me. But the best was after a really tough fight when I went to save the game and quickly clicked through a series of prompts. "Deleting All Saved Games" flashes on the screen along with a progress bar. Oh shit! Once again, the game screwing with my head. But after I realized, I just had to sit back and laugh.
4- The mine cart battle in Resident Evil 4 Resident Evil 4 had more versatility than most shooters, but probably my favorite part was climbing into the three attached mine carts, and the crazy battle that followed. Your cart would fly past overhangs where crazy villagers would throw pitchforks and axes, and jump down into your cart. You'd have to fight off the ones trying to grab at you from the next cart over while dealing with the ones throwing stuff from far away, all while flying along at breakneck speeds in the cart. Every so often, you'd get a half-second notice to duck, and if you didn't, a low overhanging beam would knock you silly and nearly kill you. Amazing sequence.
3- The fight against the Hydra in God of War What made this fight so epic was the way Kraatos interacts with the hydra. There have been plenty of games before where you fight a hugely oversized enemy, but usually it's just shooting at it or swinging a sword at the edge of the enemy. At one point, Kraatos actually jumps onto the hydra, lands in its mouth, and forces open its jaw. And the way you do this is by reacting quickly to press certain buttons. It's challenging, innovative, and damn cool.
2- Beyond Good and Evil's Rooftop Chase sequence This is the one epic sequence that made me think to write up this list. I saved the game just before the rooftop chase and replayed it a number of times - it's such a set piece. The rules of the game change during this chase - the camera angle is fixed, and at certain points, you're actually running towards the camera. But it doesn't get annoying, because there are no obstacles in your way to dodge at that point - you need to dodge the incoming fire from your pursuers. The angles change, and the scene cuts to slow motion at least once for effect. It's almost more like watching a movie than playing a game.
1- Running from the Tyrant in Resident Evil 2 When I first played through this segment of Resident Evil 2, I was living with my mom, and enjoying Resident Evil 2 thoroughly. It's the only game that's ever scared me, and I wish I could experience it again.
The Tyrant won't even appear in Resident Evil 2 until you play the "second mission", which is far far better than the first, despite being largely identical. The reason this particular scene is so good is because the game lays down rules, and then breaks them. When you move from one room to another in Resident Evil 2, enemies cannot follow - they're confined to the room they're in. But after escaping the Tyrant in one room, he breaks through a wall out of the room you just left, appearing immediately in front of you. I believe this happened roughly twice, scaring my socks off. After that, I fled blindly from room to room, likely much further than I needed to. One of my favorite game moments of all time.
I've had at least one great moment in Oblivion, but that arose out of the behavior of the AI rather than as something the game designers specifically intended, so I didn't include it here. I'm interested, dear reader, what are some of your favorite game moments?