Op-Ed, Video Games

Games With Amazing Environments

A good setting is vital to a video game. While good gameplay can carry a game, a great environment with that gameplay takes it that next step. When talking about in-game worlds there are so many different ones that deserve credit. It’s almost impossible to narrow down the list to just a few. The following are a few that deserve credit as being some of the best worlds to be explored by gamers. Whether impressive in their size, detail, or just aesthetically appealing, these worlds are just downright amazing to explore.

Eternal Sonata

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While not the most popular RPG, Eternal Sonata deserves credit for the truly unique world in which it is set. Centered around the life of Chopin, Eternal Sonata is supposed to be the fever dream that he has while on his death bed. This is an interesting concept and manages to weave a beautiful world. Naturally the world is very focused on music giving it a very wonderful atmosphere. With the characters you explore many different settings, each one detailed, colorful, and aesthetically appealing. As far as ideas for a video game environment the last dream of a very talented artist is a wonderful idea.

Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall

Daggerfall earns it’s place on the list due to it’s size. It can proudly claim to be one of the largest in-game environments ever created with a shocking 15,000 in-game locations for players to explore. If that weren’t impressive enough add in fact that terrain is randomly generated. It can not be over stated how large this environment is. It’s also incredible because the game came out in 1996, and despite all the time that has passed few games have gotten close to having a world this large. It’s an interesting and fun place to explore, but it’s size is what makes it so special.

The UnderGarden

The UnderGarden is in a class of it’s own in many aspects. It is not very action packed, instead focusing on puzzles. The environment is a major focus of this game. You swim through the worlds, they start darker but you spread light and colors to them. Most of your actions serve to grow flowers and add to the setting. It’s a very calming world, and rather exquisite. Because you are interacting directly with the environment it starts to feel like it’s own character almost, and restoring it brings a certain level of joy.

South Park: Stick of Truth

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What I think gives Stick of Truth one of the best environments is how true it is to the show. Running through the town in the game is like running through an episode. A lot of attention is paid to the location of certain buildings, as well as putting a lot of buildings in that were call backs to earlier episodes. Taking the time to make sure it looks like the show, and then adding many of the fan’s favorite places really makes Stick of Truth shine.

Assassin’s Creed

This franchise does an amazing job of putting gamers in different settings. Part of what is so fun about this series is getting to explore old worlds in a realistic way of how they would have been. Using real landmarks, and the knowledge the teams have available they do their best to take gamers into the past. Whether it’s expoloring the middle east during the third crusade, or America during the Revolutionary War this franchise allows gamers to play in history. There was some creative liberty taken of course, but it remains enjoyable none the less.

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is interesting because not only does it include standard environments, but the colossi themselves are also part of it. The overall feeling of this game is dark, and has a very grey and moody atmosphere to match. Then add in the massive colossi that the player has to climb over to defeat. It’s a great blend of both the epic monsters that the player is battling, and a wide open spaces. Shadow of the Colossus is not a happy game, and it does a great job of dragging the player along in a beautiful but depressing world.

Fallout

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Fallout blends futuristic technology with 1950s Aermicana, and people love it. It’s a very interesting clash of new and old, and remains one of the more unique series in gaming because of it. There is something wholly unique about walking around a nuclear savaged world while at the same time feeling like you’ve stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. This blend is compelling, and allows Fallout to shine.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts doesn’t just have one setting, but rather a multitude of many interesting places. Kingdom Hearts gives gamers the wonderful chance to play in a few of their favorite Disney worlds. Each world has it’s own unique look and feel, even the main characters will change at times. With such distinct worlds it helps to keep the game interesting. The jungles of Tarzan feel completely different from the darkness of Halloween Town. It helps to immerse the gamer as well as give a heaping helping of nostalgia.

Video Games

Games That Could Have Been Great

There are a number of games out there that hold so much potential. They are games that vary in execution, some of them are actually good while others are down right horrible. What they have in common is the fact that they could have been so much more.

Spryo: Enter the Dragonfly… but it was rushed

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Spryo: Enter the Dragonfly was the first Spyro game for the PS2 and Gamecube. It was set up to do really well too. The series was still popular and adventure games like it (such as Ratchet and Clank) were doing very well. The game was rushed though, it released earlier than planned and suffered greatly for it. The game was shorted significantly, didn’t really innovate the series, and on top of all that suffered from some serious glitches. The game is nearly impossible to play because of it’s technical flaws. When the game is playable it’s a decent amount of fun and shows great potential, more of the game is spent resetting it than actually playing it though. Not only was the game itself terrible, but it is considered to be the main cause of Spryo’s fall from fame.

 

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance… but there is just too much going on.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance (like it’s name) has just a little too much going on. It continues the popular Kingdom Hearts series only adding in a few more bells and whistles. They included characters from World Ends With You. There is also a plethora of gameplay inclusions using both the touch pad and buttons, as well as the way you work with your team. The basic problem, there is just way too much happening in this game. Everything suffers slightly because it feels like no attention was paid to actually perfecting all these different aspects. It has one of the weaker stories in the series, rushed character development, and gameplay that doesn’t feel fleshed out. All in all it’s an ok game, but maybe had a few aspects been pulled the remaining ones could have shined.

Saints Row 4… but it was just a little too crazy.

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The Saints Row series has gone through a lot of changes over it’s life time. It started as a subpar GTA clone, then embraced the power of humor to set it apart. Saints Row 3 took the humor to a pretty big extreme, then Saints Row 4 decided to double up on that. The game is just crazy, it adds crazy new gameplay features, and over the top story lines. The problem is there is no substance to back up this level of crazy. There is fun to be had, but honestly what the game really needs is some more heart.

Duke Nukem Forever… but, well we all know

Honestly at this point we’ve all said the same things about this game. It was delayed too many times, there are just no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Some people enjoyed the game, and there is fun to be had. The problem is the game was just sent back to the drawing board so many times that it sort of got lost in the process. In the end a game that was anticipated and hyped to no end was just an average game. There was nothing that stood out, innovated, or recaptured fans love of the series. If Spryo proves that games shouldn’t be rushed, this game proves that some games need to be given up on.

Assassin’s Creed 3… but it takes forever to start

Assassin’s Creed 3 is not a bad game, in fact it’s rather enjoyable. Not the best in the series, but a decent installment. There is one major problem in my opinion, and that is the game just doesn’t seem to want to start. First you play a little introduction with Haytham, it’s pretty clear you won’t be playing as him for the full game, but whatever it feels a lot like a tutorial. So you help Haytham, have a pretty big plot twist then take over the main character of Connor. The problem is you start as child Connor and do ANOTHER tutorial like set of missions as he grows up. Once he grows you think “finally the game will begin” and yet… That’s right more tutorial like missions. It’s hard to stay excited for the game when you just keep waiting for it to start. I am not one to complain about story heavy games, but honestly this game really just needed to get on with it.

Silent Hill 4… but it shouldn’t have been a Silent Hill game.

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Despite what many (myself included) believe Silent Hill 4 was always meant to be a Silent Hill game. However the rumors that it was originally not connected to the series are pretty reasonable. Frankly I am of the belief that it just shouldn’t have been part of the series. The main point with Silent Hill 4 is that they wanted it to be completely different and “take the series in a new direction”. The problem is, it ends up just feeling disconnected and unsatisfying. The plot is interesting, but feels like all the “Silent Hill” inclusions are forced. The gameplay isn’t bad, but feels like a total departure. Honestly slap a different name on the game, remove the references to Silent Hill, and you have a decent survival horror game. The problem is the Silent Hill part sets up expectations that the game is unable to live up to.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot… but magic and honestly I’m not sure

The biggest problem with this game is they had a great foundation. Condemned was not perfect, but it was a really great and underrated game. It suffered from some issues but all the sequel really needed to do was flesh out what was already there. Instead they left the problematic things problematic, and then threw in a bunch of other stuff like magic and a convoluted plot. The game still suffers from technical issues like the first only now it was drowning in a bad story, and is just another horror action game rather than survival horror. At the end of the day it boils down to wasted potential.