Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Toolbox 24's Top Ten Games from 2000

2000 – The first year of the new Millenium and a pretty good year for games. If this Top Ten is anything to go by, it was apparently the year of the Sequel, with 4 of my titles being affixed with either a 2 or a II.
This list is merely my opinion, and not to be taken anything other than. There might be a couple of games missing from the list that you would be quite :O’ed by, but these are my personal top ten games of the year 2000. These are based on things such as playability, and how long they managed to keep me entertained – and some of them are still in my games library being played.

So here we go…

10 – WWF: Smackdown! 2 Know Your Role – THQ – PS1

The first of 5 sequels, WWF: SD2KYR was at the time for me wrestling gaming perfection. THQ had bolstered the creation mode of the game from their previous game – WWF: Smackdown! – and had also updated quite a few little bits and pieces here and there. Yes the game was riddled with glitches and long loading times, and also had a couple of wrestlers kinda ghosting in the game – WWF told THQ to remove Ken Shamrock and Big Show, which they almost did, because although you couldn’t play as them, or use their music or anything, they still appeared in a couple of game modes – but this game for me at the time was as close to being a wrestler as I could get without actually wrestling and hurting myself…ahem. Yes since then, THQ has made a lot of better WWF/WWE games, but for 2000 –this was the one for me.

9 – Perfect Dark – Rare – N64

This could make the Top Ten List of 2000 for 1 main reason – it is essentially the spiritual successor to the amazing Rare FPS game – Goldeneye 007. It shares many of the same features (if it ain’t broke…) as Goldeneye 007, with obvious enhanced graphics and sound. The storyline involves secret organisations, secret aliens, obvious aliens, AI and is all based 12 years from now (based in 2023). The gameplay offers some nice little features, such as unlocking “classic” weapons, which are all renamed Goldeneye weapons, and also being able to go at missions in 2 ways (which seems so common-place now) but at the time was still a good approach to FPS gaming – Gung Ho vs Stealth. Not wanting to go on too much about this, I’ll move onto Number 8, as I feel as if someone has crawled into my head and told me to move on…

8 – Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 – Westwood Studios – PC

Yuri. Quite a centrepiece of the Red Alert games…especially in the add-on pack…Yuri’s Revenge. But he was again the main antagonist in this game, that took the original C&C games, and gave it a graphical overhaul. And didn’t overly mess with the gameplay that made the original games so amazing. C&C:RA2 took the premise that “THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!!!” and had them not only coming over, but they were already here…that is if here was the USA. Ivan had invaded the USA and was storming across California and into heartland America. There was only 1 person who could change the tide of the war, and that person was you. Of and if you’re keeping count, that was sequel No. 2.

7 – Solider of Fortune – Raven Software – PC

Such an amazing game, and a storyline straight out of an 80’s Action Movie! Main baddy, Sergei Dekker is the leader of this neo-Nazi group who has stolen some Nukes and plans to sell them to various bidders around the world – naughty bidders no less. Built on the a modified Quake II Engine, the game runs on what is called the GHOUL Engine…Shoot a guy in the foot, he hops around because his foot was blown off, shoot him in the neck, he’ll gasp for air whilst blood is shooting from the hole in his throat, and of course there are various other bits to shoot off to great grizzly effect!! This is a pure out ‘n’ out shooter, with gruesome graphics, a cheesy 80’s action movie plot, and a German Nazi Bad Guy. This game is pure fun with a capital F.

6 – Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn – BioWare – PC

Yes, it’s the third sequel on the list, and it’s by everyone’s favourite RPG creators – BioWare. Before they were an even longer than a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, before they were slaying Dragons and before they showed us the Reaper threat, BioWare were busy creating awesome games even in the dark ages of the turn of the millennium. Baldur’s Gate II: SoA is an epic RPG with the staples of BioWare games of today embedded in it. Great story, great gameplay and the real-time, but pausable combat. And as is another staple of BioWare’s greatness, is that your decisions in the game effect what is going to happen later on. The story on Baldur’s Gate is as epic as their latest adventure with Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. Baldur’s Gate also has a huge cult following, with hundreds of unofficial add-ons, totalling hours and hours of gameplay to advance the story on – faithfully replicating the greatness of the originals. I could go on, but there’s the top 5 to go through…

5 - Championship Manager Season 00/01 – Sports Interactive – PC

To those who know me, you should know that when I’m not shopping at my favourite store on the Citadel, or shooting zombies, or basking in the coolness of an eastern European trying to make it in Liberty City, I’m most likely managing some team to greatness in the Football Manager games. I play Football Manager now, because since Eidos and Sports Interactive (SI) split, Eidos kept the name, and SI kept the game mechanics, and changed their title to a lesser known early 80’s game – Football Manager. But once upon a time, Eidos and SI worked together as a momentous front pairing, like Owen and Shearer, devastating defenceless imitations like LMA Manager, FIFA Manager or Premier Manager. SI have moved on to be an awesome lone striker, with a supporting forward in Sega, but Eidos are always cowering in their shadows…anyways onto the game!! This game must hit my top 5 because as with all the SI games, this is immensely immersive, addictive and so playable it should be illegalised. Yeah it still had the old fashioned text for matches, but it had everything you could want, and also Leeds were a force to be reckoned with in the Premiership!!! Always a winner. Go out and grab a copy, so you can see what Football could have been like without Roman’s Rubles at Chelscum, before Fabregas could even shave let alone broker a deal to Barcelona, and of course, before the Golden Generation of England players turned into a wee bit of a flop. As addictive as ever, and also look into a world of Football where teams who overreach like someone on a ladder who’s “been doing this for years” and bomb aren’t described (with shame in my tone) as “doing a Leeds”.

4 - Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 – Neversoft – PS1

Massively addictive, and so many days spent with Jollyoaks trying to get that little bit further, trying to do that one extra rail slide to get the extra points to win the round, get more cash, buy more skill upgrades or “Tekkers” as the kids say these days, and what you have is a hugely addictive game that never failed to surprise. I’ve played other THPS games since, and number 2 (hahahaha) is the best by far. It’s simple gameplay, makes it a dream to play, and also if you’re impatient, it’s learning curve is tiny! Various different courses to explore and develop your skills on, and more and more little hidden gems than you could shake a shitty stick at. Worth more than just a quick once over, worth spending whole days playing while the world does what it has to do in your absence.

3 - The Sims – Maxis – PC 

If you haven’t heard of The Sims then it’s kinda like saying you’ve not heard of The Godfather, or Iron Maiden, or Friends. It’s like saying that you’ve not heard of McDonalds, that you don’t know what a pencil is, or that you think that Posh Spice is a female version of Old Spice for the ladies. The basic premise for The Sims is simple, and not what you would expect from a game that has 2 sequels and has sold millions of copies around the world: play as a normal guy or gal, and live their lives. But surely there’s a storyline? Or the person you are has like super powers? No? So you have to get them a job? And clean their house? And buy stuff like dining tables and lights? When you look at it all like this, it makes you wonder how this ever became the mega massive ultra-high ranking addictive game that it actually is. But it works. All of it works, and it’s one of the most addictive game franchises of all time. Live your life through a Sim. Wanna be a policeman? Do it! Wanna buy a new fridge? Save for a couple of days and buy one! Wanna child? Sure just knock up your girlfriend and after a few days you got one! The simple things in life become the big things in the game. Hurrah, your Sim just made dinner that didn’t burn the house down, or your Sim didn’t block the toilet after going to “make”. Another great addition, is the inclusion of all the extra packs you could get to outfit your Sim or their home with a myriad of extras. A purely addictive computer game that still keeps people glued to their screens more than 10 years later.

2 - Deus Ex – Ion Storm Inc. – PC

Deus Ex is by far not just one of the greatest games of the year 2000, but one of the greatest games ever made. With a storyline that draws you in, and offers you several different conclusions at the end, with twists and turns and one of the first games to offer you an almost open-world gameplay. Not to the extent of the GTA games, but awesome nonetheless for the time of the game, and the good graphics for the time. Set in a not too distant future where terrorists are the order of the day, and the world falling ever quicker into turmoil. You are JC Denton, a novice UN Anti-Terrorist Coalition agent, who – as the game unfolds – discovers that he has stumbled upon an ancient conspiracy involving the Illuminati, the Hong Kong Triads and sophisticated AI to name but a few. The style of game for this FPS/RPG means that you can either be a bit of a badass shooting first and taking names later, or you can find other means to reach your goal and complete your mission. Worldwide acclaim and high scores from pretty much every source shows that it isn’t just a select few who think of this game as world-class, but pretty much everyone who has ever stepped into Denton’s shoes thinks of this game in their own personal top 10.

1 - Counter-Strike – Valve – PC

I suppose before I start, I should really point out 2 things. Valve didn’t come up with Counter-Strike (CS). All credit must go to Minh “Gooseman” Le and Jess “Cliffe” Cliffe. A year previous in 1999, these 2 modified Half Life to create a basic team deathmatch mod, which they called Counter-Strike. This caught on, and became so immensely popular, that by the 4th beta version of the mod, Valve stepped in to help the modders, and even employed Gooseman into their ranks. The official retail version wasn’t released until Nov 2000, and Valve never looked back. Without this mod, and new game, it’s arguable that Valve wouldn’t have reached the heights that they have since hit, with Half Life 2, Steam, and of course Left 4 Dead. Enough of this though. CS is still one of the most popular online games on the internet, and possibly could only claim second place in the all time league to World of Warcraft, for the amount of players who have spent countless hours playing this game. Professional gamers earn a living playing this game in professional leagues, which are sometimes televised in the US and Canada, at the time of writing (2045GMT, Sun 4th Sep 2011) Steam currently shows that just under 60,000 people are playing Counter-Strike, compared with under 35,000 people currently playing the new Deus-Ex game, oh and that little CoD game that “gamers” seem to like to much, the total players of Modern Warfare 2 and Black-Ops only slightly top the amount of people playing a real FPS. Don’t get me wrong I like the CoD games, but I don’t prematurely ejaculate at the thought of playing it like some people do. The gameplay is smooth, especially now that hardware and software have moved on, but even in it’s day, it was a smooth and thoroughly fun game to play. Simple premise – 2 teams, terrorists and counter terrorists, fight and try to win. Simple? You bet it’s simple, not just that, but it’s so addictive and so easy to get lost in for hours, it’s what makes games great. Some people can get lost in a good book, or be brought to tears by an emotional film, and others can’t get by easily without their fix of Eastenders - some people lose themselves in games like this. If you’ve got a bit of time, play this game, and immerse yourself into some real team playing CS fun. An easily chosen Number 1 for the year 2000, and if you go by player numbers on a year on year basis, would be in at least the top 5 every year since.