Like many holidays that offer you the ability to shamelessly eat and drink as much as you want while multi-colored explosions fill the sky for your amusement, it can be easy to forget the real meaning of the 4th of July.
It’s a day where Americans celebrate not the attainment of independence, but the declaration of it. Before we could earn it though, we needed a revolution, which meant lives would be lost, heroes made, and ultimately one side being written as the victor.
Revolution is one of the oldest story concepts out there, but for whatever reason it doesn’t find its way into video games often as a central plotline. Fortunately though, the revolution games available offer enough entertainment to compensate for the lack of overall entries.
If you’re looking to celebrate the day Americn declared revolution through games then, do so with some of the best revolution games available.
The most entertaining revolution game of all time? You could make the argument.
“Freedom Fighters” is the story of a plumber swept up into a revolution against the Russian empire that, in this timeline, has been growing in strength since the end of WWII. The gunplay, squad mechanics, and varied objectives are all great, but where “Freedom Fighters” really made its name was its presentation and environment. This is basically “Red Dawn” the video game, and little touches like Russian broadcasts that portray your actions as terrorist activities really sell the world being created.
“Freedom Fighters” didn’t get a fair chance on the market when it was released, and considering how hard to find it is now, is likely to remain cimrinally underrated. Should you ever get the chance though, be sure to experience it.
Continuing our underrated theme (which is oddly true of many games about revolution) “The Saboteur” didn’t make a huge impact upon release, but has since become appreciated as a hidden gem.
This is due in large part to the game’s graphics (black and white with splashes of color) and plotline that sees you look for revenge as a member of the resistance in Nazi occupied France. Certain elements like the stealth sections are underdeveloped, and overall the gameplay is leagues behind “Freedom Fighters” or many other titles, but “Saboteur” has style to spare, and provides a memorable experience because of it.
The Just Cause Series
“Just Cause” is one of the few games to really develop an equally entertaining franchise based on a revolution plot, and as such both games get mentioned here.
Whether you’re being dropped into the fictional island of San Esperito or Panau, both games provide a similar objectives, as you play Rico Rodriguez, a man tasked with starting a revolution against oppressive warlords. To do so, you undertake tasks for various groups that could all play a part in the coup to come, and also engage in some good old fashioned anarchy of your own accord.
Similar to the “GTA” games in structure, “Just Cause” made its name by having absolutely huge worlds with loads of crazy stuff to do. It’s the perfect set up, and is executed with bravado.
Jagged Alliance 2
As rare as revolution games are, we unfortunately got even less squad based strategy games based around revolution, which is a real shame considering how well the idea fits. Fortunately “Jagged Alliance 2″ may have perfected the idea before it went dormant.
Featuring action similar to the old “XCOM” games, “Jagged Alliance 2” is a complex and incredibly deep title that sees you take the role of a hired gun for the exiled leader of a former Monarch empire, as he tries to take down his betraying wife, and reclaim what was his. Along the way you’ll gather mercenaries, train them, and take on odd jobs between main objectives to finance everything.
“Republic”, the most ambitious revolution game ever made, generated some serious hype before it was released, only to be met with some deserved criticism for its gameplay shortcomings, particularly when it came to control issues and its steep learning curve.
However there is no game before or since like “Republic,” as it offers the chance to start a revolution from the ground floor, and focuses more on the political and strategy side rather than action. As you might imagine, it takes a lot of effort and planning to truly execute a successful revolution, and you’ll have to devote hours navigating menus to even make progress towards that objective.
“Republic” isn’t a perfect game, or even a great one, but for strategy hounds, its one of a kind.
The winds of gaming are constantly shifting and changing, but whether it be the next generation bearing down on us, or the inevitable just happening to be occurring, it seems quite a few changes seem to happening at once when it comes to actual gameplay.
For our purposes, let’s call them trends.
Like any other medium, gaming is susceptible to trends now and then, but unlike, say, the world of fashion where they often pass by with such speed as to go unnoticed, trends in gaming tend to stay quite some time. If you’re looking for what to expect out of video games as we enter a new generation then, look no further than these five trends, which will soon dominate the industry.
5. Tablet and Smartphone Interactivity
Maybe the Wii U isn’t so farfetched after all, as supporters for using smartphone and tablet features with their games are a growing crowd.
This is most obvious through the Xbox One’s features, which make it clear Microsoft intends to use every entertainment avenue available to enhance the function of their system, however, this is also visible in individual titles like “Watch Dogs” and “The Division,” which are not only promising, but show some exciting and creative tablet support features as well.
It’s a growing tech world out there, and video games seem to be recognizing that as they head into a new generation.
4. Games Get Harder
This is more a notion of where we are going to be in a year from now, more than an idea with a host of tangible examples, but games are slowly getting harder.
Call it the “Dark Souls” effect, but suddenly it seems like even the normal modes of titles are presenting more of a challenge than they did just a few years ago. Whether it be in last year’s surprise hit “XCOM,” or this year’s GOTY leader “The Last of Us,” single player games are creeping closer to the 15 hour, or more, completion mark that was rare in even more recent major releases.
The only downside here is that this could lead to a greater emphasis in the freemium model as companies charge to help gamers get ahead. As long as some personal restraint is shown from gamer’s end though, this is a good thing.
3. Shooters Are Here to Stay
The shooter genre (the majority of which are of the FPS variety) represented the dominate game type of this last generation and, if this year’s E3 is any indication, that isn’t changing anytime soon.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as many of these shooters represented the best games of the show. Titles like “Titanfall,” “Destiny,” and “Killzone: Shadow Fall” all garnered well deserved attention, and show that FPS’s are not only still kicking, but have plenty of life left in them.
If you’re really down about this though, just know that plenty of developers on both the indie scene and elsewhere are coming up with a plethora of original ideas, seemingly to combat this movement. However, that’s just all the more evidence the shooter is still king.
2. Color Comes Back
In an effort to present a “maturity” of sorts, many games from the previous generation used muted tones of grey, black, and brown and little else. While it got the bleak mood across well enough, it also led to every game looking the same.
But between “Bioshock Infinite’s” bright and creative world of Columbia, “Far Cry: Blood Dragon’s” neon tints, and several titles at E3, it looks like the sun is slowly breaking through the grey, and color is being highlighted once more in the gaming world. Even “Killzone,” the poster child of the grey palate, seems to be integrating reds, blues, and more into its next title, serving as a harbinger of sort for the movement.
Maybe not everyone sees it the same way, but this is a promising trend that can only improve creativity.
1. The Apocalypse
Every once in a while a setting dominates gaming. It was WWII, then it was Sci-Fi military worlds, and then of course the last few years have shown a horde of zombie games flood the market.
Now though, it’s the apocalypse that’s primed to dominate the scene. “The Division,” “The Last of Us,” “Mad Max,” “Titanfall,” “Destiny,” and too many more to count all show some sort of view of the world after the one we know now has ended, and they are just the horsemen of this movement that is sure to change the landscape of gaming in a literal way.
Like many other trends, your interpretation may vary on this movement, but it does mean that from now on it’s the end of the world as we know it.
If you haven’t heard, Empire recently broke the embargo date for their “Last of Us” review and, though it has already been taken down, leaks of the review reveal impressions as glowing as could possibly be, including a quote that the title could give gaming its “Citizen Kane moment.”
While that remains to be seen, that quote does bring up an interesting point that sometimes games and films run parallel to each other not in their themes or plots, but in the impact they leave, and the greater ideas they exhibit.
So even though some may initially appear to be as far apart as can be, here are five video games with historically speaking film equivalents.
The Game – Braid
The Film – Reservoir Dogs
What They Have In Common:
There were indie games before “Braid,” just as there were indie movies before “Reservoir Dogs.” Yet both usually come to mind first when considering the word indie, mostly because they each achieved a level of success across every measurable aspect that was unprecedented for independent titles, and opened the door for smaller creators to get their films and games out there with a legitimate chance to make it that simply didn’t exist before.
The Game – E.T.
The Film – Plan 9 From Outer Space
What They Have In Common:
Hey, they’re not all great.
In fact some are just the worst. Both “Plan 9” and “E.T.” are usually the poster children for the “worst ever” argument, even if “Plan 9” didn’t become the scapegoat for the fall of its medium, nor did it get buried in a New Mexico landfill. The real reason that these two are siblings though is because despite their image as the worst, they actually aren’t. Instead both are so bad they have achieved a cult status greater than their actual quality should have allowed for.
The Game – Grand Theft Auto III
The Film – Easy Rider
What They Have In Common:
The American dream, violence, rebellion, controversy, and freedom are all themes prevalent in “Easy Rider,” and “GTA III.” Both challenged the mainstream conscious with their brazen attitudes and controversial style, yet both would usher in new eras of thinking where suddenly the establishment was no longer what had to be, and anything seemed possible. Hell, both even had rocking soundtracks, and the “GTA” series would later feature “Easy Rider’s” stars Peter Fonda, and Dennis Hopper.
The Game – Myst
The Film – 2001: A Space Odyssey
What They Have In Common:
It’s not easy to make an artistically acclaimed and financially successful work that forces people to reexamine their perceptions, but “Myst” and “2001” did just that. Experiencing either was a watermark moment that made you expand your mind, yet both also achieved some unusual financial success considering their ambition. Need further proof? Both also happen to be very confusing, both featured validation of technological innovations (“2001’s” special effects, and “Myst’s” CD-ROM format), and both honestly haven’t aged that well.
The Game – Super Mario Bros.
The Film – Star Wars
What They Have In Common:
Sharing a theme with other entrants in this article, “Star Wars” and “Super Mario” were not the first of their kind, which in this instance means blockbusters.
However, they are both icons of the word blockbuster, because of the impact they made. “Star Wars” would usher in a new era where films were financially viable beyond just box office receipts, and “Super Mario” showed gaming could be successful once more. Even though both would be surpassed by their true successors (“Empire Strikes Back” and “Super Mario Bros. 3”), there is a mystique and undeniable quality regarding these works that makes them not only landmarks, but have maintained their ability to be successfully introduced to new generations.
There are many games out there that are punishingly difficult, and gamer’s will admit bowing down to without shame. But for every “Dark Souls,” “Ninja Gaiden,” and “Ghosts and Goblins” out there, there is another type of game that is equally challenging, but one that fewer people will admit to being beaten by.
They are games that beat us not with waves of impossible enemies, or random death traps, but instead with complex rules, hours of learning, and serious brainpower requirements. They aren’t games that challenge our reactions, but rather our intellect. Regardless, they provide equally grueling experiences that only the most elite of gamers will ever see the end of (if there even is one).
These are some of the most complicated games of all time.
There are a lot of simulation games out there that cover every topic from Earth to ant colonies. However, as difficult as some of those can be, few are as challenging as “Tropico,” which places you in the role of a dictator over a small island.
What separates “Tropico” from other sim titles is the sheer number of things you have to oversee. There’s a surprising amount of aspects required to rule over a helpless populous, and almost every action in one field can cause horrific and unfixable problems in another, making it almost impossible to keep all the political, social, and economical needs in balance
To be fair, on the easier difficulties, “Tropico” is not much more grating than “SimCity.” Bump that difficulty up to one of the more realistic modes though, and you get a game that’ll have your virtual dictator reaching for his emergency revolver when the peasants come rioting, around the same time you do.
Of all the 4X strategy games that require you to build a world (or universe) expanding empire from virtually nothing, few, if any, have ever dared to be as daunting as “Pax Imperia.”
Latin for imperial peace, “Pax Imperia” charges the player with building the largest empire the universe has ever known. While there may be similar games out there, “Pax” gets the nod due to it coming out at a time (1992) when this concept was foreign to games, and as such “Pax” throws an infinite amount of options at the player, without giving them much of a frame of reference as to how to use even the most crucial elements.
“Pax Imperia” is one of those games you can spend years perfecting your craft at before mastering it. Like many punishing games though, the amount of effort you put into it, is equal to the enjoyment you get out of it.
Rainbow Six: Rouge Spear
You may not associate action games with complexity and, if you’ve only been playing them for the last few years, it’s probably not the word that springs to mind when describing the “Rainbow Six” series either.
However, 1999’s “Rouge Spear” shatters both of those perceptions with its punishing form of strategic team based special operations. Every mission requires you to craft the perfect plan, which can then fall apart in an instant if you don’t flawlessly execute it (and even then, you’ve got little hope). Oh, and the few moments of action are often one shot for a kill (which applies to you and the enemies…but mostly you.)
As frustrating as “Rouge Spear” can be, I actually miss the wait and see approach it took to the shooter genre. If you’ve never played the series’ original games before, give this one a shot if you want to experience a thinking man’s action game.
It’s easy to forget that before “World of Warcraft,” MMO games were among the most daunting and complex of all gaming genres. Of those games, the crown jewel may be “EVE Online.”
“EVE” would be complicated enough on its own as most of the gameplay revolves around navigating a series of really detailed menus and performing hundreds of hours of mundane tasks, but the game’s hardcore players have turned the title into a whole different animal. Trying to jump into “EVE” as a newbie will thrust you into a universe of politics, economics, and caste systems that are as challenging to learn and overcome as any in the real world
“EVE” is not for everyone, and anybody sane will most likely give up on it before even the 20 hour mark. Press on though, and you may find every other game to be to suddenly be too simple.
A theme with the other games on this list is that they eventually reward you for all of your efforts with a one of a kind experience. This is not the case with “Dwarf Fortress.”
Oh sure, somewhere beneath its text based graphics, 90% based on menus gameplay, and learning curve so steep that a publisher of technical manuals created a 238 page illustrated guide that just shows how to get started, is probably a game that provides moments unlike any other, but good luck ever sticking with it long enough to even find the surface to scratch.
“Dwarf Fortress” may be a game about constructing the ultimate stronghold for your gang of dwarves, but its real purpose is to crush souls and make Mensa members feel inadequate. The real kicker? It’s main mode is essentially unwinnable.
When you consider the amount of work put into making a complete game even functional, it’s amazing that game developers have the time to create some of the coolest objects in the game, and hide them places where they may never be found. Yet ever since some hidden credits in “Adventure,” video games and secrets have gone hand and hand.
Of these secrets, the best are the hidden weapons. Often maniacally tucked away and requiring a great deal of luck and effort to ever wield, they usually serve as unopposed killing machines worth every ounce of time and energy used to harness them, though the journey to do so is often more difficult than the game ever would have been if you’d chosen not to seek them out.
I love them though for their holy grail like status in many of the titles they are featured in, and these are five of my favorites.
The Sword of Kings – “EarthBound”
Any day I get to mention “EarthBound” is a good day.
While not the most powerful of the 1/128 items, it is the only weapon that one of your characters can use in the game, giving him a significant offensive boost. It also must be unlocked against a very tough enemy at a point where, if you haven’t been level grinding, you are lucky enough to survive a battle with, much less play the odds of defeating enough to find the fabled sword.
To this day I’ve never unlocked the Sword of Kings, though I regularly try.
The MIRV – “Fallout 3″
There is a weapon in “Fallout 3” called the Fat Man that shoots a mini-nuclear warhead that nothing in the game can withstand. The MIRV shoots 8 of those warheads at once.
To unlock it, you must find five transcripts from the Keller family spread throughout the world. Unless you’re cheating, these are not easy to just run across, and even doing so yields no guarantee you know what the hell they lead to. Piece it all together though, and you’d find your way to a hidden section of the national guard depo where the most powerful, and unnecessary, weapon ever in a video game lies.
Even in a world built upon, and still teeming with, nuclear atrocities, the MIRV might just be the greatest war crime ever constructed. It’s also happens to be fun as hell.
Biggoron’s Sword – “Ocarina of Time”
A gaming secret in a major release that few people knew about? There was a pre-internet time when such a thing was possible.
You may think there is no greater sword in “Ocarina of Time” than the Master Sword, but you would be wrong. To get it though, you have to complete a VERY lengthy quest of which there are very few hints of its existence, or where to go next during it. Make it through this hellacious and confusing journey though, and you’ll be rewarded with a two handed sword that does twice the damage as the Master Sword, and looks 10x as intimidating.
Finding the Biggoron’s Sword without the step by step instructions was a truly rewarding experience back in the day. Even with the walkthrough, it is still one of Link’s greatest all time weapons.
Whoever discovered this gun in the game, and the sequence to get it, is an obsessive compulsive evil genius. The Scarab was clearly not meant to be found by 99.9% of the people who played “Halo 2,” as the commonly accepted process to acquire it demands tremendous skill, potential hours upon hours of patience, and a split second moment of reaction thats absence negates the previous two requirements.
Your reward is a normal looking gun floating above a warning marker in a seemingly unreachable part of the level, that just so happens to pack the firepower of a tank, and will obliterate any single obstacle in your path. The gun only lasts one level, but the thrill of acquiring it is forever.
Excalibur II – “Final Fantasy IX”
Though I’m sure this isn’t factually true, from my personal knowledge and experience, this is as hard of a hidden weapon to unlock as exists.
See, if you play “Final Fantasy IX” the normal way (beat the main game, do a few side quests, enjoy yourself) it takes you about 45-50 hours to complete. To unlock the Excalibur II, you’ll need to get to this 4-disc adventure’s final boss in under 12 hours.
It’s not a challenge any sane individual would ever undertake, and requires all of your powers and efforts to complete. Manage to do so though, and you are rewarded with a sword that can deal the series’ 9999 damage max to even the most powerful of enemies at will, not to mention more hardcore nerd bragging rights than you could acquire even through sex with an actual un-paid human.
So I’m very curious to know what your favorite hidden weapons are, and which are the most difficult you’ve ever personally found. Be sure to let me know in the comments below.