Everyone has that one game they defend, even though they know full well there are much better games, it doesn’t stop them from arguing that their game is the greatest of all time. These are what I like to call pedestal games. You have elevated your opinion of this game to such a level that nothing anyone can say will change your mind. Now I’m not saying these games are bad, far from it. Every game on this list, in their own way, are some of the best examples of the video game industry and show just how far our medium has come. All I’m asking is, should you elevate these games beyond human understanding?
To start with, let’s talk about one of my own pedestal games; Uncharted 2. When this game came out, 2009, we were in the midst of the drab coloured chest high walls military shooter boom. Every game had to be gritty and realistic while having macho marines shooting nameless enemies. Then came Uncharted 2. With an explosion of colour, flawed protagonist and outstanding set pieces, it blew audiences away at the time. No game had epitomised how video games could mimic Hollywood blockbusters before.
I still rate this as one of my favourite games of all time even over other Naughty Dog masterpieces like Last of Us (which could be another pedestal game). Thing is, and this is really hard to admit, you take away all the window dressing and Uncharted 2 is no different to those chest high walls military shooter. Yes, there is vertically in the gameplay but you’re still being funnelled from section to section mowing down unnamed enemies. Right now the hard one is out the way, let continue with arguably the biggest pedestal game.
Pong was one of the first video games to achieve mainstream success. When people saw it they literally crapped their pants. “Things are moving on the television and I’m controlling them. This must be some sort of alien technology”, then they would run from the room screaming. Thing is though, have you ever played Pong? It’s awful. There’s nothing else that can be said about it. The graphics are crap, there’s no story whatsoever (unless you make one up, I’m hoping to sell the script I’ve written soon) and most importantly of all, it’s about as fun as watching paint dry on a hangover.
I know what you’re thinking. How can you say that about a game that was out 47 years ago? Well, that’s my point. By today’s standards, this game is awful. Even people alive when Pong first came out don’t want to play it for sentimental reasons. It’s just awful. But because it was the first game ever that made it into the mainstream market, it’s hailed as this god amongst cartridges. You’re starting to see my point hopefully, well onto the heavy hitters.
Final Fantasy 7 put the Playstation on the map. It had the most amazing cutscenes ever seen in a video game. It had characters that you actually cared about and even shed a tear for one of them. It had one of the most engrossing stories ever seen in any form of entertainment. The list goes on and on for positive things that can be said about FF7. Every entry in the series is judged and measured by this game. And you know what? They’re right. Without a doubt, if it hadn’t been for FF7 and the brave development team at Square Soft, things would be a lot different these days. It’s cutscenes alone inspired many developers to start writing thought-provoking scripts that resulted in the high quality of storytelling we have today. They are right. To a certain extent that is.
FF7 was an amazing game at the time but look at what we have in this modern day. There are games that eclipse FF7 in terms of gameplay, cutscenes and characters. Let me just reiterate, because I know how touchy FF7 fans can get. I’m not saying it’s a bad game. I’m just saying it shouldn’t be put onto that pedestal. It was an amazing game but get over it. It’s not the greatest game ever made. Yet, in some people’s eyes, it is. These people are still willing to say that out of everything, we have today, out of all the advancements in technology and game engines, out of every single game since 1997, FF7 is the greatest game of all time. And why? Because it was the first. That’s the thing about pedestal games. They’re usually the first of there type. Pong was the first mainstream game and Final Fantasy 7 was the first big budget RPG and The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time was the first 3D action adventure game that worked.
When writing the next paragraph, which was going to cover Ocarina of Time, a thought came into my head. I’ve never played Ocarina of Time. This puts me in a predicament. This is a game that has definitely been put on a pedestal. The amount of best game ever competitions it has won and the fact, it’s still to this day, one the highest scoring games prove that but what if it’s deserved. There are games that are on a pedestal and wholeheartedly deserve it.
Half Life 2, for example, is still hailed as the king of all FPS, just try to argue that CoD sheep. Not only did Half Life 2 improve on its predecessor in terms of story and character development, two traits that were unheard of in an FPS, but it also invented one of the first physics engine in a game. Half Life 2 is right up on that pedestal and deserves it. There have been few FPS since that is as character and story driven. Keeping on the FPS theme, it’s time for a reality check.
How would you feel if there was a game that has choppy graphics, low polygon count, very bad controls, stupid AI and numerous glitches? Now, imagine this game is hailed as revolutionising multiplayer gaming while showing just what a console first-person shooter is capable of. It’s considered to be one of the all-time greats. If you haven’t guessed it, this game is Goldeneye 64. Remember putting hours upon hours into trying to get all the level cheats and multiplayer characters? This was one of the main games of many people’s childhoods; I counted it as one of my favourite games and argued when people said anything negative about it. You can imagine my enjoyment then, after years of being without an N64 after my mum threw it out with all my games, I had the privilege to be in a room that had an N64 and Goldeneye 64. It booted up and tears were close to my eyes.
It is absolutely awful.
This is a hard thing for me to say as it was an integral part of my childhood but it’s simply awful these days. The controls are so shoddy. How did we survive without an extra analogue stick? It just doesn’t feel right anymore not being able to move the camera without having to dislocate your hand to do so. The aiming was all over the place and the textures in the game look ugly. Worst of all though, was how dull it all looked. The game felt lifeless. It’s like going on a terrifying roller coaster only to find out it goes as fast as a stair-lift. It felt boring, boring! This is Goldeneye 64 and it felt boring. The final punch to the face was the end of the first level where you do the bungee jump off the dam. Remember being mesmerised by how awe-inspiring this was. I do. I remember my jaw hitting the floor. It is one of the ugliest cutscenes ever seen. The worst part is the character animation. It’s so blocky and robotic.
Yes it did lead the way for console first-person shooters and it set the groundwork for multiplayer gaming but these days it’s doesn’t stand. You mention this game to people though and you’re greeted with showers of nostalgic memories. Say one word bad about Goldeneye 64 and you’re cast into Silent Hill for the rest of time. If you’re like me, you remember this game as being amazing but, take it from one that knows, it isn’t. Out of all games that are on that high and mighty pedestal, Goldeneye 64 is the game that has the least right to be there. Don’t believe me? Buy an N64 and Goldeneye for about 10 quid and try playing it. Then you can console with me about all those shattered childhood memories.
There are so many other games to mention in this article but I don’t want to lose all credibility as a writer just yet. I hope that this article has made you see a different side to those godly games that are sitting on the pedestal of gaming greatness. Granted there are games that should be there and will remain there forever because they don’t age. They still have the same impact when you play them today as they did when you first booted them up and felt your eyes bleed.
Many of these games though, should be demoted. Be it because they haven’t stood the test of time or there are just better games of the same genre in this modern age of HDMI cables and wireless controllers. It’s hard to admit you were wrong but seriously think. Is there a game that you defend until you’re blue in the face? Every gamer has a few. Well, does it still have the same impact after all these years? The answer is going to yes. Because at the end of the day, if you are willing to defend a game with that much ferocity, you’re not going to be changing your mind any time soon. But against the likes of the behemoths of gaming today, is the story as engaging as Mass Effect, are the graphics as beautifully stunning as Red Dead Redemption 2 and how fluid are the controls when measured against the likes of Bloodborne?
There are those games that knock all of these games out the water and if that’s your game then well done. Go argue it’s point until you turn blue. But try playing it again and seeing how good it really is because, as Goldeneye 64 proved, you could be wrong. You could be oh so very wrong.