Entertainment

Scrapbook – Games to Play Before You Die

What are the games you just *have* to play? Our writers share their thoughts...

Anyone who has had the pleasure of delving into the world of video games knows that such an experience is always a magical one – yet with so many games out there, it’s impossible to play them all. Therefore, Impact has compiled together a list of Video Games that everyone needs to play at least once, both old and new, so check it out to see which games you still need to play!

Mario Kart

Mario Kart is the game to play before you die. If you’ve somehow never played it, get yourself to a console now. I’ve played retro and new versions, on big TVs and small DS screens, and to be honest it doesn’t really matter which instalment you play, as long as you get the experience.

It’s a racing game like no other. The tracks are varied and wonderful, the item boxes add extra excitement to an already wacky game, and of course you get to play as the characters we all know and love. If you play only one videogame in your whole life, this is the one it should be.

There’s no better feeling than speeding past your competitors with a gold mushroom, feeling the power of invincibility with a star, or smashing other drivers with various coloured shells. There’s also no worse feeling than being only just in first and getting hit by a blue shell just before the finish line, but the Nintendo gods giveth and they taketh away.

I still pride myself at being the best in my family at Mario Kart Wii, and there will always be a time when I long for the thrill of a drive along the precarious Rainbow Road. This is definitely a game everyone should have a go at – and if you have, I bet I’ve now made you want to go back and play it again. You’re welcome.

Isobel Sheene

Skyrim

By now, I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls.  It is, by far, their best, and perhaps the best open world video game series currently out there. And although all of them are fantastic, nothing tops Skyrim.

Growing up as the younger sibling, when my sister bought Oblivion, I wasn’t allowed anywhere near it, or the PS3, for weeks. I wasn’t even allowed to create my own character until she’d finished practically every quest line the game had to offer. But, lucky for me, when Skyrim came out, my sister had already been shipped off to university and so the PS3 simply sat waiting for me. I think it’s easy to guess what I asked for that Christmas, and sure enough, before long I was happily playing Skyrim almost constantly, perhaps for the entirety of my Christmas holidays – I don’t even remember leaving the living room.

I tried out quite a few different character builds, but let’s be honest, when it comes to Skyrim, nothing beats a wood elf archer – especially when you’re sneaky; sneak damage pretty much one-shotted every enemy I came across late-game. It was pretty awesome.

But the joy of Skyrim is that you’re not confined to just one build – if you want to be a rampaging orc taking things on with a hammer, go for it! A feline thief? Why not? A magic-user? Be it necromancy, or straight up destruction, Skyrim has you covered. So, if you’ve yet to indulge in this fantastic open-world game, full of hundreds of unique and intriguing quest lines, I have just one question for you: What’s stopping you?

Georgia Butcher

Pokémon

Some time around 2006, nine-year-old me saw a strange new game being advertised called Pokémon Diamond, and sure enough, after nagging my parents, Father Christmas delivered, and ever since that day I’ve been a true devotee of the Pokémon world. Now over 20 years old, the Pokémon franchise is one of the largest gaming franchises in the world and shows no signs of slowing down – the latest instalment sold 7.17 million copies in its first month and a half.

Though, granted, some of the latest designs have been questionable (please don’t get me started on the travesty that is Salazzle), the franchise is rooted in fan-favourites and an amazing history of timeless characters (honestly, will Ash ever hit puberty?).

Though every fan you ask will have a favourite Pokémon and a different idea of what makes the perfect team, and though the debate over which starter is best will continue to rage for many more years (I will forever be on team Turtwig), the Pokémon games are a testament to the timelessness of an amazing concept, and the effect that can have on an entire generation.

Ellen Smithies

The Last of Us

Do you like a game that grips you from the very moment you start playing? The beauty of The Last of Us is that it captures your attention from the very first cutscene. If it isn’t the graphics that you are amazed by, it is the story that immediately pulls you in from the heart-wrenching opening that, personally, sent tears to my eyes!

Okay, so it might be a bit scary for some, but that is all part of the thrill – you never know what might be around the corner. Zombies are adapted into a species of evolving creatures that have different abilities (so not just your typical ‘braaaains’ monsters). Zombies are not the only threat however, if you pardon the significant Walking Dead similarity, you soon become faced with new enemies, and need to complete a mission that will never fail to shock you along the way.

So if you like a game that is filled with guns and action, a plot that pulls at your heartstrings, as well as riddles, horse riding, and even monkeys, then this post-apocalyptic game is something that you need to experience.

Katie Webster

The Sims

The Sims is the only game I’ve ever played that I have fully committed to. I remember the day I first played it, my aunty gave me a second-hand copy of The Sims 2 and I have never looked back since. WARNING – this game is highly addictive and will easily take over your life if you let it.

If you haven’t heard of it before (have you been living under a rock?), The Sims is basically a simulation game where you create various people and rule every aspect of their lives –  romantic relationships, friendships, starting a family, developing their skills, and determining their career path are just some of the many options out there. From birth to death, you’re there every step of the way. Sims have fully fledged towns and cities, they even have their own language and currency. Who knows, maybe one day Sims will take over the world.

One of my favourite parts of the game is designing houses. 11-year-old me considered myself something of a budding architect and went to town on making houses for my Sims to live in. Saying that I took this game seriously as a young teenager is an understatement – I would write biographies for my Sims and strategically plan out their every move.

There have been many spin-offs and expansion packs of the game. Although I’ll admit I haven’t tried all of them, a great one is University Life. This is basically the same concept but with ‘college’ students. You get to design halls of residence, throw parties and generally enjoy student life – like real life university, but better.

Many Sims fans will disagree on which version is the best, but for me The Sims 3 wins hands down. It has much better graphics than the earlier versions, a better structure to the game and as much as I wanted to like Sims 4, the people just look downright creepy.

I would advise everyone to play The Sims at least once in your lifetime, and if all else fails, just live vicariously through your Sims. And if they start to annoy you, you can just kill them off – it’s half the fun, trust me.

Sophie Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Oh boy, where do I start with this one? The game itself has a HUGE map, with a multitude of places to go for endless hours of gameplay. Not just that, but the vast collection of voice actors needed to create the variety of different dialects for characters (even the minor ones) explains why it took CD Projekt RED reportedly three and a half years to make. And we’re so glad they did!

This is a game that is definitely worth the money, with a well-developed plot and plenty of quests along the way to make you replay the game again and again. This is refreshing, as I feel it has become quite mainstream for game companies to have hidden add-on purchases for gamers to actually attain the true ending of the game. The DLCs (downloadable content) for The Witcher 3Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine – are both great content that don’t just feel tagged onto the end of the main storyline, but rather give you a sense of Geralt’s adventures afterwards. However, even without the added DLCs, you still get fun gameplay that leaves you feeling suitably fulfilled.

From the lore and multiple pathways to the constancy of our trusty friend Roach, Witcher 3 is a game that’s worth the hype!

Esther Kearney

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

There’s a lot of reasons why Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game, deserving of the raving praise it has received across the board. It is a top-tier action-adventure open world game, borrowing elements from a variety of genres (namely RPGs and puzzle games) in order to deliver a kaleidoscopic yet sharp gaming experience. I could go on for hours about all the praise this game deserves but what really merits Breath of the Wild a place on this list is the same thing that has critics calling it “refreshing” since day one: the game is not afraid to stand out.

This may seem an odd concept at first. In a genre as competitive as the RPG open-world, every game should stand out from the bunch to prove itself deserving of your time and money. This is what you’d think and, at the surface, it can certainly seem like this is the case. Every game will have an ‘innovative’ story (I use the term loosely here), some arbitrary gameplay mechanics that make it different, and some sort of ‘thing’ that only it has.

You know what I’m talking about. Horizon Zero Dawn has hunting dinosaur robots, Assassins Creed has the historical angle (and the boring-story angle as of recently), and Far Cry embraces first-person mayhem. But let me ask you, whenever you start any of these games, do you not know what to expect? You’ll meet your character, get some sort of easy first mission that acts as a tutorial, and then you’re by yourself in a world where you accumulate weapons and hone your skills with relative ‘freedom’ on what to do.

The usual suspects are always there, towers that enrich your minimap, some form of bases that need to be overtaken, and most importantly a progression system that allows you to cheese your way through the game by the end.

The new Zelda title is unexpected the whole way through. Having put more hours into it than I am proud to admit, I can confidently tell you there was never a moment I felt like I wasn’t being challenged. It doesn’t hold your hand in any way (most of the game’s mechanics are left for you to find out), and its sense of adventure is only heightened by the lack of information the map gives you.

Zelda’s open world feels vibrant even in its relative emptiness because you’re always analysing your surroundings (not a lousy minimap), and taking in the environment, unspoilt by flashy icons. And when you do reach a tower you’ve only acquired a fast travel spot. Good luck finding the shrines and interesting features with your binoculars because the game won’t give you much else.

Few games are bold enough nowadays to offer a genuinely challenging and (dare I say it) refreshing experience the whole way through. And this is not to say BoW doesn’t have some of the conventions of open world games (it was engineered to fit within that genre after all), but the approach it takes to virtually everything is so new to gaming that I think it will influence the shape of open-worlds to come.

Nicolas Caballero

Featured image courtesy of Nintendo via mariokart.wikia.com.

Image use license here.

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