Friday, February 17, 2012

Top 5: Greatest Gaming Moments (Part 2)

Top 5: Greatest Gaming Moments
Part 2: Philip's
Spoiler Alert: This article will have more spoilers than downtown Tokyo. You’ve been warned.

Number “Barely didn’t crack the top 5 but I had to include it” – Shadow of the Colossus – Seeing the first colossus
I had no idea what I was missing out on.
I had been longing to get my mitts on Shadow of the Colossus since it came out on the PS2 back in 2005, but my patience paid off and I was able to play the recently released HD version on PS3. I love the premise of the game. Kill the colossi. That’s it. You have a sword and horse. You don’t have to find them or free them from cruel masters. Your only task is to find and kill each of the creatures. As my good friends Sum 41 would say, “All Killer, No Filler.” No temples, no puzzles, no grinding to level up, just pure game. And the quest is anything but boring, and the task is anything but simple. Each of the colossi stand hundreds of feet tall and it could take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to find and slay just one (even longer on your first time through). But of all the experiences throughout the adventure, there is one that stands out above the rest.
When you approach the first colossus it just walks past you as if it is minding its own business. There is no fanfare or hyped up dramatic music (all of which would have been fully warranted), but there is almost an eerie silence. While I was completely overwhelmed at the size of the task before me, I was almost disappointed in the presentation. The entire game revolves around these beasts and they don’t even have the decency to give me a good look at it or so much as a “dun, dun, DUUUUUNNNNN.”
I immediately regret this decision.
I let my guard down and moved casually towards it, and then the creature stood upright, tilted its head, and then looked back in my direction. Its giant yellow eyes glanced right past me probably because I was too small to even notice.  All of the sudden, as if the giant caught my scent, his head snapped towards me and his eyes immediately shot to blood red. A chill ran down my spine and I was frozen, mortified.
Now I’m not a child (my wife might argue otherwise) but when the first colossus started lumbering towards me I felt as helpless as one. I had no idea where I should even start to bring down the baddie, and honestly I wasn’t even thinking about that. The only thing on my mind in that moment was “RUN!” And with that, it jumped the charts to become one of the greatest gaming moments ever.

#5 – Halo: Combat Evolved – Viewing Jenkins’s video log and the Flood
If Chief was capable of crying he would right now. But he's not.
Halo is a creepy place. Besides being overrun by the Covenant, there is another evil that is much worse. The inverted planet is silently infested from the inside out of some unknown and mysterious species. You as Master Chief make your way into the depths of the ring to follow the trail of a missing UNSC squad. You enter a room that is just a complete blood bath. Human bodies everywhere. But not just gunned down, these men are torn to pieces. Who or what could have done this?

You find the helmet of Private Jenkins. Poor, poor Jenkins. Chief takes the memory card out of the helmet’s video headset and watches the events that led up to the carnage. After a few minutes and incredibly timed fast forwarding you see the troops entering into this room that was previously on lockdown. Things get quiet, and scurrying is heard from the ceiling, then in the vents, then the hallways, and finally breaking down the door. The men fire wildly at some alien wave of giant parasites that wipe out the toughest soldiers in mere seconds. They catch up to the camera man. He doesn’t stand a chance. The video cuts out. Poor Jenkins.
"They are coming..."
When the feed ends in static the same sounds are heard in the room again. They are coming for you. You scramble around looking for something you can use to fight back with. Ammo is in no short supply, as it can be found all around the bodies of the deceased but it didn’t exactly do those guys any good, did it? At this point I’m thinking, “Screw Jenkins! Poor ME!” I first saw this scene with Skull Kid when we were in high school. Even though we were playing split screen co-op on a screen smaller than my hand, we both knew we were experiencing one of the greatest moments in gaming.

#4 – The Legend of Zelda: Marjora’s Mask – The sky is falling
Nintendo missed out on the opportunity to make heart/mask shaped evil valentines that control your soul.
Most all games come with the objective of “saving the world” but it is usually referring to stopping some sort of evil from dominating existence and not the literal obliteration of the planet. This however, is the scenario in Majora’s Mask. Pretty heavy stuff for our young Link (or whatever you end up naming him, like DorkFace), but instead of preventing Gandondorf from enslaving the entire Hyrulian race, you have to stop the moon from crushing and destroying the world.
Welp, I now have nightmares for life.
Skull Kid (no relation to our own dear writer) is under the influence of a demonic spirit speaking through an ancient mask. The spirit had been searching for a host to carry out its will and finally found someone lost and alone, able to fulfill the deeds in darkness with nobody knowing what was going on. He summons the moon down and puts it on a one way course that will impact with the surface in only three days. The oblivious land of Termina will be the first to go and our hero is the only one willing to try and do anything about it.
Each morning and evening the game automatically pauses to cut to an update of how much time is left. “Dawn of the 2nd Day” or “Dawn of the Last Day” are messages creepy enough as it is. But nothing is quite as devastating as the scene that is shown if you fail. There isn’t a respawn point, you don’t sit though a short loading sequence. If you fail to gather the giants or forget to reset the clock, the moon collides with the earth and the world crumbles. Wow, how’s that for punishment? If you mess up or get caught playing too many mini games for some extra rupees, everybody dies!

But you’re the Hero of Time and of course this would never happen to me! So when I was finally successful in learning the right song and rallying the four giants to our cause I called upon them in the last moments to come and literally hold back the moon of killing us all. This is such an incredible ending to a great adventure that I felt accomplished. I really felt like I had done good in the world. I had to hold my tongue and resist saying “you’re welcome” to everyone in the grocery store that afternoon. This was a no-brainer for one of the greatest gaming moments.

#3 – Batman: Arkham Asylum – Glitch?
You'll realize your worst fear isn't spiders, it's YLOD and RROD.
When considering greatest gaming moments people often talk about OMG! moments of which the Call of Duty’s and Uncharted’s carry by the disc-full. All too often forgotten are the WTF? parts that catch you off guard. This happens in a major way in Arkham Asylum.

The intro at the beginning shows Batman pulling up to Arkham with the Joker captured. He’s then cuffed and strapped to a dolly to be wheeled into the psycho prison. Later, you hardly notice it, but Batman walks through some smoke and starts coughing. Then the screen wigs out and goes almost static. Weird voices are heard and the game “resets.” I was terrified that my newly bought system had just crapped out on me. It goes through the intro video again. I was upset that my game progress was probably lost, but at least things seemed to be working again. That was until something was wrong with the video. Now the roles were reversed where Batman is the lunatic being brought into captivity and Mr. J is driving the Batmobile! What the heck is happening? You even start controlling the Joker instead of Batman. The entire time I am still thinking the whole game glitched and it swapped the character skins by accident. That is until the Joker then pulls out his revolver and shoots Bats right in the face and it shows the “Mission Failed” screen.
"Yes, Rocksteady? I seem to be having an issue with my disc.... yes I'll hold."
By this point I’m actually angry because I have no idea what is going on. I set down my controller minutes ago and I’m just riding this out, watching what I think is a cursed or haunted copy of the game that Rocksteady never meant to release. But before I could finish dialing the 800 number to file a complaint, Bruce Wayne’s grave is shown and Batman breaks free from underground. He was trapped in his own mind being controlled by Scarecrow the entire time. None of it was real. It was a scripted event that happened after passing through the smoke (which by now I’ve figured out was Scarecrow’s fear-inducing hallucinogen). Call it my relief that I didn’t have to hop on Amazon to order a new system or call a priest to come and exorcise the demons out of the disc, but that created what is almost the greatest moment in gaming.

#2 – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Shepherd’s betrayal and burning bodies
His job is war, and he doesn't like being unemployed.
I thought my heart had learned its lesson after watching Clear and Present Danger to be careful of who you trust no matter how ruggedly awesome they are. But I couldn’t help but surrender my allegiance to General Shepherd of the U.S. Military. He had a boldness and a confidence I wanted to rally behind. It seemed no matter how bad things got he was always sure that we were the dominant force on the globe and that we would bounce back and make it know that power was in the hands of America and the allied forces (salutes). Little did I know.

I'm glad he's on my side.
While assuming the role of Gary “Roach” Sanderson in the British squad, you, Ghost, and a small crew are sent to uncover some dirt on Makarov, the Russian ultranationalist and terrorist responsible for Russia’s invasion of the eastern states. Shepherd orders you to retrieve a hard drive from Makarov’s safe house that would uncover his friends, plans, and enough evidence to bring him to justice. And surely a military official wouldn’t lie to you, right? Why would he, unless he had something to gain?

Against incredible odds you and Ghost escape from the safe house alive and make a run for it. Just outside of the property General Shepherd himself is waiting in a chopper to ensure the pickup was made. When you see him walk out you’re relieved at first as you are lured into a false sense of security. He asks to see the evidence you’ve acquired. No sooner than you’ve finished handing it over, BAM! You take a shot from his side arm right to the stomach. Ghost goes for his rifle. BAM! Not fast enough. You’ve been betrayed.
I felt like I took the shot myself. I was speechless. I was angry. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Just as things were looking up and the tide of the war would change, our corruption from the inside made things even worse than ever. But it didn’t end there, to cover his tracks Shepherd has his men toss the bodies of Roach and Ghost into a pit and burn the bodies which the General does with the butt of his own cigar. Geez man, why don’t you just urinate on the corpse while you’re at it? After the event you’re left with a blank black screen for a few seconds and a sick feeling in your stomach that all is lost, and all you want to do is kill Shepherd.
The jerk stabs you in the back, in your chest... and with bullets.
You die in a lot of scripted scenes in the first-person throughout the Modern Warfare story (nuke blast, shot to the head, explosion in space, etc.) but this one by far was the most dramatic and disturbing. That’s why it was one of the greatest moments in gaming.

*To see Shepherd get his comeuppance check out Skull Kid's #2 best gaming moment.

#1 – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Revan’s Revelation
Hell hath no furry like two Jedi scorned. Also gungans.
If you haven’t played Star Wars: KotOR, then I immediately jump to the conclusion that you are an awful person with a failing marriage and nothing to look forward to in life but dying from the collective bitterness of everyone around you. I’m just kidding. I would never say something so terrible (but I will always think it). In all seriousness though I love this game and you should go buy an old Xbox just to play through it. I’ll even wait until you’ve finished so that I don’t spoil the game’s biggest moment for you.
Go ahead.
I will literally be waiting right here until you’re done.
Back? Okay great.
Now we’re on the same page and I don’t think so little of you anymore (wait, you did choose to save Bastila, didn’t you? If not then I hate you again).

Lectures you about turning to the Dark Side.....Turns to the Dark Side.
In the game you wake up having lost your entire memory. You are a blank slate, able to redirect your course in life from whatever it was to whatever you want. You’re told a lot of different things, but no one around you seems to know who you are either. You get caught in the middle of a war between the Republic and the Sith who seem to have created an incredible army from scratch.

You seem to have a natural ability to use the Force, so you’re enlisted to join the ranks and trained immediately. You go from padawan to knight (or sentinel or guardian, it’s up to you) in mere weeks and are asked to go on a suicide mission to stop Darth Malak. The Sith Lord used to have a more powerful master, Darth Revan, who was ruthless and cunning. The Jedi captured him, but failed to ever mention if he was killed or still out there… somewhere.

Finally, while facing Malak yourself for the first time, he hits you with a heavy dose of reality. The game goes to a cutscene, reliving much of what you’ve already seen and heard, all of it adding up to some revelation, but you’re not sure what. Partly because it’s so beyond the imagination it’s ridiculous, but mostly because you don’t want to know the truth. Finally, the landing blow. Since you still have room for doubt in your mind whether it’s true or not, you see one last memory. Revan himself, standing proud in Korriban, removing his mask to reveal what you don’t want to believe… You are Revan!

This crap blew my freaking mind as a teenager. My world was shattered. I was shocked, confused, and angry, all at the same time. It made me sick. I didn’t know what to believe or know to be true anymore. I walked around for a few days afterwards giving my parents “the eye” because I wasn’t even sure if they were to be trusted. Maybe they were in on it. But the reality was that I now had to make a decision. Do I get angry with the Jedi for manipulating me and reclaim my place as Lord of the Sith? Or do I take this second chance that the Force has presented to me in a strange twist of fate and become savior of the galaxy rather than destroyer? I still don’t know what the right answer is. But I do know that this was the greatest moment in gaming.

Honorable Mentions:

Halo Reach – “Survive”

Gears of War 2 – Dom finds Maria

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic R – Becoming Super Sonic

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Plane crash

Batman: Arkham City – Ending (I won’t say ‘cause it’s so new you can still experience this one for yourself)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Final blow to Ganon with Master Sword

Did we miss one? Remind us at:

Think you can beat us? Game on:
PSN: ShadyWoodland

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