Virtual Worlds

When thinking about the things that influence me, it would be hard to ignore video-games. They have been a constant in my life from a young age, I’ve been there through all the big events. The great Sega VS Nintendo War, The rise of Sony and the Playstation, the sad demise of Sega, and at each step of the way I’ve always been there following intently.

I think some people find it hard to understand what it is about video-games that can hold such a grasp on people, or keep them glued to their seats for hours on end. As an adult I keep waiting for my interest to wane, but it’s still not happened, and i hope it never does. I just enjoy it too much. For me it’s the ability to enter strange and vast lands, worlds that can only be imagined, you can take on the persona of a great warrior, a hardened soldier, a mysterious wanderer, whatever that game wants you to be.  Even in the early years of video-games, where graphics were limited, they still hooked me in and took me to these places. Much like comics and movies, for me video-games are great inspiring pieces of artwork, they get ideas and thoughts for imagery flowing more than anything. With the great advancements in technology the visuals are becoming more beautiful and stunning with every new release. The scripts and voice actors are far more important than they ever were, and budgets on video-games are now rivalling blockbuster movies. With each new generation of technology its fascinating to see the jumps that are being made.

Not only do the art in these games inspire me, but the situations and experiences you can get from them give me ideas all the time, and I think as a form of artwork they are long overdue respect in the larger population. These are just a few of the games and their series that have really left me in awe.

Fallout 2

Fallout 2 – image from mobygames.com

FALLOUT SERIES 1997-Ongoing

Fallout, and its subsequent sequels are the quintessential video-games for me. They place you in the boots of a vault dweller, you’re the child of a nuclear apocalypse survivor, living with your family and descendants hidden away in a nuclear bunker, and now something’s gone wrong and you have to go out into the American wastelands and save your people. And that’s it, you have a directive to fulfil, but really you can just run round the wastelands and do what you want. Help people, be a terror, meet mutants, slavers, bandits, whatever you want. And when you can finally tear yourself away from exploring abandoned towns and bunkers, you can go save your people.  The graphics at the time were crude, but it took me to a place like none other, and the music was spine tingling, just a second or two of its soundtrack takes me back 12 years instantly. It is mad max in video-game form. A true Apocalyptic world for you to explore and get lost in like no other.

Resident Evil

Resident Evil – image from mobygames.com

RESIDENT EVIL 1996-Ongoing

Resident Evil is a fascinating series (the games, not the incredibly butchered film series, barely related). They essentially created the genre of ‘Survival Horror’, the idea of placing the player in terrifying situations, with no hope of survival. You play a member of a S.W.A.T style team, and you’re there to investigate a viral outbreak in a mysterious mansion, featuring everyones favourite enemy, the Zombie. From these humble beginnings the series moved into fascinating places, and became a labyrinthian narrative thats became increasingly impossible to follow. Over nearly 20 years the series has told the most messy and ridiculous tale of bio-engineering, crazy scientists, back stabbing special agents, and mysterious plagues. Its utter B-movie craziness, but its amazing its own way,  and it’s a pleasure to see what crazy creations they come up with in each new game.

Assassins Creed IV

Assassins Creed IV – image from IGN.com

 ASSASSINS CREED 2007-Ongoing

A fairly hit or miss series, the games tell a bizarre sci-fi tale that involves people being thrust back in time to play out the memories of their ancestor assassins. Of course this insanely weird premise interests me, but its more the absolutely stunning graphical vistas that the game creates. In each game they master a part of the world and recreate it for you to run around like a mad man, clambering over every surface, from Constantinople and Rome, to the stunning beach scenes of the Caribbean in the latest release. A fun game, but more than anything a beautiful one.

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII – image from my-bestgames.com

FINAL FANTASY VII 1997

The moment Final Fantasy amazed me was about 10 hours into the game. I’d been enjoying this strange export from Japan, my first time dabbling in the world famous Final Fantasy series (at this time though not quite that world famous). The beautiful CGI, Turn based battles, and faceless manga 3D models on beautiful pre-rendered backdrops had captured my imagination. Then as I thought the game was nearing a climax, the heroes escaped the dystopian city of Midgar and a WHOLE WORLD was opened up before me. The small city I was in, was one of 10 or so… I spent a good 90 more hours playing this beautifully put together tale of eco-terrorism and mega-corporations.

Dead Space

Dead Space – image from selectstartgames.wordpress.com

DEAD SPACE 2008-2013

Dead Space is a fairly new property in the world of Video-games. It brought a true sense of horror back to the world of video-games in a way that hadn’t been seen since the original Resident Evil in 1996. Playing a humble engineer trapped aboard a giant mining vessel in space,  you’re stuck in a horrible place with no hope, constantly being attacked by the most vicious and disgusting monsters ever committed to screen. The way the world plays with light and dark is stunning, taking cues from the finest of space horror films like the Alien series and Event Horizon. Your ammo dwindles at every turn, and you find yourself waiting outside the next room with the knowledge that the whatever might be in there could eviscerate you with one swipe. A truly terrifying game that inspired me hugely with its amazing creations and world building. Sad to see it currently on hiatus, the new generation of consoles and technology hold plenty of promise for the series.

Morrowind

Morrowind – image from theperfectweatherforgaming.blogspot.com

ELDER SCROLLS III- MORROWIND 2002

There’s been two subsequent releases in the Elder Scrolls series, both fantastic, but Morrowind still sticks in my mind far more than the others. A truly spectacular alien like world sits before you, with incredibly crafted landscapes and creatures, ready for you to explore. Sandstorms blow over you as you make your way to the top of a volcano, a huge city in the far distance that you’re slowly trekking over to, and then a Pterodactyl like creatures swoop down from the air to attack you and ruins your day. Back to the last save point you go, probably best to take another route this time.

GTAV

Grand Theft Auto V – image from gta.wikia.com

GRAND THEFT AUTO V 2013

Arguably most infamous video-game series ever. We all know what Grand Theft Auto is, we’ve all heard the stories about how morally corrupt it is and how it will fry your children’s brains, but that’s a debate for another day. GTAV has some of the most stunning backdrops and landscapes I have ever seen in a videogame. The previous entries never quite delivered on the promise of a believable city to place you in, but GTAV finally realized that dream in a way no other game had before. Driving up to the top of a hill and waiting for the sun to set is a genuine delight in the city of Los Santos. The artists responsible for the day/night cycle and stunning watercolour like skyboxes in the game nailed it. I’m not ashamed to say i’ve taken a lot of colour inspiration from this game in recent months, absolutely breathtaking.