Awesome title, I know. Anyways,
I’ve played a lot of games, but the vast majority of time I have spent playing has been in multiplayer games, and usually whichever is the most popular competitive one at the time. If I was selecting my favorite genre of video games, I would have to say FPS, simply because I dumped so much time into them. I went from Halo 2 to Gears of War to Team Fortress 2 to Modern Warfare and so on. I’ve enjoyed all these games a lot, and even many competitive games not in the FPS genre such as DotA, mainly just because I like the purity of the competition. However, much as I liked all these games at one time or another, none stands out as my favorite game.
I’ve played a lot of single player games, especially big-hit titles like Bioshock and Fallout 3. Usually I finish the campaign once as fast as possible and then never play it again, and that’s for games that are considered excellent by gamers at large. I like playing these games through one time, but it never feels worth exploring further. It’s thus surprising to me that my favorite game of all time is one that was mainly singleplayer, received mediocre reviews, and did not have a deep story at all: Crackdown.
Crackdown was a superhero game. Unlike most superhero games, the main character was insignificant. Throughout the game he is known as “Agent”, he has no personality (literally says nothing), and makes no choices: the game has only one ending that can be reached in only one way, ultimately. Though I say that, the game is completely open-world. You can complete the mission objectives in whatever order you choose, and there is no time limit. The only thing that made it similar other superhero games, then, is that as you “upgrade” the Agent (who starts as a normal human) can jump several stories, lift/throw trucks, and practically break the sound barrier when driving.
Depending on whom you ask, this game had it all or it had nothing. It had a difficult aiming system, but it also had a lock-on system that obviated aiming. It had a rich leveling system, but there was no reason to specialize in anything; you could be max rank in absolutely every category. There were tons of enemies, but the enemy diversity was weak and it therefore had very little combat variety. Much of the time in the game is spent finding and collecting orbs (which also level your character) and climbing buildings. These are things I find exhaustingly boring in other games. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever focused on collectibles in a single game besides Crackdown.
But Crackdown got me in a weird way. Just as something someone says can click with you in a deeper-than-expected way, Crackdown’s mechanics really hit the gaming nerve for me. I loved feeling superhuman in a world that was a weird mixture of surreal and realistic. I loved it so much, in fact, that I absolutely beat the game: I got every achievement and perfected a completion of the game.
There’s not much of a lesson here for others, but if there had to be one, it would be this: there is much we know about ourselves, but far more that we do not. Explore new things, not because you will like everything you try, but because you might someday find one thing you love, even if it’s just a meaningless game.