Published on November 28th, 2011 | by Aplfisher3
The Essentials – Scott
Choosing the PC titles that have influenced me the most is an exercise in nostalgia. I first started PC gaming at the tender age of seven. My dad had an old IBM 386 with Windows 3.1 on it, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. No doubt my love of shooters started with Duke Nukem on a 3.1 inch floppy disk. It wasn’t even the full game, just the demo version but I could not stop playing it. As I grew older I moved on to titles like Myst, Command and Conquer, the Dark Forces series and of course the ever famous Counter-Strike. Here are a few of the games that I think are absolute must plays if you consider yourself a PC gamer.
Is it any surprise that I would start out with this game? I know it’s a running joke amongst the KBMOD crew that this is the only title I play (there was a time when this was true) but I truly believe it to be one of the most important shooters in the last 10 years. You might be asking yourself why I’m not starting with the original Counter-Strike. It’s a fair question and one I’m going to answer pretty simply…It’s already been covered by Brandon. You can view his “Essentials” post here.
CSS is an important game for a number of reasons. It visually updated the original classic with a new engine, brought a whole new group of players into the fold and continued the competitive tradition that CS 1.6 had already established.
I’ve put more time into CSS than any other game I’ve ever played (1,686 hours according to Steam to be exact). Between pubs, scrims, competitive matches, aim maps, etc. this game has an addictive formula that few others can match. The fast paced gun on gun gameplay, strategy and high stakes “no respawn” style introduced by the original CS in 1999 is continued in CSS, and done so almost flawlessly.
I will leave you with one of my favorite CSS frag movies of all time:
The answer to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question changed a lot when I was younger. A firefighter, an astronaut, Bill Cosby’s personal Jell-O pudding pop. But there was one answer I would have always given if I had been truly honest with myself. A Jedi Knight. An ass-kicking, force using, light saber wielding beast of absolute power.
Then something amazing happened. I stumbled across a game called Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2. Wait, it couldn’t be…I thought to myself. Could this be the answer to my problem? The fulfillment of my deep yearning to be a Jedi? Boy was it ever.
DF2 made a serious impression on me as a gamer. It was one of the first games I dropped everything to play until I beat. Until I knew the levels and puzzle’s like the back of my hand. Would I play as a good Jedi on the light side of the force? Would I go to the dark side so I could use awesome force powers like choke and throw? Back then in my young gamer mind, the possibilities were endless. This game was also from a time when devs didn’t coddle gamers. Some of the puzzles in the game were actually pretty hard. You sure as hell didn’t have a mission arrow pointing you in the direction you should go. You had to figure that shit out for yourself. And it was awesome.
This may come as a shock to a lot of you bros, but I used to be into RTS games. I played a ton of the original Command and Conquer back in the day and loved it. The ability to play as the “eye in the sky” during a battle intrigued me. Then, in 1997 a little game called Total Annihilation landed.
TA was the first RTS game to feature 3D terrain and units. It also employed the use of physics for things like projectiles, explosions and wreckage. The sad part is that TA is not a very well known game, even though it pioneered a lot of things that became the norm in later RTS titles.
I remember playing 1v1 (via a direct dial up modem connection) against my good friend John. My strategy typically consisted of me gathering the bare resources I needed to build basic infantry bots then rushing over to his base, hoping to catch him with his pants down. It worked more often than it failed. You might say I was employing the “Zerg Rush” before anyone even knew what that was. I’m a hipster like that.
Total Annihilation is one of the greatest RTS’s of all time. The hardcore community still plays it to this day. A free open source remake of the game on the “Spring” engine is available if you want to try TA out but can’t get your hands on the original. You can download XTA here.
I know what you’re thinking. Holy hell Scott. You won’t STFU about this game. You mention it every podcast. Plus it’s not even a PC game. Bros, I know. It’s not like I can help it. When thinking through games that have had a massive impact on me I can’t not mention JPB. Look…it’s such a sweet game that if you rearrange the abbreviation it spells PB&J, arguably the best sandwich of all time.
But I digress. To be honest Jedi Power Battles isn’t that great of a game. In fact, looking back, it was actually pretty mediocre. It is also by no means “essential”. But for some reason I loved it. Using force push to knock back federation battle droids on the first mission with Qui-Gon Jinn is one of the purest gaming rushes I’ve ever had. I also loved that you could beat Darth Maul (the final boss) without even having to use your lightsaber. If you equipped a heavy blaster you could spam the fire button, causing Maul to go into a constant block animation that slowly slid him across the floor. If you positioned yourself just right while doing this you could force him right of the edge of the reactor.
My favorite character to play as was Plo Koon. That crazy looking freak had a yellow lightsaber. That was cool as shit. You could also unlock additional characters after beating the game. My favorite unlockable was Queen Amidala. Since she didn’t have a lightsaber; she used a blaster and her fists. Now that’s my kind of woman.
The platforming elements in JPB did leave a little to be desired. You often found yourself dying cheap deaths by falling off dodgy ledges. It was also a relatively short game, but the fact you could play through it again with multiple characters made up for that.
If you own a PlayStation or Dreamcast, do yourself a favor and try this game out. After all, every time someone plays Jedi Power Battles, an angel gets its wings.
So there ya go. Those are a few of my essentials. Obviously there are many other PC titles that could be covered here (Half-Life 1 and 2, WoW, etc.) but I wanted to highlight the ones that have had the most impact on me during my formative gaming years. Make sure to check out John’s “Essentials” post as well.
Special thanks to @Joeswagwalker on Twitter for the angel photo.