There are games that changed how you play games. Ultima 4 changed the way role playing games are built and design. In Ultima 4, winning is not killing the big bad boss but winning is improving your own virtues of Honesty, Compassion, Spirituality, Valor, Honor, Sacrifice, Justice and Humility.
Grand Theft Auto 3 changed the open world gaming concept. It created Liberty City as a world so alive and full with happenings that other gaming worlds looked mundane and boring and repetitive in comparison. The sheer amount of things to do, the faction wars among the gangs all contributed in a living and breathing world.
Red Faction: Guerilla, the current game that I am hooked at, introduced destruction and mass explosion to the virtual world. In this game, you can destroy every building and man-made structure. You could chip the base away with your sledgehammer and the building would collapse on its own weight or you could plan denotation and blow the whole thing away. You could just drive a truck and rammed into a billboard, a big gas tank, a mining installation and these structures would break apart. You could blow bridges up and send the enemies flying. And the physics engine was just remarkable.
This game changed the way I look at other games – I bet you that I will wonder why I could not topple that phone booth or bashed through that four feet wall in future games. RFG has spoiled me!
P.S. there are a host of other games that revitalize the genre but I am just too lazy to write them up and I am a big fanboi of RF:G at the moment...
Off my head:
1. Fallout for breathing new life into an otherwise dying genre - the role playing games.
2. X-Com UFO Defense for introducing fully destructable terrain in 2D and for showing us how to make a turn based tactical combat.
3. Indigo Prophecy for showing how to make an action-adventure game.
4. Medal of Honor/Call of Duty series for bringing the action of a movie show into the PC games and making you feel like a WW 2 soldier.
5. Star Wars Knights of Old Republic for building confidence back in a SW game.
6. Planescape Torment for showing us how to tell a story.
7. Diablo for showing how to do an additive isometric fantasy games.
8. and lots and lots more!
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