With Valentine's Day approaching, mid-February may be a romantic time for most, but video game enthusiasts are already in the midst of a holiday hangover.
Major video game studios' AAA titles for the previous Christmas season have left us wanting
That's in light of highly anticipated 2020 titles having their release dates pushed back, including Marvel's Avengers (May 15 to September 4), Cyberpunk 2077 (April 16 to September 17), and The Last of Us Part 2 (February 21 to May 29). Console gamers will have to subsist on remastered releases and expansion DLC until later in the year. The good news is that 2020 marks the expected release for both Sony and Microsoft's next generation consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Even better, both companies have promised potential buyers backwards compatibility with games from past console generations. So when Pandora's Box of old school video games is opened for the masses, what games should Gen Z prioritize to dust off the digital cobwebs? Allow an elder millennial to show you young'uns the ropes.
The first throwback on this list is a first-person shooter (FPS) originally released in 2005 on PS2 and Xbox called Black. This was one of the most influential releases for modern day first-person shooters in a couple ways. Most importantly, it was the first modern shooter to properly implement destructible environments. Most games prior to Black's release, and even in the immediate years following, featured worlds that would remain fully intact no matter what was happening around it. But in Black the environments weren't just affected by the surrounding carnage; Rather, the player was actively encouraged to utilize the destructible environments to eliminate enemies by shooting through walls or using a grenade to make a structure tumble onto multiple foes.
Massive explosions and chaos are an ongoing theme in BlackCriterion Games/Electronic Arts via Polygon
Another lasting legacy of the game was the pacing. Released two years prior to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare––the breakout game that skyrocketed the CoD franchise's success––Black majorly influenced the changes that made CoD 4 so much smoother than CoD 3. Today, we expect our FPS games to move at breakneck speeds, with any lull in action warranting enough reason to turn the game off forever. You can thank Black for that, considering it provided some of the most intense moments imaginable in a video game. (It also may or may not have cost me a few smashed controllers). Black is graphically dated, but the action is still as good as any new AAA release. What better time than the 2020 video game slump to inject some adrenaline into your system?
Credit to Full Playthroughs www.youtube.com
2. ESPN NFL 2k5
If sports titles are more your speed, you owe it to yourself to check out ESPN NFL 2K5. Released by Visual Concepts in 2004 on Playstation 2 and Xbox, ESPN NFL 2K5 was the last NFL game made by any company other than EA Sports due to exclusive licensing rights. It also just so happens to be the best football simulation ever made. Notable features included a first-person mode (camera view from your controlled player's helmet), a halftime show with highlights from your game, and the "Crib," a virtual apartment that you could customize and interact with––later adopted by the NBA 2K series.
Credit to SoftDrinkTV ESPN NFL 2K5 Retrospective www.youtube.com
Typically, sports games improve year after year, alongside newer game engines and enhanced graphic technology. But in this rare instance, the reigning champion of football video games was, indeed, released 16 years ago. Having played every football game from Tecmo Super Bowl to Joe Montana Football, the lack of improvements made to the annual Madden releases are frustrating at best. To this day, NFL 2K5 was the best simulator for forming a "pocket" for the quarterback, which makes the passing game feel more realistic and makes the defensive task of getting a sack on the quarterback much more challenging. In Madden, the common practice when passing is to immediately drop back as far and fast as possible in order to have enough time and space to throw the ball to your receiver. This doesn't happen in real life, because you would end up in stupid situations all the time. Moreover, NFL 2K5 had small details and intricacies in the players' motions that haven't been replicated until the most recent Madden titles. The game has carved out such a large and lasting fanbase that user-generated roster updates are still being made today.
User-generated rosters have kept the game up to date. Saquon Barkley is seen here who didn't enter the league until 2018.Credit to XBMCXBOX.blogspot.com
3. SSX 3Finally, we have the most fun game that EA has ever put out (which probably doesn't mean much considering EA's track record, but bear with me). SSX 3 was a total non-simulation snowboarding game released in 2003 that rewarded players for going BIG with crazy, impossible tricks. You didn't have to be a snowboarder to understand how to play or enjoy it. It looked great, played smoothly, and had all the coolest elements of extreme sports that facilitated their rise to mainstream popularity in the early 2000s. The SSX series had six major releases in total, with SSX 3 being the most memorable release. Pretty much every snowboarding game released after SSX has leaned toward the simulation side of the genre, which is, quite frankly, boring. When you take away the over the top tricks, the pyrotechnics, and the Pepper Brooks-style commentary from snowboarding games, it's really just sliding down a hill while slightly turning to the right or left, and what's the fun in that?
Digital Foundry revisiting SSX 3 which is already backwards compatible on Xbox One www.youtube.com
Protest music aside, there is a slew of good underground music out today
An invigorating slew of protest music hit the shelves today.
Detroit-based emcee Tee Grizzley collaborated with Queen Naija and the Detroit Youth Choir to craft a melodic ballad that attempts to open up a dialogue with police. Meanwhile, alt-Jazz pioneer Terrace Martin took a different approach in his collaboration with Denzel Curry, Daylyt, G Perico, and Kamasi Washington, with "Pigs Feet" being more of an angry f*ck you than an attempt at communication.