CULTURE

An Old Gamer Recommends Classic Video Games to Gen-Z

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.

SSX 3

Eurogamer.net

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.

1. Black

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.

Screenshot from Black on PlayStation 2 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.

Photo of NFL 2K5 being played with an updated user-generated roster 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 3

Finally, 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

Culture News

Kanye West Starts College Fund for George Floyd's Daughter and Donates $2 Million

After a week of silence, Kanye's actions speak louder than words.

After remaining silent for several days, Kanye West has donated $2 million to organizations associated with Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

He'll also be supporting Black-owned businesses in Chicago and will cover legal expenses for the Arbery and Taylor families. Additionally, he's started a college fund for Floyd's daughter, Gianna.

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FILM

The New "Sonic the Hedgehog" Trailer Is Actually Fire

They fixed it. They actually fixed it.

Sega/ Paramount Pictures

After the Internet at large rightly condemned the original Sonic the Hedgehog movie design as an utter abomination, the animators went back to the drawing board.

Now they've returned with a whole new trailer and...damn, Sonic's actually looking fresh.

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) - New Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures www.youtube.com

It's hard to overemphasize how much better the new Sonic design looks compared to the previous one. For those of you who forcibly removed the original trailer from your mind, perhaps through intentional brain injury, here's a side-by-side comparison.

Sonic movie before and after New (left) and old (right)Sega/ Paramount Pictures

The new design actually resembles the Sonic we've always known and loved, with his big cartoon eyes and lack of over-sized nightmare human teeth. The old one is an actual war crime.

But Sonic's updated design isn't the only spot where the new trailer shines. From the opening shot set in the immediately recognizable Green Hill Zone (the first level of the original Sonic the Hedgehog for Sega Genesis) to the clip of Sonic dashing along the Great Wall of China, the new trailer makes a convincing argument for how fun Sonic could be in the real world.

With the exception of Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik, the original Sonic trailer failed on every conceivable front. As a lifelong Sonic fan, I was dreading the movie's inevitable release which, I was sure, would completely bastardize a character I grew up with. I'm happy to say that my opinion has done a total 180. The new trailer made me feel hopeful in the same way I felt when I watched the first trailer for Detective Pikachu (I ultimately thought the movie was just okay, but the real-life Pokemon designs were fantastic), and it's great to see Ben Schwartz's excellent Sonic voice acting come through, too.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm really looking forward to the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie.