Today, a winner is crowned! With only three entries in our Deus Ex: GOTY Giveaway, you think the act of finding a winner would be easy, but in many ways, it was actually made more difficult. Especially considering that the three games chosen are undoubtedly three of the best games ever made, as agreed by fans and critics alike. Not only did these games change the way their respective genre was played, but were in some way or another a branching point of technological breakthroughs, whether they be online gaming, progressive narrative, or becoming an ultimate showcase of what can be achieved when focusing on mastering gameplay mechanics.
Three enter, but only one can leave champion. Who came out on top?
All three entries are unbelievable games, and all warrant getting mentioned. In third place, Nitrobeard's good friend Sparks chose a game that many consider the very best Turn Based Strategy ever to grace a harddrive, Sid Meier's Alpha Centurai.
Alpha Centauri for the PC.
That game and Half Life made me a PC gamer for life. Holy crap, no two campaigns are alike. Also you can totally capture Mindworms as Gaians and worm the shit out of all others because you are a green person. That's how that game roll. I could go on and on about how superior it is to the Civ series. But it's a freaking great ass game. Anyone who says otherwise is a communist who is working for the Hive and must be executed.
Coming in second place is Drafin, who talks about a game so near-and-dear to my heart, I think we're bros for life. It's a game that was a mash of ideas, but developed by masters of the craft. Not only is the game a strong technological showcase for the time, but it brought online deathmatch to the forefront of the gaming vernacular, forever changing the way we think about competition in a digital space. Ah, who am I kidding, Drafin says it much better than I ever could.
Quake, (PC) the original, although Quake II was great as well.
It was dark and creepy and state of the art at the time. Great orchestration and music by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails). This was the first of many times that I upgraded my PC just to be able to play a game smoothly and with all the options turned up. I remember many hours of mindless killing with my trusty Space Orb 360.
Quake was also my gateway into online gaming. It was an awesome idea to be able to actually get online and frag other players. I even had the pleasure of being fragged online once, well multiple times in one seesion actually, by a player using the ID of Thresh, a Quake and pro gaming legend. I can't confirm that it was him but he was so much better than I was that I'm going to assume that it was the true Dennis Fong, just to sooth my own ego.
Quake also introduced me to expansions. With the release of Quake Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon and soon thereafter Quake Mission Pack 2: Dissolution of Eternity. "How cool is this? More Quake goodness without having to buy and learn another whole engine and platform.".
This then led me to the inevitable "modding" phase. I had a hard drive full of Quake (and later Quake II) mods. Again with the neat factor of being able to play and continue the fun for the most part for free.
Do yourself a favor if you have a computer that will run it. Pop in the old Quake CD, turn out the lights and enjoy a dark night of fragging with a game that arguably started the advancement and evolution of online gaming to where it is today.
That brings us to numero-uno, number one, the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the soup of the day! Not only did our winner pick a perfect title, but perfectly encaptulated why its affect on the gaming landscape was monumental, and something we still feel every single day. The game? Half-Life. The winner? Our good friend Lister.
My pick is a game well known and well loved: Half-Life, a shooter that showed the potential of the burgeoning game industry, a breathtaking game that came from a brand new developer that is now today one of the leading influences in gaming. I didn't have the pleasure of playing Half-Life when it came out in 1997, but from the moment I installed it, to the day I defeated the Nihilanth, it has to this day been one of my favorite games, and certainly my favorite single-player FPS.
One of the reasons why Half-Life is so memorable to me is the introduction: walking through the halls of Black Mesa as if it was another day at work. It was the little details during these calm moments; talking with my fellow co-workers, accidentally blowing up a casserole and being scorned by a fellow scientist, to inspecting the staff's personal effects in the locker room; little things, small details like these are what make games truly immersive, and I was well and truly immersed before I had even picked up a weapon.
Finally, I donned my HEV suit, and descended into the test chamber. It was just a simple experiment, right? Just push a sample of a material into the beam of the anti-mass spectrometer, what could go wrong?
Damn, was I bewildered. Catching quick glimpses of strange aliens and creatures as I sporadically teleport in and out of a strange, alien world. After escaping the test chamber, I saw that I had entered a hell on earth that can only be compared to Doom. Wandering through a gutted, crumbling facility while perilously avoiding hazardous materials and contraptions while blasting away at aliens, zombies, and human soliders. One particular section that stands out is the rocket test chamber with the tentacle creatures. Completely blind, but if so much as even took a misstep, it was instant death. Damn, talk about stressful, not many games to this day have my made my heart race as much as it did in that section.
One of my favorite things about the first Half-Life is it's pure variety, variety of enemies, from the infamous headcrab, to the dangerous assassins, to the daunting Gargantua, as well the variety of weapons, such as the tried and true machine gun and shotgun, and the truly awesome gauss gun and gluon gun. It also had awesome variety of gameplay, such as dodging mines and turrets, to jumping around Xen, or solving a difficult puzzle.
But Half-Life turned out just to be the start, Team Fortress and Counter-Strike are some of the most popular mods of all time, which became some of the most popular games of all time. And hell, there were still countless other awesome mods, such as Science & Industry, Sven Co-op, Afraid of Monsters, and Natural Selection, just to name some off the top of my head, and all these based off of one game.
And then, of course, came it's awesome expansions, Opposing Force and Blue Shift, and inevitably it's ground-breaking sequel, which introduced the Source engine, which, in turn, spawned many more awesome mods and games. And later on, because of Half-Life's success, Steam became the most popular digital distribution in the world, and that's pretty friggin' cool, imo.
And I don't think the dozens of GOTY awards it got need any mention, I mean hey, they just go without saying.
(Also, the confirmation beeps and 'use' sounds from Half-Life are enternally burned into my brain :x)
A huge congratulations to Lister for winning his free Steam copy of Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition! Also, a major shoutout to all of our contestants, as they each picked an absolute masterpiece of our industry to push forth as their pick for 'Best Game Of All-Time'. Getting such good entries, and knowing the fine tastes of Nitrobeard readers always puts a smile on my face, and definitely fuels the fire to keep doing what we do.
Game on, Bearders!
Now....about that next giveaway...