Can you torture your virtual theme park clientele by blocking all of the park's restrooms or removing them from the park or designing roller coasters that are too extreme? Inquiring minds need to know!
:evil grin: The kitties would run out and grab people and shake them about. Nothing like watching all of the peeps run out of the zoo in horror.
5. Portal (Valve, 2007)
The legend of Portal starts with a fledgling team of still-in-school gamemakers who pitched a concept to Valve’s Gabe Newell, walked away with a deal, and eventually delivered a masterpiece. Their brilliant portal mechanic and the extensive playtesting that perfected the puzzles made this an excellent game. But credit also goes to Valve for what they brought to the table: a writing team that stitched the levels together with hilarious but meaningful dialogue; one of the decade’s best villains, the complex, conflicted GLaDOS; the subtle integration into the wider Half-Life universe; and the fact that GLaDOS not only eludes you at the end, but comes back and sings you a farewell, penned by geek troubadour Jonathan Coulton. Who thinks of something like that? Valve, that’s who. With Portal, the company proved itself as adept at spotting talent and creating pop culture as it is at shipping great games.
4. Rock Band (MTV Games/Electronic Arts, 2007)
Rhythm games have frequently courted non-gamers"what better hook to reel in newbies than catchy tunes?"but none dominates a party like Rock Band. The four-player experience accommodates precise, determined players and drunken fools all in the same session. What other party game can satisfy all of the people all of the time? It was made by musicians for everyone; its devotion to music is evident in song selections that skirt the mainstream and animations that replicate onstage performance as lovingly as Madden seeks to mirror football. Where prior music games were limited by static disc-based releases, a constant supply of optional downloadable content makes Rock Band the only music game that persistently thinks beyond the boundaries of physical releases. That keeps it fresh and, not coincidentally, makes the title a bright light in the increasingly shadowy music biz.
3. Fallout 3 (Bethesda Softworks, 2008)
Some games have great storylines; some have great worlds. Bethesda Softworks’ update of the Fallout series is a world-building triumph. The Capital Wasteland is more than a massive chunk of irradiated real estate; it’s home to characters of every conceivable stripe, odd relics of a bygone civilization, and mutated new inhabitants that suggest evolution isn’t a process to be rushed. Fallout 3’s crowning achievement is structuring the Wasteland as a framework in which players can pick and choose how they’ll combine those ingredients to tell their own story. Is the Wasteland the basis for a traditional Western, a cautionary Mad Max tale, or a balls-out action saga? It can be all of the above, and much more. The measure of a game should never be a bottom-line summation of playable time, but the fact that Fallout 3 offers easily a hundred hours of post-apocalyptic storytelling can’t be overlooked.
2. Katamari Damacy (Namco, 2004)
Indie games existed long before 2004, but there’s a good argument for pegging Katamari Damacy as the catalyst that helped usher in the new wave of low-fi, handmade games. Of course, Keita Takahashi’s quirky game wasn’t independently made. He tricked his bosses at Japanese publisher Namco into letting him make an oddball game about rolling all the detritus of consumer culture into a huge ball, then launching it into space. And in doing so, he cemented all the themes that would define the independent spirit of gaming: a quirky tone, experimental mechanics, twee art, and cooler-than-thou music. Which together make Katamari Damacy a pure delight"a surrealistic, totally original confection with a nihilistic subtext.
1. BioShock (2K Games, 2007)
A three-word pleasantry"“Would you kindly?”"set up the most stunning plot twist in gaming history and made BioShock a lasting icon. Many games have stolen its moral-choice device"witness the recent glut of “Press A to kill, B to rescue” situations"but the copycats miss the real insight of the “Would you kindly?” moment, which showed players that the notion of choice in a game is just an illusion anyway. It’s all in how you execute the illusion, and BioShock uses every tool of the medium to tell its story of extreme libertarianism gone awry: richly characterized dialogue, the gloom of a crumbling Atlantis, the limitations of the first-person viewpoint. It was a visionary effort, one that set the bar high for games that would follow"especially the upcoming BioShock 2.