<!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about video game enthusiasts on the Internet, it’s that they love to talk about their favorite games and the amount of love and admiration visible online is often directly proportional to the success of the game in question. So it vexes me when I hear so much about a game (or a series of games) which is incredibly popular and adored by millions but I have never played.

Complicating matters is that the video game business is very imitative, so a popular game will spawn a number of derivative works which will get fans talking about them and eventually lead back to more love for the original game(s). This means that as time goes on, the games I’m not playing are only increasing in stature and relevance, pushing me further and further out of the discourse I try to participate in online.

With that in mind I turn to you, dear Bitmobbers, and ask you to shed some light on these games that I never (or hardly ever) played. Which of these titles do you feel leaves the largest gaping hole in my gaming history? Are they worth revisiting, or have the imitations surpassed the originals by now? And in the case of long-running series, should I begin at the beginning?

 

 

Metal Gear Solid: The closest I came to playing a Metal Gear Solid game was when I bought a used copy of VR Missions for the original PlayStation. I had seen my friends play the highly-acclaimed original game many times and I thought it looked cool, but something about the story or the exploration intimidated me, so I balked and went for the spin-off version. I thought it was a lot of fun but remained unconvinced that I should try the “real thing.” Before I knew it, the game had multiple sequels and I felt lost. When Part 4 came out last summer, it was impossible to ignore the hype but everything I read about the game suggested it was buried deep in its own mythology, perhaps even to the point of detriment. Is it even possible to play these games in short bursts with all those cutscenes?

Gears of War: I have a legit excuse for never playing either of these XBox 360 exclusive titles: I never owned an XBox until spring of this year. Now that I’ve got the means to try these games out, is it something I need to do? My biggest caveat is that I have no one to play co-op with, so I’ll be relying on AI teammates which strikes me as a rather large negative based on the AI partners I’ve had in other games. Also, the muscle-bound characters and brown & gray wasteland of the Gears of War universe have been openly mocked by so many, I question whether or not I can take the actual material seriously. Perhaps that is not necessary?

Silent Hill: I love survival horror games but there’s a catch: I’m kind of a coward. I’ve never played one all the way through by myself. This meant unless I had a buddy around, I didn’t buy or even rent a game that seemed scary. I feel really behind the times on Silent Hill because it somehow managed to get turned into a movie and has a reboot coming soon but I have yet to see even one title screen in this series. The “good” news is that I hear some of Silent Hill games are best left unplayed (hence the reboot) but do I need to get through a bad one first to appreciate the good ones?

Call of Duty: There was a time in my life when I rejected the first person shooter as a worthwhile genre. Sure, I played Doom and I loved it, but my experiences with all of its clones left a bad taste in my mouth. When Call of Duty and all the other World War II shooters started hitting the shelves, I didn’t even bother picking one up to read the back of the box.

Now things have changed, or so I am told. This series is hugely popular and critically adored and apparently it only occasionally takes place in World War II anymore. I’ve changed too, in that I appreciate a good shooter although I’m still less than psyched about the pseudo-historical setting. Is there an over-arching story that needs to be experienced, or should I just jump in with the latest and “greatest” installment?

Halo: I left this one for last because I actually played the first game years ago, but I played it in co-op mode with my friends and we more or less ignored the story. Now I hear there are novels and lots of characters and I fear that if I were to pick up Halo 2 or 3, I would simply be confused. Also, like Gears of War, I worry that the Master Chief parodies and rip-offs have devalued the original to the point of irrelvancy. Also, while I know Halo 3 is still a big multiplayer hit, I am such an incompetent competitor against humans I would have no motivation to play anything but single player mode. Is that alone worth experiencing?

As you can probably guess, there are a lot of other games that I could list here, but these titles are the ones which I hear the most about that belong to a genre that I could potentially enjoy (sorry, Burnout Paradise, but I hate racing games with a passion). I welcome any and all constructive feedback. Try to keep things hate-free; if I wanted to hear angry fanboys slime rival systems, I’d ask this question in a message board (any message board, honestly). Help me Bitmob, you’re my only hope!

 

Daniel Feit was born in New York but now lives in Japan. Follow him on Twitter @feitclub or visit his blog, feitclub.com