Friday, August 8, 2008

Superhero substitutes

There are no traditional superhero games in the Rough Guide to Videogames canon. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any games with the superhuman powers of a hero. So if you’re feeling the urge to exercise some inhuman strength and agility (plus some cool weapons), here’s a few alternatives.

Kratos in God of War
This tale of violence, revenge and insanity is nothing less than you’d expect from an epic tragedy set in classical Greece. Spartan warrior Kratos is a puppet played by the gods, a tormented antihero – desperate, amoral and filled with rage. He brings destruction at the press of a few buttons thanks to his twin Blades of Chaos, and that’s not even taking into account his god-given powers.

Master Chief in Halo 3
Last of the genetically enhanced SPARTAN warriors (what is it with Sparta?), Master Chief’s third outing begins with him crashlanding on Earth in a bid to prevent the destruction of the universe. Masked by a helmet and rarely speaking, the saviour of 26th century humanity defines a new vision of the superhero, tougher than any natural human could ever be.

Ryu Hayabusa in Ninja Gaiden
Super ninja of the Dragon Ninja Clan, Ryu is the protagonist in a mythic tale of vengeance. Armed with the Dragon Blade, he is charged with recovering its counterpart, the evil Dark Dragon Blade, which was stolen from the protection of his clan. Unnaturally graceful acrobatic talents mean he can run up walls and across water with little effort, while taking on dozens of often demonic opponents in heroic style.

Ratchet in Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
OK, he’s a hero, but there’s not that much inherently special about the lombax other than being the last of his race. He does gain access to an impressive arsenal of superpowerful gadgets and weaponry, though, including the Groovitron, which chucks a disco mirrorball at enemies causing all within range to dance in sync, while you slaughter them like some kind of cartoon Scarface.

The Prince in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Like Ruy, the Prince has a knack for acrobatics such as wall running and jumping, a technique that also helps him dodge attacks. But if all else fails, there’s the handy ability to negate disaster, even death: by manipulating the sands of time, you can rewind to before the fatal event and replay the scenario a different way. In the world of videogames, there’s not much that’s more powerful than that.


Anonymous said...

What's a lombax?

KateB said...

An intelligent yellow furry animal that walks on two legs. The rest of them have been wiped out, but you can visit the ruins of their city. Bet you're glad you asked!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the book, now I need to find the time to try out some of the ones I missed first time around (Hidden & Dangerous for example).

Are you planning on going more in depth on any particular platform in the future?

KateB said...

Glad to hear you liked the book.

I'd love to go into more depth, but ultimately it's down to the publisher. And it will depend on sales more than anything (hint: the more online reviews, the better!).

But seriously, is there a particular platform you'd like to see covered in more depth?

Anonymous said...

Well I'm predominantly a PC gamer with a bit of DS thrown in so PC's I suppose.

Perhaps some niche classics, for example 4X games like Master of Orion 2, Space Empires 4 and on a slightly different tack Paradox interactive's Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron. Not forgetting Microprose's UFO Enemy Unknown and the X-Com series (I try and forget X-Com Interceptor).

All excellent games (but not particulary mainstream) which have taken up way to much of my waking hours and quite a few of the hours I should have been sleeping.

geoffoh said...

z45tu7, you're a strategy/resource-management gamer after my own heart - but finding the right perspective on that when kateb and I were writing the book was tricky (glad you enjoyed it, btw), and I cut out a lot of games that were dear to my heart but were also, to use your term, niche.

In fact I could write a whole other book on these and still manage to miss a few - and I think leaving out any reference at all to the X-Com/UFO series was a real oversight on my part (I'm the PC gamer out of the two of us). If the book goes to a second edition I'd definitely think about expanding our coverage of strategy and resource-management games, maybe as a large boxed text with some mini reviews, like the boxes on survival horror on p229, on Tom Clancy on p114, or on online RPGs on p40.

Would that work for you, or is it still too PC-lite?

Anonymous said...

That sounds about the right amount, without taking the book into a PC only title.

Though if you ever decide to do such a thing I'd certainly be interested in getting a copy.