Tuesday, 30 November 2010

"Walkin' in a winter wonderland........"

Snow eh? Well, depending on where you are in the U.K, you're probably getting some kind of snow. Down south or up north, it's pelting it down. And depending on if you're a light-hearted soul, or some Scrooge-type miserable bastard, you're either taking advantage and having fun, like my lady friends over there on the left, or moaning about the gritters aren't out, or it's the same every year....blah blah blah.

Anyhoo. I love the snow. Especially when i'm inside with the heating turned up to nuclear levels. So, what better time to look at some of the best snowy moments in gaming. This isn't a list of the best games featuring snow, and the list is in no particular order, it's just ten of what I consider to be the best snowy levels or settings in videogames. So....sit back, get your woolly hats and mittens on, crack out the mulled wine and have a look.

(Just as a quick disclaimer, depending on the video, you may have to bump it forward a minute or two to get to the bits I mean. I'll try and get it right first time, but if you're too fucking lazy to scroll over a bit well....god help you!)

#1. Goldeneye.

Goldeneye was a great game. You don't need me to tell you that. I remember playing it like it was yesterday. But one of the levels that stuck with me was the surface level. The one where you had to power down the communications dish and gain access to the underground bunker. I loved this level. It stuck with me more than most in the game. The N64 used to get its fare share of grief about the draw distances in games, but this was one level where the "fog" problems that permiated most N64 titles actually improved a level. The bit where the radar dish slowly emerges out of the snowy horizon left me with a huge smile on my face. I replayed the level again and again just so I could see it!

#2. Lost Planet.

Well, it kind of almost had to be on the list, what with being set on a snowy planet and all that. The game itself was pretty cool, essentially old school in it's stylings, but battling monsterous Acrid over snowy wastes never really got old. Some of the boss fights were epic, and the snowy wastelands, in places, are a thing to behold.

#3. Diddy Kong racing.

I love DKR. In my opinion, and that's the only one that matters, it batters the N64 version of Mario kart (yes it does.....YES IT DOES!). I spent hours and hours on the game, and one of my favourite levels is Frosty Village. Just hearing the music gives me a huge Christmassy feeling, and the level, with it's snow caves and villages lit up with decorations is beautiful.

And i'll say it YET AGAIN....it's a better racing game than Mario Kart. The end.

#4. Super Ghouls 'n' ghosts.

One of my favourite games of all time. Hard as nails, but so, so good to play. If you have never played it....well....kill yourself. Seriously. If you have played it, you probably remember the snow level. A REAL bastard of a level to finish, just down to the impared vision of the snow and those huge snow cat creatures with a severe case of ice halitosis.

#5. Super Mario 64.

I remember when I first got my N64. I lined up outside Virgin Megastore at 12 midnight. They were doing it on a first come, first served basis, and I was second in line. Hours later, with my new console in hand I shot straight home and settled down to play Mario 64, arguably still the best game on the N64. One of the levels that stuck with me was the snow level. Rescuing the little penguin, racing the big one down the big steep slope....just a complete excercise in fun, something some games these days should remember.

#6. Call of Duty 2.

It's still probably my favourite of the Call of Duty games....well, a toss up between this and Modern Warfare. The story, the sound effects, and when the game was first release I though graphics would never be as good....(how wrong I was eh?). The mission, where you start off training with the Red Army, which then descends into chaos as you have to go and attack the German forces, still stand out to this day. I really think they nailed the weather in this level. You can imagine how cold the Russians feet must be.

#7. Uncharted 2.

Uncharted 2 must take the crown for the most realistic snow in a game. Ever. Just look at it! It is, for all intents and purposes real snow. Apart from it's not cold. And it's not real. But in the videogame world it's real, and that's good enough for me.

#8. Virtua Fighter 5.

The best fighting game ever. Well....best 3D fighting game ever anyway. And one of my favourite levels? You got it, the snowy mountain stage (well...it would be, what with this being a snow themed article and all.....doh!). Why is it so good? Well, to me, it actually feels cold. Even though it's a glorious sunny day, seeing the fighters breath just shows you how cold it must be. And I love the way the snow gets kicked up and spread around as the fighters switch positions and kick.

#9. Metal Gear Solid 4.

Mateal Gear Solid 4 had it's haters....namly the people that couldn't be arsed to sit through a 90 minute cut scene....no matter how amazing that scene was. Me? I lap anything Metal Gear related up, and I loved every minute of MGS4. One moment in particular that is one of my favourite moments in gaming is the return to Shadow Moses, the setting of the first MGS game. Not only was it the flashback to the first game as you travel there in the helicopter, not only was it the haunting music that starts as soon as you go over the crescent and see the entrance to the facility, it was the snow. A real blizzard of a snowstorm, sneaking past the mechs, getting covered in snow and having flakes hit the screen and melt in front of you literally made my tummy banana stir.

(Jump to around 2.45 in the video....unless you want to see the awesome PS1 flashback at the start!).

#10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

The FPS equivalent of Marmite, you love it or hate it and i'll be the first to admit that the games story is as confusing as using the same organ to both piss and have sex with, but I love MW2. Partly because it's got the S.A.S in, and I taught then everything that they knew. Partly because of Captain Price and his awesome moustache, but I love it mostly for the following level. Yourself and Soap infiltrate a base, starting with a hazardous mountain insertion, you make you way through the base, silently taking down any enemies you come across using the blizzard for cover. The snow though, and weather conditions in general, such as the freezing breeze rippling your clothes that make the level a standout. It's a blinder of a level, literally in places, and it's one of the reasons I love videogames. Enjoy.

So there you go. Gamefreaks top ten snow levels in videogames. Please feel free to leave your comments, and of course if i've missed what you would consider to be a better one, don't bother getting in touch....you won't beat mine.

(just teasing....)

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