But my favourite game? It damages my brain to try and boil it down to a definitive.
The game I've completed more than any other is Half-Life 2. I still remain seduced by the atmosphere of that world, all that fannying around with the Gravity Gun, and the constant barrage of ideas, but I'm done with it now. As beautifully designed as it might be, it's stating to show its age next to current-gen titles, and I'm over-familiar with its tricks.
As I've stated before, the game I've had the strongest emotional connection to is The Last of Us. The story might be slight, but it engaged me. It involved me. I've never felt like I cared what happened to a games character before it, but I've played it through twice now, and I know what to expect. I don't want to play through it again: that big shock at the end of the second act would lose its impact a third time. Its narrative linearity is, ultimately, to its detriment.
The game I've played the most is, probably, either COD: Modern Warfare or Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved - the former for the online play, the latter for obsessively trying to beat my high scores. These days I rarely play online, because most of my mates now have better things to do, and though I'm still occasionally playing Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, even that has lost its hold on me.
I reserve my biggest swell of affection (matron) for Skool Daze. I mean, I genuinely love it - the sound effects, the graphics, the early sandbox thrill of wandering around a familiar British school being A Naughty Boy... but... it's an old, old game.
I accept that, if you're comparing it to something like GTA V, then there is no comparison; it's akin to comparing a chicken embryo to a roast dinner with all the trimmings..
What I love isn't Skool Daze as it is; it's the game as it was, in the context of when I first played it. That context - the who I am, and the how the games industry was in the mid-80s - no longer exists.
Old games, generally, do not age well. Unlike music, they are for the most part stepping-stones to something more sophisticated, part of an evolutionary process. Let's face it, given the choice between dating the world's most awful homo sapien, and the world's best early bipedal hominid - such as Australopithecus - well... y'know. Let's just say you wouldn't want to take Australopithecus to meet your mother, even if you had somehow gotten him into a pair of clean pants.
FRUSTY THE SNOWMAN
Being unable to name my favourite game is something that has always frustrated me.
Let's try the whole Desert Island Games thing; if you were stuck on a desert island, which video game would you want to be there with? Which game could you easily play for the rest of your life? When I try to think that way, it swings me back round to the endless replayability of Geometry Wars, but there's a barrier there, something stopping me wanting it to be my favourite game.
And I think that's it: I want my favourite game to be one that I feel in some way defines me, not one that I'm choosing because it offers a potentially endless cause-and-effect high score challenge.
I want my favourite game to be one that has helped shaped me, and means something to me, and Geometry Wars doesn't do that. Skool Daze comes close, for sure, but the more I think about it, the more I recall my frustrating playing it. It was a chore, frankly - and getting to the stuff that I liked was like chipping away at a granite block to get to the bar of Dairy Milk at its core.
But maybe I'm missing the point. Maybe I'm trying to make video games like movies, or music, or books, when they're not. As a medium, games are defined by technology more than any other art form. Any list that tries to name the Top 100 Video Games of All Time should be renamed The Most Stupid List Ever. Games are so diverse, so open to subjectivity and individual taste, that trying to list them in order of bestness is akin to trying to list The Top 10 Parts of a Badger.
So perhaps that's it. Ultimately, I don't have one definitive, defining, video game that I know is my favourite. Perhaps I just love games, and - while there are some I enjoy more than others - maybe it's fine that there isn't one that I could safely say is head and shoulders above all the rest in my eyes. Or in my heart.
Not yet anyway.
Ohhh... to Hell with it. Maybe it is Skool Daze. Or The Last of Us. Or Goldeneye. Or Super Mario World. Or Pyjamarama.
FROM THE ARCHIVE:
- I WAS A BAFTA GAMES JUDGE by Mr Biffo
- IMMERSIVE THEATRE IS FOR GAMERS by Mr Biffo
- THE POWER OF NOWSTALGIA by Mr Biffo