What Makes a Great Video Game?

Whether it’s Game Boy, Playstation 2, or your PC, a great game is the same for any machine, but not every person.

People like to do and play different things. But when you boil down a great game into it’s simplest form, there is always the same thing at it’s heart. Having fun. We play games to amuse ourselves, to get away from our daily grind or hum-drum lives and simply forget our immediate concerns for the moment.

Some people like simple games such as chess and checkers, while others are into the great mass drama’s of online universes played by hundred’s at a time.

When you buy your game you spend money to have fun, just like going to a movie. But with video games, you get to do it over and over again.

That is the first thing that makes a great game, re-playability. I know it’s not a word, my spell checker is rolling it’s eyes at me, but it’s the fact that you can play the game over and over again and still enjoy it that makes it a great game.

If you play a game that is limited to the same linear story or theme and it happens the same way every time, the game gets boring quickly and you get tired of it.

How many hours of fun you get from your game is important to what makes it great.

If you check out some of the game sites and see the top rated games, the big ones all have that one thing in common. You can sit and play the game so many times and at least some of the things in it are different.

Two examples of this are Far-cry and Halo. In both games the objective is to get the bad guy at the end. And survive.

But to get to the end you have to go around and shoot, bomb, laser and bash your way there. The enemies come at you in different ways and the going changes as you continue on. It gets tougher and you have to change your tactics as you progress.

If the game has a bad engine, the engine is the program that runs the game; hence engine, the game will not be tough enough and you will get bored. On those games, they used really good engines and had really good designers to make the going tough.

To get to the end of the game, you follow a very specific path, but there are variations of how to go about it. If you have more than one strict way to go about getting to your goal, it’ll be more fun for you.

On other games that have no definite path or route to take, such as Unreal or Quake, the whole game is geared toward shooting the other guy. You get to try your hand at different levels and against different opponents but the whole game is the same. The fun in these types of games has to come from the shooting and trying not to get shot.

Personally, one of the biggest points for me in buying a game comes from the simple fact that the game comes with a game editor. A game editor is the tool used to design the games levels. It is how the designers built and programmed the game to play and you get to try your hand in this if the seller of the game releases this tool with the game. If the editor comes out on the market, it means others out in the world will also be able to make levels for the game, and you get to try these levels for free. It adds whole new realms to a game when you play levels others have made.

Some games such as Combat Flight Simulator and Flight Sim by Microsoft have spawned a whole new realm to gaming, companies that are making add-ons to the original game and selling them. It is becoming more and more prevalent today to see small companies trying to make a profit from a game such as this, but the benefit to you is most of these also have free add-ons to show how good they are at their craft.

There are some very good add-ons that you can buy or try out from these new types of gaming companies.

Another key point to games that people enjoy is graphics, or how the game looks.

If you ever played a game that came out and then played a previous one in the same series, Combat Flight Sim 3 and then go to Combat Flight Sim 1, you know what I mean here.

The graphics have a big role to play in how we enjoy our games. If it didn’t, Hoyle would be out of business. They keep coming out with new versions of the same games such as card and board games but people still buy the newer versions. They add graphics and visual stimulations to make the games more enjoyable.

That is not a bad thing, but it does cost you in the end. You will need the newer and better computers and graphics or video cards to play the newer and better games.

Take this from some one who knows, going from a Windows 3.1 to Win 98 to Windows XP, the better graphics have by far improved over the years. I remember a game I played on my 233 HZ HP computer with Windows 3.1. You were a small character the size of an icon and moving around in a dungeon that would appear on the blank screen as you entered each area. As the monsters, also icon sized characters, attacked you, the small side bar would tell you what was going on. Top of the line when the game came out, nowadays it is laughable. Halo 2 and Doom 3 put it to shame, mostly due to graphics.

You can now get similar games as that one, such as the Everquest series, that is by far more fun to play but the whole story line is the same as that fun old game.

If you have a better computer, games such as Far Cry are great for first person shooters due to the graphics. This game broke boundaries in game engine design by the designers in how the game looks.

Which brings me to a point near to our pocket book, value. If a game costs too much, you will not enjoy it. It’s value has to be equal to what you get out of it, or you paid too much. If you pay top dollar for a game when it first comes out and like it some but don’t consider it great, it’s value is low. If you get the same game after it’s been out for a year and only pay a few dollars for it, it’s value is higher because you didn’t pay as much for the same game and at least got some enjoyment out of it.

That’s a key factor to some who have to watch their wallets, value of the games they buy. I watch the clearance section of local stores to find the games on sale after they have been on the market for awhile and then look at reviews to see if the game would be enjoyable.

I get a good value for the game because even if I don’t like the game a lot, I did get some fun out of playing the game at a low price.

You can search Ebay and Amazon for other great buys on games that have been out on the market for awhile but beware of a few things when buying used games.

Ensure you are getting what you want, whether it’s a used game or whatever. Read the whole description to see exactly what they say you are getting, new, slightly used whatever.

Be aware of shipping costs. It shouldn’t be hard to find out from the site what it will cost to ship. For one game in the U.S. it is at most 5 dollars, any more is handling cost. Or if it’s next day shipping it might be as high as ten dollars. Handling charges are what the person wants above and beyond the shipping cost to mail you your new purchase.

See the ratings others have given to that seller to see if anyone else has had complaints about them, if any. This is a big factor in telling whether a seller is honest with his customers. I would try to buy from small shops or sellers that have a business in what you are buying, not a person just getting rid of their old games. They have more at stack being a business, and not a person.

The whole point of this article is when you buy a game try and see what you like in a game, not what others do. Whether it’s re-playability or visuals, you can find out about the game before hand and see what you are looking for. Don’t trust what others say about it. Trust yourself, go to the web and find out for your self.

I go to a couple of web sites and see what the key points are to the game, such as great graphics or a game editor. I see for myself the visuals using screen shots at the sites, not what they put on the box. The screen shots taken by the company will be the ones they want you to see, not the ones you will be seeing most of the time while playing the game.

Go to the various sites that review games: Gamestop, Gamespot, PCworld, CNET, Fileplanet, etc, and see what others rate the game and see for yourself what they feel are the best and worst points of the game. You can type in the name of the game and then “review” into a search engine such as Google and see the various reviews of games. Also read reviews that are not from the company selling the game. Reviews from the ones selling the game are going to hype the game they are selling.

You can even download demos of some games to see for yourself if you like the game. This only works for PC games though. I would only recommend this if you have a faster internet service though, such as DSL. Some games can be as large as 100 mega bytes and above even for the demos and will take hours to download. But you can try the game and see for yourself if you would like to buy it.

Don’t buy a game by the hype or commercials, or you will be disappointed by it. Buy it by the things that you deem important, see for yourself what makes the game good or great. Go on the internet to find out for yourself if you would like the game and then you can get your monies worth.

So, a great game has many key factors; how long you can play the game or re-playability, how easy it is to learn the game or learning curve, graphics or visuals and value. What makes a great game for each person is different but all have these in common. If some or all of it is missing in a game, chances are you won’t like it.

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