Everyone has a favorite mechanic for a game. The one thing that distinguishes a game, shines and earns the crown of our hearts. There are games that do what they do so well that the whole game is pushed forward. We’ve been talking around the office about the fact that Kanye West is going to play a game. Narcissism, no doubt, will be the prevailing mechanic. “But while his game is going to be god-awful, we all channel our inner-Kanye when we discuss the best games with our friends, such as “I’m sorry, Imma let you finish, but Mario Kart had some of the best races of all time! ”. So here are 10 of what we believe to be the best game mechanics ever.
1. Bullet Time – Max Payne Series
For games, Max Payne was what The Matrix was for films. While the game has ripped off that landmark of action cinema fairly blatantly, the gaming world is all the better for it. Besides, it was only a matter of time before someone discovered that explosions and bullets in slow motion look super cool.
2. X-Ray Kills – Sniper Elite III
As Sniper Elite borrows the x-rays from Mortal Kombat 9, another case of plagiarism puts them to work dismembering the Third Reich. Just literally. There’s little doubt Sniper Elite would be just another forgettable romp in World War II if not for the X-ray kills. Thank goodness it’s not.
3. Acrobatics – Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time
This Prince of Persia reboot had more stellar mechanics than the five-star rating of a Jiffy Lube on Yelp. Rewinding time, acrobatics, and that dagger, of course. The struggle that we can see reincarnated today in games such as the Arkham series or Shadow of Mordor was my personal favorite. It was a constant joy to flip around and over) your enemies and to hoover them with your mystic vacuum-dagger was a satisfying finisher. Put this game on the short-list for an HD remake of those due.
4. Rage – Wingsticks
Rage, ah. One of the smartest shooters of the last generation came from the studio that brought us landmark games like Doom, Quake and Wolfenstien. Although it received a tepid reception back in 2011 for a lackluster story (it was a fall release with games such as Arkham City to contend with), critics were unanimous in praising the gameplay and insanely stellar visuals. In this game, you’ll literally stop looking at the clouds. I found it forgettable at the moment, a game jumping on the post-apocalyptic band-wagon of the Borderlands/Fallout. But today, with a smart arsenal of guns and gadgets, Rage is still a joy to play with. The wingstick is a case in point. A boomerang-like device that you can bury with ease in the face of an oncoming enemy. Time it right and they’re going to slide right at your feet to a stop, watch exhibit A below.
5. Wanted: Weapons of Fate – Curve the Bullet
This game will be remembered by none of you. Or the 2008 movie on which it was based. Today, in the middle of all the copies of Madden 09, it stands as both one of the really good games based on a film and a gem glistening in bargin-bins everywhere. For $4.99, you can get this game, which is a total steal. It’s still a pretty game, a little one-dimensional, but the cover system works, and curving bullets are just plain flat out awesome. Below is a scene from the game and the film for your comparison.
6. Fallout Series – VATS
This target-painting, brain splattering little toy from the Fallout Series is VATS, or Vault-Tek Assisted Targeting System. The updated system had us melting laser mutant faces and putting down bandits for the usual dirt naps. Remove the jump from the point and click Fallout 1 and 2 Days. It was a dark pleasure to be enjoyed over and over again, even then scoring 100 percent and watching your enemies explode into different pieces. Rumor has it that a Fallout 4 announcement is in the works, either for the next PAX East or the E3 conference this year. We’re eager to see what the next generation of VATS can do.
7. Dishonored – Blink
Quite a few elegant mechanics were packed into a neat synthesis of stealth and combat by Dishonored. The best among them is the capacity for Blink. If he went straight up cray and began to fillet fools like steaks, this teleporting power made you feel like Nightcrawler. Blink is just the tip of Dishonored’s iceberg, great for getting in and out of sticky situations and all-around badassery.
8. Mortal Kombat – Fatalities
Terminate Him! The words in video game history are probably the most memorable, if not the most famous. Mortal Kombat’s had its up and downs, but the series has hit its step with the phenomenal Mortal Kombat 9 and is set for solid installments from here on out. The most recent Kombat hit shelves on April 14. It looks like Sub Zero has a train to catch right now though. “FATALITY! Fatality! ”
9. Alien: Isolation – Save Stations
Alien: Isolation was the most audacious AAA title of 2014, hands down. His punishing save system was one of the many big chances it took. Some stamped their feet that they were killed by the large median xenomorph and made them lose their progress. Instead of pressing the boo-hoo button, the naysayers should recognize what the save stations are for a tension generating device. Sure, you spend most of your time in Alien: isolation crawling around like you’ve lost a contact lens, but as you fight to stay alive, the desperation is palpable. Games nowadays play it safe and rarely, if ever, put players at risk with their checkpoints and infinite continues. Taking the high, hard road, Alien committed herself to her vision for the game.
10. Jedi Outcast / Jedi Academy – The Force
The Jedi games were the first to give us a true taste of what it feels like to wield the Force while switching between force powers felt like putting gloves on an octopus. Lightsabers, acrobatics, powerful forces, all of them blended into a unique and addictive experience. With this one, the force is strong.
There you have it and it is unimpeachable and applies to all times and places forever, like all the lists of things you read on the internet. If we missed a game mechanic by some chance, be sure to point out what it is in the comments and how we are all blithering assholes for not including it.