Whether it’s revisiting old novels or watching some of your favorite movies, nostalgia can be a useful coping mechanism during periods of intense stress. Personally, my nostalgia comes in revisiting video games I loved growing up. Oftentimes, wonky controls, poor graphics and dated mechanics can make some of those games downright unplayable. This isn’t always the case, and today I want to talk to you good folks about some OG bangers that still go pretty hard.
As a precocious young middle schooler, my taste could be filed into two categories: “anime bullshit” and “over-the-top action extravaganzas.” As a grown man, not much has changed. One of my favorite series back in the day was Burnout. While the Gran Turismo and Forza games focused on precision driving and accurate physics, Burnout was about going as fast as possible, wrecking your competition and causing as much mayhem as possible before you crossed the finish line. In recent years, there hasn’t been much that offers pure arcade racing, so the game still feels unique. The takedown mechanic, in which you’re encouraged to wreck your competition, is still a thrill. The game stands as a welcome contrast from the simulation-style racing presented by modern titles like Gran Turismo, Forza and Project Cars.
Inspired by YouTuber Jakey’s videos on the Halo trilogy, my roommate and I decided to play through the first three Halo games last fall. Y’all. These games entirely hold the fuck up. The shooting still feels sublime. The grand space opera is easy to get swept up in and the HD remastering done for The Master Chief Collection brings it all to vivid life. It looks exactly how you felt it did the first time you played it back in 2001. The standout of the Master Chief Collection is Halo 2, which was given the full remake treatment that we’ve seen in games like Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy VII Remake. If you haven’t played through these games in recent years, I definitely recommend you give them a revisit.
In recent years, the stealth game hasn’t really been shown much love. As a youngin’, I was obsessed with games like Thief, Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell. I loved sneaking around and found great satisfaction in completing an objective without anyone noticing my presence. When I saw Chaos Theory was on sale on Xbox this weekend, it was an instant cop. I was happy to find that the stealth mechanics held up and the game was still a joy to play. If you’re like me and have been looking for some stealthy action, revisit Chaos Theory. It’s one of the best to ever do the damn thing.
Honestly, this spot could go towards a number of old Star Wars games. While Battlefront II(2005), Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Knights of the Old Republic all were in consideration, there have been newer versions of those games in recent years and KOTOR has been re-released on every device ever. Republic Commando represents an era where Star Wars games were allowed to be more than just online shooters or single-player Jedi-centric games. As a squad-based tactical shooter, there wasn’t a Star Wars game like Republic Commando before or after it came out. The game holds up remarkably well and as a Star Wars nerd, it’s fun seeing the Clone Wars play out through the eyes of Delta Squad. If you’re a Star Wars fan and you’ve finished Jedi: Fallen Order and want something more than Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) check out Republic Commando.
This one is a little more recent, having been released in 2012, but it’s such a slept-on title I had to show it some love. The game is an open-world action title but one of the few that truly does its own thing as opposed to just being not-GTA. The game places you in charge of Wei Shen, a police officer sent to Hong Kong to go undercover in the Sun On Yee triad. The game is unique in that it fully forces you to balance the duality of trying to stay true to your code as a cop while also trying to prove your loyalty to the triad. The shooting and melee combat feel like they came out of a John Woo movie and car chases and rolling shootouts feel equally cinematic. If you’re growing tired of GTA, give Sleeping Dogs a spin. It’s one of the coolest open-world games to have been released in the last generation.
Real quick, honorable mentions: Bully, The Warriors, Jade Empire, any old Zelda game, any old Mario game and Chrono Trigger for the JRPG heads who called me out last time. Have you also been revisiting some old titles? Drop your recommendations in the comments, y’all! I’m always looking for some new heat to play.