Best Gaming Moments of 2008 – Tim

Although I'm not writing quite as much as I used to these days, I can tell you that I haven't been wasting my days playing games like some of the others. Far from it, in fact, as I spent most of this year catching up on the frankly awesome selection of games we had last year - I've still not played everything I wanted to. I don't know when I'm going to get around to playing Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead for more than a couple of hours, as I still haven't completed Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare yet.

I can see this quickly turning into the best moments in games I haven't played this year, so before that happens, I should probably move on to the few stand-out moments in those games that I have managed to play for more than a few hours this year.

Race Driver: GRID was probably my favourite game of the year, but I felt that there wasn't really any soul in the game, let alone a stand-out piece of gameplay. It was just consistently good and gripping, if a little unrealistic at times because it's not a true racing simulator – there are some arcade elements thrown in to make the gameplay more approachable for everyone who isn't a complete petrol-head.

The Best Gaming Moments of 2008 The Best Gaming Moments - Tim takes the cake

Driving around Circuit de Spa Francorchamps – one of my favourite tracks on the F1 calendar – in a Formula 3 car with the camera set to in the cockpit was easy to pick up, but difficult to master at high speed with the driving aids turned off. Mastering turn 12, known as Pouhon, without losing ground to the pack was a true challenge for me, but the feeling of speed through Eau Rouge was the true highlight of driving around Spa in GRID.

Being a big fan of the Burnout series, I was quick to jump on the Burnout Paradise bandwagon too – it's another game with a great feeling of speed and although I was unsure about Criterion's change of direction for the series, it eventually wore away my scepticism. The turning point was when I started playing multiplayer with a group of Xbox Live friends and we were working through the missions together – awesome fun and incredibly frustrating at the same time (it was usually me holding progress up because I suck at barrel rolls)!

Some of the evenings playing non-stop Team Fortress 2 with Harry this year were incredible fun as well and created so many laugh-out-loud scenarios – the standout moment for that was when we combined my medic über charge with his flamethrower to wipe out the whole of the opposing team in one fell swoop. Yeah, I promptly sucked after that because I couldn't stop laughing – I was grinning almost as much as Harry seemingly does in every photo we've got of him.

The Best Gaming Moments of 2008 The Best Gaming Moments - Tim takes the cake

But that wasn't my gaming moment of the year – that honour has to be reserved for Portal, a game that I only got around to completing for the first time in the summer. I avoided every thread, every YouTube video and every news story relating to Portal because, after reading Joe's review, I realised that this game was something very special, if a little short. And boy, I wasn't disappointed – quite the opposite in fact, because I was simply blown away.

I loved the dry sense of humour that glows right through the game and the way it's delivered through a digitalised voice makes it all the more comical. But a sense of humour isn't the only thing that Portal has going for it – there's the wonderful portal gameplay mechanic and challenge that each puzzle presents. Far too often these days, games are dumbed down for a more casual audience and while this presented a challenge, it was delivered in such a way that even casual gamers are able to appreciate it.

It's impossible to compare Portal to anything else I've ever played – it's a game that I've not only played once and loved it; it's one that I've revisited a couple more times when I was looking for a bit of a pick-me-up during what was a difficult summer for me personally. It's one of the few games I've played recently which has truly captured me on an emotional level as well as an interest level – it's a game I see myself playing through again, because even the few paragraphs I've written about it here have inspired me to want to.

A true masterpiece of game design, thank you Valve – now please Mr. Newell, can I have some more? I'll buy you a cake if I can – I promise!
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October 14 2021 | 15:04