Konami's Metal Gear Solid (MGS) wowed everyone in 1998. It was the sequel to the 1987 Metal Gear game on the MSX home computer where the protagonist Solid Snake introduced the concept of stealth gameplay. Why send your character into a room all guns blazing, when you could skulk in the shadows and pounce when your foe was least expecting it? See this previous blog entry for more on the series.
MGS on Sony's Playstation was another landmark title for the little grey console and copies flew off the shelves. The move to 3D was a series first - but it wasn't its only highlight...not only could you dive for cover in shadows or behind a crate or two, but how about hiding under a crate? The infamous cardboard box tactic was not only comedic but hugely effective when confronted by a heavily-armed guard - and seeing Snake's legs poking out the bottom of the box as he waddled about the place added a real lighthearted feel to the game.
Ultimately, this game was fun. The graphics looked great - the main character was well defined, the environments were detailed and far more interesting than their various shades of grey suggested.
One particular highlight for me was the infamous fight with Psycho Mantis - an end of level boss boasting mind control and psychic abilities. I spent ages trying to defeat him as he leapt about the room avoiding my every attack; he knew exactly what I was planning and took evasive action.
The trick was to unplug the game controller and stick it in a different port so he could no longer read your mind and was ripe for the taking. Ingenious - and good enough to be awarded the "Most Innovative Use of a Video Game Controller" in the gamers' edition of the Guinness Book of Records!
And then we come to Fifa. Where to begin? Who hasn't heard of Electronic Art's football series?
It all kicked off in 1993 as Fifa International Soccer and after numerous tweaks and name changes, it has become a regular contender for best-selling title each year.
Fifa 09 is its latest guise and is generally considered the best version to date - sending the likes of Pro Evolution Soccer (it's main rival for the past decade) off to sulk on the sidelines.
Fifa now features thousands of recognizable licensed players, lifelike motion-captured movement, accurate ball control, a plethora of stadia, teams and leagues across various divisions, unparalleled online play and an soundtrack from top bands.
Each and every year I insist I'm not going to pay for the latest edition only to find myself queuing in my local store, game in hand. Fifa has become as much an addition to my calendar as a car service, visit to the dentist or much-needed holiday!
- Originality - While it boasts some great new features, Fifa 09 is far from original and is perhaps one of the most overexposed series in history. Metal Gear Solid, however, brought plenty of innovation and tricks to the table. Winner: MGS
- Longevity - MGS maintains a cult status and has spawned several best-selling sequels... there's even mention that a version is to break free from Sony's clutches and find itself on the Xbox sometime soon. The Fifa series will never die - although once each year's update comes out, I never go back to the older version again! Draw
- Graphics - MGS looked lovely and really showcased the Playstation. The game was littered with cut scenes, some great animation and effects. Fifa, meanwhile, has never looked so good and (at a distance, if you squint a little) does look mighty like watching the real thing on the television. Draw
- Sound FX - MGS was hugely cinematic, making good use of sound effects to add to the atmosphere. Its voice acting was also pretty great and the background tunes were haunting. On the other hand, Fifa boasts a great soundtrack, crowd noise and chants - you could almost be sitting in the stands! Winner: MGS
- Replayability - MGS is still great for a giggle if you have a few spare hours but Fifa has many different play modes and is great online. Winner: Fifa