Yesterday marked twenty years since the original PlayStation was first released here in the UK.
I didn’t get in on the action until three years after that; the PlayStation being my first official game console (not counting a borrowed Game Boy) in 1998, around the time Metal Gear Solid was changing how people looked at the previously infantile industry. No doubt about it – Sony’s PlayStation was at least partially responsible for making the gaming medium seem mature and even ‘cool’.
I wanted to mark this special, momentous anniversary with something kind of unique. But I couldn’t think of anything, so instead I’m just going to write some more about video games – in particular those that have been synonymous with PlayStation over the years – over the next few weeks and months on this blog. I might even make a new category for it.
Games I’ll cover during this period will include:
Resident Evil (1996), Final Fantasy VII (1997), Metal Gear Solid (1998), Silent Hill (1999), Final Fantasy VIII (1999), Final Fantasy IX (2000), Silent Hill 2 (2001), Grand Theft Auto 3 (2001), Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001), Kingdom Hearts (2002), TimeSplitters 2 (2002), Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002), Resident Evil 4 (2005), Shadow of the Colossus (2005), Final Fantasy XII (2006), Okami (2006), Journey (2012), The Last of Us (2013), Grand Theft Auto V (2013)…
Note that this list will likely be adapted in the near future (I’m sure there’s some I’ve left out), but for now these are the games that come to mind when I think of how the PlayStation has impacted me personally. Also bear in mind that this is not supposed to be a list of the best PlayStation games – I wouldn’t claim to have played enough to make that kind of call. Though I think this is at least a list of some of the most important games to have been released in the past 20 years, not just in relation to PlayStation but for the industry as a whole. I’ll aim to explain why I think so as I cover each one – and yes, they probably will come across as essays. I have included games in this list about which I feel I have something useful to say – indeed, most of which I feel have something useful to say to us – and I will try my best to say it without pandering to those who have the attention span of a fish.
If the list seems to become more sparse as the years go on, that is quite simply because I think the general quality of games (on console at least) has somewhat declined in those years. This may seem an outrageous claim considering the fact that games are technically ‘better’ today than they’ve ever been. But consider, for a moment, the reasons why you might think that. Consider the trends that seem to have gripped the industry in the past ten years.
Or don’t worry about it right now and just bask in the nostalgia, as I am doing. At 25 years old, I not only feel like I grew up with these games – when it comes to PlayStation I literally did grow up with it. We have matured alongside each other, and to look at the PS4 now without truly admiring where it came from would be an injustice that I’d like to think current and future generations won’t suffer. But I realise, in reality, how fortunate I am that this is the time I’ve grown up in. It will never quite be recreated because it was our time. No one else’s. The era of the PlayStation has run its course – or perhaps, in a sense, it is only just beginning.
One final point: I won’t be tackling the above games in the order I’ve listed them. This is partly because doing so would be formulaic and possibly boring. I will cover each of them as and when I feel it is relevant – in other words, precisely when I feel like it.