THE Game, you just lost it.
August 18, 2009 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Help me find the perfect videogame for my boyfriend.

My boyfriend's birthday is coming up. Recently, we were talking about his neverending quest for the perfect videogame, and I realized that would be a great present to give him. However, I cannot find a game tailored to his specifications. Below, his closest matches, in his words, and why they are not quite what he's looking for:

"The Sims 2 is pretty close, but it gets pointless pretty fast, and I get bogged down in making pretty things. 4x4 Evolution is another good one, very open-ended with good development, but I've played all it has to offer many times over. Also I get bogged down making stuff for that, but it's usually not supposed to be pretty. XD
EV Override is also a close one, but it's gotten tedious and it doesn't run natively in OS X. Starcraft is kind of good, but the pace isn't quite right for me. It's not open-ended, you're not really reaching for any kind of a goal. The missions are too long to be just little pieces of the progression, but too short to be a long-term commitment. It's very scripted and unforgiving.
Runescape is too simple and kind of pointless. Everything is too organized, like the system of weapons and armor. There aren't any real goals once you've finished all the quests, but the quests are too tedious and difficult when you're doing them. After that, all you can really do is try to level up and get rich.
So I want a game that's open-ended, with an ability to set goals. I'm really big on gradually gaining items and abilities, but in a way of my choosing rather than a strict ordered progression. Driving games are cool, but don't allow for too much creativity. Multiplayer can be cool, but I don't really prefer one way over the other. So I want a game that's semi-sandbox, but still has a steady gain of items/powers/money to buy said items or powers."

The things that come to mind with these descriptions are Spore and WoW. He's nearly done with Spore, and WoW doesn't really interest him. I'm not a gamer, so I'm not very well-versed in games like this. What does the hivemind suggest?

PS. The boyfriend has a Mac, a Wii, a PSP, and I think he might have an Xbox tucked in there somewhere.
posted by cobain_angel to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (39 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Has your boyfriend played any Final Fantasy? It sounds right up his alley to me. Here's an older game, but it's available on the PSP: Final Fantasy Tactics. It's not my cup of tea, but it sounds like your boyfriend might like it a lot.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:04 PM on August 18, 2009


Xbox tucked in there somewhere = Original Xbox, or Xbox 360?

So I want a game that's open-ended, with an ability to set goals. I'm really big on gradually gaining items and abilities, but in a way of my choosing rather than a strict ordered progression. - If I had read only that, I would strongly recommend either Oblivion or Fallout 3 for either PC or xbox 360.

However,

Runescape is too simple and kind of pointless. Everything is too organized, like the system of weapons and armor. There aren't any real goals once you've finished all the quests, but the quests are too tedious and difficult when you're doing them. - makes me wonder if he really enjoys RPG's.

Fallout 3 is about as open ended as I've seen a videogame. You can perform quests, or not, in the order in which you choose and there are several major plot lines to follow based on your prior choices.
posted by de void at 12:05 PM on August 18, 2009


What about games like Grand Theft Auto and its various iterations and clones?
posted by NoraReed at 12:06 PM on August 18, 2009


If he has an Xbox 360, I would recommend Fable 2. It's an RPG with an emphasis on going your own way and customizing the experience as you go—it's relaxing and welcoming while still presenting a variety of interesting challenges. I would say that "semi-sandbox, but still has a steady gain of items/powers/money to buy said items or powers," describes it to a tee.

A lot of people didn't like it, but I was definitely a fan.

Also, note that while EV Override is not native for OS X, its sequel, the gigantic EV Nova is not only OS X native but Intel native as well, and might also be relevant to his interests.
posted by pts at 12:06 PM on August 18, 2009


Hmm. Yes, I second Final Fantasy Tactics or the Disgaea series. Unfortunately the console choices limit the choices a bit (I was actually going to suggest the latest Red Faction game, as it seems to be a pretty good mix of everything he's look for, or inFamous/Prototype). Warcraft III is a bit easier than Starcraft and the missions tend to be somewhat shorter, but they're still pretty long. No More Heroes for the Wii is sort of open-ended (and now comes in a double-pack with Red Steel). Do you know if there's a particular genre that he's enjoying at the moment, or any genres that he avoids like the plague? It might help a bunch in narrowing down the list to find the perfect game gift.
posted by DiamondGFX at 12:11 PM on August 18, 2009


So I want a game that's open-ended, with an ability to set goals. I'm really big on gradually gaining items and abilities, but in a way of my choosing rather than a strict ordered progression.

Civilization IV?
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 12:18 PM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm really big on gradually gaining items and abilities, but in a way of my choosing rather than a strict ordered progression. Driving games are cool, but don't allow for too much creativity.

I really liked 4x4 Evolution as well, and the Forza series are the best driving games I've played. There are a ton of different races classes, and most of the game revolves around collecting new cars to use in new races. I've also played some of the newer EA Sports NASCAR games and liked the relatively in-depth career mode, but enjoying the game itself requires driving around a lot of oval tracks, which is not for everyone.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:20 PM on August 18, 2009


I second Disgaea for the PSP--if he likes open-ended, customizable leveling up, that game will give him more than he'll know what to do with. Be careful what you wish for, though--that game will happily eat up all the time you're willing to give it.

Also, the Wii port of the PS2 game Phantom Brave (from the same company that developed Disgaea, Nippon Ichi) will be out by the end of the month. Amazon says it ships August 20.
posted by Prospero at 12:25 PM on August 18, 2009


Civilization IV is the one. It contains multitudes.

Fallout 3 also qualifies - huge chaotic content boosted by a huge collection of mods.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:26 PM on August 18, 2009


Diablo II.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 12:29 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fallout 3 is not available on any of the platforms you mention, unless your boyfriend wishes to run Windows on his Mac... and the performance there will really depend on the specific Mac video hardware he's got.

Too bad, as it's a great game and fits most of those criteria, but only if you add the additional downloadable content (coming in one big Game of the Year box in Sept-Oct, apparently) which removes the horrible and final ending and leaves the world 'open'.
posted by rokusan at 12:30 PM on August 18, 2009


Civilization IV is on Mac, by the way.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:32 PM on August 18, 2009


nthing Fallout 3, it's available for Xbox 360.
posted by contessa at 12:47 PM on August 18, 2009


Fallout 3 is not available on any of the platforms you mention, unless your boyfriend wishes to run Windows on his Mac... and the performance there will really depend on the specific Mac video hardware he's got

It's really too bad he can't play Fallout 3... that was going to be my recommendation.
posted by sporaticgenius at 12:47 PM on August 18, 2009


Agreeing with the above: your boyfriend wants Civ IV (the earlier Civs are good too, though not as pretty.) Do note that giving him this game will be an extra-selfless act, since you probably won't see much of him for a few weeks after he starts playing it. EV Nova is pretty damn good too, and is not quite so tedious as Override. I'm a little surprised he didn't mention it, since it came out in 2002.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:01 PM on August 18, 2009


I prefer Civ III to Civ IV, actually.

(I find the zoomy cute 3D-ness of Civ IV distracting. Please give me one nice camera further back and leave me alone, showoff video guys.)
posted by rokusan at 1:08 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Diablo II on the Mac, as mentioned above, and Crackdown for the 360.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:09 PM on August 18, 2009


Another vote: Civilzation IV plus the Warlords and Beyond the Swords expansions is the ultimate set-your-own-goals game. You can be a nuclear weapon wielding warmonger in one game, a granola eating peacenik spreading your religious influence in another and a robber baron corporate raider in the next, etc.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2009


I second Grand Theft Auto. Its a sandbox with quests if you feel like it.
posted by joelf at 1:14 PM on August 18, 2009


Gift card!
posted by bunny hugger at 1:18 PM on August 18, 2009


I'd say Oblivion is exactly what he wants but I don't know if theres a Mac version - its very open ended, theres a plot but you don't have to follow it (in fact I recommend he doesn't ) you can completely customise your characters development and do any of the game in pretty much any order.
posted by missmagenta at 1:19 PM on August 18, 2009


Seconding all those suggesting Civ III. Great game.

Speaking of which, a pock on OP for the wording of the title.
posted by Pragmatica at 1:22 PM on August 18, 2009


I really like Rune Factory Frontier for the Wii. It has the sort of semi-open-endedness that he might enjoy. It's a farming/life sim at the core, but there are dungeons to explore. You can use the materials you get in the dungeons to craft new farm tools and weapons that let you go further into the dungeons, and so on. You can also use the products of your farm to make foods and potions to help you work better or regain health in the dungeon. There are literally hundreds of items you can craft and cook. You can have your character marry, or not. You can expand your house, and capture animals from the dungeons to help you farm It's really a great one. Only caveat: the "Runey" system is a little annoying, but hardly a major issue.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you do get Fallout 3 somehow, get it for running on the PC/Windows in a virtual machine in OSX, which is where you can get the mods everyone's talking about. Fallout 3 on XBox 360 or PS3 is not open-ended as such, and does not have mods (but it does have downloadable add-ons - these are just not the same as the more open-ended mods).

I agree with folks about Civ IV. The experience I had with it and its add-ons was glorious. Also if you could get it to run on one of his platforms (probably OSX running Windows), Homeworld by Relic was really good from an open-ended sort of tech tree power-up sort of way.

I also wanted to say that I was a huge fan of Fallout Tactics when I had it on the console I used (Playstation 2), but I did try Disgaea and while I could see the appeal it was almost TOO deep and too open-ended (sort of fractal vis a vis how deep you could go with respect to powering things up and exploring new content).

For driving games, XBox 360 should be the Forza motorsports and Gran Turismo with the Playstation franchise. These are both "driving simulators" rather than arcade games.

I also enjoy the upgrading aspect of video games. I totally get why someone might be into them.

From the sandbox perspective, I agree Grand Theft Auto can be a lot of fun, but it's not really about the upgrades and exploring a tech tree.

He also might want to look at flash games, especially tower defense games, which can have some really interesting upgrade/power-up trees to explore. I'm thinking especially of the one where you mix and match different colored gems for powerups (1, 2), as well as The Space Game. I'm hearing good things about Plants vs. Zombies too.

Come to think of it, he might find other RTS games interesting. Tech trees tend to be shorter and more pointed, but I'm thinking of all the Command and Conquer games, and it looks like there may be some OSX versions of the genre too.
posted by kalessin at 1:33 PM on August 18, 2009


Seconding Fable 2 for the novelty. Your decisions allow your character to become good or evil, pure or corrupt. Every action has a reaction. And you can play through the main quest line only or take all the side quests/jobs. Items to collect. WoW-like areas to roam & explore. And you get a really great dog. It's short, but it demands replaying so you can make different choices.

Don't play with the woman avatar, though, 'cause she's huge and ugly once you get her strength up.
posted by mochapickle at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2009


I've heard a lot of good things about Good Old Games for nostalgia and non DRM games. Since all the games there are old you could get him a gift card and then he'll have tons of choices.

As we get closer to Christmas there should be a batch of new games released soon, so he may be able to find something to interest him in a few months.

Also a subscription to PC Gamer magazine might be nice - as one of the few gaming mags left (for PC anyhow), if that's the platform he plays on. I mention it mainly because that's what I look at when I'm trying to find out what the upcoming releases are.
posted by batgrlHG at 1:44 PM on August 18, 2009


I know it's bad form to push against absolutes, but your boyfriend's statement describes most MMORPGs...and WoW is the most prominent non-web based Mac option. If there's some aspect that doesn't appeal to him besides the usual arguments (e.g., not wanting to pay each month, fear of Hot Pockets), knowing that may help narrow down the search.

FF Tactics is different from the regular Final Fantasy games. The former is strategy with an RPG twist, the latter more traditional RPG (and/or MMO, in the case of XI). The Wiki article on the series breaks things down with relatively little bias. I suspect your boyfriend would prefer something like FFX or FFXII to Tactics, but those are PS2 titles. (FFXIII will be a PS3/Xbox release in the US in 2010.) Infinite Undiscovery is an Xbox title that's *very* Final Fantasyesque -- same publisher, even.

I'll nth Oblivion, Fallout 3, Fable 2, the GTA games. Burnout Paradise might be a little *too* sandboxy, but I'll throw it out there anyway.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:04 PM on August 18, 2009


Check out Tropico....it's like Civilization. There's a new one on the way IIRC.
posted by gnutron at 2:05 PM on August 18, 2009


for the type of gaming he's looking for, he really needs to get a real gaming console. i suggest the xbox 360, but really, a ps3 or a first rate gaming pc will also work. for truly stellar open ended sandbox games, except for a few shining exceptions, you just need the better processing power and current ideas about video game design.

fallout 3 is a great suggestion. in october there's a game called Borderlands coming out that i think will be right up his ally.
posted by nadawi at 2:17 PM on August 18, 2009


Driving games are cool, but don't allow for too much creativity.

Has he ever played Forza? Forza 3 will be coming out soon. The options for creativity in tuning and decorating cars are rather mind-boggling.

In the same vein, he should try the Burnout series, for its crash mode and open-world design.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:42 PM on August 18, 2009


Browsing responses so far, I want to nth Civilization IV and Fable/Fable 2 (although I only played the first one, and the PC version at that).

If he's a Star Wars fan, Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel might fit pretty well.
posted by Jacen Solo at 3:05 PM on August 18, 2009


Not only is EV Nova OSX friendly, but Escape Velocity and EV Override are available as free downloadable plug-ins for it.
posted by Magnakai at 4:32 PM on August 18, 2009


for the Wii: Okami or Mario Galaxy. As far as driving games, Mario Cart for the Wii is very fun to play, plus you guys can get some bonding time in playing 2 player =c)
posted by pyro979 at 5:09 PM on August 18, 2009


Zelda.
posted by purephase at 5:51 PM on August 18, 2009


Thank you! I'm considering all of these, especially that Civ 4 game. I myself played Civ 3 (briefly) when it came out, but I found it too manly for my tastes. Now that I think about it I think it would be great! But more than one game is good (for now. I am perfectly aware that the game will be like a newborn to him).

More info: No particular genre he avoids. The xbox, unfortunately, is no more. He has played Fable, very briefly, and liked it. He doesn't like paying monthly for gaming; he has considered playing EVE Online and WoW but got turned off them because of the fee thing. I remember him wanting EV Nova, but I don't know why he never got it. We're kind of poor, so other consoles are not an option now.

Thanks!
posted by cobain_angel at 11:00 PM on August 18, 2009


Nthing Civ IV, and maybe Alpha Centauri -- especially if he has a netbook. (Are there Apple netbooks?)

Don't be surprised if he starts staying up late "working" more often that usual, though.
posted by clorox at 11:08 PM on August 18, 2009


Regarding EVE: there is a 14 day free trial, and the game has the ability to translate in-game cash to time codes (it's their method of controlling the cash black market), so if he enjoyed it and was good at it, he could play without paying the monthly fee in real life money. That said, I'm of the opinion that it's not really anywhere near The Sims 2 although I guess I would say it's close to Civ4 and Alpha Centauri, but give the 14 day free trial a try.
posted by Meagan at 12:33 AM on August 19, 2009


I'd recommend Civilization too, either III or IV (my preference is III). There's also FreeCiv, which is an open source version of just what it sounds like.

You mentioned he was considering MMORPGs but was turned off by the fees, but maybe there's something here that he'd be interested in. A lot of them are for Windows, but a few are multiplatform. Takes time to weed through the good and bad among free or microtransaction-based MMOs, but it can be rewarding.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:34 AM on August 19, 2009


and maybe Alpha Centauri

Aw shit I forgot about Alpha Centauri.

I'll see you guys again in January.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 3:58 PM on August 20, 2009


« Older Is there any research that seeks to quantify from...   |   How is acreage measured on non-flat terrain? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.