Bejeweled just isn't cutting it
September 11, 2010 4:31 PM   Subscribe

I need a video game that will allow me maximum headshot gratification while requiring minimum video game skills and money. Help me find the game I am looking for. More details follow.

My boyfriend is pretty into gaming, but I have only dabbled, and by dabbled, I mean, have played videogames for probably an hour, total, over my entire lifetime. I'm looking for a game to help me let off some steam after a frustrating day at work. Ten minutes of Borderlands and a half hour of the old Halo (played a long time ago and we do not have) and a couple others I don't remember have whetted my appetite for headshots. I want more! I have no idea where to start, but here are my requirements:

*Game for either PC (Windows Vista) or PS2
*Minimal video game skills needed/short learning curve
--Obviously, practice makes perfect, but I am really inexperienced with a controller/relevant mouse responses, so games where you have to walk up a lot of turning staircases are very frustrating.
--Also, it's not always obvious to me where I am supposed to be going/what I am supposed to be doing. Boyfriend will be like, oh, you have to get to the loading dock or you have to go into the old factory and get the special thing in the magic box, etc...and I have no idea how he knows this. He makes it seem like you are just supposed to know. So, video game tropes? Read up beforehand?
*Games that involve shooting things (people, aliens, zombies) (as opposed to lots of time spent walking around, driving cars, gaining points, learning skills, playing as a team, super-involved strategies)
*Games that can be enjoyed with minimal involvement (i.e., playing a few times a week for a half-hour to an hour)
*If PC-based, game has single-player(?) mode as opposed to being multi-player online only
*Prefer non-military-simulation rather than military simulation
*Not expensive - think $20 rather than $80. I have a Blockbuster rental subscription, so I may be able to try a game out as a rental without committing - still, recommendations would be super-helpful

Is there a game for me out there?
posted by shortskirtlongjacket to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Timesplitters & Timesplitters 2 were two of my favorite shoot 'em up games for the PS2. These games are 8-10 years old so you should be able to find a used copy for cheap. I don't know if they'd be available via Blockbuster or not for that same reason, though. They've got several different modes, not all of which involve problem-solving, and several of which are non-linear. Sounds like it might be up your alley.
posted by pecanpies at 4:40 PM on September 11, 2010

Gta vice city. Its kinda sandbox so once you have opened it up a little you can just weapon up and pot shot pedestrians. Drive around some after and listen to 80s tunes while ramping off stuff to trash your car or bike. Good times!
posted by Iteki at 4:42 PM on September 11, 2010

Also, if you're just looking to blow off some steam and you don't really care about beating the game, unlocking levels/characters/secrets, etc., cheats would be a great idea for you, especially for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

This page will show you how to access all the weapons in Grand Theft Auto as well as refill your health an unlimited number of times...meaning you can more or less just drive around, blowing things up, and not worry about advancing in the game.
posted by pecanpies at 4:48 PM on September 11, 2010

Also: Die-hard video game enthusiasts, please don't flame me for suggesting cheats! They seemed appropriate, given the circumstances.
posted by pecanpies at 4:50 PM on September 11, 2010

Is first person important? If not, Nation Red and the Alien/Zombie Shooter series are good isometric shooters with plenty of bullets.

JFK Reloaded is a pretty good first person headshot simulator. There's no plot, walking around, etc.

The Max Payne Series is more complex, but it's a great on-rails shooter which consists mostly of you shooting everything you come across.
posted by ODiV at 4:52 PM on September 11, 2010

You might want to try shooting flash games, for instance

There's a lot that are all about sniping on a variety of missions. Those are all about headshots.

I think you're probably looking for developed titles, released in stores and whatnot, but these have the advantage of being free, so there's that.
posted by cali59 at 4:54 PM on September 11, 2010

eff bejeweled

Nothing helps me blow off steam like Counter-Strike: Source, or Team Fortress 2. Both for PC.
Counter-Strike: technically military simulation (teams are terrorists vs. counterterrorists) but is not heavily military themed. Rounds are quick and dirty, and very straightforward. Great for when you don't have a lot of time to play. There is somewhat a bit of light strategy based on what map you are playing, but if you're like me, you'll just run out there and shoot as many dudes as you can and not be super-concerned with camping, sneaking, etc. No single-player campaign, but my top recommendation, by far.

Team Fortress requires less skill, although in this one you can pick a role on your team, and your team's likelihood to win is heavily dependent on even team composition. Certain roles require more skill than others. (For example, you can be a Spy and turn invisible and sneak amongst the enemy, or disguise yourself as them. You can be an Engineer and build machines throughout the map to heal your teammates or turrets to shoot your enemies.) I prefer to play the chubby Pyro, running around insane in a flame-retardant suit like a bat out of hell, setting as many people on fire as possible. This creates much joy in my heart.

In the single-player vein, Left 4 Dead was wonderfully awesome, and the scenarios you play are pretty short. You can play online with others and hope you get cooperative teammates. Left 4 Dead 2 is super-duper hard, I hear. You might be more frustrated than entertained if you jump right into that one.

Headshots are gleefully wonderful in Fallout 3, but that's a very time-consuming, involved game, with a lot of weapon strategy that somehow you are expected to pick up. I have lots of those "how was I supposed to know that?" moments in the game.

You might also enjoy Doom 3, which is slightly more mindless run-into-room-shoot-demon-go-to-next-room oriented. I was frustrated that headshots had little effect. All that Counter-strike skill totally wasted. Also I think I simply screamed too much and had to stop playing to please the bf.

Nthing GTA: Vice City, which was a great treat after sitting through classes all day back in college. Great for unwinding in a kind of different way... driving around hitting gang members and stealing cop cars, driving off of rooftops to A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran." I don't recall any shooting though, or at least it being so little fun I forgot about it, so it might not be what you are looking for.
posted by mostlybecky at 5:01 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about Resident Evil 4? Definitely cheap (anything for PS2 is likely to be cheap nowadays) and if I remember right (I played the GameCube version), it had variable difficulty settings, which are awesome for increasing that headshot-to-effort ratio.
posted by asperity at 5:07 PM on September 11, 2010

I've always been terrible at first-person shooters against real players, so one thing I loved about Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004 was that there was a very wide range of difficulty settings, and you could always play against the computer in single-player mode. There are a number of different match types, but death match is the standard mode where you just try to shoot the computer players as much as possible. If you die, you respawn instantly. There is no larger mission, really; you're just running and jumping around these interesting-looking 3D maps, some very sci-fi themed and some that look like they could be places on Earth. This is a great game that requires little investment in time or money, but it's very satisfying if you want to succeed at shooting at people for 10 minutes or several hours.
posted by datarose at 5:13 PM on September 11, 2010

Best answer: Painkiller was a really nice endless run and gun game. Should be firmly in the bargain bin by now. Serious Sam is the same kind of deal but a lot less serious.

If you have not played Half life 2 or the episodes, I'd suggest them, but they are slightly more methodical and story driven than a multiplayer fps.
posted by Submiqent at 5:15 PM on September 11, 2010

Best answer: Mindless shooting of everything in sight + cheap + PC = Serious Sam
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:18 PM on September 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm surprised no one has already suggested Borderlands. There are four playable characters, pick "Mordecai" (hunter) for maximum headshot action. Available on PC, I think it is now below $20 at major game outlets. Some driving, mostly shooting people on a post-apocalyptic planet in a galaxy far, far away.
posted by kovacs at 6:30 PM on September 11, 2010

Crackdown. Shooting, grenades, plus jumping over buildings!
posted by mimi at 6:33 PM on September 11, 2010

I'll second the earlier recommendation for Timesplitters 2. It was the first thing that came to mind, and it sounds like almost exactly what you want, especially the "Behead the Undead" challenge. It's just you, a small area, a shotgun, and endless waves of zombies. Blow their heads off until the zombies get the upper hand, then twenty seconds later, start the process over again. I don't know of a more pure headshot experience.
posted by Wemmick at 6:44 PM on September 11, 2010

Check out an Atari 2600 emulator (Stella is the usual one) and the game Outlaw.

If that's a little too simple, and it probably is, check out Doom.
posted by box at 7:00 PM on September 11, 2010

Response by poster: Can't wait to try these all out! Not able to mark any as faves yet, in all fairness: apparently I have a lot of (fun) research to do. Just wanted to express my (macabre?) appreciation for the power of the hive.
posted by shortskirtlongjacket at 7:25 PM on September 11, 2010

Stranglehold and Wanted are more (mostly) high-speed 'actioners' than 'fps" and deliver a ton of bullety fun without requiring that you are crack mouser.

Both games have very satisfying headshot animations.

For that matter, the old(er) Max Payne games are fun and have a ton of atmosphere.

If you prefer fps, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series are open-environment sneak/blaze* first person shooters set in the Chernobyl exclusion zone where weird crazy stuff is taking place. Incredibly atmospheric. You'll want to upgrade to the latest patches, though.

*use whatever tactics you want - sniping, assault rifles, close-in auto-shotguns are all viable tactics and recommend themselves in different situations
posted by porpoise at 7:40 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

L4D1 and L4D2 on easy would fit what you are looking for. Added bonus of getting to shoot off arm and legs along the way. Single player is the way to go if you are just blowing off steam - playing online with pubbies tends to generate steam. Also if you wanted to play online with Mefites head over here: MefightClub . We are a pretty friendly bunch and always up for helping people blow off steam.
posted by troll on a pony at 7:44 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry - Also alien swarm which is a free download from Valve through their Steam interface. You have to install Steam (Green button on top right) to get this but it is free as well.
posted by troll on a pony at 7:47 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

One more tip for Vice City: If you just want to play in the Sandbox download a 100% save file. This gives you the whole game opened up with none of those annoying missions to worry about, just run around and shoot things.
posted by Bonzai at 8:15 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed playing Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefront II as a sniper on my PS2. I remember finding a spot I could sit and headshot for a good long while on a few maps, though I was only doing me vs. the computer.
posted by fings at 8:59 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would suggest going the Emulator route. There are great, open source emulators available tat mimic nearly every video game console from Atari up to the present and they're totally free (although the hard working developers always accept donations if you can spare a few bucks!). The Emulator Zone is a great place to start.

I also enjoy gaming, but don't have enormous chunks of time available to work the steep learing curves that many newer games have, which is why I nearly always play older games. You can learn the basics of many of my favorite game in under 5 minutes (Some like Contra, 20 seconds!)

I would suggest:

Contra for the NES: A really amusing game with nothing but shooting, some fun weapons and great boss battles. You can also find a friend and play the dual player mode.

GoldenEye for N64: A FPS that has the best play control of almost any game I've ever played. You hget your choice of killing methods (stealth, sniping, setting big bombs, or just mowing them down). There are several modes available (some through hacks which are built into most emu) that remove all the puzzles/challenges and just leave the shooting.

Star Wars Battlefront 1/2 for Playstation: A great shooter with a massive variety of weapons, enemies and levels. This game never gets boring, because you can replay the levels with different combos of characters and weapons. You can also hop into captured vehicles and gun emplacements which I always find really fun. Great sound effects too.

These are three of my favorites, but if you go the Emu route, there is an exhaustive amount of commercial, indie and homebrew games available.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 9:14 PM on September 11, 2010

Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 single-player modes always scratch that shooting itch for me. The headshots in particular will reward you with a satisfying fountain of gore.
posted by mattholomew at 10:07 PM on September 11, 2010

My impression is that you are looking for a game in the genre 'rail shooter,' or 'on-rails shooter.' It's roughly like riding as a passenger in a golf cart, only you have a gun and shoot things; you don't have to worry about where to go next becase the game does the traveling part for you.

Games that spring to mind:

House of the Dead series of games, (gameplay: House of the Dead 3)

Virtua Cop: Elite Edition (gameplay)

If you can get on a Wii, Dead Space: Extraction and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles would be solid, more modern games of that type.
posted by Menthol at 11:14 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why has nobody mentioned Sniper Elite?!?!?!!!!1
posted by Biru at 3:46 AM on September 12, 2010

Foreign Legion: Bathed in Blood is a very cartoony, very cheap ($5) shooter. It's single player, rounds are limited to 10mins, and it's pretty damn easy so you won't get pissed off with cheating computer AI.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 5:43 AM on September 12, 2010

I and many others still love Battlefield 2. There's no single player campaign mode - it's absolutely meant to be played online with other people online. But you can play alone against bots, which should satisfy your headshot urges (and once you get bored/frustrated with the bots, you might want to play online with real people :).
posted by Diag at 12:56 PM on September 12, 2010

If you go with Star Wars Battlefront II, get it for PC instead of PS2. The PC version is harder to come by but has better graphics, more levels and better controls.

When I'm in a sadistic mood I fire up Hitman: Blood Money. The game encourages you to perform kills silently and cleanly but there is no real consequence for massacring everything you see. Headshot to your heart's content.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 2:29 PM on September 12, 2010

I was coming here to second the idea of a rail shooter. Basically the game moves you through a room automatically and you just have to kill the things that pop up in front of you. In particular The House of the Dead: Overkill for the Wii had tons of gore and headshots and camp fun with a minimum amount of "user skill".
posted by mmascolino at 6:08 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hey folks - I am still in the process of evaluating all of your awesome suggestions - unfortunately lots of work and not enough winding down time recently so not yet able to mark resolved or best anwers. Looking forward to it though!
posted by shortskirtlongjacket at 8:37 PM on October 14, 2010

Response by poster: Tried GTA, not exactly what I was looking for. Turns out *some* structure is enjoyable. Finally got Serious Sam from Blockbuster and having TONS of fun. Thanks everyone! Will keep trying different things out.
posted by shortskirtlongjacket at 12:59 PM on November 13, 2010

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