games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Games of 2000 – Marvel vs Capcom 2, Deus Ex, More

October 24, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Marvel vs Capcom 2

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week, I’m counting down my list of games in 2000. The year 2000 was a pretty transitionary time, the Dreamcast was going well, the PlayStation had been out for 5 years and was going to be replaced in the next year, and Nintendo still had decent N64 games out but the well was starting to run dry. And for those curious, “Yes”, I did make an error with last week’s column by putting Majora’s Mask on there. It did come out in 2000, but in my defense, in my research of the year, two different sites had it for 1999, so I believed them. Ah well. Here we go:

#8: Deus Ex

I got into Deus Ex way too late, around 2003 or 2004, so the impact of the game kind of passed by me. When I did finally play it, I enjoyed it, but a lot of the novelty and importance had kind of was lost on me. Still, I dug the cyberpunk world the game, the choice you had in approaching your character and the situations you’re placed in, and the story of what is going on. You can definitely see where a lot of modern gaming conventions kind of aped off of Deus Ex. Plus, you can run through the whole game carrying a flag pole, and that’s cool.

#7: Spider-Man

To my mind, I think Spider-Man was the first time a superhero game was done well in 3D. There were plenty of decent 2D superhero games beforehand, but like with the 2D to 3D switch in platformers, the road was hazardous to most franchises. Spider-Man kept things fairly straight, letting you web-swing around certain areas, letting you enter buildings to advance the plot, where things like wall-crawling and more combat options get unlocked. The game had a good sense of history for the character, with comic book covers to find, and unlockable costumes to collect once you beat the game. Fun fact: this game ran on the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game engine, which was actually the Apocalypse game engine. So…it was a fairly versatile engine for its time.

#6: American McGee’s A lice

So it’s strange, I don’t think Alice is a particularly “great” game, in the traditional sense. The combat can be kind of dull, and if you lose your place in a level, you are screwed. However, I still enjoyed the game mainly because of the art style and general ambiance. The level designs in this game are straight up weird but in a great way. Prior to this, levels in shooters were very blocky affairs that were straightforward. The levels in Alice are very windy and twisty, full of off-kilter elements, to both its good and bad parts. The graphics were impressive and the music was moody. The later Alice Returns game couldn’t quite recapture the magic of the first game, even if, on the whole, it was a much better playing experience.

#5: Parasite Eve 2

Now Parasite Eve 2 isn’t the RPG of its predecessor, it goes more into the survival horror/Resident Evil route. So, there’s no random battles or range sphere for weapons the first game had. Enemies are just on the map, and you can either fight or avoid them as you see fit. It’s not as good as the first game though for two reasons: 1. The story is complete nonsense. The first game had a semblance of reality, but the second game jettisons it with more of a scifi bent. The second issue is the increased sexualization of Aya Brea. The first game didn’t really pander about her character much, but the second game goes bad, notably with the shower scene. Still, PE2 is a decent enough game.

#4: Jet Grind Radio

I generally think Jet Set Radio Future is a better game because of its simplification of the tagging system, and increased mobility your character has. But, we wouldn’t have JSRF without Jet Grind (Set) Radio, so here we are. Jet Grind Radio is like an explosion of anime and attitude on screen, with incredibly varied levels and art styles. It is fun just skating around Tokto-to, tagging various walls, and seeing how the different areas locked together. The soundtrack was really special, full of J-pop and electronica tunes…and Dragula. OK, that was a mis-fire, but almost everything else is rock solid. This game came out right at the peak of Smilebit’s creativity and it showed.

#3: Marvel vs. Capcom 2

I haven’t really covered the “Vs” series in these columns before because it’s a hard place to begin. Can you say that X-Men vs. Street Fighter is great, but Marvel vs. Street Fighter is bad? Not really. They are all fairly iterative of one another in the grand scheme of things. That said, I picked Marvel vs. Capcom 2 because of the sheer size of its roster, the visual style and just the balance of its roster. Sure, there are a few joke characters in there, but most characters are viable against one another, assuming you aren’t playing against some high-level player. One can’t forget the infectious character select music as well, which gets into your brain like a tick.

#2: The Operative: No One Lives Forever

God, almost everyone has forgotten NOLF and it is such a shame. NOLF has you playing Cate Archer, a spy in the 1960’s working for UNITY against the diabolical H.A.R.M. organization. It’s kind of a take on the Austin Powers film series, only instead of an annoying idiot, there is a super-competent woman doing all the hard work. It has the usual weapons like pistols or AK-47’s but mixes them up with spy gadgets like the Barrette which can open locks or poison enemies at close range, or the Robo-Poodle which can distract guards away from you. Now that Shadow of War is done, I’d like it if Monolith could make another NOLF, please.

#1: Vagrant Story

There were games coming out in 2000 on the Playstation, but the writing was getting to be clear that the system was ending soon. That said, Square went out with one hell of a bang with Vagrant Story. It’s really not a traditional JRPG in many respects, there’s no towns to visit, or cute side-kick characters for you to bond with. Instead, it’s a grim, dark game where you progress through various dungeons as you chase the evil Guildenstern. The thing about the battle system is that you could individually target different appendages of your enemies, legs, arms, head, etc., and damaging them would affect their performance. If you were up against a guy who use a sword in his right arm, you could target the right arm, and break the limb which would disable that attack. The same thing could happen to you though, and you had to manage both your health and your Risk bar, which would increase the more you chained your attacks, but it would decrease your accuracy. Also, the crafting in the game is insane, and is a whole separate mini-game that is deeply complex. Vagrant Story is still one of the best games Square ever put on a game console.

For comments, list which 2000 games you enjoyed and why.

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Top 8 Games of 2001

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison