Gameological Q&A

InFamous 2

Play It Again, Sam

What games did you enjoy more the second time around?

By The Gameological Society Staff • November 21, 2012

Welcome to Gameological Q&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. It’s extremely similar to The A.V. Club’s AVQ&A feature. You might even say it’s exactly the same. If you have a brilliant question that would make a fun Q&A, send it to brilliantquestions at gameological dot com.

The question for this installment comes courtesy of reader stakkalee:

A comment by Derrick Sanskrit on his Need For Speed: Most Wanted review got me thinking about the games I revisit, and why I revisit them. Batman: Arkham City was an awesome game, and the “new game plus” version, with its stronger, faster enemies, was sweet, frustrating catnip. The added difficulty made the need for stealth and tactics paramount, whereas the first time through, I could rely on brute force and a bit of button-mashing to save the day. Similarly, the first time I played through Dragon Age: Origins I played it pretty straight—honor-and-duty, blah blah blah—but the second time through, I played as a smart-mouthed city elf who talked back to princes, got it on with a witch, and let that asshole Loghain be executed. It was much more satisfying. There are plenty of reasons to replay a game, but my question is, which games were more fun the second time around?

John Teti

A lot of times I play games with the second playthrough in mind, the rationale being, “You don’t have to play it perfectly and find everything, because you’ll do that the second time through.” Of course, I almost never do that—it’s just a lie I tell myself to repress the completist instinct. Most games aren’t worth the trouble. But many moons ago, I actually did come back a second time for Final Fantasy III for the Super NES (also known as Final Fantasy VI, because of Japan and oh god it is always so confusing to talk about these games). On the repeat journey, I was accompanied by a strategy guide I had picked up at the mall. (This was a time before GameFAQs, of course—and a time when shuffling across the parquet floors at B. Dalton was the default book-shopping experience.) This guide turned out to be different than others I’d read before. It was written with style and humor. It was strange enough that the author, Peter Olafson, cared enough to lend his prose some craft in a corner of the publishing world that had no use for it. But weirder still, he was actually a talented writer. I felt like I had a companion for that second playthrough of this wonderful game. It was one of the first moments that showed me how a stylish, humanistic approach to writing can enliven games in a way that a “just the facts” approach does not.

Drew Toal
Dragon Age II

I’ve played through Dragon Age: Origins probably half a dozen times. In hindsight, it was probably not the most productive use of leisure hours that could’ve been better spent spackling stuff or frivolously petitioning the White House. But, much like stakkalee, I just wanted to kind of explore the boundaries of the game’s world, testing the limits of the different paths and experiences. Plus, I just didn’t feel like learning to play a new game—the main reason I replay anything. Dragon Age II, though, is in many ways a much more static affair. Many critics will tell you that it’s not even worth playing through once, let along three or four times. Yet that’s what I ended up doing, and on subsequent playthroughs the game really opened up for me in surprising ways. Facets I originally thought liabilities—for instance, being limited to playing in a single city, rather than a typical enormous RPG world map—were later revealed as strengths. The city of Kirkwall really comes alive, and when I much later tried to go back and play Origins again, I was aghast to learn that my affinity for the maligned sequel’s changes had rendered this—one of my favorite games in recent memory—all but unplayable. Just talking about it has bummed me out. Thanks a lot, Dragon Age II.

Scott Jones

One game that I’ve replayed many times is the NES-era Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!. Once I beat Mike Tyson, the “will I or won’t I?” tension was drained from the game. So I invented a new storyline, one where I was now “The Champ,” and all of the opponents in the game were hungry to take my hard-earned belt from me. My skills had advanced to such a degree that on my second playthrough, I was annihilating everybody. I was unstoppable. I KO’ed Piston Honda and Von Kaiser in the first round. I practically killed Glass Joe in the ring. It was cathartic, especially after all the hours of energy and effort I’d put into finally beating Tyson. On my third run through the game, my storyline became cruel and dark. I damaged fighters but wouldn’t knock them out, similar to the way that Muhammad Ali taunted Floyd Patterson during their fight in 1965 (Patterson had refused to refer to Ali as Ali; Ali didn’t like that). I’d take each opponent to the brink of a knock-out, I’d dazzle him with jabs and hooks and uppercuts, I’d have him staggering all over the ring, and I’d back off, allowing him to stay on him feet and live to fight another round. I learned exactly how many of those between-rounds facial-deformation graphics—minor damage, medium amount of damage, huge amount of damage, etc.—the programmers had seen fit to include in the game for each fighter. At the start of each subsequent bout, I imagined that I saw real fear in my opponent’s 8-bit eyes, because he just had to know about the unholy beating that I gave to the last guy.

Anthony John Agnello
Bionic Commando

Traveling back through a game, or anything really, is often my favorite part of the experience. I often find myself going back into games to more closely examine a particular level or scene in more detail. The first one that really caught me in its grip was Bionic Commando’s Level 5. I just played it over and over again, marveling at how it always manages to build emotional stakes while still allowing for a lot of physical experimentation. Is there a way to ascend from the left that’s more economical time wise than on the right? Will it look cooler doing it? When it comes to running the full gauntlet, Super Mario World is the one that keeps me coming back. It’s always surprising, hiding away strange little corners of activity even after you’ve played it on an annual basis for two decades. The ritual of beating every stage and finding every exit is both comforting and ecstatic, a weird cartoon rosary cycle I never seem to get tired of.

Steve Heisler

Like John, even though the plot remains the same each time, repeat playthroughs of Final Fantasy III never cease to delight me. The game has a humongous ensemble of playable characters, and because you can only have four in your party at once, each time through the game can be totally different. And there are certain story moments that the game does better than any other game. Early on, the party splits and three stories are told simultaneously, and each time that happens, I remember the first time I marveled at the game’s ability to captivate my attention. Then, midway through the game, your entire ensemble is forced to pick up the pieces and regroup. I know how this story ends, of course, but it feels like reuniting with old friends, seeing all these people again. The game shares its spotlight, which lends distinct personality to every playthrough.

Samantha Nelson

I rarely replay games since I don’t have nearly enough free time to play all the games I want to play even once. When games offer a lot of customizable options or multiple preludes, I’m more likely to start over a few times to decide what build I like best before committing and digging in. If I want to see alternate endings or how a big decision went, I turn to YouTube. So to answer this, I have to go pretty far back to Sonic The Hedgehog. My first complete playthrough of that game was as much a battle against my Game Gear’s awful battery life as Dr. Robotnik and his minions. Once I knew I could actually beat the game and got the rhythm down to make it go faster, my future playthroughs were a lot more fun.

Adam Volk
Just Cause 2

I’m not usually one for replaying games, simply because there are so many new titles coming out that I often don’t have time to go back a revisit a particular game, no matter how much I might love it. That being said, one game which I did tackle a second (and third) time was the somewhat overlooked Just Cause 2. It’s a ridiculous third-person shooter, yet it’s also a game that revels in open-world experimentation. I spent much of my time playing it simply neglecting whatever current mission I was on and instead seeing what kind of insane stunts I could pull off using the game’s signature grappling-hook/parachute combo. It’s one of the few games that I finished and almost immediately wanted to play again. Unfortunately, playing Just Cause 2 again from start to finish was also a matter of necessity for me since once you complete the game, there’s actually no way to go back and replay a specific mission.

Cory Casciato

As much as I loved Katamari Damacy the first time through, I definitely think I have gotten more out of it on subsequent playthroughs. I rushed through it the first time, devouring its novel gameplay and cheeky music as fast as I could, and kind of missing some of the fun in the process. When I picked it up again a few months later, I spent a lot more time exploring all the levels and really appreciating them for everything from the insane level of detail to the way the game played with perspective. I definitely loved Katamari from the first time I played it, but replaying it made me realize how special it was and cemented its place as one of my favorite games of all time.

Derrick Sanskrit
InFamous 2

Since this sprung from one of my comments, I know I should say Burnout Paradise, but I wasn’t really exploring anymore the second time, so half the thrill was gone. InFamous 2, on the other hand, benefited from familiarity. I played the inFamous games as “good” the first time through—like most people, I imagine. We’re trained by society to do the right thing whenever possible, so the noble and just decisions in those games just make sense. On the second playthroughs, though, I throw my morals out the window and play as a totally self-absorbed evil prick. It didn’t make much of a difference in the original InFamous, but the story was so different in the second game, and so much better if you were evil, that I was genuinely more invested in the story, characters, and ramifications of my actions. If I ever get a “New Game+” on real life, I’m totally gonna be a bad guy.

Ryan Smith

I can’t say I’ve repeated many single player or story-based games since the old days of video games, when plowing through the original Super Mario Bros. or Turtles In Time again meant all of an extra hour or two. That said, I’ve played through the underrated arcade version of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy five or six times (it was really dangerous that my college arcade let me charge tokens to my student account) back in the early aughts and found it even more fun after multiple playthroughs. By completing certain challenges in bonus areas, you could unlock animal versions of standard characters like the wizard, valkyrie, or archer. My character of choice was the Hyena, who was basically the Jester with a new skin. Playing as a carnivorous furry mammal dressed in a goofy jester outfit whose primary attack was throwing bombs, Wile E. Coyote style, gave me immeasurable joy as a college kid. And did I mention he had a flying rat as a pet? I had secretly hoped that recent animal apocalypse sim Tokyo Jungle would allow you to unlock a jester hat for the hyena character to let me relive my Gauntlet glory days but alas.

Matt Kodner

Since unearthing my purple see-through Game Boy Pocket, I’ve averaged two or three marathon attempts at beating Super Mario Land per year. Unlike Anthony’s experience with Super Mario World, Land offers nothing new to discover, nor any way to save your progress. Finishing doesn’t take more than an hour, and finding the same hidden life in the same location every time can get old. However, watching the flickering red light indicating that my ancient AAA batteries can and will conk out at any moment has made playing the game into its own morbid race against my Game Boy’s lingering mortality. The game has gotten so easy, but I keep coming back to it, kind of like a bored NASCAR fan just hoping upon hope to see something brutally interesting. But until that day finally comes, I’ll keep chugging along, happily wasting half an afternoon launching bouncy balls at idiot goombas.

Matt Gerardi
Mass Effect 2

BioWare added something to Mass Effect 2 that made my second play inevitable: “renegade moments.” I had carried over my Commander Shepard, a real goodie two-shoes, from the first Mass Effect. Surely I wouldn’t let him become some kind of alien-hating psychopath. Matthew Shepard has his scruples, damn it! But sometimes a little red icon would appear during tense conversations and along with it, the promise of a quick, violent, and spectacular end. Each and every time, I could feel my trigger finger tensing up. I mostly resisted that urge, but I had to go back and play again. I needed to know what happened. I created a new persona—a tough-as-nails spacelady with a sordid past, of course—and set out to be the universe’s greatest badass.

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1,682 Responses to “Play It Again, Sam”

  1. Jackbert322 says:

    Infamous 2! Oh man, so psyched to see an screenshot from it on the front page. I’m always one to promote the series, but I’m on mobile, and that’ll take ages. Maybe when I get on a computer I’ll sum my feelings. I went evil first playthrough both games though. Yeah, the second game definitely felt like your decisions mattered; compared to the first red or blue sky ending. Anyone else play this game? I’ve never talked to anyone who did. Again, I’d love to babble about it, and will probaby edit this post tommorrow morning to do so. I REALLY like Infamous!

    • Enkidum says:

      I played through 2 as a goody-two-shoes, and was so annoyed by the voodoo chick that I was disappointed SPOILER I didn’t get to kill her at the end. Might play it again, and certainly the user-designed missions and such add a lot of replayability to it. Plus it’s just a fun city to explore.

    • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow says:

      Well, I saved right before the last Big Bad, so I was in a good position to watch both endings. Still started a new game as Bad(Ass) Cole, just to be a wicked lightning vampire. Those Generator sub-missions still rock.

    • eggbuerto says:

      I also like to talk up Infamous 2 an absurd amount whenever I’m presented with an opportunity to do so. Combat in open-world games is usually some nuisance to suffer through, but it’s so fun and fluid in Infamous (other exceptions: Far Cry 2, Arkham City). I’ve played it twice and I’m glad I did a “good” playthrough 2nd because I would not have been able to live without the ice jumpy thing. Being able to ice jump out of the way of a rocket onto a ledge then jump off and electric slam the dude who shot it, and all in one fluid motion, was a religious experience. Other games wish they could allow for improvised acrobatic wizardry like that.

    • Raging Bear says:

      Another avowed fan here. Even without the good/evil bit providing an impetus to replay it, the movement and combat are ridiculously fun.

    • rvb1023 says:

      The Infamous series always struck me with just how great the quality really was. When I played the first one, I was expecting a fun diversion for the weekend. But the game turned out to be even better than that and it’s twist was really well done. When Infamous 2 came out I figured they couldn’t make lightning strike twice, but that game turned out to be even better, turning the most annoying character from the first game into the emotional core of the second.

      • Jackbert322 says:

        Oh god, Zeke was such an idiot in the first one. I was completely surprised by his metamorphisis. SPOILERS, I felt bad at the evil ending because he had actually been a cool dude. If I had to kill him in the first one, I would have welcomed that, in fact I always shocked him in the face when he was sitting around the apartment building because he bothered me.

    • Chum Joely says:

      Really glad to see both Infamous and New Vegas as the first two threads on here, since these are the only open-world games I’ve ever gotten into. Like @rvb1023:disqus, I was pleasantly surprised by first Infamous, and I was thrilled by the combat (electrical powers are so much cooler than guns) like @eggbuerto:disqus.

      I’ve only just started Infamous 2– in fact, I got about 2 missions in a few months ago, but just ditched it for some reason.  It almost seemed too polished after the first one (odd, since my initial reaction to the first one was that it looked crappy)…   Anyhow, good to hear that it turns out to be better than the first one, so now I have an incentive to go back to it.  Right after I finish New Vegas!

      • Jackbert322 says:

        Yeah, I had the same response to Infamous 2 as you. Got it for Christmas, played for a few weeks, and then just kinda ditched it. Played through the Uncharted series, wanted to go back this July and burned through, finishing mid-August (including blast shards, side missions, the works). It does immediately start out much less linear then the first one; you’re learning powers left and right, the sewer system is gone, fighting swamp monsters. And that bothered me originally, but the combat and moving through the city is so greatly improved.

    • indy2003 says:

      I found the first Infamous pretty underwhelming (it has some nifty ideas, but it’s just so repetitious – working your way through yet another sewer gets wearisome after a while, no?), so I initially passed on the second after reading numerous reviews claiming it wasn’t really a step forward. Finally gave it a shot a few months ago and was delightfully surprised. Superior to the original in nearly every way and one I can easily see myself going back to soon.

    • stakkalee says:

      So I’ve never played either of the Infamous games, but given the enthusiasm I see here and from further Googling it definitely seems like it’d be right up my alley, so it’s added to the queue.  Do people recommend starting with the first one, or should I just jump into the second?

      • Enkidum says:

        I had no problem starting with the second – it’s not exactly deep literature or anything, and they bring you up to speed pretty well. Plus apparently it’s a lot better than the first. But others may disagree.

      • Jackbert322 says:

        I do disagree. Story wise, you won’t be missing much, but there’s incentive to importing your save, you get to see gameplay improvements, the side missions are better, and there’s trains.

        • Chum Joely says:

          “There’s trains” and this is affected by having to play Infamous 1 first?  Hm.  I’ll have to make sure I import the old save/profile when I go back to try Infamous 2 again.  Because riding on (and shooting from) trains was pretty fun in the first one.

        • Jackbert322 says:

          Haha, no still can’t get trains in Infamous 2, but the trains in the first Infamous are really fun. That was more of a tongue-in-cheek reason.

  2. HobbesMkii says:

    Fallout: New Vegas, which I stalled out on on Xbox (I have yet to “complete” a single Bethesda-published RPG) has found new excitement for me on PC (plus it was easier to afford the DLC). Although it’s where the PC’s most obvious strengths lie, I haven’t modded it except for a hideout in which to store the copious amounts of stuff I collect, so I’m mainly enjoying not playing the NCR stooge I was almost on my way to being last time, instead opting to play out the Wild Card quests.

    • Cloks says:

      I’m not normally a person who plays games through multiple times, but a I completely agree with this. I play it unmodded (gasp!), but I’ve had four or five playthroughs, only one of which culminated in finishing the game. All the characters have been radically different, ranging from a femme-fatale assassin to a brutish mook who solved his problems with dynamite and it’s a great game for accommodating each play-style.
      Giving the game back to Obsidian after the mishap that was Fallout 3 re-established the core strength of the series: it’s a classic RPG that can play host to any number of fantasies and provides enough paths to make any campaign radically different. I think my favorite thing (well, second favorite after the sniper rifles) wasn’t playing the game so much as thinking about how things would be different on my next playthrough.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        I didn’t have any experience with the original Fallout or it’s sequel, so I’m never quite sure why people are so down on Fallout 3. It’s quite clearly a game written and designed with Bethesda Game Studios’ sensibilities. I do agree that New Vegas is far superior (after it patched its release bugs), especially for how flexible its quests are. Although one thing I regret on this character is pouring a lot of points into speech. I’m able to complete most quests by talking to people, rather than having to go perform labors for them, and I think I’m sort of being robbed of the Side Quests’ side quests that make up a lot of the gameplay.

        • Chum Joely says:

          I dunno, I have focused on Speech too, and there are so many damn side quests that I am actually happy to get some of them out of the way instantly through Speech options.

          It was weird the first time I stumbled upon the “non-Speech” solution to a quest after the Speechy shortcut (one of the passwords to Helios-1 terminals was on a desk in an obscure corner of the power plant… but Ignacio had given it to me without being asked). That was the first time I was directly confronted with that flexibility– I was sort of thinking, “Lucky I have the speech skill or I never would have solved this mission!”

          I wish there was a Speech workaround to the REPCONN mission, though– like can’t I just convince the mysterious mutant voice on the intercom to call of the Feral Ghouls and let me come up to his/her/its office in peace? I fucking HATE zombie/horror stuff… and the only time I’m able to play is late at night… and by stupid timing, I arrived at REPCONN after dark in-game as well.  SCARY. I think I’ll go back a few saves, repair all my weapons before hiking up there, and turn on the Stealth-Boy right away this time.  Feral Ghouls… ugh.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          @ChumJoely:disqus I dislike horror stuff too (although I’ll admit that I seriously enjoy it on paper). I encourage you to avoid Vault 34, which combines the fun of Ghouls with the constant threat of Radiation Poisoning. It actually could make for a interesting zombie survival movie: We have to escape from Chernobyl…before the zombies get us! But in the game it’s really tense. I eventually just ran out of there with a pledge to myself to come back when I was three or four levels higher.

        • Chum Joely says:

          Thanks for the tip, I will indeed steer clear of that. But I am intrigued enough by the mutant voice on the intercom (could it be Best Friend Tabitha? Or a colleague who can arrange a meeting?) to try again with REPCONN.  

          Besides, succeeding this mission will supposedly help me get some tips from Manny Vargas about tracking down the man in the checkered coat. Unless he just sent me up here to die because he’s secretly still working with the Khans. (Man, I love the depth of the story on this game, and the conflicting information you get from different NPCs. Who’s telling the truth??)

        • djsubversive says:

          But… Vault 34 is full of candy! And there’s party hats and a cake and everyone just wants to give you presents! The glowing is just because they love you so much.

          (seriously, though, the best advice I have for Vault 34 is to get as much Rad-Away and Rad-X as you can find before heading in. and bring a couple of good weapons with plenty of ammo. and a companion or two. and save often.)

          Searchlight (in the south) is the other highly-irradiated area, and I thought it was an interesting little town, with a cool little backstory to uncover. 

          REPCONN is worth pushing through, though, @ChumJoely:disqus . At least up to the mysterious voice. After that is a good time to go back to town and repair your gear / sell off loot / empty your bag so you can carry more loot before continuing on – there’s a bit more to the quest, and a LOT of stuff laying around that can get you a nice chunk of caps.

        • Mikehole says:

          I LOVED vault 34.  It also has some of the most difficult areas to reach and the best in game rewards for making that difficult trek.
          Spoilersishy? –
          OK, the maze aspect was a bit frustrating, but c’mon, the All-American! I could squeeze off like nine shots in VATS with that gun.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          @djsubversive:disqus @Mikehole:disqus Oh, I know there’s a major payoff (another convincing factor for me to retreat and regroup was to increase my science and lockpicking) waiting. I’m just saying, if @ChumJoely:disqus finds REPCONN to be creepy, then Vault 34 is going to be worse, not better.

        • Mikehole says:

          I hadn’t considered the creepiness aspect, since I wasn’t bothered by the ghouls.  Most ghouls go down so easily that they aren’t really frightening. I love the atmosphere of 34, though.  I got tired of plugging through the repetetive vaults in F3, but 34 was a magical haunted house. The plant one was also spectacular, and even the one with motorunner and the fiends was fun to explore. 

        • Chum Joely says:

          @djsubversive:disqus Heh, yeah in fact I figured that this isn’t the right place to be running into Tabitha. S/he/it must be up at Black Mountain, logically enough.

          @Mikehole:disqus You’re right, the ghouls are actually easy enough to kill. My main problem is that my weapons are in shitty condition (I am not used to the RPGish elements so I have not repaired anything yet… but I’m getting into this game), so my Action Points are severely impacted. Also, I am not used to horror elements and I stumbled into this late at night (in-game and IRL). I didn’t exactly run and hide under the covers, but it was just like… “Ick. Time for bed.”  I only play on weekends, so I’ll be going back to REPCONN over Thanksgiving weekend (assuming I can successfully transfer the save data from my PS3 here to my brother’s where I will be staying).

    • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow says:

      I’ve played F:NV more times than I’d care to admit. That being said, if you are at all comfortable with computers, look into installing mods. If not to radically alter textures, shaders, or content, than just for the sole purpose of UI modification. The stock UI elements are too chunky for PC, and can easily be fixed. Give this video a view and decide for yourself:

      • djsubversive says:

        I’ve been watching a friend play through New Vegas on the 360 and it’s amazing how different our two games look and play (I’ve got 70+ plugins in my load order, which MIGHT explain it a bit :D). 

        The two biggest UI mods are DarnUI and MTUI, and I prefer MTUI, mainly because it doesn’t change the font, just puts more lines on the screen, both in dialogue and in the Pipboy. 

        The only other mod I would say is a must-have, even for a first-time player, would be CASM – it makes a new named save every few minutes (save slots and interval between saves are adjustable). Even unmodded NV isn’t the most stable game, and CASM is much more reliable than the vanilla autosave.

    • djsubversive says:

      Is it the Underground Hideout? That’s a neat one.

      I’m with you on this, obviously. New Vegas is one of those games that I think I’ll replay consistently, either to try something different or just to enjoy some of the writing (No Bark Noonan is the best NPC, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees… online… in a game that only runs on obscure Central American computers with even more obscure operating systems).

      Of course, the mod-friendly nature of the game (instability aside) means that I can change the rules pretty much whenever I want, and that really helps when it comes to revisiting a game. 

      New Vegas related: – I put together a list of mods and my settings for Project Nevada, along with a lot of extra words. It’s my ongoing attempt to make New Vegas more like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, without adding a bunch of new creatures and NPCs, or giving the existing ones buckets of hit points to artificially increase difficulty. 

      I also enjoyed Rainbow Six, Far Cry 2, and Operation: Flashpoint, and I’m well aware that what I consider “fun” other people consider the gaming equivalent of hitting your testicles with a hammer for hours.

    • lokimotive says:

      A completely necessary mod for me is one of the many customizable radio station mods. The initial track selection that Obsidian included is fantastic (Big Iron!), but man does it get repetitive. I really wish more open world games would include options to play your own tracks. Hell, it’d be great if they had an in game UI for making your own playlists.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Yeah, I added the extended Mojave Radio mod, which ups its playlist to 100 different songs. Unfortunately, the game is still so long that even that can begin to wear.

      • Chum Joely says:

        This mod sounds interesting, because yes, the original selections are very limited. Does plugging in your own tracks interact OK with the DJ breaks? Obviously you won’t get Mr. New Vegas calling out specific tracks (“I’ll tell you something, listeners… When I’m all alone with a beautiful person like you… Something’s Got To Give!”)

        Two more specific questions:  (1) Mods on PS3: Possible? Difficult for someone with moderate-to-advanced computer skill (I am actually a part-time programmer)?

          (2) For the radio station mods, are you plugging in your own tracks somehow, or do you just download pre-selected playlists?

        • lokimotive says:

          Well there’s several different iterations. Some will give you a bunch of public domain music (which works well with Fallout’s aesthetic), some will let you plug in your own tracks. Hell, there was one that featured Lil B based tracks.

          I seem to recall downloading a mod that maintained Mr. New Vegas’s breaks (and perhaps even retained his calling out of specific tracks, insofar as he would call out the track, it would play, and then the next track was from the expanded playlist, but I could be making that up).

          As for the PS3, as far as I know, it’s not modable. This is one of the biggest advantages to the PC version, and, for the most part, all PC versions of games. Mod community support is one of those evergreen advantages for the PC game market.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Didn’t Sony go through some whole rigmarole where a judge ruled consumers had a right to jailbreak their PS3s to add mod capability, but then Sony just updated their firmware and EULA and rendered the point moot?

        • djsubversive says:

          another great radio station: CONELRAD 640-1240

          Where else are you going to hear “Jesus Hits Harder Than The Atomic Bomb,” “Better Pray to the Lord (When You See Those Flying Saucers),” “Get That Communist, Joe,” and Art Linkletter advising you to get a fallout shelter to protect your family (his own only cost him 214 dollars)?

          Nowhere, that’s where.

        • Chum Joely says:

          @djsubversive:disqus So is that a “built-in” station or a mod?

        • Mikehole says:

          I’ve always enjoyed the ambiance of the game with no radio.  But you PC guys are making me feel sorry for myself (360). Better load times, mods, and additional songs would be great for this game. I guess I’ll just settle for no radio…again.

        • djsubversive says:

          @ChumJoely:disqus CONELRAD 640-1240:

        • Chum Joely says:

          @djsubversive:disqus Looks like a cool track listing, but I was disappointed not to see either of these on there:

          Who’s Next?

          Wernher von Braun

          Apparently this is a moot point anyway since I am playing on “unmoddable” PS3!

        • djsubversive says:

           @ChumJoely:disqus Tom Lehrer is awesome, but WAY too modern for CONELRAD. You could do what I did to get the CONELRAD songs on my mp3 player – download and unzip the mod, find the folder with all the tracks, move it to a convenient location on your computer, and just rename it “CONELRAD Music” or something. You may have to do a bit of research if you want to use actual artist/track names (the CONELRAD website (where the mod got its music) is great for that: 

          whenever I get near Searchlight, I have to alt-tab out and listen to “We Will All Go Together,” because, well, Tom Lehrer is awesome (I also REALLY want to find the radio mod with all the songs whose titles are used as quest names in NV, but it appears to have disappeared due to licensing issues or something).

    • Mikehole says:

      I actually quit on AC Revelations last night and popped in F:NV, (which will be my 3rd playthrough).  When the game was new and on my first time through I went with NCR, for my second playthrough, I wanted to try to side with the legion, but just couldn’t let myself be THAT evil. I ended up wild carding and taking Vegas for myself.
      This playthrough will be different, though.  Veni Vidi Vici!!!

      • djsubversive says:

         I recently started a new Legion Cannibal playthrough. I’m doing all the stuff I normally don’t do – siding with the Powder Gangers and Legion, taking Wild Wasteland, and eating people after I punch them to death.

        So far it’s been a lot of fun, and somewhat disturbing. I’m planning on massacring Novac and spelling out the name of the town with the bodies of my victims. I’ve already wiped out everyone in Goodsprings except for Chet and Joe Cobb and his gang, all of whom are living on borrowed time.

        I got no problems with robits, though. A robit dug me out of that grave, and I can’t eat them, so they’re not a concern (this is also my “justification” for working with Yes-Man if and when I kill and eat Caesar).

        • Mikehole says:

          In one of my Fallout 3 playthroughs, I went slight evil for most of the game (saying rude things, stealing, occasionally murding NPCs…), but didn’t go full evil (murdering entire towns) till the end, when I was powerful enough to back up my actions and had finished all the quests.  I spent what seemed like hours contemplating things before I started killing everyone in Megaton.  Once I did, though… I started with the Church of Atom. Jericho and I fucked some shit up.  When I was chasing Moira out of her upstairs, I would swear that as she got to the bottom of the steps, Jericho took her head off with his spiked bat.
          In my latest NV, I’ve already killed the Powder Gangers in Goodsprings.  I may go back and try to set up a melee character, instead of a guns/repair/science/speech wiz.  Still trying to figure out if I want to try the hardcore mode, and try it while changing to melee/strength/endurance.
          We’ll see tonight!

        • djsubversive says:

           @Mikehole:disqus wait, you’re “still trying to figure out if I want to try the hardcore mode”?

          DO IT. Ten thousand rounds of ammunition should weigh SOMETHING, right? and healing-over-time is so much better than “check inventory, magically fill up hit points.” People who play softcore mode baffle me. It’s not actually that hard, it just adds in fairly basic “survival” needs. Plus, having to limp to the next town and hope you find a doctor because you’re out of doc-bags and your legs got broken is awesome (because Paul Newman and the corn).

        • djsubversive says:

          update: well, the Powder Gangers had me run around and do their dirty work because everybody else likes to shoot them on sight. I found out about an NCR raid on the prison, got back to let the convicts know about it, and had to sneak out because I am NOT damaging my NCR rep for the fucking Powder Gangers. I’m gonna be taking out officers and I want them to not suspect me the moment I walk into their camp. 

          I may be an evil cannibal, but I’m not stupid.

  3. Colonel says:

    Speaking of interesting strategy guides, my favorite one was for Warcraft II.  The author (or authors, I don’t know who actually) wrote the strategies for the missions like they were a journal of a person in the Alliance/Horde.  It would go like, “We conscripted some of the servants in the local town hall to work the nearby gold mine” or “We didn’t set fire to the buildings for fear the smoke might alert any Orcs in the area.”  Now you do not do those things in the actual game but they were nice flourishes that kept it from being a boring “Go here, build these, do this, kill them” like so many others.

    • Zack Handlen says:

      I can’t remember their literary merit, but I remember I had three or four different video game strategy books which I read over and over again, despite not ever getting to play most of the games referenced in them. I’m not sure why, exactly; I think I liked the structure of it, and it felt a bit like getting access to games I’d otherwise never get to see. The funniest thing was, on the rare occasions when I’d actually have the game on hand (like renting one of the Mega Mans or buying Fester’s Quest–fuck that game, by the way), most of the strategy guides were completely useless, with the entries amounting to little more than rewrites of the instruction manual with a few incredibly obvious “tips.” (“Use the jump button to avoid dive-bombing birds.”)

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        YEEARGH!  Fester’s Quest was one of the stupidest, most aggravatingly difficult NES games ever!  Who the hell thought that having to start over from the beginning every time was a GOOD IDEA?  At least most games like that now have an OPTIONAL hardcore mode.

    • GaryX says:

      I remember, for awhile, getting only Versus Books which were both really helpful and aware of the absurdity of most video games (I particularly remember a tangent about Clock Town Bank in Majora’s Mask and how young Link was taking advantage of a terrible banking policy in a way that would ultimately cripple the entire economic infrastructure of Termina but that’s okay because it’ll all be dead in 3 days).

  4. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    I have very rarely replayed games after finishing them, so if I can modify the question slightly – “What games have you set aside during first playthroughs for whatever reason, then picked back up later and finished?”

    Wasteland – I got this game in 8th grade, and it was way too difficult for me at first.  I set it aside for six months to a year, then decided to give it another shot.  The second time through (with a little help from homemade “saves” before big events by making copies of the game directory – otherwise everything that happened was saved instantly, including character deaths) I totally loved it.  I read the entire paragraph book, not knowing that huge portions of it were red herrings that had nothing to do with the story, and was pleasantly surprised whenever I found the REAL story pieces.  I let some characters die if the battle was epic enough, and once I found the cloning center I had a party made mostly of clones of one character with the best skills.  When I finally finished the game, it was one of the biggest accomplishments in gaming to that point, second only to finishing Zelda without a strategy guide.  Needless to say I jumped at the chance to donate to the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter.

    Hard Nova – This was another one that was really tough at first, but a lot of fun once I got the hang of it.  A top-down squad-based shooter with real time combat, space travel and ship-to-ship combat and a pretty fun plot.  It reminded me a bit of the MegaTraveller PC game as well.

    Batman: Arkham Asylum – SPOILER ALERT I GUESS – I still love that the Scarecrow’s “game glitch” scared me so badly that I didn’t use my Xbox for a month until I realized it was actually part of the game.  (Every time the screen went green, I freaked out and shut down the system before it flickered back into a Scarecrow level.)

    • That glitch.  OOOOgh.  That is the only moment in recent gaming history where I’ve absolutely lost my shit on a red-faced tirade at the game.

      About two years prior, I experienced an issue with an nVidia card that caused very similar “leftover pixel” issues (sorry, I’m not up on my technical terminology) to stay onscreen, as part of the symptoms of its eventual total failure.  Fortunately, the card was still under warranty, so after a spectacularly drawn-out process of filling out online forms, locating receipts, leaving work early to get the package before the closest UPS facility closed, etc., I managed to get a replacement.  Within two weeks, the new card was experiencing the same issues.  A re-replacement was not going to happen, not after jumping through that many hoops.  I angrily switched to a wonderful Radeon card that has never given me problems since, and chalked those failures up to manufacturing issues on nVidia’s part.

      So, yeah, when the Scarecrow performed his little “stunt” in the middle of that level, I hyperventilated and frantically three-finger-saluted in an effort to save my game, my card, my PC, my everything…only to realize shortly after the screen went black and audio was playing perfectly fine what was going down.

      My subsequent reaction reminds me of Bill Bixby’s warning to the reporter during the opening credits of TV’s The Incredible Hulk:  “Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry.  You wouldn’t like it when I’m angry.”

    • lokimotive says:

      I believe Spec Ops: The line has some of those disorienting “game glitches.” And, initially they’re perhaps even more unexpected than in Batman. I applaud game designers for thinking of inventive ways to genuinely disorient and horrify the player, but, especially on PC, it can go too far into the, “Man! I’m gonna have to CTRL-ALT-DELETE!” territory.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        The first example I experienced of this was in Prince of Persia II:The Shadow and The Flame: There’s one spot in the game where you “die”, and the usual “Press Space to Continue” message pops up.  But if you don’t touch anything for about ten seconds, your shadow pops up and you continue the game.  My friend and I only found this out when we got so tired of restarting and trying again that we say there dumbfounded long enough for it to happen.

    • Boonehams says:

      Coming full circle, one of the few games that I’ve replayed is Eternal Darkness for the Gamecube.  Arkham Asylum’s “glitch” is NOTHING compared to the shenanigoats on display in Eternal Darkness.

      For those not in the know, the game is very Lovecraftian, dealing with elder gods, monsters and so forth. In the game, your player actually has a sanity meter. Confronting undead monsters makes you insane; executing them regains some (but not all) of your sanity. Run into enough monsters and the game starts playing tricks on you. It starts slow at first, with ambient moaning, screaming, children whispers and the camera going into Dutch angles. When you’re full-tilt nuts, you get things like the game muting itself, bugs crawling on the screen, and–no joke–the Windows blue screen of death and a message saying that the game encountered a glitch, losing your save file. It’s worth going insane just to see what the game will do to you.

      In the story of Eternal Darkness, the villain can align himself with one of three (of your choosing) Ancients; god-like beings of great power. The three Ancients behave in a sort of rock-paper-scissors mechanic where one god can overpower another, but is weak to the third. Depending on whichever Ancient the villain is aligned with, you have to align yourself to the one that is strong against it.

      After beating the game once and getting to actually view the “villain” and “hero” Ancients, I wondered what the third Ancient looked like. I started up the game again, picking the third Ancient and then noticed that the enemies had all changed, as did the cutscenes. Not only that, it kept all the cutscenes and character bios I had unlocked from the previous playthrough.

      After beating it a second time, I thought, “Well,… might as well go for all three and unlock everything.” Those compulsive enough to do that (me) are awarded with a special alternate ending.

  5. Early candidate for an all-time replay champion:  The Walking Dead.  I wanted to do a completely “straight” playthrough for this first go-around, out of curiosity at first, then out of respect for the designers and storyline.  I’ve avoided re-doing anything in the game just because I disliked the result (or because, in the case of early in Episode 2, I was, uh, too uncoordinated to get the ideal outcome). 

    You can bet your sweet bippie I’ll be replaying that game from the start once this final chapter is over.  And enjoying every minute of it, regardless of how much I weep the second time around.

    • Cloks says:

       Ah, geez, I’ve done countless replays of the first episode because the game keeps deleting my save data (thanks Telltale, for not expecting users who use something other than C:// for their primary drive!) and I can’t deal with going through the motions again. Sadly, I also can’t deal with randomly generated choices becoming my own if I choose to start at Chapter Two, so I’ll probably wait until I can get the whole game on a disc and power through it over a weekend.

      • Girard says:

         Even with all the default directories, the Steam version shits the bed and forgets all of your decisions with each new episode. There’s a workaround for that, though, so I haven’t had to re-play anything. Still annoying as hell, though.

    • fieldafar says:

      Completely agreed. Also cannot wait when Episode 5 drops very soon.

    • ToddG says:

      Played Episode 5 in one sitting yesterday, and I’m not sure I WANT to replay the game or, if I do, if I’ll want to make different choices.  I’m really happy with the story I crafted, mistakes and all, and I think seeing other paths could actually diminish my overall enjoyment of the game.

      Also, this game is easily my game of the year, very possibly of this console generation, and will no doubt place very highly in my all-time list once I let enough time pass to consider the game more objectively.  The last episode is awesome in ways that even the previous episodes don’t remotely prepare you for, and the ending absolutely wrecked me.

      • Ack_Ack says:

        Damn – I fell asleep halfway through episode 4 (because it was late, and I’m lame – not the games fault).  I still have to finish that episode, and then the final episode.  I don’t think I’m ready to be wrecked by the ending, but thanks for the heads up – I’ll prepare myself emotionally.

  6. rvb1023 says:

    Though i didn’t dislike the game to begin with, each new playthrough of Nier   improved it in so many ways, a prime example of how to do New Game+.

    Other than that, most games I loved more on repeat playthroughs were the result of me maturing a bit. KOTOR 2 I loved as a huge SW fan, when I played through it again a few years later I was stunned to realize it’s probably one of the best pieces in the entire SW universe.

    • djsubversive says:

      KOTOR 2 is a great story that wasn’t able to be completely told. All the “cut content” and “shortened production time” issues aside, it’s a great deconstruction of Star Wars (and a lot of ‘standard’ RPG tropes), making things less black and white. I’m sure the proper response to that is “but Star Wars IS black and white!” Well, fuck that. I like grey areas. I like when interesting concepts are explored and “Force-user who loathes the Force” is an interesting concept to me. I like the idea that no matter what choice you make, somebody gets hurt because of it (in a video game, where usually you have three stances – Righteous Awesome Jesus, Asshole McPuppyKiller, and Neutral (which is pretty much just like Jesus, except you want more money)). I even liked that your party hates each other!

      In short: KOTOR 2 is excellent and Kreia is the best Star Wars character.

      • MoonlessNova says:

        Honestly, one of my favourite moments in gaming was when you are presenting with a beggar in KOTOR2 and the simple decision about whether to give him money or not.

        Give him money and you feel great! But then other beggars kill him in order to get the money.

        Was the first time I had experienced in the Star Wars universe where things weren’t just Sith and Jedi and showed what effects your actions had. Great stuff.
        Been meaning to boot it up again, but man getting to that ending again is just not at all appealing.

  7. fieldafar says:

    Matt brings up Mass Effect 2, when I played it for the first time (I had skipped the first Mass Effect for reasons unknown) and just triggered every Paragon and Renegade moment when it popped up on-screen. Apparently I had misunderstood how the system works, fortunately in time for my second replay through the game.

    My pick would have to be Deus Ex: Human Revolution. My second time playing Adam Jensen, like my Shepard, was much more enjoyable once I understood the game’s mechanics with the augment upgrades and whatnot.

    What can I say, I’m a slow learner when it comes to games.

    • Bad Horse says:

      I played Paragon my first time through Mass Effect 2 and enjoyed my second time so much more because A) I found a class that worked for me and B) I wasn’t taking all the weenie paragon interrupts. Renegade interrupts were so fist-pumpingly awesome.

    • Happenstank says:

      I took the noble path in the first Mass Effect but when I played the second one I was in a slightly darker place in my life so I decided that Shepard was now suffering from post-traumatic death disorder. He was no longer sure of himself. He suspected that Cerberus had tampered with his DNA before bringing him back because now he was so often consumed by rage and that couldn’t be him, right? And in the end his self-doubt drove him to take Cerberus’ side even though he’d been struggling to prove his free will through-out the game. It added a whole meta-textual layer that made an excellent game even excellenter. Yes, I am a huge nerd.

      And I’m glad someone else sees how awesome Dragon Age II was. Mass Effect 2 was really good at making me feel like Shepard was my own creation, but nothing compares to Dragon Age II in that department. The only reason I haven’t replayed it is because I got so attached to my Hawke and the relationships he’d formed that it feels like I’d be subverting his reality by playing it again. Again, yes, huge nerd.

      • Fluka says:

        *A black-clad rider hands @Happenstank:disqus a piece of paper, with a single scrawled note on it: “WE KNOW.”  The rider also hands him/her a second sheet of paper, with detailed directions to the Secret Gameological Society Dragon Age 2 Fan Club!  TELL NO ONE.  Meetings on Tuesday evening with soda and pizza!*

        I got pretty damn attached to my Hawke too.  I think the whole game gets a lot more interesting if you view it as a character’s personal story, rather than a quest to save the world.

        • Matt Gerardi says:

          It’s way more interesting than most RPGs thanks to that intimate setting and personal feel. And let’s not forget the narrative framing trick of having a known shyster telling the story.

          Plus, it’s so thematically rich with tinges of urban decay, the dangers of religious fundamentalism (and those who wish to exploit it), and race relations. I always interpreted the plight of the Mages as an allegory for the treatment of Muslims in post 9/11 America (with one event toward the end of the game drawing a very direct parallel). I’ve also heard the case made that it represents the struggle of those with alternative sexualities, which is certainly another plausible interpretation. 

          That’s not to say it doesn’t have its problems, but BioWare made up for a lack of development time by focusing inward and created something special because of it. 

        • Fluka says:

          @twitter-15878210:disqus Yes, agreed on pretty much all counts.  I really hate the fact that the current internet dialogue on Dragon Age 2 is “It is terrible and the worst thing ever and if you like it you are wrong and you are helping to destroy gaming and BioWare is ruined forever.”  It’s a much less polished game than DA:O, which is one of the apices of the traditional Tolkein-eqsue RPG.  But it does things which are so much more *interesting*.  The unreliable narrator, the focus on a family story, setting it in a single city, the friendship/rivalry system, the fantastic female and LGBT characters (Anders is gay – I don’t care if he can sleep with women too), etc. etc.  It’s not all successful, and the lack of production time shows everywhere, but it tries, damn it!

          I’ll be really curious to see what happens with Dragon Age 3, and how they decide to respond to the massive backlash.  Mmm, may be time to finally do a second rogue play through of both games…  (And maybe try all that DLC that I skipped, huh.)

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Can I just say that I found Anders to be the most annoying twerp in that game? Cry me a river, Anders–you can freeze people at will. 

          I might actually be the only person I know who thought DA2 was better than DA:O. I think it was the silent protagonist of the first game (he’d just stand there mute while everyone talked around and to him!), but something about it made me not care about any of the people involved. When I pursued a romance option with Morrigan, I went “well, this is weird, because I feel like I’m sort of forcing her to have sex with a Ken Doll.”

        • Fluka says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus Yeah, Anders is also kind of a creepy jerk, no doubt.  “Heeeey, Hawke, can you help me find some saltpeter?  No reason, no reason.”

          And that DA:O sex is some awkward shit.  I actually liked the Alistair romance quite a bit, but the “consummation”?  Embarrassing for everyone involved.  

        • HobbesMkii says:

          “Dear Diary,

          Today I had sex with the Warden–no, not the one with whom I’ve had a barely restrained sexual tension masked by withering disdainful exchanges we have with each other–the other one. The one that does things for people.

          But it was so weird. He didn’t say anything the whole time. And I was writhing and moaning, I mean really getting off on it, but there was nothing from him. It was like having sex with a particularly inexpressive robot (if such a thing existed in this world). He also kept his eyes open the whole time as well. Really disconcerting.

          Anywho, I’m totes gonna use this relationship to try and convince him to get me preggers so our unborn child can absorb the soul of an Old God.


        • Mr_Upthrust says:

          Count another one who preferred DA2 here. I spent a lot of time in Origins admiring what they had done with their lore about the Qunari and mages. Imagine my delight when Dragon Age 2 devotes quite a bit of time to exploring both of those! The mage-templar conflict tended into caricature more than I cared for, but overall I think that game benefited from eschewing a traditional ‘main plot’. It at least appealed to people like myself, who prefer to ignore the impending fantasy apocalypse in favor of exploring the minutiae of Dwarven politics.

          And yeah, Anders is a butt and the sex scenes are ridiculous.

        • @twitter-15878210:disqus : The more I think about it, the harder it is for me to deny the parallels between mages and LGBT. I’ll try to avoid SPOILERS, but I will just say, that “Kirkwall” is far too similar to “Stonewall” to be a coincidence. 

      • Dragon Age 2 has numerous mechanical flaws, but I greatly appreciated what they did from a character perspective with Hawke. My only wish is that the ending had been a bit more personalized. In the final act, it felt as if the Hawke who was speaking was not the same Hawke I had been playing all this time.

        The game feels unfinished and/or rushed. I’d love to read the story of the game’s development process. 

    • Mr_Upthrust says:

      I’m currently on my second run of Mass Effect 2 because I’m finally getting around to playing Mass Effect 3 and I lost my original save files. This means another paragon run, but I am enjoying it a lot more for the sole fact that I know that paragon points are plentiful, so I can indulge in my renegade side as much as I am inclined to (rather than meekly picking every paragon option that I came across). 

      I can hit as many renegade prompts as I want, I can unabashedly support the Krogan genophage, and I can finally tell Jack how just insufferable she is (her response: surprisingly understanding!). I know morality point systems are already pretty passe, but Mass Effect 2 is a great example of a game best played as though it didn’t have a morality system.

      • Mikehole says:

        That sounds surprisingly awesome. I don’t think I started my second playthrough on ME2 after my first playthrough… I mean I played ME2, went back and got ME1, then replayed ME2 with my ME1 save.
        I did the same thing with ME3 a month or so ago.  I started over, but it let me keep my purchases for weapon upgrades in addition to starting me out with buttloads of paragon/renegade points, all the while letting me choose my import save. That was very thoughtful of Bioware to allow that. I was able to purchase all the armors and weapons, and almost all the necessary weapon upgrades the second time around.

  8. Citric says:

    Coincidentally, I just started a new playthrough of FFVI – just call it that, it’s easier for everyone to understand – but it’s the first time I’ve done it in years since I kind of burned it out by playing it waaaay too many times – I think it’s the game I played more than any other – so that’s not my answer.

    My actual answer is Metal Gear Solid. A friend and I played it separately, and it was okay, but we weren’t huge fans. Then one night we were drinking and decided to play MGS for some reason. So we got super drunk and got up to Ninja, and realized how amazing it was, and both decided to do sober replays and got kind of obsessive about the series, rediscovering all the games and playing every one.

    That caused this to happen:

    So that’s a pretty massive change in opinion.

    • Isakorp says:

       Totally agree with Metal Gear Solid. I played it through in high school and loved every second. However, it was a pretty dense game, so after a couple of years I had forgotten some of the finer details. I went back and played it in the same way I would re-read a giant novel (e.g. Dune, Shogun, etc.).

      The part of MGS4 that revisits the original’s setting almost put me in tears of nostalgia.

    • GaryX says:

      I came to love MGS by playing through the first time (for the both of us) with a friend. Truly a great way to experience the “WTF” moments. Particularly Psycho Mantis’ controller port 2 shit which we still joke about.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Metal Gear Solid is one of the only games I’ve ever beat and then started a new game of without even getting up. When I was in sixth grade or so, I spent a weekend just playing that game over and over. I must have played it from start to finish a half dozen times in two days.

  9. Merve says:

    I usually don’t replay games, because I want to play as many different games as possible. However, back when I had a crappy laptop, technological constraints forced me to replay the few games I could run:

    RollerCoaster Tycoon: I’ve lost track – no pun intended – of the number of times I’ve replayed “Dynamite Dunes.” I’ve got it down to a science – build a log flume; add a scrambled eggs; add a couple of gentle rides; build a “desert oasis”; watch the cash roll in. It’s damn addictive.

    Deus Ex: I’ve been through the game thrice. Each run-through has been more rewarding, as I’ve discovered more of the game’s secret corners each time.

    Mass Effect: Another game I’ve been through thrice. My second playthrough was the most interesting. My first playthrough was very shooty, because I went for the Infiltrator class. On my second run, I decided to go for the exact opposite: the Adept. Suddenly, I had the power to suck baddies into magical space vortices. I finished the trilogy with my original Shepard, but one day I’m going to run through the trilogy with a biotic character SPACE WIZARD.

    Portal 2: I missed a lot of the game’s subtle touches and visual humour the first time through because I was so focused on solving the puzzles. I let enough time lapse between my first and second playthrough that I had forgotten the puzzles’ solutions but was still familiar with the mechanics. Being more at ease the second time around, I had a greater appreciation for the game’s craft.

    • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow says:

      I think it should be mandatory that whatever gender, class, and alignment you chose the first playthough, you must choose the exact opposite the next go-thru. It seems like such a waste of voice talent and neat little moments otherwise. PROTIP: Do Not Play As a Biotic Adept On The Geth Mothership Unless You Like Geth Dubstep. A Lot.

      • Merve says:

        Surprisingly, I haven’t yet played through as a male Shepard. I’ll put that on my list of things to do next summer: a male renegade casanova space wizard run-through sounds pretty rad.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          I played one soldier female Shepard (named Xena) who was a goody two shoes that I consider my “real” playthrough because it’s one where I chose how I wanted to, not because I was going for any particular result. My next playthrough was with Jesus Shepard, an adept with a real mean streak. 

        • Enkidum says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus is that “Hayzoos” or “Jeezus”?

        • HobbesMkii says:

          @Enkidum:disqus It’s the “Hey, Zeus” because I realized I never play enough Latino characters in my games.

      • Fluka says:

        I’ve certainly tried to do that, making a renegade jackass total-biotic not-sleeping-with-Garrus homicidal manic in my second Mass Effect play through, and I’m loving it.  But I couldn’t bring myself to make a male Shepard.  The voice acting….dang it, anything is gonna seem sad in comparison to Jennifer Hale!

        • HobbesMkii says:

          I think Mark Meer’s strengths actually lie in voicing the renegade options. He’s abysmal in comparison to Jennifer Hale when he’s trying to deliver lines where he’s making a stark declaration or attempting to comfort someone (and I realize those come up a lot, regardless of which moral track you’re attempting to pursue), but the renegade choices can frequently border on being halfway humorous and he really sells those moments quite well.

        • Fluka says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus Okay, I can see that!

        • GaryX says:

          I tend to think Jennifer Hale is overhyped, but the male Shepard is flat-out terrible. ZMF redeemed him for me once by calling him “SPACE BILL OREILLY” when in renegade mode.

          I can work with that.

        • Merve says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus: Say what you will about Mark Meer, but he nailed the “big stupid jellyfish” line in ME1.

    • I always die as Adepts (especially in the first ME which I consider the hardest) and have wussied out and gone the soldier-shootie class the whole time.

      • Fluka says:

        Yeah, I did ME1 as an Adept, and that final boss fight was a pain. in. the. ass.

      • Mikehole says:

        I have also always gone as a soldier. By the second game you get biotic powers.  I read a while back, (in the ME3 review/comments maybe?) that the engineer was awesome, and I’d love to try that out, but meh.  I’m too accustomed to the assault rifles.

  10. IntotheNightSky says:

    Analogue: A Hate Story was far more enjoyable the second time I played through it.  

    The first time I played through I made the call to pull the data core with only a few seconds left before the ship’s nuclear power source went critical.  It was a lot more fun to actually get to know the characters and save one of them.  I expect the third playthrough will even more enjoyable though, apparently there’s a way to save both AI constructs.

  11. LoveWaffle says:

    Every time I’ve started a new playthrough of Morrowind, it’s been more enjoyable than the last.  Yes, a lot of the feeling of discovery that comes along with simply traversing Vvardenfell diminishes with each play (although Tarhiel never gets old), but I still discover new aspects of the game each time.  On my first playthrough, I didn’t really know what I was doing.  Actually, I didn’t really know what the game was – I just wandered around towns connected by silt striders and talking to every NPC I could.  But each playthrough would bring something new with it: figuring out how questing worked, figuring out how to manipulate the game’s limited fast-travel system to get from place to place most expediently, learning that alchemy is a hell of a way to make quick gold, etc.  Even though the game’s setting was becoming more familiar, I was still able to explore the game by discovering gameplay mechanics I previously ignored, and, for me at least, it’s always been the discovery aspect of the Elder Scrolls’ franchise that’s kept me playing them for a decade.

    Anecdote: I played the game on my Xbox, so I wasn’t able to access either expansion until I bought a Game of the Year edition.  I was so eager to get to Solstheim, I created a new profile (without realizing the game recognized saves from a regular game of Morrowind), and took the Silt Strider to Khuul where I swam to the island.  Of course, this was without realizing I could have just taken a boat from that same location and got there much more quickly.  My “aim” was off, however, so I didn’t land in the relative safety of Solstheim’s southern coast, but instead landed in the frozen wastes of the north, where I was promptly killed by a Riekling the moment I stepped on shore.

    Also, did I read that correctly in that Matthew Shepard is a tough-as-nails Spacelady?

    • Merve says:

      If I understood correctly, Matthew Shepard was the character that Matt created before he made a tough-as-nails space lady.

    • WorldCivilizations says:

      Morrowind tops my list as well. It really towers above the last 2 TES games in my opinion. One reason it’s so replayable is that there’s a huge number of factions, and since they have skill/stat requirements, it’s not viable to join more than 2 or 3 with one character. Not like stupid Oblivion/Skyrim, where a dumb brute can become guildmaster of the mage’s guild. My personal favorite was the Tribunal Temple faction – making the pilgrimages (especially the super-long one from Vivec to the top of map – mark/recall is cheating!) was just so awesome, and the stat requirements led to this awesome pacifist/pilgrim type character. House Telvanni was also awesome because I love the idea of being a megalomaniacal, near-immortal mage.
      I could go on forever about Morrowind. Anyway, other games I have replayed a few times:
      Chrono Trigger (much more replayable, and better, than FF6 I’d say)
      Castlevania SOTN (just because it’s awesome)
      Dark Souls (again, just an awesome game, and a very different experience with different builds)
      Devil May Cry (New Game+ done right: getting harder each time, and not just by tweaking numbers)

      • LoveWaffle says:

        It may not be viable, but definitely possible.  You can join all of the joinable factions, except for the Great Houses where you can only choose one (actually two, utilizing a glitch), and advance through the ranks to the top.  My Morrowind character was a “dumb brute”, but was able to become Arch-Mage of the Guild of Mages because I leveled up my Alchemy, Mysticism, and Alteration skills.

        Concerning the factions, one of the things that made replays of the game more enjoyable was actually getting through their questlines.  Unlike in Oblivion and Skyrim, where the quests almost immediately take you into exciting combat situations, Morrowind’s questlines started out with what is essentially grunt work, and led to more enjoyable, exciting quests near the end.  The best example of this is probably the Imperial Cult.  The first few quests had you going to farms throughout Vvardenfell and gather ingredients.  That’s bullshit.  I don’t want to play that!  So I abandon the questline and do something, anything else.  But on a later playthrough (or play, since Morrowind is an easy game to drop for a long time and pick up again), I return to the quest and give it another go.  The last set of quests have you going to far-flung, unique dungeons throughout the island, gather powerful artifacts, and even talk directly to gods on a few occasions.  That’s awesome.  I want to play more of that, and was worth the grunt work of the early quests.

        And, if I remember correctly, you can’t use Mark/Recall on that Tribunal Temple quest since you have to do it with a vow of silence.  That means no magic, no Silt Striders, no boats.  The only way to fast travel somewhere close is to use Propylon indexes to get from Hlormaren or Rotheran, but that might be more difficult than just getting up there.

        • GaryX says:

          I really, really, REALLY want an Elder Scrolls game with most of the systems (minus actual combat), world building, and faction joining but with the graphics, ai, and quest system of Oblivion/Skyrim. I would die happy.

          Maybe it’s just because Morrowind was so sparse, but I can’t get over how exploration felt in that game. I bought the game after it came out (having seen an X-play review a year or so before) for like ten bucks on the budget rack at Walmart. I played it for a little bit but found it mostly impenetrable. I came back to it while on my Christmas break from school and pretty much spent two nerdy weeks solid in front of the computer just running around (the game became much easier for me when I essentially broke it by stealing a full set of glass armor too early in the game but that just makes it more awesome to me). I beat the game in that time, but I remember just stumbling upon Telvanni structures way earlier than normal because I would just pick a point on the map and run to it while letting myself get distracted by stuff along the way.

          That’s also how I had the most fun with Skyrim. I started out as a Dark Elf and someone almost immediately suggested going to the Azura shrine. So I marked it on the map and just walked to it, letting myself clear though all the dungeons (also kinda broke the game here by killing a boss way out of my range by stealth shooting him with arrows for an hour or so), do all the quests, and visit all the towns I stumbled upon throughout the game. Those first few sessions were incredible because both the game and the world felt like this incredibly organic thing happening around me as I went on my own personal goal to visit this shrine. I was disappointed to find the actual game much more linear and “go here, quest, go here, quest.”

          I think I’m one of the crazies who thinks aimlessness actually suits the Elder Scrolls series better.

        • LoveWaffle says:

          @GaryX:disqus I agree that aimlessness suits the Elder Scrolls pretty well, but I feel that sense of aimlessness is much less than in Skyrim and Oblivion than in Morrowind.  Just look at how those games open.  Skyrim and Oblivion, like the games before Morrowind, begin with a dungeon that plunges you deep into what the main quest will be about.  In the opening moments of Skyrim, you’re introduced to the dragons (which is the focus of the main quest), and the Civil War storyline which is something of a B-plot to the whole game.  Oblivion begins with a Daedra-worshipping cult assassinating the emperor, kicking off the Oblivion Crisis.  
          Morrowind doesn’t have that – a boat drops you off in an essentially meaningless town and you go on about your business, which is probably why I had no idea what the game was about.  It might as well have been a sim game, for all I knew, and you aren’t introduced to the Nerevarine prophecy or the Sixth House until about a third of the way into the main quest.  But, because the main questline wasn’t apparent from the start, and because advancing in it doesn’t unlock anything, like how advancing in Skyrim and Oblivion’s questlines unlocked Dragons and Oblivion Gates respectively, you really can ignore it for an entire playthrough.  

          But it wasn’t just limited to the main quests.  The best loot in Skyrim and Oblivion all come along with completing a quest or sufficient leveling.  In Morrowind, it might just be under a rock and you can pick it up as soon as you can physically reach it, which is why you’re able to break the game by getting that set of glass armor early on.  Want the Staff of Magnus in Skyrim?  Better get to work on the College of Winterhold quests.  Want the Staff of Magnus in Morrowind?  Find the person who has it and kill her, associated Mages Guild quest be damned.  

          I just wish that Skyrim and Oblivion let you be as aimless as you could in Morrowind, and still reward you for it.  The first time I killed a giant in Skyrim was probably the most satisfying experience I’ve had with that game, but it might as well have been a throwaway moment.  Do something like that in Morrowind, and you’ll probably be rewarded with a piece of Daedric armor, which, because there’s no concept of “leveled loot” in that game, is one hell of a reward.

        • GaryX says:

          Maybe I muddled up that last statement, but that’s exactly what I meant. The aimlessness made Morrowind far more obtuse, but it works wonderfully once you get wrapped up in it. I was saying that I was disappointed in Skyrim because, once I started to actually play the game and not just trek from point to point, it all started to feel much more linear and closed off.

      • Mr_Upthrust says:

        Oh goodness, House Telvanni. The fact that a group of incredibly elitist mages live in structures that require magical levitation to navigate is one of my absolute favorite examples of merging gameplay with world-building.

        • LoveWaffle says:

          I feel that one detail is going to make the Telvanni settlement in the upcoming Dragonborn DLC so much less interesting.

        • GaryX says:


          “Oh, we, uh, added stairs due to recent ADA legislation. Fucking government.”

    • Matt Gerardi says:

      What Merve said. My lady Shepard was named Ladonna. 

  12. jarviscockblocker says:

    Dead Rising 2! The first playthrough makes you feel really shitty, you haven’t levelled up enough, you don’t have all the skills to make awful weapons, you learned how to dodge late in the game, you never get anywhere on time because the layout can be confusing, you don’t do a sidequest and don’t get the shortcut through the mall, but the second playthough, man, that is so much fun.

    I really think that Dead Rising is a game which actually changes its genre the longer you play it, from frustrating horror (because of low health, weak weapons and inadequate skills) to pretty funny comedy with wacky weapons as soon as zombies don’t pose such a big threat.

    • DR2 is a terribly underrated game.  Yes, it’s supposed to be super hard and frustrating, yes, you should die and try again (from the beginning).

      Then, you (the player) get better, and you start to notice that there’s ridiculous amounts of stuff to do.  Wasting time in the early going is not only fun, but rewarded with XP and cash.  Then what seemed to be impossible, like rescuing every single NPC, is actually very doable with a little leveling and some organization.  You notice there’s tons of great jokes in the cutscenes, even the kind of visual gags that games are not usually good at (Chuck just swiveling his eyes in reaction to other character’s dialog makes me burst out laughing).  

      Whenever I try to explain it to people who hated it after a few hours of play, I have to describe it as Groundhog’s Day with Zombies.  You’re trying again and again to get this day (well, 3+ days) right, and you (the player) shift from desperate to gleefully capable.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Figuring out that the Dead Rising games intended for you to lose initially (and repeatedly) was one of those difficult to wrap your head around moments in gaming. It’s very counter-intuitive. But like many such moments, incredibly rewarding once you’ve got it figured out.

  13. Xenomorph says:

    I played through Final Fantasy VII so many times… and each time, I leveled up all my characters to 99 and maxed out all my Materia. The amount of hours I sunk into that game… I know that when I’m old, I wish I had those hundreds of hours back. I did a similar thing with Final Fantasy X, and would have done it with XII if my PS2 hadn’t died.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

       I had a cheap non-Sony memory card (Nyko), and I never had any problems with it except on Square games. My first playthrough of FF7 was at around 70 hours when it got corrupted and I had to start over. Played another 80 hours, got all the way to the Crater, then it corrupted again. I started a third playthrough but quit halfway through. Also lost my Xenogears save after 20+ hours, but I never went back to that one. Think my little brother beat it, though.

      SO I spent about 200 hours on FF7 and never even went into the goddamn Crater. I did get to watch my friend beat it though, so I got to see the ending.

  14. I always appreciate it when a game offers little bonuses on a second playthrough that cut down on the tedium. Persona games let you keep Charm/Courage/etc., Mass Effect 2 gives you bonus credits and resources, Final Fantasy X lets you keep your Al Bhed primers. These little touches don’t take away challenge like a full-fledged New Game Plus; they make the second playthrough a more dynamic affair. 

  15. I love replaying RPGs that offer lots of customization. I’ve gone through Final Fantasy 1 and 5 a half-dozen times each, and each time can be a very different experience. Eventually, though, I reach a point where I’ve found an “optimal” configuration and the game becomes something else. 

    In Final Fantasy, for example, try playing as 3 Fighters and a Red Mage. You’ll cut through the game with ease. 

  16. I wholeheartedly agree with Dragon Age II. I have logged a surprising number of hours into it given the internet’s apparent seething hatred for it. I’ve even watched a friend do a complete playthrough. Yeah, I like it that much.

    • Colonel Mustard says:

      I liked it more than the average player seems to, but I don’t understand Drew’s disappointment to go back and rediscover the vast areas of caves and forests and cities and plains and towns of Origins.  Kirkwall was just so samey, map-wise.  I never felt like the city came alive, because despite the apparent income level differences between Hightown and Lowtown, playing in them felt exactly the same.

      • I get that. I suffered Origins fatigue too, if only because I’m probably setting it against things like The Elder Scrolls. The way I see it, DA2 has a restrictive setting and is pretty open about it. DA:O has a fairly restrictive setting (all things considered, no more so than the average RPG) but says it’s open world. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as open as it says it is – but then again, neither are most games (let’s face it, if you can’t walk in a random direction and encounter a new quest, ala Skyrim, it’ll probably suffer from this in my eyes). 

        As for the same-y-ness of Kirkwall, I always feel that way towards the end, but from a logical standpoint, it’s actually kinda clever to reuse the caves and tunnels. One of the most unrealistic things I find in games is when they make you revisit a location only to discover a ‘new’ part that was totally there all along, you just didn’t see it. 

    • Fluka says:

      It’s the only non-Elder-Scrolls game my husband has played twice.  Gotta do a second play through myself someday…

  17. Marozeph says:

    Super Mario 3 is the first game that springs to my mind here. I played it on the original NES and didn’t enjoy it that much, mostly because i sucked at it and couldn’t really see what was so special about it.
    When it was re-released on Virtual Console i gave it a shot and had much more fun. Not only because i managed to finish it, but also because i was able to see what a big step in the evolution of Mario games it was – pretty much all the stuff introduced in the game has become a series staple. I still think Super Mario World is better, but i can see why many people think it’s the best Mario game ever.

    • ApesMa says:

      What video game sequel has ever improved that much its predecessors without the advantage of a new system? It was just so far above the competition on NES and still one of the best platformers ever made. This, SMW and Yoshi’s Island haven’t been matched yet, and they won’t be until Nintendo (or someone else) decide to devote those kinds of resources on 2D platformers again.

      All those little secrets, remember the white ship full of coins? I think it might have appeared only 2 or 3 times and we had no idea why before the internet.

      I prefer the All Stars version as it lets you choose which world to start from when you open a saved game, so if you’re low on lives or missed something you can go back while retaining your items.

      • GaryX says:

        I had no idea there was a white ship full of coins until right now.

        Damn that game was so great.

        • ApesMa says:

          It’s completely crazy:

          Collect a number of coins that is a multiple of 11. Make the tens digit in your score match the multiple of 11. Stop the timer at the end of the stage that you are playing in on an even number.One combination would be: 11 coins, 9,310 as your score, and the timer at 104. This only works in worlds 1, 3, 5, and 6.

  18. EmperorNortonI says:

    Not counting games like rogue-likes or Civilization, which are meant to be played over and over, I’m really not sure if I have actually done a proper re-play, ever.  I’ve quit midway through games that I figured I’d messed up too badly, and then restarted from scratch.  That doesn’t happen so much anymore.  I’ve gotten to bad endings or distinctly sub-par wins, and actually felt satisfied, as that was simply the ending I’d earned.  (King of Dragon Pass, and perhaps Planescape:Torment).  One game I felt tempted to re-play was the original Quest for Glory, where I was curious about all the special Rogue stuff, but I don’t think I actually got around to doing that.   Technically speaking, playing through Warcraft and Warcraft 2 from each side wasn’t a replay, though in fact the missions for each side were such mirrors of each other that by the end it did rather feel like a replay.  This was much the same for Mechwarrior 2.  Recently, it’s been pretty rare that I play a game where replay is a meaningful concept, so it’s not been such an issue.  Blarg


    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      That’s what’s so great about it!  I thought the ass-and-ball sucking mechanic in Origins was woefully underdeveloped.
         When I played II, I thought, “Finally! That’s some serious sucking!”

    • GaryX says:

      ZMF comes in to tell it like it is.

      Agreed. I really wanted to like it, but that game just fucking sucks.

    • ganondorn says:

      Damn straight. DA2 is shit, especially on the heels of the masterpiece that is Origins. Respawning maps? Fuck off with that bullshit.  Did they think people wouldn’t notice that they are going to the same isolated paths and abandoned warehouses over and over? Inexcusable.

  20. JokersNuts says:

    I would have paid money to see you play Mike Tysons Punch Out that well. When I was 7, the thought of anyone actually beating Tyson was like some myth or tall tale, I just couldn’t imagine it as real. You would have been like a gaming god.

  21. Sharkfight says:

    Shadow of the Colossus: This is a game they would just make a damn current-gen sequel to. I would not care one bit if the gameplay and controls are identical. SotC holds a special place in many gamers’ minds for good reason. The first play-through is about learning the skills and tactics needed to take down the beasts. Next time around, you want to make those beasts your bitch. It demands an immediate second play, and I demand a next-gen sequel!

    • GaryX says:

      Well their sort-of sequel has been going on for years now. Doubting it’ll ever come out.

      • Sharkfight says:

        That isn’t a sort-of sequel, though. Totally new game.

        Was the HD upgrade on PS3 any good? No PS3 here.

        • GaryX says:

          Well, I figured some of the mechanics would likely be an evolution of it, and since SotC was a prequel to Ico, I was just expecting it to be in the same universe.

          I don’t own the upgrade, but it’s supposed to be pretty great and fixed all the framerate problems. I read rumors, though, that shipping that thing totally fucked up development of The Last Guardian even more though.

  22. Crusty Old Dean says:

    I love playing games for the second time. 

    For starters, I already know I’ll like it (I give up on quite a lot of games after 10 hours or so because they just don’t grab me). 

    Secondly, there’s just something very comforting about already knowing the general beats of the story, when to prepare for a big battle, when to stop and explore, etc. Especially in jrpg:s I enjoy doing customization and such “the right way” from the very beginning.

    The exception to this is probably Super Mario Galaxy-type games where there is a kind of joy in never knowing what is just around the corner.

    P.S I thought we all agreed years ago to just call it FFVI.

    • Chum Joely says:

      Wow, you get 10 hours in before you make up your mind on liking or not?  I couldn’t get past 2 hours if SOMETHING didn’t grab me pretty quick.

      • Crusty Old Dean says:

        Well, it’s usually games that are really very good (recent examples being The Last Story, Assasins Creed 2, Uncharted 3, LA Noir…) so that I feel I have to give them a fair chance before ultimately concluding that I’d rather be reading a book or something.

  23. The oh-so venerated Half-life 2 fell flat for me the first time around (I think I kept failing the first sequence where you need to escape the apartment in city 18) and I left it alone for quite a while. I also think all of the “BEST GAME EVAR” hype turned me off to it.

    Eventually my room mate started playing it on Xbox 360 and I admitted that it looked pretty cool.  So I went through and gave it another run and found a really good puzzle-based FPS with clever mechanics and good atmosphere.  I busted through the base game and the subsequent episodes, finding the end of Episode 2 to be especially exhilarating and exciting, and now I’ve been waiting for Half-life 3…

    Waiting oh so long…

  24. molly_man says:

    When I played my first Hitman game (Silent Assassin), I didn’t know that you were supposed to use stealth to accomplish the missions (duh).  I played the game “wrong” the first time through, mowing down anyone who got in my way.  Later I looked at a walkthrough, and learned that I totally missed the point, so I did it again, the super-sneaky “right” way.

  25. SamPlays says:

    I’ve rarely replayed games in my adult years but it was “de rigeur” in my youth. All of the classics and not-so-classics (Orb 3-D anyone? Remember Astyanax? Bayou Billy?) were replayed to death but this is what young kids do with their time. It’s how a child’s brain is wired. As a young adult, I was still replaying games. While completing my Master’s degree, I spent A LOT of time replaying SSX Tricky (Teti is wrong – this was the best one) and the original Jak and Daxter. I may have even gone through MGS2 twice. However, I haven’t really dedicated much time to replays over the last ten years. There’s a lot of titles I think I’d love to revisit because I enjoyed them immensely the first time (Batman, Red Dead Redemption, Deus Ex: HR and the list goes on) but I feel like it would ultimately be a big waste of time. I often have thoughts of replaying games as I’m playing them for the first time, thinking how much better it could be a second time. There’s something appealing about this idea – demonstrating expertise and understanding can be a satisfying experience. Yet I never follow though on this base inclination. Sometimes a replay is intimidating (I can’t imagine spending another 40 hours with Fallout 3, no matter how different it might be a second time). Sometimes it’s blatantly pointless (why would anyone play Uncharted twice?). I’ve gotten to a point where I’m just as satisfied by my initial experience, regardless of how imperfect it might be. I COULD replay Deus Ex: HR because I mastered the stealth mechanic and understand the value of each upgrade but somehow that “revised” experience seems better suited as a hypothetical than something forced into existence. I’m happy to have my own experience; I don’t need to have every experience possible. Anyone else feel the same way?

  26. indy2003 says:

    Super Mario Bros. 2. The first time I played it, I found it a crushing disappointment. What was this crummy imitation posing as a Mario game? After the sheer joy of working my way through the previous installment, it was a sizable letdown. I put it aside pretty quickly and moved on. However, a few years later I returned to the game and was able to appreciate it as an reasonably entertaining experience on its own terms.

  27. Jason Eddy says:

    I think the “second-time through” scenario that works best for me is when you carefully go through and study everything, collect all the power-ups, take another route, etc. My favorite experience of this kind was Metroid Prime. It was so much more enjoyable to sort of take in the story and atmosphere, scan everything, etc. without frantically looking around for whatever was attacking me. Speed runs can be fun too, the best ones being in the Sonic games on the Genesis.

  28. stakkalee says:

    I know the Civilization games shouldn’t really count since they’re really more simulators than they are “games”, but damn do those things have replay value, at least for me.  With some sim games, like the various SimCity games, I feel like I’m designing a watch – I put the pieces in place, make some tweaks, and then the city ticks on without much outside intervention.  With the Civ games it feels more open-ended, like I’m given a set of tools and then set free.  You want to build an expansive, militaristic empire?  Have at it!  You want to build an insular, religious community that shuns outside trade?  You can do that too!  You want to make a civilization of intellectuals, the envy of the world?  Go for it!

    And I know I talk it up tons, but really, if you’re a fan of the Civilization series you owe it to yourself to get the Fall From Heaven mod.  This is just a superbly balanced mod that a bunch of people put an enormous amount of work into, turning Civilization 4 into a sword-and-sorcery epic that’s just as open-ended as the regular game but with much more variety.  Every time I play a FfH game I learn something new about it, from options that are only available to certain civs, to interesting ways to use some of the world wonders, to a little bit of “history” one of the developers stuck into the Civilopedia, just because.  It’s an epic mod, and it lends itself very well to those little stories you make up about your civilization as you play.

  29. Fluka says:

    I almost never play games twice, for the same reason I almost never read books or watch movies twice.  I always feel like I’m wasting my time when I could be discovering something fresh and new.  But RPGs make me break that rule sometimes.

    Obvious recent answer is Skyrim.  Mostly because it took me three separate characters to finally *enjoy* the game, whereas with Morrowind and Oblivion I made it far into a single playthrough with my first character.  Part of this is just due to my finally finding a play style (stabby stealth) that was more interesting to me than “attack and run backwards and attack again” with the fighter and mage builds.  Another part was building up the patience to do the whole role-playing thing by camping and finding inns to sleep in at night, getting married, making up a storyline for my character, etc.  And finally, a lot of it was that my husband had tricked out the game with tons of new mods.  It really is a sandbox in both a good and bad sense.  You only get as much out of the game as you bring to it, so there’s always the chance of something new.  Though sometimes I still stop and say “Christ, if I’m gonna be imagining so much of the game myself, why don’t I just go and write my own story?”

    Otherwise, I’m doing a long term Mass Effect 2 re-play as well, too, which is almost done.  Priya Shepard is taking all the renegade jackass options I mostly avoided the first time.  (Plus: romancing Thane!  Who is dreamy, etc.)  I am slightly trepidatious about going through Mass Effect 3 with this character, though.  Lots of people gonna die.  Enemies, squadmates, friends, entire races.  It will be glorious, and I will feel very guilty.

    • stakkalee says:

      Stabby stealth is my preferred play style as well.  Once I dropped a few points into the Illusion skill tree to get the Quiet Casting perk I was able to get up to all sorts of wacky hijinks.  I AM getting a little tired of the “slitting the throat” cinematic, but the animation from my enchanted dagger is just so cool that it’s still worth it.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      Playing Skyrim on the Xbox has more or less convinced me that I should never play a Bethesda RPG on a console again. If my computer can’t run it, then I should just suck it up and wait until I upgrade to buy it, at which point I can add all the mods to my heart’s content. Bethesda frequently adds things that seem like good ideas (you can get married!) but then don’t do enough to justify their existence. I will give them credit for doing a lot to nurture their modding community to make up for those glaring deficiencies, though.

      • stakkalee says:

        That’s been my one lament – I played Morrowind on a PC modded out the wazoo and it was awesome.  For Oblivion and Skyrim I’m playing on an Xbox and while it’s still fun I do miss the customizability you get playing on the PC.  Every once in a while I hear rumors and whisperings that MS will open up the platform to allow user-created mods for TES games, but we all know that will never happen.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep saving money for that dream gaming rig.

        • Fluka says:

          I played Oblivion over the long summer after graduating college, when I was first dating my husband.  I absolutely loved the game, and got sucked in *bad* (and got completely reintroduced to modern games).  But I couldn’t understand why so many people were complaining about the leveling, the homogeneous environments, the weird looking characters and clothing, etc.

          Until I realized that Mr. Fluka had completely and totally overhauled almost every single aspect of the game with mods.  

          (So yeah, yaaay PC gaming!)

  30. D3ADP0OL says:

    Gotta say I agree with most of these picks.  Check out to read about some more games that deserve a second look

    • George_Liquor says:

       I’m surprised Little Nemo made that list. It’s a fun game to be sure, but I remember it being pretty popular.

      • D3ADP0OL says:

        Yeah, nostalgia has that effect.  That’s why they’ve got the actual sales data posted whenever possible to remind us just how few people recognize a great game when they’ve got one

    • duwease says:

      Haha nice, I’ve played at least half of these extensively.  I guess I’ve been a video game nerd for a long time now..

  31. Treymoney says:

    When I was a kid, my local mom-and-pop video store had Final Fantasy III. I would rent it every other weekend and make it to the World of Ruin. Sometimes, I would even get to Kefka’s doorstep before I had to return the game on Monday. And when I would rent it again the next Friday or two, my game would invariably be erased and I would have to start over. I’ve played that game so many times.

  32. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Metroid Prime 2:Echoes was much more enjoyable the second time by virtue of of playing it on the Wii.
       Echoes was a significant difficulty uptick from the first Prime.  The too-drawn out boss battles combined with the Gamecube’s patented anti-ergonomic layout resulted in my having clenched, arthritic claws after a play session.
       Revisiting it on Wii’s Prime collection was, in comparison really satisfying.  While the limited ammo and pedantic life-draining dark world sections remain unnecessary frustrations, playing with the Wiimote smoothed out a great many of the game play wrinkles.
       The art direction as well, remains second-to-none.  The suit variations in particular are a great and imaginative divergence from the usual Varia Suit iterations.

    • GaryX says:

      The first Prime is still the best, I think, but I thought Echoes was a surprisingly great and ballsy game–especially considering the quick turnaround on the sequel. It was impressively difficult too. I remember the boss that you get the speed boost from being a total fucking bitch to beat. It was great to see staples like the screw attack return.

      I thought the art direction in the normal worlds was great: the sky city or whatever was particularly enjoyable. On the other hand, I found the dark world to be a little dull and repetitive. They could’ve done more with it.

  33. uselessyss says:

    I think Halo might be the one for me. It’s not an RPG, and you progress linearly through the same levels every time, but I never really appreciated the combat until the second play-through on Heroic difficulty.

    Really having to fight for every win made me appreciate the “triangle of awesome” or whatever they call the gun-grenade-punch trio of offensive options. Every time I would reload a save, I could try different tactics and the enemy AI would respond differently, and that seemed incredible to me. I never really got the elegance of the strategic gunplay on Normal, where I could chuck a bunch of grenades and get through all right.

    • GaryX says:

      Halo is a series that I think actually makes sense to play through on harder difficulties. The way the game changes is dramatically noticeable.

  34. The games I tend to play  (RTS / TBS/ empire simulations) tend to lend themselves to multiple play thru. In fact it’s almost a requisite for many of them as you’re guaranteed to make a few game ending mistakes the first few times. Once you figure the games system out though, it’s usually fairly easy to achieve victory.

    Romance of the Three Kingdoms 8, however, stands out in my mind. It had an amazingly complex system that would recreate the events of the fall of the Han Dynasty. As long as you didn’t mess history up. However, as you can make your own character, you can drastically alter events. This can lead to you either taking on a similar role of a historical character, (Oh, you’ve deposed the Emperor and replaced him with a puppet figure being manipulated by your Eunuch advisers? Ok, you’re basically Dong Zhuo, and here’s how people reacted to him.) Or you do something that no one else did, but that the game then extrapolates based on the characters personality how they would react. Combine this with a database of the 500+ viewable events and you have a completionists nightmare/day-dream.

    Some of the events were ridiculously specific as to what would trigger them as well. Sets of stats would have to be specifically high or low, your fame needed to be between two levels and you had to have a certain item or amount of trust with one of the 600+ characters in the game.

    This made it so that each time that you played, though the end goal was the same, the path there was so very different and the characters that populated those events different enough, that it would create a very compelling story. The death of a well liked character was all the more devastating as it was not always guaranteed to happen, and often times it was due to your own action or inaction, so it felt like it was your fault they were dead. Plus, once you finally unified China, you got a quick little “history lesson,” of how the modern times viewed your ascent to power. Nothing, for me at least, has been quite as humbling or legitimate in gaming as finding out that my bloody tyrant’s empire toppled only a few years after his assassination because, well, that’s what happened to bloody tyrants and now he’s just a footnote in a history book.

    Unfortunately later entrants to the series sacrificed this story telling mechanic for a more formulaic system with much better graphics. I’ll admit that the graphics for 8 were atrocious, honestly they were SNES bad, and I was playing on a PS2, but so much was put into the technical side of the story telling that it’s still tops of my replay list.

  35. George_Liquor says:

    Like @twitter-15878210:disqus , my paragon Commander Shepard was a boy scout, while my renegade Commander Shepard was a  psychopathic femme fatale. What does that say about both of our dark, misogynistic tendencies?

  36. Fallout: New Vegas. I bought the Collector’s Edition day one, expecting a a game just as good or better than FO3. What I got was a buggy, unengaging slog that I didn’t get half way through. Cut to now, where I have logged sixty hours traversing the Mojave Wasteland in a game that is (surprise) just as good or better than FO3. I suspect I might be because I was caught up in the hype I had created for myself that dissipated over the years to the point I can just play it for the great experience it is.

  37. caspiancomic says:

    Nice caspiancomic from the present:

    I’m surprised by how many people say they don’t often replay games, because I replay my favourite games all the time. Pretty much any game in my top ten I’ve played somewhere between five and a dozen times, which is easy for something like Sonic 2 that you can beat in an afternoon, but more of a feat for a game like Suikoden II that takes 60 hours even when you know exactly what you’re doing.

    On the topic of games that are more fun the second time around though, I’m probably going to say Kingdom Hearts II. I was a huge KH fan in late high school, and II came out my first year at university. I devoured the game over Christmas break in only a couple of days, and really liked it, although not as much as I liked the first one. Then, over a period of months and years, doubt began to creep in. The various KH titles that Square released in the years since II saw generally diminishing returns. Meditation on the story of II led me to realize it actually kind of made no sense, and was pointlessly over complicated and poorly told.

    Finally, two years ago or so, during a period when I was basically bedridden with sickness and replaying old games by the handful, I decided to revisit KHII, fully expecting the rose coloured glasses to have come off, and thinking I would be able to see it for the competent but disappointing sequel it really was. Instead, I ended up liking it even more than I had the first time around. I don’t know if it was just because I went into it with my standards artificially lowered, or if it genuinely is a better game than I was giving it credit for, but my second time through Kingdom Hearts II I had an absolute blast.

    Evil caspiancomic from the future with mysterious unexplained scar:

    Definitely Persona 3:FES. Playing the first time through was a great deal of fun, but it took me several in-game months to really understand the rhythms and mechanics of the game, and it weighed heavily on my mind that I couldn’t get my academics/charm/charisma to budge (I was a dumb dullard in high school in real life, Persona, I’m looking for escape here!). My second time through, though, I already knew how to work the game most efficiently, I was already King Cool, I knew where to find a bunch of S-Links I never had the time for in my first playthrough, and I generally approached the game with more competence.

    • Jackbert322 says:

      WAIT WAIT WAIT. Did you finish Persona 3??? Or is that your future self who did. Because there’s no way you can finish before me, you’re supposed to be working hard in university, and I’m just some silly teenager with too much free time. January 5th, that’s all I’m gonna say.

      • caspiancomic says:

         I haven’t finished it yet, but in the future I will have, and when I came back I didn’t close my loop, so that’s how evil future caspiancomic with a mysterious unexplained scar was able to enlighten us all about his future gaming experiences. He also said to stop drinking tap water and close your Facebook accounts.

        (Personally, I haven’t had a chance to play for like a week straight now, and if memory serves it’s still November in my game. I got some catching up to do this weekend!)

        • Jackbert322 says:

          All right, good. Yeah, December doesn’t take too long. I spent Christmas with Yuko, she liked the teddy bear I gave her! Future @Jackbert322:disqus with eyepatch sez DON’T VOTE FOR ME IN 2044!

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      I decide to replay Kingdom Hearts II from time to time, but then the memory of the Little Mermaid music minigame draining me of all masculinity resurfaces. I know it’s an optional segment and I should really just deal with it, but I can still recall the panic that set in when my roommate’s parents walked in on me midway through “Under the Sea.”

      What a stupid post I have written.

  38. Rollo says:

    Scott Jones is my hero.

  39. MisterFishes says:

    I am so glad Just Cause is getting some love. That shit is so much better than GTA 4. 

  40. His_Space_Holiness says:

    Wanting to revisit a work of art — be it book, movie, TV episode, or game — is the hallmark of quality for me, and I know my favorites in each category by how often I decide to experience them again. But the one game that actually got better for me the second time is Oblivion. Mainly because on my first playthrough I had no goddamn idea what I was doing and played as a spazzy Breton mage who got mauled by wolves a few too many times. I quit after uniting Martin and Jauffre and learning that I’d be expected to escort these two yahoos all the way north. No thank you.

    So I left the game unplayed for nearly a year, until I had a dream about it (yes, really!) and got an itch to replay it. Now I was a stealthy Argonian thief — stealth is now almost invariably my favorite playstyle in this kind of game — who eventually managed to slip through those goddamn Oblivion gate levels without being noticed. Nothing funnier than grabbing the gate orb right in front of a bunch of Atronachs and watching them flail around in panic as their dimension shuts down around them.

    I’m on my third playthrough as we speak, having finally gotten the nerve to try a mage again. The enemies I had the most trouble with the first couple times around — fuck you, trolls! — are proving delightfully flammable. The downside is that my magic skills are prematurely through the roof, so I’ve never not been ready to level through the entire game.

  41. Baldur’s Gate II is easily the game I’ve played through most. Like Final Fantasy III the amount of companions, the depth of their interactions and even the relationships that build between the companions themselves make running through the game multiple times a joy. 

    Even more than the companions, each romance is written well enough to be worth playing through again to experience, not to mention the fact that there’s the usual evil / good paths to walk with your allegiances to either the Shadow Thieves or Bohdi’s vampires.

    Coming from Bioware, you can really see the style and choices of the company that would go on to produce Dragon Age and Mass Effect, but to be honest, i prefer Baldur’s Gate to both of them.

  42. djsubversive says:

    huh. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t see Alpha Protocol here. The game is wonderfully reactive to every single choice you make (and you make a lot of them). Do you try to sweet talk the guard, bully him, or just start shooting? Are you friendly when you first meet your contact or do you slam his head into the bar? Have you kept a low profile since you’ve been in Rome? Have you killed (or even been detected by) American agents? Does your handler love you or hate your guts? [i]What kind of clothes are you wearing when you meet somebody?[i] (okay, so it’s more “are you wearing armor or not?” and it only happens a couple of times, but I think I’ve made my point)

    And the game rewards you pretty constantly with perks, for pretty much anything and everything you do. Piss somebody off? Have a perk. Sneak through a mission undetected? Have a perk. Stick to a conversation stance (aggressive/suave/professional)? Have a perk. Change up your stances? Have a different perk! They’re not anything huge or game-changing, mostly minor boosts to ability effectiveness, cooldown time, or bonus AP (experience), but they’re still handy. And it is nice to see “New Perk!” pop up.

    Alpha Protocol is an awesome reactive espionage conversation simulation with a mediocre “game” between the conversations. Go Pistols and Stealth to get through those parts as painlessly as possible (there’s still some pain), and fall in love with the conversations. Then play it again and do everything differently.

  43. Gospel X says:

    Personally, I find it difficult not playing through a game a second time. Video games do not make for a cheap hobby, even if you play used games and constantly trade them in. (And why would you want to do that anyway? If something is worthwhile, don’t you want to keep it?) To me, a game is only worth its while if it remains fun the second time through – or even more than that, if it immediately leaves in me the drive to play through it again.

    Looking at my avatar, it’s immediately clear that I feel that way about Mega Man games. The ones that have most consistently brought me back have been MM9, MMX and MMZXA. All very fantastic games with great level design.

    The only game to ever make me immediately play it again upon completion was No More Heroes. Couldn’t get enough of it.

  44. jianchidaozui says:

  45. D3ADP0OL says:

    I love going back and giving an old game a new look.  Check out  to read up on some more classic hits you shouldn’t miss out on