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You are reading What We Played, a monthly column where we remember which games came out exactly five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years ago. In the May issue, we search for pirate treasures in Libertalia, try to prove we didn't kill any kings, drop pianos, chandeliers, and people from balconies at the best parties in Europe and America, and fight our way to freedom through the rocks of Mars.

5 years ago - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

What we played 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago: Uncharted 4, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Hitman: Blood Money, Red Faction
In the April issue, we saw off Dark Souls 3 and praised the developers of FromSoftware for burying their most successful franchise on time and with the proper honors. The entropy and depression of the dying world in the third part were felt so strongly that it was clear: there could be no question of any continuation - some universes should be allowed to die in peace.
And a month later, in May 2016, Naughty Dog also successfully completed the legendary series, which has been the real face of the PlayStation from the very beginning of the PS3 lifecycle. Only where Dark Souls 3 convinced the player that he could no longer live, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, on the contrary, hinted: it's time to finally let Nathan live like a human. And with the ending to which the protagonist led the most vivid and voluminous adventure in the history of the series, it was also impossible to argue. Sometimes a measured life with a family and the ability to spend a boring weekend on the couch is the biggest reward a seasoned treasure hunter can get.
Another interesting parallel asks here. If FromSoftware devoted the entire third part of Dark Souls to reflecting on the fact that the golden age of the series has passed and there is no chance of returning its former greatness (which means it's time to say goodbye to your beloved world), then Naughty Dog went from the opposite - pushed the quality bar of the last release so much high, so that it becomes clear to everyone: it won't be better than in A Thief's End - it's not even worth trying.
The title of "Game of the Year" from Gambling Mania Uncharted 4 was received by no means because of the lack of competition (in the same year, it was joined not only by the aforementioned DS3 but also by Doom with Overwatch ). She became the brightest impression and the biggest blockbuster of 2016 simply because she could not help but become. Complete with impeccable (as far as the word is generally applicable to stories in the spirit of "Indiana Jones") the plot in it was no less impeccable graphics, atmosphere, meticulous study of the smallest details, and, of course, an excitingly staged action game, from which the jaw fell regularly all 15 hours of passage. And, despite its five-year age, Uncharted 4 still does not seem to have aged: we have not yet waited for such a level of quality (and it is not yet known when we will wait) even on PS5. And in early May, the developers reported that in five years, as many as 37 million players have visited the game - and this even though all PS4 consoles since 2013 have released about 116 million.

10 years ago - "The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings"

What we played 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago: Uncharted 4, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Hitman: Blood Money, Red Faction
Ten years this month has struck "Assassins of Kings" - perhaps the key project in the history of CD Projekt RED, which finally took the Polish studio from the second echelon of game developers to the top league and turned "The Witcher" into a brand that became known throughout the industry. Not to mention the fact that it was the second part that laid the foundation for the construction of the legendary third: without this chapter of Geralt's adventures, "The Wild Hunt" would probably have been a completely different game, both in terms of plot and gameplay.
For many, "The Witcher 2" also became the first experience in the series: not everyone made it to the experimental and in many respects swaying first "The Witcher", but the second part, brought to mind, became a truly mass product. Although the barrier to entry was not that much lowered: instead of simplifying the battle to please a wide audience, CD Projekt, on the contrary, made it tense and unforgiving - to such an extent that even the training level at the beginning was not so easy to master the first time. A similar tough attitude towards the player persisted throughout the passage, and not only in terms of battles but also in terms of history. The Gamer portal succinctly described the plot of "Assassins of Kings" as the " Game of Thrones " on steroids"- and, admittedly, this is not such an exaggeration. Political intrigues, murders, and executions, conspiracies, bloody massacres, torture, sex, dialogues stuffed with swearing - in a word, a complete set of git that no other RPG of that time dared to do in such volumes (and the third part hardly surpassed its predecessor). Unpleasant choices had to be made at every step, it was not so easy to predict their consequences, and it was possible to derail the fate of key characters in a dozen different ways. The second of the three chapters of the story was completely divided into two completely independent branches with different characters and quests, depending on the decisions made in the first chapter.
A separate game event in 2011 was Triss's appearance on the cover of the Polish Playboy magazine - an unequivocal recognition of the importance of The Witcher for popular culture, for which the CDPR artists, who once glorified the first part with erotic pictures that were passed off as Geralt's sexual adventures, worked for several weeks on the most realistic "Photo session" naked Triss.

A rare case: we have a game that almost completely meets our expectations. This is a large (up to 20 hours only for the main storyline) RPG, which provides the player with fairly wide freedom of choice and does not forget that generally speaking, he needs to be entertained. There are even giant bosses here as if we are not talking about an action / RPG, but about some Japanese slasher like Bayonetta or the unreleased Asura's Wrath. Much more fun. There are, however, doubts about how all this will be perceived by people who are not familiar with the original source - but such "The Witcher 2" will hardly be interested in general. For those who still remember the first meeting of Geralt and Foltest and can repeat the name of the Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis ten times without hesitation, the game will be a real gift.

15 years ago - Hitman: Blood Money

What we played 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago: Uncharted 4, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Hitman: Blood Money, Red Faction
May 26 celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of Hitman: Blood Money - one of the most beloved games in the series and by far the best of the entire classic line. And although now most fans of the bald killer turned their eyes to three parts of the modern restart, where both the graphics are better, and the AI ​​is smarter, and the variability is higher, it was Blood Money, like the second "The Witcher" in the previous chapter, that made the series world-famous and gave it current face.
After the grim seriousness of the first three parts of Hitman, where the main condition for success was the elimination of the target by any means, "Blood Money" shifted the focus of each level from the effectiveness of the murder to its setting. Of course, the creative approach to business has been rewarded in the series before, but it was in Blood Money that "The Hitman" became exactly what we love him for now: a carnival performance full of black humor, where guns are much less effective than well-chosen costumes and gracefully orchestrated "accidents". In addition, the game began to directly punish the user for clumsy methods: got into an open skirmish, left behind a pool of blood, got caught on camera - and now Agent 47 is already showing off on the front pages of newspapers, and on the next level, every second passer-by recognizes his sparkling crown and instantly raises panic.
But such a ruthless system of recognition was more than paid for by the abundance of opportunities for covert passage. Replace the fake pistol in the theater with a real one, so that the murder of the actor takes place right on the stage, throw the piano on the victim's head, fill the grill with kerosene and arrange an “incendiary” barbecue, poison the newlyweds with a wedding cake ..., 47th received the maximum fee, and for it, it was possible to buy new gadgets and body kits for weapons. True, why the latter was needed, if in reality only a sniper rifle was used, and even then only on a couple of missions, is a big question. Some other innovations, such as the ability to hide behind a human shield in battle, turned out to be the same dubious decisions: why the hell try to go behind someone's back while shooting,
But, one way or another, Blood Money remained in history as the unequivocal success of IO Interactive and almost the best of the episodes of the Hitman in general (the ending left fans in awe, although no one really expected a particularly inventive plot from the adventures of Agent 47 ). Hitman: Absolution, which followed six years later, was already much more controversial.

Despite all the shortcomings and flaws, Blood Money is the best game in the series. The developers did not touch the gameplay and the original concept, adding to them some interesting features, a good storyline, and wonderful tasks. And you can not pay attention to those elements from which there is no sense - it is interesting to play without them.

20 years ago - Red Faction

What we played 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago: Uncharted 4, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Hitman: Blood Money, Red Faction
What we played 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago: Uncharted 4, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Hitman: Blood Money, Red Faction
And the last birthday girl in the May issue is the first part of Red Faction, a rather absurd sci-fi series of shooters that Volition played with before giving the world the even more absurd The Punisher and Saints RowIt would seem that by 2001 when everyone had already run across Mars ten times in Doom, it was not possible to surprise someone with shooting in the setting of the red planet. But then Volition pulled out of its sleeve an impressive trump card at that time: the destructibility of the environment. The original Geo-Mod engine made it possible to freely pierce not only glass and walls but also literally rock in its path - only missiles would be enough.
However, the trump card was taken out and put back into the sleeve. Despite the advantages of the engine, neither the power of the then iron, nor the developers' own forces could keep up with the ideas of Volition, and therefore the promised distractibility, in reality, turned out to be more decorative than key for gameplay mechanics. In the single-player campaign, the opportunity to bomb one or another obstacle was encountered only sporadically, and most of the time it was necessary to dutifully scurry along the corridors of the space station with a modest set of firearms. But even indestructible steel doors and walls were perfectly shot through so that the first wave of enemies from the machine gun could be laid down even before entering the next room. Multiplayer maps gave more freedom in terms of destructibility, but being able to compete against live players online or sit with someone at the PS2 in a split-screen mode in 2001 was still a privilege for a select few. But at least the AI ​​did not disappoint the virtual opponents - by the standards of that time, Volition's enemies turned out to be more than smart: they actively left the line of fire, hid behind cover, and, in general, created enough problems so that the player did not get bored in the middle of the passage.
By the way, you can play now: the original is on Steam and GOG, and for PS4 a few years ago they even released an updated version with support for wide screens.


Be careful on the roads: do not succumb to the temptation to destroy everything - it can go sideways. I learned this truth after I shot off the fasteners of the bridge on which the snipers were sitting. It was funny, and all would be fine, but on this bridge, I had to make a foot raid in the next mission. It is also very interesting to shoot at the bridge on which you are standing ...
And so - I recommend it to everyone. Game, game, and not shoot across the bridge.

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