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White Christmas Gaming

December 20, 2012

Christmas time is upon us once again, the first we celebrate as WeHave9Minutes, and let’s just say we are getting really excited over the possibility of playing some our favourite snow bound titles again to get ourselves in a real Christmas mood.

So one by one our team will tell you one of their favourite games which have that beautiful white stuff and how it gets them wishing it was really snowing outside.

LUNA – World of Warcraft WoWScrnShot_120612_131459 Once upon a time when my gnome rogue was young, I took her around exploring the world of Azeroth. Exploring has always been one of my favourite pastimes in World of Warcraft. The feeling of uncovering those hidden spots on the map is almost an obsession, and one of my best experiences online was when I finally landed that full world exploration achievement and could call myself The Explorer.

Before that happened I had many great moments as I travelled around exploring Azeroth. Seeing the sun rise over lush Wetlands, watching the rain fall in Elwynn Forest, where the first steps were taken, watching the snow fall in ice-covered Northrend. And in Dun Morogh. It was exactly in Dun Morogh I had one of the best moments exploring. I had been climbing for what seems like hours. My goal was to uncover the last spot on the Dun Morogh map: The Ironforge Airfield. At this time I didn’t have a flying mount, and I searched for a long time before I finally found a place in the mountainside surrounding Dun Morogh where I could climb further up.

I fell down many times. I died many times. When I said my gnome rogue was young, I meant it. She was in her most squishy state and I kept whispering apologies under my breath as I pushed her forwards. Eventually she made it up, and I stood on top of Ironforge, the deep dwelling of the dwarves, and looked at a majestic mountain of snow. And what did I see? Dwarves having the time of their life sledging down the mountainside in a fit of giggles. This was for some reason completely unexpected to me, but I enjoyed it so much I never again forgot this particular spot. Blizzard always had a sense of humour, and little Easter eggs like these are amazing. Eventually, and after a few additional deaths, I also uncovered the Ironforge Airfield. All in all, it was a good day for exploring. And I hope the sledging dwarves have brought a bit of white Christmas cheer to you, as they did to me.

MATTHEW – Batman: Arkham City (spoilers)

The snow in the second installment of the hugely successful Batman: Arkham games could be easily missed. It’s not the sort of blanketing effect that is in a lot of other games. It’s at its most noticeable when Batman is gliding through the air, with stray flakes accumulating onto his cloak like loose bits of dandruff. You’ll find the odd patch of snow in some streets, but largely, the effect is a light dusting rather than a heavy snowstorm.

Instead, the severity of the cold is portrayed through intercepted communications from random thugs. They wish Dr. Strange would at least send them a coat, or they’d complain about how bone-chillingly cold it is. Other senior thugs have access to this most precious of commodities in a dog-eat-dog city.

Later levels have you treading precariously on a frozen lake – over Penguin’s shark, Tiny – to rescue undercover policemen trapped in ice. And you eventually have a scuffle with Mister Freeze. As the cold doctor learns your various attacks, he changes the landscape to prevent Batman from trying the same attack twice. The room they fight in slowly turns more and more icy with each passing moment in a brilliant display of exercising player ingenuity. Check it out above at 7:34, though if you are planning on playing the game, don’t ruin the experience for yourself!

Winter in Arkham City is portrayed as a bitter element of the environment without being too obvious, Mister Freeze’s battle notwithstanding. It’s not a happy Christmas theme, with logs on the fire and fat, white-bearded men. The subtle additions of snow and dialogue create a winter that is not to be enjoyed, but is merely to be survived.

SAM – James Bond 007: Nightfire

Snow Guard takes some time out to practice his ‘yellow flower’ party piece.

You were expecting Skyrim, weren’t you? Nightfire is one of those games I spent hours playing. Surprising, some might say. It wasn’t the best in the world, and I’ll be the first to admit that. But where it fell down in … well, in most aspects, it made up for in its multiplayer. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I clocked on Nightfire, pissing off my siblings with guided missiles or the fantastically evil Ronin, let alone Oddjob’s Hat.

Despite the majority of the levels in Nightfire being snow-bound, after so many years of not playing it, the only maps I can really remember are the multiplayer map, ‘Skyrail’ and the single player, ‘Mission 2: The Exchange’. ‘The Exchange’ will always be one of my favourite levels in the game, simply for its first few moments of stealth gunplay in the snowy mountains of Austria. It sets the mood for the rest of the game and, although the graphics look hideously outdated, the gameplay was still enjoyable enough to make it memorable.

But ‘Skyrail’ will always be at the pinnacle of my mountain of Nightfire memories, simply for the amount of hours spent trudging through its snowy pathways, diving from skyrail cars or skittering around the castle like a man possessed in search of that elusive golden gun. The snow made it easy to pick out your enemies; black smudges against the otherwise pristine whiteness. It made that oh-so-satisfying rifle headshot just that little bit sweeter as you tracked your target, their floppy corpse making a pathetic snow-angel.

Dominating the map are the castle at one end and the ski chalet at the other. Little else puts me in the mood for winter than the image of a castle, looming darkly in the driving snow. The bitterness of a harsh winter captured in that one moment of seeing the stalwart staple of snowy landscapes, silhouetted against the setting sun. The chalet itself is the at the other extreme: hot chocolate by a roaring fire, surrounded by friends sporting this year’s must-have knitted marvels. Companionship, good times and relaxation. Perhaps this is a little flowery for Nightfire, but when I think about it, imagination is always my driving force.

ANDY – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Are you afraid because you want to make it to the other side, or because you are thinking about jumping? That’s what Christmas is like to Andy.

I had kind of a hard time picking the game I wanted to write about for this article. After having had a think, I remembered the cliff bit from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The bit where Soap is clinging to to the face of a mountain with nothing but his spiky slippers, the beard on his chin and the scripting keeping him from falling to his doom. MW2 isn’t necessarily my “favourite game with snow in it”, but let me elaborate.

This precarious position is kind of how I feel about Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy Christmas. I’m just very easily annoyed by all the bullshit of people pretending to be filled with the Christmas spirit, spoiled children getting more gifts than they deserve and people shoving adverts down my throat trying to make me buy things. The last bit happens even when it’s not around Christmas, but thinking Christmas will make me buy more unnecessary things than I already do really gets to me. But more on MW2 instead of my annoyance at Christmas.

I haven’t played MW2 for years, but I remember enjoying it. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Modern Warfare, but I have played worse games. Like Dragon Age 2 or Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was a very over-the-top game, as MW, but it didn’t make the same impact that the first game did. It just felt as if they were chasing the same high they got out of MW – without success. But that-cliff-bit-in-MW2-where-Soap-does-the-thing-and-your-character-almost-falls-off-and-all-that was a pretty fun level. I enjoyed the way the level started and it was fun seeing Soap again. But in the end I don’t have a lot of things to say about MW2. I really just wanted to tell you how terrible Christmas is.

I’m out.

MADS – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – Metal gear solid

shadowmosesheliport

Once upon a time, at Christmas day, a young lad sat by his TV screen. Upon his Playstation he would play – Metal Gear Solid the disc would say. As the game would load, a world of promise awaited the young lad. As he played through the game, a rich world he would meet – of sneaking, of shooting, of Snakes and foxes. Yes ’twas indeed Metal Gear Solid this young lad played, and ever so sad he was when it was over. So sad that he had to play it again, and so it went until his Playstation broke down, and the lad was ever so sad. Now, as the years passed by, the lad grew up into a strapping young man, with a great beard upon his chin, and a Playstation 3 at his TV.

Behold! At Christmas time a present upon his desk there was, from Santa to Mads it said, with a great red ribbon on. He opened the present with all haste, and saw it was Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. He inserted the game into his PS3, hoping it could lure him away from the cold winter night. As he played, he fell into the world – but it was not the same, and he took a break. The next day he sat down again, he’d come to combat the game with all his might, a glass of milk and a plate of cookies.

Oh behold, as the game lurched towards its ending! But, before the game could end, the young man shed a tear and cried “BEHOLD, the game comes back to Shadow Moses” as tears flowed from his eyes he was reminded of himself as a lad, playing Metal Gear Solid with Solid Snake. As he walked through the desolate complex along with Snake, Mads had flashbacks of when he used to game, of where he’d meet Revolver Ocelot, Grey Fox and all the others from Metal Gear Solid. And behold! Christmas was saved once again for Mads, for now he could get his yearly fix of Metal Gear Solid!

BEN – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PlayStation 3)

Of course it was going to be this, not only is Uncharted 2 my favourite game on the PlayStation 3 (potentially) but it’s got a whole snow-bound theme. Naughty Dog excelled with their water effects in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune so they wanted to push water one more stage further and show their technical mastery of the PlayStation 3 system, and since steam is so vaguely uninteresting to the eye, they decided Drake would be getting knee deep in some crisp, white, flaky snow. Nathan Drake is thrown head first into the Himalayas, and let’s just say he was nowhere near prepared for the white-out. Shot, tired and only wrecking his signature t-shirt and jeans, he crawls out into what feels like the coldest game environment in history. Even the flaming wreckage of the train carts and the fiery explosions of the oil tankers can not warm our hero up. You can almost feel the cold at your fingertips. It conjures that feeling of trying your hardest to grip while your fingers scream out in dull agony. Shivering and beaten, Nathan helplessly clambers away from the wreckage. All hope seems lost and he crumbles to the floor trying to gather any heat between his frozen limbs, its makes me shiver just thinking about it.

Nathan’s winter getaway hasn’t gone to plan

Of course, Nathan survives and the adventures continues. Awoken by Enma, a small Himalayan child, while her father Tenzen hands Drake a steamy mug of something (I’m sure it’s some kind of herbal tea) you can almost feel the warmth soak back into Drake’s body. That feeling of being contented and safe. It’s the same feeling you get from coming in from the bitter chill of Snow, the flakes melting on your clothes as you step back into your house, having a big smile plastered on your face, your hair wet from the snowballs and the rolling around in the tracks of white stuff. There is of course the greatest lesson to take from Drake’s snowy ordeal and Christmas itself: there is always hope, compassion and good in this world, you just have to get inspired.

Image Links: SwitzerlandIsYours.com, GameSpot: Image of MGS 4, IGN, blakesnyder.com

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