The RIFT Rewind: Top Video Games of 1999
11th September 2020
Welcome back to the RIFT Rewind party! This month, we’re celebrating our 21st birthday by training our trusty Time Telescope on a whole new area of 1999 culture. As any 90s kid will tell you, 1999 was a big year in the video gaming world. The Xbox was still years away and the Sega Saturn was pretty much DOA, so the console gaming battleground was dominated by the cream-coloured PC and the mighty PlayStation. Here’s a run-down of what the RIFT family was playing after work in the year we changed the tax refund game forever.
5) Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Survival horror at its finest. Resi 3’s Playstation launch sent ripples through the gaming industry that can still be felt to this day. Set 24 hours before its own prequel, the game followed series favourite Jill Valentine (the “master of unlocking”, according to Resi 1’s Barry Burton) on her mission to escape the zombie-infested Raccoon City. This entry in the series also saw the introduction of the Nemesis creature itself, settling forever the question of what could be scarier than a relentless, unstoppable bio-mutant that regenerates from almost any injury. The answer: a relentless, unstoppable bio-mutant that regenerates from almost any injury... wielding a rocket launcher.
4) Final Fantasy VIII
Following up perhaps the most beloved Japanese RPG of all time was always going to be a tall order, but Final Fantasy VIII manages to remain very much its own thing. From the opening scenes of Squall training with Seifer to the closing moments of (spoiler) moonlit romance between Squall and Rinoa, FF8 is a masterpiece of storytelling and gameplay. JPRGs aren’t necessarily to everyone’s taste, of course, but the critical acclaim and lasting appeal speak for themselves. An ideal entry point for players who want to try the genre but can’t quite handle the “bobble-head” art style that usually comes with it.
3) Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
The X-Wing games set a high bar for themselves, blending high-concept sci-fi storytelling with simulation-style gameplay sophisticated enough to satisfy geeks of either category. Alliance was basically a victory lap for the series, with better visuals, stronger storytelling and bigger battles than ever before. Add in a force-feedback joystick for maximum immersion and you’re in instant Star Wars heaven.
2) Unreal Tournament / Quake 3 Arena
Okay, we’re breaking our own rules a bit by putting these 2 games in the same slot, but the alternative is all-out warfare in the RIFT offices so we’re awarding joint 2nd place to both. Quake 3 Arena came from a place of power. Its tightly focused, small arena battles were honed to perfection, and its visuals were frankly astonishing for the time (curved surfaces in a 3D game? How was this even possible?). Meanwhile, Unreal Tournament came out of nowhere with brutal precision and a vast array of options, mutators and game modes. Take your pick, grab your weapon and we’ll see you out on the killing floor.
1) System Shock 2
We’re closing this list out as we started it, with a beautifully crafted sci-fi survival horror masterpiece. System Shock 2 was a triumph, a hybrid of first-person shooter mechanics and RPG progression that influenced the way games are made and stories told for decades to come. SS2’s spiritual successors alone feature the likes of the Bioshock games and Prey, all of which owe great debts and pay great homage to their acknowledged inspiration. Dubbed, alongside the original Deus Ex, one of the “twin barrels” of modern FPS innovation, System Shock 2 stands the test of time with its head held high, earning the #1 slot in our list this month.
So, did you spot any of your own favourites in our video game Rewind? Are you outraged that we missed out obvious contenders like Counter-Strike or Super Smash Bros? Wondering why we snubbed the likes of Aliens versus Predator and Silent Hill? Just want to show off your own expertise by name-checking Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000? As always, feel free to sound off on our Facebook page, and keep checking back for more RIFT Rewinds as 2020 rolls on.
If you're eyeing up one of the new console releases ready for Christmas or hoping for some good gaming deals on Black Friday, now's the time to check if you're due a tax refund. The average is around £3,000 for a first claim and that will get you some very nice kit.