While the title of my blog is “Games for Kids”, with the purpose of such being to discuss games often overlooked by my age demographic, that does not mean I do not also play more “mature” games, such as the likes of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. In fact, I would consider the former a hallmark of my middle school years; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the first M-rated game I ever played, and I remember being pretty blown away by how realistic the graphics looked (for the time, that is). However, after the stellar Black Ops II, the series started to become rather stale, stagnating once it moved from the PS3 and Xbox 360 to their next-generation counterparts, the PS4 and Xbox One. As such, I lost interest in Call of Duty, and have not followed the series as of late.
The bottom line: I actually do enjoy shooter games, but I had been somewhat dissatisfied with the “rut” in which many triple-A games in the genre had fallen into, often feeling like the “same game every year”, with little improvement to the core gameplay mechanics, uninspired, generic storylines, and feeling increasingly like watching a movie rather than playing a video game. Game developer Blizzard Entertainment likely took note of all this when developing their take on the first-person shooter, Overwatch. Already famous for their work on World of Warcraft, Blizzard’s newest game was met with glowing praise when it released in 2016, lauded for its unique spin on the genre.
Naturally, I was intrigued, and after looking at a few reviews online, I asked for Overwatch for Christmas of 2016, which is how I received it. Almost immediately, I was hooked. Not only was it a fun, polished experience, but it was aesthetically very pleasing; unlike the typical gritty, realistic graphics of most modern shooters, this game, as many have said, “looks like a Pixar movie”. Although this may be a turn-off to some, I find that it makes the game run better overall, as less detailed textures leave more resources for it to run at a silky smooth framerate. Besides, the more upbeat and lighthearted atmosphere of the game as a whole is certainly a breath of fresh air.
In addition to the visuals distinguishing themselves from how they look in similar types of games, I greatly admire the variety and myriad of options that Overwatch provides to the player. Instead of having the choice between, say, an automatic firearm, a shotgun, or a sniper rifle, you have the option to select one of more than twenty superhero characters (pictured above), each with their own special abilities. For example, one character can “rewind” herself back to a previous location, whilst a robot can transform himself into a stationary turret gun. These characters make for a different experience each match, keeping the game’s admittedly low amount of maps fresh.
I see Overwatch as a “best of both worlds” sort of game; you have the basic, mainstream template of a first-person shooter combined with “Nintendo-esque” creativity and lightheartedness. As such, it is a game that a very wide audience can enjoy, and I personally recommend it to other gamers as an “introduction” to the type of game I like the most.