Tell Us Dammit

Tell Us Dammit

It seems as though it’s been a while since I’ve had that feeling, the feeling when you play a game for the first time and you’re completely blown away, either by the mechanics or the visuals. For me at least, that ‘wow’ factor tends to occur closer to the start of console generations. What are some of your ‘wow’ moments in gaming?

I’ll never forget playing Mario 64 for the first time, or Half-Life 2. Donkey Kong Country on the SNES was another one for me, and Shadow of the Beast on Amiga. Man so many…

But enough about me, what about you? Let us know in the comments below.


  • The first time I took off flying in Mario 64. Yah, Wah YAHOO! I’m not sure anything will top that.

    A close second though is when I first stepped into Ashenvale in World of Warcraft and began to process just how big the world of Azeroth was, and (almost) NO LOADING SCREENS! I was excite.

  • Probably my biggest ‘wow’ moment of modern gaming was the first time I encountered the soldiers in Half Life. Back on my old Pentium 233MMX with a 12mb Voodoo2 on a 2mb Trident onboard graphics.

    The AI had me literally sitting in front of my PC going ‘HOLY SH**T!!!’ Seeing an AI enemy tossing grenades at me while I was in cover, splitting up and flanking me, and sometimes retreating when outnumbered was absolutely mind blowing at the time. Previously, we’d only been privy to enemies that walked in a straight line at you, or around things in a highly predictable fashion.

    This was a whole new level. Still makes me smile to this day. God bless you, Valve.

  • Doom. My 13 year old brain convinced me it was photo realistic.

    Shadow of the Beast on the Amiga was a good one. Seeing Elite in colour and filled polygons was neat, but Beast pretty much left our jaws on the floor for weeks.

    Watching To Kill A Mockingbird on the couch with Jenny in The Darkness had me giddy for weeks. And games still aren’t doing stuff like that on a consistent basis.

  • That moment in the first Metal Gear Solid when you realise whfg nsgre lbh vachg gur guveq CNY pbqr gung lbh’ir orra urycvat gur greebevfgf nyy nybat.

    • For those wondering, no he didn’t have a seizure mid sentence. In unwritten Kotaku rules, spoilers are written in ROT13, and can be deciphered at rot13(dot)com

      • Well in that case:
        Onfuvat gur rireybivat cvff bhg bs gevnatyr gb znxr Byq Fanxr penjy qbja gur zvpebjnir pbeevqbe gb fnir gur jbeyq juvyr pngpuvat favccrgf bs nyy gur fhccbegvat punenpgref svtugvat gb gurve irel ynfg juvyr gur znayvrfg grnef va uvfgbel fgernzrq qbja zl snpr va ZTF4.

  • The moment in Heavy Rain when I realised how much I cared for my characters – the fourth test the dad was given.

    The beginning of my journey in Ocarina of Time.

    Bioshock being as good as it was. I knew it was meant to be good, but DAMN.

    Putting characters onto the portal in Skylanders.

    More too, but I’m hungry. *waddles off*

  • Mirror’s Edge actually managed to have this effect on me the second time through, when I actually paid attention to just how well they crafted things. Particularly how they handled the first person perspective.

    I honestly cannot think of a game that better handled first person and made it feel like you were actually occupying a body instead of being a floating camera with a gun.

    • Sticking with recent examples:

      Uncharted 2. It’s just so damned pretty.

      Warhammer 40k: Space Marine. The combat. It was just so damned fun. Weighty and visceral, you felt like you were actually wading through the orks that you mowed down with your chainsword.

      So much fun. So satisfying. Loved it.

  • Playing Command and Conquer for the first time. Hearing the Cruiser shooting at the Nod turret as it patrolled the coast for me in the first GDI mission. I was instantly hooked on CnC.

    Then came the EA ‘games’… and sadness.

    • Too true, however I did particularly enjoy Tiberium wars, but CNC4 and RA3 are my least favorite ever, in fact I never played CNC4 past the first mission, no point..

  • The cutscene opening A Link to the Past. It ended with Link in his room and it took me ages to work out the cutscene was over, that this was actually the game, and I could control it!

    Getting a sword for the first time in Skyward Sword is probably the best recent experience.

    • Amazing game.

      Back when you could actually play SP game campaigns in co-op without the devs insisting “it doesn’t make sense” is a legitimate excuse not include the feature despite the fun factor.

  • Descent 1. The shareware version was on a PC powerplay CD and I installed it not knowing what it was. Mind blown. The cut scene after you blow up the reactor and escape the mine as the flames chase you out was breath taking as a youngster.

    Ocarina of Time (stepping out into Hyrule Field for the first time). Magnificent.

    And mirrors edge… To a degree. I think that was mostly the clean cut, futuristic, glass and steel design mixed with the epic soundtrack that gave you an awed feeling when playing.

  • Doom was my first experience (As Gooberman said, back then it was pretty incredible, even scary!) and the exploding plane scene in Uncharted 3 was my last one. It wasn’t because the graphics were anything new, or the special effects, it just happened so quickly and was a stunning, real-time in-game sequence…

  • Leaving the Imperial Sewers, walking down the gangplank in Seyda Neen, and getting completely lost in the first dungeon of Daggerfall.

    • Walking out of the office into Seyda Neen, looking at the physical map, looking at my surroudings, looking back to the map, realising the scale of the world… My 11 year old brain turned to mush.

  • when i played Soul Reaver 2, the first time you exit the Sarafan Stronghold, HOLYCARP it blew my mind how nice it looked…. nothing compared to todays standards, but they did so many things right in that game… facial animations, the way that you feet always made contact with a surface so your running looked semi realistic etc…

  • For me I have a few:
    Playing Banjo Kazooie and have so many different styles of attacks, abilities and ways to kill the different types of enemies.
    Creating a dwarf in Vanilla WoW, walking around in the starting area of 1-5, then running to through the tunnel to get to Kharanos and seeing how freaking huge the world was, plus how amazing the snowy white land was.
    Playing Jak and Daxter for the first time and being engrossed in the story about trying to turn your furry friend back to normal or saving the world. Loving all the characters, having little side missions and no loading screens on a console game.
    Uncharted 2’s beginning with trying to climb the train thats hanging off the edge of a cliff was also pretty freaking awesome

  • Two games of the late PS2 era:

    Okami, such an incredibly polished and surprising long game, basically a zelda game but better in every single aspect, and has such amazing environments.

    Dragon Quest VII, from the first time stepping out of the village and starting to grasp how big the world is (while getting my arse handed to me by the monsters), to the time i got the ability to fly _anywhere_, so damned beautiful, so damned sublime.

    • Actually on reflection, one game topped those two: Tales of Symphonia. Biggest ‘wow’ moment was, after assuming it’s yet another ‘find the 8 crystals, save the world’ bs plot, being told you’re about to destroy the world by doing so. and this was about 1/6th the way in. Amazing.

  • Crysis. Jumping out the back of a plane in my Nanosuit onto the tropical Ling Shan islands watching with awe and not knowing what I will face… But knowing it would be a beautiful adventure.

  • Recently?

    LA Noire – Realising the the gun play is a secondary importance to the narrative? In this day and age? Shows there is potential for mainstream games being more than just kill the guy with a funny hat.

    Mirrors Edge – Jumping from crane to crane abouth alf way through and realising the game mechanics are easy to learn but hard to master.

    Witcher 2 – Walking around Flotsam. A tiny little village in the middle of knowhere but still full of life. A truly great package that got the blend of gameplay mechanics, design and narrative just right.

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution – See Witcher 2. Showing reboots of old franchies can work with a updated but similiar game mechanics to the originals that made them a classic to begin with. Quality deisgn pays back in spades.

    Fallout 3 – Walking into a subway station (the one with the ‘vampires’) and seeing how detailed ruins and destruction can be. The game world you wander around in can actually tell a story itself.

  • There are so many, where to start.

    Dreamcast….all of eeet!

    Jumping off a huge cliff in Crysis and watching the world blur by as you fall into the water below.

    The weapons in the Turok on the N64 where as mind blowing as taking an arrow to the neck(knee!!!).

    I still remember Daytona USA (even with the PAL bars – read “widescreen”)on the Sega Saturn and The Panza Dragoon demo Sega sent the mugs(just me I think) who picked up a Saturn on day 1. The 360 degree(ish) environment and sweeping visuals, wow. One of the first times it felt like I had an arcade in the home 🙂

    Another would be SSX Tricky, it’s hard to think of a game where the visuals matched the fun,style and sound.

    Battlefield 1942 was mind blowing. I’d played online shooters and destroyed in them – SOFII double helix and Unreal tournament, but the interaction of BF really took my breath away. To ride on the wing of a spitfire, to parachute into the enemy base to drop a few landmines on the runway following stealing a jeep and roadkilling multiple nazis or playing the game “properly” that really blew me away.

    Also half Life as mentioned above, the soldiers AI was stunning at the time, I remember sitting in my uni digs with about 5 people crowded round a 15″ monitor and my mate crapping himself as a head crab lunged at the screen as I crowbarred my way down an air duct.

    Good times.

  • Snatching the controller from my cousin to play Super Mario Bros 3 for the very first time was pretty special. I wouldn’t give it back.

  • Sonic on MD was pretty spectacular at the time, I can’t remember a platform game that was “so fast”.

    WipEout 2097, I somehow missed the original, but this was originally played on a demo disc and I was completely hooked, the speed (again!), handling and art direction were top notch, again it was a different take on your standard racing games of the time. (of note, the original WipEout was purchased not long after also, and been a WipEout fan since)

  • Last time I got that feeling was probably Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It wasn’t because of state of the art graphics, but more all these little pieces of atmosphere coming together to create something so damn immersive. I got that feeling with Uncharted too.

  • Shadow of the Colossus during the first fight as I was dangling off the back of the giant beast and the score hit its high note.

    Red Dead Redemption for it landscape and believable world.

    Assassins Creed 2. Seeing how much the developers had listened to their audience and fans. IMO one of the bigest leap fowards for a sequal.

  • Entire Portal 2 Campaign and Co Op… Just totally surprised me with how great it was.

    First time looking over the river in RDR across to mexico.. gentle breeze, stunning visuals and it was late afternoon lighting was right… i literally stopped for about a minute and just sat in awe.

    Watching the top riders at Trials HD doing what they do and stil to this day thinking that they must be using a different bike than I am!

    First time out of the vault in Fallouut 3 (and the actual beginning sequence was totally unexpected)..

    Flying the dodo in GTA3

    intro sequence of farenhiet

  • Playing Super Mario 3.

    Playing Starwing on a SNES at a local BigW

    Seeing an N64 at videogames heaven with Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64 playing.

    Seeing Gran Turismo on a Psx at a local computer store.

    Playing Q3Test on a friends computer.

    Playing Devil May Cry and Dead or Alive on a rented PS2

    Seeing the physics and lighting demonstrations of Half Life 2.

    Playing Gears of War for the first time.

    Playing Street Fighter IV on an arcade machine at Galactic Circus WELL before the console release.

    Can’t think of anything more recent than that sadly.

  • -Running around outside the castle in Mario 64.

    -Entering Grunty’s fortress to the ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ music in Banjo Kazooie

    -Realising that I could do just about anything I wanted in GTA3.

    -Stepping out of the sewers for the first time in Oblivion.

    -Hearing things crawling in my walls in while playing Dead Space in the dark (curse you surround sound!) prompting me to turn the lights back on.

    • – Watching a replay in Gran Turismo 3 on the PS2

      – Everything in Wind Waker

      – Cruising along the Death Star in Star Wars Rogue Leader on the Gamecube

    • Oh yeah, Dead Space freaked the crap out of me. First ‘scary’ game I’d ever played and permitted me to only play it at night in the dark. As scared as I was, I wanted to fully experience it. but there were moments where I had to turn on the lights until I thought it was safe to turn them off again

    • Whilst Minecraft is a great game, there’s hardly anything ‘gasp’ or ‘whoah’ about it. Unless you count looking at someone else’s creations, which is sort of off topic here.

  • The first time I saw a storm in Red Dead Redemption.

    After I first land my ship in Metroid Prime and looking up in the sky, the rain hitting my screen. Dammit, this reminds me how well polished this game was and irritates me that so many modern games still don’t put in the same amount of work.

  • I think WoW was the second game to do that for me. I started off as a Tauren Druid and after teleporting to Moonglade, I had to use the Flight Master to get back. That bit flying through most of Kalimdor took my breath away.

  • Sonic – 1st time seeing it on MegaDrive. Wow

    Link to the past – the opening sequence with the rain

    Mario 64 – running around the castle

    Wave Race 64 – The water!

    Ocarina of Time – Leaving the forest and seeing Hyrule field

    Goldeneye 64 – Headshots FTW

    Resident Evil – Dogs jumping through the window

    Metroid Prime – Turning into the morph ball for the first time and seeing Samsus’s reflection in the visor during an explosion. Awesome attention to detail.

    Half Life 2 – Escaping the city

    Resident Evil 4 – chainsaw guys!

    Halo – the scale of the world and detail at the time

    All I can think of for now, great thread. Awesome memories

    • The dog-through-the-window in Resident Evil was probably the first time I ever actually jumped in genuine fright from a video game. Outstanding.

  • Final Fantasy VII. I went into this game completely cold. Rental copy. I had just gotten a PS1. My previous console before that was a Master System II and I’d grown up mainly playing PC and Mac games. FF7 completely changed what I thought you could do with a game. Tons of CG video, rendered backgrounds, ‘cinematic’ presentation (or what felt like it at the time). It was amazing.

    • Final Fantasy VIII was my first FF game, bought for me because it was on special by the old girl. Same effect though, the opening cinematic gave me boosegumps.

  • my favourite in game moment where my mind was blown?

    i hate to say it but when i first played cod 4 and the nuke went of while your playing as sergeant jackson, then BOOM

    crawling around going wtf do i do know nad then you just keel over and die, i remember playing that level 3 or 4 times over before i convinced myself it was an on rails thing and you couldn’t do anything to change the outcome

  • – Realising I’d spent 4 hours straight playing Age of Empires for the first time.

    – Feeling the sense of speed in Wipeout.

    – Seeing Ragnaros emerge for the first time in WoW.

    – Playing Donkey Kong Country for the first time (check out some of the music on Youtube – nostalgia overload).

  • Top 3 would be…

    Tetris – on the original Gameboy. Gaming bliss, having the battery go dead just to turn it straight back on and milk those last couple of minutes of life from it.

    Counterstrike – That first online kill back in version 0.6 back in 1999 on as_oilrig was memorable and resulted in serious addiction.

    Bioshock – My first major PC upgrade after several years resulted in pure amazement at the first scene with fire burning and the airplane sinking into the ocean depths.

  • Donkey Kong Country – Like a silicon graphics workstation in my lounge room! Especially the treetop level… drool

    Super Mario 64 – Climbing King Bob-Omb’s mountain for the first time

    Final Fantasy VII – My first JRPG

    Ocarina of Time – Epona

    Pikmin – The first sundown

  • Ok, noone’s gonna say it, so I will.

    ‘The Wall’ in Bastion. First time i’ve ever completely stopped in awe of a video game. This is especially surprising, cause I didn’t like Bastion (*ducks as fruit sails over his head*), I slogged through it, finished it, but have no intention of going back for NG+ or achievements.

    Also, the last level of Portal, the whole time my heart was going a mile a minute, and the satisfaction I got at the end is a gaming experience yet to be beaten (although Portal 2 is on my Pile o’ Shame).

    • I’d forgotten about the last level of Portal – that completely took me by suprise – everything up to then was test room, test room, test room. The way they switched it up on you was genius.

  • I must also add one that I’ve only remembered after my memory being jogged by Resident Evil.

    Standing out in the streets of Silent Hill back on PSX – completely surrounded by fog on all sides, zero visibility, the radio roaring static telling me enemies were close. Hearing said enemies scurrying about outside of my view. Me standing there shitting my pants holding a lump of wood, basically. (Or was it the fire axe? God I forget, it’s been a while) I was too scared to move.

    Man Resident Evil pioneered the ‘survival horror’, but Silent Hill mastered the true horror aspect of the genre.

  • One of mine was the opening sequence in portal3 where the chamber gets picked up and crashes into a testing chamber. Just amazingly realistic physics.

  • While I’m having trouble thinking of games that blew me away from the go, here are some that made me say ‘Wow’ and stuck with me.

    The Darkness – Jenny. It’s incredible how a character we hardly know can become such a strong narrative catalyst.

    The World Ends With You – I’m not usually a completionist, but this game seduced me and forced me to explore every inch of it.

    Donkey Kong Country 2 – One of the greatest platformers of all time.

    I’m sure there are more. I might post as I think.

  • The endings of Portal 1, 2 and HL2Ep2. Cave Johnson. The graphical style of TF2.
    Escaping Helgen and venturing across the vast environment of Skyrim.
    The destruction levels in Bad Company 2.
    The music in almost in every Mario and Zelda game (but one of my favourites would have to be Buoy Base Galaxy).
    Mowing down the hordes of enemies in the Serious Sam games.
    …That’s all I’ve got for now.

  • My most recent moment, has to be watching the character animations in RAGE. the animators were the real stars… though the texture work in RAGE – for those that could actually get it to work, is simply astounding.

    • This. The first time I noticed it was the strange little asian guy with the big hat in the first settlement you get to. (not the first gas station type one with John Goodman, the next one) Admittedly I got on to RAGE a month or two after it came out, so the problems were probably fixed, but I was pleasantly surprised. The voice acting and animation is top-notch. Need to get back on to finishing that one too….

  • Lemmings on DOS, Starcraft on PC, GoldenEye on N64, COD: Modern Warfare on PS3, Pixeljunk Eden on PS3, Uncharted 3 on PS3 🙂

    • Lemmings was a great game.
      I had an amiga 500 and played it on that. Just great fun!
      I still have that machine somewhere. i wonder if it still works.

  • 1) Flight simulator on one of the early IBM clones. choppy / blocky / amazing / unforgetable!
    2) OOT – just Wow!
    3) Doom – Lan – “boom, ……i am gonna get you for that, you ………”

  • Let’s see…

    The very first bunch of uber parkour moves like the first wall-run, wall-jump etc. and the resolution of the narration in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

    In the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, uncovering the Tower of the Gods, exploring time-frozen Hyrule Castle, the final battle against Ganon, in particular Link’s finishing move and the sailing, period! I never found it to be annoying, just relaxing, atmospheric and visually and aurally engaging.

    How awesomely Metroid Prime’s narrative unfolded through the atmosphere and the environmental flavour text. Also the amazing music!

    Psychonauts’ charming and incredibly engaging writing.

    • I gotta say at some point in Wind Waker I started to think, I reckon this is Ocarina of Time gone underwater, when it was confirmed it was the most pleasing moment of any Zelda I had ever played!

  • In recent times it’s hard to go past the first few moments of Bioshock. I’ll maintain ’til my dying breath that Bioshock should have been an RPG where you get the chance to experience the world and its people instead of just running around shooting at them, but that intro is just breath-taking.

    For wholly other reasons, I’ll add Planescape Torment, Beyond Good and Evil, Anachronox and Grim Fandango to the list – some of my all time favourites and among the few games with genuinely poignant emotional moments. The point around two thirds of the way through BG&E that’s listed as Enfants Disparus on the soundtrack in particular. Had to stop and have a shot of Scotch after than one.

  • Playing Age Of Mythology (after many years of AoE1&2), and seeing the tree physically fall when my villagers went to cut it down. Don’t know why, but I just loved that the tree actually fell down.

    That and awe when I first exited the sewers in Oblivion (coming from experiences in Morrowind, I knew it was going to be big, but the view distance just emphasized it so much).

  • Great topic

    Yoshi’s Island – so much of that game was at the bleeding edge of what they could do with 16 bit but the ‘Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy’ level was an amazing (so much so that even the GBA couldn’t properly emulate it!)

    Super Mario 64 was a massive wow moment for me, I feel sad that I played it before Tomb Raider though cuz it ruined me for Playstation’s clunky 3D controls in the early days.

    Tekken 3 in the arcade, the animation was first rate, the hits all had weight behind them and impact – brilliant.

    Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast – I loved Soul Edge/SoulBlade but it looked primitive compared to what the Dreamcast pulled off!

    Crazy Taxi – the first game that made me feel like I was driving around a real city (they tried it with San Fransisco Rush but that was just a race track dressed as a city) it was brilliant fun – then almost 8 years later I played…

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – it was late 2008 so people were already up to 360 and PS3 but not me, only 6 months before I’d bought a PS2 (after falling out of gaming with the languishing gamecube) and quite by accident picked up the generation’s best game – I couldn’t believe the detail they managed to cram onto a DVD, you could see the power lines FFS, you could play in the LA river, suddenly you weren’t just doing one thing in a game but a whole host of different things and when you weren’t doing them you could make your own fun – incredible.

    GTA IV – After getting obsessed with San Andreas I knew I had to get IV what I didn’t know was how improved the controls were – I played it at my brother’s house on a 360 the two things that blew me away – the incredible (to my eyes) photorealistic graphics, the way the aiming and shooting controls had been completely fixed from the PS2 games and then…

    The 360 controller – not only was I blown away by being able to walk around a room with a wireless controller but the 360 pad just fit my hand – it combined everything good about the last 3 generations of controllers – so I ended up getting one – then…

    Mirror’s Edge – back before the N64 I used to imagine what platformers would be like in 3D – Mirror’s Edge was the kind of thing I used to imagine – except unlike my dreams where I couldn’t see how it would work – this game worked really well!

    Team Fortress 2 – I tried Halo, I tried Call of Duty – flirted briefly with both of them, I only bought the Orange Box (360) to play Half Life and Portal, the first time I booted up TF2 there didn’t seem to be anyone playing, the second night I tried again and there were heaps of games going (I didn’t know at the time they only show the games with available spaces) At first it was a weird experience, no mini map or radar – but it was real easy to tell the teams apart, I still remember those first runs through 2Fort and Gravel Pit – how daunting everything seemed, how I didn’t know what the hell the objective was but I was compelled to play more – then I played as the Spy – wow I’d never seen this before – it was so genius, you have to disguise yourself and get behind enemy lines and take them out with subterfuge – it was a completely different game than running around with the rocket launcher, which was completely different to being the Engineer which had it’s own strategies – I remember the first time I set up my sentry out the front of the opposing fort but outside the field of vision of the other team who would run out and get gunned down as soon as they exit the Fort – man I wanna play that now!

    Finally Alan Wake – I played (through half of) it (on a rental) earlier in 2011 and it’s the first time I ever remember being blown away by a games’ story – I was heavily into Lost at the time so the first time I saw “Previously on Alan Wake” it blew my mind!

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