Toby recounts the fantastic contributions that THQ have made to FPS gaming.
By Toby McCasker on November 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm
THQ have been falling to bits for a while now. It’s hard to pin down exactly when it started, but I noticed whispers of their decline around the time Homefront came out and, er, didn’t do very well at all. One game-bomb can’t sink a veteran cruiser this big, but then Red Faction: Armageddon spectacularly failed to hit the mark for many a gamer (why, I still don’t know. I love this game) and it seemed more or less official: The good ship THQ was in trouble. Trouble that persists and appears increasingly dire, as this week’s news will attest.
If it all comes to a calamitous end, that’s a hopelessly weeping shame. Not just for the men and women who work there, but for gaming as a whole. A shadow of their former self they might be circa right now, but when I think back and think hard (it hurts), I realise that THQ have put out a tone of games that rendered an absolute if frequently unsung service to the endless and gratifying pursuit of blowing things up. One of my gateway drugs to the fifth generation of gaming’s firefights was a THQ title. The original Red Faction, in fact. Prior to discovering the beauty of railguns that could see through walls argh, I’d gotten pretty down on gaming and had committed myself to becoming a tethered swimming champion.
The day I sent an Ultor war machine plummeting through the crude hole in a rock bridge I’d just made with the rocket I’d let fly with no expectations of awesome devastation on that kind of level was the day I rediscovered The Precious. Red Faction II copped a critical beating and while it did stray from Parker’s epic Martian misadventure in a narrative sense, goddamn it, that’s Jason Statham flying me places.
True, those were ten years ago. Okay, seven years ago: The Punisher. I don’t read the comics, but I played this game. Oh baby did I play this game. At that point I’d never experienced a shooter that made me feel physically ill in a profoundly great way, and this was it. The vague monotone censoring fuzzed over the reprehensible (and glorious) violence of the environmental kills did little to prevent scar tissue forming over whatever lobe is the one that used to be responsible for crying me to sleep. You think The Darkness II took brutality to another level? This did it first.
Still, 2005. Groan, come on. What’ve THQ done for me lately? S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, for one. Hot dang if that game wasn’t a flawed masterpiece of spiritually Falloutish glory. Fumbling in the subterranean dark with Metro 2033 was the logical next step for most, and I get uncomfortable and kind of itchy just thinking about it. I can’t recall another game that gives me a rash quite like this one. Maybe Haze, but for an entirely different reason. Man, that thing can get fu-
Hey, I’m neglecting Saints Row: The Third and that simply will not do. Any game that can legitimately turn people away in significant droves from Grand Theft Auto’s cult of personality is doing something right, in an extremely wrong way. You can’t leave, THQ. I won’t let you. I’m like the ship out of Event Horizon and you are my Laurence Fishburne.