My Favourite Game

The Foals drum­mer on find­ing time to play be­tween al­bums, mur­der­ous sprees, and his long love af­fair with Fi­nal Fan­tasy VII

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Foals drum­mer Jack Be­van talks Bandi­coots and open worlds

Jack Be­van is the drum­mer for Ox­ford five-piece Foals. The band has re­leased three al­bums, with 2013’s Holy Fire reach­ing num­ber two in the UK charts. The al­bum was nom­i­nated for the Mer­cury Prize, as was 2010’s sec­ond LP, To­tal Life For­ever. Here, Be­van tells us about his gaming jour­ney to date, from Sonic 2 to As­sas­sin’s Creed IV. You picked up a PlaySta­tion 4 ear­lier this year. Why Sony’s con­sole and not a Wii U or an Xbox One? I’ve al­ways been on the PlaySta­tion side of things. I got the first PlaySta­tion in 1997; at the time the com­pe­ti­tion was the Sega Saturn, and there was noth­ing on that which par­tic­u­larly ap­pealed to me. Then I up­graded to the PS2, and then PS3, as a mat­ter of course. I think that the PS4 looks re­ally great – it’s prob­a­bly the most aes­thet­i­cally ap­peal­ing con­sole yet. Was get­ting a PlaySta­tion your first ex­pe­ri­ence of videogames? No, I had a Mega Drive II – I got it for Christ­mas when I was seven, I think. That came with Sonic The Hedge­hog 2, and that was my first gaming ex­pe­ri­ence. I loved the Sonic se­ries, and how weird and twisted Earth­worm Jim was. I have an older cousin, and he’s al­ways been on top of tech­nol­ogy. He got a PlaySta­tion be­fore me, and I got to play Crash Bandi­coot on it. I must have been about ten years old. To be able to play some­thing in 3D, at the time it felt like it had the most in­cred­i­ble, beau­ti­ful graph­ics. I thought I was in this other world. Which forth­com­ing games are you look­ing for­ward to play­ing? I love open-world games, and I love games that use stealth. I’m a big Elder Scrolls fan, too, so I’ll be get­ting the next one in that se­ries. Right now I’m play­ing As­sas­sin’s Creed IV, when I get the chance. It looks great but I think it al­ways takes de­vel­op­ers a while to re­ally get a han­dle on the new ma­chines, so it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see what peo­ple are do­ing with the PS4 in the fu­ture. Given all of your com­mit­ments with the band, is it dif­fi­cult to find the time to prop­erly im­merse your­self in a game when it’s built to the scale of Black Flag? Well, we’re ac­tu­ally ei­ther re­ally busy or hardly busy at all. When we were writ­ing Holy Fire, I ac­tu­ally had down­time enough to play through Skyrim, Un­charted 3 and Por­tal 2. I have other games that I dip into for shorter ses­sions. Skyrim is like a movie – I’m go­ing to spend hours in front of it in one sit­ting. But some­thing like Grand Theft Auto V, I can turn that on and just run around mur­der­ing peo­ple for half an hour. I’m look­ing for­ward to the PS4 port be­cause I fool­ishly gave away my PS3 when I up­graded. We’ve li­censed some tracks be­fore, to FIFA a cou­ple of times, and I think there might have been a rac­ing game too. So far as do­ing a game sound­track goes, I think we’d love to if we had the time. We’ve al­ways talked about how ex­cit­ing it would be to sound­track a film, but that ex­tends to a game too. Right now we’re too busy – we write, we re­lease a record, we tour, re­peat. But maybe in a few years, when we’ve maybe slowed down a bit, there’ll be a chance to do some­thing like that.

“When I got FFVII I didn’t have a mem­ory card, so I left my PlaySta­tion switched on for about two months”

The Grand Theft Auto games are renowned for their sound­tracks – have you ever con­trib­uted to games? Would you like to cre­ate an en­tire game sound­track at some point, even? Fi­nally, what’s your favourite game? That’s Fi­nal Fan­tasy VII, def­i­nitely. When­ever I hear of some­one else loving that game, I feel I’ll have a great con­nec­tion with them. It’s the first game I re­mem­ber hav­ing a proper, emotionally en­gag­ing sto­ry­line. When I got it I didn’t have a mem­ory card, so I ac­tu­ally left my PlaySta­tion on for about two months. My big­gest fear was that there’d be a power cut. Hon­estly, at the time, the idea of los­ing my progress was on a par with los­ing a fam­ily pet. When I did get a mem­ory card, I sunk so many hours into that game. It felt amaz­ingly open. The game gen­er­ated a com­mu­nity at school; we’d talk to each other about our achieve­ments. We’d talk about beat­ing Emer­ald Weapon. Of course, none of us ac­tu­ally had – that was in­sanely dif­fi­cult. When Aeris died, I was ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated. I’ve played it so many times, but I think it’s one of the best games of all time.

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