Monday, November 8, 2010

Favorite Video Games

Top 10 (Favorite) Video Games

Please realize while reading this that I haven't played every game that was ever made, I can only choose games I've actually played. These are merely my favorites, the games on which I wracked up the most hours of playtime. For some entries I included two games from the same series of games simply because otherwise this list would be dominated by sequels and their predecessors.

Number 10 - QUAKE (1996)

Fresh from creating DOOM and DOOM II (which will both be on the list) ID Software set out to up the ante with far better graphics that pushed the technology of the day to the limits. QUAKE was one of the first video games I ever played and was undoubtedly the first FPS (first person shooter) I ever played. As a teenager this game provided hours of fun despite the fact it was more than five years old when I started playing it (as video games were concerned I was a fairly late bloomer). QUAKE takes place in several realms that look like something from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft, the kind of world where dark lord Cthulhu would be right at home. You play, much like in DOOM, as a survivor of a scientific experiment into teleportation gone wrong. There are four realms to fight your way through and zombies, monsters and possessed soldiers to blast away. Quake was also one of the first games to have a multiplayer mode.

Number 9 - DOOM and DOOM II (1993, 1994)

DOOM was the precursor to QUAKE developed by ID Software. The game has a very similar plot. The unnamed silent protagonist makes his way through military bases, ruined cities and often right into Hell while blasting away demons and trying to find his way into the next area. The tendency of demons to teleport out of nowhere, or to appear as punishment for flipping the RIGHT switch, actually makes the game frightening. DOOM is the grand-daddy of essentially all First Person Shooter games in existence today and remains one of the best games I’ve ever played.

Number 8 - Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009)

Assassin’s Creed 2 is a third person action-adventure game set both in the future and centuries into the past. Employing a device known as the Animus people are able to tap into genetic memories and relive things through their ancestor’s bodies. This puts the player in the shoes of ancient assassin’s and gives them the ability to free run over rooftops through medieval cities. Assassin’s Creed 2 was a huge improvement over the first game and is one of the largest and most immersive free roam games imaginable. The story taking place in the future may be a bit uninteresting but once you get into the Animus you won’t want to get back out.

Number 7 - Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2005)

For a Star Wars nerd such as myself (see my Top 10 Movie list) there was nothing better than being put in the shiny white boots of a Storm Trooper and getting to pwn some rebel scum or getting to force throw Darth Vader as Yoda. Star Wars Battlefront 2 is one of the most fun multiplayer games ever conceived and had a robust single player following a group of Clone Troopers up until the fateful day that Order 66 was executed and beyond. The game allows you to utilize many familiar vehicles and play as heroes and villains such as Luke Skywalker and Boba Fett. Star Wars Battlefront 2 remains one of the best games I’ve ever played and despite being over five years old still looks awesome graphically.

Number 6 - Portal (2007)

Portal is a puzzle game developed by Valve. Like many first person games it follows a silent protagonist, an android named Chell, as she navigates her way through multiple test chambers at the behest of a computerized task-master named GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System). The premise is simple but the game can be quite painful on your brain the first time you play.

Number 5 - Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)

I was never a big Call of Duty fan until this game. Up until that time I’d played Medal of Honor games religiously but when Activision and Infinity Ward brought Call of Duty into the modern era I jumped on the bandwagon. The game offers a realistic and downright awesome single player mode following the adventures of two soldiers as they deal with world altering events. COD4 also boasts one of the deepest online multiplayer modes ever conceived that provided my friends and I with hours of fun. While not flawless by any means the game set the bar for war related games and even, finally, coaxed an attempt at a modern war setting from Medal of Honor just a few months ago.

Number 4 - Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 (2008, 2009)

In 2008 Valve took a break from the adventures of Gordon Freeman (more on that later) to delve into the world of zombies. The product was Left 4 Dead, the story of four survivors neck deep in the undead, or the infected at least since I’m pretty sure these zombies aren’t the Romero kind. Instead of the standard lumbering ghoul we get grizzly pale-green-gray zombies more interesting in clawing their way through your skin and punching you into oblivion than on indulging in a meal of gray matter. Both games excel at putting you right in the middle of the action and when played with friends the game shines as an excellent cooperative, or competitive game. The ability to play as the infected, who have begun mutating and gained some odd abilities that help them snare survivors, is a stroke of sheer genius on Valve’s part, but what else would we expect from them right?

Number 3 - Half-Life (1998)

A decade before Left 4 Dead Valve cut its teeth on what remains one of the best FPS games to date. Half-Life was built from the same basic formula as QUAKE and tells a fairly similar story. You play as a silent scientist, a young Doctor named Gordon Freeman who, after an experiment causes aliens to teleport into the secret facility where he works, must fight his way to safety and try to save the world. The game features both alien and human enemies in the form of a military team sent in to exterminate the witnesses and destroy the facility. Using both normal fire arms and some futuristic sci-fi style weaponry Gordon Freeman eventually makes his way to the alien world.

Number 2 - Red Dead Redemption (2010)

Red Dead Redemption, developed by Rockstar games (of Grand Theft Auto fame) tells the story of John Marston, an outlaw trying to redeem himself in the dying days of the Old West. The story takes place in the fictional setting of New Austin and also features parts of Mexico all of which are, by the end of the game, entirely open to exploration by the player. The game is incredibly immersive and there is as much to do outside the main storyline as there is to do within it. A player can quite literally get lost out in the wilderness, its that massive. The sandbox element is only part of it, the story itself is also excellent and has plenty of emotional depth and things to say about humanity and society as a whole. Its also one of the longer story-modes of recent times. Lately many game companies have been lazy and have included single player modes that only take a few hours to beat but Red Dead Redemption will keep you busy for way longer than a few hours.

Number 1 - Half-Life 2 (2004)

We’re back to Valve once again, what can I say I am a sucker for Valve games. Half-Life 2 was the hotly awaited sequel to the first game, how hotly awaited was it? Well it took SIX YEARS for Valve to finish the game in an industry where the turn around is usually only two years, maybe one year for sports games like Madden. Half-Life 2 shines in everything it does, the graphics are some of the best ever done, the physics engine is outstanding, the characters are interesting and engaging and the plot is one of the best science fiction stories ever told in any artistic medium. To top all that off the game includes some pretty awesome weaponry and combat that shifts between being surrounded by zombies, shot at by soldiers and trying to shoot down a helicopter with laser guided rockets while being atop a lighthouse. I’ve probably played the game two dozen times by now, partially because of how awesome it is but also because Valve has been agonizing slow to churn out the next part of the saga. Knowing Valve, the wait will be worth it.

So that’s my list of top 10 games. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below with your own top 10. Here are those that didn’t make the list but still deserve honorable mentions:

Batman Arkham Asylum
Assassin's Creed
Diablo II
Grand Theft Auto III, IV and the others in between
Metroid Fusion
Pokemon Gold and Silver Versions (don't hate, Pokemon games are the shit)
Mortal Kombat: Deception
Medal of Honor and its various expansions (not the new game)
Warcraft II (because it was the first PC game I ever played)

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