Guys, I love heavy metal. I first discovered the genre back in 1994 when I would sneak into my brother's room and listen to Pantera's Far Beyond Driven album. So I wanted to make a list ranking the best and worst uses of licensed heavy metal songs in videogames. This list does not include games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, because I wanted to list songs that actually appear during gameplay, and not just on the soundtrack.
Heavy metal is one of the Internet's favorite topics, whether it's controversial, awesome, hilarious, or a surprisingly catchy Slipknot/Bieber mash-up. I've always felt that heavy metal and videogames go hand-in-hand. Gamers and metalheads are both incredibly passionate about their favorite games/bands, and we hate when outsiders try to fit in, and being a fan of both, I've always wanted to make a list like this.
The thing about heavy metal nowadays is that there are so many sub-genres that the line that separates metal from rock is very blurred. So some of these songs may not seem like metal by today's standards, but they're close enough.
#5 Awful Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody" Wayne's World
Well we just started the list and I'm already kind of cheating. Queen isn't a metal band, but a lot of bands credit them as a major influence, and it's safe to say that the medium wouldn't be what it is without them. Some people even credit their song "Stone Cold Crazy" as the precursor to what would become thrash metal. In my opinion, there's never been a more talented group of musicians in one band before or since, and "Bohemian Rhapsody" is considered by many to be their greatest song. Not me though, I go with "Don't Stop Me Now."
Then, this happened...
I get why they put it in there, it's the most iconic scene from the film, but they butchered one of the greatest songs of all-time from one of the greatest bands of all-time. THQ deserved what happened to them after this.
#5 Awesome Rob Zombie songs Twisted Metal 4
Twisted Metal 4 isn't Twisted Metal 2, let's put that out there first and foremost. I love the series, but the time I spent with the fourth installment was limited to one evening when I rented it alongside a Pizza Hut pizza. These days, I'm not much of a Rob Zombie fan, but in 1999, having Rob Zombie in a game sounded like everything I wanted. The three songs included were "Superbeast," "Dragula," and "Grease Paint and Monkey Brains," and Zombie's over-the-top character and monster-movie inspired lyrics fit perfectly into the tone of the series. While there were other songs on the soundtrack, you probably can't name any. When I think of Twisted Metal 4, I immediately think "Oh, the one with Rob Zombie."
Perhaps that was the problem with the game.
I couldn't find any footage from the game with Rob Zombie in it that would play on this blog, so instead, enjoy a live version of Zombie performing "Superbeast," which appears in the game.
#4 Awful Gwar - "Jack the World" Beavis and Butt-Head
Gwar is the most ridiculous/awesome/hilarious band of all time. I'm not a die hard fan of theirs, although they do have some stuff that I really like, including an excellent cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out." And any pro wrestling fan can appreciate the fact that they have a gimmick, complete with back stories.
They also have the distinction of being Beavis and Butt-Head's favorite band, so when a game was released about the duo, naturally Gwar had to be a part of it. At the end of the game, the song "Jack the World" is played when Beavis and Butt-Head arrive at the Gwar concert. Although the word 'play' is being generous, it sounds more like it's being murdered by the SNES/Genesis. Not exactly the most recognizable Gwar song, either. I actually had to play the real song and compare it to the video just to make sure.
#4 Awesome The Duskfall - "Shoot It In" The Darkness
While walking through the subways in The Darkness, you can spot a television playing the music video for this song from the Swedish band, The Duskfall. You can sit there and watch the whole video, which I did because I wanted to know who this band was. Upon further listening, I was glad to know that the rest of their songs didn't suck, which for me is often the case with Scandinavian bands (I highly suggest the song "Source"). Unfortunately, they disbanded in 2008.
Not much else to say about this one, so I'll just post the music video that appears in the game.
#3 Awful Godsmack - "I Stand Alone" Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
I don't really consider Godsmack to be a metal band, but in 2004, it was the closest thing you were going to get to having metal in a mainstream game. Ubisoft decided to take the prince in a darker direction in this one, and while I do like the game, it felt a little unnecessary.
The song is played when the prince is being chased by the Dahaka, which occurs several times throughout the game. While I will admit that that guitar riff is still pretty awesome, and it gets the adrenaline flowing when the Dahaka shows up, it just seems out of place to have a modern day rock song in a game that takes place millenniums before the song would be released.
#3 Awesome Motorhead - "The Game" WWE Games
I don't know where Johnny Luchador stands on this, but I think Triple H has the best entrance in wrestling history. While the Undertaker is my all-time favorite wrestler, and makes some pretty awe-inspiring entrances, I still get more excited for Triple H. At first glance, it seems silly, all he does is walk down the ramp and spit water in the air. But when WWE commissioned Motorhead to write a song for Mr. Helmsley, they struck gold. When Triple H started referring to himself as "The Game," he was missing something. This song is what he was missing.
What does any of this have to do with videogames? Well, once the technology got good enough in wrestling games to recreate the entrances, it took the authentic experience to a new level. It may not look like much now, and I'm sure it looks hundreds of times better in the more recent titles, but at the time, this blew my mind.
#2 Awful Rob Zombie - "Dragula" Jet Set Radio
Rob Zombie gets the honor of not only being listed as being one of the best and worst on this list, but he does it with the same song, for exact opposite reasons. The reason "Dragula" worked so well in Twisted Metal 4 is because it fit the atmosphere. In the North American version of Jet Set Radio, "Dragula" feels more out of place than a Kleenex at a Snot Party (and thus continues my streak of dropping Simpsons references in blogs).
Just watch the video and see for yourself.
#2 Awesome The Black Mages - "Otherworld" Final Fantasy X
Okay, so, before I did some extra research, I actually had the band and song name wrong on this entry. I actually had this entire entry done and then I found my error, and I'm really glad I did, that would have made me look really dumb. But honestly, I know I'm not the only person who made this mistake. For the longest time (translation: until about 5 minutes ago), I always referred to this song simply as "Jecht Fight" and I was always under the assumption that it was performed by Rammstein. But can you blame me? That guitar riff and those vocals (other than the fact that it's in English and not German) sound just like Rammstein.
Anyway, one could make the argument that I'm being hypocritical here, as this song feels even more out of place in Final Fantasy than "Dragula" does in Jet Set Radio. When I think Final Fantasy music, I don't think metal, I think about huge, beautiful, orchestral arrangements. You know, with tubas and junk. But when you're battling something that huge, only the power of metal will help you make it through.
The music begins around the 4:35 mark.
#1 Awful Theme songs by Korn Silent Hill Downpour/Haze
Let me throw this out there just so we don't have any secrets with each other: From the ages of 11-23, I was an absolute Korn fanatic. I wore their shirts every day of the week, my nickname was "Korn," and my first concert ever was Korn and Rob Zombie in 1999, and to this day is probably still my favorite concert I've ever been to. However, once they apparently had the thought "Hey guys, wouldn't it be awesome if we unlearned how to play our instruments and write good music?", I turned my back on them.
Okay, now that I have that off my chest, I have a question for Free Radical and Vatra Games...
I know that not everyone is a Korn fan, I discovered that fact growing up, but there was a good period of time where they were the biggest band in the world. Why couldn't games get that Korn to do their theme songs? 1998 Korn, this is not! Some Silent Hill fans even went as far as organizing a petition to have the song removed from the game.
#1 Awesome The V-Rock Station in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
I haven't played GTAV yet, so I can still say that Vice City is my favorite of the series (Chinatown Wars being a close second). I love the 80s, Miami Vice-like island you're given to explore, and it's made all the better by the laundry list of incredible 80s metal songs that make up the V-Rock station. Just look at these bands:
Slayer, Anthrax, Judas Priest, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, and that's not even half the list. They even put in one of the few Megadeth songs that I like. The only song that feels out of place is Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend." How can you put that on the same station as "Raining Blood"?
The one obvious exclusion is Metallica. Can you imagine rolling up to the golf course early in the game while blasting "For Whom the Bell Tolls" or "Creeping Death"? It'd be amazing. But Metall-...Lars Ulrich had to be all "Napster Napster I can't play drums Napster Napster give me more money Napster Napster I'm going to go cry in my mansion Napster." At least I assume that's why they aren't included.
So, in order for you to get your Metallica fix, enjoy this video.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. I know I didn't put anything from Brutal Legend on here, I just couldn't find any awesome moments from the game that were specific to a particular song.
Guys, this month marks two years since the last time I trimmed my beard. While I've kept a healthy mane on my mug since I was in high school, it wasn't until two Novembers ago that I made the best decision of my life and shunned all razors and clippers. Let's recap:
Here I am just after the last time I trimmed.
Here we are at 3 months...
...and 7 months...
...at Pax East 2013 (1 year, 4 months)...
...1 year, 8 months (featuring a cameo from my beautiful wife)...
...and finally, 2 years...
In celebration of the big 0-2, I originally wanted to make a list of the best beards in gaming. However, I changed my mind when doing research and found that a top beards list has already been done several times over. When I looked at the other lists, I saw a lot of the same characters. Everyone had Zangief, Dr. Light, LeChuck, Bill from Left 4 Dead, and so on. After reading each list, I would think "What about so-and-so, and what's-his-face?"
What I've decided to do instead is to give some love to the underrated beards, the ones that don't give the credit they deserve. I'm excluding athletes, and I'm also not counting any of that goatee nonsense (sorry Gordon Freeman fans). I want men who shun shaving altogether. This is a tribute to all men who look like they should be cutting down trees and eating red meat for a living. Let's begin:
Barry Burton and Bitores Mendez (Resident Evil)
I've never understood the lack of love for Barry Burton's beard. It's completely solid. It's very reminiscent of Chuck Norris', but whereas Norris has a fist underneath his beard, Burton just has a second beard, which is way more manly. His beard looks like it could bench press a bulldozer, and although it may not have the length or girth of beards that we'll discuss, in some cases a shorter yet well-groomed beard does more for the community than one with more substance.
Sticking with the horror franchise, Bitores Mendez gets extra love from me simply because I was once told that I looked like him. I mean, scroll back up to that picture of me from Pax East and tell me I couldn't have done a killer cosplay of the village chief. You can't do it.
Joel (The Last of Us)
Much like Barry Burton, Joel keeps his facewarmer short and tight. I respect a man who takes the time to keep his beard clean and presentable in the midst of the fungi apocalypse. Surely, razors aren't easy to come by in this type of world, so Joel either has incredible razor preservation knowledge, or he came across an abandoned Gillette manufacturing facility and stockpiled.
Gilius Thunderhead (Golden Axe)
Every time I see Thunderhead, I feel like I should be listening to Amon Amarth. Everything about him just screams 'viking metal.' There's something about a snow-white beard that makes it more majestic. I have that touch of gray going for me already, and I'm hoping that eventually I can reach this level of man. It would probably help if I sported a giant ax, too.
Arthur (Ghosts N Goblins)
That beard just looks mean. Every piece of art that you see of Arthur depicts him with a fiery scowl on his face, and with good reason, you have to fight the devil. Not a generic boss called 'devil,' you fight the devil. As in 'The Lord of Darkness.' On top of that, he took your woman, bro. You can't be a baby-faced pansy when you kick open the gates of Hell, no one's going to take you seriously. Heck, when your beard looks like this, you can slay demons in your underwear.
Robert Burns (Vanquish)
Yeah, Vanquish. I didn't like Robert Burns as a character at all. I actually thought he was ridiculously one-dimensional and a stereotypical action game military leader, but I just really wanted to mention Vanquish in a blog because that game was fantastic and you should all go play it.
The End (Metal Gear Solid 3)
The End's liver spots somehow accentuate his beard in a weird way. I almost feel like you can't have one without the other in this case. When Big Boss and The End face off with one another in the wilderness of Russia, it's an epic beard versus beard clash for the ages. It's also an incredible upset, as Big Boss overcomes all odds to defeat the wooly mammoth-faced The End. It reminds me a lot of the time the 1-2-3 Kid beat Razor Ramon on Monday Night Raw.
Dizzy (Gears of War)
One look at Dizzy's beard and you know that it's a beard that's seen a lot of things. It's a hard-working beard. It's a beard with invaluable wisdom, almost sage-like. Then he starts speaking and you realize that he's a hillbilly. That's when all semblance of wisdom flies right out the window. He still has a fantastic beard, though, and that's something that the Locust horde can never take away from him.
Bear Hugger (Punch Out!!)
Remember when Peter grew a beard on Family Guy and a nest of birds makes its home inside of it? That's the impression I get when I look at Bear Hugger. A true mountain man, Bear Hugger embodies all that is right about bearding. I believe his beard has mystical powers. Like one of those situations where if you cut off his beard, you become him and then you shall rule over all the lumberjacks of Canada until you find a worthy opponent to do the same to you, at which point you ascend into Beard Heaven.
Thanks for reading. What's some of your favorite beards in gaming that I may have missed?
Happy birthday to my beard, we've had a good two years!
I, like pretty much everyone, was very disappointed with Resident Evil 6. I hated it so much that I even wrote a breakup letter to the series, and I really hope it doesn’t lose a bunch of weight and start looking all sexy again. Anyway, I didn’t expect to even finish the game, but alas, I persevered. It’s not a triumphant perseverance, but rather, one met with a sigh. All that time wasted. In the time it took me to play Resident Evil 6, I could have done something useful like…I don’t know…take 300 showers.
Resident Evil 4 is an absolute masterpiece. Resident Evil 5 was good, but not great, and for me was a letdown. But Resident Evil 6 is just not a fun game. Note that I said 'fun' and not 'good'. It’s a perfectly fine game by a design standpoint (although I’m going to nitpick a little later on), but it’s just not any freaking fun to play. Just as the title of this blog suggests, Resident Evil 6 makes Resident Evil 5 look like Resident Evil 4.
This guy has a lot to do with it.
What made RE4 great to me was that it steered more toward action but still had tense moments, white-knuckle boss fights, and sections that I dreaded going through again on subsequent playthroughs. It was still very much a Resident Evil game, just with some different ingredients in the recipe. Change the zombies to infected villagers and cultists, change it from a virus to a parasite, change the multiple camera angles to a fixed, over the shoulder camera, and BAM! You’ve improved on a tried-and-true formula.
RE5 was more or less RE4 with a different environment and a co-op partner no one asked for. Most enemies never felt threatening, you never felt outnumbered, you were always given enough room to maneuver out of sticky situations, and Sheva’s AI made her about as useful as making Homer Simpson “Head Bee Guy.” Hey, Sheva, I appreciate the ammo you just gave me, but maybe you should keep some for yourself in case you come across one of the thousands of monsters trying to kill us. Also, whatever happened to the gameplay element where you would start hallucinating if you were out in the sun too long? That sounded awesome, and I was very sad to see it eliminated from the final game.
The bee bit his bottom, now his bottom's big.
I remember being very excited at the original announcement of Resident Evil 6. Seeing the Ustanak in the trailers reminded me of Nemesis, and it was refreshing to see proper zombies again, but it was nothing more than a decoy. To this day, I can name and give the backstory to every character, enemy, and monster of Resident Evil 4. RE5 I know less about but still know a good amount. But I just finished RE6 and I couldn't tell you the name of any enemies (I had to look up Ustanak), I couldn't tell you what happened in the story, I couldn't tell you the names of half of the essential characters in the game. It's not memorable in the least.
I see what they were going for, and I think it's a good idea: Four shorter campaigns (which are still painfully too long) where they bring back a lot of popular characters, have an overarching story where they all cross paths at some point, make a new virus ("We haven't used the letter 'C' yet"), throw in a half-hearted Umbrella knockoff, increase the explosion per chapter ratio, and you have yourself a perfect love letter to Resident Evil fans.
Except, it wasn't. At all. In fact, it's the exact opposite of what RE fans wanted.
In my mind, Sherry Birkin is forever 10 years old, so this just felt wrong.
You know what I wanted? A game that controls like RE5, is single-player only, a story that's at least sub-par, claustrophobia, and let me play as Hunk, or Barry Burton and his beard if Hunk doesn't work for you. Is that too much to ask?
You know what I didn't want? I didn't want to swim. I didn't want a snowmobile race. I didn't want an uninspired After Burner section. I didn't want multiple car chases. I didn't want jets and trains crashing all over the place. I didn't want melee attacks. I didn't want stealth sections. That's not Resident Evil, it's Call of Duty.
If the quality gap between RE4 and RE5 is a creek bed, then the quality gap between RE5 and RE6 is the Grand Canyon. Sometimes changing the formula works out in a game's favor. But here the formula was changed so drastically that RE6 doesn't even feel like it's in the same franchise. Capcom should have just Devil May Cry'd this and turned it into a whole new game.
But Crysis has already been done.
Resident Evil 4 has there's three distinct locations: the village, the castle, and the island. The island section felt a little out of place compared to the other two, but not to the point of being completely unrealistic. Resident Evil 5's environments always remained consistent until you got to the volcano. What does Resident Evil 6 do? Well, in this chapter I'm in Europe, but the next chapter I'm in a small mountain village, oh hey, now I'm in China, now I'm in a lab, then I'm in an underwater B.O.W. facility, and that's all within just the Jake/Sherry campaign.
Now let's talk about the enemies. Resident Evil 4 changed the formula and decided to go with regular people who had been infected by a parasite, which caused them to go crazy. The slow-moving zombie had become tired by that point, and these new enemies were much more intelligent, would dodge your attacks, climb ladders, bust through windows and doors, and team up to attack you with weapons like shovels, knives, and scythes. The chainsaw-wielding enemies were always terrifying even when you knew they were coming. As far as monsters go, the camouflaging Novistadors were never welcome, the Regenerators/Iron Maidens are possibly the most terrifying enemies in the entire series, and each boss was a different and awesome challenge.
Pictured: Different and awesome.
Resident Evil 5 continued down this path. Where RE4 introduced the first gun-toting baddies in the series, RE5 expanded on it to include entire shooting sections and introduced a rudimentary cover system a la Gears of War. They added more types of alpha enemies, in addition to the chainsaw-majini and gatling-gunners, there was also the executioner majini and the giant tribesmen. Although, I felt like they took a big step back in terms of boss designs. Almost every boss is a varying mass of giant, black, slimy tentacles, with few exceptions.
But when they made Resident Evil 6, they just said "More guns, more slime, more tentacles." Some enemies in the previous titles would grow the parasites out of their heads when you shot them, and they would then come at you with the parasite flailing out of their necks. Instead of keeping that idea, now enemies will transform to have their lower body turn into giant spider legs, or giant grasshopper legs, which makes them look like ostriches. It's not scary, it's ridiculous. They even messed up the chainsaw enemies this time around.
"You better tentacle up that boob monster, boy."
Also, who's the antagonist in RE6? I don't remember, because the only campaign that uses him with any significance is Leon and Helena's, which is probably the first campaign that most people played. The story takes place over the course of six months, and jumps around all the time, making it very difficult to keep track of just what is going on.
I could keep going, but this has already gotten way too long-winded. If you haven't played Resident Evil 6, don't. Just don't. You'll be way better off spending the five minutes it would take to read the synopsis on the wiki page than you would be spending the 30 or so hours it would take to play through the entire game.
Resident Evil 4 > Resident Evil 5 > Resident Evil 6. It's not a positive trend.
Far Cry 3 was one of my absolute favorite games for this generation of consoles. It featured villains that you wanted to finish off, a massive and beautifully detailed island to explore, a ton of side-mission variety, and the freedom to tackle a situation however you see fit. I chose to play stealthily whenever possible, and found it to be a thrilling challenge trying to liberate camps without setting off alarms or being spotted, using only my trusted bow and hunting knife. There were memorable moments throughout the entire story, like (spoilers) burning the marijuana fields while Skrillex plays, escaping the dam, the psychedelic Vaas battle, that freaking alligator, Sam's death, etc.
So when Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was announced, I was super excited. The main Far Cry 3 is more than enough to keep you occupied for a good while, but even after I beat the story, found all the collectibles, leveled Jason up completely, and got all the achievements (except for the poker one because the computer cheats), I still wanted more. Even though Blood Dragon wasn't an expansion, instead being its own separate title based on FC3, I was just happy to have more. Then I saw the trailers, and read the previews, and realized that I had to play it. My backlog was pretty full at the time of release, and decided to instead wait for a sale and continue working through my other games until then. It eventually did go on sale, and I got around to playing it this past week.
Blood Dragon didn't receive the type of praise that Far Cry 3 proper had (although it did receive great scores), but with only two months left in the year, it's at the top of my personal games of the year list. I feel like it's the best example of a modern-retro game that you're going to find.
You have games like Retro City Rampage, which I still feel is a great idea, but it needed to do more than just guide me to the next 80s reference. You have games like Hotline Miami, which I just played thanks to PlayStation Plus, and I adored the mix of retro graphics with the timing and strategy that comprised the combat, but I did find it to have too many cheap deaths (i.e. enemies you can't see shooting you from off screen, but persistence ultimately helped me prevail).
Blood Dragon decided to go the other way with it, and I felt like it was a better direction to go in. Instead of giving us retro graphics and retro gameplay, you have a modern day shooter that is an homage to an 80s action movie, and takes place in the far off future of 2007. It's brilliant. While I was playing I heard and saw references to The Terminator, Commando, Rambo, Alien(s), and (spoilers!) the final 5 minutes of the game has you riding in a giant, metal dragon, while the music from the fight in Rocky IV between Rocky and Drago plays. Are you kidding, me? That's the most awesome sentence I've ever written!
I do have a few minor complaints, and it's the same complaints that I think every person who reviewed it had. For one, the world is always dark, so either be ready to turn up the brightness or squint for the entire game. The island isn't nearly as big as the islands in the main game, and because of this, you won't find as many collectibles and loot chests, which is fine, but why do I have to hear "I hope I don't have to collect any f'n flags" every time I find a VHS tape? Seriously, every...single...time. I get it, Ubisoft, you're poking fun at yourselves there, it was funny the first time, but not the 34th time. Give me some variety, and no, changing the word 'flags' to 'feathers' does not count as variety.
You see the color of that sky? Get used to it, because you're going to see it a lot.
Despite these little annoyances, I never found myself not enjoying the game. My favorite part of the entire experience has nothing to do with the game itself, but rather with who they have as the main character. Michael Biehn, most famous for his role as Kyle Reese in The Terminator, voices the protagonist Rex Power Colt (bonus points for the most 80s name this side of John Matrix), who is a cyborg commando. Essentially, they turned Kyle Reese into a Terminator. That's just beautiful.
To Ubisoft, I say forego Far Cry 4, and give me Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon 2. Not only because I want more of that universe, but because I want the title to be more confusing than the Rambo films.
Also, this is the song that plays at the end credits. You owe it to yourself to listen to it.
So Nintendo has officially halted production of the Wii, and the new console incarnations from Sony and Microsoft will be released to the masses in the very near future, so I figure now would be a good time to do a list of my favorite games of the generation. Keep in mind that I'm a regular dude and don't have the time or money to play every game that gets released, so if there's something that I don't have on here that you think should be, it's likely that I just haven't gotten around to playing it yet. Not going to go into a ton of detail, just doing this for fun, and will hopefully spark a good amount of conversation from the community.
Top 5 Xbox 360 Exclusives
1. Gears of War 3 - I'm a sucker for Horde mode, Beast mode was a nice addition, and it's stupid, mindless fun playing online with your buddies.
2. Alan Wake - Fantastic story, had some good scare moments, and excellent musical cues.
3. Left 4 Dead 2- New weapons, new environments, new enemies, improves upon the original in almost every way. Only downside, less Bill than I'd like.
4. Dead Rising - Bought this game with my 360, ridiculously campy, and I'm still a fan of most zombie games.
5. Crackdown - The best superhero game of the generation that doesn't have the word 'Batman' in the title.
Top 5 PS3 Exclusives
1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Brings the series full-circle, love the story enough that the crazy-long cutscenes didn't bother me, epic final battle, and the reason I bought a PS3 to begin with.
2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - Amazing setpieces, great humor, fantastic platforming sections. Enemies are still bullet sponges but the combat never gets monotonous for me.
3. Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds - Been a diehard fan since the original PSone games, and I hate golf. Lack of cartoony characters make it take a step down from the PS2 titles.
4. 3D Dot Game Heroes - The only Legend of Zelda game that I've ever finished. I never tire of videogame in-jokes, easy to learn combat, fun dungeon designs.
5. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time - The first R&C game I ever played, immediately went back and played Tools of Destruction. Ratchet gameplay is everything long time fans expect, and the Clank sections make for some great puzzle platforming.
Top 5 Wii Exclusives
1. Super Mario Galaxy - Possibly my favorite game of the generation. Got all 120 stars, lost all the data when my Wii crashed, got all 120 stars again and didn't regret one second. Best 3D Mario game there is.
2. New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Super Mario World is my favorite game of all-time, and this game gives me all the same types of feels that SMW did. Not to mention that the final showdown is Bowser is probably the best of anyMario game.
3. A Boy and His Blob - Everything about this game makes me feel like a kid again. The art is beautiful and whimsical, simply platforming that never feels too easy or too difficult, and there's a freaking 'hug' button.
4. Donkey Kong Country Returns - I love difficult platformers, and certain levels in this one had me nearly pulling my hair out, but I still finished the game in three sessions, and loved it enough to purchase it again on 3DS.
5. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - I'm still a huge Resident Evil fan pre-RE6, and this on-rails shooter was nothing more than a love letter to old school fans. Won't blow you away, but still tons of fun.
Top 5 DS Exclusives
1. Picross 3D - Simply put, this game is 3 1/2 years old and I'm still playing it consistently.
2. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story - The first turn-based RPG I've ever completed, fantastic localization, fun story and gameplay.
3. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future - Great puzzles as always, but no one plays Layton for the puzzles, you play for the story, and this story is the best of the series, truly heart-wrenching.
4. 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors - The combination of Jim Sterling's 10/10 review (edit: it totally wasn't Jim Sterling, and totally was Tony Ponce) and the urging of my buddy Luke caused me pre-order this game, and I certainly didn't regret it. Never before had I been that blown away by a game's story.
5. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - One of 3 Castlevania games on the DS, and this one is my favorite. Not being confined to a single castle and being able to travel to several locations at will, combined with the classic Metroid-style gameplay made for a top-notch title.
Top 10 Multi-Platform Games
1. Borderlands 2 - I've written about why I love Borderlands before...and then I did it again. So just read those.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Even if you've never played it, you've heard of it, and if you haven't played it. play it. First Elder Scrolls game I played, spent nearly two months playing this game, and this game only.
3. Prince of Persia (2008) - Incredible art with a great fantasy world, coupled with challenging yet very enjoyable platforming. Combat is a bit lackluster, but doesn't take away from the overall magic of the game.
4. Bioshock - An atypical FPS, spliced with a smidgen of survival-horror, with the best world you're going to find in a game of this generation. Plasmids made for interesting and dynamic encounters, and the story is top notch. Docked points for the weak last hour of the game.
5. Portal 2 - Mind-bending puzzles, with three of the most amazing characters in gaming (Cave Johnson is likely my favorite character not named Mario). Took everything that was great about the original and stretched it out into an extensive adventure, with an additional co-op mode that was worth the cost of the game alone.
6. Far Cry 3 - Open-world, RPG, first-person shooter, with the option to play stealthily. Add in a couple villains that you truly hate and a variety of different missions to keep you from getting bored, and you have a truly great genre-mashing game.
7. Tomb Raider - Perfectly paced and never overstayed its welcome. The Lara Croft origin story certainly saw her getting the crap kicked out of her on more than one occasion, but by the end she's practically Arnold in Commando. Pseudo open-world with lots of great visuals and satisfying combat.
8. Batman: Arkham City - The best hand-to-hand combat you'll find, enemies that are legitimately dangerous, and tons of side missions. Lots of challenges and collectibles if that's your thing. You can get lost in Arkham City for days.
9. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - The combat is a straight rip of God of War, but I love God of War combat, so this was right up my alley. An interesting, separate timeline than the one we already know, its biggest problem is the fact that it's about 8 hours longer than it needed to be.
10. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - The best of the series in my opinion. Opted to go for one large open city rather than several smaller ones which helped with immersion. Assassin recruiting was a welcome diversion from the main story, and the multiplayer was way better than anyone expected it to be.
Top 5 Downloadable Games
1. The Walking Dead - I've never been shocked by a game as consistently as I was with the Walking Dead series, especially with Episode 3. Kudos to Telltale for making one of the most lovable characters of all-time.
2. Trials HD - I still find myself returning to this one time and time again. Brutally difficult, but a checkpoint system that'll leave you wanting to keep trying. Only reason I chose this instead of Evolution is because I spent more time on the original.
3. Mark of the Ninja - 2D stealth executed to perfection. Easy to play, difficult to master, but New Game+ gives you a reason to try.
4. Bit Trip Runner 2 - Every bit as charming as the original, but with added difficulty modes, lots of unlockables, and plenty of reasons to replay levels. Checkpoint system makes it easier on more casual players.
5. Super Meat Boy - One of the hardest platformers of all-time, but never unfair, you always knew that death was your own fault. Tons of collectibles, secret levels, unlockable characters, and the ability to skip levels if they seem insurmountable.
Top 5 Call of Duty Games
Tied for 1. Call of Duty 2/Call of Duty 3/Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare/Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2/Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3/Call of Duty: Black Ops/Call of Duty Black Ops II
Most Underrated Game
Shadows of the Damned - So it's sort of a horror/comedy, third-person shooter, but turns into a construction paper 2D shooter at times, has a great Evil Dead homage, a great sidekick, fun weapons, and plays like modern Resident Evil titles. When you read all that, it shouldn't be a surprise that it was a concoction from the minds of Shinji Mikami and Suda. It's an absolute shame this game didn't sell more than it did.
Guys, I'll be honest--I hate Game of the Year Editions of games. I understand why they exist, it's a great way to bring new life to a game that isn't selling as well as it once was, and they come with all kinds of DLC and special rewards to add to it as an added incentive for people to jump on board. I'm not going to sit here and say that I haven't bought a few of these myself. Overall, I think it's a great idea, but I take exception with the term "Game of the Year." That term should be reserved for games that legitimately won a top game award from a major games publication or website.
I recently started playing the first Dead Island, and other than the fact that the game is a glitch-factory and crashes at least once every time I sit down to play, I'm really enjoying it thus far. It reminds me a lot of Borderlands, and if you have my kind of affection for the vault hunter's adventures, then that's definitely a good thing, but Dead Island is far from being a "Game of the Year" contender, and yes, it does have a Game of the Year Edition.
It's fine if Deep Silver wishes to re-release the game to try to squeeze a few more dollars out of people that didn't take the initial plunge, but slapping a GOTY on the cover is very deceptive. Speaking of Borderlands, even though it was my personal favorite game of 2009, I'm not going to lie and say that it deserved to be released again in 2010 with the title. The game was the most fun I had had in quite some time, but it was definitely not without it's flaws.
Having a GOTY implies that the game is the best of the best of that year. If the game didn't receive that amount or type of praise, then don't lie to gamers. Fallout 3 has a GOTY Edition, and I hated that game, but it was one of those games that you couldn't go a day without hearing or reading about, so I understand why it exists. Same deal with Red Dead Redemption, I played for about 4 hours and realized how much I didn't care about what I was playing, but the praise that was bestowed on that game made it more than easy to swallow when it was given new life.
Videogames are subjective, so who's to say what the best game of the year actually is? If I were to name a terrible game my personal favorite game of the year as a joke, does that mean that Ride to Hell: Retribution will come out next year with a GOTY? Why wouldn't it? A no-name dude who writes community blogs on a major site said it was game of the year. Champion! There's no sanctioning body to determine which game should actually win Game of the Year. I know the Video Game Awards on SpikeTV are the closest thing we have to the videogame Academy Awards, but that's like saying I'm a singer because I farted into a microphone.
Transformers films, VGAs, Linkin Park makes everything legitimate.
I have no problem with games that prefer to go a different route. For instance, when Mortal Kombat released a newer version with all the new characters, they went with "The Komplete Edition," because misspelling is still kool. Saints Row the Third has "The Full Package," because references to balls are still funny. Skyrim now has the "Legendary Edition," because...because Skyrim, that's why. All of these examples are fitting and unoffensive.
Of course, I'm not being completely serious. I don't really get offended when a game has an undeserving title, but I do feel that throwing out a Game of the Year Edition is implying to uninformed gamers that the game is of the highest quality, and when someone picks that game up expecting to be blown away, and they're not, it's only doing damage to the industry.