In case it's not obvious, I'm new to this whole Destructoid thing. Well, I've been reading Destructoid content for quite a while now, but forums and blogging are uncharted territory for me. But as they say, you gotta start some time... so why not right now?
I was thinking of what my first blog post should be, and then I thought of a common introductory question I've received on other sites: "What are some of your favorite games?" Well I'm glad you asked! (Even though you probably didn't). I love discussing my favorite games, so that seems like a good starting point for a first blog post.
I'll be splitting this up into a few separate blogs in an effort to avoid walls of text. One thing to note: this list will be in alphabetical order because ranking things is too damn hard!
Batman: Arkham Asylum
I never really thought much of Batman, whether that meant films, video games, comic books, or anything else that applied to the franchise. But then Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins came out and my position shifted. I finally learned that Batman is, well, awesome! Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum helped cement my new viewpoint with its emphasis on satisfying melee combat and nifty gadgets. Arkham Asylum itself certainly helped by creating a convenient environment for a whole slew of classic Batman villains. I ended up enjoying Arkham City even more, but I'll always remember Arkham Asylum as the game that first captured the essence of what makes Batman so great.
The original BioShock would be on this list if the combat were slightly more interesting and the end of the game didn't crumble on itself in the wake of a brilliant first half. Luckily BioShock Infinite addresses those key issues with tighter gameplay mechanics, more interesting powers, and a mindblowing ending that I couldn't get over weeks after I witnessed it. Those fixes result in a better game, but Columbia and Elizabeth are the main reasons why I already consider BioShock Infinite an all-time favorite. The way in which Columbia slowly transitions from a bright utopia to a far more sinister city in the sky is nothing short of brilliant, and Elizabeth's mix of charm, charisma, and overall fragility results in one of the most memorable videogame sidekicks I can remember. The six year wait for Infinite was tough, but I guess Ken Levine knows what he's doing.
When I first played Braid, it shattered my expectations of how inventive and unique game mechanics can be. There are plenty of innovative releases every year, but there was something about the rewind feature in Braid that seemed incredibly novel. But even more impressive than that was the way in which that core mechanic tied directly into the game's narrative, creating an odd synthesis of story and gameplay that one doesn't necessarily expect from a smaller indie title. I've heard some people describe Braid as too high brow and/or pretentious (descriptions that have also been applied to lead designer Jonathan Blow), but I simply see it as a wonderful example of artistic expression. As far as I'm concerned, we need more game designers like Jonathan Blow.
Burnout 3: Takedown
Games like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo can be fun, but they lack the constant thrill of something like Burnout 3: Takedown. I played the first two entries in the series before Takedown, but this game really champions the adrenaline rush of driving into oncoming traffic and narrowly avoiding catastrophic collisions. That destruction is made even more fun with the addition of impact time, a slow-motion mode that allows players to apply "aftertouch" to crashes in an effort to rack up more property damage. Oh yeah, and there are "takedowns" as the game's title indicates, which essentially rewards players for being an asshole to AI opponents. How great is that?
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
My current relationship with Modern Warfare probably falls into the category of love/hate. It started a trend of multiplayer-focused games and terrible online communities, two things I don't particularly enjoy. But then I remember all the goods times I had with Call of Duty 4 back in 2007. Even though I mostly stick to single-player experiences, somehow this game's online multiplayer appealed to me. To this day I can't think of a competitive online game I had more fun playing. I didn't hit prestige a million times like other fans of the game, but I still put quite a few hours into Modern Warfare's online component. And hey, the single-player campaign was still pretty damn good.
If you were to ask me what my favorite RPG of all time is about five or six years ago, I probably would have said Chrono Cross. Apparently there are people out there who don't like this game, which continues to confound me. I struggle to think of a single thing I didn't like about this game – the unique battle system that focuses on stamina points, the overarching narrative, the countless number of recruitable characters... the list goes on and on. Chrono Cross also features one of my favorite videogame soundtracks of all time. I mean, how good is On the Beach of Dreams?
Cue the Chrono Cross vs. Chrono Trigger debate! There are probably people yelling at me right now for even calling it a debate. Obviously Chrono Trigger is the more popular of the two, and that's fine by me. It has a wonderful cast of characters (Frog for life!), a cool time-traveling story, and numerous endings that reward repeated playthroughs. Best of all is that the game still holds up. Some classics don't stand the test of time, but I played through Chrono Trigger again on my DS in 2008 and had a grand ol' time.
Donkey Kong Country
You know who likes Donkey Kong Country more than me? My mom. She freakin' mastered this game, to my shock as a kid and now my general amusement as an adult. But she had good taste in games, because Donkey Kong Country is indeed fantastic. It hit all the right platforming notes – numerous collectibles, tight controls, challenging sections, and some pretty fun cooperative multiplayer. I seem to recall liking the sequel just as much, but the original game will always hold a special place in my heart.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Sometimes I like losing myself in a game world, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim satisfies that need perfectly. Bethesda has mastered the art of fully-realized videogame environments, and Skyrim stands as the best example of the studio's skill in that particular area. It also improved on Oblivion in quite a few ways, especially in regard to the leveling system. When you put all that together, you have a game in which the hours just fly by. I couldn't put this game down for the first week or so, and the addiction carried over into 2012. I know friends who bought this game when it came out and haven't purchased a new release since. I'm not that crazy, but I can absolutely understand the addiction.