Procrastination is a fun thing. When I should be writing an essay about moral relativity, I instead opted to do a top 20 favorite games thing. And because I'm lazy, I've decided to split it into two parts, just so I can I can do the other half later. And because I'm even lazier, I'm not even going to bother with a decent introduction. It's a top 20 games thing. Get over it.
20. Spec Ops:
The Line: I know this game is quite recent release, but it's one of those games I know will stick with me. The game is fucked up, and if you know me, dark and depressing is kind of my thing. The game is a commentary of other games like call of duty or gears of war, and judges you harshly for playing it like those games. There is an instance that rips off the COD 4 missile bit that's like an absolute gut punch when you find out what you've done. I'm not going to ruin it for you, but you may need to shower after. I sat their, mouth agape at that scene. I was like: Fuck you modern warfare, this is how you do a shock scene! However it doesn't end there. The game sends you on a spiral into depression, madness and guilt. Even the loading credits start to taunt you, with lines like: "Do you still feel like a hero?" "Collateral damage can be acceptable if the gain is worth it. How much are you and your team mates worth?" and my personal favourite: "The U.S. Army does not condone shooting unarmed civilians. Why should you care. This isn't real." The game has real emotional weight, and it's own genericism helps the point it's making. Overall, I just adore this game, and it's an experience I'll remember for quite some time.
19. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec:
You'll find quite a few ps2 games in this list, and the reason is simple: It was the major console around when I was in highschool. I didn't belong to the richest family, so I couldn't afford the seventh generation of consoles until I got my own job at the end of 2010. Yeah, I had a massive backlog of games to catch up on, but we'll get to that later. On top of not having a great deal of money, I also had to contend with my parents being Jehovah's Witnesses, meaning NO VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES! That ruled out quite a few, although I'd still play games like God of War and Resident Evil when I went to my grandmothers house. Due to those circumstances, I had a very limited range of games I could play on a regular basis, and one that got quite frequently played was Gran Turismo 3.
You see, what I love most about this game is that it puts RPG elements into the racing genre. Races and you are rewarded with loot, you can "enhance" your car, you save up your money to buy cars and buy more parts for your car and unlock new races. It takes the most annoying part of an RPG: The Grind, and adds it to maximum effect. This game will last you a lifetime if you want to play every race, and probably six or seven lifetimes if you want to unlock everything the game has to offer. The cars all handle realistically, and the circuits are both well conceived and challenging. There is only one downfall to the game, and it's something that plagues the entire series as a whole: The AI are among the dumbest I've seen in a video game. They are incredibly poor.
In the long run, however, this simply doesn't matter, because this is by far the pinnacle of the series, and moreover, the closest to perfection the racing genre has ever been.
18. Civilisation 5:
I'm not a huge fan of the RTS genre, however that's no fault of it's own. I'm just not quick enough, or devoted enough to learn all the hotkeys required to win a match. I do, however, adore the strategical element, and that's why turn based strategy games appeal to me.
The first game in the series I played was Civ 4, which is an amazing game, but not really a good starting place for newbies. I played it of course, but I could never really grasp what I had to be doing. Then Civ 5 came out and changed all of that. It taught me everything I needed to know instead of just assuming. It took me by the hand and showed me the basics and I never looked back. Now can play this game adequately, I adore it. I adore the multiple different ways of victory. I adore the plethora of game making decisions you must make, and I adore how damn addictive it is. I have stayed up until 5 o'clock the next morning, saying to myself the whole time: "Just one more turn, just one more turn."
The AI is slightly more hellbent on war this time around, however, when you play against friends, that's when this game really shines. Making an alliance with a friend and pretending you're going for a science victory and then double crossing him and attacking his capital city is a thrill second to none.To me, this game brings back better times of playing board games with friends, games like Settlers of Katahn or risk, but on a much, much larger scale. I adore the hell out of this game, and it is something I will continually play for now until death. Or at least the next game.
17. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines:
Where to begin? This game is, quite frankly, amazing. This game uses the source engine, and is based off the table rpg of the same name. It is, to me, everything a plot driven RPG should be. Using Deus ex style gameplay, this is a game where every character is intriguing, every choice has real consequence, and leveling up feels fulfilling.
What I truly love about the game, however, is how it just runs with it's theme. You're a vampire, you feed, you seduce, you die in daylight etc. It makes vampires cool again. And this game is fucking dark too. It tackles themes of incest, rape, schitzophrenia and many other uncomfortable themes that I haven't seen discussed in a video game for quite some time.
Unfortunately, there are many, many faults with this game. The combat is kind of shit until you're a higher level, the game is broken unless you patch it, and the graphics are pretty bland even for their time. However, if you can look as that, you will find an amazing experience of storytelling and choice that will stay with you for quite some time.
Many games forget one important aspect gameplay: A players imagination is infinitely more powerful than anything you can create. True, there are times when we as players want a rigidly linear game to take us in with it's breath taking story, but every so often we just want to do whatever the hell we want. Minecraft is the best tool around for that.
Minecraft is the best tool for our imagination, because we must work for it. It makes your diamond skull lair with lava eyes so much more rewarding when you have to work for it yourself. On top of the digging and woodcutting, you must survive. You can die by lava, monsters, drowning and starvation, and nearly every death is a significant loss thanks to item loss. Every single block of it you earned, and it adds to the feeling of accomplishment.
What really elevated this game from great to top 20 worthy, however, is the modding community. The game is so much sweeter with automated doors, quarries and the infinite of depth these amazing modders have added. This is one of those games that truly deserves the phenomenon status it's given. Oh, and this game got my mum into gaming. It gets points for that.
15. Fallout 3:
This may come as a shock to some of you who have read my past blogs, but I don't actually hate Bethesda. I adored Morrowind, enjoyed Oblivion, and absolutely love what they have done with the Fallout series. The only reason I hate on Skyrim so much is that in 2011 the game is only slightly better than Oblivion, and it has a very similar world to it. I'd be ok with that, however it has nothing to remedy the situation. Fallout 3 has a lot of the same problems Skyrim has, including poor combat, being buggy as hell etc. What Fallout does, however, is redeem itself by being in an insanely interesting world, with rich characters and lots of moral dilemmas.
Fallout 3 is one of those games that just can't be replicated. The style: 1950's ideals and decor merged with lasers, computers, and robots: All blown to hell. It is quite a funny game, with pop culture references, dark irony and wit abounding, but at the same time it is haunting, isolated, and desolate. The towns and cities feel like a group of survivors huddled together to survive.
The game is filled with memorable moments, such as the megaton bomb, the first time you meat a ghoul, and first laying your eyes on Rivet City. This is simply a game that cannot be missed, and to me, the pinnacle of Bethesda games.
14. Ratchet and Clank 3:
Up Your Arsenal: Remember how I said I wasn't allowed to play violent games due to my parents being Jehovahs Witnesses? Yeah, like all human beings, my dad is a hypocrite. "Oh no," he'll say, "we can't watch Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings because they have magic in them, and magic is the work of the demons..." Yet his favourite movie of all time is Shrek. "Oh no! We can't buy the Dark Knight on Dvd because it was too violent," yet he owns the Alien Boxset, and recently went to see Prometheus and adored it. Simarly, while he wouldn't allow me to play games like Halo or Killzone, he thinks violence is totally acceptable if it's animated, and/or cell shaded. Ah... ignorance is bliss...
...Especially because this, and two other games on the list I got away with playing for this reason, are effing amazing!
Ratchet and Clank 3 is a young boys dream. Forget Call of Duty or Battlefield with their realistic weapons. Young boys don't want to shoot bullets, they want to shoot lava. They want guns that turn their enemies into sheep, and they want to be reduced to hysterics while doing it.
The game has a depth to it most other games of this genre don't. There are side missions, 2D levels, guns that level up and an insane amount of variety. One second you're jumping on ledges and shooting bad guys, the next you're in a freaking space ship, then you're in a gladiator arena, and then you're a giant clank fighting another mech inside a city, with skyscrapers crumbling all around you. Also, this games has an amazing use of new game plus, because that is te only way your guns can upgrade to full capacity... and upgrade they do...
To summarise, this is the second best platforming game available on the PS2.
13. Planescape: Torment:
For those of you who've played this game, you don't need any reason for this game to be in this list. You may need a reason for it being so relatively low in the list, but hey, this is my list, my opinion, and you can go fuck off. Is he gone? Good. Fucking asshole. Anyway, this game is wonderfully written, witty as hell, completely unique, and most importantly: Not a fucking D&D clone.
Finally, a game that isn't just Tolkien fan fiction (which is incidentally why I don't read a lot of fantasy outside of Clive Barker George R.R. Martin. Btw, if anyone knows of any good ORIGINAL fantasy novels, please let me know.) The game has a lot of written dialogue, and not a great deal of action. You can get through a lot of the game without killing anything if you use your wits. The combat is decently done though, if you feel like missing the oppurtunity to be original in the game and want to be a homocidal fuckwit.
Another cool thing in this game is that you are immortal. If you die, you awaken again, which can lead to some very cool experimentation later on. Your party is an eclectic mix of awesome, and the world the story inhabits is so unique and intriguing that you'll probably never want to play a borefest like Skyrim ever again. Although why you're still playing that game, I'll never understand...
12. Timesplitters 2:
Remember what I said about Ratchet and Clank about my father being a hypocrite and what-not? Well I was allowed to play this game because it was cell shaded and therefore was more cartoony, which somehow made it less violent. Anyway, this will probably be the topic of a completely different bog, so I won't get too much into the hypocrisy of the way violence is portrayed in the media, and how people view it. Anyway...
All you really need to know about this game is that it is made by free radical, which include a group of the guys who worked on Goldeneye. That's right, fucking Goldeneye. Is this game better than Goldeneye? Yes, in every single way possible. For starters, this game was made on the PS2, so A) it had a decent controller, and it actually worked well, and B) graphically stll holds up today, although I think the cell shading has a lot to do with that. Another point in it's favor is that the game is just a lot more fun. It is over the top, it involves time travelling and has fucking MONKEYS!!!! Also, as an added bonus, you aren't playing as one of the worst James Bond's ever to grace our screens. Also, this has an absolutely amazing tribute to Goldeneye's Dam level.
Now, this is an arcade shooter through and through. Like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, this game has the brilliant longevity tool of adding extra missions to later difficulties, although it also goes one further. It adds a challenge mode and an arcade mode with such activities as collecting bananas as a monkey, shooting the heads off zombies, or throwing bricks through windows.
Ok, all we've touched on so far is the single player. This game is the best multiplayer shooter ever made. With modes such as Virus Mode, Vampire, Shrink etc, and has levels set in a UFO hangar, in a hospital, and in 1920's gangster inhabited chicago. Also, you can choose a range of characters, from a zombie, to an alien, to a monkey, to a clown etc... this game is just insane fun. Crytek, I know you've bought Free Radical. If you make Timesplitters 4, you can have my sister. And my car. And my girlfriend. And my shoes.
11. Skate 3:
I love skateboarding games. I have since I first played THPS1. By the time Tony Hawks Underground 2 came out, and I could get twenty million points in a single combo without cheats, I decided that the old formula needed to be done away with, and something more realistic and challenging to come in. Then came the Skate series. Skate 3 is by far the best in the series, balancing fun and realism quite well.
One thing you should know is that I'm stll playing this game. I'm stll making video montages of my successful stunts, most hilarious bails, and random tomfoolery. I'm still skating, and I'm still enjoying this game as much as I was when I first played it.
Everything in this game is interactive in some way, every area of this game is fun to skate in. Sure, some of the challenges are ridiculously hard, but they can be overlooked for the sheer amount of fun you can have, as Skating in this game is the most natural and fun it has ever been in a video game.
Hall of Meat is the best it has ever been, it's hilarious and more fun then self mutilation has ever been in the past.
However, the best part of this game is not the challenges, it's dicking around. It's seeing what would happen if you jumped off a building onto a hundred boxes, or running and jump kicking an old man down a flight of stairs, seeing if you can bail in an erotic position on a pedestrian, or whether you can recreate your favourite slapstick viral videos.
Well, that's it for this half of my top 20. Tune in whenever I can be bothered doing the next one.