Fair warning: This is a video intensive post. Enjoy
I sincerely believe that while technical achievement and graphical eye candy are all well and good, the thing that stands out succinctly best is when a game is genuinely fun. As artsy as I do enjoy my titles as well, I would enjoy being shown something that just may blow my socks off. But if a game is crazy-awesome in the way it treats me to a good time, then odds are I really wonít be complaining. That being said, I feel Iíve made a succinct introduction to my top 10 games of the last ten years.
10. Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
There are two types of people who owned Playstation 2 consoles; those who like Jak & Daxter and the people who like Ratchet & Clank. I have what I like to call an unhealthy obsession with Ratchet and Clank games. Iím pretty sure because under all the sensible humor and Monty Python-esque science fiction, thereís some genuinely stellar gameplay under there. As memorable as the autochthonous apotheosis in the series goes, Going Commando takes the Platforming genre and merges it seamlessly with the elements seen more prevalently in a role-playing game. For 2003, that was a pretty bold move and it paid off pretty well for Insomniac who, if you havenít noticed, is still fu*king making Ratchet and Clank games. The ability to level up weapons as well as the replay value afforded by the mini-games there in simply took hold as one of the few must-have platform titles since Mario had been on the scene for a bit under a score by then.
9. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan
There are games that you can import and end up blowing a lot of money on a rather terrible gaming experience. Ouendan is not one of those. Probably one of the few titles Iíve ravenously attempted to import after having a brief taste of it on a friendís DS at the time, I still carry it with me to this day. Not only is the game accessible and easy to understand, Iím firmly convinced that the kick ass soundtrack easily supplants the OST of the Americanized version of the game: Elite Beat Agents. Since Iíve always loved seeing how different cultures approach games, particularly the Japanese, this game was an introduction to a love affair thatís only been rivaled so far by the gameís sequel. Notable as the Japanese are for certain wackiness in their games, each song has an individualized story that the Ouendan must arrive on the scene and help the main character through. Few games will make me shell out the money to import and in the last ten years, this and itís sequel were the only two.
8. Metroid Fusion
Samus Aran taught me that girls, under their soft, pink exteriors possess the hearts of badasses, provided of course they are raised by the Chozo. Metroid Fusion taught me that, despite the awesome Metroid Prime possessed being the first 3D Metroid title, Metroid was still first and foremost a 2D side-scrolling franchise and a fantastic one at that. From the moment you dock on the station to the X parasite forming the dastardly SA-X to hunt you down, the game consistently remain fun throughout. Never feeling like a rehash or just something done for the sake of slapping the Metroid name on it, Fusion stands as one of the last great Gameboy Advance titles.
7. Geometry Wars 2
While the first Geometry Wars proved to be the must-play title when it was released, Geometry Wars 2 shattered it by improving all the qualities of the original exponentially. Abandoning the singular retro for the sake of rebuilding the game from the ground up, there is a significant improvement to the mechanics without it feeling like Bizarre Creations was trying to reinvent the wheel. Complete with six modes instead of the original two of the gameís predecessor, there is the constantly one reason or another to go back and play the game. Most importantly though is the persistent high score board for each game mode, glaringly present every single time you play, reminding you of where you stand amongst your friends. I guarantee a fair share of the people who will read this list will own GW2 and even more will have at least tried it once, coaxed into it by an excited friend.
6. God of War: Chains of Olympus
If someone told me that a God of War title would not only be made for the PSP, but actually had the potential to be well done, I wouldíve slapped them in the face and sicked the dogs on them (or the bees, or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you). Thankfully, the remarkable fact is that the game does exist and not only is it well done; it is kittens-in-a-trebuchet fun. The controls are tight and perfect just like anything thatís fun in life should be and the story overall drags you back in. While not the longest of the God of War titles, it certainly kept vehement Kratos fans busy for a while and still sticks out in my mind as one of the better in the series. Granted, this isnít saying much as all three major titles in the franchise have been Wookiee-tearing-your-goddamn-arms-off incredible and anyone who disagrees should have a word with Kratos. Thanks.
5. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Probably one of the best games of its day if for no other reason than the sheer fact that it is exactly, in most respects, like the original. A prime example of a postmodern game in that, ďpostmodernism refers to a cultural, intellectual, or artistic state lacking a clear central hierarchy or organizing principle and embodying extreme complexity, contradiction, ambiguity, diversity, interconnectedness or interreferentiality, in a way that is often indistinguishable from a parody of itself. It has given rise to charges of fraudulence.Ē Essentially, the game forces you to play the events of Metal Gear Solid because Hideo Kojima, in his infinite artistic wisdom, believes that is what equated to a sequel in his mind. Since many gamers took it with critically high praise, there is still a large divergence in the community as to whether or not this game is basically a middle-finger from Hideo Kojima to gamers everywhere.
4. Grand Theft Auto III
Not the best game ever created as far as narrative goes, this was when Grand Theft Auto games were still essentially light-hearted romps with the occasional bouts of ultra-violence on the part of the player. Being one of the first games to create a three-dimensional sandbox world where, upon completion of the introduction, players are able to run wild there is still a significant amount of content to see here even to this day. As far as the lack of noir style that many gangster titles have been synonymous with over the years, the GTA series has never taken itself all too seriously which is one of the qualities that keeps it at its very basic level a damn fun time.
Not Halo 2, which had an incomplete ending. Not Halo 3, which while splendid felt as though something was missing. Not ODST which had that slick, cool jazz feeling to it. The original, unabated Halo. While the game didnít descend from heaven in the way many fanboys would have you believe, it is still amazing in that it showed gamers things they hadnít seen before. The ability to carry two weapons instead of lugging ten machine guns, a shotgun and a rocket launcher or two across a map was a change of pace in that choosing what weapon you were using actually began to matter. Additionally, a sassy AI which has been reproduced more times doing lascivious things across the internet is an image all too deeply burned into my memory. But think of a game which has had as much machinima made about it, had as fan-damn-tastic multiplayer and become a franchise that has more than once kept Microsoftís consoles above water and all answers still lead back to Halo.
2. Eternal Darkness
Dear Silicon Knights,
Stop screwing around with this Too Human bullsh*t and get to work on a next-gen Eternal Darkness!
Everything in the Orange Box is an incredibly stellar buy and if you didnít purchase it in the past decade, youíre not exactly swinging any home runs in the awesome department. As everyone who has played it is aware, Portal is not exactly capable of standing up to say, Dragon Age: Origins regarding length of gameplay. But for what you get, it is a succinctly crafted package that never once leaves you wondering what is going on or wandering helplessly until you bump into an invisible wall. Portal is a complete gaming experience that can be sat down and played by anyone in about three to six hours and that is what makes it so great. Being a classic example of why shorter games are fun, it delivers exactly what it promises to while staying within a relative length, never overstaying its welcome. Being a puzzle title, I have a natural affinity for it, but as a game it otherwise stands head and shoulders above the rest of itís contemporaries as far as Iím concerned. Now if I could just see a sequel before this decade ends, that would be pretty goodÖunless that gets in the way of the next Half-Life, in which case, get back to work Gabe!
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