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The New Guy's Favorite Games (Part 3)

Here is part 1 and part 2. There's only one more favorite games blog after this, then I promise I'll stop! And again, thanks for the comments so far.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

I don't consider Half-Life 2 one of my all-time favorite games, but I can absolutely see why it's considered a landmark release. But the whole essence of this blog is personal preference, and Episode Two proves itself as the hallmark of the franchise in my eyes. In just a handful of hours it packs in meaningful narrative progression, entertaining firefights, and one of the most memorable set piece battles I've ever encountered. Taking down those striders completely blew me away in 2007, and having played the game again about a year ago, I can say it still carries a significant impact.


As I alluded to in my Call of Duty 4 entry, I'm far more interested in single-player experiences, but there are always exceptions, and Journey is one hell of an exception. The way this game creates a player-to-player connection with no text or voice chat is a monumental accomplishment in game design. The first time I played Journey, I lost my partner about halfway through and finished the rest by myself. It didn't feel right though – I missed my partner despite the fact that we had only exchanged a series of unknown symbols with each other. I can't think of any other multiplayer game that comes close to establishing such a strange bond. It also helps that Journey is perhaps the most artistically pleasing game I've ever experienced – that one sand surfing moment (if you've played it, you know what I'm talking about) is unbelievably beautiful.

The Last of Us

Yes, The Last of Us came out just weeks ago. Should I give it more time before I include it on an all-time favorites list? Probably, but this is my list, and in the words of Eric Cartman, “Whatever, I do what I want!” The Last of Us doesn't necessarily innovate in a bunch of meaningful ways – when you boil it down this is still a post-apocalyptic game, something we've seen plenty of in the videogame industry. But Naughty Dog executes on that formula so damn well that it really doesn't matter. Joel is one of the more complex videogame protagonists in, well, ever. But the real heart of the story is the dynamic relationship between him and Ellie, including all its ups and downs. Factor in some fantastic game mechanics that place a heavy emphasis on crafting and different play-styles (I took the cowardly approach plenty of times), and you have one of the year's best.

Mass Effect

I'm a sucker for huge, detailed, and expansive game worlds, so naturally Mass Effect was a perfect fit for me. I still remember reading a bunch of those codex entries – kudos to BioWare for putting so much time and effort into that backstory stuff, it makes it much easier to get sucked into the story. The first entry in the series had plenty of issues – many of the planets felt lifeless, sidequests were quite boring, and the combat was pretty clunky. But the narrative made up for a lot of those issues, including a wonderful cast of characters. It also felt different from its sequel... speaking of that game...

Mass Effect 2

I love Mass Effect, but the sequel is my favorite entry in the series. Plenty of fans were dismayed by the move to a more action-oriented experience, and as a fan of RPGs myself, I had certain problems with it. The world in Mass Effect 2 feels severely limited compared to its predecessor, and I kind of missed the more extensive leveling system from the first entry. But the massive combat overhaul was worth it, because enemy encounters were a lot of fun for a change. On top of that, the character development was even stronger and the sidequests were highlights of the entire game. If only we could somehow combine Mass Effect 1 and 2 into some kind of ultimate experience, then we'd be talking about possibly a top five game for me.

Mega Man X

I suck at Mega Man. I suck at Mega Man 2. I don't suck at Mega Man X, so it makes this list! Well, it's not that simple, but I do think the original series is just too damn hard for me. Mega Man X was a more inviting game, but it still retained the inventive boss battles and awesome power-ups that truly define Mega Man. It also gets special nostalgic bonus points for being the second game I ever played when I was much younger (the first game is on this list too, but that will show up in part 4).

Persona 4 Golden

I don't have much willpower – I give into temptation easily. But I did my best to avoid playing Persona 4 in the hopes that it would be re-released, and that day finally came in 2012. I proceeded to spend 130+ hours with Persona 4 Golden and got the platinum trophy... yeah, I like this game. I could ramble on about Persona 4 Golden forever, but I'll just say it has one of my favorite videogame casts of all time, it has a fusion system that I absolutely adore, and it features a lot more environmental variety than Persona 3 (exploring Tartarus became tiring after a while). Best of all is that Golden adds a whole bunch of extra content that honestly makes it a better experience. The extended scenes alone are fantastic, but man do I like being able to pick which skills get carried over during fusions. That's what I like to call a GAME CHANGER.

Pokemon Red/Blue

If you've been reading this list carefully, then you know that nostalgia plays an important role in this whole process. Such is the case with Pokemon Red/Blue, and perhaps more so than others. I say that because I have no interest in playing a Pokemon game ever again, but boy did I love Pokemon Red/Blue when I was younger. It also helped that I was obsessed with the show, so playing out epic battles on my Game Boy was like a dream come true. And even though I have no interest in the games any more, I still have to say they're well-crafted RPGs.

Portal 2

I think the original Portal is one of the most overrated games of all time. There, I said it! That opinion made Portal 2 all the more surprising, because I was not expecting to love it so much. The GlaDOS humor works even better when you add someone like Wheatley into the mix, and J.K. Simmons as Cave Johnson is a stroke of genius. In fact, all of the voice acting in Portal 2 is amazing, which makes the overarching narrative all the more compelling. The gameplay is the real star though, and the innovative portal system is strengthened by the inclusion of things like paint and excursion funnels (tractor beams). The cooperative multiplayer also deserves a special mention – in fact, I think the multiplayer in Portal 2 makes a better case for the game's overall brilliance in game design. It truly felt cooperative, and I can't say that about most multiplayer games. It also made me feel like a genius at times, which is always appreciated.
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About amlabellaone of us since 4:44 PM on 07.07.2013

Senior at UC Davis

Arts Reporter for The California Aggie (UC Davis school newspaper)

Associate Editor for GamerNode.com