__A while ago, I posted a whole slew of top ten lists on this blog, the first of which was my favourite video games. Well, that list has recently gone through quite a few changes, not the least of which is that I’ve expanded it to a top fifteen, so I decided it was worth posting the updated version.
__Just to reiterate, while I did grow up playing games, and still maintain an interest in it today, I’m not what you’d call a gamer. (Actually, my best friend John’s a far more avid gamer than I am, and it’s thanks to him that I came across many of the games on this list in the first place. 🙂 ) But, with that said, I have played several that strike me as real masterpieces. So many, in fact, that I came up with five runners-up that I felt deserved to be highlighted in the list proper instead of briefly commented on at the end, so I decided to expand the list from a top ten to a top fifteen.
__I should point out, by the way, that most of these games aren’t exclusive to the platforms I specify. Most modern-generation games are released for every console, as well as the PC. I’ve played several of these games on multiple platforms; I’m just listing the ones I like best.
__So, without further ado, let’s get started. 🙂
#15 = Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis (PC)
It’s a park simulator game with dinosaurs; what more do I need to say? 😀 Other park or zoo simulator games may have more to offer, but this one has the added magic of being Jurassic Park. It allows you to build Jurassic Park your own way, building enclosures for the dinosaurs and adding amenities and rides to keep the visitors happy. There are twenty-five dinosaur species to choose from, some of which weren’t even in the movies. While building the park is fun, I like taking time to just watch the dinosaurs wander around or interact; it really does make you wish they were real.
#14 = Grim Fandango (PC)
This came out when the adventure game genre was dying out, and despite initially poor sales, it went on to become something of a cult classic. As an adventure game, your progress depends on solving often cryptic puzzles. Once I got used to them and could just breeze through the game, I started to fully appreciate its intriguing story and endlessly fascinating setting, which draws from classic film noir and Aztec beliefs of the afterlife. It’s hard to define what makes something “cool”, but I can’t think of any better word to sum up Grim Fandango. (Plus, the remastered version is much more user-friendly.)
#13 = Half-Life 2 (PS3)
I’m not a big fan of shooters, and that is this game’s only drawback: it’s too heavy on combat for my liking. But what won me over in spite of that is, once again, the sheer inventiveness of the setting. I love every component of the world it creates (the premise, the characters, the technology, the alien creatures – everything), and all the different environments you see as you go on your journey keep things fresh and captivating. The game’s physics engine and use of scripted events instead of cutscenes must have been groundbreaking, and even by today’s standards, the graphics still look gorgeous.
#12 = To the Moon (PC)
The storytelling in this game is just stellar. It’s about two doctors granting a dying man his wish to go to the moon, through a machine that can delve into his memories. Not only does the dream concept make it thematically rich and open to discussion, but it’s superbly emotional too. Seriously, if you’re not in tears by the end, then there is a big black gaping hole where your soul should be! I think the game’s old-school, minimalist style plays a big part in that: the SNES-style graphics, the dialogue being in text, and on top of it all, the exceptional music.
#11 = Dino Crisis (PS1)
When I was a teenager, this was probably the game you’d find me playing most often. I’ve always loved dinosaurs, but this is one of very few times when they’ve actually been scary! 🙂 The great thing about Dino Crisis is that the dinosaurs rarely appear, which really keeps you on edge, because you know there could be another one around any corner. That’s what makes good horror. The story does get increasingly preposterous, but I’m willing to let it pass; I still get swept up in it. Plus, I dare you to ignore that cold shiver when the screen shakes as the T-rex gets closer!
#10 = Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo consoles)
Yeah, I couldn’t pick just one Mario game, so I’m encompassing the whole franchise! 🙂 Every Nintendo console has its definitive Mario title: Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy – I love them all. In any generation, the Mario franchise defines the word “fun”. But then, the same can be said of Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong Country and many other old-school console games, which makes it hard not to fill the whole list with titles like that. But Mario still continues to reign supreme, so I’d say he’s most deserving of a spot on the list.
#9 = at least five Telltale games (PC)
This may seem like cheating, but if I were to count all my favourite Telltale games individually, they’d take up half the list! 🙂 They’re that good. Many of their early games, like Sam & Max and Strong Bad, are outstanding laugh riots. But it was The Walking Dead that put them on the map and set the standard for how storytelling and choice-based games should be done. With some exceptions, I can usually count on Telltale for quality stories populated with irresistible characters. Plus they almost always perfectly capture the spirit of the franchises they’re adapting, to please both fans and newcomers alike.
#8 = Psychonauts (PS2)
This game is like a master class in wit and creativity. The eponymous Psychonauts are basically elite soldiers with enhanced mind powers, and you play a boy in a psychic summer camp. You occasionally go inside people’s minds, and the visual representative worlds are pure genius – and sometimes even lead to laugh-out-loud humour. True, the jumping controls can get really frustrating, and the game does drag on a bit, with more false endings than Return of the King (yeah, no joke!), but it’s still a ton of fun to play, and it’s bursting with so many clever ideas that it never ceases to amaze.
#7 = Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)
This game is a Batman fan’s dream come true! 🙂 Simply setting it in Arkham Asylum is the perfect excuse to throw in as many Batman villains as you want – but never to the point of insanity; they’re all well integrated into the story. I definitely don’t consider combat my strong suit, so I’m glad the combat here is simplified to a few basic commands; you just tell Batman basically what to do and watch him do his thing. 🙂 Plus you have Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill – for my money, still the best versions of their respective characters. …What else can I say? It’s fucking Batman! 🙂
#6 = Far Cry 3 (PS3)
I did not expect this game to completely blow me away like it did. The story is just fantastic: a psychological journey of a man finding his identity as a warrior. But the gameplay experience itself is so amazing that I just can’t do it justice. The missions can be tailored to your preferred gaming style – which, for me, is stealth. I have fun just exploring the island; the tropical scenery is pure bliss to take in while searching for radio towers or enemy outposts. Combined with the absolutely top-notch graphics, it makes me feel like I really am walking among wild animals.
#5 = The Sims 2 (PC)
Since The Sims is a concept without an ending, it’s more of a constant activity than a game. The countless ways in which The Sims 2 improved on the original Sims just blew my mind. You have access to just about everything you could ask for to make your Sims’ home life complete. Since I don’t tune into much TV, I sometimes use The Sims 2 as my alternative, a TV soap that I have complete control over! 🙂 I am interested in playing The Sims 3, so maybe that’ll take two’s place on this list at some point in the future.
#4 = Mass Effect 2 (PS3)
The Mass Effect trilogy became my new obsession from the moment I first played it, but Mass Effect 2 is my favourite of the bunch because the entire setup is focused on character development. The goal is to put a team together to stop an alien race called the Collectors, so you’re guaranteed to grow attached to at least some of your squadmates. My main investment was in the romance I had going with the ever-adorable Tali; I came for the romance but stayed for everything else. I love the Mass Effect universe, I love the story, but most of all, I love the characters.
#3 = Fahrenheit [known in the US as Indigo Prophecy] (PS2)
Fahrenheit is more like an interactive story than a game – and a really damn good one. It’s a murder story in which you play both the murderer and the police on the case, both equally determined to find the truth. It starts out relatively slow and gradually pulls you in, so that before long you’re seized inescapably in the heart-stopping excitement of it all. The quick time events (moments where you simply have to press the right button at the right time), which dictate the action scenes, being so user-friendly certainly helps. Plus the characters are all memorable and the music is just fantastic.
#2 = Beyond Good & Evil (PS2)
Oh my God, I love this game! 😀 I can’t possibly praise it enough! The world of Hillys, combining humans and anthropomorphic animals, is probably my favourite fictional world ever. It has a brilliant storyline involving a rebel organisation exposing a deadly conspiracy. It’s another one packed with stealth sections, which truly get your heart pounding. But it also has intense combat scenes, flying scenes and even racing scenes – it has everything you could ask for. 🙂 And the music… the whole soundtrack is outstanding! Any way you look at it, Beyond Good & Evil is a masterpiece. I adore it to death.
And my #1 favourite game of all time is… the Portal games (PS3)
Yeah, I just couldn’t choose between the two! 🙂 They’re basically puzzle games involving portals, but with a storyline that catapults them straight to elite status. Portal 1 stood solo at the top of my list for a long time, because it’s the most perfect piece of entertainment I’ve ever seen in terms of atmosphere and story progression. I used to think Portal 2, though superior to the first one in many ways, spoiled the original somewhat by elaborating on a bit too much back-story. But it’s grown on me, and now I just can’t get enough of it. 🙂 Both have their own strengths: Portal 1 is much darker and grittier, providing a pitch-perfect sense of complete isolation, while Portal 2 offers a wider array of puzzle elements, and is a lot funnier than the original to boot – which is not to say for a second that the original was slouching in the joke department, but the sequel has bigger and usually better gags. In any event, either one on its own is easily the most fun I’ve ever had playing a game. Both of them are staggeringly creative, hilarious, gripping, and like I said before, just all-around perfect.
These are a few sequels that I love for essentially the same reason as their predecessors – not quite as much so, but I didn’t feel they were distinct enough to put on the list.
• Batman: Arkham City (PS3) and Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4) are both, in their own ways, superior to Arkham Asylum, just let down a bit by my usual bias against sandbox games.
• Half-Life 2: Episode One and Episode Two (PS3) continue the story so well that I’m still pissed that Valve never followed up on Episode Two’s ending!