By Atlas 16 Comments
So I gave a general overview of my gaming tastes on my previous blog entry, but now I think it's time to go in deeper, with a full list of my all-time favourite games, in ascending order, so you can get a much more specific feel of my tastes. I'll include the game, the year of release, the developers, the system I played it on, and explain why I loved the game.
20) Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon - 1998, Konami, Nintendo 64
Blimey thinking of this game takes me back. This was my first experience of Japanese RPG's. I have no idea why I bought it, but I immediately fell in love with it for it's wacky story, it's great visuals, it's expansive world, solid gameplay and interesting characters. How could you not love a game where the antagonists are using a peach shaped spacecraft to turn Japan into a dance stage? Impossible. I'm fairly certain this was also one the first games I ever played to completion which wasn't designed for kiddies.
19) Assassin's Creed - 2007, Ubisoft Montreal, Xbox 360
A rather polarising game, I loved Assassin's Creed for it's awesome visuals, it's compelling if occasionally frustrating story and it's great open world gameplay. I didn't hate the combat as much as most, and it's a game that presents itself so well. I did get bored towards the end, but the first 10 hours I spent with the game were a total blast. A guilty pleasure.
18) Burnout Paradise - 2008, Criterion Games, Xbox 360
A much newer game, and my first experience of Criterion's Burnout franchise. Sure the idea of an open world street racer is weird and a little daunting at first, but the driving is a totally intense blast. It's not a game you can play all weekend, but in short chunks with excellent driving music blaring, there aren't many games that are as fun as Burnout Paradise, especially since they added bikes, which made a great game even better.
17) Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - 2002, Ubisoft Montreal, PC
I adored this game. The story was excellent, the visuals cool, the gameplay excellent and original. It was unlike any game I'd ever played. I played through it several times and never tired of it. It's a shame that none of the later games in the series have lived up to the standard set by this first game; Chaos Theory was good, but the ending was impossible.
16) The Darkness - 2007, Starbreeze Studios, Xbox 360
One of the most original and compelling FPS's I've ever played. In a world full of samey generic shooters, The Darkness was a breath of fresh air with its great aesthetics, excellent creepy story, terrific and fun gameplay and some of the best voice acting you will hear in the game. A truly excellent shooter.
15) WWF No Mercy - 2000, THQ, Nintendo 64
I was a huge wrestling fan for significant portions of my life, and this was by far my favourite wrestling game. It looked better, played better and felt better than all of the other games around at the time, and it stood as one of the deeper and more immersive wrestling games I've played for a long time. The first Day of Reckoning for the GameCube was obviously a better game, but for its time No Mercy was completely unmatched.
14) Fable - 2004, Lionhead Studios, Xbox 360 (Xbox Originals)
A stunningly well realised and utterly charming open-world RPG, Fable had so much going for it, it was a shame it was limited by a story mode which doesn't get going until the second half, and it was definitely too short. Despite this, few video games have entertained me and offered as much immersion as Fable did. A unique and wonderful experience.
13) Eternal Sonata - 2007, tri-Crescendo, Xbox 360
My all-time favourite JRPG. It takes a truly unique and wonderful story and wraps it gorgeous visuals, stunning music, and one of the most effective and entertaining turn-based combat systems in recent years. Eternal Sonata was an absolute dream, and stood out as a special experience, one that I could relive over and over again. True gaming magic.
12) Soulcalibur IV - 2008, Namco (Project Soul), Xbox 360
Soulcalibur IV wasn't my first game in the series, that honour went to the excellent GameCube version of SCII. However SCIV is clearly the most realised and outstanding game I've played in the series, and stands out as the best fighting game I've ever played. Fighting game purists will hate me for saying it, but Soulcalibur is the daddy for fighting games, and is a total blast to play, especially if you love boobs!
11) Forza Motorsport 2 - 2007, Turn 10 Studios, Xbox 360
Many driving games have come and gone, but few offer the depth and immersive quality of Forza. Having never owned a Playstation, I've never experience a Gran Turismo game, but now I don't need to. Forza offers so much that it's pretty much the only racing sim you will ever need. The driving is more fun in Burnout, but the depth of the career mode and the ability to collect exotic cars from around the world, coupled with excellent visuals and good gameplay, makes Forza 2 the best in its class.
10) Harvest Moon: A Wonderful LIfe - 2004, Natsume, GameCube
I've been a fan of the Harvest Moon series for a long time, and this in my opinion is the series finest hour. One of the most charming, immersive and deeply satisfying simulations I've ever played. Few games have the heart of A Wonderful Life, and even fewer could make something as mundane as farming so interesting and compelling. A special game.
9) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - 1998, Nintendo, Nintendo 64
It took me eight years for me to beat this game, but I spent many hours struggling through it and watching my sister play it when it came out, and I was totally in love with it. A stunningly beautiful, well realised and imaginative game, there's a reason why it's so often labelled the best game ever. It does have some shortcomings, but it's definitely the most groundbreaking and exceptional game of its generation, and even today it stands out as an excellent game.
8) Fable II - 2008, Lionhead Studios, Xbox 360
Call this judgement premature all you want, since I've only had the game for 10 days. I fucking love this game. I love everything about it. It's got the Harvest Moon quality of infinite charm and the ability to make the mundane rewarding, and it's completely addictive and compelling. It has quite a few flaws, although slightly less than its predecessor, but it's impossible not to love this imaginative and brilliantly ambitious game. An RPG fan's heaven.
7) Madden NFL 2005 - 2004, EA Sports, GameCube
Being a massive fan of both football and video games, I couldn't have a favourite games list without a Madden game, and 2005 stands out as a clear favourite. It has well refined gameplay, a deep and engaging franchise mode, great visuals, and most importantly, the create-a-playbook feature which has been so tragically absent in the most recent Madden games. Even today 05 is still the best football game I've played.
6) The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - 2000, Nintendo, Nintendo 64
Many will snort with derision with this game's placement above it's much more hallowed older brother, but while I'm more than happy to admit that Ocarina of Time was a better game, Majora's Mask is still my favourite game in the series. The story wasn't as good but I liked the fewer number of temples, the open and interesting gameworld, the unique time bending mechanic and the game's depth. Also, I'm a sucker for sidequests, and Majora's Mask had some damn fine ones.
5) Pokemon Gold/Silver - 2001, GameFreak, Game Boy Colour
When I was young, I was the biggest Pokemon fan. I collected all the cards, watched the anime, but most of all I loved the games, and Gold/Silver still stand as the best game(s) of the series. It had the same charm and excellent gameplay of R/B/Y, but with much more depth, more Pokemon and many more features. One of the best sequels ever. I loved this game so much I actually had both copies, so I could trade with myself. I was a lonely child...
4) Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings + The Conquerors Expansion - 1999, Ensemble Studios, PC
I have to add the game and the expansion here because the expansion added so much to the game that without it it would probably wouldn't be in the top ten. I love history, and so Age of Empires II appealed in such a big way. I've never played a RTS that was as compelling to me as AoE2. The campaigns were well realised, it looked great, it played phenomenally well, and it was incredibly addictive, so much so that I was playing right up to as recently as two years ago. A true classic.
3) BioShock - 2007, 2K Boston/2K Australia, Xbox 360
Me and FPS's have a love-hate relationship, but BioShock is possibly the most loveable I've ever played. It's certainly the most atmospheric, and features one of the best stories. You can't call it truly original if you've played a System Shock game, but for me BioShock was a completely new twist on the FPS formula which left me totally in awe, thanks to its amazing graphics, truly brilliant story, strong gameplay and its complete sense of immersion. I loved it so much I named my Giant Bomb profile from it.
2) Half LIfe 2 + The Orange Box - 2004, Valve Corporation, PC
I often go back and forth on whether I liked this or BioShock more, but perhaps because Half-Life 2 came first I have to give it the nod. Like BioShock it had an amazing story, a great atmosphere and great immersion. But its gameplay was where Half-Life 2 really shone. It was such a blast to play, and the two epilogue games made it even better. The sound of poison headcrabs still scares the shit out of me today. A truly legendary gaming experience.
1) The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - 2006, Bethesda, PC
This game was my first experience of the Elder Scrolls series, and it offered more immersion, intrigue and enjoyment than any game I've ever played. Many games have had better stories, and better combat, and better visuals, but no other game can bring all these features together and bring them into such a fascinating fantasy world as Tamriel. Oblivion is better than the sum of its parts, and its parts are pretty amazing on their own. It's undoubtedly got some flaws, but none of them matter, as evidence by the fact I've spent a good 1,200 hours in the past two years or so playing the game. Truly the best.
So there's a much deeper insight into my gaming tastes and a comprehensive list of my all-time favourite. I think that list tells you all you need to know about my tastes. I don't always like the most obvious or mainstream games (please note: an Xbox fan who doesn't care for Gears of War or Halo), but I know what I like, and this is it. So now that we all know each other and we're all friends, regular service will begin tomorrow. Until then.
P.S. Get used to long blog posts. If my other blog is anything to go by, there's plenty more where that came from. Consider yourselves warned.