I play a lot of video games. I'm a video game connoisseur, you might say. I've always enjoyed playing them, even when I was a wee lad. One thing I love about video game is expressing my opinion on them. So I thought, what a better way to express my thought than rating them—all of them. Every game I've ever played.
Consoles sorted alphabetically.
Games sorted alphabetically within each console.
Lone Survivor - April 21st, 2014
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - April 18th, 2014
Multiplatform (8th Generation)
The 8th generation multiplatform section includes games from the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and occasionally, the Wii U.
Black Flag was an enjoyable experience because it succeeds in aspects of gameplay that other Assassin's Creed games have blundered. The open world is massive and sailing around in a pirate ship fits the setting beautifully (contrary to the naval combat's forced integration in ACIII). Other AC games have tried the open world nature but haven't been as successful as Black Flag. You'll want to take over all the Naval Forts and complete all the naval & assassination contracts. You'll want to stop at every little island and clean out its collectibles and hunt for animal skins. You'll even want to stop and walk around outside the Animus just to take in all of the AC lore. It makes doing the side stuff fun and because the economy is finally fixed, their rewards are usually worthwhile. The next-gen versions run beautifully smooth, too, something that Assassin's Creed III desperately needed.
Justifying Ground Zeroes' price is extremely difficult when you consider how quickly you could potentially finish it. At best, Ground Zeroes is a 2-hour game—at thirty dollars, that may be a little steep for a lot of people. There are, however, many side quests to partake in after the main mission is complete. I also found myself replaying them again and again, inching closer that elusive S-Rank. It helps, too, that Ground Zeroes is just fun to play. It's small stop-gap in between Peace Walker and The Phantom Pain story-wise, but it also introduces you to the gameplay mechanics that we will most likely see again in its sequel. It's the most streamlined Metal Gear game to date, with smart stealth gameplay mechanics (such as the marking system that lets you mark enemies and see them through walls) that don't allow the stealth to become frustrating. It's a gorgeous game, too, showcasing what next-gen consoles are all about.
Stick it to the Man is one of those games that has an interesting beginning but starts to ware out its welcome soon after. It's a puzzle platformer that has you solving puzzles by reading other character's minds. The problem is that this is a neat idea... for a little while. Once you get to the 3rd or 4th level, solving puzzles becomes extremely rote. Some levels, too, introduce crappy stealth sections. It's funny, has charm, and looks beautiful—it's just boring all the while.
If you're looking to play Tomb Raider (2013) again or play it for the first time, Definitive Edition is well worth investing in. It's not a major overhaul from the previous generation but the visual upgrades and higher frame rate (on the PS4) are welcomed additions to an already fantastic game. Some of the vistas look absolutely stunning running at 1080p. Sure, they didn't fix any of the real problems that persisted in the previous versions, but it was a game that didn't really have any major issues in the first place.
Multiplatform (7th Generation)
The 7th generation multiplatform section includes games from the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and PC. It also may include rare, late-generation Wii U ports.
Platform in bold is the version I played.
Alan Wake (X360, PC) • Remedy Entertainment | Microsoft Studios
Coming into Alan Wake originally, I didn't know what to expect—it was tagged as a psychological horror game developed by ex-Max Payne personnel. Sounds neat, but does that make it a fun game to play? Although Alan Wake is definitely frightening and has its moments of jump scares and unsettling atmosphere, the game ended up relying too much on its action and not enough on its suspense and terror. Therefor the game ended up being a slog to play, even if some of its more spooky moments were done well. That's not to say that the shooting mechanics were bad, per se, there was just too much of it.
Alpha Protocol is a stealth game with a heavy emphasis on RPG mechanics. You pick between classes, level up, assign points to different skills, and gain an assortment of perks which vary certain statistics. It very much feels and plays like a modern-day-setting Mass Effect—including an awesome conversation system. However, most of the gameplay is riddled with bugs and a general lack of polish, resulting in a lot of unneeded frustration. You bullets, for example, don't necessarily hit where you're aiming, as most of the shooting is governed by dice-rolls. This is why the game puts such value on sneaking around enemies, though even the stealth aspect is rather lacklustre. And I'm not even mentioning how awful the boss encounters are—yuck.
Assassin's Creed II is a perfect example of how to improve upon an original idea in a sequel. Most, if not all, of the problems that plagued the original game are completely nonexistent, and it's super-impressive that Ubisoft Montreal still kept all of the awesome parkour gameplay and neat story intact. It helps, too, that Ezio is a much more interesting character than both Desmond and Altair, not to mention the trials and tribulations he faces through the campaign result in fun and engaging mission structure. The Italian Renaissance setting that features both Florence and Venice couldn't have been done any better. Light-RPG mechanics and an incredible soundtrack from Jesper Kyd are the icing on a truly amazing, incredibly addictive cake.
Ubisoft Montreal dropped the ball with Assassin's Creed III. I suppose it's not a bad game, but it's definitely not a very enjoyable one. The change of scenery brought fresh air into the series, and it's definitely the most ambitious game in the franchise since the original Assassin's Creed in 2007. Some new gameplay elements, such as the naval combat, was done incredibly well. But other additions, like the item trading and economy, was poorly explained and hardly made any sense. It also didn't help that the old Assassin's Creed formula is starting to show its age. Since it takes place in more open cities like Boston and New York, Conner has to move around the environment horizontally rather than vertically, resulting in a lot of frustration. Most of the mission design, too, was poor, often resetting you back ridiculously far if you fail.
Because licensed video games are usually not very good it was very surprising that Arkham Asylum ended up being as fantastic as it is. It makes you feel like you are Batman with a combat system that's brutal as Batman pounds his fists into enemy's face and rib cages. But it's also incredibly well designed, possessing some of the tightest controls of any combat system. It's an adventure with more than just combat, though, as exploration and discovery is one of the best parts, allowing Batman to utilize gadgets like explosive gel and his famous batarangs. It's definitely one of the best comic-book inspired games ever made.
Batman: Arkham City is fundamentally similar to its predecessor only with more, well... everything. More allies, more villains, more gadgets, more environments. While the combat remains untouched from Arkham Asylum, Arkham City introduced a more expansive, dense, half-open-world environment rich with exploration and discovery. Think: open-world environment on the outside, Arkham Asylum-like level design on the inside—not to mention a plethora of collectibles, and the ability to play as Catwoman at periodic times. It's a game that you must play.
Even fans of the previous two Rocksteady-developed Batman games may find Arkham Origins—a Warner Bros. Games Montreal joint—a little disappointing. It's a paint-by-numbers affair, rarely attempting to distance itself from its predecessors; not to mention the general lack of polish throughout the entire thing. It's a game that starts out strong but becomes less entertaining the further you get—stark contrast to the engaging origin story of Batman and Joker told through the overarching narrative.
Sometimes it's easy to excuse a mediocre game's shortcomings because it's "stupid" or it's "dumb in a good way," but some people excuse games that don't deserve it. I feel this way with Binary Domain. It's a 3rd person shooter, sort of like Gears of War, but if you're thinking this game is anything like Vanquish you're going to be disappointed. The encounter design is lame and the storyline and characters (who are extremely goofy) are just plain awful. There were multiple times throughout the campaign where I thought I was going to fall asleep. It has some neat ideas such as the voice commands and picking your crew during certain mission to raise their friendship, but I found that the game was just too boring.
The world of Columbia portrayed in BioShock Infinite is so incredibly realized and beautifully designed that it's easy to forget that the game is just a lot of fun to play. The mix of action-heavy set pieces and subtle touches that intertwine with the overarching narrative is done amazingly well. When it comes down to it, Infinite is everything I enjoy about video games: thought provoking story, engaging combat with plenty of variation, stunning visual motif, and phenomenal audio design—including an extraordinary voice cast. It's not something I say very often, but BioShock Infinite is a special game.
The thing with Borderlands 2 is that it's fundamentally superior than its predecessor in every way; everything from the world, visuals, story, combat, loot—there's no reason to go back to the original game. But Borderlands 2 is only a small step forward rather than a leap. There's a brand-new story, classes, environments and enemies, but you're going to be doing the same stuff over and over again. It's a repetitive experience by the time you get half-way through. It's a really fun time, no doubt, but it's a game that you've played before (almost identically). It sucks, too, that each of the 4 classes have the same starting location, meaning that you'll end up playing the same content again and again if you want to try all of them.
Bulletstorm (X360, PS3, PC) • People Can Fly | Epic Games
First-person shooters have more or less worn out their welcome over this console generation. Some developers try to tweak small thing here or there but we've all come to expect the same gameplay most of the time. Bulletstorm is one game that tries to spruce things up a bit. Killing enemies in unique ways (like kicking them into spikes or throwing them off cliffs) rewards you with skill points which you can then spend on upgrading your weapons. It changes up your tactics, since most of the time you'd probably just want to shoot every enemy you see. It's a neat concept but it doesn't add too much value in its execution. It's still a linear, set-piece-heavy first-person shooter when all is said and done, not to mention the mindless story and annoying characters.
Costume Quest is a cute, little game great for introducing RPG newcomers with its light mechanics and easy difficulty. The idea of equipping different costumes to change which caricatures your player uses in battle is extremely clever and unique. The game's narrative is very basic but relatively funny, including many references of other media (like Arrested Development, for example). Although it's a great concept the execution is lacklustre and battles become repetitive only after the main first area (of three). It's great for kids, though.
As innovative as the longstanding Legend of Zelda series has been, there hasn't been too many games to completely duplicate the series that so many people adore. Although "duplicate" sounds disrespectful, Vigil Games did a phenomenal job at getting the feel of the Zelda series just right with Darksiders. It features themed dungeons, small keys, skulls that give you more life (sort of like heart pieces) as well as those tedious fetch quests near the end of the game. Darksiders knows it's extremely similar to the Legend of Zelda but doesn't care as it does many of its conventions better than the Zelda series itself—including tighter, God of War-like combat.
Vigil Games tried to stay away from comparing the Darksiders series to the Legend of Zelda after the original game's release, and Darksiders II does in fact feel like a much different game than its predecessor, so it's rightfully deserved. It's a more combat focussed game that relies much more on fast-paced fighting and less on dungeon crawling—though there's definitely still more of that. The dungeons are much less pronounced; rarely themed in the traditional sense and are much shorter in length. This isn't to a fault, however, as the game is just as engaging as it was before. There's colour-coded loot, and a half-open-world environment to explore, as well. Although it's quite a bit different, it's still just as engaging as it was prior. Note that my personal save file (X360 version) got corrupted on the last area of the game, so I had to wait 5 or so months before any fix was issued. It was a massive bummer.
Dark Souls (X360, PS3, PC) • From Software | Namco-Bandai Games
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls are a breath of fresh air into a generation that's otherwise chock-full of giant set-piece, explosion-heavy shooters and action/adventures. Dark Souls is an extremely punishing game that will test your limits as a gamer while allowing you to explore a fantastic, Metroidvania-like world all the while. From Software purposely conserves most of the game's information allowing the community to figure things out on their own—something that games have been getting away from for years. Lordran is a beautiful, brutal, seamless world, full of distinct areas that bleed together in some really awesome ways (which is much more engaging than Demon's Souls HUB structure, for example). The game features bonfires which replace the old levelling structure from Demon's Souls, allowing the player to level up and attune their magic at these various points through the world. The boss fights are incredible, the world is varied, the game is just plain addicting.
Dark Souls II (X360, PS3, PC) • From Software | Namco-Bandi Games
Dark Souls II was a hotly anticipated game, and deservedly so, being the sequel to one of the most well-regarded role playing games of the generation. It's a terrific sequel with a clever assortment of UI improvements, finely-tuned classes and skills, and a wide variety of terrifying locations for the player to explore. If you thought some parts of the original Dark Souls were hard, just wait for Dark Souls II to rip you to shreds. It has been claimed that Dark Souls II is "easier" than past games, but it's only more streamlined to allow newcomers to get the hang of its nuance. The beautiful locals are littered with things that want nothing but to see you die a miserable death, not to mention the plethora of incredible boss fights that you will most likely see a few times before figuring out their weaknesses. Two thumbs way, way up to From Software's devotion to its craft.
Many people were claiming that Dead Island was basically Fallout 3 only with zombies, but it's definitely not on the same level. Although the open-world and quest design is similar, the entire idea of it being a massive open world with hundreds of hours of content is absurd. It's really unfortunate, too, that the best part of Dead Island is hidden behind the options menu because killing zombies with the normal melee controls just doesn't feel right. Turning on the analog combat will allow you to swing your weapons in specific ways by pressing the right stick in certain directions. It makes killing zombies throughout the world fun and exciting, and let's you decapitate them in gruesome—and awesome—ways. The last half of the game, though? Awful.
The super-engaging stealth gameplay in Deus Ex: Human Revolution gives the player tons of customization options to play around with. You could, potentially, play Human Revolution like a typical shooter, but the most enjoyable experiences come from the plethora of stealth options. It's an RPG, too, allowing you dump your skill points (earned from completing missions) into parts of Adam Jensen's body, such as his arms or legs. You can play Human Revolution the way that YOU want to play it—not the way the game makes you play it. And that's the game's biggest strength (well, along with the terrific presentation) that separates the game from the rest of the pack.
Zipping around the environment as a masked assassin throughout Dishonored was a lot of fun, but sneaking all the way through giant castles or just prancing through masquerade parties unnoticed was the main draw. You're given lots of powers to experiment with which ultimately varies how you play the game. You could simply crawl through small nooks and crannies toward your objective or you could possess animals, like fish, to swim through sewer grates. It feels fresh. The game is short and goes by too quickly, plus it's very hard to tell whether you're hidden or not, which became frustrating on occasion. Otherwise it's great fun.
The original Dragon Age is a hardcore RPG, one that many people will have a tough time jumping into. It's a very demanding game that takes a considerable amount of time, patience, and education to really get into. But once you lose yourself in the game world you will lose sleep quickly. It's a massive game with lots to do, and the tactical combat has the right amount of challenge and reward that you'll want to keep playing long after you should have stopped. It's a game with many variables, too, so you may end up playing the game more than once after you finish it for the first time.
Dragon Age II is an extremely disappointing game for many reasons. If you're thinking this is the Mass Effect 2 of the Dragon Age series, you're in for a bad time. Its biggest problem is that it just feels tiny. Hawke (the new human-only protagonist of the game) will only explore one small city and some surrounding areas outside its walls. You will likely see the same recycled areas a multitude of times, as well, making the game feel extremely small. The quests, levelling, characters, and action are all relatively okay (the combat was actually pretty good), but feels insignificant with the lack of grandiose that the original game provided.
Similar to Oblivion, Morrowind, and Daggerfall before it, Skyrim is an action/RPG that is massive in scope that allows the player to explore and complete quests whenever and wherever they want. The world is overflowing with stuff; full of mystery and lore around every corner or across every mountain. It's an action/RPG at its core, allowing you to progress throughout skill trees with actions that your character performs. You play Skyrim the way YOU want to play, not the way the game makes you. This new levelling system eases in new players while veterans of the series will have no problem getting back into their grove. Under no circumstance should you not play this game.
One of the lesser known games of 2010 that stood out to me was Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. It's not the best playing game and it has its fair share of shortcomings. It's an extremely enjoyable game, though, warts and all. Probably my favourite aspect of Enslaved is the constant back-and-forth between Monkey and Trip (the two protagonists of the game) as they try and survive through the post-apocalypse. Their story is well-told and above all else, they seem believable. Actually playing Enslaved is fine, but it's not the game's strength. The combat can be frustrating at times and the Uncharted-like climbing can get tiresome. You'll want to see the game to the end, though, as the game might surprise you by the time you reach its conclusion.
Far Cry 3 (X360, PS3, PC) • Ubisoft Montreal | Ubisoft
There's just so much stuff to do in Far Cry 3 that it would be extremely difficult to find something that you don't like. The island is gigantic and crammed full of things to see and enemies to shoot that you could easily find yourself lost to its clutches for hours at a time. The best time to be had in Far Cry 3 is the peripheral elements (like exploring and hunting) that surround the main story since the narrative falls apart half-way through. It's definitely one of the better open world games of the generation that just lacks some sort of force to drive you forward. Once you've hunted all the animals and climbed all the radio towers the rest of the game just seems to descend on a downward spiral that at some point gets difficult to tolerate.
Fez is a solid 2D platformer with puzzle solving throughout the game. It has one major twist, though: you can rotate the world 90 degrees at a time to get an entirely new perspective on what was otherwise a 2D world. Solving the puzzles usually revolve around manipulating the perspective, and getting cubes (Fez's version of Super Mario 64's stars) is extremely satisfying. Plus, the physical platforming (which includes climbing on vines and such) feels great. It's not until you find out Fez's secrets that the game really opens up, though. You may even want to grab a pen and paper just to keep track of all the crazy stuff you find around the game world—you'll probably need it.
Rockstar North has put on a clinic with Grand Theft Auto V, allowing us to see that open-world games can still be fun even if they're grounded in some sort of reality. Los Santos (and its surrounding region) is one of the most diverse, beautiful, and well-crafted game worlds you can explore in this day and age. It feels alive. It feels like a place that you could conceivably live within. It's hard to argue against some of the game's "stuck-in-the-past" controls and gameplay nuance (the shooting feels straight out of GTA IV), but GTA V's multi-character campaign puts a small twist on what we have come to expect from open-world crime games. Each character feels distinct from the other, resulting in some really fantastic mission design that revolves around all three of them at once. And considering it's easy to switch between all three at any given time, it's difficult seeing Rockstar going back to its one-dimensional stories.
Guacamelee is one of the very few games that attempts the exploration-heavy platforming (Metroidvania-style) and succeeds. Yes, you explore giant maps, collect power-ups which open previously discovered doors, and fight enemies along the way, including bosses. It implements the Lucha Libre aesthetic incredibly well, though—which includes the wacky audiovisual presentation—separating it from the overused pixel art that indy developers consistently fall back on. It's definitely one of the better "one of those games" out there, and at only fifteen dollars, I don't see a problem recommending it.
In theory, playing as an assassin, eliminating your targets without being seen, and escaping from the scene unscathed made the Hitman series so enticing. The problem with Absolution is that this neat idea is squandered way too often. One of my biggest problems is that you're forced to sneak your way through giant environments way too often—almost a third of the game is just sneaking. It's not very much fun. The game also features manual checkpoints that you can find throughout the level that you can activate when you desire. The problem with these checkpoints is that they reset everything in the level except any targets you've assassinated. It hardly makes any sense.
Hotline Miami (PC, PS3, PSVita) • Dennaton Games | Abstraction Games
Hotline Miami is a brutal game, but because the art style looks and feels almost like a Super Nintendo or SEGA Genesis game, it's easy to look past the blood and guts. The game is all about running into buildings and murdering every person you see, hostile or not, to move to the next area. Sometimes enemies will have melee weapons like pool cues or knives while others may have guns. You need to be super-fast in order to survive since enemies will rush you quickly if you're not careful or methodical. It's fun, though, and requires quick thinking and problem solving. And that soundtrack—killer.
I Am Alive (X360, PS3, PC) • Ubisoft Shanghai | Ubisoft
Believe it or not, I Am Alive was once being built as a retail game—it works perfectly fine as a downloadable game, though. It's concept is pretty simple: you play as a man who was on the other side of the United States from his family when "the event" struck and tore the world apart. You start the adventure as he finally makes it back to his home town. I Am Alive is an ugly game with one primary colour (gray) but its justified. Since most of the buildings have fallen apart around town, the lower regions of the city are completely covered in dust. You have to manage you grip while you climb buildings, but you also have to take you time and make sure you don't stay in the dust for too long. It's also a half-open-world game, too, as you can explore the city when more parts open up, and you can even do side quests to save other citizens around town. It has its problems, but it's fun. I enjoyed it.
Traveller's Tales continues to pump out LEGO games like there's no tomorrow, and each release seems to get better and better. LEGO Batman 2 has a lot really neat additions to the tired LEGO formula, however, it continues to have some pretty significant problems, too. Instead of a small HUB seen in the previous games, LEGO Batman 2 features one massive Gotham City-sized HUB that almost acts like an open-world (which was my biggest draw, personally). It's very finicky, though—like frame rate problems and awful flying controls—and only really exists for collectibles. There really isn't anything fun to be had in Gotham City. The regular levels, though? They're standard LEGO game levels. So basically, nothing special. It's an okay game.
It's almost disingenuous to call Limbo a platformer because it plays nothing like a traditional one. You move left, right, and jump across chasms but it takes a much more minimalistic approach. Its old film-reel visual design combined while its atmospheric audio give it an effectively subtle mood, something that makes it stand out from the pack. Most of the puzzles come down to making a mistake and having to go back and try it again, but the haste in which it allows you jump right back in allows Limbo to keep a steady gameplay flow without disengaging the player. It's one of the best indie games on the market.
Lone Survivor (PC, PS3, PSVita) • Super Flat Games | Curve Studios
To me Lone Survivor felt like a 2D, old-school Resident Evil game with a 16-bit pixel art aesthetic. There are zombies, pistols, healing items, keys to unlock previously locked doors, and an abandoned city. The thing is, though, is that Lone Survivor is a complete chore to play. It ranges from tolerable to absolutely dreadful in many cases, as sneaking your way by enemies is too slow and shooting your way through enemies only works when you have ammunition (which is basically never). The map is basically useless, too, as the game is played in 2D but the map is displayed in a top-down perspective. You need to experiment with things like cooking food, trading items for ammo, and finding hidden characters that help you along the way, but finding these out on your own is difficult when the game constantly bombards you with "your character is hungry" or "you need to sleep." It just never clicked for me, even despite the fact that I really liked it atmospheric presentation.
To me Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom feels like one massive Legend of Zelda dungeon. It's a budget game, no doubt, but cleverly designed. You play as a young boy who frees a mystical creature called the Majin early in the game, and they build a bond during their adventure together. The game revolves around you commanding him to complete puzzles and attack enemies in tandem. While the game is a little ugly and has some pretty substantial presentational issues, the core mechanics are designed amazing well.
Max Payne 3 (X360, PS3, PC) • Rockstar Vancouver | Rockstar Games
While playing through Max Payne 3 I felt a little disappointed that I had never played either of the first two Max Payne games, but after the credits rolled I don't think it would have mattered. Simply put: Max Payne 3 is not that great. It's definitely one of the most cinematic games I've ever played, easily, but Max himself felt so slow and sluggish that it made the game feel very unresponsive. And since it's a shooter, not being able to quickly get into cover and shoot enemies became very frustrating. It's like GTA's sluggish, auto-aim focussed shooting with linear levels and seemingly endless waves of foes. It just wasn't very fun or engaging overall, and I would've liked to see them get away from Grand Theft Auto's type of weak shooting mechanics.
All of the peripheral aspects around the gameplay of Metro 2033 are incredible. The game has an amazing, creepy atmosphere. The story of Russians living inside the metro system because of a nuclear winter is outstanding. The bullet economy puts a weird twist on video game currency. The Russian-accented voice acting makes it feel foreign, but cool. The game just isn't much fun to play, ultimately. The shooting feels loose and inaccurate, and the enemy behaviour can get quite irritating. The game is super-linear too—almost like a Call of Duty game—only straying from the very thin path only occasionally. It's funny, too, because even despite being incredibly linear, I was often lost and couldn't figure out the correct path to take. It's a very messy game.
Most of the problems I had with Metro 2033 weren't really fixed in Last Light, the 2013 sequel. The shooting was vastly improved over its predecessor but it was the only aspect of the game that I felt 4A Games reworked. You still have to grind through lame stealth sections, shoot your way through seemingly never-ending monster pits, put up with occasionally-awful checkpointing, and stumble your way through paths that are extremely linear but maze-like. I think it's a well-made game (some of the atmospheric sections are really impressive), but I just didn't have much fun playing through it. I would only suggest Last Light to someone who has a weekend to plough through a generally short game.
Mirror's Edge (X360, PS3, PC) • Digital Illusions CE | Electronic Arts
Mirror's Edge has a really awesome concept—not to mention a superb visual aesthetic—but the game's first-person-platforming gameplay nuance ends up falling flat. The biggest caveat is the platforming itself which is difficult to get the hold of, mainly because of the lack of peripheral vision (something that 3rd person games, such as Assassin's Creed, doesn't have). Half way through the game, too, introduces gun-wielding enemies who become frustrating to run from, especially when you have to time your jumps perfectly while also running as fast as possible. It's an OK game that needed some tweaks, but who knows if any minor tweaks would help make the game more fun to play either way.
Remember Me centres around people's memories and how people can change their memories at any given time, like, say, erasing an awful memory from your past. You play as Nilin, an "Errorist" that hunts down bad people and steals their memory. One of the coolest things about Remember is that it takes place in Neo Paris, a futuristic, almost sci-fi version of real-life Paris without the beauty. The 3rd-person combat is not dissimilar to the Batman series but focusses more on precise timing and building your combos in a separate menu (rather than having them already at your disposal). So instead of just doing any combo you like, you earn actions throughout the game that can be assigned to any of your 4-5 different combos. Some heal you while some do more damage. It's a neat system that works really well in execution. The time spent not fighting is Uncharted-like, running through dense, linear areas, climbing up buildings and jumping across ledges. It's an engaging, if not surprising experience.
It was really tough for Capcom to catch lightning in a bottle again like they did with Resident Evil 4 in 2005, especially considering games like Gears of War have come out between it and Resident Evil 5. Despite this, Resident Evil 5 is a pretty damn good game. It's built around cooperative play, meaning that you will be able to play a Resident Evil 4-style campaign with a buddy, resulting in lots of neat combat scenarios. The controls aren't necessarily as sharp and responsive as most 3rd-person shooters, but shooting, performing wrestling moves, and blasting giant monsters in the face is still just as fun as it was before. It sucks that Capcom put a big emphasis on action and lacks any spooky atmosphere (which was the staple of Resident Evil in the past), but the replayability definitely makes up for it. You'll want to play it more than once.
Resident Evil 6 is a disaster in many respects. Capcom has lost all perspective with the series in the last couple of years, but RE6 is the culmination of every day decision that the team has ever made. Poor storyline is the least of the game's problems, including gameplay fundamentals that are practically broken. While it feels the most shooter-esque as any of the main series games in the past, the aiming never feels right and the enemy's behaviours are laughably bad, not to mention frustrating to deal with. The game is easily 20-hours in length between the three campaigns, and you'll end up playing the same awful parts again and again since the six main characters meet up in the same places in every campaign. Avoid this ugly, ugly mess.
Rock Band (X360, PS3, Wii, PS2) • Harmonix | Electronic Arts
While Guitar Hero established the bass-line for plastic instruments across North America, Rock Band introduced the entire rock and roll experience to households with the additions of drums and vocals (including both guitar and bass) that let four players rock out at the same time. Phenomenal track-list, finely-tuned progression, sharp presentation. It's still one of the best party games out there today.
While I'll give Suda 51 some slack for making "unique" or "different" games, not abiding to standard video game practises and generic design, I've never actually enjoyed playing any of them. Shadows of the Damned is the most recognizable Suda 51 game—in terms of, you know, feeling like a video game you play and enjoy—but it's just not quite there. The strong emphasis on crude or vulgar jokes gets old very quickly and although the 3rd-person shooting feels a lot like Resident Evil 4 or Resident Evil 5, it doesn't quite add up to a great game. It's just goofy.
We're at a time now where if you're playing an open-world crime game, it's either Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row. That's why it was a surprise when Sleeping Dogs (once known as True Crime: Hong Kong) actually came out. And you know what? It's pretty good! You know what to expect from this type of game: you steal cars, complete missions, earn respect from different factions, and shoot dudes in the face. It's one of those games. But since it takes place in Hong Kong United Front has put more of an emphasis on hand-to-hand combat, similar to the Batman: Arkham Asylum, meaning you'll hardly ever see and use guns, which is nice.
As Indy platformers go, we've almost seen everything. Action platformers, puzzle platformers, shooter platformers, exploration-heavy platformers. The list can go on. I don't have anything against Thomas Was Alone, per se, but I didn't really enjoy my time with it. It's a platformer where you play as a collective of shapes, such as rectangles and squares, and each of them have their own unique abilities. The tall yellow rectangle, for example, can jump really high while the fat blue square can float on water. You have to use all of the varying shapes in unison to get to the other side of the stage. The problem I found was that the platforming just wasn't fun. It felt more like a chore, more than anything, such as having to constantly change from one shape to the next with the shoulder buttons. And considering the cleverly implemented story narrated throughout the game, it's a shame that you have to slog through some boring gameplay mechanics in order to reach its conclusion.
Crystal Dynamics did a really good job reinventing Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series with the newest game in the franchise. It's a beautiful game filled with amazing set-piece moments, fun exploration—especially after you finish the game—and intense firefights. It's not perfect; the storyline is hit-and-miss, the times Lara is beat up to near-death just gets ridiculous—and that's not even mentioning the brutal death scenes and animations scattered throughout the game. While it's far from perfect, it makes me extremely excited to see where Crystal Dynamics takes the series from here. The potential for something wicked seems nigh.
It's hard to not suggest Fire Emblem: Awakening because it's such a great fit on the 3DS. It's not a powerhouse in terms of visual prowess, but the tactical (though stressful) gameplay is absolutely fantastic from start to finish. The game boasts a multitude of characters that you will likely come to adore, and since the series puts a massive emphasis on permanent death if a character falls in battle, you'll want to keep them alive at all costs. Don't expect to master the game off the bat, though, since it's definitely a difficult game that punishes silly mistakes. But those mistakes make you a better player in the long run, allowing you to learn and grow throughout its 30-40+ hour story.
I'm pretty stubborn when it comes to playing games on a handheld platform mostly because they're specifically made to take on the road, wherever you go. Kid Icarus: Uprising is not meant to be played on the road. The controls are pure garbage; aiming is done by holding your stylus against the bottom screen while moving and shooting is done with your left hand. This set-up is brutally painful when the 3DS is not leaning against something like a table or the dumb stand the game is packaged with. Fundamentally the game is fine—it's a mediocre third-person shooter with goofy (and really annoying) dialog and flashy visuals, but it just hurts to play (literally). It's not fun to play, either.
A Link Between Worlds is a breath of fresh air into a series that has needed one for a very long time. At one point it was referred to as "A Link to the Past 2," and for good reason: it uses generally the same overworld (including light and dark versions of Hyrule), features a lot of the same characters, and has a familiar soundtrack. But ALBW changes up the aging Zelda structure in some pretty unique ways. The most fascinating structural change is how you acquire the game's many items. Now Link must rent items from a shop rather than finding them in a dungeon, allowing you to pick and choose which dungeon to tackle next. It also allows the developers to make you rethink the way you approach each dungeon since past Zelda games make you use the dungeon's item to solve most of its puzzles (now you have to use multiple items at any given time). It makes rupees useful again, too. Not only is this iteration of Zelda refreshing in more ways than one, but it's also quite simply the best Legend of Zelda game in a very long time.
Mario Kart games are par for the course for Nintendo. Although they attempt to add "new" and "exciting" things every time—like the flying and going under-water in Mario Kart 7—you know exactly what to expect from the tired series. The new tracks are mostly pretty good and the selection of classics tracks are fine, too, but the selection of characters—especially compared to Mario Kart Wii—is disappointing. The rubber-banding hasn't changed much, either, and every cup above 100cc is frustrating and not worth dealing with. Seriously, fuck those blue shells. Luckily the online play is the best yet, and even features stuff like tournaments to compete in. It's a game to play with other people, otherwise steer clear.
It's disappointing that over the years Nintendo and Intelligent Systems have lost their way with the Paper Mario series. The original game on the N64 and the follow-up on the Gamecube are some of my all-time favourite RPGs. But it was when Super Paper Mario hit the scene on the Wii that the series seemed to have gotten away from its original charm. Sticker Star was supposed to be the return to glory for the series but no—it isn't. The nuance of collecting and using stickers for battling and solving puzzles sounds clever in theory, but isn't well designed in practise. The battles become almost useless because of no real progression/experience system, and the puzzles are nothing but trial-and-error. It's one of the most disappointing games of all time.
Game Freak has finally taken the Pokemon series into 3D with X and Y, but with mixed results. It's a new generation that features more Pokemon, a new region, new gym badges, and some neat online integration, but it's still the same old Pokemon we've all come to expect—and, to most people, that's perfectly fine. Game Freak has streamlined some of the grinding with a new experience share item and they've added the ability to run and use rollerblades right out of the gate (making the game go by much faster). Even catching Pokemon is still a blast! Just don't expect to be amazed, and don't expect to be challenged, either. It's a ridiculously easy game that could've used a hard mode or a general upgrade in difficulty. Considering it's one of the 3DS's biggest releases of the year, it's unfortunate that the 3D effects are mostly poor, too, which often drops the frame rate significantly during battles.
The 3DS's launch was, let's say, mediocre at best. It didn't have that one game that made you buy-in to the handheld on day uno, but one game that didn't get enough attention was Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. It's definitely not a looker by any stretch of the imagination, but the clever tactical gameplay was implemented surprisingly well. It's a tactics game—like Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem before it—as you command your squad around the battlefield to get the jump on enemies. It even features different classes, varying strategies, and a decent overarching narrative. For a game with absolutely no marketing what-so-ever, I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out.
Link's first adventure on the DS is much different than your standard Zelda affair, but it's definitely a memorable one. Controlling Link strictly with the touchscreen sounds like a strange idea but is implemented incredibly well. Touching enemies will automatically send Link to attack them (sort of like a real-time strategy game), but you can also make swing motions, too. Like the Wind Waker before it, Link uses his boat to ship around the ocean to get from island to island, using the Stylus to control his path. It's a hefty game with lots of content and while the dungeon design is sub-par, the boss fights make up for it.
Link's second adventure on the DS is a little less-stellar than most games in Nintendo's powerhouse series. There's many reasons why, of course, but my main problem with Spirit Tracks is its most prominent feature: the train. Link's locomotive is a fun and unique way to travel around the overworld in theory, of course, but is a different story in execution. Riding the train just isn't fun, in any way shape or form, and considering a large chunk of the game replies on this feature, most of the game ends up being a little boring. It's even more of a bummer considering the dungeon design is a massive improvement over Phantom Hourglass, it just takes a lot of patience to get from one to the next. It sounds like I hate Spirit Tracks—and there are definitely parts that I absolutely despise—but this is the Legend of Zelda we're taking about here; it's still a great game overall.
Retro did such a great job with the original Metroid Prime games that it was really tough for Nintendo's Washington team to try and recreate the same idea on the Nintendo DS. It was more of a shooter, as the campaign was more about combat and less about exploration. There was even an online deathmatch mode, too, which was surprisingly OK. It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination but using the stylus for aiming was tough to get used to and would end up hurting only after 20 minutes (or so) of playing. There were other controls options but they weren't very good, either. It was a powerful game running on a not-so-powerful machine, too, and ultimately looked a little ugly and had frame rate issues.
The DS is an amazing console for puzzle games and Picross 3D is one of the best money can buy. It takes the general idea of the Picross formula and turns each puzzle into a 3D block where breaking other smaller blocks will get you closer to the solution. It's a fairly simple concept and works amazingly well. I could play it for hours at a time. It's super-addictive and brilliantly designed. One of the best games you can get on the DS, easily.
Pokemon Black and White feel like the step in the right direction for Game Freak. While I never, ever thought either Ruby/Sapphire or Diamond/Pearl were bad games, they were just par for the course. Black and White is a Pokemon game still—expect 3 starting Pokemon, 8 gym leaders, the Elite Four—but it's starting to change things up a bit. One of the biggest examples of this is the emphasis on the brand-new Pokemon. There are over 150 new critters but until you beat the Elite Four at the end of the game, you will never see a Pokemon from past games. None—not even a Pikachu. This allows the player to experiment with the new Pokemon—something that some players may never do if they're favourite standbys are already obtainable. The story, too, isn't terrible, even getting into moral debates like if Pokemon are being held against their will and should be let free. It's good stuff.
Every subsequent release after the original Pokemon games on the Gameboy have continued the tradition of adding new Pokemon, introducing a brand new world to explore, and upgrading the graphical style. Diamond and Pearl isn't anything especially new or interesting, it's just more Pokemon. The Sinnoh region is really well designed (including a really cool snow/mountainous area), the new hybrid polygonal/sprite based visuals look great, and the additional Pokemon are some of my favourite since the first generation. It's just more of the same, though, and it's clear that Game Freak wasn't trying anything clever. It's just a solid Pokemon game.
Retro Studios has become one of my personal favourite development teams because they simply get it done. No matter what franchise they're given, they seem to take it to the next level every time. Donkey Kong Country Returns is Retro's first game after the Prime series and again, they've done a magnificent job at brining back an old Nintendo standby to current consoles. If you've played the previous trilogy back on the Super Nintendo, you already know what to expect: it's a fast-paced, challenging platformer, one that gives you enough challenge without feeling unfair at the same time. It's a bummer that some nuances—such as the rolling—is done with Wii Remote waggle controls, and it can become frustrating when it doesn't work at the right time. But because the rest of the game is so well designed, it's easy to forgive.
Epic Yarn is a fairly simple platformer with a beautiful art style. It's not a game that will test your chops and strain your thumbs, but the amazing cloth-based visual motif makes up for the lack of challenge. Like most Kirby platformers before it, the game is bright and colourful filled with happy-go-lucky themes. The story transitions are even themed as children storybooks with a suitable, soothing narrator. It's definitely a game that relieves stress and puts a smile on your face. Perfect for young children.
There's so much to like in Skyward Sword that's it's very easy to look past most of its shortcomings. While it still features that cookie-cutter, Link saves Zelda from evil, goes through multiple dungeons and gets the Master Sword series conventions, the 1:1 sword combat feels incredibly tight and fresh. Some motion controls—like aiming you bow—works well for the most part, and the game is beautiful to look at. The reliance on returning to old areas over and over again got old quickly, though, and the sky-overworld had mediocre controls and felt mostly empty. It's not the best Zelda game but the series has been so good over the years I can't help but be overly critical of it.
Developers often misuse the Wii's motion capabilities by throwing finicky waggle to compensate normal button presses. Retro Studios, thankfully, had other ideas for Metroid Prime 3. The controls are phenomenal; pointing the Wii Remote at the screen is used for aiming and—once the highest sensitivity is turned on—feels good and natural. Corruption is also a Prime game, through and through, so expect an immense amount of exploration, discover, weapon upgrades, and intense boss fights throughout the 20+ hour campaign. Corruption is also the best presented game in the trilogy complete with beautiful visuals, awesome set-piece moments, and even complete voice acting for other characters.
Suda 51 makes some pretty, um, different games. No More Heroes may be more of a "video game" than his previous work, but it's still bizarre. You play as Travis Touchdown who buys himself a light sabre-like sword from the internet, then uses it to kill the most famous assassins around. It's a neat concept but the game falls apart when it attempts to be an open-world game—like, for example, Grand Theft Auto. The unique controls of the Wii are used for swinging your sword and doing wrestling moves while in combat, which was pretty fun. Most of the game is a slog, though, having you go through multiple, crappy mini-games and some very frustrating boss fights. The art style is great but the game runs poorly. I do not suggest this game.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl is jam-packed with everything Nintendo. It's full of classic Nintendo music, a multitude of clever stages, and a massive 35-character roster that features many of gaming's biggest faces like Mario, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, and even 3rd party characters like Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog. You'd be hard-pressed to find a character you didn't recognize. Even so, the fighting itself is considerably slower than its predecessor (Melee, from 2001), and a handful of characters feel tossed in last-minute. The new Subspace Emissary mode is a neat single-player mode in concept but it lacks any sort of enjoyment in its execution. Using the Smash Bros. fighting engine just don't work in a giant single-player, platforming-like setting. Still, its multiplayer is some of the best around, and fighting alongside your friends and family can be an awesome time.
The last thing the Wii U needs are upgraded ports of two-generation-old Gamecube games. Despite this, however, The Wind Waker HD is a tremendously good version of one of my favourite games of all time. Most of the upgrades you'll notice are visual—such as the new bloom lighting, high-resolution textures, reworked character models, etc.—but some of the best changes have been to the gameplay itself. Some of the smartest alterations are small but incredibly helpful, like being able to turn and swing at the same time with the Grappling Hook, or the Swift Sail that lets you sail faster and also changes the direction of the wind automatically. They also added Tingle Bottles (that replace the Tingle Tuner from the original game) which lets you post pictures using the Miiverse, allowing other players to collect them around the Great Sea. It's the best way to play The Wind Waker and I highly recommend you do so—it's an incredible experience from beginning to end.
A new Nintendo console, a new Mario Kart, what's new, right? The thing with Mario Kart 8, though, is that it's actually a pretty great game—something that I couldn't say about the last couple of games in the series. What sets it apart from its predecessors is it's beautiful aesthetic, something that Nintendo has done well on the Wii U so far. It's stunning, basically. Feature-wise it's one of the best in the series, too, with tons of Grand Prix events, multiplayer modes, and Mario Kart TV—a new menu option to view and submit saved replays. Because much of the game is so well made its easy to looks past some crappy things, like say, the awful battle mode and lack of interesting characters.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. U, to be completely honest. It's an incredibly safe game from Nintendo—not trying to be anything new or different—but it's one of the most polished games in the series so far. The overworld design is the coolest one since Super Mario World, and the actual levels themselves are quite challenging by the end. Although the Wii U's power may be out of date by, say, 1-2 years from now, the game has a sharp look and runs silky-smooth. The Miiverse integration is awesome, too, letting you brag about beating levels without being hit or warning other players of tough sections.
Since the Nintendo Wii needed something to convince people of its fresh new motion controller, Nintendo bundled every console with Wii Sports—which, of course, has become synonymous for being one of the most revolutionary games of the past two decades. The console's successor, the Wii U, needed that game as well. Thus, Nintendo Land was born. While most of the Nintendo-themed mini-games utilize the Wii U's tablet controller pretty well—and are also a lot of fun with multiple people—the collection is simply not as fresh as Wii Sports was before it. That's not to say that it's a bad game; Nintendo Land is actually really enjoyable. Even the single-player controlled games have their nuances that will keep you coming back. It's just serviceable, though. It's not something that will convince people to upgrade their dust-coated Wii.
ZombiU is a really cool game because it takes concepts from Demon's/Dark Souls—like permanent death and leaving messages for other players online—and combines them with the done-to-death zombie apocalypse setting. It's a slow-paced game; a game where running and gunning will kill you in a matter of seconds, thus, defeating zombies one at a time is your best way to survive. The map is divided up surprisingly well and will let you revisit and explore past areas in a Metroid-like way. Some of the combat—like the shooting, specifically—needed a little more work, but ZombiU is definitely a fun, albeit stressful, time.
Stories told through video games have had their moments of brilliancy, but Gone Home is one of the most emotional pieces of content I've ever played. Rather than shooting your way through corridor after explosion-heavy set-piece, Fullbright (the dudes behind the awesome Minerva's Den DLC for BioShock 2) put you in an empty mansion where exploration and discovery is the only option. This seems simplistic but the minimalist approach suits the narrative structure so well that the story would be ham-fisted if told directly to the player. You uncover the mystery on your own, one piece of crumpled up paper at a time—and it couldn't be any more engaging.
Even despite some of its odd quirks, Demon's Souls manages to innovate in some really unique ways. It's well known for its punishing difficulty and its general lack of guidance, but it's a game that let's the player figure things out on their own—something that hasn't really been done since the 90's. Most veterans will mention to be patient and take your time, and it's really the easiest and most effective tip for newcomers. But where the game innovates is with its clever implementation of online play: there's no quick-play option or server browsers—instead you're given items in the world to use as you play. One item gives you the ability to leave notes on the ground to warn other players of hostile enemies (or other devious things), but you can also lay down a marker to join other people's games to help them out with a tough section (or boss). It's a neat way to allow players to enjoy the game together without actually communicating with them directly. Did I mention the game was really hard? It's really hard.
The God of Wars games usually begin very strong and God of War III is no different. The first hour of the game is one of the most intense openings to a video game ever (and not to mention one of the prettiest, too), and the game keeps up this intense pace for the majority of the game. Although God of War III continues to play like the older games in the series where you mash the square and triangle buttons to perform combos with Kratos' dual blades, it introduces new weapons to play around with (such as the Nemean Cestus—giant iron gauntlets) allowing you to switch between all four weapons on the fly. It makes the repetitive nature of the combat a little more varied. The environments Kratos visits throughout the game are fantastic, too, and the boss fights are the best in the series.
The Last of Us is a slower, more methodical Uncharted game—to be blunt. Naughty Dog has basically crafted the same type of immersive, character-driven experiences only with a melancholy atmosphere grounded in a surreal reality. The combat focuses more on scarce ammunition and stealth, with the idea that you can die very easily from normal humans and infected monsters alike. The characters are brought to life in believable ways through amazing technical graphical efficiency and an outstanding voice cast. Some parts, such as multiple swimming sequences, seem like they exist only to frustrate the player—but minor caveats aside, The Last of Us is a fantastic experience from start to finish.
Based on its basic gameplay fundamentals, LittleBigPlanet is a fairly simple game with floaty, awkward platforming and unresponsive movement speed. At it's core, it's not a very fun platformer. But the game is all about "Play, Create, Share"—the definition of how to handle user-created content without mucking it up with silly implementation. The level creator is what really drives the game, allowing users to generate their own levels with insane, intricate tools. While the campaign teaches you the platforming basics and generally how the game controls (or plays), the user generated content is where the game shines. Going through the Media Molecule hand-picked levels is a game all unto itself.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is more a platform than its predecessor. That's because Media Molecule has crafted an even better creation mode that allows user to not only create intricate platforming levels like before, but actually craft separate mini-games. One game, for example, was an underwater shooter where you play as a submarine as you make your way through hostile waters. It still has a campaign (which happened to be much better than the original's because of the new gameplay nuances), but the bulk of your time will come from the user generated content—the staple of the series in the first place. Without a doubt LBP2 still has some lingering quirks—such as the sub-par platforming and clunky user interface—but it's a much tighter and more polished game than the original.
It's difficult to harp on Puppeteer too much because it's generally so well made. The puppet show aesthetic comes to life brilliantly as characters and backgrounds animate realistically—it's kind of scary how accurate it feels. You play as Kutaro, a small puppet who suddenly becomes the "chosen one" when he comes across a magic pair of scissors called Calibrus. You play Puppeteer as a platformer with a bit of action mixed in here and there. You mainly move left to right jumping across platforms, but cutting things with the scissors is another way to move around the environment and solve simple puzzles. There are some pretty epic boss fights, too, that mix a bunch of gameplay elements together. The problem is that Puppeteer is too long-winded for its own good. There's 7 acts—three levels for each act—and some levels can take 30-45 minutes to complete—EACH. Puppeteer's cutscenes, too, are well-made, and sometimes pretty funny, but are far too long. I think Puppeteer would've been a fantastic 5-7 hours downloadable PSN game, but a 12-15 retail game is too ambitious to keep someone's full attention from start to finish.
The launch of the PlayStation 3 had its fair share of games but without a doubt the most anticipated one of them all was Insomniac Games' first attempt at a semi-realistic shooter: Resistance: Fall of Man. You play as Sgt. Nathan Hale as you and your squad of marines attempt to drive back an alien threat known as the Chimera. It takes place during an alternate version of history where aliens invade earth around the 1950's, and it's a brilliant concept. The game isn't much fun to play, though, and it's made more disappointing by the interesting aesthetic. The gunplay is loose and inaccurate, and the button layout is different than most first-person shooters—fumbling with them more often than not. The combat scenarios are poor, too, with checkpoints that throw you back sometimes 15-20 minutes, making you replay tough section after tough section. It makes you want to go slow and mistake-free, but it's incredibly frustrating when you make a minor mistake and have to do another large firefight again and again.
Much of the same problems that plagued the original Resistance is still present in Resistance 2. The campaign is mostly frustrating, featuring poor enemy encounter design and awful checkpointing. Although the shooting feels better and the game moves much faster than before (not to mention looking better too), I couldn't help but feel disappointed by the whole thing. You're going to have to dig real deep if you want to find anything particularly fun. Resistance 2 also boasts a cooperative campaign as well as deathmatch multiplayer, if that's your thing. Too bad the game's overall feel isn't good enough to feel worthwhile.
Drake's Fortune was a fantastic first step for Naughty Dog on the PlayStation 3—especially considering the drastic change of tone coming from the Jak and Daxter series throughout the PS2 era. They went from a cartoony, action/platformer to a realistic action/shooter—but it worked out very well. The original Uncharted has some quirks here and there—like the sometimes-frustrating pacing—but it felt like the first true PS3 exclusive game on next-generation platforms (unlike the mediocre, original Resistance). It was stunning, simply put, and boasted a great mix of climbing and puzzle-solving. It was a Tomb Raider game without Lara Croft, basically, even if that's an extremely blunt way to put it.
Naughty Dog really hit the nail on the head with Among Thieves because it hits so many highs while barely ever hitting a low. It's substantially better than the original game: bigger, more intense set-pieces, better gunplay, more variety in combat, better overall narrative, updated (and incredible) visual motif—like most sequels, it's simply a better overall game. But Among Thieves is freaking crazy, too. For example, one firefight takes place on moving cargo trucks where you have to jump from one to another before they explode. Another has Drake fighting through a collapsing apartment building. Oh and the climbing? There's more of that, too—on a speeding train, no less. Uncharted 2 is just fantastic. I couldn't suggest it enough.
Although it was going to be difficult for Naughty Dog to reach lofty expectations on making a sequel to what many people believe to be one of the best games on the PS3 (myself included), I still think they sort-of dropped the ball with Uncharted 3. It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination—it's actually really good—it's just not as good as Uncharted 2. It's almost an unfair criticism, but I know Naughty Dog can do better. My biggest problem is that the shooting just felt different—almost like they went in and moved a bunch of dials just for the hell of it. It felt off—and for a game where you play 70% of it shooting dudes in the face, it hampered the experience. The story fell flat in a couple of spots, too, where the game would randomly cut to something completely out of left field (I'm basically talking about the boat part which could've been cut entirely and still made sense). It looks absolutely stunning as one of the PS3's premier titles, but Naughty Dog has done, and will do, better.
The main gameplay hook in Gravity Rush is the ability to change the (you guessed it!) gravity, allowing your character, Kat, to float around the world with ease. It's a really neat concept that works well in execution, and once you get used to the nuance of changing the gravity on the fly, the game can be controlled without too much hassle. However, Gravity Rush is a quasi-open-world game, meaning you're allowed to roam around a (mostly) empty city with a few side activities here and there to keep you busy. That sounds amazing, no doubt, but the mission variety is severely lacking. The combat, too, is shoddy at best. It's an impressive feat on the Vita and has amazing scope (not to mention looks beautiful running on that gorgeous screen), it's just not very much fun to play—and when you're talking about a video game, that's probably one of the worst faults it can possibly have.
Unlike the Motorstorm series on the PlayStation 3, Motorstorm RC is a smaller game that deals with remote controlled cars rather than massive dune buggies and transport trucks smashing into each other at blazing speeds. It's played with an isometric view and controlling the vehicles is done with the analog sticks. It's a clever idea to go smaller on the Vita but the game isn't fun to play. The tracks get repetitive after a while and the novelty of remote-controlled cars gets old rather quickly. It's also pretty frustrating, like most Motorstorm games.
If a portable, bite-sized version of Uncharted is what you're looking for on the PlayStation Vita, Golden Abyss will mostly satisfy that need. It's not a fully-fledge entry, though, as much of the series' famous set-pieces and action has been slightly altered to fit to on the Vita. It feels a lot more like the original Uncharted than the two subsequent sequels, basically. The story is fun and the characters are just fine but don't expect this to be in the running for best handheld game ever made. It's just an OK game with sloppy shooting mechanics and tacked-on Vita-specific functionality.
There are way too many people out there that still want a proper platforming successor to Banjo-Tooie. I think these people are crazy—why? Because Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is the best game in the series thus far. I have the upmost respect for Rare for completely throwing away everything that made the previous games so successful and completely rethinking how the next Banjo game should play. Building vehicles (like cars, boats, and planes) is so brilliantly designed, letting you simply take blocks and assemble them any way you want—as long as it features wheels and an engine. Most jiggy challenges utilize the building feature allowing you to experiment with different vehicle variations to earn the fastest time. It's the most creative game I've played in a very long time.
I remember that one of the quotes used for Gears of War 2 was, "bigger, better, and more badass." But I feel like this works much better for Gears of War 3—the biggest, best, and most badass version of the trilogy, by far. The greatest aspect of the game is its campaign, which is set after the events of the second game (duh). It takes you through some pretty spectacular set-pieces, while also closing out the story quite well. Horde mode, too, has been strengthened, allowing players to build blockades such as fences and turret placements with money gained by killing enemies. All of these modes can be played with a buddy by your side, making Gears 3 one of, if not THE best cooperative shooter on the market.
Gears of War: Judgment is extremely polished and makes some smart improvements to the basic Gears of War formula (like, for example, putting the grenade on its own dedicated button). But you're looking for something that reinvents the wheel, you'll be disappointed. What makes it boring is the fact that it takes places before the original Gears of War. You play as both Baird and Cole—the two most unlikable characters in the series, mind you—through the events that lead up to the original game. The campaign is set up a little bit different, however. Now you can earn stars depending on how well you perform (like head shots, executions, etc.), and you can activate modifiers that will dictate what weapons you can use or how much time you have to get to the next checkpoint. The combat scenarios are mediocre, though, and have you fight through wave after waves of enemies, which just get extremely monotonous. The multiplayer is a step-down from Gears 3, as well, featuring less modes and less maps. Not including Horde Mode was a big mistake.
Halo 4 (X360) • 343 Industries | Microsoft Studios
After 343 Industries were given the reigns to Halo after Bungie set their sails and drifted off to other endeavours, they started development on Halo 4. Despite "Halo 4" sounding forced or unnecessary (it couldn't have been a subtitle of some kind?), the game ended up being fantastic—better than I ever imagined. 343 focussed on making series faster and more cinematic, upgrading the visuals tenfold and taking much of Halo's fundamentals and making them better. They even changed the sound of the assault rifle(!). The overarching narrative could have been a little better, sure, and the lack of Firefight is quite disappointing, but the amount of polish that went into the campaign, presentation, and multiplayer modes is quite stunning. One of the biggest surprises for me, personally, of 2012.
Many of Forza 5's new features on the Xbox One look really nice on paper. The new "Drivatar" AI system uses Microsoft's cloud computing technology to replace the computer-generated AI with your Xbox One's friends list, altering your opponent's behaviour to be more human-like. Forza Motorsport 5 changes up its medal structure, too—because the new AI makes the game a little more difficult, you to still get a respectable amount of credits if you finish in 5th or 6th place (you won't need to worry about finishing first every single time). These are great features and allows the racing to be more engaging and fun. The problem is, however, is that the rest of the package feels lacking. The UI, for example, is uneven and messy, not to mention missing a bunch of features from past games. And despite the game looking absolutely gorgeous and running at 60 frames per second, it feels like a first-crack next-generation game with an abundance of tracks missing from past Forza games.
- Games must have at least 20 reviews to count from 2001-Present. 2000 and earlier need at least 10 reviews.
- Dates are North American only.
- Lists do not include the following:
Games which have been released in a previous year. (Example: BioShock was released on the X360 and PC in 2007, but on the PS3 in 2008)
HD collections. (Examples: God of War Collection, Prince of Persia Trilogy, ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, Metal Gear Solid Collection)
Other collections of old games. (Example: Metroid Prime Trilogy)
- The best score is taken if the game has appeared on more than one platform. Grand Theft Auto IV, for example, is a 97.0% on the PS3, but only 96.7% on the Xbox 360. The PlayStation 3 version is the score taken. This is to clear the mess of multiplatform games on the list.
What originally started out as an open-world Prince of Persia game, the Assassin's Creed franchise—established in 2007—has quickly bloomed into one of Ubisoft's most successful and critically acclaimed franchises to date. While the original Assassin's Creed was generally well received by critics and fans alike, it wasn't until 2009's Assassin's Creed II where Ubisoft Montreal's new IP really took off. Its sequel, released only a year later, improved on its fundamental structure and skyrocketed its popularity to an all-time high. The young franchise has also seen handheld releases on both the DS and PSP (as well as iOS), and in early 2012 Ubisoft revealed that a proper Assassin's Creed III will be released later in the year taking the series' setting to the American Revolution.
Baldur's Gate (BioWare, Snowblind Studios, Black Isle Studios)
Once Crytek polished up and finished with their previous work, Far Cry, the German developer carried their core talent and created a completely new intellectual property: Crysis. The original Crysis—established in late 2007—was infamous for its ludicrously high PC specs in order to run the game at a decent frame rate. Despite this major hurdle for customers to overcome, Crysis was a very well-received game and was considered the best looking game of all time at the time of its release. Crytek has since released a smaller follow-up to the original game plus a proper sequel since then, as well as re-releasing the original game on home consoles (albeit with less visual prowess). Crytek announced Crysis 3 at E3 2012, set in a decaying New York City, to be released in early 2013 using CryEngine 3.
Despite the fact that Hironobu Sakaguchi labelled his last-ditch effort in the game industry as "Final" Fantasy, the immense popularity of the NES classic was so popular that it spawned subsequent sequels such as Final Fantasy II and III a short time later. The franchise got so popular, in fact, that the series grew even larger with Nintendo's release of the Super Famicom in 1990 where Square released three more Final Fantasy titles (IV, V, and the much beloved Final Fantasy VI). Around the time when Nintendo and Sony were both talking up their next consoles after the SNES-Genesis era, it was then Square mentioned that they would release their next iteration of the series on Sony's PlayStation platform because of Nintendo's lack of storage on Nintendo 64 cartridges. Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997 and the series' popularity hit an all-time high. Seven was the first Final Fantasy to use three-dimensional graphics and it was also a far-cry from the series' medieval setting, instead being set in a futuristic world. Square also released two more games (VIII and IX) during this era on the PlayStation, all of which were very well received by fans and critics alike.
Square continued to support the PlayStation brand after the release of the PlayStation 2 with Final Fantasy X, XI, and XII. Final Fantasy X is well-regarded as one of the best games in the entire series, while Final Fantasy XI and XII took a different approach with the recent boom of MMORPGs hitting the industry (even though XII is strictly a single-player game). The franchise continued its success with many spin-off and remakes on both the PlayStation 2 and eventually the Gamecube (which was the first time a Final Fantasy game was released on a Nintendo platform in nearly a decade) and the franchise dominated Japan's charts every year with many handheld releases on both the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable. It wasn't until 2010 (late 2009 in Japan) when the series finally found a home on the powerful next-generation machines—the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3—with the release of Final Fantasy XIII. Square has also released a sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, fittingly called "XIII-2", released a second MMORPG (Final Fantasy XIV on the PC with very poor reception) and has also hinted at even more games to hit the market in the future. With popularity like this, who wouldn't.
The LittleBigPlanet franchise is, arguably, best known for being one of the best outlets for user-created content. It was a platformer with a ridiculously deep level-creator, letting the most dedicated users create some incredibly unique stages. The 2008 original was incredibly well received, garnering many end of the year awards and selling relatively well for a new intellectual property. Media Molecule followed up their original release with a PSP version in 2009, a second LittleBigPlanet—aptly named LittleBigPlanet 2—in 2011, as well as another handheld title on the PlayStation Vita named, you guessed it, "LittleBigPlanet" in 2012.
The Mass Effect franchise has been one of the most successful intellectual properties introduced in the 7th console generation. The 2007 original was BioWare's spiritual successor to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, using the same type of RPG mechanics with more action-heavy combat scenarios. While the original saw mixed success, it wasn't until 2010's "Mass Effect 2" where BioWare hit the nail on the head. The sequel—often regarded as both BioWare's best game yet and 2010's best game of the year—continued the planned trilogy by continuing your specific story of Commander Shepard with you imported Mass Effect 1 save. The trilogy concluded in 2012 with mixed opinion. While many critics praised Mass Effect 3 for being the most well-realized game in terms of visual design and gameplay, many fans believed that the game's story ended poorly which saw major fan backlash toward the Edmonton-based BioWare. It was also the first game to introduce multiplayer—a series first.
PLEASE READ: I wrote this entire top 30 games thing a while ago—actually, before I even finished high school (I think anyways... whatever). As I went through all of it when posting it I decided not to touch it just to get it up. As of right now (when I wrote this little paragraph), this list wouldn't look nearly the same if I did it over. I sort of mixed my favorite games and what I think are the best games together, making a weird overall list. So yeah, it's not written especially well, and lots of the text is just explaining the game which was definitely unnecessary. Please don't complement me on this list; it's not that good. But like I said, I just wanted to get it up so... Boom goes the dynamite:
5. Half-Life 2 (PC)
Valve’s first person shooter that came out in November of 2004 was considered the best first person shooter games ever made, and still is considered that after all of these years later. I never got to play it on the PC unfortunately, but when I got my hands on the Orange Box back in 2007, I finally got to play it, and it absolutely blew me away. The game had an incredibly awesome story with superb visuals, amazing animation, and above all else, it was fun as hell to play.
Half-Life 2 has a story where you wont know what’s happening at first, but once you get further and further through the game, you’ll understand more and more. You play as a man named Gordon Freeman, he was involved in an incident in Black Mesa in the first Half-Life game, and he’s back for more. This time the world has been infiltrated by a species known as the Combine, and Gordon is there to save the day. It doesn’t exactly turn out as “the hero saves the day” type of story, and actually ends up being anything but.
Half-Life 2’s world is scattered with the Combine, and everywhere you go you can tell that the Combine are really messing with the earth. The sea levels for example, are far less high than usual because the Combine are using the earth’s water for resources, and thus is draining the sea significantly. Everywhere you go there’s something terribly wrong, and you are never safe. City 17 is littered with battling humans trying to survive, safe houses with people praying, everything has gone seriously wrong in Half-Life 2’s world.
Half-Life 2 is considered one of the best shooter ever made because it not only had an incredible story, but it also played great as well. Gordon has a normal pistol, machine gun, and shotgun, but there’s one weapon that introduced that changed the face of game physics, and that’s the Gravity Gun. With the Gravity Gun, Gordon can pick up pretty much anything he wants, and can chuck it at any foe you want. For example, there’s a saw blade sitting on the ground, Gordon can pick this up and shoot it at an enemy, slicing them right in half.
But the Gravity Gun would not be so amazing without the physics that the game possesses. The visuals are awesome, the environments are sweet, the character models are amazing with great animation in the very awesome in-game cutscenes. But the technical side of the graphics, the physics, are where the game really shines. Items can be picked up and thrown around, certain items are heavier than other, and items have different weight to them. Throwing a box across a room? It will land and break like a real wooden box. Want to pick up a small piece of it? Go right ahead. This is just an example on how good Half-Life 2’s physics are, and are the best bulk of the entire game.
I know some people will argue that I never actually played the definitive version of Half-Life 2, it doesn’t change the fact that I absolutely adored every moment of the game with a 360 controller. It may not have been the correct way of playing this amazing title, but it was the best way I could. Don’t be alarmed, it’s number 5 on my all time list, and I haven’t played the definitive version, that’s really saying how masterful Half-Life 2 really is.
4. Metroid Prime (GCN)
People often consider Metroid Prime to be a first person adventure, instead of a first person shooter. It does have shooting in it, with a first person perspective, but the game focuses more on adventure elements of the game instead of blasting enemies, this is why people don’t like to consider Metroid Prime as a shooter. Either way, whatever you want to call the game, it doesn’t change the fact that Metroid Prime is not only one of the best sounding and looking games on the Gamecube, but easily one of the best games of all time. Metroid Prime is a tough, atmospheric, and gigantic game, and to call it anything other than amazing is putting the game down.
The last Metroid game before Prime was Super Metroid in 1994, and though it was an amazing game, it was a long and tiring wait for the the next Metroid game. The Metroid franchise literally skipped the whole Nintendo 64 generation altogether. But once Metroid Prime hit the scene with its incredible visual design, and atmospheric gameplay, it was a smash hit. Samus is again here to explore the world of Talon IV. What she finds is that the world has been overrun by Space Pirates. Eventually, he main mission is to find all of the keys to get to Metroid Prime, and take it out for good.
Metroid Prime is so highly recommend because the game focuses a lot more on the adventure elements than the shooting elements. While playing your way through Metroid Prime, you’ll jumping around environments, and solving puzzles, occasional shooting enemies with Samus’ trusty arm cannon. The world of Talon IV is massive, filled with tons of different smaller areas like the Phazon Mines, the Magmoor Caverns, Chozo Ruins, and Phendrana Drifts. All of the areas are very atmospheric, and completely different from one another. Phendrana Drifts for example is an snow covered area with ice peaks, while the Magmoor Caverns are a cave full with fire and lava surrounding the area.
What makes the areas come to life is the fantastic visuals, which are easily one of the best on the Gamecube. The environments are stunning, stopping to look at them is a must. When you run through steam, Samus’ visors becomes filled with it, and slowly becomes more visible. The effects like Samus shooting her cannon, the lava, fire, and pretty much everything else is top of the line. Watching Samus while traveling down an elevator while the walls in the background are zipping by has never looked so good in a video game before. All enemies, which look intimidating, also look good enough.
The atmosphere is easily the greatest asset of Metroid Prime. You will never meet another human on Talon IV, ever. You’re by yourself through the whole game, fending enemies off, reading lore left behind from the Chozo, all by yourself. You feel isolated, like no one will help if you mess up, and the game does a good job of making you feel unsafe, because Metroid Prime is no walk in the park (Metroid Prime is a fucking beast). You get a major feeling of success when you beat Metroid Prime, it’s a very satisfying game with tough bosses, but all is worth it at the end.
One of the major concerns about Prime was the controls. It did NOT control like an ordinary first person shooter, the C-Stick (or the second analog stick) didn’t control Samus’ axis's, instead, you would have to hold R, and while stationary, move the camera around to look, or shoot enemies. Then, while you ran around, turning left and right on the left analog stick turned Samus, and pressing up or down made her walk in the respective direction. The controls worked perfectly fine, and the enemies and bosses are done in a way that knows that you can shoot them very easily. You’d think that this would ruin the entire game, but it doesn’t.
Saying that Metroid Prime is anything other than fantastic is putting the game short. It is one of the most atmospheric games of all time, as well as one of the most fun. The visuals and audio (which by the way is great) are both flawless, and the controls are tight and responsive. Metroid Prime is a definite must-own if you have a Gamecube, or a Wii. It was easily the best game of 2002, and is definitely one of the best games of all time. It is highly recommended by critics alike, so don’t waste your time, run over to you local store and buy this game, it is simply fantastic, and is my 4th favorite game of all time.
3. Paper Mario (N64)
I remember seeing this game at local stores across my town back in the day, and always wondering what it was. I never used the internet much, I never got my gaming info from anything other than the look at the boxes, so one day my sister and I put our money together and bought the game. My sister and I liked the art on the box, and I liked Mario, so it had to be good right? But not only was it good, not only was it better than I thought, but it is easily one of favorite games of all time, and though it may not be the prettiest, it may not be the most epic, and it may not be the most compelling, but boy, Paper Mario is a fantastic game.
Paper Mario is a very weird looking game when you first see it. Mario and characters aren’t the normal sprites like in the Super Mario Bros. on the NES and SNES, and they’re also not the polygonal models from Super Mario 64. Paper Mario has sprites like the first Super Mario Bros. games, but they’re mixed into 3D environments, paper thin. Yep, all characters and enemies in Paper Mario are paper thin, when the spin around, they go wide, then fat, and so on. It was an awesome look at the time, and looking at it in action for the first time had me astonished, and blown away. The visual style Paper Mario used was unparalleled.
But the charming visuals aside, Paper Mario also played pretty damn good as well. You play like a 3D platformer when not in a battle scene. You can buy items from the shop, talk to characters scattered throughout towns, rest at an Inn to regain health, and do all sorts of things. But when Mario steps into an enemy, or an enemy step into him, a battle ensues.
Battles in Paper Mario are very simplistic, Mario always attacks first, and he can either use his hammer, jump, star power, or items. If Mario attacks, your enemy loses a certain amount of health, and after it’s all gone, the enemy is a goner. After Mario is done attacking, your opponent attacks. A cool thing about Paper Mario was pressing the A button right when Mario attacks his enemies to take off more damage, or pressing it just before an enemy attacks you to lessen the enemies power. It really adds more gameplay to the battles, making them less boring.
Paper Mario is filled with stuff to do. The game is 8 chapters long, but none of them are the same. The first chapter has Mario infiltrating a castle of Koopas to try and save the first Star Spirit. But the second chapter has Mario going through a desert to try and find a secret tomb that lies the second Star Spirit. The story was actually surprisingly deep. Bowser stole the Star Rode from Star Heaven and is trapped the 7 Star Sprites across the world. Mario is at a party Princess Peach is holding, but is interrupted from a giant rumbling. An earthquake you ask? No, below Peach’s castle, deep underground, holds Bowser’s castle, and it comes right out of the ground and takes Peach’s castle with it. Bowser suddenly appears and defeats Mario is a fight and sends him to the ground below. Mario’s mission? To save the Star Spirits, and get back at Bowser once and for all.
The story is presented with hilarious dialog and cutscenes that you would eventually come to love. Though there is a lot of dialog to read over the course of the game, what you do end up reading is a really funny story with some memorable moments in every unique chapter. Mario also meets up with a bunch of Partner throughout the game like a Koopa, Goomba, and Fish, and all have different types of attack while using them in a battle. Some are more powerful and useful then others, and they can also be powered up. The partners added a great deal of strategy to the game.
The presentation does sadly distract from the overall quality of the game. Sure, the presentation is nothing bad, but people look at it for it’s visuals, not it’s gameplay and story. Still, Paper Mario is a beautiful game. The environments are lush and colourful, while each and every character model, though sprites, look awesome. The 2D to 3D combination of Paper Mario is really cool, and turns out it was the perfect fit. The soundtrack is also brilliant. Every instance of your speaker making a sound is nothing other than flawless. Every stage in the game had a great tune, and the overall soundtrack was brilliant.
I know I could on for days, but Paper Mario is really one of the very best games I ever played in my short lifetime thus far. It had a great story, memorable characters, and memorable characters. It had an amazing visual style, a brilliant soundtrack, and hilarious dialog. Paper Mario played like an elite RPG, it was engaging, friend ruiner, and ultimately, fun. It still sits in my heart as one of the games that I have had the most fun with, and this will never, ever, ever change. Paper Mario is my 3rd favorite game of all time, and I can’t highly suggest this game enough.
2. Resident Evil 4 (GCN)
After Resident Evil 0 on the Gamecube, which was an exclusive to only to the Gamecube, the Resident Evil series was getting a little stale. Capcom knew this, and after a disappointing beginning to the making of Resident Evil 4, Capcom totally turned the direction of the series around, and the result was nothing short of amazing. The only similarities from past Resident Evil’s and 4 is some characters, guns, and zombies, though Capcom even got rid of Zombies for a more powerful type of enemy that can throw, and swing weapons at you. But even with the major shakeup, Resident Evil 4 was the biggest turn around in a franchise ever, and is easily my 2nd favorite game of all time.
Instead of fixed camera and moving around barely infested areas like a mansion, or a police station, Resident Evil 4 puts the camera behind Leon Kennedy (known from Resident Evil 2), as he traverses throughout a small village in Europe looking for the President’s Daughter, Ashley Williams. The camera is literally right behind Leon’s back, then you would have to aim with the R button, and while aiming, you could aim anywhere you wanted. This new control scheme was one of the biggest sighs of relief I ever had. It wasn’t only a major improvement, but it was just simply fun.
Resident Evil 4 is an action oriented adventure, with tons and tons of shooting. Action takes most of the game’s time, instead of going room to room looking for items and solving puzzles. Sure, there are puzzles here and there in RE4, but nothing nearly as frequent as any other past Resident Evil game. RE4 is way more intense, enemies will surround you quickly, they will throw knives at you, and will even slam you to the ground if need be. There are also new enemies that carry chain saws around, and if they get anywhere close to you, you can easily be killed in one hit. While playing through an area with a chain saw maniac, you have to be alert, because he can really fuck you up.
Other enemies like giant ogre like monsters, wolfs, regenerators, iron maidens, and knights in rusty armor also make Resident Evil 4 more and more different from past RE games. The regenerators for example cannot die you just shoot them with all you have (besides a Rocket Launcher of course), you’ll have to find a infrared scope for your rifle, and you’ll have to shoot the certain spots on their bodies. The bosses are also tough, but epic at the same time. There’s a sea creature near the beginning of the game, and you’ll have to be on a boat to kill him, and Leon throws spears before having to cut the rope attached to his feet.
One of the major improvements in Resident Evil 4 is not only the improved aiming and camera, but the weapons and new inventory. Weapons can be purchased by a traveling merchant, but they can also be upgraded with scopes, and other attachments. It does suck that you upgraded the first shotgun all the way, then a new and improved one is for sale a short time later, but it does keep the weapons fresh and new. There are also 3 kinds of grenades, stun, incendiary, and frag. The frag blows up limbs, and incendiary lights enemies on fire, while stun grenades... Well, stuns them. The addition of grenades was a major improvement. The inventory also got an overhaul, instead of 8 or 6 item slots, you’re given a grid, and each item has a certain size. Guns take up most space, while boxes of ammo, and grenades take up less space. Don’t worry about key items, they go in another inventory altogether.
Resident Evil 4 also looked gorgeous from the many areas you traverse through, it had lots of little things here and there, and the overall presentation was top of the line. The character models looked real, the textures were never ugly or muddy, the game was very gritty and ugly looking, but it added to the scary atmosphere. The cutscenes were awesome, while also being interactive, you never had to put down the controller. The music was eery, intense, and overall a great soundtrack. The sound effects were amazing once again, and everything else was top notch.
If you haven’t played Resident Evil 4, do yourself a favor and go play it. Resident Evil is on the Gamecube, PlayStation 2, and now on the Wii and PC. It has incredibly tight gameplay that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire game, and it has the incredible presentation as well. The new elements that turned the franchise around was welcome with open arms, and couldn’t have turned out any better. Resident Evil 4 is easily the best Resident Evil game, easily the best Gamecube game, and one of the greatest games ever made. You’d be hard pressed to find a game better than Resident Evil 4 on any platform, it is the definitive game of the generation, and my 2nd favorite game of all time.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
I know this may not come as a surprise, but it will never change the fact that the first Zelda game on the Nintendo 64, Ocarina of Time, is the best game ever created, and my favorite game I have simply ever played. A lot of people were extremely excited about this game, because the game prior to this was the amazing A Link to the Past for the SNES, and not only was it better, it was A LOT better. The 3D environments, the 3D characters, the 3D boss fights, everything about the game was brought to life in 3 dimensions. I could go one for hours upon hours about what make Ocarina of Time my favorite game ever, but I’ll keep as minimum as humanly possible.
(A tiny bit of spoilers here, but who hasn’t played this game yet?)
The story is the same old Link has to save Zelda, but the way Ocarina of Time puts it all together is really something special, because it’s well thought-out, and overall, one of the best stories in Zelda’s franchise. As Link, you start out as a child, and after being terrified by a dream, Link is awoken by a Fairy named Navy, and is sent to the Great Deku Tree, the leader of the Kokiri’s in Kokiri Village. Link is sent inside of the Deku Tree, and after his quest, the Great Deku Tree tells Link of a great quest he must take part in, but suddenly dies. The awesome thing about Ocarina of Time’s story is the memorable characters, and memorable cutscenes throughout the game. Though the cutscenes weren’t the best thing you have ever seen, they were all in game, and all looked great.
But the story twists in a way that brings the story to a great new high. After you completed the first 3 dungeons, Link is faced with pulling the Master Sword out of its pedestal in Temple of Time, and thus causes him to be transported 7 years into the future. Once you leave the Temple of Time, Hyrule is drastically different. The Zora Domain is frozen over, Lake Hylia is gone dry, the Hyrule Market is overrun by Zombies, Hyrule Castle is now Ganondorf’s, and the whole world has been turned upside down. This is where the best gameplay elements come into play, and where the best dungeons take place as well.
Think of A Link to the Past, or the original Legend of Zelda, and think of it in 3D. What you would likely get is Ocarina of Time. Many of the areas and gameplay elements are like past games, but done in 3D. Take the Bow and Arrow for example. In A Link to the Past you would have to aim, but it would be kinds of difficult to aim it properly, but in Ocarina of Time, you can aim it in first person, anywhere you want. The swordplay is also nearly identical, as well as the other items like bombs and hook shot. The classic Zelda gameplay was still here in Ocarina of Time, and still amazing in every which way.
The dungeons were probably the best part of Ocarina of Time through and through. The designs for each of the Forest Temple, Fire Temple, Water Temple, Shadow Temple, and Spirit Temple were all unique from each other, all of them were extremely atmospheric, and all were fun as hell to play. But it’s not just the ingenious puzzles and tough enemies that made them so good, the boss fights at the ends of each one really brought them to perfection.
Other than Phantom Ganon in the Forest Temple, most of the bosses suited each dungeon with their element, like a dragon boss in the Fire Temple, an aqua monster in the Water Temple, and a shadow ghoul in the Shadow Temple. There all looked amazing, all looked intimidating, and all were really fun to fight. Bongo Bongo of the Shadow Temple for example, was a shadow beast that only could be seen while using the Lens of Truth, and is fought upon a giant bongo.
Ocarina of Time’s presentation was easily some of the best on the Nintendo 64. The visuals, were absolutely amazing for 1998. The character models were a little jaggy around the edges, but it was acceptable back then. The textures were great, the enemies were intimidating, the bosses looked fantastic, and the visuals of the dungeons brought them to life. The soundtrack is also the one of best of the Zelda franchise, and one of the best in the era. Each dungeon has an eery or epic tune, the town music is cheerful, and the boss fight music was extremely suitable for the situation. The sound effects like Link’s screams, the click and clacks of his sword, and pretty much everything was easily top of the line.
There are very few games that literally have nothing wrong with them. Ocarina of Time is not only one of those games, it’s the best of them all. Nintendo worked their asses off with Ocarina of Time. It had unbelievable detail from the visuals, to the sound design, to the gameplay, and to just about every other aspect of the game. Ocarina of Time is not the best Zelda, the best Nintendo 64 game, and the best game of the generation, but it’s simply the best game to ever hit the market. People like to compare Ocarina of Time to the Godfather. Both are the best of their entertainment, and both are flawless. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is my number one favorite game of all time.
Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow (GB): The first Pokemon games kept me busy for years upon years during public school. Pokemon Red and Blue were the 2 that brought me a Gameboy in the first place, and they were the games that got me addicted to those Pocket Monsters. Yellow version also has a special place in my heart as the best of the 3, though it as primarily the same game with a little different things here and there. Red, Blue, and Yellow are special games, and I will always love them as time goes by, they have a place in my heart that will never leave, they were amazing games.
ICO (PS2): Though I only recently played and beat this game, there’s no doubt that ICO is an amazing game. It had an incredibly designed castle, with great puzzles throughout, and gameplay that’s simple, yet effective in the end. One of the best things about the game is that it had absolutely no HUD (heads-up display), and just went to show how beautifully designed the game was. It had a deep story that didn’t necessarily make sense in the end, but it was still a factor to make you jump through the short, but sweet game.
Resident Evil Remake (GCN): You’re probably wondering why I only put one Resident Evil game on the top 30, but if it was even one year ago, Resident Evil for the Gamecube would have made it for sure. Resident Evil Remake is like the name suggests, a remake of the original Resident Evil for the PlayStation. But it wasn’t just a tiny visual upgrade, it was a major overhaul. The visuals alone brought the Mansion to life that it never had before, it actually looked like a real Mansion, and Capcom even added more parts to the Mansion and area making it seem like a whole new game.
Banjo Kazooie & Tooie (N64): Growing up as a kid I loved the 2 Banjo Kazooie games. They had incredible detailed graphics, while also having a great kiddish style to them, but having hilarious dialog with jokes I didn’t understand at the time. The gameplay was criticized for being a “collectathon” having to collect too many items too much, but I found the game to be fun as hell, and though they’re not in my top 30 games of all time, they’ll always have a spot in my heart.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii): There’s no doubt that Twilight Princess was an amazing game, but it did not have enough credentials to fit into my top 30 list. Sure, it may have jumped into the top 40, but even with its lengthy adventure with great graphics and awesome dungeons, it just wasn’t enough. But Twilight Princess did everything right. It was long, but never boring, while also feeling fresh and new with a great twisted story that ultimately ended up being what you’d come to expect.
Donkey Kong 64 (N64): Though there are many Nintendo 64 games on not only the top 30, but even in the HM’s, Donkey Kong 64 sticks out as one of my best childhood memories growing up. The game starred the famous Kong in his first and only Nintendo 64 game, but was joined by Diddy, and new monkeys like Tiny, Lanky, and Chunky. The ability to use all of the Kongs, and the mixture of great levels, and an memorable moments make this game stand out among all Donkey Kong games ever made.
God of War (PS2): Though I only recently defeated this game, the game I played was amazing. It had amazing flow, nothing felt thrown in, and the whole game had amazing production values. People claim that God of War is the best PlayStation 2 game, and I don’t think their stupid, because God of War really is that good, and is worthy of the name. It didn’t make the top 30, but I can assure that I will be on later lists.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GCN): The Gamecube remake of the original Metal Gear Solid game was a perfect transition to the newer generation. The game was nearly identical with the exception of new cut scenes, and some nicer graphics, but all was nice and neat like the first. In this day and age, I would play Twin Snakes over the original PlayStation game any day of the week, but the original is on the list because its the real game, not a remake.
Resident Evil 2 (PS1/N64): Few games have actually gave me nightmares, making me afraid to go to sleep, and Resident Evil 2 is one of those games. It had an unbelievable sense of a spooky atmosphere, and it also was fun as hell. The game took what the original made so good, and made it even better. Picking each of the two characters were even more unique from one another, and the 2 different scenarios made the game a lot longer than you’d originally think it would be. Resident Evil 2 is one of the best Resident Evil games, one you should most definitely own.
Star Fox Adventures (GCN): A lot of people like to bash the hell out of Star Fox Adventures. They say it’s too little like Star Fox 64, and the story doesn’t fit with the kind of franchise that Star Fox. I say they can all suck it, because Star Fox Adventures is a fucking awesome game. It has its flaws, sure, but it’s definitely not bad. If you like games like Zelda, the games that have more of an adventure style to it, mixed with collecting items like a Banjo Kazooie game. It’s my favorite Star Fox game, and should NOT get the kind of disrespect it gets.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES): Link’s adventure on the SNES was awesome. It was a huge improvement over the 2 original Zelda’s on the NES, with way better visuals, better audio, and just better gameplay overall. The game was lengthy, it had a great story, and was just amazing overall. Some complain that the game is too difficult, mainly because the enemies take off a ridiculous amount of hearts near the end of the game, but it doesn’t change the fact that A Link to the Past is one of the best Zelda games.
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10. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
Until the fourth Metal Gear Solid game, every game in the series got better and better, and though I didn’t rate them that way, you can see in this very list that I liked each and every new game more and more. This same thing can be said with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, because it is the best Metal Gear Solid game thus far, and it’s only been 4 months since its initial release. Guns of the Patriots is everything you’d want out of a next-generation Metal Gear Solid game, it had incredible graphics, production values through the roof, and just about every part of the game being top of the line. It was so good in fact, that’s it’s easily my 10th favorite game of all time.
Guns of the Patriots really evolved the series from Snake Eater. It took the better camera system from Subsistence, added a better aiming function, while also adding a bunch of great elements that you wouldn’t expect from a Metal Gear Solid game in the first place. To start, the game had a great over-the-shoulder view for aiming weapons for precision aim. This was way easier than zooming into first person, but you can even do that in Guns of the Patriots if you like. You could also earn Drebin points by collecting fallen enemies’ guns and use these Drebin points to buy weapons from Drebin’s shop.
The game also took a totally different direction in the way you play. Instead of trying to sneak past enemies that are simply walking around, Snake pretends to join the ally forces during a war in the Middle East, but doesn’t fight if you don’t want him to. You go along with your allies and kill as much enemies as you possibly can, but you could also run away from the action and sneak your way through the game. Snake has a new Octo-Camo suit that changes to the type of surface he’s up against, making the game much better flow instead of going through tons of menus.
Metal Gear Solid 4 also closed the Solid Snake story that has built up over the years. You’ll get your normal Metal Gear characters like Otacon, Meryl, Coronal Campbell, and others. The story unfolds normally with boss fights after every major area of the game, but also throws twists and turns at you that you never thought possible... Well, nothing in Metal Gear Solid would be possible, but who’s keeping score right? Anyways, Guns of the Patriots is the definitive Metal Gear Solid game, and if you have played the past games and want to know what happens, Metal Gear Solid 4 will clear everything up, but maybe not as smooth as it could’ve.
Visually the game looked amazing with great lighting effects, smooth character models, and gorgeous environments. The AI of your partners and foes was pretty good, and technically the game was awesome. The frame rate never skipped, the game ran smooth as a gravy sandwich, while also looking like a real generation game. The audio was also top notch with perfect voice acting, an incredible soundtrack, and sound effects that sounded nothing other than real. The game did have a great soundtrack, but sadly does not have the best soundtrack in Metal Gear Solid games. The boss fight music was intense, sure, but it nothing like the first Metal Gear Solid’s tune.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was overall a masterpiece of a title. It was everything anyone wanted out of a next-generation Metal Gear Solid game while also adding clever elements you didn’t know you wanted. The game has some tiring long cut scenes that maybe seemed unnecessary, but everything else like the evolved gameplay, incredible audio including the voice acting and soundtrack while also having superb visuals definitely made up for it. Metal Gear Solid easily made my top 30 list, and is just the beginning of the top 10.
9. GoldenEye 007 (N64)
Rare and Nintendo had magic in the Nintendo 64 era. The games that were created by these behemoths were absolutely amazing like Perfect Dark, Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, and this game, GoldenEye 007. Usually games based on movies, or movies based on games are usually, well, terrible, but GoldenEye is anything but. It was the pinnacle of First Person Shooter at the time with a quite lengthy single player campaign, and superb multiplayer. The Nintendo 64 controller gave the controls what games desperately needed, and it ended up being my 9th favorite game ever.
I remember showing my friends the controls for the first time with the Z-Trigger on the back of the controller being the shoot button, and they thought it was awesome. It actually felt like you were shooting a gun, and the rumble pack you could insert into the controller made it even more immersive than before. Controlling Bond with the analog stick was a necessity, and aiming with the right shoulder button was done in way that it was enough for the time. GoldenEye was definitely the best first person shooter that ever hit the market at the time, but definitely is still up there with others to this very day.
The multiplayer was absolute chaos in GoldenEye. Having 4 friends together was a blast, shooting each other in the face felt too good (not in a sexual way). I really applaud Nintendo for including four controller ports on the Nintendo 64, because games like GoldenEye would have been nothing without it. The game has tons of different weapon types to choose from, while also featuring modes that completed the insane multiplayer. There were explosives, pistols, your ordinary assault rifles, and things like proximity mines that caused friendships to end.
The single player part of GoldenEye was really one of its strongest points. There were tons and tons of mission to take part in, and most of them followed the movie’s story. Some extra mission were thrown in to make it a longer game, and ended up being fun as hell. Some of the mission had you go through a factory killing absolutely every enemy in your way, while some had you go through a ton on a tank. Bond also had his trusty watch to keep things interesting.
Visually, the game was pure polish. It had great character models that had facial detail while the environments had great detail like the Jungle that had trees all over the place making it seem real. The effects like fire and bullet fire was also included and seamlessly fit into the game. The game also had great sound like the sound effects and the awesome and memorable soundtrack. GoldenEye 007 still stands as one of my favorite gaming soundtracks of all time (up there with Brawl and Ocarina), and the presentation of GoldenEye was AAA all the way.
GoldenEye really stands out as one of the very best examples of a genre, and how it can work with limited resources. The Nintendo 64 was on carts, so it couldn’t hold things like real video or music, but the game that GoldenEye 007 ended up being was nothing short of absolutely phenomenal. The action was incredibly intense throughout the lengthy single player while also having an extremely fun multiplayer that is still not boring to this very day. It had everything going, and going at top speed. GoldenEye 007 stands out as one of the most timeless games ever to hit the market, and is easily my 9th favorite game of all time.
8. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)
A lot of people were disappointed in the direction that the Wind Waker was headed. After a cool video showing Link facing Ganondorf in a one-on-one duel, lots of fans thought we were going to get the true sequel to Ocarina of Time, but Nintendo scrapped that idea, and went for something totally new, and result is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The Wind Waker has a very kiddish look to it, the games visuals are cel-shaded to look like a cartoon, and the story is a little less dark than previously seen in past Zelda games. But even with all of this, The Wind Waker still has a spot in my heart as one of the greatest games ever made.
The Wind Waker looks like a totally different game than the previous Zelda games, but it plays exactly the same, in a good way. You go from dungeon to dungeon fighting bosses at the end, getting an important item, and eventually facing Ganondorf in the final battle. But the way Nintendo put The Wind Waker is awesome, and it ended up being something totally unique that the Zelda franchise so desperately needed.
The story behind The Wind Waker is the tale of Ocarina of Time, but shortly thereafter, Ganondorf returns, and since Link was sent back to the past at the end of Ocarina of Time, no hero was there to save Hyrule once again. Because of this evil, the Gods of Hyrule had to flood Hyrule, and thus the Great Sea in the Wind Waker was born. Link has to travel around Hyrule on a boat named the King of Red Lions to islands scattered throughout the massive sea. Link starts off on a small island called Outset Island on his Birthday, but his little sister Aryll is captured by a giant bird, and Link must travel to the Forsaken Fortress to save her.
The most amazing thing about the Wind Waker is the scope of the Ocean. You can see tall islands miles away, and it will take you 15 minutes at least to travel one end to the other. Link eventually has to use a wand called the Wind Waker to change the direction of the wind so the King of Red Lions can travel faster. It is a major change of pace from previous Zelda game, and is a total refresher, and a new breathe in the franchise. Sometimes the boat rides end up taking too long and become a snooze-fest, but it’s still pretty cool.
Visually, the Wind Waker was stunning for 2003. The cel-shaded graphics not only looked real nice with awesome lighting and fantastic facial animations, but the game also had a ton of great variety of environments from islands to underground caves, to the great variety of dungeons the game has. The bosses, the character you find throughout the game, the dungeon designs, and pretty much everything about the Wind Waker’s visuals were absolutely top-notch. No slow-down, no hitches, nothing. The game ran smooth, and ends up being one of the most beautiful games on the Gamecube, easily.
But even with the amazing visuals, comes an even better soundtrack. The Wind Waker has memorable tune in every area of the game, has some amazing sound effects, and just an awesome array of great audio. Forest Haven and Dragon Roost Island are examples of absolutely superb soundtracks, and after you listen to those tunes for the first time, you want to just start playing the Wind Waker from the very beginning. It’s a little disappointing that there was no voice acting, but Zelda games are usually able to be amazing without it.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker will always stand out as one of greatest games I have ever played. The gameplay is nearly identical to that of previous 3D Zelda games, but it also had a breathe of fresh air with the sailing over the Great Sea to get to different areas of Hyrule. The cel-shaded visuals mixed in with the fantastic animations, and the superb soundtrack really brought the Zelda franchise to the new generation, and ended up being some of the best in Zelda history. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is easily one of the greatest games I have ever played, and should go down as one of the best Zelda, Gamecube games, and one of the best games of the generation, it’s that damn good.
7. BioShock (X360, PC, PS3)
BioShock was one of the smash hits of 2007. The game was the first one to knock your socks off starting in August, and though the games afterwards were awesome (Super Mario Galaxy, Call of Duty 4), I never thought any of them even came close to the greatness that BioShock was, and still is. BioShock was made by Irrational Games, the studio responsible for System Shock 2 on the PC, so everyone knew that BioShock was going to be something special, and as it turns out, it very well is.
The game is one of the most atmospheric games I have ever played, because the game takes place under the sea in a utopia called Rapture. Rapture was supposed to be this amazing creation that everyone will be able to go to escape from reality, but as you find out after a very scary plane crash at the start of the game, Rapture is anything but. The halls are filled with mutated people trying to slice you up, or shoot you down. Rapture also is full of Big Daddy’s that protect the Little Sisters, who wander around collecting ADAM from the dead. If you want to take this ADAM from a Little Sister, you first have to fight the Big Daddy, and they’re no walk in the part, let me tell you.
The story line is one of BioShock that makes it stand out from other games of the genre. There are tons of twists and turn throughout the entire game, and though the conclusion is somewhat out of place, the rest of the story is near-perfect. What makes the story come together so well isn’t the cutscenes. There are very few, and sometimes they take place while you’re still playing the game. The audio diaries you find throughout the game tell you what mostly happened in the downfall of the city, and what secrets were untold.
The game is also very fun, while being scary as well. BioShock is a first person shooter, you hold guns, and you shoot your enemies with them. Obviously, but makes the game so unique is the variety of old-school weapons like a 1960’s pistol, and a Thompson-like machine gun, and the mixture of Plasmids that shoot fire, or lift things with telekinesis. You find Plasmids in glass bottles throughout Rapture, and most of the them are useful, but some are a little stupid. The variety of things you can use to kill enemies is pretty special, you can set a trip mine, then lift an enemies up and toss them into it, stuff like that.
Visually the game is outstanding. Like I said in my review, it’s not going to blow you away like Gears of War, but BioShock’s visuals are pretty damn impressive with absolutely no slowdown what-so-ever. Locked at 60 frames per second, Rapture comes to life with enemies that look disturbing, but awesome at the same time, while the water from the ocean gives off a cool lighting effect that is just crazy-effective. The water effects are top-notch, it looks like the real thing. Some of the animations when the Splicers die are kind of weird.
The voice acting made the game seem like a movie because it was so well done. Every voice in the game from Andrew Ryan, to Atlas, everyone sounds like they would at that time, mixed with the quality of sound walky-talkies would have in that time period. The sound effects are also pretty good, but what makes everything mix so well is the very atmospheric music that will sometimes haunt your dreams. You be walking around a dark corner, then the lights will go out, and Splicers will attack you out of nowhere with the intense music blasting. It really adds to the mood, and ends up being one of the most atmospheric soundtracks of all time.
BioShock is simply an amazing game, from start to finish. It’s easily one of the most atmospheric games of all time, and also one of the most fun. The story will keep you guessing until the end, while the audio diaries keep things interesting throughout. BioShock is my favorite game of 2007, and if 2007 is the greatest year of video gaming, and BioShock is my favorite, then it has to be one of the best ever. It is. It’s my 7th favorite game of all time.
6. Sonic 3 and Knuckles (GEN)
Sonic 3 and Knuckles is an arguable game. Sure, it can be considered one game on its own, but it is two game combined into one. Should it be considered one game? Sonic 3 and Knuckles is Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles put together to be one game with a new story, and a new final boss. The levels are put together from Sonic 3, then continues with Sonic & Knuckles. Its up to you to decide if it should be considered one game or not, but for me, I think it’s not only one game, but it’s one of the best games ever created.
Sonic 3 was a little disappointing considering that Sonic 2 was the best SEGA Genesis game up until the release of Sonic 3, but Sonic and Knuckles that came out the same year corrected all of the things wrong with Sonic 3, and the cartridge was able to hold Sonic 3 to become an entirely new game. Sonic & Knuckles added 2 more save slots that Sonic 3 made a new constant, and you were now able to play as Knuckles through Sonic 3 levels, and play as Tails through the Sonic & Knuckles levels.
But the thing that makes it so amazing is that it seamlessly adds to two games together like they were supposed to one game in the first place (which they probably should have been). Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were amazing on their own, but adding them together with some added content only made the games better together. The story finally makes a little more sense, but no speech bubbles or any dialog what-so-ever really deflates the story and sometimes doesn’t make sense, but this is the Sonic game where the Sonic Team actually tried to make a decent enough story to fit a blue Hedgehog and a red Echidna.
Other than saying that Sonic 3 and Knuckles is two amazing game put into one, there’s not much else to say about Sonic 3 and Knuckles. It has all of the great levels from the two games, plus a last, amazing boss battle that is the most satisfying bosses I have ever fought. It also had the amazing soundtracks from both game, put into one, plus the gorgeous visuals that were beautiful in both games. Sonic 3 and Knuckles is arguable, no doubt, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s my sixth favorite game(s) ever made.
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