Not just the best Star Wars game...but the best game of 'em all, period. For such a long, epic experience, I've played through it a worryingly large amount of times too. I dug Bioware prior to this - Neverwinter Nights introducing me to 'em in a big way - but KOTOR elevated Canada's finest up to the ranks of my fave devs in the business today. A true videoogame masterpiece.
I'm a huge frickin' cyberpunk nerd (as this list demonstrates), and Deus Ex is the dream cyberpunk game I always wanted as a kid. Freeform first person roleplaying, that still houses THE most potent and engrossing atmosphere of any gaming world you will find. Love it.
Not to be mistaken for the awful 360 title of recent times, and also along the cyberpunk tip, Shadowrun on the SNES holds up amazingly well for a game over 15 years old. A sorta prototype for Deus Ex up there in many ways, albeit from an isometric perspective, it had a fab story, great dialogue, and fast-paced real-time combat far more interesting than the Final Fantasy clones at the time. Still worth a bash on the PSP via a bit of cheeky emulation.
More SNES antics, and undoubtedly Mario's finest outing of them all. A hundred levels. Yoshi. The cape. Dragon coins. Secret worlds. Amaze.
Playing Ico for the first time was one of the most captivating and moving gaming experiences I've ever had, with a subtlety and understated tone a zillion times more stylish and mature than anything Hollywood manages to shit out each and every year. Surprisingly plays host to the best love story to be found in all of gaming.
Back on the sci-fi tip. The originator of the FPS/RPG hybrid, that since spawned a whole new sub-genre - including a spiritual sequel in Bioshock - System Shock 2 was one I only actually got around to playing last year. With some fancy user mods and texture upgrade packs, it looks and plays stunningly modern though. I couldn't put it down.
The game that got me back into consoles. I was Mr PC Fanboy when Halo came out, but one go on that opening level and I was pulled straight back in. It wasn't just the amazing physics, ace vehicles, and jaw-dropping AI though. Nope, it was all about the co-op. A 2-player mode that's still about as fun as you can get in any damn game going. Oddly enough, I really dug playing on a pad too. At a time when PC FPS' ruled supreme, it was a bizarre change of pace for me.
Always been a sucker for the old skool PC point 'n' click games - and have been super psyched to see the genre's return in recent years - and this was the best of the bunch for me. Not only a fantastic, fun, and - well - FUNNY title, but also three damn games in one, depending on which path you took. I never finished it though oddly enough.
Neocron was the game that awake the MMO addict within me. I'd tried a couple prior to this, but not seen the appeal. That all changed here. As a game, it had its probs. Bugs, lag, boring quests...all the usual failings that MMOs enjoyed at the time. But make no mistake, Neo made up for it in a whole host of other ways. Not only was it basically a Deus Ex MMO in everything but name - including hacking, cybernetic implants, and gritty Blade-Runner-esque cities - but it had truly stunning PvP combat intertwined into the traditional MMO world, with base capturing, real-time FPS combat, and even bloomin' vehicles. A very ambitious game, that I felt was criminally overlooked. Miss it.
I love the PoP series. From the original rotoscoped classic, to the insanely pretty Gameboy version, to the amazing SNES remake (my fave), right up to Sands of Time, the Prince has always struck a chord with me. Well, perhaps not since then. The Sands sequels had issues, and next-gen Prince was a bit of a baby game, but my whining speak more to how damn good this series has been over the years, rather than those various outings being particularly bad. Can't wait for the new one.
The moment next-gen gaming arguably arrived, Oblivion was a true leapfrog in our favourite hobbie that still blows me away to this day. Not only a stunningly epic universe that seems to never end, but one that still weaves in great combat, cool quests, and an endless supply of fab add-ons that I have sunk over 60 hours into at this point...and I doubt I'm more than 50% of the way through it. Many happy memories are contained within this thing.
If Neocron awoke my MMO gene, Galaxies capitalised on it like a mofo. A massively flawed game in hindsight, with insanely complex system requirements and a huge lack of questing content, SWG made up for it by way of THE best social interactions and inter-player tomfoolery ever seen in a game. From guilds and player created cities, to amazing PvP and even entire classes based around socialising, it felt like the truly first online WORLD I'd ever seen. You didn't log into SWG to save the universe and kill the Emperor. You popped on to see your pals. Hang out in your city. Go for a stroll to Theed. Ride out to Jabba's Palace and get pissed on Jawa beer. It wasn't quite the epic Star Wars experience it should have been - something the KOTOR MMO is looking to fix - but it was that universe brought to life wonderfully. For a child of the '80s, this cannot be downplayed.
Another Sony MMO from around that same era, Planetside was a kinda massively multiplayer Halo, where hundreds of players stormed bases and engaged in huge, epic warfare on a scale never seen before (or since...). The ability to play as anything from a paratrooper, to a mech, to a tank driver, to a dogfighter gave it plenty of variety, and the sheer sense of scope enjoyed by witnessing a 50 person squadron rolling out in unison still remains firmly etched onto my brain to this day.
Ico's semi-sequel became an obsession of mine back on release. It's all I played for months, all I talked about, and all I thought about. It even invaded my dreams. From its creeply sense of isolation, up to its most ginormous of boss fights, somewhere along the line it just hit a nerve that borrowed its way into my very soul. I love this game, and can't WAIT for the (inevitable) PS3 HD remake that Sony BETTER BE WORKING ON.
The game-changing MMO that killed off old skool online games like those mentioned further up forever. Long gone were complex, deep, engrossing worlds, replaced my streamlined quests and hand-holding sessions of whack-a-mole. For that, I've gone through long bouts of WoW backlash hatred over the years. The flipside, of course, is that's a FUCKING FUN game though, and very much deserving of its insane success. I'm back on it right now, and it's all I want to play. Quite possibly the one title most deserving of being proclaimed...greatest game ever. The bastard.
MOHAA, as we called it, was the game that got me into online shooters. Counter-Strike was the shit, don't get me wrong, but a little too brutal at times. Not to mention, full o' douchebags. MOHAA had not only a fantastic base game, with stunning combat, lovely levels, and amazing online modes...but also boasted a wicked online community to boot. Choc-full o' awesome peeps I'm still in touch with to this very day. It's sad to see what became of this franchise in its wake, but considering the developers themselves splintered off from EA to make Call of Duty, I guess we can't complain really, eh?
Oblivion was great, sure, but felt held back in certain places. Firstly, technical issues plagued it, that when played on a 360 these days? Are *sorta* embaressing. Secondly though, it was just a wee bit cliched at times. Medievil fantasy towns we'd kinda seen before. Fallout fixed all that. Almost a total conversion of Oblivion in many ways, using that same engine and many of those mechanics, but with a futuristic Mad Max make-over, it injected a whole heap of fab personality into the proceedings that made it even *more* engrossing to play. I ploughed about 50 hours into this sucker too - including completing every expansion - and still feel desperate for more. Hopefully the upcoming New Vegas helps scratch that itch.
Sam Fisher's greatest outing, not to mention the greatest stealth game of them all. Chaos Theory perfected the Splinter Cell formula, and this genre as a whole, by amplifying your abilities 10 times over. No longer did you feel helpless and puny, but a genuine bad ass who THRIVES on pouncing from the darkness. Being able to interact with the environment in exciting new ways really opened up the silent killings beautifully, and the inclusion of the knife was a small, but pivotal addition that Sam had always needed. Far more importantly than all this though, was that co-op mode. Christ, has there been a better way to spend 4 hours with a friend since? Still play it regularly.
HL2 was the nuts, of course, and introduced true real-world physics unlike anything else we'd ever seen. For me though, it's the first game I look back on most fondly. I bought Half-Life knowing next to nothing about it, only 'cos I'd heard a Star Wars mod was in development for it at the time. Dunno what became of that, but I didn't care. My world had been rocked. Gorden Freeman, my new hero. Half-Life did so many truly innovative things - upgrades to the shooter genre still ripped off to this day - but for me, it was just the way the world never stopped and started that truly blew me away. No "levels". No warping. It was *seemless*. You ran everywhere from the first scene to the last. All 20 odd hours of it. Well, I guess you did warp to Xen, now I think about it. But fuck the haters, even that part rocked. Can't wait for Black Mesa Source.
My fave Zelda game, and another SNES classic. It's been a while since I played this bad boy mind you. Perhaps I should rectify that...
I suppose some time and space is needed to see what Mass Effect 2's, er, effect has on the RPG genre going forward - not to mention how high it settles on this here list in the long run - but as I write this, it feels like one of the finest games I've ever played. One that purifies Bioware's take on the role-player, while taking it to more accessible, satisfying and enjoyable places than their previous offerings too. I loved the characters, the story, the worlds, and even the DLC. Most surprising of all though, is just how damn fun the combat is. It's up there with your Gears and your GRAW if you ask me, and that you have all the other, amazing content surrounding such a solid base? Oh my.
I remember struggling to run this in a tiny postage stamp reduced resolution box on my aging PC back on release. And failing epicly, necessitating an expensive upgrade. Thus was the draw of a new Quake though. One that took Quake 1's interesting ideas and concepts, but married them to a far more interesting setting, an actual STORY, and way more satisfying shoot-outs. Co-op was a blast, the weapons ace, and the level design still some of my fave of the past 20 odd years of playing games. It also showed me how much damn fun online deathmatch can be. A feat few games have really managed to stack up to since (including its overrated sequel).
Flashback gets played quite literally about once a month by me, still here in 2010. A wondrous platforming adventure game that took Prince of Persia's stunning animation and gameplay mechanics, then wrapped them up on an open-world, futuristic film noire that felt like all your fave sci-fi flicks rolled into one. Little things like catching a subway, getting a job, and exploring real cities felt new and fresh, while the movement and controls were so effortlessly stylish it felt like liquid in your hands. This game positively NEEDS an HD remake on XB Live Arcade, stat. Shame about the sequel, mind.
The game that turned my minor love with gaming into a poop-socking love affair, SF2 was the first game that I enjoyed an all-night 8 hour long marathon with. It was also the first truly social game I ever played, with winner stays on sessions home to many of my fave gaming moments of all-time. Turbo here was my fave of the various remakes and updates mind you, adding a whole heap o' new hotness. Dragon punches will never get old.
The day I saw StarFox for the first time, I was stunned. True 3D polygons! It was like Virtual Reality. But actually *cool*. I couldn't believe it. It didn't hurt that StarFox was fun to play too, tapped into Star Wars nostalgia something fierce, not to mention contained THAT music. Such a pity the series never managed to hit those same highs ever again then, really.
I had no interest in snowboarding, had never played an SSX game, and had no clue what this sucker was even about when a mate forced me into some 2-player antics many moons back, but 5 minutes later, when that first game ended...I was hooked. For life. SSX3 is an amazing racing game above all else, that melds fast-paced steering with a fantastic trick system, amazing locales, and a stunning open course design with hundreds of shortcuts that's a riot to explore. The coolest part of this entire game? The epic 30 minute long races from top to bottom of the peaks. Amazing use of streaming, and epic course layouts at their finest. Please EA...give us an online sequel. And no, "On Tour" doesn't count. Let alone "Blur".
I'm a huge sucker for the action game genre, with God of War, Devil May Cry and Gaiden all vying for equal doses of love from me at various times of my life. I guess this here remix of the first Ninja Gaiden would take the #1 slot of all these various series and their sequels though, a game I mastered, perfected and replayed numerous times until I pretty much felt like a real-life ninja myself. 'Cos let's be honest? You pretty much need the reflexes of one to beat just one level of this fucking thing. What a game.
Another FPS/RPG crossbreed to chuck onto the pile mentioned earlier, but a far less popular, more under-stated one. Bloodlines used the Source engine at its core, and actually pre-dated HL2 from what I remember. Needless to say? It suffered some serious early technical issues because of it. It felt unfinished, sloppy, performed badly, and was riddled with endless bugs and broken quests. Developers Troika went under shortly after release as a reult. Fan patches and mods have turned it into a true masterpiece though, and arguably the game it always should have been. Bloodlines boasts one of the most memorable, and downright hilariously adult worlds you will ever find in a game, see. Amazing dialogue, dark subject matter, and a no holds barred mature approach to its story feel like a breath of fresh-air compared to...pretty much every other game ever, while its use of scares and inventive locations weren't to be scoffed at either. Night time LA makes for one hell of a fab gaming environment, coming off like some kinda 18 rated version of Angel at times. Unmissable for vamp-lovers.
BG&E came out around the same time as Sands of Time, and was a bit of a double-whammy slamdunk for Ubisoft that year. Critically, anyway. Sadly, Evil didn't perform will, sales-wise, and thus most haven't heard of it, let alone played her...but the mad fools are missing out one hell of a classic. A mish-mash of game-types, from platforming, to open-world exploring, to racing, to flying, BG&E had you playing the role of a reporter in a cartoony fantasy land, attempting to uncover a vast conspiracy plot. It was funny, touching, memorable and truly one of a kind. There's a sequel in stalled development somewhere out there - let us cross fingers on it seeing the light of day at some point.
Going out with a bang. Little Big Adventure was an ancient PC adventure game classic that later got ported to the PS1. It was a zany, gorgeous, unique masterpiece that looked cute and cuddly on the outside...but boasted somewhat dark undertones and hilariously insane difficulty spikes that most definitely wasn't designed for kids. Frustrations aside, LBA is a true one of a kind gem, that you can actually get for free relatively easily these days if you pop on over to... http://www.lbahq.com/
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