My top ten favorite games of all time.
My top ten favorite games of all time.
***Updated this in February 2011, the rest of the blurbs will read as if Mass Effect 2 has not been released yet***
Final Fantasy VI managed to remain my favorite game for nearly two full decades until BioWare released Mass Effect 2 a bit more than a year ago. I wanted to give it a full year of soaking in before I officially added this game to the top of the list. It well deserves it.
Justin McElroy of Joystiq stated upon the games release that it might be the best game he's ever played. For me, there's no doubt. There is so much in this game that BioWare got right that it's easily the best RPG ever produced in my mind, if not the best game. Unbelievably human characters (despite the fact that many aren't human), a perfectly paced storyline, great third person shooter gameplay, beautiful to look at, fabulously scored... The only complaint I have with this game is the sometimes-puzzling friendly AI, but this is easily remedied by directing your allies yourself.
The first weekend after buying this game I put in a whopping 33 hours of gameplay. I sealed myself off from my family and friends and spent literally the entire weekend playing this title, including 18 hours straight on Saturday from 9:00 AM through 2:00 AM, stopping only to grab tidbits of food and water and the occasional bathroom trip. It's that good.
There's no doubt in my mind that this game belongs here. Final Fantasy VI had effectively held this top spot since 1995. It's time for another game to take up the throne in my personal gaming pantheon.
My single all-time favorite game, I have played through this game dozens of times. This game tops my list not necessarily because I think it's the best of the group, but because I remember devoting countless hours to finishing it back when I was only 9 years old, Nintendo Power strategy guide by my side. This was truly the game that started my early obsession with JRPGs, my current obsession with action RPGs, and video games in general.
One of the greatest stories ever told through video game form with memorable characters all around. Fei is one of the most complex characters in video game history. If gear combat was redesigned and the American version had a proper second disc, this game would be without a doubt my favorite game of all time.
My username comes from Ramsus' gear, Vendetta, in this game.
An instant classic when it came out, and still one of my favorites ever. Great soundtrack, great characters, and the best magic management system ever in a Final Fantasy with the materia system. Cloud's struggle makes us feel as if we're a part of him. It reveals our own insecurities by putting us in his place. The ambiance of this game is particularly strong, so much so that when you hear a song from the game, it instantly puts you mentally in the place you were when you were playing this game back in 1997.
Ground-breaking stealth gameplay, one of the greatest stories of any game ever, and fantastic writing and memorable moments. I find myself quoting this game almost daily. The character of Solid Snake will remain with me forever as one of the most bad-ass, take names and kick ass characters of all-time.
Though the characters aren't as realistic to me as some more modern games, the battle system is pure entertainment, and the way the game opens up toward the end is simply awesome. This game set the standard for side quests, as each one is not only greatly enjoyable but also has a pertinent impact on the storyline. When this game was re-released for the Nintendo DS, I found myself playing through it all over again. This is possibly the greatest RPG ever produced by some of the greatest Japanese game designers to ever live, this game belongs somewhere on everybody's favorites list unless they are an absolutely ardent JRPG hater.
Excellently paced, politically charged storyline that thrills until the end. Excellent in-game cutscene sprite animation and solid strategy gameplay make this game unforgettable. The cutscenes added to the PSP version are simply amazing, and that game shouldn't be missed either. This game also sports one of the single best soundtracks of all time.
Easily my favorite game of the console generation thus far. Addictive character spec'ing, deep and involved story, excellent ambiance. I found myself playing through this game time after time in order to build a great version of nearly each character archetype. I ended up with a maxed-out level 60 soldier, a level 53 vanguard, and a level 48 adept. They say addiction is bad for you, but I rather enjoyed my addiction to this game.
Fantastically fun gameplay that doesn't punish you for playing the game your way. Though there are several straight-up fan service moments in the game that absolutely delighted me, the story at this point had become so far-fetched and convoluted that I found myself not truly enjoying it quite as much as I should have. That's why I still have the first game in the series held to a higher standard than this one.
Earthbound holds a special place in my heart much like Final Fantasy III does -- Both games were an important part of my gaming childhood. The game had humor, an excellent soundtrack, and a quirky story matched by equally quirky characters. This game had a particular look and feel of brilliance to it, and it was able to manipulate the player's emotions to a degree that few games were able to do at the time. This is expressed particularly well during the final battle with Giygus, one of the most intimidating and fantastic final bosses in all of video game history. It's been years since I fired this game up, and writing about it makes me want to run through it one more time.
The tenth spot for me was a battle between this game and Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy X was incredibly polished, had a great battle system, and an incredibly good cast of characters aside from the main character. Final Fantasy VIII, however, had to take the spot on the strength of Squall as a main character and his incredibly authentic-feeling relationship with Rinoa. I'm able to overlook the absolutely putrid drawing system used to manage magic when I think about how truly fabulous the cast of characters is. From Squall to Rinoa, Seifer to Zell, and Edea to Ultimecia, every single character in this game has their own personal quirks. The most memorable moment for me while playing this game was seeing the very last scene during the ending, with each character dining, and the scene ending. I remember feeling a distinct melancholy in realizing that the story was over, and that I'd likely never see these characters in a new storyline ever again. Now that is powerful storytelling.
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