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My Top Ten of ALL TIME

These are games that I have played. I have many I still need to play that would almost certainly supplant games on the current list. In addition, many might wonder why I don't have some older, more influential games on this list. That is because I truly loved games like the original StarCraft, but going back and playing it shows me that games have moved on and simply become better. This list is not "most influential games", it is the BEST games, and many of these stand upon the shoulders of older games that, in their time, were miles ahead of the competition, but have been caught up to since.

List items

  • I know this is very recent to be considered a favorite of all time, but I was sure the minute I finished this game that I was never going to have an experience like this in any other game. I love surreal themes in my movies, games, and books, and this game took those themes and made one of the most thought-provoking and emotional stories I have ever witnessed. The way everything works and weaves together is simply breathtaking. On top of this, the art design is staggeringly good, the combat was very fun (skylines made me feel like a god), and the incorporation of a companion was masterfully done. This is the only game that I've ever finished whilst thinking "I do not have any other game that even compares to this." I truly felt as though I had finished the best game of all time.

  • I waited eight years for this game. I played the original StarCraft as a very young kid (kindergarten) and loved it to death. After I did absolutely everything there was to do in the original, including hours upon hours of LAN battles with my brother, all I could think about was the sequel to this game. I bought countless other RTS games to try and quench my thirst, but none of them really did. When I finally got into the beta for StarCraft 2, my heart skipped several beats, and my grades plummeted for a good week or two. This game was everything I could ever hope for: remarkably solid gameplay, insanely good balance, great multiplayer infrastructure, awesome cutscenes, and a great campaign to boot. I have played this game for at least 500 hours total over the course of three years, something I cannot say for any other game. In addition, I watched countless tournaments and followed dozens of individual professional ESports players, all because this game was good enough to make watching it almost as fun as playing it. Truly a masterpiece, and to have it supplanted by BioShock Infinite was difficult at first, because they are such different games. I almost consider them equal.

  • I really feel like the Mass Effect franchise has had the greatest overall effect on me emotionally in my video game career, but I do not think that ME1 and ME3 are two of the ten best game of all time. I put ME2 here because I think it had the most to do with the net emotional impact the series had on me, but also because it has some of the best narrative structure in any videogame. The way it incorporated choices from the previous game was mind-blowing, and the writing behind almost every character was top notch. In addition, the combat was so vastly improved from it's predecessor that it made this game feel so much better; to have the writing chops from ME1 not be hampered by it's clunky combat was a thought that made me giddy as I finished ME1 and rolled into ME2. The last mission of this game was also one of the most intense moments in my life, as I knew that members of my team that I had helped through so much could die at any moment. I completely forgot about all the programming and diagrams behind what determined their life or death and became 100% immersed in the universe, something truly worthy of praise.

  • I bought this on my dads iPad because we were going on a trip. I had heard good things about it, so I figured I would try it. I had no idea I was buying one of the best games I would ever play. On paper, this game seemed ripe to fail. Visuals are nicely stylized but are nothing to write home about, any action to speak of is horrendous, and the traditional adventure game moments are pretty bland. How could anything redeem this game? Fortunately, the story is so incredibly written that everything else simply doesn't matter once you've played about an hour of the first episode (which pales in comparison to the rest of the season). The way your choices impact the world makes you feel as though you could actually fail, unlike games where a bad choice would simply make you start over. In The Walking Dead, not only do you have to live with bad choices, but sometimes there are only bad choices. Because of this, every turn the story takes induces the same feeling I had during the Mass Effect 2 Suicide Mission: this could be it.

  • I have a complicated relationship with this game. My brother received an N64 for his 7th birthday, putting me at three years old. I watched him play this game from beginning to end, and at my age, it was nothing short of magical. My memories of those times remain vivid and precious to me. Almost everything we liked as little kids seems so much better in our memories, causing the real thing to seem disappointing when we go back to it. That is what makes this game so incredible. I returned to this game as a nine-year old and it still seemed just as awesome, yet in a different way now that I was in charge and could actually understand most of what was being described in the dialogue. As mentioned before, surreal themes appeal to me greatly, and the switching between young and old Link in this game was awe-inspiring to my young brain. To see how the world, the characters, and Link himself changed as he went back and forth captured my imagination like precious few other games have done. And to make it even better, the combat, art design, music, and practically everything else about this game is almost as solid as it could ever be.

  • Much like Medieval 2: Total War allowed me to write my own narrative about conquering Europe, XCOM allowed me to create my own story about how my elite team of international super-soldiers saved the Earth. XCOM did such an incredible job of allowing the player to feel in charge yet under constant stress. Finally you were in the shoes of the bigshots in alien invasion movies, but could you really pull through and save our home like those guys always did? The combat was so intense; once again I reference the Mass Effect 2 suicide mission, in which one wrong move could mean the death of a valuable team member. This was slightly cheapened by the fact that there was always a faint possibility of being completely destroyed due to an alien with a 1% chance to hit getting insanely lucky, but was by no means overshadowed by it. In addition, the base management was surprisingly engaging due to limited resources, including time. By adding time as such an important factor for nearly every action in the base, tensions were risen to such a degree that the player really felt that they were in over their head at first, but eventually felt like a total genius.

  • Where to start? Bastion can be commended for everything it does. The narrative is the star of the show, with one of the most effective storytelling mechanisms I have every seen (heard). Even though the universe wasn't as fleshed out as say Mass Effect, enough was described to make me feel invested and immersed. For the sake of spoilers, I won't go into too much detail, but the end of this game left me staring at my screen for nearly twenty minutes, my mind just running through what I had just done, what the world would become because of my actions. The combat is also incredible due to the fact that you feel so in control of your actions. The art design of this game rivals that of BioShock Infinite, with some of the most beautifully stylized visuals in any game. The story builds upon what you see in such an elegant way, and the combat is well suited for the locales the game sends you to.

  • This is one of the few games that actually made me feel powerful. Sure there are games like Batman: Arkham Asylum that make you feel like a badass, but in this game, taking the entire Iberian Peninsula was a godly feeling. I really did not expect to like the Civilization side of this game, but it actually complements the engagements remarkably well. Gauging the power of your enemy's forces, taking strategic routes through mountain ranges and forests, and dealing with the internal struggles of an empire all made for a terrific experience. The best part of the game remains that battles, which have an incredible amount of detail and nuance. Unfortunately the AI falters once in a while, but when it doesn't, you have some of the most epic battles games are capable of creating. With so much room for tactics, you can feel like a total failure or a tactical genius, and one often becomes the other at some point during the larger battles. Overall, this game is more than capable of allowing you to create your own course of European history, and it feels absolutely amazing.

  • I really love some open world games, but I also really hate most of them. Bethesda remains the only developer to make open world games that I actually like *because* they feature an open world, and Skyrim is the pinnacle of their efforts. The world is fully featured, full of quests dealing with everything from saving a family to saving the entire province. The vistas are stunning, the movement and combat is vastly improved over Bethesda's previous games, and there is just so much that you can do to your character that makes you feel as though you are always making progress. It is quite a feat to be able to create a single-player, quest-based, open world game that is widely regarded as "unfinishable" due to the sheer amount of content available to the player.

  • This game blew me away. I saw it in an article and decided to try it. I have now logged at least forty hours on this game and install it on almost any computer I can. This game has so many levels of playability: you start playing it like a normal racing game, just speeding through cool Tron tracks, but eventually it becomes a test of survival. Once you have mastered dodging saws, lasers, and giant spike-things, you then learn to play Nitronic Rush in a way that I did not see coming when I first played the game. The hardcore levels feature wall-riding, 180 flips onto the floor/ceiling, insane loops, and countless other crazy challenges that seem impossible at first. I can safely say that these things are far from impossible, for after playing about 25 hours, I was able to do absolutely everything this game threw at me, and it felt glorious. To be in control of the insanity was mind-blowing; one level took me 40 minutes and well over 100 deaths to complete before mastering the hardcore maneuvers, but once I had those down, that level took me less than three minutes. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this game is that it is fun no matter your skill level. Remember me mentioning those 25 hours it took for me to become good enough at this game to complete the hardcore levels? Those were 25 hours of pure fun, in no way were they a slog. It is truly amazing that a game of this caliber was made by a few college kids and was released for free, for this is the best racing game I have ever played. They are now working on a spiritual successor called Distance, which seems to one-upping everything in this game, and that has got me truly excited.