Sep 26, 2010

My Top 10 Video Games of All Time

It has been a few years since I have redefined my top 10 video games of all time. Here they are in no particular order, because lets be honest, it is tough to put them all down in stone.


Starcraft: Brood War
Starcraft has been the corner stone of competitive Real Time Strategy gaming for over a decade, and even though Starcraft 2 finally came out this summer, Brood War has shown that it has longevity. While I am sure in the professional scene Starcraft 2 will eventually eclipse Brood War, Brood War will always have a special caffeine fueled LAN'ed area of my heart. The balance in the game is damn near perfect, even if there are some issues with the software being dated, such as the crappy resolution and limited amount of unit selection. Many people don't realize how much of an effect this game has had on gaming as a whole, from specific terms ("Zerging") to a dedicated online community, this game was truly ahead of its time and outlived the expectations of anyone who came into contact with it.

BioShock
From the instant I started BioShock I knew the game was going to be special. The intro was very compelling and then took a sharp turn towards the sadistic and political. It was quite a pleasant surprise. The combat wasn't exactly the deepest thing in the world, but there were enough tools in your arsenal to allow you to make what you wanted out of the combat system. A memory that I will always hold close is my Wrench only playthough on hard. Not exactly an easy task, as I was always switching out plasmids to get the most out of my limited range. The forced morality of weather to save or harvest the Little Sisters was a pretty cool mechanic, but eventually boiled down to "Do I want to make this game harder on myself?". Plus, near the end of the game you get to experience one of the best twists in story telling, making you really question free will as a gamer.

Super Mario 64
I have beaten this game at least half a dozen times, and will probably double that number before I pass. I know how to get all 120 Stars by memory, and even cleared out the extra 30 Stars from the DS remake. One time through Super Mario 64 I spent 3 hours trying to get a Star from the DS version, only to have to google it to find out it wasn't there. Not my proudest gaming moment, but it is funny none the less. This game defined what 3D gaming is and should be, even if the camera was unwieldy at best. Revisiting each world multiple times to grab that last Star or collect 100 coins was gratifying, and you never felt like any one collectible was out of reach. The thing that blows my mind the most about this game though? This was the first Mario game to not feature the iconic Power Mushroom, or the Fire Flower for that matter. Powerups not withstanding, the charm wasn't lost at all.

Metroid Prime

If Super Mario 64 showed how to successfully translate a series from 2D to 3D, Metroid Prime perfected the formula. The eerie mood of isolation from Super Metroid held true thanks to amazing pacing and a killer score, while the world was fleshed out thanks to the addition of a scanner, which on paper sounds like a chore more than anything. Once you get into the practice of scanning everything though each room boils down to the formula of "Destroy. Scan. Explore." Add in the traditional item progression of previous Metroid titles and you have a winning formula for success. Sadly the sequels just felt like more of the same, even with the addition of motion controls in the third game. I highly recommend skipping the Metroid Prime Trilogy compilation for the Wii and just tracking down Metroid Prime for the GameCube.

Mass Effect 2


It is quite a shame that to fully appreciate this game you have to trudge through Mass Effect 1. Not saying that Mass Effect 1 is a bad game, it just feels extremely dated across the board considering there was only a two year and a couple months gap between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. The difference in quality is something every developer should aim for in between sequels. So what makes Mass Effect 2 so great? The story and the awesome combat. Where as ME1 felt stale due to lack of options in your party members and their abilities, ME2 comes firing out of the gate with varied party members that each have their own invested backstory. Where this game really shines is if you imported your character from ME1. BioWare has gone on record saying that over 700 decisions from ME1 imported into ME2 with your save file, and I cannot wait to see how that number holds up come Mass Effect 3. Add on a healthy amount of awesome DLC and Mass Effect 2 out shines it younger brother with little effort.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
The ultimate side quest, Majora's Mask took everything from Ocarina of Time and made it better by adding an actual time traveling mechanic instead of a copied world that was aged 7 years. This was also the longest 3 days of my life. In order to collect every mask in the game, obtain the highest ruppie count and collect every item you had to be very exact in everything you did. On top of this add on classic Zelda dungeon design and a creepy moon to the mix and you have one awesome game. Some people complained because of how few dungeons the game had, but I think the games length was just the right amount of time if you went for 100% completion.

Galaga

This game holds some of my fondest memories of score chasing. Hell I can think of a few cabinet that I placed in the top 5 on. Iterations haven't lost the classic design, but there is just something so right about hearing your quarter click into the machine as you are magically granted extra lives. This is also one of the few games I cannot beat my mother at (The other being Tetris), but I am okay with it, seeing as she was the one who introduced me to the magical world of gaming. While not a bullet hell like most top down shooters these days, the game is fairly manageable and can be picked up by just about anyone instantly. It definitely falls under to classic mantra of "Easy to pick up, hard to master". Some people don't even know about certain things in this game to this day. When it released on the Xbox Live Arcade a friend of mine crapped his pants when I let my ship get captured. "Your an idiot Ryan!". His dumbfounded look was replaced with awe as I powered up by reclaiming my ship, thus doubling my fire power. Is it basic and primitive compared to today's shooters? Of course. Does that mean it is a bad game? No way in hell.

Battlefield 1942
The ultimate PC shooter experience. Hands down, no questions asked. I discovered this little gem in between marathon sessions of Starcraft at a local cybercafe and have been hooked ever since. The massive scale of the maps is just right, with enough options of traversing any distance. Planes? Check. Tanks? Check. On foot? Check. On top of that add a diverse set of character load outs, it allowed you to change your strategy and effectiveness against certain situations on the fly. Enemy has a tank moving towards your spawn point? Spawn as an Anti-Tank solider equipped with a bazooka next time. Need to repair a jeep so you can drive right into enemy territory without the fear of your jeep being blown to smithereens? Spawn as an engineer. This was the first shooter where I felt that I was actually making a difference based on my decisions instead of moving the frag counter up by one every time I got a kill.

Marvel VS Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes

Sorry fighter enthusiasts, while Street Fighter will always have a place in my heart, this is the fighting game I will come back to again and again. Between the arcade machines, two copies of the Dreamcast version of the game and the Xbox Live version, I can say without a doubt this is my favorite fighting game of all time. The sheer variety in match ups is just astounding with 56 characters to choose from and 3 characters for each player, the amount of match ups is ridiculous, especially once you unlock the ability to play with the same character on one team multiple times. During my brief stint at a proper college my Dreamcast was getting the most play in the dorms simply because of this game. I bet we averaged at least 100 games in any given weekend between the 10 or so of us that played regularly. Sure the is no counter system and the game is pretty flashy and loves the big number combos, but we found the depth in each character and loved it for what it was.

Pokémon Gold/Silver
Forget the remakes that just came out. This was where it was at. This was the first game I owned for my GameBoy Color and I burnt through it. While it didn't have the exact charm of the original, it refined and polished it to be sparkle clean. With a handful of new monsters to capture, this was the game I decided I would become a true Pokémon master with. The addition of breeding brought a new obsession, trying to squeeze the best stats out to give you the numerical edge in battle. On top of that GameFreak threw in two new types, Dark and Steel to help balance out some imbalances from Red/Blue, specifically psychic types being vastly overpowered. After this the series just went downhill to me, adding more unneeded monsters and pointless features. Even online play hasn't been able to bring me back to my dreams of catching them all.