Here is a list of my favorite games. More than just liking the game, these are the ones that I have obsessed over and generally replayed multiple times. These are the games that have stuck with me.
King’s Quest (Sierra 1984) The original version of this game was ridiculously hard (with no map or clearly defined puzzles) but it had a great sarcastic sense of humor. My dad and I wrote drew out our own maps and walk-throughs.
Hero’s Quest aka Quest for Glory (Sierra 1989) This entire series is Sierra at their humorous best. The game could be frustrating at times because some puzzles had weird solutions (like holding up the mirror before Baba Yaga turns you into a frog) and skills would increase only from use. This was my first foray into role-playing. Choose between a fighter, a thief, or a magic-user. This was also the first series in which you could import your high level character from one game to the next.
Loom (Lucas Arts 1990) You may have noticed a trend toward point and click adventures. I played a lot of them as a kid but this remains one of the best. It was a the perfect blend of music and video gaming. There is an updated version on sale through Steam. If you have never play this game, get it!
Metal Gear Solid (Konami 1998) Most people know this game and the over blotted plots that would be its future (though I was one of few who enjoyed the philosophical ending of MGS 2). I was obsessed with this game. Every time you played through you receive a new perk that would help you through the game. First a bandanna of unlimited pistol ammo, then an invisibility cloak that allowed you to walk up and punch all regular enemies to death without consequence. Once you had both items, you were given a “James Bond” tuxedo. It was a fun game all around and the interacts with people through your radio was priceless (snake…Snake…SNAKE!).
Silent Hill (Konami 1999) The first survival horror on my list. There are some glitches with this game. The plot makes no sense (what’s up with the baby I save? Is it my daughter? No one knows). The mazing from one area and back is confusing and annoying (I have to go back to the hospital again). But this game scared the shit out of me. I love scary movies and I play much of this game with the lights on. The sense of dread and helplessness everywhere. There is nothing like tension of hearing the warning of static on your radio as an enemy shadows you in the fog.
Deus Ex (Edios Interactive 2000) It is not particularly controversial to call this a great game. It was on many “game of the year” lists. I come back to this game even now (it is downloadable via Steam). It is closest a game has come to recreating the world of one of my favorite pen and paper RPGs, Shadowrun (even better than the Nintendo game “Shadowrun”). This was the first game that gave me the freedom to level up and choose my own way in the game. Sneak up on enemies, gun down everyone in the club or save humanity; you chose how to play the game. The three endings were all interesting in their own way. Unfortunately, the sequel was horrible.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Lucas Arts/Bioware 2003) Let me take you back to 2003. The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones had come out and had been vomitously disappointing. Then, out of no where, a Star Wars game came out (set long before Episode 1) based on the dungeons and dragons’ D20 system. There was a glimmer of hope. Maybe George Lucas had not siphoned all of the creative energy out of the Star Wars Universe to line his pockets. The game wasn’t perfect. The turn-based system could be clunky at times and the AI could be as dumb as a rock without micromanaging them. But the story was original and even had a few satisfying suprises. Like Deus Ex, it allowed you to choose how to play (though only super good or super evil). It spawned an fortunate sequel (not developed by Bioware) that was so glitchy it was nearly unplayable and had an ending that literally made no sense (I don’t think they expected anyone to finish the game to the end).
Resident Evil 4 (Capcom 2005) I enjoyed Resident Evil 1 and 2 (I remember some fun jump scares). Then, Resident Evil 3 Nemesis came out and it was a piece of shit. The camera was fixed, causing many a pointless death, and the story boring as hell. It was basically the same impossible boss fight over and over again. I was ready to write the Resident Evil series off forever. Resident Evil 4 was desperately needed leap forward. The camera is moveable, the plot is intersting, you can buy weapons and upgrades, and most of the characters are compelling. I became obsessed. The are still a few problems, mostly involving escorting the President’s shitty daughter Ashley around for a chunk of the game, but overall it is great. Like Metal Gear Solid, the more time you play through the better equipment you get. Eventually, you get a suit of armor for Ashley that make it impossible for her to take damage or be picked up by baddies. It came out for the Wii but, with the ability to make a head shot every time, it was too easy.
Saints Row 2 (THQ/Volition 2006) There is a debate online between which is better, Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row? I come down strongly in the column for Saints Row. I feel like Grand Theft Auto has become too serious. In Saints Row 2, you can customize your character and are rewarded for the havoc you cause in the city. Your character is an unforgiving psychopath and there is something cathartic about playing a game like this. The game play is fluid and can be glitchy at times (espectially when you are driving) but never feels bogged down. You are pitted against the rival gangs of Stillwater and must take each one out. The side missions are enormous fun (from spraying sewage on people to trying to get hit by cars for insurance money). The game also had a plot with a lot of “holy shit that was awesome” moments. My favorite moment in the game was the end of a sword fight with the leader of the Ronin gang. The master swordsman hit my sword the hand of my customized skinny british character. The leader said, “How could you expect to beat a master swordsman like myself at a sword fight?” Pulling out a gun my character answered, “I didn’t…I expected to cheat” and shot the leader. Good stuff.
Dragon Age Origins (EA/Bioware 2009) Now we come to the last and most current game on my list. This game has some similarities to Knights of the Old Republic. They are both turned based role-playing games with morality systems. Instead of having a good/bad meter, the DAO morality system only effects how you are seen by the other party members. The protagonist is the head of a party and nearly entirely customizable. There are six different origin stories and each is uniquely interesting. The gameplay can require a lot of micromanagement of the other members of you party. It is frusterating to die to the same enemy over and over because you healer is using all of their mana on healing themself instead of the tank. That said, I have never felt more powerful as a player than I did in the sloth demon dream level. I have never been more moved by a video game than in the werewolf level. The plot in rewarding and fun throughout.
Tell me what you think and what your top ten games are.