Monday, January 28, 2013

Favorite video games of all time: 20-11

By Jeff

Almost done. I would say that the top 20 would all qualify as life changing video games. OK, that's dramatic. They didn't change my life. What they did do is provide me with endless hours of joy from childhood to today. I could pick up any one of these games, play through and love them. Some games just don't withstand the years of technological advances the gaming world has made and become hard to play now. None of these games suffer from that, and I don't think they ever will. At least not in my mind.

You can see 100-91 here, 90-81 here,  80-71 here, 70-61 here, 60-51 here, 50-41 here, 40-31 here and 30-21 here.

20: Halo 2 (XBox) - This game was my first real experience with online multi-player. It was so addicting. Even when I was a terrible beginner, I just wanted to play more. And I didn't even own an XBox.

This led to a problem with my junior year roommate in college. See, there were eight of us living in a flat. Four of us were close and thoroughly enjoyed playing "Halo 2" on XBox Live. Unfortunately, only my roommate had an XBox Live account. This led us to playing his machine when he was out of the room.

Well, apparently this upset him greatly. Apparently we were lowering his ranking and his online friends were teasing him. This led to him trying to prevent us from playing without actually saying "Guys, can you stop playing?" That kind of request would have been met with respect and we would have stopped playing. Instead, he would take the game with him every where he went. Well, we had another person in the flat with the game, so we just used that.

How did my roommate respond? He still didn't ask us to stop. Now he took his controllers with him. Well, I already established that there was another XBox in the flat, so we had no problem getting some other remotes. Game on!

Never one to give up, my roommate then took the little chords on the end of the controllers that actually connects the remote to the XBox. Well, if we had the whole remotes, wouldn't we still have the small chords? Game on again!

Finally, he put a password on his XBox and we failed to crack the code. Whatever. It was a fun game while it lasted, and "Halo 2" was sweet too.

19: Resident Evil 4 (PS2, Wii) - Here is where the franchise started to break away from the survivor horror genre. You still had some scary stuff going on like bag-headed villagers with chainsaws cutting down a door to kill you, but there were no zombies. They were replaced with different types of monsters who could wield weapons, communicate and looked human but had crazy parasites that lived inside them that would come out and play. It also introduced the dreaded button prompt to the series. We know how I feel about button prompts...

But this game was amazing. The story was fun, the gameplay was crisp, the upgraded weapon system was new and it was challenging. The game also kept a very important aspect of the series. You could not run and shoot at the same. It made the game more difficult and scarier.

Oh, and the knife was actually useful! It's actually the best way to kill one of the final bosses.

On a technical level, it was probably the best game of the series. It just lacked the sense of dread and horror that the first and second installments had and replaced it with a bit of over the top action. Bosses went from being relatively small and simple (Giant spider, giant snake, giant humanoid with claw that impales you) to incredibly large and crazy (Little dude turning into giant plant-like monster, big dude turning into something I don't even know how to describe).

18: Starcraft (PC) - Anyone else put in the cheat code to continue playing a level after it's already a mission accomplished? I did this all the time on the 8th Terran mission. This is the one where you have to kill the Protoss, but not destroy a single Zerg structure, even though those jerks attack you all throughout the level. Well, the level ends with the Zerg overrunning your base and "killing" Kerrigan. Punch in that code and you can fight those bitches off. It was awesome.

17: Left 4 Dead 2 (XBox 360) - It came out like a year after the first one, but it was so fresh. There was now an option for melee weapons like chainsaws, crowbars, swords and frying pans.

The game also introduced more special infected, making the multi-player that much more fun. And these new infected could all do some major damage. There was a lot less sighs of disappointment because you got stuck with the Boomer again!

16: Red Dead Redemption (PS3, XBox 360) - At first, you say "Grand Theft Auto" with horses instead of cars. Then you realize that this game was so much more.

You have a protagonist really working toward a goal. He is trying to make a deal with the government so he and his family can live in peace. The weapons are simple but fun, and with "Sharpshooter" achievements that actually help you in the game, you're always trying to improve your skills at the game.

Yes, like all of the Rock Star games like this, it gets a little redundent. And if you don't know that you can call a random horse at any time, you might find yourself running across the whole friggin' map, which will take a long time. But overall, the game was an incredible gaming experience. The protagonist's final stand will go down as one of my favorite gaming moments ever.

15: Batman: Arkum City (PS3, XBox 360) - It somehow improved on a near perfect game. The Riddler clue thing got annoying again, but overall it just provided hours of entertainment, whether you're chasing down the Joker or tracking a sniper in this city turned prison. So much to do and so much fun doing it!

14: Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) - I already shared that I made a huge mistake and sold this game once. The problem I had with it back then was I sucked at it when my brother first got the game. In my defense, I was 7 when we got it. There were certain things I just didn't understand. One of these was how to get to the castle at the top of Death Mountain. I didn't understand that the geography of the Light and Dark world changed and I needed to take advantage of this to reach the top of the mountain.

So I never got to the top of the mountain. I was stuck thinking I had missed something. We didn't have Internet at the time and I didn't know what a strategy guide was anyway.

So I've started playing this game all over again and loving it. The battle system is a little meh, especially when you see what the SNES was capable of with games like "Secret of Mana", but it gets the job done and doesn't take away from the game's greatness.

13: Turtles in Time (SNES) - There were no sidequests, no secret characters, no different paths to the end and no weapon upgrades on anything. It was an updated side scroller that the past two games for the NES were. And it was incredible.

Despite not having any change in the story or anything, I played this game over and over again by myself and with friends. I made my own "achivements", like not using a continue, or only being able to throw foot soldiers to kill them.

The game wasn't "better" than a lot of games before it on this list, but to me, it was more fun.

12: Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (PC) - Despite a glitch in this game that didn't allow me to play multi-player past so many terms, this game pretty much dominated a year of my life.

It was a simple game to understand. Build up more and better troops than your opponents and then crush them. This strategy worked for early levels in the campaign and some online/multi-player opponents. But once the difficulty cranked up, the computer would train troops faster than you. You could do everything right in upgrading buildings, trainnig troops, etc, but you would still be outnumbered. You had to work faster, or your battle strategies would have to change. As a beginner, I rarely used magic. I didn't see the need. I would just roll up with my Rampart creatures and destroy anyone. Then that stopped working.

It's still a tough game to master. I haven't and probably never will. But that's what keeps me coming back for more.

11: Warcraft 2 (PC) - The direct sequel to this was a better game, so why is it 50 spots lower than "Warcraft 2". Because I spent so much time with this game growing up. Swan and I would play for hours trying to beat levels without cheating, and then resort to cheating because our battle micro managing at 10 years old was not up to snuff.

And this game was all about managing a battle. Your troops and your opponent's were relatively identical in the stat category. There were two spell casters each group had, and those were the only differences. So it wasn't a matter of finding the opponents weakness in troops, you had to pay very close attention (Attention one specific 10-year-old didn't have) to every aspect of the fight to come out on top. It was fun when you won and utterly disappointing/the game was cheating when you didn't.

We also would spend at least 10 minutes debating on which side to be. He was always a champion of the humans, I was a fan of the misunderstood orcs.

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