Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Top 25 Favorite Video Games

Video games have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. From when I was tiny, playing my dad's NES and SNES (which I ignorantly referred to as playing the TV), to getting my Gameboy Advanced and my DS, to getting my first console, a PS2, buying my PS3 years later, and finally my PS4, which sits proudly next to the ones mentioned prior. I've grown up with the world of video games, trying to find my way and figuring out what I am at the same time as the industry. Along the way, I've played some that just stand above the rest.



I can't pretend that I've played every game, and this will be a very personal list. Don't go in expecting it to reflect the games generally considered to be the best. These are just my personal favorites that I've found over my nearly 20 years of playing video games. It's also worth noting that the various games can easily change positions based on what mood I'm in. Some are basically the flip of a coin. Now before we move on to the actual list...

(I want to note that in parenthesis are the systems I first played the respective games on. If there's another set of parenthesis next to it, then I also own the game on a second system, and prefer it on that one.)

The Games I've Yet to Play....

So... there are a lot of games I could have placed here, but while I was looking over my collection of games, trying to think of what to place, I realized how many games are there that I've yet to even play. I'll be a gamer for as long as I can, so this list will always be changing. I wanted to briefly address that. Now... on to the list!

Honorable Mentions 

Games that I love, but couldn't quite bring myself to put on the list. (Because who has a top 32 list?) In no particular order. 

Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo Wii)

Sorry, but I had to give this one a mention. Don't click away, I promise the list gets better. No, it's not some incredible video game that will influence games of the future, but it holds a very special place in my heart for being the game that I played with my siblings more than any other. I can't tell you how many hours we spent playing this game. From the bike races to the plane rides to the Frisbee Golf... few things brought us together like this game did. 






Batman: Arkham Knight (PlayStation 4)

Arkham Knight finally did what everyone wanted after Arkham City. It let us have all of Gotham City as our playground. It gave us the Batmobile (for better and for worse). It even upped the combat system to new heights, perhaps being the strongest of the franchise in that regard. While it may not have quite reached the heights of its predecessors, it still offered everything they did, and even added more with it's beautiful open world and larger than life story. One thing is for sure, it's still awesome to be Batman. 




Fallout 4 (PlayStation 4)

Hype for this game could not have been higher. And for the most part, Bethesda did not disappoint. Its quests may not be quite as unique and interesting as its predecessors', but it makes up for it with a simply beautiful and incredibly dense open world, as well as a main story that goes above and beyond for a Bethesda game. Once again we were given a game we could spend endless hours living in, and I had a blast with it. 








Injustice: Gods Among Us (PlayStation 3)

I'm not very good at fighting games, to be honest. But I still love stepping into the shoes of characters in games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat and trying to do something awesome while basically just pushing buttons randomly. And for me, the best of those 2D fighting games I've played is definitely Injustice. Not only because it's accessible to someone like me who sucks at fighting games, but because I get to play as some of my favorite comic book characters, and the story is very impressive.




Mass Effect: Andromeda (PlayStation 4)

If you asked me to sum up this game in one word, I'd probably say "disappointing." We'll get into my love of the Mass Effect trilogy later, but as for this game, I can't pretend that it didn't let me down. That said, that doesn't mean that I didn't really like, and occasionally love this game, or that I didn't still sink a hundred plus hours into it. With revamped combat, typically fantastic characters, and a world that felt familiar but also fresh and new, Andromeda was still a strong entry in the franchise. Even if it wasn't a shot in the arm for it. 





BioShock: Infinite (PlayStation 3)

I liked all of the BioShock games, but this was easily my favorite. I loved the mechanics in this game and the incredibly investing (albeit overly complicated) story as well as the two central characters. What really enamored me about this game though, was the setting. To this day, Columbia is still one of my favorite settings in any video game. 






Silent Hill 2 (PlayStation 3)

I'm not completely sure this game should be on this list. It's the best worst game I've ever played. Allow me to explain. The story is fascinating, and the setting makes for an incredible atmosphere, but the mechanics are clunky, combat is tedious, and the dialogue and voice acting are... questionable at best. But when I finished the game, I was completely floored by it. The game gets in your head and makes you question your sanity in ways that no other does. Despite all the issues I had with the game while playing it, none of them mattered by the end. "In my restless dreams, I see that town. Silent Hill." That still haunts me. 





The List



25. Super Mario Bros. (Super Nintendo Entertainment System)


This game is on the list because it's likely the very first game I ever played. I played the updated version on my dad's Super Nintendo when I was extremely young, and like it did for many people, I think it sort of kickstarted my love of gaming. I definitely never finished the game, rarely making it past the third world as a child, but Mario left an impression on my childhood that can't be denied, and will likely never be recreated. 





24. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (PlayStation 3)


Transformers is one of my very favorite IPs. Unfortunately, good Transformers games are few and far between. When War for Cybertron was released, suddenly there was hope. It was a solid game that successfully blended great shooter mechanics with a transformation mechanic that actually worked. Fall of Cybertron brought that to new heights, and made me fall in love with Transformers again. It had an amazing story, the mechanics were smooth and nearly perfect, and the game somehow made a cheesy 80's TV show/toy commercial play like a gritty war game. All while keeping the Transformers spirit alive. And oh yeah, you can play as freaking Grimlock. 



23. Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)

This is the only game on this list that I never actually owned. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my Great Grandparents' house, where my cousin owned an N64. Now, at this age, there was no remotely new console anywhere in my life. This was as close as it got. And whenever we went over, we always made sure to play Podracer, Pokemon Stadium, and Goldeneye. When my cousins and siblings were around, we could spend hours yelling at each other while playing multiplayer. When they weren't, I had a blast playing the story mode. I've never been too big on first person shooters, but this one is easily my favorite.


22. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PlayStation 3)

I've always liked the Assassin's Creed franchise, but there's one game that truly stands a head above the rest for me, and that's the fourth numbered entry in the now legendary (and infamous) franchise. Free running is at its best here, sailing was a ton of fun, there was a bit more emphasis on stealth, and the open world felt unbelievably huge. It's true that the story and characters aren't quite as strong as in previous entries, but by acting as a pirate simulator that was truly a ton of fun, it more than makes up for that. For me, with this game, Assassin's Creed fully realized its potential.





21. Red Dead Redemption (PlayStation 3)

Red Dead Redemption is really something special. Growing up, I was always a really big fan of Westerns, having spent a lot of time watching them with my grandfather, but actually good Western games were basically non-existent until 2010, when Rock Star dropped this masterpiece on gamers. It had a unique and beautiful open world, a plethora of fascinating characters, reliably fun shooting mechanics, and an atmosphere that really made you feel like a cowboy. Riding your horse, winning shootouts, playing poker... It's really a gaming experience like no other. 



20. Dragon Age: Inquisition (Playstation 4)

The first of several BioWare games on this list, Dragon Age Inquisition was the start of a new chapter for the storied developer. Most of the critical team behind such classics as Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect had left, and those still around had to prove that they could still create a great RPG. Dragon Age 2 was a general disappointment as well, (though I still enjoyed the game) so the cards were definitely stacked against them. Inquisition is certainly a different kind of RPG for BioWare, but the spirit remains. With very gratifying combat, typically excellent characters, and a varied and beautiful open world, BioWare demonstrated that they can still craft an excellent RPG, even if times have changed. And personally, I 100 percented the hell out of it.

19. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PlayStation 4)

I really liked the previous two Uncharted games, but neither really reached out and grabbed me like this one did. Everything came to a head perfectly in the gameplay, the story, the visuals, and even the dialogue and facial animations. All the fantastic set pieces are there, along with some of the best gunplay of the series, the addition of a functioning stealth system, and a few really cool new mechanics. The story also really hit me in a way the others just never quite could. I truly felt for and got attached the characters. I honestly didn't want it to end, and it's without a doubt one of my very favorite third person shooters. 




18. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (PlayStation 2)

I was a huge fan of Dragon Ball Z growing up. So when I finally got my hands on this game, I did nothing but play it. There were so many characters, so many maps, and so much fun to be had. I spent I don't know how many hours trying to get every character and beat every tournament. It's true that the mechanics can't touch some other fighting games, but this game holds a special place in my heart for the way it allowed me to play in one of my favorite childhood franchises. The special moves, the attacks taken straight from the show... things like this are what make it my favorite fighting game.



17.The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PlayStation 4)

As a huge fan of open world RPGs, I found it hard to stay away from this CD Projekt Red masterpiece. When I did get my hands on it, I was floored by the sheer size of the world, the depth of the characters, and the uniqueness of each quest. No quest felt like filler that I simply needed to check off the list. Each one had a deep and complex story that I couldn't wait to unravel. I was never a particularly huge fan of the combat in Witcher 3, but the consistent awesomeness in every other aspect more than makes up for it. 




16. Mario Kart: DS (Nintendo DS Lite)

Confession time. I never really liked racing games. Mario Kart was different, though. It was the perfect party game, filled to the brim with the colorful characters we all love. While Mario Kart 64 definitely captured my attention, it was the DS version that won itself a place in my heart. I played it constantly for days at a time, winning every cup and each challenge. I've played nearly every entry in the franchise, but none has stuck with me like this one. Nothing quite fills me with nostalgia like snaking through the streets of Delfino Square as Yoshi. 




15. Grand Theft Auto V (PlayStation 3) (PS4)

When I first played GTA V, it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Playing as the bad guy wasn't exactly my cup of tea, so many of the moments didn't sit well with  me. When I bought the PS4 remaster, however, I realized what a masterpiece it really was. The sheer amount of freedom and fun the game offers is unparalleled. Not only that, but the missions are consistently unique and fun, and the characters quite deep. What really captured me, though, was the game's online component. It offers nearly everything the story mode does, will the full, beautiful open world, while also allowing you to create your own character, start a business, join a crew, and caused never-ending havoc in Los Santos with friends. This is one of my favorite games that I would also argue is one of the best games ever made.

14. Fallout 3 (PlayStation 3)

When Bethesda acquired the Fallout series, there was a lot of curiosity as to where they would take the franchise. Well, they basically made an Elder Scrolls game. But it worked so well. Each quest is memorable and unique, and the main quest is arguably one of the best in gaming history. There's nothing quite like Fallout. It's a very unique and deep lore that creates some of the most memorable moments ever. Personally, I played the game until I literally couldn't do anything else. I finished every quest, discovered every location, found every collectible... then I simply took my wanderer back to his house in Megaton, Fawkes and Dogmeat in tow, and turned off the game. I've never been more satisfied with the end of any of my gaming experiences. 



13. Dead Space 2 (PlayStation 3)

The original Dead Space introduced me to survival horror. Dead Space 2 made me love the genre. Combat is intense and strategic, it removes the back tracking and 3D mechanics that hurt the previous game, and was truly a scary experience. I had no interest in survival horror until Dead Space, and Dead Space 2 made me realize everything I was missing out on. With an incredibly scary atmosphere, a fully realized story, and very entertaining characters, it's still an amazing game. It also boasts one of my favorite video game endings ever. 


12. Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 3)

There's no game quite like Shadow of the Colossus. Video game puzzle solving at its finest. I first saw this game played on the PS2 by my cousin when I was quite young, but I only played it myself a few years ago on the PS3. Needless to say, I was completely floored. Combining the amazing music with the unbelievable scale made for something really special. No other game has come close to recreating the feeling of hanging on for dear life on the back of a massive creature, bringing down something terrible, and yet so majestic and beautiful. Shadow of the Colossus will haunt you in all the best ways. 

 


11. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (2005) (PlayStation 2)

There's no doubt in my mind that this is my favorite shooter. It might not be the most revolutionary, but it was an amazing Star Wars game and the perfect party game. I can't tell you how many times I played instant action with friends, capturing command posts on Kamino or playing as my favorite characters in the assault mode on Mos Eisley. And when no one else was around, Galactic Conquest was an addictive mode that can provide hours of entertainment. It may not be the most mechanically tight shooter, but it might just be the most enduring.


10.Yoshi's Island (Gameboy Advanced SP)

If you asked me what game was tied most to my childhood, I'd answer Yoshi's Island in a heartbeat. As a child, there was nothing I loved more than my Gameboy Advanced SP, and no game got played more than this one. I have no idea how I got it or how long it took me to beat it, but I know it took years, and I'll never forget the exhilaration I felt as I finally beat the game. Probably the first game I ever beat, to be honest. The music still plays in my mind, the visuals are still some of my favorite in any game, and Yoshi's Island is without a doubt my favorite platformer, and made its titular character one of my favorites of any video game


9. Dragon Age: Origins (PlayStation 3)

Dragon Age: Origins is a classic RPG made new. No, it isn't an adaptation, but with the beginning to the Dragon Age series, BioWare created a unique and truly impressive fantasy world that's reminiscent of turn based RPGs like Baldur's Gate and used the PS3 to do it. The result was something truly special. With a deep and interesting lore, a typically fantastic cast of characters for BioWare, a plethora of great quests and locations, and some of the best turn based combat I've ever seen in a video game, Dragon Age: Origins is the epitome of turn based RPGs.



8. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC)

KOTOR let me do the one thing that I and Star Wars fans everywhere had always wanted. It let me be a Jedi. I got to build my lightsaber, decide what Force powers I wanted to use, and assemble a team full of memorable characters that may even rival those from the films. I got to captain my own ship, and even fall to the dark side if that's what I wanted. All of this is carefully crafted by BioWare, boasting some incredible quests, and a twist for the ages. Star Wars may just be my favorite IP of all time, and this game let's me exist and live in that universe, something no other game even comes close to. Without a doubt, it's the ultimate Star Wars game. 




7. Spider-Man 2 (PlayStation 2)

As a kid, my favorite superhero was always Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2 actually let me BE Spider-Man. I spent hours and hours just swinging around the New York City. Trying to get to the tallest buildings, beating up thugs, doing repetitive pop-up missions... and the webs actually stuck to the buildings! The open world was mind blowing to me as a kid, and I can't tell you how much fun I had just aimlessly roaming through it. It's something I've tried to find in other games, but few have truly come close. One of the best superhero games ever made, and certainly my favorite direct film to game adaptation.



6. Batman: Arkham Asylum/Arkham City (PlayStation 3) (PS4)

I kinda cheated a bit here, but these two games are so close together in my mind that it was nearly impossible for me to pick one over the other. When I first got my PS3, Arkham Asylum was the first game I bought for it. And my mind was completely and totally blown. This game more or less got me back into gaming on its own. I actually felt like Batman when I played it, and the Asylum story is honestly one of my favorite Batman stories of all time. For those reasons, it may just be my favorite of the two. That being said, its sequel, Arkham City, raised the bar in almost every way. Its open world is beautiful and dense, the combat has improved, there are even more bat-gadgets, and it may have made me feel even more like Batman, if that's possible. And when I finished the amazing story mode and various side-missions, I spent hours collecting every Riddler trophy and completing every challenge. And I loved every minute of it. I've always loved superheroes, and these two games are the best superhero games ever made.


5. Alien: Isolation (PlayStation 4)


Alien and Aliens are two of my favorite films of all time, and I finally got a perfect trilogy with the addition of Alien: Isolation. The game is intense and exhilarating, and one of the scariest ever made. I happen to love it, by the way. It's actually one of the few games I actually played and beat on hard. With a completely unpredictable and undefeatable Alien, and a perfectly imperfect stealth system made for one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had. It never lets you get comfortable either. It's constantly changing the way you need to survive. I also loved the way the story flowed and the purpose I felt moving between objectives. It's simple, but I felt like I was a part of it. And all of it's lead by the amazing lead character of Amanda Ripley. Not only did I get my perfect Alien sequel, I got my favorite survival horror game of all time.


4. The Last of Us (PlayStation 3) (PS4)

There's no such thing as a perfect game. They just don't exist. Every game has at least one or two issues that make for at least minor annoyances. I have to say, though. The Last of Us is the closest thing I've ever played to a perfect game. The gameplay is tight and fantastic, the visuals are beautiful, and the story. Oh that story. This video game tells an amazing story that's better than most films, and does so with two of the best video game characters ever in Joel and Ellie. The game is also a joy to play. Where the action is intense and dramatic, the stealth sections are often even more fun. And the game balances those perfectly. Also, with various upgrade options and optional levels of ammo conservation, you can play it pretty much any way you want. This game stuck with me in a way no other game has. With The Last of Us, Naughty Dog truly crafted a masterpiece. 

3. Horizon Zero Dawn (PlayStation 4)

Horizon Zero Dawn is the newest game on this list, and also the game that may have reinvigorated my love of video games. It's the first game to come along in a very long time that almost transcends the medium for me. It has easily the best combat I've seen in any video game, Aloy is a joy to control and a fantastic character, and its story and lore are truly interesting and captivating. It also has one of the most beautiful open worlds ever. Basically everything about this game is truly amazing, and I haven't even brought up the awesome robot dinosaurs. It was Guerilla's first open world RPG, so it does have a few "growing pains" here and there, but I have no doubt that as they improve, Guerilla will be at the forefront of RPG development. And hopefully, this game will spawn a series that will sit among some of the best. There may have been other games better than Horizon, but the game spoke to me personally in a way no other has since... well... the next two games on this list. 


2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PlayStation 3) (PS4)

What else should I say? It's Skyrim. I highly doubt I've put more time into any single game, and yet still accomplished so little in comparison with all the things I can do in it. Sure, I'm the Dragonborn, but I can also be an adventurer, an assassin, a thief, a soldier, a werewolf, a vampire, or even the leader of a college. There's no end to the amount of things you can do in Skyrim. On top of all that it has arguably the best open world of all time. Every time you turn around, there's a new quest to take on or a new cave to explore. A new dragon to fight or mountain to climb. As far as open world RPGs go, I don't think they get any better than Skyrim. I've already created several different files to play as different characters and utilize different combat systems. And honestly, if I could only choose one game to play forever, I'd probably pick this one. 


1.The Mass Effect Trilogy (PlayStation 3)

Okay, I cheated again. But when it comes to video games, there are three that stand head and shoulders and even knees above the rest. The Mass Effect series, or at least the first three, transcend gaming for me. They contain some of my favorite stories and favorite characters of all time. From any medium of entertainment. As Commander Shepard, you get to forge your relationship with your friends, your crew, and even the galaxy as you fight to end the Reaper threat. Acting as a representative for humanity, your decisions will drive the story one way or another. I could be diplomatic yet aggressive, authoritarian yet calculative, or I could just be a jerk and punch reporters in the face. And my actions could change the course of humanity, or of the galaxy at large. 

Picking a favorite of the three would be nearly impossible, but it'd have to be between the first and second. The first introduced me to the universe and offered a sense of freedom unseen in later games. It also offered the most diverse level of choice of the three, and opened my eyes to the world of RPGs. The second refined the RPG mechanics and combat of the first, and put more emphasis on developing the characters. Relationships matter more than anything, but the scale of the universe is still massive. Missions are a ton of fun, and there's more lore around ever corner. While the third may have taken a hit when it came to RPG mechanics, all of your decisions pay off here. It also has the best combat of the three games, and some of the best storytelling and most epic moments of the entire trilogy. I think it's safe to say that no game affected me emotionally more than this one. 

I'm a huge fan of sci-fi. And I think what truly makes Mass Effect stand above everything else is that it created one of my favorite sci-fi universes ever, and then let me live in it. It's full of different and fascinating alien races, each with their own culture, different planets to see, and most importantly, different characters to bond with. Characters mean a great deal to me, and Mass Effect has some of the best ever. It offers a fully realized world in addition to these characters. Full of not only sci-fi lore, but action, adventure, romance, political intrigue, and more. I think that's what I love about video games. They create worlds for us to escape to. To live in. And for me, Mass Effect did that better than any other. 






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