Posted by: Rites of Patches | July 9, 2009

The 10 Best Video Games I’ve Played

videogamesRemember Oregon Trail? When I was in 3rd grade, we had a tiny computer lab in our elementary school with a bunch of green screen Apples which were probably as old as the actual Oregon Trail. Marching to Fort Independence, fording rivers, slaughtering the food sources of the Native Americans, and watching your loved ones die of dysentery were all part of a great immersive gaming experience. Then I learned that dysentery was shitting yourself to death, which made the game even better. That game is the reason I have such crappy handwriting. If we finished our assignments early, we could go play computer games. Needless to say, I never put the extra time into making the assignment legible. From that point to the present, here’s my first attempt as a coherent ranking of the games I’ve played.

The Criteria:

1) Story Matters. I believe that video games can be art. Roger Ebert would scowl at me in between bites of the hoagie he’s eating right now, but I want games that give me goosebumps. Games that make my jaw drop. Games that force me to stop playing so I can process what just happened. Games that make me tear up a little (No, my vagina doesn’t hurt. Why do you ask?). A good video game would make a good movie (As long as Michael Bay isn’t directing). I don’t care how great or revolutionary your graphics are. If there is no story, no reason to invest in the game, it’s just a way to shut off your brain and shoot things. Those games have their place. That place includes my video game shelf. That place does not include this list.

2) No sports games. There’s a good chance video games wouldn’t have stuck with me if not for Madden ’95 and Big Hurt Baseball on the Sega Genesis. However, see the above.

3) No kid’s games. Sonic 2 was the first game I ever had, but again, see #1. This rule really hurts early systems, but hey, c’est la vie.

4) I played it. There are too many great games on too many systems for this to be a definitive list. I never cared for hack ‘n slash games, so there’s no Zelda. I only had a Playstation 2 for a year or two, so I never got around to the excellent Metal Gear Solid Series. You get the idea. Let us begin…

10. Enter the Matrix

System: Gamecube
Genre:
Action Adventure
Year
: 2003

thematrix_042903_1_640w
As a video game, Enter the Matrix was nothing special. However, I loved it both as an unabashed Matrix Trilogy fan (That’s right, all three) and as the coolest game I’ve ever played. Not only are you controlling off-camera scenes from The Matrix Reloaded, you get to do all the crazy crap you see in the movies. You are running off of walls, leaping and kicking several people at once, and mowing down four SWAT Teamers while doing cartwheels. It had just enough different animations and actions so that you never got bored of hand-to-hand combat with the added bonus of zero ham-fisted Christ analogies.

9. Goldeneye 007

System: N64
Genre:
First Person Shooter
Year
: 1997

golden5_640w

Not much that needs to be said here. Great single-player, great multi-player, great game. I still remember being wowed by the fact that all the characters actually looked like the actors. Not enough so for Famke Janssen to give me a pixilated boner, but still quite realistic at a time when console games were just getting used to three dimensions. Wait? Left/right, up/down, AND forwards/backwards? Crazy!

8. Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

System: Gamecube
Genre:
First Person Shooter (1st couple missions), Action Adventure (Rest)
Year
: 2002

jediknight2_040102_047_640w
This is still the best Star Wars game I’ve ever played. The game starts off as a standard Star Wars first person shooter. Then, you become a Jedi Knight. Hell….Yeah. I’ve played a few games like this and none of them managed to capture the abilities and fluidity of a Jedi like this game. You are deflecting lasers, jumping 20 feet in the air, and slicing the arms off of helpless stormtroopers. Add a good story to boot and you’ve got a great game.

7. Halo: Combat Evolved

System: Xbox
Genre:
First Person Shooter
Year
: 2001

halo

I never owned an Xbox, but I did co-op the hell out of this game on someone else’s. This game would be much, much higher if the multi-player aspect meant more to me. I downloaded this thing on my 360, and the graphics still amaze me. Bill Gates owes you big-time, Halo.

One gripe, could I have spent any more time in that Covenant installation with miles of identical rooms or that goddamned Library? There was literally 2-3 hours of gaming in those two settings where nothing changes. It definitely got a little tedious.

6. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

System: Xbox 360
Genre:
First Person Shooter
Year
: 2007

call-of-duty-4-modern-warfare-20070613104412307_640w
This game is what a modern military FPS should be. It has a solid story, spectacular graphics, and a storytelling style that made the player a part of the game. The game also had some major cajones, unleashing one of the biggest shocks in recent gaming memory. What was even more potent was the aftermath…

Still, the game badly needs a cover system and a few alternate routes so it doesn’t feel like you are advancing down one street to that invisible line that makes the bad guys stop coming.

5. Bioshock

System: Xbox 360
Genre:
First Person Shooter / Action-Adventure
Year
: 2007

bioshock

I had heard good things about Bioshock, so I decided to download the demo. I was immediately taken aback by the beauty of the city and the tension of the first level. The game keeps this throughout the rest of the game. I can’t even tell you how slowly I moved when the Houdini Splicers starting showing up or when some of the splicers started playing dead. To demonstrate:

Me: Okay, dead splicer. Let’s check it out. Slowly, slowly, slowly…
Splicer on Game: AH-HA! (Jumps up and attacks)
Me: (Craps pants)

The only qualm that I have with Bioshock is that it was touted as bringing tough moral choices to video games. You choose between killing little girls and becoming more powerful or saving the little girls and becoming still very powerful a different way. That’s not a difficult choice. Let’s see…should I punch an old lady in the face or have a taco? Hmmm…tough moral choices. You know what Fallout 3 just made me do? I had to help a bunch of slaves find a cure for their genetic mutations. When I finally made it to the oppressor’s palace, I found that the cure was actually a baby. A baby with genetic resistance to mutation. So my choice was between continuing the enslavement of a hundred people or KIDNAPPING A FUCKING BABY! The damn thing even cooed and made goo-goo ga-ga noises when I got near it. THAT’S a moral dilemma.

4. Perfect Dark

System: N64
Genre:
First Person Shooter
Year
: 2000

perfectlydark

Goldeneye was excellent, but Rare took it to the next level with their follow-up. They didn’t change the mechanics, but they added a tremendous story full of intergalactic war, industrial espionage, and political intrigue. It was also the first game I had ever played where it was up to you to save friends you had met earlier in the game. Early in the game, Carrington Institute is a home base where you do your training and get to know the people there. Later in the game, you arrive to find the base under attack with all your friends taken hostage. If you take too long or if you don’t kill the bad guys fast enough, they will execute your buddies. That’s pretty intense for a system built on a couple ov-a-da Italian a-plumbers.

3. Fallout 3

System: Xbox 360
Genre:
Action Role Playing Game
Year
: 2008

fallout-3

I’m still in the process of wrapping up the newest DLC, but Fallout 3 has hundreds of locations to visit and tons of quests to complete. The game offers the player an incredible number of choices throughout the game. Most quests have multiple ways to complete, but some of them cannot be completed in a moral fashion. For example, one quest requires you to assassinate several people and another requires you to enslave several others. Every choice you make has consequences, up to and including blowing the face off of an attacking mother because she’s upset that you just KIDNAPPED HER BABY! Choice is central to making the player feel like a part of the game, and Fallout delivers this from start, when you interact with your loving father (Liam Neeson!), to finish, the beauty of which I won’t spoil.

2. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

System: Gamecube
Genre:
Psychological Horror / Action Adventure
Year
: 2002

eternaldarkness

Although played by nearly no one, Eternal Darkness was, for a very long time, the best game I’ve played. The plot is complex. You control twelve different characters in four locations spanning 2000 years. A sinister plot is revealed, but the real strength of the game is in its storytelling. Much like movies I know I’ve seen, but can’t remember the names of, the chapters are not told in chronological order, but by the end, they fit perfectly. A dark, moody atmosphere is pervasive throughout the game, as well as the most terrifyingly pants-shitting moment I’ve experienced in a video game. Seriously, it took two full minutes to recover (My vagina is still fine, thank you) The game also employs a “sanity meter.” When your “Regular Joe” character sees one of the many twisted, unnatural beings they must battle, they slowly go insane. Insanity manifests itself by breaking the fourth wall. Your character’s head will explode or the game will pretend to switch your TV to a different input setting, messing directly with you and immersing you in the game.

1. Mass Effect

System: Xbox 360
Genre:
Action Role Playing Game
Year
: 2007

mass-effect

This was the first game since I turned in my Gamecube to really knock me off my feet. Mass Effect is the most epic game I’ve ever played. As with any Action-RPG, it combines real-time combat with character customization and moral dilemmas. In the game, humanity has long since taken to the stars, but is still trying to prove its potential to the more powerful and experienced space-going races. Throughout the game, you gain access to information concerning the races in this universe. This information is absurdly thorough, providing the history, religion, culture, and military characteristics of all of the races found in the game. This one game provides more information about its universe than Stargate did in fifteen years of television or Star Wars did in seven movies (Plus TV shows, plus video games, plus Princess Leia on Chewbacca erotic fan fiction). Unlike most other Action RPGs, your character actually speaks the lines you choose for him or her. This, along with many incredible cut-scenes, makes it one of the most cinematic games ever made. All in all, Mass Effect is the best game I’ve ever played.

Did I forget a game? Did I miss the mark? No, I didn’t. It’s my list, dumbass. However, feel free to leave your favorites and some reasoning below.

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Responses

  1. 1) Goldeneye
    2) Resident Evil 4
    3) Bioshock
    4) Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    5) Halo 2
    6) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
    7) NBA 2K9
    8) Saints Row
    9) Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
    10) Legend of Zelda (NES)

  2. Good list. Nice reviews.

    10. Driver
    9. Resident Evil 2
    8. GTA 4 (yes, SR2 was more fun, etc, but this was such a marvelous technical achievement).
    7. Medal of Honor (gets marks for being the fisrt FPS I ever played).
    6. Halo: Combat Evolved
    5. Resident Evil 4
    4. Half-Life 2
    3. Portal
    2. Silent Hill
    1. Bioshock

    I didn’t pick some of your choices, such as Fallout 3, Mass Effect (though these two will certainly be played by me soon), Goldeneye or Eternal Darkness because I haven’t played them. I did play Perfect Dark, and I remember enjoying it, though not enought to actually finish it. Maybe I was just too much of a Playstation snob and playing a game on the 64 was just too weird. I think it’s still in the attic somewhere. I might give it another go.


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