My 50 Favorite Video Games of All Time. (Part 3/5)

 Any Gamer ran rattle off a “Greatest Games of All Time List” and most of them will probably look pretty similar. I’ve never been a fan of objective lists for subjective content. One person’s “Amazing” is another’s “Mediocre”. So with that being said, here’s a list, in no particular order, of my 50 favorite video games of all time.

-Mario Party 2-

N64

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Developer: Hudson Soft

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: January 24, 2000

Metacritic Rating: N/A

One of the best party games ever made. Period. Everything that was great about the first Mario Party was improved upon in the sequel including the addition of new minigames, items, costumes, characters, and more interactive boards. Essentially, Hudson Soft kept the good and improved on the bad from the original.

-Final Fantasy X-

Playstation 2

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Developer: Square Product Development Division 1

Publisher: Square, Squaresoft

Release: December 17, 2001

Metacritic Rating: 92/100

Every gamer has their favorite Final Fantasy entry. Typically, Final Fantasy VII is listed as the pinnacle of the series, and honestly, it’s pretty difficult to dispute that fact. In addition to VII, Personally, I’ve always loved FFIV, FFIX, FFX-2, and Final Fantasy Tactics, but my absolute favorite of the three-decade old franchise is Final Fantasy X. This game innovated many facets of the series, adding fully three-dimensional levels, voice acting, the Sphere-Grid leveling system, and a completely new battle system to boot. The visuals were ground-breaking at the time and, quite frankly, were unlike anything I’d ever seen. Like any great Final Fantasy game, the characters were memorable, the mini-games were fun, and the story was engrossing. And, just like any great Final Fantasy game, I was completely sold from the opening scene.

-Super Mario 64-

N64

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Developer: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: September 29, 1996

Metacritic Rating: 94/100

There’s not much I can say about this game that most gamers don’t already know. From the moment you start the game up and begin stretching Mario’s interactive face you know this is going to be a fun experience. The overworld was, and still is, one of my absolute favorites in gaming. It’s simple, yet amazingly effective: each piece of artwork in the castle leads to another unique three-dimensional world. The gameplay mechanics are just as simple, but to date remain as some of the most rewarding and enjoyable in gaming history. Players are given freedom, and are allowed to explore the varying levels without rails or overbearing instruction. Because of all this, Super Mario 64 is not only a landmark in Mario games, but is widely considered one of the most important video games of all time.

-Baladur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn-

PC

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Developer: Bioware

Publisher: Black Isle Studios, Interplay Entertainment

Release: September 24, 2000

Metacritic Rating: 95/100

This list is riddled Bioware games, and for good reason as they are one of my absolute favorite developers. They’ve been consistently churning out quality games since the mid-90’s. My introduction to their work was 1998’s Baldur’s Gate, a faithfully translated computerized version of Dungeons & Dragons. When I was about 12 I was given a shoebox of computer games by my uncle, which contained Baluder’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, and a few other similar games. What a ride I was in store for. By the time I finished Shadows of Amn I was ready to start all over again. I’ve praised Bioware’s ability to capture relationships and captivating plotlines ever since. This game sparked a passion for storytelling and lore that I still carry with me to this day, and I will occasionally dust it off for a few more quests with Minsc and the gang.

-Fallout 3-

 PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

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Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Release: October 28, 2008

Metacritic Rating: 93/100

Fallout 3 was my introduction into the Fallout series. After I poured the better part of several years into this game, I went back and played Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, and New Vegas. The fourth entry of the series was somewhat of a letdown to me. It just didn’t differentiate itself enough from its predecessors in positive ways, and ended up removing genre-defining features. But 3, to me, was something special. I spent far too long on the opening missions just drinking in the world. I felt like I’d grown up in that vault and forged relationships with its inhabitants. So when I finally left and walked out into the unforgiving wasteland it became a moment I’ll never forget. Sure, the game has its flaws. The frequent, and occasionally hilarious, bugs that Bethesda is known for can be immersion breaking at times. The color-scheme is pretty bland and the graphics (especially textures) dated relatively poorly. But the positives far outweigh the negatives with this game. Just as I had lived in the vault, I felt truly alive in the wasteland, and it was a hell of a time.

-Half-Life 2-

PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

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Developer: Valve Corporation

Publisher: Valve Corporation

Release: November 16, 2004

Metacritic Rating: 96/100

I remember when I was about nine-years-old I watched my older cousin play the first Half-Life on his PC. I didn’t quite appreciate what I was watching at the time, but I remember him saying it was “the best game ever made”. I didn’t get around to trying it until years later, and I don’t think I would quite agree with the sentiment. But in regards to the sequel, that argument can definitely be made. Everything about Half-Life 2 was perfect. The physics were years ahead of their time, and the addition of the  “Gravity Gun” only added to the fun. The first mission where the hero, Gordon Freeman, scrambles through a city while being pursued by Combine forces was one the most thrilling levels in any game I’ve played. That was until I went to Ravenholm and launched circular saw-blades at head-crab controlled zombies. The innovative levels and well-designed missions allow the player to be as creative as they’d like to be. The world just feels much more real than any game I’d played up until then, and most of the games I’ve played since. I honestly have nothing negative I could say about this game. The two “expansion sequels” that Valve released were amazing as well, but mainly served to satiate fans who, still, eagerly await a true sequel.

-Sonic the Hedgehog-

Sega Genesis

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Developer: Sonic Team

Publisher: Sega

Release: June 23, 1991

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Look, I love Mario as much as the next guy. But you just can’t beat the high-speed platforming in the first couple Sonic games. The hectic, yet controlled, mania of a perfectly ran level in Sonic is one of my top gaming thrills. Bouncing from enemy to enemy as you try to collect 100 coins and remain untouched never got old. I’d have to go with the first as my favorite simply because of familiarity. I memorized all the secrets in each level when I was younger and could speed-run the majority of the game with ease. I also prefer the bonus stages from the first game over the second and third. Regardless, any of the early incarnations of “The Blue Blur” are alright in my book.

-Oddworld Abe’s Exoddus-

Playstation, PC, GBC

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Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants

Publisher: GT Interactive Software

Release: November 1998

Metacritic Rating: 88/100

Quirky. Unique. Entertaining. Definitely odd. There’s nothing quite like the your journeys through Oddworld. The original Abe’s Oddysee was extremely fun and different than anything I’d really played up til that point. But when Abe’s Exoddus came out a year later I was completely hooked. The addition of new enemies, new characters, and Abe’s new powers made the game all the more enjoyable. The series, and this game in particular, uses charming characters and a decent amount of humor to draw players in, and keeps them playing with its addictive and challenging puzzle mechanics. I liked Stranger’s Wrath, but the first-person shooter just wasn’t quite what I expect when I think of Oddworld. Abe’s Exoddus, to me, is definitively Oddworld.

-Kingdom Hearts-

Playstation 2

kingdom_hearts_logo

Developer: Square Enix 1st Production Department, Jupiter, h.a.n.d.

Publisher: Square Enix

Release:  March 28, 2008

Metacritic Rating: 85/100

This game will always hold a special place in my heart. I had dabbled in the Final Fantasy series, and had grown up watching golden-age Disney movies, and so when I saw this game was coming out I was instantly on-board. Kingdom Hearts has such a unique feeling to it that it’s nearly impossible to not enjoy your journey with Sora, Donald, and Goofy. The combat is a perfect blending of strategy and hack-and-slash gameplay, which can lead to some truly epic boss battles. As you travel from one Disney world to another you almost feel like you’re visiting old friends from your childhood, and that’s a rare feeling in gaming. Between the story, entertaining minigames, and challenging hidden bosses there’s a lot to love here. The series has gotten a bit complicated since the release of the original with one true sequel and six additional games being released as well. But the first in the series stands out to me and, while I wait for Kingdom Hearts 3  to come out, I’ll continue to look back fondly.

-Batman: Arkham City-

Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

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Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Release: October 18, 2011

Metacritic Rating: 94/100

Who doesn’t want to be Batman? Arkham Asylum was a fantastic game and this sequel took the baton and kept running. Taking down the huge gallery of rogues has never been more fun than in Arkham City. The combat is simple, yet deep enough to keep players engaged. Plowing through dozens of thugs at a time becomes effortless and the player truly feels like the dark knight. The boss battles, each centering on tracking down and defeating a classic villain, are even more fun. You must rely on actual strategy and planning in order to win against rogues like Mr. Freeze, Clayface, and Solomon Grundy. This, alongside the detective sections of the game, add layers of depth to thee gameplay that heighten this title past a simple brawler.  In short, this is the ultimate batman experience.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5

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