My 50 Favorite Video Games of All Time. (Part 2/5)

 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.

-NCAA 14-

Xbox 360, Playstation 3

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Developer: EA Tiburon

Publisher: EA Sports

Release: July 9, 2013

Metacritic Rating: 77/100

This game is alongside NFL 2k5, Blitz, and Madden 08 at the top of my favorite football games. There was just so much I enjoyed about this title. I’ve drained countless hours in my dynasty mode where I would build a lowly program into a powerhouse, and then take a job elsewhere just to start all over. Creating a player, dominating through high-school, and then knowing I only had four years of college to establish a legacy.  There’s something special about college ball and this game, to me, definitely captured it.

-Gears of War 2-

Xbox 360

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Developer: Epic Games

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release: November 7, 2008

Metacritic Rating: 93/100

Since day one I’ve been a huge Gears of War fan. I’ve bought every title in the series, and played through the campaigns and horde modes too many times to count.When the first one came out in 2006 I was hooked. The cover-based combat was fresh and engaging, and the concept was exciting and new. The mechanics were easy to acclimate to, but different than any shooter I’d seen until that point. I played the hell out of that game. Then two years later the sequel came out and upped the ante. New multiplayer modes, new heroes, new enemies, new everything. This game did exactly what a sequel should do. The addition of Horde Mode was worth the purchase alone. Hunkering down with three or four friends online and fighting wave after wave of  enemies was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a video game. I thought Gears 3 was great and was very happy with the 2016 release of Gears 4, but the second installment remains my favorite.

-Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2-

Xbox 360, Playstation 3

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Developer: Infinity Ward

Publisher: Activision

Release: November 10, 2009

Metacritic Rating: 94/100

I’ve never been a huge Call of Duty player. I had nothing in particular that repelled me from the series, but I just never really got into it. My freshman year of college changed that, at least for a period of time. This game was massively popular, and the only thing being played on my dorm floor. I, very quickly, acclimated. It’s impossible to play a game, pretty much, everyday for a year and not have it influence you in some way, and this game definitely allowed me to appreciate a series, and genre, that I hadn’t previously.

-Burnout 3: Takedown-

Xbox 360, Xbox , Playstation 2

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Developer: Criterion Games

Publisher: Alex Ward

Release: September 7, 2004

Metacritic Rating: 94/100

It’s very difficult to describe how much fun this game can be. This series is pure unadulterated chaos at its finest, and Takedown is the cream of the crop. Driving at ridiculous speeds, trading paint with opponents, and wreaking utter havoc was never more fun than in this game. “Roadrage Mode”, where racers try to crash as many competitors during the race as possible, was particularly entertaining. Being able to slow time during a crash and attempt to take out an enemy with you was a new type of racing. On top of, and perhaps even despite, all the havoc and Michael Bayesque destruction the driving mechanics were excellent as well. Plainly put: this game is just flat-out fun.

-Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater-

Playstation 2

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Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan

Publisher: Konami Corporation

Release: November 17, 2004

Metacritic Rating: 91/100

The Metal Gear series is practically royalty within the gaming industry at this point. These games each build upon one another and create a, somewhat complicated, but outstanding universe of action and espionage. The first two entries in the series are landmarks in the stealth genre, but Snake Eater is utterly outstanding. The player navigates through a 1960’s soviet jungle filled with hostile enemies and natural dangers. Additions such as the new camoflauge mechanic, first-aid system, and a revamped hand-to-hand combat create an immersion rarely found in games. The boss battles are cinematic, unique, and incredibly engaging, and only serve to heighten an already amazing gaming experience.

-Mass Effect 2-

Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

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Developer: Bioware

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release: January 26, 2010

Metacritic Rating: 96/100

This is the best game in one of the best trilogies in gaming history.  Everything about Mass Effect 2 is nearly perfect. The combat is rewarding and progression is satisfying. As far as RPGs go, few offer more freedom (or consequences) in a player’s decision-making. Every action has repercussions and every mission influences the story. From exhilarating opening cutscene, to the dramatic final mission, this game is pure art.

-Dragon Age: Origins-

 Xbox 360

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Developer: Bioware

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release: November 3, 2009

Metacritic Rating: 91/100

Dragon Age is essentially Mass Effect 2 in a fantasy setting, and, just like Mass Effect 2, it’s a fantastic game. Players battle through hordes of enemies, recruit memorable companions, and journey through a unique world as they quest to defeat the Archdemon. The game is beautifully crafted and the story engaging; drawing inspiration from works by Tolkien and George R. R. Martin. This all results in rich fantasy gaming at its finest.

-Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings-

 PC

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Developer: Ensemble Studios

Publisher: Microsoft

Release: September 30, 1999

Metacritic Rating: 92/100

I have few fonder memories than playing this game at 1:00 a.m. with my dad and brother. We would spend hours gathering and building, attacking and defending, and racing to advance from the “Dark Age” to the “Imperial Age”. Everyone who played this game knows to use your livestock to explore the map, and, when in doubt, typing “how do you turn this on” into the chatbox gives you the all-powerful cobra car unit.  The Age of Kings was incredibly innovative and completely changed the real-time strategy genre.

-Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga-

Gameboy Advance

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Developer: AlphaDream

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: November 17, 2003

Metacritic Rating: 90/100

Mario games are almost always generally well-made and fun. But every once and a while one gets made that stands out above the rest. This was one of those games. Much like Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG, this game set itself apart from the timing-based platforming, and played as a turn-based battle system.  Combat emphasizes controlling both heroes simultaneously, timing out cooperative attacks, and utilizing RPG elements to maximize both of their skill sets. The story is light-hearted and humorous, the puzzles are rewarding, and the game is just genuinely fun. Now, these traits are definitely not unique in Mario games, but Superstar Saga set the bar just a bit higher.

-TimeSplitters 2-

 Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube

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Developer: Free Radical Design

Publisher: Eidos Interactive

Release: October 9, 2002

Metacritic Rating: 90/100

If there was any first-person shooter that could knock off Halo 2 as my favorite of all-time: this is it.  Timesplitters 2 brought an entirely unique perspective to shooters and was criminally underrated in my opinion. The 16 different game modes, 126 playable characters, 27+ usable weapons, and well-crafted story mode kept me entertained for years. The writing was humorous and didn’t take itself too seriously and the whole game played as a satire of cheesy action movies. I also loved the third entry in the series, and am still somewhat heartbroken we’ll never receive a fourth.

 Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

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