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My Top 10 Favorite Video Games

Having enjoyed starting my “Greatest ___ I Ever ___” series, I thought I’d expand upon it a little further and cover my ten favorite video games. By now, you might have a feel for what I enjoy most in games, and the following all excel in these and many other areas. I’ll provide some reasons as to why they are so enjoyable, but keep the discussions short to cover everything in a concise manner. Now, some of these might not be for everyone, but I think the majority should be highly recommended to most anyone who enjoys video games. So, without further adieu, I give you my 10 favorite video games:

10. Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is an FPS set in a post-apocalyptic setting in Russia. The population is forced underground into the metro tunnels to live as creatures inhabit the land. The game offers an intense single-player campaign with a similar story-telling structure to Half-Life. The little touches, such as having to hold a lighter up to your map, crank a handheld generator to power your light, and take your gas mask on/off (the surface is filled with unbreathable air), all work to bring you deeper into the world. Mix that with a currency revolving around bullets (with rusted shells being common and pristine military grade ammo worth more, similar to damage where these same dirty bullets do weak damage and the military shells can be swapped in for better damage output) and you have an extremely well-crafted postapocalyptic world. Between the fully-imagined world, rich with beautiful graphical detail, some interesting gunplay, and an interesting story arc, Metro 2033 is one of the best straight FPS shooters I have played.

9. Nier

Nier is a game that really blindsided me. I remember reading reviews for it and seeing a plethora of comments praising the game’s story and soundtrack, while seemingly belittling the rest of the experience. I can see why, but I still find Nier to be one amazing, flawed game. The story presented is one of the most creative I have played through. To get too far into it would spoil the pleasure of seeing it unfold, but the basis is that you take the shoes of Nier who is looking for a way to cure his daughter of a disease called the “Black Scrawl”. Along the way you meet some well-developed characters and see the story unravel to reveal some incredible twists and turns. The game itself plays like a hack-and-slash game, with upgrades in the way of swords and spells, yet has many different quests and areas that vary the gameplay to the style of top-down shooters, side-scrollers, and other genres. Further, the soundtrack for Nier remains my favorite video game soundtrack. The music is so intricately crafted and features so many layers and styles that perfectly fit the game world (an example of the excellence of the soundtrack – “Gods Bound by Rules”). Video game enthusiasts should all play Nier just for the creative story andthrilling soundtrack, not to mention any RPG fan.

8. Final Fantasy X

As you can probably guess by my interest in RPGs, I am a Final Fantasy fan. Final Fantasy X is my second favorite entry in the series. The gameplay consists of your standard turn-based system, with characters having the classic Final Fantasy “overdrives”, along with summons (which now you can directly control when summoned). Where the game sets itself apart from the rest of the series is its story and presentation. The story of Tidus trying to find his way home and getting caught up in the pursuit of defeating a world-threatening evil is filled with some unexpected twists. Further, with the introduction of full-motion videos for cutscenes, some good voice work, and gorgeous CGI sequences (what else would you expect from Square), the story is captivating. Might I also mention that Nobuo Uematsu (my favorite video game composer) put in some of his best work for this game. Overall, a great title for any RPG fan.

7. Heavy Rain

How to classify Heavy Rain is still a mystery to me. Think of it like an interactive movie experience. The game plays out similar to a movie presentation, moving from scene to scene, while you take the shoes of different characters and perform their actions that determine the path of the story. The plot itself is a great mystery story focused on the intersecting paths of the characters you play as. The best part is how your actions can result in huge changes to the story, including the deaths of main characters. Yet, despite you causing the death of a character at any point, the story keeps moving and adapts to the change. This is how video game stories should be and will move towards – so adaptive that your interactions with the game can cause ripples that affect the story progression. This is not even to mention the great soundtrack work, professional voice acting, and extreme level of detail in the character models (right down to the natural, fluid facial movements).

6. Fallout 3

Welcome to the Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. Here, Fallout 3 presents the player with a level of freedom to do whatever it is they want to do. Set in a world where a nuclear war has reduced the world to rubble and radiation, you take control of a character fresh out of a vault (used for shelter from the nuclear attacks). You can continue along the main story to see what impact you wish to have on the world, take on an overwhelming amount of sidequests, or just explore the wasteland – all the while acting in good, evil, or neutral ways to shape a character with morals that have an impact on the way other characters treat you. The main story itself is quite interesting, and provides the player with a drive to continue forward as different factions become involved in shaping the future for the Wasteland. The experience as a whole is put together in a package that includes a great battle system (cross between FPS gameplay and turn-based systems – with depth added in being able to target different body parts to cause different effects), excellent voice work, an extremely large and carefully detailed map (having traveled to D.C. after playing Fallout 3, it was interesting to see how well the game captures every landmark and the whole city layout), a complex stat-building system, creative character and monster design, and the ability to interact with much of the environment, and you have one of the best experiences on the current console generation.

5. Bioshock

Bioshock is simply the best FPS I’ve ever played. Taking the shoes of Jack, a plane crash survivor, the player must explore the underwater city of Rapture and find out the secrets behind its walls – a phenomenal plot that has some nice twists and turns. The crumbling grand halls of Rapture are as intriguing as they are dangerous, and the sheer amount of backstory available to the adventurous player through the form of audio logs and other items makes Rapture seem like a real place. The presentation of the story itself takes the player on a ride through the depths of Rapture, meeting a variety of excellently crafted characters, each with their own wills and plans. The gameplay itself features some interesting gun and melee combat combined with the ability to use various elements and abilities through equipment of “Plasmids”. This brings some strategy to the combat as you can manipulate the environment to your advantage (i.e. using an electric bolt on a group of enemies standing in a puddle of water to electrocute all of them at once). Combine this with a nice upgrade system, the ability to hack turrets and machines for your advantage, intense boss fights, and poignant moral dilemmas, and you have the blueprint for a perfect FPS.

4. Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is a unique gem. For instance, the game consists entirely of boss fights. Also, the story itself is conveyed through minimal dialogue and scenes, yet it remains so powerful in its ability to draw the player into Wander’s journey. In the game, you play as Wander, tasked with taking down 16 legendary colossi in order to revive your female companion. The player rides upon his trusty steed through the environment to find each colossus using the reflection of light from his sword. Once the player finds the colossus, the real experience begins. Each beast towers over the seemingly miniscule Wander with such a magnificent grace and movement. The act of scaling each mammoth beast can leave the player breathless as Wander hangs on for his life. It becomes a regretful moment as each colossus crashes to the ground upon defeat, having slain such a legendary creature. To further deepen the impact of the gameplay is a soundtrack that is the most well-implemented soundtrack I’ve witnessed in a game (not to mention the beauty in each piece, individually). The orchestra starts calm as you approach the collosus, and swells as you scale higher and higher up each beast, building tension to perfectly match your current actions. Shadow of the Colossus is the most awe-inspiring game I’ve experienced. Nothing can match the feeling of scale in the game, or create a bond between player and in-game characters through such a minimalistic apporach as this game does.

3. Metal Gear Solid 4

Metal Gear Solid has been known for its elaborate, often confusing story. It has also been known for having one of the most cinematic presentations for its story, along with some of the best stealth gameplay out there. These are all great reasons as to why the series is a favorite of many gamers. To expand a bit, the story features an enticing narrative revolving around stealth organizations and nuclear weapons (the story grows ever more complex with clones, secret organizations with limitless power, betrayals, etc), all presented through many (often long and lengthy) well-animated cutscenes, featuring top tier voice acting work. The gameplay gives you total freedom in that you can approach every situation through stealth or action, with the added bonus of having the ability to complete the game without killing a single enemy. There are a wide variety of weapons and gadgets to help you in your objectives, which add another layer of depth to the gameplay. Further, the player experiences another noteworthy soundtrack and (in my opinion) life-like graphics that make Metal Gear Solid 4 the best-looking game yet released.

2. Final Fantasy VII

Here is an entry any video game fan would likely expect. This is the game credited with popularizing the RPG outside of Japan. Even more so, many consider this the single greatest game ever made, and for good reason. Final Fantasy VII follows the journey of Cloud and a wide cast of charismatic characters to save the world. Sound simple? It’s not. The plot of FFVII is quite complex and constantly evolving. If it weren’t for my #1 game, this game would have the best plot I’ve seen in a video game. For its time, the pre-rendered backgrounds were stunning, and the inclusion of some CGI scenes (obviously they look dated now) brought the player into the story. The gameplay is standard turn-based fare, with all of the Final Fantasy staples from magic to summons to “limit breaks” (same as overdrives in other games). There’s no need to go into further detail on the gameplay, as if you haven’t played it yet, you need to experience a monumental piece of video game history. The game withstands the test of time (minus the graphics which are notably dated – yet the pre-rendered backdrops are still nice) with a creative plot, an interesting cast of characters, and a soundtrack that is a classic (check out the highlight track, “One-Winged Angel”).

1. Xenosaga

What more can I say about this game series, other than this is the best game I have ever played. For a detailed description of what makes the space-epic RPG, Xenosaga, so great, read on with my “Greatest Game I Ever Played” post.

That’s it. These are the ten greatest games I have ever played. Feel confident picking up any of the aforementioned titles knowing that you can expect to experience some of the best gaming has to offer. Some games may not appeal as much to others as they did to me, and I can understand that some players may not be able to get past some flaws in certain games, but for me, these are the games that I can point to as having stood out high above the multitude of games I have experienced over the years.

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