All throughout tonight, I’ve been trying to decide what to write about. I don’t know why, but I just felt compelled to write eight-hundred words about video games knowing that only one or two poor souls will actually do more than skim the article. I debated between attacking the eleven states trying to police video games, my current reason for being displeased with Activision and Microsoft, or just not doing anything at all and playing more Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (their’s your plug, now leave me alone). But then, I got thinking, “how fair is it for me to write any review without readers knowing JUST exactly what my taste is?” After dwelling on that epiphany for about half-a-minute, I decided I’d make this list showing my top ten games of this gen.
Before we get started, I need to give quick shout-outs to a few games: Infamous, Castle Crashers, ‘Splosion Man, Bayonetta, Call of Duty 4, and Braid. All of you are great and reek in the creativity I’m looking for this gen. However, you all lacked something the list below has: they all reached a personal level for me. These would be the games I’d proudly give my left foot to play if I had to. You six just didn’t quite have that level of awesome. Now then, let’s begin:
Number 10: MadWorld
You know we have an action packed list when a title by PlatinumGames barely makes it. That’s right, MadWorld is the first game by the former Clover employees. It was their attempt to make a hardcore, violent, fun, and stylish game for the Wii. And it succeeds on all of those levels. With a visual style resembling Sin City, a blood level that would make Niko Bellic squeamish, a surprisingly decent and deep plot with an ending that sets us up for a perfect prequel, and a soundtrack that makes me respect hip-hop music, this is a title that belongs on every Wii-owners shelf. It oozes style more so than the terrorists ooze blood after I digitally decapitate them with my arm-chainsaw. Suck on that Connecticut!
Number 9: Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack In Time
It’s no secret by now that the Ratchet and Clank games kick-ass, but I think this was easily the strongest entry by and large. This time around, the developers over at Insomniac noticed something: the R&C formula was starting to get a bit stale. All the guns in each game were similar, the levels all felt like ones in previous installments, and it needed -something- to show that their was still room for this series to grow outside of the graphics. What did they do? Everything. They changed the travel system, the weaponry, the level designs, made a few maps open rather than completely linear, gave us a hell of a story, puzzles, and jet boots (my personal favorite edition). Adding all of that while keeping the traditional R&C platforming filled gun-play? You sold me Insomniac.
Number 8: Ninja Gaiden II
By law, I am required to inform you that I DID NOT play the original Ninja Gaiden for more than eight minutes. It’s camera and explosive-throwing ninjas annoyed the crap out of me. Surely enough, Ninja Gaiden II brought them back… but this time I had claws to fight them off with! Truth be told, NGII is my kind of game. It has ninjas, crazy platforming, gore, katana’s, gore, fun achievements, more gore, a crazy plot, decapitations, and off-the-wall pulse pounding action. With all that and difficulty up the bum, their is a lot of fun to be had in Itagaki’s final game with Team Ninja. Heck, I still load this game up from time to time just to see a brutal kill or two…. or three…. or eight hundred and fifty-three.
Number 7: Gears of War
Epic Games’ first entry into this gen was easily their best and will forever be their best. Whilst the campaign was great (and I mean GREAT) with constant feelings of being surrounded and trying to brutally think your way out of each predicament, the true star here (for me) was the online. Never before have I enjoyed an online multi-player so much just by that great feeling you get when you shotgun somebody into bits or watch them blow up from afar after you’ve frag-tagged them. When everybody played fair, this game always left me with such a grand feeling of accomplishment with each and every kill. Not too mention, this game gave us the chocolate-peanut butter situation that is the Lancer. It takes a certain type of psycho to combine a chainsaw and a machine gun, and that man needs to start thinking like that again.
Number 6: Mass Effect
Borderlands ad campaigns kept bragging about how they were the first to think of combining the shooter and the RPG. That would be fine, if they didn’t have to ignore this amazing epic from BioWare to make it true. Mass Effect puts you in the roll of Commander Shepard, a human given the honorable roll as ‘Spectre’ who has to hunt down a former Spectre before he unleashes doomsday on the universe by awakening an ancient, grim, execution cycle. It’s more awesome than it sounds. In this game, every choice you make counts. And it damn well let’s you know it. Personally, I prefer it much more than I do the sequel. Go play it. Now.
Number 5: Bioshock
Truth be told, I forgot this game existed until midway through making this list. In fact, I had to kick No More Heroes off the list to make room. Forgive me gaming world, for I have sinned greatly. But c’mon, how can you not love the dark atmosphere, the sheer creativity, and the mind-fuck worthy plot twists that exist within Rapture? Yes, the ending sucked. Sucked hump-back whale testicle. But the plot of seeing two omniscient and manipulative villains fighting for control of an underwater city through YOU just makes up for it in every level. Too bad the sequel sucks.
Number 4: Portal
Portal may be a game that is shorter than this blog entry, but it’s damn fun. In this quick add-on for the Orange Box hides the BEST and most original puzzle game of all time (yes, of all time) and my thumbs felt blessed to have been in control of it. This game was made by a team of college students who really knew who to use Valve’s Source engine brilliantly. The physics in this game all makes sense, and yet it is incredibly mind blowing. The main cause of this is how they abuse momentum. To put in the words of the game: speedy object goes in, speedy object comes out. That is half of the puzzles right there and creates a lot of mischievous fun for you and Chell. If that is not enough, it also contains a never ending supply of hilarious black-humor through the one villain in gaming to top Andrew Ryan: GLaDOS. To sum it up quickly: Your cake is in another laboratory.
Number 3: Halo 3
Shut up, it’s fun. Especially when you have (1) skill and (2) friends who are willing to play with you. In all seriousness, some of my fondest gaming memories come from playing Halo 3. Each and every time I play, their are always laughs, excitement, quick thinking, and loads of trash-talking that will forever unite us. It’s almost no different than when I played Super Mario Bros with my mates as a wee lad. Heck, I still remember when a friend and I were playing on Legendary whilst trying to earn the Vanguard achievement and we had to fight the twin scarabs. I lost my hornet, so my buddy came over and air-dropped me onto the scarab where I earned the 50,000th point. It was beautiful. Another story I remember is when a different pal o’ mine and I played Cold Storage the night of its release where we kept racing to see who could win the game first which led to the most chaotic online matches I’ve ever played. Few games leave an imprint like that on one’s memory without a cutscene. Thank you, Bungie. Seeya on Reach.
Number 2: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Let’s be honest, we all expected this to be a complete re-hash. A way for Nintendo to cash in on a gimmick that worked well enough for them to win hundreds of GOTY awards (not from us!). However, it wasn’t. In fact, it was everything they said it was: a more daring version of the original Super Mario Galaxy. It’s everything they wanted to do and now knew they could do. Once the team realized they had complete freedom to make this sequel, they took risks on what is, to me, the greatest example of level design in gaming history. The environments are all beautiful and the gravity-defiant platforming is constantly impressive from beginning to end. You never feel like the game is getting stale on you with each world being completely different right up until the final clash with Bowser. Plus, the game gives Mario back something he hasn’t had in his games since the SNES days: difficulty. I may not have gotten my cake in Portal, but I found it in Bower’s castle, and it was delicious.
Number 1: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
Yes, MGS4 is my number one game of this entire gen. And why shouldn’t it be? In this one blu-ray disc (yes Diego, that joke was for you) that offered us fantastic stealth and action-packed gameplay with a lengthy theatrical story that brought me to tears as much as it made me laugh. Kojima’s final entry in the main series is easily his best with each act offering something entirely new without turning into a schizophrenic experience. It was creative, completely crazy, and each second was somehow believable despite their being a robot ninja break-dancing to destroy giant, mechanical cows. It is one of my favorite games of all time and it’s the only reason I bought a PS3. Rest up Snake, your adventure is finally over.
That’s a wrap. I hope this article gives each and every reader an insight into what direction my upcoming reviews will be leaning towards. Although, it will probably have completely changed once 2010 wraps up. Ah well! Seeya next time.
Oh, if you’re wondering where Uncharted 2 is, I didn’t mention it because I don’t care for over-rated garbage. Let the controversy begin!