Sunday, 24 October 2010

My Top Ten... Video Games

You might remember that over the last few months I’ve done a trilogy of Top Tens regarding music. Well I’ve run out of musical things to do it on (well when you’ve done albums, artists and songs where else can you go?). So now I’m moving onto video games. I’m not a massive gamer; I don’t sink hours and hours into video games like some do, not have I played a massive variety of different games, but I have played enough to make a decent list. Again in no particular order.

  • Bioshock: I’ve mentioned before how incredible Bioshock’s story is. Wonderfully self aware, with a really interesting setting and an outstanding plot. To cap it all it’s also very well written. Not only this, but the gameplay is superb. Probably the main flaw I found was that the difficulty setting were too extreme – medium kicked my ass, but easy was a breeze. Other than that it was pretty outstanding.

  • Assassin’s Creed: I actually just finished playing through this one. Really well written, excellent characterisation. The plot is a little overblown and suffers from trying to raise the stakes a little too high, but still succeeds in making me want to know what happens next; it’s just a shame it ends without really resolving anything. I guess I’ll just have to play the second game instead. The gameplay gets a little repetitive at times and the game drags between assassinations, but it’s still really fun when hundreds of guards start chasing after you. I was a little dubious about the part of the game set in the present, but I very quickly warmed to it because it’s so well written.

  • Prince on Persia: Sands of Time: So good to see an interesting and well characterised female protagonist and a well written love story in a video game. Another really well written game that really sucks you into the story. The pacing a little off because it really drags through the middle part, but the gameplay is good enough to get you through that. The platforming keeps coming up with interesting new things. If anything the difficulty curve is somewhat off, leading the combat to drag a little (not helped by the lack of variety). The camera is pretty horrible at times, but you get used to it eventually. Shame the writing fell away for the sequels, because Warrior Within fixes many of the gameplay issues.

  • Portal: Need I really explain it? Fantastic story, wonderful aesthetic and brilliantly imaginative gameplay and excellent voice acting. The only problem is that it could have been longer, but then the challenge modes at the end serve to extend gameplay somewhat, so all is forgiven. Now where is Portal 2?

  • Psychonauts: I’ve discussed this one before. Charming story, hilariously written and always fun to play. There are a few issues with the gameplay, but they’re not deal breakers, especially when you consider that the game contains a psychic bear, Napoleon’s ancestor playing strategy games in his own head with Great-daddy Bonaparte and, well a psychic fucking bear!

  • KotoR 1: The only RPG on the list. One of those Western RPGs from back in the day when they still followed a fairly linear plotline, just with a large number of sideplots and a bit of freedom as to which parts of the plot you tackle first. This meant that it actually had pacing and was pretty water tight, unlike more modern RPGs like Mass Effect and Fallout 3, both of which are decent games, but are simply too bloated and meandering. In both games my save got wiped and I didn’t really care enough about the plot to go back to them. I’m one of those gamers who does everything in the game because I assume it is necessary to the plot, so I just end up getting bogged down in all the bullshit side quests. You could do this in KotoR without losing track of the plot, which, by the way, was awesome.

  • Rome Total War: Finally I’ll stop going on about games with good writing, because R:TW doesn’t really have much of a story, it’s just a really, really good Turn Based Strategy game with lots of replay value. While Empire tended to get a bit too overwhelming and repetitive, Rome had a really simple and still interesting mechanic that meant you could just keep on playing it for hours on end, which I did.

  • Battle for Middle Earth 1: Another strategy game that I have sunk hours into over the years. Shame the sequel was rubbish, but you can’t have everything I suppose. BfME managed to stand out from the crowd of Age of Empires clones by adding in some really interesting original features that I mention in my review of the sequel. It’s a really well balanced game that really is piles and piles of fun.

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: I wrote a review of this a while ago, so best just to check that out. It’s another really fun platformer with much better combat than the other games of the same ilk already listed. Not as well written and with a few gameplay flaws, but the story holds the game together well enough and the flaws are nothing too major. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out.

  • Half-Life 2: Finally a game with actually pretty bad writing. I mentioned before that Half-Life 2 is not actually all that well written and fails to appropriately characterise the Protagonist. That being said, it’s fun. I mean really fun. Really well balanced weapons, a variety of different enemies and a good difficulty curve. If you want a good shooter with some interesting physics puzzles then Half-life is as good a bet as any.

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