It’s never easy to try and decide what your favourite games are, especially at a time where games are getting so diverse and polished, introducing new elements that as a kid I would’ve never thought possible. That being said I’m going to attempt to give you a taste of what makes up my gaming library. Hopefully these are games you’ve all played and if you haven’t then you are seriously missing out, there are a lot of gems here. So let’s get on with it.
10. Halo: Reach (Xbox 360- 2010)
I’m not a major Halo fan, Master Chief’s story-line isn’t something I’m that interested in. I mostly played the campaigns with my friends to get in-game credits and achievements, (Yeah, I used to care quite a bit about my gamer score), while paying little attention to the cut scenes and characters.
However, my main reason for having well over a hundred hours on Halo Reach? That sweet sweet multi-player, my god was it fantastic. I would spend school nights staying up late and weekends with my friends playing Team Snipers, SWAT, Big Team Battle and custom game after custom game.
While I adored Halo 3’s multi-player, I would give Reach the edge over its predecessor just down to the fact that gameplay-wise, it’s an improvement over Halo 3 despite having a poorer map selection. Many nights were spent playing this beauty and 343 have yet to make a game that’s topped it, in my opinion.
9. Def Jam : Fight For New York (PS2, Gamecube, Xbox- 2004)
Fighting games are very hit and miss with me, I normally can only really enjoy them drunkenly while gaming with a few mates. I’m pretty bad at them, especially Smash Bros and Mortal Kombat to name but a few. Though the one fighting game that I have a soft spot for will always be Def Jam : Fight for New York.
I remember finding this under my tree as a kid, (a very inappropriate gift for a nine-year old btw, Mam and Dad) at first I was disappointed because I wanted whatever the latest WWE game was that year, but I was so wrong. Def Jam Fight for New York was a different beast altogether, meshing traditional fighting game mechanics with rap music and creating something entirely unique.
With ridiculous, over the top moves, (violent in the best of ways) a great cast of fighters including Snoop Dogg and Xzibit and a story mode that was on par with some of the best single player games at the time. A really great game that too few have played, and one that I really need to track down a copy of.
8. Fallout 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC- 2008)
I really wasn’t sure whether to put down Fallout 3 or Fallout : New Vegas on my list, both being exceptional games that I really enjoy popping in every now and then. I’ve countless hours on both, yet never finishing the main quest due to the overwhelming amount of things to do in both The Capital Wasteland and New Vegas.
What edged out New Vegas for me was the atmosphere of Fallout 3. Sure New Vegas has the customization, a really fun faction system and improved companions but the one thing it’s lacking is what makes Fallout 3 a truly special game. Atmosphere.
The world of Fallout 3 is bleak, grey, oppressive and depressing. Its great. It really gives post apocalyptic Washington an interesting personality. You truly feel like you’re part of a world where everything is dying and everyday is a struggle, this bleak world really makes the humour even better. That in a world as horrible as Fallout 3’s there still exists eccentric characters like Moira Brown and her Wasteland Survival Guide and Sierra Petrovita’s obsessive compulsion to collect Nuka Cola.
7. Skate 3 (Xbox 360, PS3- 2010)
Like the Fallout games, I could really put either Skate 2 or Skate 3 on this list, both have pros and cons, but it’s how Black Box perfected the gameplay of Skate 3 that lands it on this list as one of my favourite games.
Like a lot of people who upgraded to PS3’s and Xbox 360’s when the last generation began, they done so mostly because of a particular game they really needed to play. Well instead of needing to play Gears of War or Motorstorm, I was that guy who felt compelled to play EA’s Skate when it came out. Well since I first got a taste of Skate I was hooked and bought the next two on launch.
I still remember trading in half my gaming catalogue in GameStop trying to afford Skate 3, it was so worth it. From the flick it control scheme to the world of Port Carverton, Skate 3 is just a complete improvement. A lot of people feel that sports games don’t warrant such a constant stream of sequels, but in the Skate series every game felt like a real improvement over the last. My favourite new addition being the new Create-a-Skatepark, it definitely led to a lot skate sessions with my friends trying out fan made replicas of real skateparks.
6. Telltale : The Walking Dead (Every device under the sun- 2012)
When I first heard about Telltale’s : The Walking Dead, I really didn’t seem too pushed about it, I used to think of games that revolve more around player choice as being dull and boring. Well I’m so glad that I had to eat my words on that one because The Walking Dead was fantastic.
The connection I felt to Lee, Clementine and some of the other supporting characters across both seasons really made it difficult to play at times, afraid that my decisions would put them in harm’s way. I never thought I would be so emotionally invested in video game characters, I haven’t felt as drawn to characters in any medium since to be honest. Not only did this game astound me with its writing and story arcs, but it also opened my eyes to story focused games such as The Wolf Among Us and Back To The Future. (Both By Telltale)
5. GTA V (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Pc- 2013)
I had to put this here somewhere, (It’s not the only Grand Theft Auto game on this list either) a game that I’m still playing, despite getting at launch on Xbox 360 (during my lunch break at school I might add) and upgraded to at the start of the year on my PC. I’ve always been a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, they’ve never really put a foot wrong to me, even though I’ve got my problems with this game such as the online mode being quite lacklustre.
I buy these games for the Single Player, I’m not very interested in playing online anymore. Thankfully the single player story is fantastic with mission variety that keeps the game fresh throughout. Graphically the game is a joy to behold, with a world so cleverly designed, exquisitely detailed and as colourful as the characters that populate it.
Everything from the driving to the shooting feels great and works as intended which I find most open world games struggle with. Rockstar are one of my favourite developers, their games are made to perfection, rarely disappointing. I can’t wait for what they have in store for us in GTA VI.
4. Dark Souls (Xbox 360, PS3, PC- 2011)
For those who’ve read my previous article about Dark Souls, you’ll know that this game means a lot to me. Its difficulty gets a bad reputation and is responsible for a lot of players backing away, fearing for their sanity. I was like that at the start, wary of spending money on a game seemingly so hard I’d probably give up before I even finish the tutorial.
It’s really not as difficult as most people say, it’s just about learning how the game’s mechanics work and studying the attacks of enemies so you can time your own attack perfectly. I’ve enjoyed RPG’s in the past, but Dark Souls just offered me something that a lot of other games couldn’t, the feeling of being rewarded with gratifying gameplay and a real sense of progress when you’ve mastered its systems. I first played it at a time where I had lost interest in most games and felt like I was burned out. It rejuvenated my love for playing video games, but also set the bar for quality that few games of late have reached. Not just a game, but an experience.
3. Minecraft (it’s even on calculators at this point- 2009)
This was a strange choice for me, Minecraft is a game that I’ve plugged countless hours into having many great adventures with my friends, but unlike a lot of games on this list, I haven’t much interest in going back to it for a long time.
It’s a simple concept, you are in a world populated by blocks, creatures and enemies. You are simply left to fend for yourself and survive by any means necessary. There’s no set path, though there are goals such as kill the Ender Dragon that you can strive towards, the game leaves that all up to you. The best way to enjoy Minecraft is to get a bunch of friends together and build, come up with an idea and just build.
Go explore an abandoned mineshaft, build a railway that travels the length of the world (which is massive) or just build yourself a huge house in your own image. The game is all about choice and creativity, though it does offer combat and end games to people that want it. Minecraft’s main draw is to reward your imagination by giving you a canvas and the tools to make something special. Despite having not played it in quite a while, it’ll be something that maybe I will one day play alongside my own future kids, blowing up their houses and just being a total badass.
2. GTA Vice City (Xbox, PS2, PS3, PC, Mobile- 2002)
Well I’m sure a lot of people would’ve preferred San Andreas to Vice City, so I’ve definitely not gone with the popular choice. However, as this is my list I’ve went with the game that for me is the best in the series. Though I say best, it’s not the best in terms of graphics or gameplay because it’s very hard for a game that’s 13 years old to be technologically better than what’s come out recently.
In saying that, Vice City was the last GTA game for that was able to create a sense of time and place, that made you feel like you were living in the 80’s. From the music, the clothes and the cars to small things such as the interface, the game just screams 1980’s. Also having one of the greatest soundtracks certainly helps, a game that has shaped the musical tastes of a lot of kids who grew up playing Vice City and experiencing the culture of the time despite not being born till after that decade ended.
The rags to riches story of Tommy Vercetti’s rise to power in the Miami inspired Vice City heavily borrows from shows like Miami Vice and movies such as Carlito’s Way and Scarface. The story is compelling and filled with every 80’s gangster cliché possible, especially great one liners delivered by Hollywood caliber voice actors such as Ray Liotta, William Fichtner and Burt Reynolds.
1. Tony Hawk’s Underground (PS2, Gamecube, mobile, PC- 2003)
Underground really was the height of the Tony Hawk series for me, it made a huge impression on me as a kid, pushing me towards the sport of skateboarding. I remember spending days just replaying the story mode over and over again, playing split screen with my friends from school and creating my own parks and ridiculous tricks.
The story mode was fantastic and extremely underrated, following your created skaters rise from growing up in Jersey to becoming a pro and taking revenge on your backstabbing “best friend” Eric Sparrow (one of the greatest video game villains I’ve ever come across). Anyone who has played through the storyline will tell you the same, Eric Sparrow is gaming’s biggest Douchebag.
Besides the story, the gameplay was and still is above and beyond any other game in the series, it was tight, responsive and as miles ahead of the latest pile of garbage, Pro Skater 5. Underground is a game that I play as often as any others in my gaming catalogue, it holds up better that most of the games on this list and will always be my favourite game of all.