I haven’t been playing games that long and I have no time to be a hardcore gamer (though I don’t think it’s in me as part of a balanced diet) as I’m married with three kids and have a full-time job but gaming is what I do when I have time to do something. I have a PS3 and PS2 and so am able to also play emulations of classic PS1 titles. Soon, I hope to be playing some old-style PC games on my laptop.
As I’ve played, I’ve grown to understand what I prefer, I’ve been educated by a wide selection of superb and not-so-superb games spanning close to 20 years of gaming evolution. I try to play games (and certainly franchises) chronologically so that I can get a feel for technological, gameplay and story advancements as they happened back in the day. I want to see what influenced the games of today. Are they copies? Are they originals? I’m interested in catching up on the history of gaming.
I’ve found that I’ll pretty much try anything once. Mindless shooters and complex RPGs all have their place in the choir, some sing low and some sing higher. I love to get lost in massive, lengthy campaigns as well as have my adrenaline shunted about by shorter, more visceral games. Every game teaches me more about what I should expect from a developer, helping me to constantly adjust my standards and desires.
Most importantly, my favourite games take me on an adventure. And life is very simple so often. I am grateful to the hundreds and thousands of people striving daily to bring fun into my life. (Yes, I even like Ubisoft, everyone.) I seek out things that bring me happiness.
Do games make me happy? They do. Don’t over-analyse it. What do I feel when I play? I am thrilled. I smile. I enjoy. It’s that simple.
Life is short and I am obliged to be where I am happiest – at home, with my family.
With my games.
Below is my Top 10 thus far…many, many to go!
10. Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark (2012 – PS3)
Precision. This pure, 2D, sci-fi puzzle madness is just ablaze with devilish tricks up its sleeve at every turn. I never punched the air in satisfaction so many times playing anything. Funny, dark and a constant test of your mental acumen, Stealth Inc. is glossy, highly addictive entertainment and one of the few games I plan to replay sometime.
9. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (2005 – PS2)
Expansive. The second Prince of Persia made all the right decisions for improving on its popular predecessor when it came to polishing the gameplay and combat, creating satisfying levels and better storytelling. There’s nothing quite like linking the Prince’s fantastic acrobatics to solve environmental puzzles, outrun the Dahaka and kick butt with a whole lot of fluidity.
8. Alice: Madness Returns (2011 – PS3)
Twisted. Alice is far from the average female protagonist and the insanity going on in her mind is very dark and completely fascinating. The gameplay is simple and intuitive; the levels are gorgeous, varied and interesting with plenty of secrets. The art design is eyecatching and the voice acting is great. The story kept me hooked throughout.
7. Tomb Raider (2013 – PS3)
Creativity. Jumping around this deserted (or is it?) island in cinematic slo-mo as the surroundings explode and/or crumble about you is extremely exhilarating. The reboot’s new story angle ain’t half bad and the visuals are truly gorgeous with so much to explore and so many men to murder in various snazzy ways. Tight controls and exciting weapons make this a premium adventure package.
6. Watch Dogs (2014 – PS3)
Story. I was engrossed by the story from beginning to end, even with a few minor hiccups en route. I also found the gunplay and driving a joy. The wild characters, exemplary voice acting and the gigantic city itself sucked me right in and the game was like a good book: hard to put down. The use of the tactical hacking added a superb dimension to what I think is a very high-grade 3rd person action title.
5. Metal Gear Solid (1998 – PS)
Ambition. It’s amazing the original game fit on only 2 discs given the technical scope of the attempt. MGS has all sorts of issues from graphics to controls to pomposity but everything imperfect is overshadowed by the depth of character, variety and originality throughout, by the twisting and turning story. Solid Snake’s believable personal journey was then, and remains, remarkable for a video game character.
4. Half-Life 2 (2004 – PC)
Immersion. Half-Life introduced me to the idea of world-creation. I felt as though I were part of this odd place, like it had a history and it is a grotesque one. A wonderful array of strong and unusual weaponry mixed in with exciting scenarios, saucy puzzles and varied enemies make this game upper echelon. Perhaps my favourite aspect was the drool-inducing level design. But I can see why nobody goes to Ravenholm.
3. The Walking Dead (2012 – PS3)
Drama. I never panicked as many times as I did playing Telltale’s sublime effort. Under the cosh, irreparable decisions are made that effect the entire story and relationships henceforth. The spine of WD is dialogue, the heart is character and the brain is plot. The player must inhabit the body. I would suggest everyone does it.
2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011 – PS3)
Scale. I had no clue what I was sitting down to play when I started Skyrim. Its size and potential for surprises is startling. Its breadth of choice is frightening. It controls very well. It has a wonderful score, an eye-popping world, stellar voice-acting and a dizzying cast of characters both supportive and out for blood. The main quest is enthralling and many of the staggering number of varied side quests and locations are superb mini-stories in their own right.
1. Resident Evil 4 (2005 – PS2)
Pacing. This hit me square in the face. RE4 is so long without being repetitive or boring; the variety of enemies is unparalleled, the level design is extraordinary, the weapon selection is wide and satisfying, the story isn’t brilliant but moves the game along at a perfect speed. The actual shooting feels right and so do the QTEs. The bosses are challenging and memorable. Fifteen hours in and, breathless, I’ve seen it all…until I heard that breathing…