Daniel’s Top Ten Favourite Games of All Time
My top 10 games are in no particular order, and their additions to the list have a lot more to do with my personal experiences than anything else. That being said, nailing down only ten favourite games was quite a challenge, so I have included a few honourable mentions near the bottom. Thanks for reading!
Super Mario Bros for NES – Alongside some forgettable PC games, Super Mario Bros was my introduction to gaming. I must have played through its first two levels hundreds of time, learning more and more each run. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the game does an amazing job of letting the player learn how the game works – how sprinting allows Mario to jump further or how certain enemies can’t be jumped on – and then surprising the player with clever level design or new enemy types. Admittedly, Super Mario Bros 3 is my favourite Mario game of the era, but the first title holds a special place in my heart.
ESPN NFL 2k5 – ESPN NFL 2k5 represented a step so far ahead in sports games that I think it still may have more features than some current titles. Not only were the graphics and presentation absolutely top-notch for the time, the game also includes a first-person mode, a tool to create a team, and a virtual penthouse to show off all of your unlockables. Priced at just $19.99 upon release, NFL 2k5 did so well commercially and critically that it basically forced EA to sign an exclusive rights agreement with the NFL. Also, at one point, I was 2nd on the overall online leaderboards for wins, a fact that I will be eternally proud of and no one else will likely care about.
God of War – If you are going to make a gory action-packed game, you might as well go all out. God of War was brutal and bloody to an often comedic level, elements that served as icing on the cake of solid combat and smooth controls. Filled with huge set pieces, insane ways to kill enemies, and gorgeous cutscenes, God of War kicked off a trilogy of games that I more than enjoyed playing through.
Fallout 3 – What can I say about Fallout 3? Well, for one thing I have played it for hundreds of hours and yet, on my most recent playthrough, I still found things I hadn’t discovered before. Fallout 3 gave me a massive world to explore, awesome quests to complete, and gameplay that I still find fun today.The shooting is wonky, yes, but VATS is one of the greatest gaming inventions of all time. Bethesda has always been fantastic at creating huge, living game-worlds, but its the decaying post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 3 that feels most alive to me.
Bioshock – I have never been much into horror games, but Bioshock was my first taste of suspense in a video game. Definitely not a horror game per se, Bioshock still features a dystopian environment that was creepy and at times, a little terrifying. Facing the giant Big Daddy enemy type was a rush and made my hands a little sweaty – although the game’s instant respawn helped lessen the sting of death. What really makes me love the game is its gameplay, as setting traps, combining powers, and throwing out helpful combat drones made each situation a little different. It doesn’t hurt that it has an intriguing story line, as well, with ties to Ayn Rand’s works and a clever plot twist.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Before, COD 4: MW, I had played a few first person shooter campaigns casually here and there. With the advent of online gaming, COD 4 became a daily ritual for me and my friends. The maps were well designed, offering multiple paths to the same location. By including RPG elements such as levelling up, rewards for completing challenges, and player customization, Infinity Ward ensured that I wouldn’t be seeing much fresh air during my high school years. Seriously… I got to 10th prestige, acquire all gold guns, and won a world MLG championship (the last fact may or may not be true).
Mass Effect – The second title in the Mass Effect series is incredible in almost every way, yet I still love the first entry the most. For one thing, Mass Effect’s story was surprising and felt complete – the writers’ ability to keep the player guessing about who the real bad guy is commendable. More than that, I enjoyed exploring planets in the MAKO, and the Mass Effect world was the first one where its lore became of interest to me. Mass Effect’s inventory management was a mess, but it came alongside numerous weapon upgrades (e.g. explosive rounds, chemical rounds) and a large number of skills that were too slimmed down in the series’ next two entries. Oh, and how can you not love that soundtrack, especially the amazing synth that plays when Shepard dies.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory – Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was my first step into the realm of stealth gaming. Although it had great graphics and stellar gameplay, it was the game’s demand on the player that really struck me as interesting. Having to assess the situation, formulate a plan, and react quickly was something I hadn’t really experience in a game before. A separate co-op campaign and a soundtrack by the wonderful Amon Tobin were cherries on top. It was always strangely satisfying to shoot out all the lights and then take out enemies one by one.
Guitar Hero II – I don’t think I have to say much about the gameplay of Guitar Hero. Anyone who has strapped on the plastic guitar knows the fun and enjoyment of playing through a favourite song or nailing a tough solo. The reason GH2 is one of my favourite games is that my friends and I played it a lot, with the game’s appeal stretching to my non-gamer friends as well as family members. The game offered a truly unique experience.
Shadow of the Colossus – In some ways, it is easy to explain why I love Shadow of the Colossus. The gameplay means a series of boss fights, with each one different from the rest, yet all of them demanding that the player be clever, precise, and patient. On the other hand, certain elements of the game come together to create a sum greater than their parts. The empty world spotted with ancient ruins and the often neutral nature of the massive enemies sometimes gives me goosebumps as I look on in awe. The cryptic story line is a small but worthy addition to the game, often making me question if I truly am playing as the game’s “hero.” Shadow of the Colossus is one of my favourite games ever because it is a unique experience from start to finish, and it reveals just enough of its story and world to keep me thinking about it for a long time after shutting off the system.
Honorable mentions: Bloodborne, NHL 2004, Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds, Final Fantasy XII