Mason’s Top 10 Games of All Time
In this industry there are millions of games, millions of different experiences, so many that it would take several lifetimes to play them all. Narrowing down all that I have played into 10 select titles is a nightmare, distilling the 10 best games is near impossible. But I think I can try. While these are in no particular order, Number 1 is my Best Game of All Time.
10. Ratchet and Clank (PS2)
My parents weren’t the most fond of video games when I was a kid. Sure my dad grew up on Pole Position, Pac-Man, and Galaga but he never really stuck with them. When I was young I played Last Call! and Need for Speed on our old PC. But it wasn’t until my brother and I woke up one Christmas that I truly became invested in gaming. That morning we unwrapped a Playstation 2 packed with two games, ATV Off Road Fury 2 and Ratchet and Clank. While me and my brother would screw around for hours on ATV, it’s was Ratchet and Clank that made me realize gaming could be something more. The game was colorful, had wacky weapons, a stupid-fun story, and great gameplay. I spent hours playing it, making up names for the fish in Blackwater City, punching space crabs with the Wallop, and turning enemies into ammo with the Suck Cannon, the best name of any gun ever. Ratchet and Clank shaped my gaming future, for that it has a place on this list.
9. DOOM franchise
The FPS genre is one of the most popular genres in gaming. They are violent, cathartic, and most importantly fun. But the genre wouldn’t be the powerhouse it is without id Software. In 1993 they produced one of the best action games ever made, DOOM. With little in way of story DOOM captivated gamers with its fast pace, brutal combat, and satisfying gunplay. DOOM II: Hell on Earth continued this with a bigger enemy variety, new environments, and a more devastating arsenal. Doom 3 was a great atmospheric game, sure it deviated from the classic formula by being more horror oriented and slower paced, but the game was solid, it also introduced many lighting elements that we take for granted today. Finally there’s DOOM 2016 an unapologetic love letter to the early days of FPS. Fast-paced, violent, non-stop action that runs at a beautiful 60 fps. The game shattered expectations and set the new standard for AAA FPS action. The DOOM franchise is legendary and with a new release on the horizon it’s going to continue that legacy.
8. Bioshock 1
Water leaks into the hall, steel girders creak, in the distance the screams of tortured Splicers echo. In 2007 Bioshock was released and garnered critical and commercial praise. This isn’t surprising though, the game is amazing. Bioshock has an amazing atmosphere, the world of Rapture is dark, dismal, and disgusting. This city beneath the sea was an amazing examination on the principles of objectivism, the fall of a society that had no limits. On top of this engrossing world lay one of the most intriguing, disturbed, and well written antagonist in gaming. Andrew Ryan, a man of great intelligence and great delusions. His voice is the first one to greet you in Rapture and he is the one who ultimately pulls the curtain back on the truth of your circumstance. Bioshock is a narrative masterpiece that has shaped many games in the following years. It’s just a shame that the other games in the series can’t match the quality of the first game.
7. Dead Space 2
Dead Space 1 was a surprise hit. The game was atmospheric, creepy, and tightly claustrophobic. The combat was visceral, with twists on the shooter formula, shooting the head didn’t mean much, rather, dismembering the nightmares before you was the best solution. With this success it was only natural that EA Redwood, re-branded as Visceral Games, would put out a sequel. Dead Space 2 took things up to 11, Issac now had a voice, the station the player was on had more variety, the action was more intense, and the story was deeper. With all these changes there was fear that the game would lose its horror edge, but the game still provided plenty of scares. After the events of the first game Issac is tormented by ghosts of the past after the mental scaring he experienced at the hands of the alien Marker. The entire game plays like a psychological episode, is anything the player is seeing real? Dead Space 2 is also highly replayable, I’ve beaten the game 7 times and I never get bored. Dead Space 2 is an amazing survival horror experience.
6. Alien Isolation
So time for a confession, I am a massive Alien nerd. To me the xenomorph is the pinnacle of terror, the domed, eyeless head, the tall, gaunt frame, and the unnatural way it moves terrifies me. The first film by Ridley Scott is a true horror masterpiece and nails the terror of being stuck in an isolated place with a bloodthirsty killing machine. Fitting that the best Alien game ever made has the subtitle of Isolation. Alien Isolation is a beautiful mix of stealth, horror, and action. Playing as Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, you travel to Sevastapol station with the intention of finding out what happened to your mother. Once aboard the station things quickly turn sour as Amanda and company encounter the xenomorph, which in-game is directed by a ‘Smart AI’ system that unlocks behavior patterns as you play. The game is very much hide and seek but is made enjoyable by the presence of a near animalistic AI that skulks around looking for any prey, not just the player. The game has long legs as well with my first playthrough clocking in around 20 hours. With a well-written, if somewhat familiar, story, good characters, and great gameplay, Alien Isolation is an amazing experience that I highly recommend to any horror or Alien fan.
5. Halo Reach
Halo is a great FPS series that was one of the most played games back in its heyday. The first game proved that an FPS can work on consoles and built an intriguing lore that sucked in players. But in 2010 Bungie, the creators of the property, were about to leave parent company Microsoft when they released their swan song, Halo Reach. Reach told the story of the fall of Earth’s strongest military base, kicking off the events of the rest of the series. Reach was humanity’s military powerhouse, which allowed Bungie to give the player new weapons and abilities that never got to leave the testing ground of Reach. The story was also one of desperation and loss, as the new member of Nobel Team you fight with your squad in desperate bid to defend the planet from the invading forces of the Covenant. But one by one Nobel sacrifice themselves, giving their lives so others can fight another day. The game ends with the iconic mission Lone Wolf, where the player fights never-ending waves of enemies, enemies that get stronger the longer you fight. The story ends on a bittersweet note, you die protecting the planet, but your sacrifice was worth it, the Master Chief was able to leave Reach and proceeded to end the Human-Covenant War, giving humanity a future, a future you unfortunately won’t see. Reach is an amazing story of sacrifice and one that FPS fans should play.
4. Metro series
Cold, dark, dangerous. This is the reality of the world of Metro 2033/Last Light, a post-nuclear world where the denizens live in the underground metro system fighting to survive. The world is harsh, mutants litter the surface and tunnels, killing anything that moves, meanwhile, humanity has splinted into different factions, killing each other for resources. Things finally reach the boiling point when enigmatic beings called The Dark Ones start wreaking havoc in the metro. As Artyom, a young man living in the metro, you join forces with the Spartans, a group focused on helping keep the Metro free. Your travels take you to strange and wondrous places as you see the devastation that humanity had wrought on itself. The game also poses the philosophical of evolution, what are the Dark Ones? Are they here to replace us? Can we be at peace with them? These questions pervade the experience making for a deep story where the answers are shaped by the unknowing choices you make. With Exodus on the horizon time will tell if the story of Artyom and the Dark Ones ends in a way that makes all your past actions worth it.
3. Prey (2017)
Arkane Studios makes amazing simulation based games. Their brightest star is the Dishonored series, a trilogy of action stealth games with reactive worlds that change based on your choices. But their best, most polished game has to the best game of 2017, the hidden gem that is Prey. Prey takes place on the Talos 1 station, a space-station owned by megacorporation TransStar. The player is Morgan Yu, the son/daughter of the CEO’s of the TransStar corporation. After a trippy opening the player travels through the station trying to contain the menace of the Typhon, an enigmatic alien race that seeks to destroy everything in its path. Along the way you make choices that shape you as a person. Do you go into hostile territory for a crew mate’s meds? Do you kill the mind controlled crew or do you incapacitate them? Do you kill the psycho or let him suffer alone and angry? All these decisions have an impact on the surprise ending, culminating in one final choice, forgiveness or evolution? Along with the excellent DLC Prey is one hell of a time and I highly recommend it.
2. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
In one of the most powerful games I have ever played, Hellblade is an adventure that focuses on the mental instability of the main character, Senua. Senua is a young woman suffering with psychosis, manifesting in voices, hallucinations, and otherworldly things. After she returns to her village she finds the place ransacked and raided. The most horrifying discovery comes at the top of the hill in her village. Her love, Dillion was tortured, killed and strung to posts with the flesh of his back. This drives Senua to the land of the Vikings, where she has heard tell of the goddess Hela, who can bring souls back. With her lovers head she ventures forward, confronting her own inner demons along the way. The combat is excellent, the puzzles are fun, the acting is simply amazing, the use of 3D audio is masterful. I don’t want to divulge any more about this game but I highly recommend it to anyone who takes this art form seriously. This game is dark, dismal, and depressing, and I love it.
Is it really any surprise that this is my favorite game of all time? Bloodborne is the magnum opus of From Software, a dark Gothic-Victorian world populated by Lovecraftian horrors. The subtly of the setting is amazing, the game starts with more worldly monsters, werewolves, snakes, and other beasts but slowly, surely the world begins to unravel as the beings behind the scenes reveal themselves. The game culminates into a frantic battle against beings that can’t possibly be comprehended. I love this game so fucking much, I even got a tattoo of the Hunter’s Mark on my back and I’m strongly considering another BB tattoo. This game is simply a masterpiece, if I could give game a 6/5 this would be that game. Responsive controls, fast gameplay, brutal combat, and beautifully horrifying Bloodborne is the pinnacle of gaming.