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Top 5 Video Games of 2014

Number 5.  –  Alien: Isolation

This is a huge step up for the series to go in the right direction from the awful installment called Aliens: Colonial Marines. All the Alien games in the franchise have been action titles, but it has been a long time since the first Alien game for the Atari 2600, to actually go to the horror genre. Throughout the majority of the game, you’re being stalked by the Alien, and your first warning that it’s nearby is usually the sound. You can hear the thumps and rattles as it stalks down a corridor or slithers through the air ducts. You can hear a telltale noise as it triggers an automatic door by strolling past, or the sound it makes when it descends from a vent to hunt. Most horror games become a lot less scary when you turn the sound down; this becomes a lot harder.  I can’t argue that Alien: Isolation wouldn’t have been improved by being a bit shorter, and there are one or two sections of the game which could’ve been completely excised without compromising the quality – but it’s an expertly designed, expertly paced stealth-horror game that relies more on tension and creeping dread than on jump scares, and pays loving homage to the film that started the series.

Number 4.  –  Five Nights At Freddy’s

It’s funny that I rate an indie horror game higher than an installment from a long-lived, horror franchise like Alien, but Five Nights at Freddy’s and its sequel revolutionized PC gaming in 2014. It’s been a long time since a PC title could ever say that since the popularity of PC has ever been so small. Five Nights at Freddy’s puts players in the role of night watchman Mike Schmidt, who takes a security position at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza nightly between midnight and 6:00 AM. As taped messages reveal, though, not everything is A-Okay at good ol’ Freddy’s. As midnight hits, Freddy and his giant, animatronic pals are set to Free Roam Mode. As someone who has walked through Disneyland at 3:00 AM with no lights and no background music, that fact alone should be enough to make a horror hit. It gets worse, however. As night watchman, the player’s job consists of keeping an eye on Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie Bunny, Chica Chicken, and Foxy the Pirate, all the while making sure not to get caught. Getting caught, as the messages will tell you, results in a violation of the rules at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, since the characters will assume the player is an animatronic endoskeleton and will stuff the player into a spare Freddy Fazbear costume. This wouldn’t be all that bad, were it not for the internal wiring and structures already in place, which would crush a human. Five Nights at Freddy’s is horror done right. No slasher techniques, no gore necessary. The terror comes from simplicity; who hasn’t thought about giant characters coming for your blood? Plus, I do feel the need to mention value—the game can be picked up on Steam for only five dollars. It’s a great price for a great game.

Number 2.  –   Dark Souls 2

It is a well known fact that the Souls series have always been legendary for its difficulty and the sequel of Dark Souls is no exception.  Like previous installments, Dark Souls 2 focuses on a centralized world that has little to no narration. It’s shrouded in a mist of shadow, leaving players to freely explore its world. There is no one to hold your hands, no markers to tell you where to go, and no right path to choose. Around every corner lurks danger and there is no such thing as a safe place. You are basically told right from the start that you are screwed in this forsaken world, and it’s for that reason (and others) is why I love this series. Dark Souls 2 isn’t for everyone, or even every moment. It’s a “sit forward” game that demands you be mentally present and adaptable. But for those who like to earn their victories — really earn them — this is a game in which winning means something more than I went through the motions and witnessed the end. If you do seek misery then on release, when the community is scrambling to uncover the mysteries of Drangleic lore, will be the most exciting time to play. Good luck — and don’t you dare go Hollow.

Number 2.  –  Dragon Age Inquisition

Another installment from an famous IP that put the series in the right track. And as far as things to do and see, there are lots of things to do in this very game. The number of quests that show up can seem overwhelming, and often whenever you turn a corner, you’ll see another exclamation point on the map that denotes another quest giver. Inquisition really is a huge game. The so-called critical path will take roughly 50-60 hours to complete. However, between side quests, getting to know your followers, customizing your Inquisition headquarters, and exploring the new and fairly deep armor and weapon crafting system, you could easily double the amount of time you spend on the critical path. If you like games that are time sinks, Inquisition is your game. To put it in as few words as possible: Inquisition is a splendid game as the next-console-generation successor to BioWare’s catalog of great action RPGs. It looks excellent. The story and characters are memorable. The gameplay lets you be almost as tactically minded as anyone could ask for. And it’s all tied together by a typically beautiful soundtrack and Hollywood-quality voice acting. No doubt it’s the best RPG of 2014!

Number 1.  –  Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U is the ultimate video game battle royal. Nintendo unleashed its second monster franchise reboot of the year on Nov. 21, six months after “Mario Kart 8” came out of the gate. Both games are high-definition updates of popular series that drop favorite video game characters into a competitive format — high-speed racing for “Mario Kart 8” and Street Fighter-style arena combat for Super Smash Bros. And like “Mario Kart 8,” Super Smash Bros. is just about everything Nintendo fans could hope for. Retaining all the charm of past games and packed with upgrades, options and crystal-clear graphics, Smash is simply a blast. Super Smash Bros. pits iconic video game characters in battle arenas — and there are plenty to choose from, both characters and arenas. A good chunk of fighters come from Mario franchises, but there is a more than healthy sampling from other classic series such as Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out, Pokemon, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Pikmin and Sonic. The Wii U version closely resembles the DS version, but the advantages over the handheld game are significant. First and foremost is resolution and screen size. Super Smash Bros. looks absolutely gorgeous in the Wii U’s HD format. The various animation styles, ranging from Pac-Man to Pokemon, that are mashed up in this game meld beautifully against the sharp and shifting backdrops.

 

Top 10 Nintendo Wii Games

Since the NES years, Nintendo wanted to revolutionize the way we play our video games. Since its success with A, B, Start, and Select button and the D-pad, Nintendo wanted to give more variety to our controls. The Wii is not the first console that utilizes motion controls, the NES was the first with peripherals such as the Power Glove, Laser Scope, Roll & Rocker, U-Force, etc. were the first attempt to play games differently than the standard NES controls, but they were ideas so bad that Nintendo had to no longer continue this trend. The problem was that it was too early for such technology to work, so we had to wait many console generations till this trend was to return. On the 6th Generation of consoles, the Gamecube was losing in the console market competing with the successful Xbox and the Playstation 2. The Gamecube was cursed with a marketing appeal aimed towards children, no DVD player, and mediocre third-party support. It was looked as if the Gamecube was much of a failure to the Dreamcast, so to not make the same mistake again, Nintendo needed to sell more units than the upcoming Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but they needed to have a gimmick that not only makes it different than any console experience ever. Once called the “Nintendo Revolution,” this system was made to revolutionize gaming instead of making another disc based console with better graphics. Nintendo used its old motion peripherals and made motion gaming popular. For that they accomplished it. Not only did it work, but the Wii Remote (and Nunchucks) read the player’s precise movements that it brought interactivity into a whole new level. The gimmick worked so well that even people who never played a video game in their life began buying a Nintendo Wii, making it the best selling console in the 7th Generation; beating the 360 and PS3. All of the sudden, Nintendo was having their own renaissance since the NES days because millions bought many of their games and peripherals, their library grew so rapidly, and Nintendo has gained a lot of third-party support that they’ve strived for since the Nintendo 64.

You might think that because of all the success that Nintendo have made with the Wii, you might as well should call it one of the greatest consoles of all time, but unfortunately with all the stagnation piling up on the Nintendo Wii, it created a bunch of problems. You see, people get bored with the console so Nintendo and their developers were sent out to create some of the unique games out of the 7th generation, but unfortunately with every good game released for the Wii there are a ton of shuffleware tossed in the Wii’s library. It goes back to the Nintendo’s issue with the Gamecube where there were too many kiddy appeal that it alienate many hardcore fans for the Wii. These shuffleware ware rushed out there to make a quick buck that turned out the most gimmicky if not the worst ever. Throughout the Wii’s lifespan, shuffleware was plagued the Wii that makes it so hard to find a good game in an ocean filled with crap. It’s because the system was so easy to make games out of it that it shows the Wii’s obsolete technology such as poor online gaming community that uses friend codes, usage of internal flash memory,  SD cards are secondary memory, and no HD graphics that the 360 and PS3 are providing. It’s the reason why people either had to sell their Wii because they got bored with it or the had to purchase another system to go with it that fill that void that the Wii can’t. But at the same time, the 360 and PS3 wanted to make the same success as the Wii by copying their motion gimmick by using the Kinnect and the Playstation Move. Neither one of those peripherals could match up to the Wii’s success because they were copy-cats instead of original ideas. Even though the Wii may not be the greatest system of all time, it is however the most unique console ever created. For a long time Nintendo wanted to make a system that reads motion and the Wii did it, finally. And though people today still preferred to use the standard controls, Wii showed that it is possible to make an alternative to how we interact with our video games and these are the ten of the best games on the system that proved it!

Number 10.  –  Wii Sports Resort

Although the Nintendo Wii was quite the revolutionary console when it was released, the downside of this console was the limited accuracy of its wireless controllers. This is not to say that the games were poor but rather, it limited the player to what could be achieved in the grand scheme of gaming… until now! With some clever marketing on behalf of Nintendo, it comes bundled with Wii Resort and Impulse Gamer was ready to test the hype with Nintendo’s official sequel to Wii Sports. So if you loved Wii Sports, than get ready for another party game experience! Before embarking on our Wii Resort adventure, we needed to install the new Wii MotionPlus controller which is basically an attachment that neatly plugs into the bottom of the Wiimote. Thankfully it also comes with a new handgrip, ensuring that nothing or no one gets damaged in play. Once we configured the controller and sat through the introduction video of the new MotionPlus attachment (this went for too long), we were ready to start playing some sport and Wii Resort includes the following games; Swordplay, Wakeboarding, Frisbee, Archery, Basketball, Table Tennis, Golf, Bowling (best ever), Power Cruising, Canoeing, Cycling, and Air Sports which includes parachuting and piloting.  With 12 sporting games included in Wii Resort, there’s definitely something for everyone and although the game will eventually get quite boring in single-player, where this game does shine besides it’s party-game atmosphere is through the new Wii MotionPlus attachment that takes Wii gaming to its next evolution.

Number 9.  –  New Super Mario Bros Wii

Nintendo has been making Super Mario Bros. games for as long as they’ve been making game consoles, and after the mammoth success of New Super Mario Bros. on DS, it comes as no real surprise to see them continuing that tradition on the Wii. And while Nintendo have made it clear that the unique multiplayer aspects are the selling point of the game, when you sit down with this little gem the one thing that becomes abundantly clear is that no matter what Nintendo say, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is clearly designed as a single-player Super Mario Bros. experience with a few extremely fun multiplayer modes thrown in for good measure. Not only is New Super Mario Bros. Wii chock-full of classic Super Mario Bros. influences from start to finish, but it takes many of those ideas far beyond what they originally were in past releases. Not only is the game extremely challenging, but there’s so much to do in each world that you’ll find yourself coming back to the game time and time again in an effort to see all the game has to offer. The multiplayer modes make the game an experience anyone can get together and enjoy and adds an even more enjoyable layer to what is already a brilliant platforming experience. New Super Mario Bros. brings all of the classic fun from past Super Mario Bros. releases together in one amazing greatest hits-style gameplay experience and does so in a way that only Nintendo themselves can do. If you only buy one game for your Wii console for the rest of your life, make sure it’s this one.

Number 8.  –  Donkey Kong Country Returns

When Rare created the original Donkey Kong Countrytitles for the Super Nintendo console, the games basically took the system’s visuals capabilities to new heights and also offered up one of the best platforming experiences the console had to offer. Now, having spent the past few years resurrecting the Metroid series on Nintendo’s home consoles, Retro Studios has turned its attention to bringing back the Donkey Kong Country experience after its rather lengthy hiatus. And while long time fans of the classic 16-bit series will find a wealth of familiar musical, visual and gameplay touches throughout the game, they’ll also find a staggering number of new ones to go along with them. Donkey Kong Country Returns is almost the perfect continuation of the series in many ways. It manages to offer the perfect balance of old and new elements to form what has to be one of the Wii console’s finest platforming experiences and a game that should challenge even seasoned fans of the genre. The main game itself is easily enough to make the package worth your time and money, but figuring in the massive amount of replay value the game offers up makes it an even more appealing package. It might have been a long wait for a new Donkey Kong Country title, but after a few minutes of playing Retro’s new rumble in the jungle, you’ll realise it was more than worth it.

Number 7.  –  Xenoblade Chronicles

The creativity Monolith has employed in producing the world of Xenoblade Chronicles is staggering. In terms of presentation, the immense landscapes are a delight to traverse and include some memorable enemies to battle. While some close-up camera angles expose graphical limitations, the art design more than compensates. Story cut-scenes use the in-game engine, your characters appearing in the customised outfits that you’ve assigned them, giving a wonderful sense of continuity. Although some of the voice acting is hit-and-miss, the soundtrack is superb, genuinely enhancing the experience. With a well-written plot, this carries out the magic that this game holds. Xenoblade Chronicles perfectly reaffirms the quality of experience possible from the JRPG genre. Epic in scale and setting, the story mode alone will consume over 50 hours of your gaming life. This isn’t a title to rush through, however; you’ll spend many more hours making the most of its incredible complexity, enhancing a range of abilities and exploring the world’s ecosystem. Although the developers have done a terrific job of incorporating daunting detail with intuitive controls, this title is still best suited to gamers with the capability, diligence and passion to see it through.

Number 6.  –  No More Heroes 2:
Desperate Struggle

What do you want from a video game? Fun? What if it makes you laugh? And smile? What if it can surprise you? What if it’s a sequel that removes the bad parts from its predecessor and replaces them with…. wait a minute… what if it replaces them with other un-fun stuff? No More Heroes 2 remains propelled by its own bratty enthusiasm for the good first half of its run-time, though it does start to run out of steam somewhat as it approaches the grand finale. There are some sequences where you play as characters other than Travis Touchdown that suffer from ill-conceived controls. The game never gets too heavy though; the simple-but-fun beat-em-up combat and ridiculous boss scenarios rise above any minor remaining issues with No More Heroes 2. A few of the later boss battles and levels that attempt to mix things up contain some of the frustrations that dragged the first game down, but for the most part this is yet another third-party Wii exclusive of which Nintendo faithful can be proud. Suda51 delivers a game that almost anyone can appreciate. In every way, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is a better game than No More Heroes. Almost every design flaw and every fan complaint has been addressed. While the original No More Heroes was fun to play if you could get past all of Suda 51’s weird meta-joke gameplay designs and awkward segments, No More Heroes 2 is fun to play without any reservation. Perhaps the only real complaint one can make is that a few of the levels and bosses are lackluster, and the game doesn’t quite have the same charm as the first, but in almost every way, this is a far superior game to the original, and Wii owners should definitely give it a shot.

Number 5.  –  Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Before launch time, the Wii looked to have a slew of launch titles that would blow away the competition. As Wiis hit the shelves, people began to find out that fully using the Wii’s functionality would take a little longer than wii’d expected (I know, that pun got old last year). Also, people drooled over the idea of having an FPS that controlled like a mouse using the Wii’s controls but at launch we were given Red Steel and Call of Duty 3, two games that just felt a bit sluggish and certainly didn’t give you the control of a PC shooter. While the game’s intuitive control scheme is obviously the biggest improvement to the series, this game also sports some other notable enhancements. For one, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous. It’s easy to see the difference in graphical power between a GameCube and a Wii if you compare Corruption to either of the first two installments in the series. Also, the environments are as scenic as ever from tribal planets to futuristic sky towns to abandoned space stations. If you were looking for a nominee for current best graphics on the Wii, Corruption would take the cake with its detailed art and pop-in absence. With all of the impressive graphics and environments, it’s amazing that this game still runs at 60 frames per second. I never experienced an ounce of slowdown in my entire session of gameplay, even amongst some highly intense battles. However, all of these graphical triumphs do come at a price: a few times throughout my journey I was forced to wait for extended periods of time just for a door to open between rooms. It is nice that these doors encompass any load times throughout your journey but when you’re forced to wait as much as 20 seconds, it can ruin the flow of the game and even be a further nuisance if you’re attempting to escape a room without fighting the enemies within.

Number 4.  –  Red Steel 2

Ever since we first laid eyes on the Wii we’ve been crying out for a decent sword-fighting simulator – something that delivers the hectic clash of blade meeting blade and leaves you feeling that your swash has well and truly been buckled. The first Red Steel game was one of the worst games on the Wii, but Ubisoft’s sequel uses Nintendo’s MotionPlus adaptor to offer much more control to your swings and parries. The result is a game that’s brilliant fun. Combat is divided between guns and swords, and while you can trick out a series of repeaters and tommyguns with some handy upgrades, most of the fun is to be had with mastering your katana skills. The addition of the MotionPlus device – it can either be bought in a bundle, or separately – allows for a wide range of different swings, parries, and lunges, and you should prepare yourself for a real workout as you swipe away at brutal enemies with your remote.  This is one of those games where you’ll definitely want to get a safe distance away from the telly, and if you’ve got much Ming china lying around, you should probably shift it into the next room before playing. The swordplay is mostly excellent, but there are still rare occasions where the remote can’t quite figure out what you’re trying to do. When things get really busy, you can expect the game to lose track of a few of your moves, which is hardly a problem when you’re taking on standard enemies, but can be really annoying in the middle of a boss-fight. Red Steel 2 is brilliant fun, bringing a real blast of action to the Wii, and reminding you that MotionPlus can be about more than just throwing Frisbees and going waterskiing.

Number 3.  –  Rayman Origins

Rayman Origins perfectly embodies what made many of us fall in love with gaming in the first place. It’s a nigh-on flawlessly executed romp through intricately designed levels that boast the most gorgeously detailed and vibrant visuals you’ll see this generation. Tight controls, a perfectly judged difficulty curve, fantastically surreal boss fights and tons of replayability go that extra mile to make sure that after years of being relegated to countless remakes of Rayman 2 and having those pesky Rabbids stealing his thunder, Rayman is back on form and back in the spotlight where he belongs. Drop-in/drop-out cooperative play for up to four players is the icing on an already sumptuously sweet cake. If you have any love for 2D platformers — and the idea of getting your friends together for an encore of New Super Mario Bros. Wii’s four-player action appeals to you — you’ll pick up Rayman Origins straight away. It represents the very pinnacle of 2D platforming and is undoubtedly one of the Wii’s very best games. Truly unmissable.

Number 2.  –  Super Smash Bros. Project M

I don’t need to tell you what Super Smash Bros. is but I can easily say that Brawl will always be inferior to Melee because of it’s unbalanced gameplay, missing characters, uninspired levels, and slow gameplay. It’s too bad that Nintendo focused on the casual aspect with Brawl instead of the competitiveness of Melee. That’s why MODs are a savior to gaming with Project M takes the graphics and presentation of Brawl and the speed and gameplay from Melee mixed into one. The biggest addition to Project M is the addition of Melee veterans Mewtwo and Roy. Both characters bring updated versions of their Melee movesets, as well as some new techniques. Roy’s Double-Edge Dance has been greatly expanded upon, and Mewtwo can now hover in any direction after a single jump by holding the jump button, and can attack out of Teleport. Both characters are even given Final Smashes, Mewtwo’s being a clone of Lucario‘s while Roy’s is completely new. Mewtwo and Roy do not replace any characters from Brawl. hile some might not find Project M to be their cup of tea, there’s absolutely no reason not to try it for yourself. The mod is completely free and a lot of hard work was put into it. It’s a great way to make the wait for Smash 4 more bearable. I’ve had a ton of fun with it over the last couple days, and I feel confident other people who give it a try will too. This is one of those rare cases where the mod is actually better than the original game!

If you want to know how to download this mod and transfer it to your Wii click here!

Number 1.  –  Super Mario Galaxy

I must admit that Super Mario Sunshine is not that great follow up to the like of Super Mario 64 because it wasn’t revolutionary and the setting was unimpressive. However, it would take 11 years since Mario 64 to have a game that feels like the Mario series can be revolutionary once again. If Wii Sports didn’t get you into buying the Nintendo Wii, Super Mario Galaxy will!  Super Mario Galaxy doesn’t have a particularly deep or involved story, but what stands out from the rest of the Mario games is the adventure through outer space and the many creative level designs that looks like Nintendo’s best effort without having to use HD graphics. This is the most uplifting experience since going to Disneyland and you can simple feel it from the presentation, scale, creative level designs, and musical orchestra. The likeness factor is throughout the roof, but the objective of Mario is all the same. Once again, Bowser has stolen 120 stars and kidnapped Princess Peach, this time in an attempt to conquer the entire galaxy. Mario, of course, sets out to foil the dastardly lizard’s plans once again, this time with the help of a princess from the stars named Rosalina and her army of adorable sentient mini-stars called Lumas. The real charm here is in the nostalgia. Super Mario Galaxy is packed to the brim with callbacks and cameos from other Mario titles and even an occasional reference to other Nintendo titles. One moment you’re ice-skating in outer space; the next, you’re bouncing on a conveyor belt made of Battenberg. Such is its energy and thirst to explore new frontiers that even the emergence of all Mario games fails to make this any less than essential!  It has everything. Great bosses, great power-ups, great levels, a great concept, great innovation, great design, great graphics, a great musical score and most of all it is brilliantly good fun. It makes you think, it makes you smile and it compels you to play just one more level. Flat out, the most addictive platform game ever created, if not one of the most addictive games ever created. The perfect demonstration of how to ‘do Wii’ and what’s more, a game that matches, almost inch for inch, the genre defining heights of Mario 64. To play Galaxy, is to fall in love all over again.

The Top Listed Wii Games

10)      9)      8)   

7)      6)      5)   

  4)      3)    2)  

                                                       1)   

 

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Top 10 Video Games of 2013

Number 10.  –  Killer Instinct

You’d have to have an awfully foggy memory of the mid-’90s to be the sort of person who was clamoring for a new Killer Instinct game. The old fighting game always felt like an also-ran, combining muddy, pre-rendered graphics with a ridiculous combo system and a set of finishing moves that made the whole thing feel like it was occasionally biting from Mortal Kombat. It was flashy and had a weird sense of style, but I always thought it was a terrible game, and the sequel was only marginally better. So when word started swirling around last year that Microsoft was finally going to dig into more of the Rare back-catalog and produce a new Killer Instinct game, I wasn’t exactly jumping out of my seat. But the team behind this new KI reboot has kept the charming things about the franchise intact and placed them into a better, more modern-feeling fighting game. It’s still ridiculous, the announcer still screams his head off, and the combos are wild… but actually executing KI’s combos is a good time, too, making this download-only fighting game an exciting turnaround for the series.

Number 9.  –  Injustice: Gods Among Us

Mortal Kombat studio NetherRealm has attempted to right the wrongs of the modern fighting genre by providing in-depth mechanics without compromising storyline, and it has been largely successful in achieving this goal. Injustice: Gods Among Us plays not unlike an evolved version of the Mortal Kombat reboot. Battles no longer pan out across the traditional two rounds, with combatants sporting dual health bars instead.  Players retain what was remaining on their initial gauge when their opponent has been worn down to their back-up health bar, and the result of this is fairer fights, with the overall winner being the combatant who was more consistent throughout the bout. The exclusion of a dedicated block button is another deviation from the established formula. Players must now press backwards or down to ward off blows in what feels like a nod to the Street Fighter series. This adds an additional layer of strategy, since players must anticipate which direction their opponent is striking from and react accordingly. There’s plenty to love about Injustice: Gods Among Us, especially if you are a comic book fan. The game combines a compelling story with polished fighting mechanics and some genuine innovation. While there are better options out there for online play, NetherRealm’s effective use of the licence at its disposal will help it attract a huge fanbase.

Number 8.  –  Metro: Last Light

I could have shot the neo-Nazi (he probably deserved it), but there were worse things lurking in the reclaimed subway tunnels of the Russian Metro (and not just the communists). Besides, bullets were currency, and you never knew when you’d need to upgrade your equipment—or, more importantly, buy additional air filters for your gas mask. Hours later, as a winged beast ripped me across a rooftop, I was glad for the extra ammunition, though my thoughts were more immediately occupied with strafing into cover in order to recharge my hand-pumped electrical generator. Later, I’d chance it, running blindly through swamps toward what my compass and the faint hint of torches promised was a human settlement, my Geiger counter pounding like my heart. Perhaps I’m a masochist, but the less ideal my in-game circumstances became, the better Metro: Last Light seemed. Has desperation ever been so perfectly programmed?

Number 7.  –  The Legend of Zelda:
A Link Between Worlds

A Link Between Worlds has everything that longtime fans will love, from callbacks to previous games (Dampe the Gravekeeper makes another appearance), to the familiar layout of the land. But newcomers will also find that the game facilitates their needs and is a great introduction to the famed series. Not only is the gameplay silky smooth and accessible for newbies, but a hint system has been put in place for anyone who gets stuck. And the best part is that the hints don’t outright solve puzzles for you, so the challenge is still there. Simply put, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is one of the best experiences one can have on the 3DS, or on any platform, for that matter. This is the kind of title that can sell systems and only comes along every once in a while, so make sure you secure your copy now, because you’ve got two whole worlds to explore!

Number 6.  –  The Last of Us

Naughty Dog has managed to create a beautiful story within something as dark as a zombie apocalypse with The Last of Us. The game has you coming to terms with your own mortality and makes you second-guess the people you would trust your own life with during such a bleak time. In preparing for such a catastrophic event, you would need to make sure you have enough resources, learn how to protect what you have and of course employ ways to prevent getting bitten. But the most important aspect of survival would center around those people you would trust and this is the key competent of The Last of Us.  In the end, The Last of Us is an overall enjoyable gameplay experience. The Last of Us suffered from a few flaws due to the unrealism of combat, the unbalanced AI and the lack of freedom as a whole. But in the end, The Last of Us delivered on the hype surrounding it and offered up an intriguing storyline smothered in realistic and intricate detail.

Number 5.  –  Grand Theft Auto V

Though this game will never be better than San Andreas in my eyes, it’s a solid title.  It’s kind of unbelievable that the developers pulled this off on a current-gen system. The art direction makes the world pop. It’s bright and colorful and feels like Southern California without the nitty-gritty realism that left GTA 4 feeling rather gray. There is pop-in and poor texturing in places, but it’s tough to notice when you’re driving at 100 mph while trying to escape the police. The moments where you can get a plane or helicopter and fly above the city are breathtaking. I should warn that there are reports that the digital download version has some pretty serious pop-in and loading problems that don’t appear to be on the Blu-Ray disc version. If you want to get Grand Theft Auto V, the disc version is the way to go. As with all GTA games, GTA 5‘s soundtrack is top-notch. From a gameplay perspective, Grand Theft Auto V may be the best GTA yet. It stands head and shoulders above GTA 4 and offers one of the most impressive video game worlds. It isn’t a game for everyone due to some brutal and psychopathic characters, even by GTA standards, but the game is so well-crafted that it’s possible for almost anyone to find something to do, even if it’s just playing tennis and golf all day. There’s so much to do in the game that it’s almost overwhelming. Rockstar put tons of time and effort into polishing its winning formula. It isn’t a dramatic change for the series, but it’s a more polished, and very enjoyable, addition to the franchise.

Number 4.  –  Bioshock Infinite

And we all just thought that Bioshock was just a game about blowing shit up in a city underwater and Bioshock Infinite was the same game over again, but this time up in the air in Columbia. I am mixed with some of the gameplay that this game offers, however I am completely satisfied with the game’s plot where no one could ever see it coming.  I haven’t been so fascinated with a plot this complex since Watchmen and Metal Gear Solid because it’s something that I have discussed and (probably) argued with fans’ theory of the game’s plot because it left a lot of mysteries and we’re still waiting for a huge DLC to give us a clearer story. I’m also wishing that a DLC could actually add a lot more than just explaining the plot because there are a lot of miss opportunities to make it a brilliant game (gameplay-wise). If only they didn’t downgrade most of the best things from the past two Bioshock games, I could easily say that this is the best Bioshock game of the series, but still the original Bioshock (and System Shock 2) still holds as dominate installment of the Shock series (Both Bioshock and System Shock). But that doesn’t mean the gameplay is at all bad, it’s just because Bioshock 1 & 2 did is so much better that I wish that it was implemented better. Let’s not forget that Bioshock Infinite has given us the pleasure of railing on rails and have nonstop shooting and the ability to make holographic objects to be physical with Elizabeth’s ability to “tear” them into our dimension. And this is a game that focused heavily on the adventure and the plot that goes along with it, unlike Bioshock 2 that had miss opportunities and focus of a multiplayer which is unnecessary. These are all the things that we’ve never done in video games before and I’m happy that the Bioshock series still does bring brand new things to a genre that I mostly hate for its lack of creativity. In fact, I can go as far as to say that Bioshock is the only series that’s actually giving life to FPS. The series gave us an amazing plot, phenomenal and original gameplay, and a breath taking experience.

Number 3.  –  Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

This really is the best sandbox game of 2013… even better than Grand Theft Auto 5. Ubisoft outdid themselves by releasing the best game of the series since the second game.  As an overall package, Assassin’s Creed IV is the best in the series for how nearly everything has been tweaked, overhauled, and completely rethought. With one exception: the melee. In the day of Batman, Bayonetta, and a rebooted Devil May Cry, there’s no excuse for this uninteresting combat. It’s simplistic, unruly, and never takes more than the same recurring two-button combo. It works, but that’s simply not enough compared to the attention lavished on everything else. Wonky combat aside, Assassin’s Creed IV is a hell of a game. Instead of building giant cities separated by little patches of open land, you have here a massive ocean peppered with islands that include small to mid-sized cities, forming a Carribben setting that oozes character. Never has a game delivered on the promise of living the life of a pirate as well as Black Flag with its awesome production values, refined game design, and lively oceangoing hijinx.

Number 2.  –  Pokemon X & Y

It has been over a decade that we wanted a 3D Pokemon adventure that isn’t a spin-off or any gimmick; just your traditional Pokemon game into 3D. We were teased with the technology of Pokemon with Stadium 1 & 2 but no Pokemon 3D adventure. That is until we waited for X & Y to finally arrive and took the world by storm. In all honesty, Pokemon X and Y are two of the best games in the series. While there are a couple of things I’m on the fence about, there are a lot of new features to check out and enjoy both during and after the main game. As mentioned earlier, the Friend Safari is a definite improvement over the old Safari Zones and is useful for catching Pokemon not found in the normal course of the game, including the Stage 2 versions of the Kanto starters (Ivysaur, Wartortle, and Charmeleon). While I don’t use the Pokemon-Amie and Super Training on the touch screen, I’ve began to get into the random battles and trading on the PSS. You can also use the GTS to see where various Pokemon are to catch in case you don’t want to wander around forever looking for your favorite Pokemon. Whether you’re a new trainer setting out on their very first Pokemon journey or a seasoned Pokemon Master, Pokemon X and Y are definitely worth picking up and playing.

Number 1.  –  Rayman Legends

For a long while, Rayman Origins has been not only the best Rayman game but also the best 2D Platformer. Of course the sequel was going to dominate the original and create a gaming sensation. And in case you like Rayman Legends enough to play it like a completionist, there’s no shortage of carrots to keep you moving forward. You unlock playable characters and alternate skins (you never have to actually play as Rayman if you don’t want to). You level up based on the awards you win from gathering fairies on levels, winning rewards, and playing the online challenges. Win sets of uniquely named collectible creatures that live in a menagerie you can visit for extra loot. Some levels unlock brutally difficult timed challenges that you will love to hate. But the most ubiquitous measure of your progress is how many of the 700 captured teensies you’ve rescued. The little guys are everywhere, waiting to thank, cheer, celebrate, and kiss you. For the sake of the freedom of these 700 teensies; for all the content; for the sheer amount of joy and enthusiasm and butt poking; for the sea and sky and swamps and castles; for how well these worlds and their levels are imagined, adorned, and realized, this may very well be the last platformer you ever need.

Top 10 Video Games of 2012

Number 10.  –  Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 picks up five years after the original game ended. The Vault promised advanced alien technology and untold riches but all it delivered was (as the intro refers to it) ‘tentacled disappointment’. The opening of the Vault did cause one unforeseen development; the discovery of a new and valuable mineral known as eridium. The Hyperion Corporation, led by the villainous Handsome Jack, has come to Pandora to control the planet’s reserves of said mineral. Needless to say Pandora hasn’t thrived under Hyperion and Jack’s iron-fisted rule. Rumours of a new Vault containing great rewards have started circulating again and that’s where you, as a Vault Hunter, come into the story. Borderlands 2 is the rare kind of sequel that eliminates almost all of the faults from the first game, and makes improvements in other areas as well. While I can sit here and say I’d have loved at least one game-changing improvement, the reality is that Gearbox has done a truly fantastic job with the game. The characters are funny, and the tone of the game (i.e. irreverent, funny and over the top) is perfectly pitched and suits the game world perfectly. If you enjoyed the first Borderlands then picking up the sequel is a no brainer. If you didn’t grab the first game then there’s no better time to join the fun.

Number 9.  – Trials Evolution

Trials Evolution does not bring much more to the table in that respect. The basic premise is still the same, and the physics handle with near identical similarity. However the evolution releases us from the confines of the warehouse in which Trials HD was trapped, unleashes fantastic multiplayer functionality and bundles in hilarious non-bike related skill games for good measure. None of that really matters though. The addiction is not going to withdraw simply because some irritating noises get in its way.  Trials Evolution is the most compelling, entertaining and habit forming game on Xbox, arcade or otherwise. Once the obsession bug bites there is no stopping it as the hours and days disappear into that dark abyss as you race ever quicker to the fastest times and unreachable gold medal perfection. For some Trials Evolution will be a way of life, for everyone else it will still most likely be the best action and skill based game released this year.

Number 8.  –  Journey

There’s really nothing I dislike about Journey. It comes as close to achieving what it set out to do as any game I can remember. The only objections I can imagine are for people who desire something that this game has no intention of delivering. Players looking for mind-bending puzzles, complex dialogue trees, or pulse-pounding action won’t find any of that here. While Journey has more gamelike elements than other experimental games like Dear Esther or Proteus, its primary hook is the same sense of wonder and curiosity that makes those games so memorable. There is the fact that the game is quite short—three to four hours on average—but again, I don’t see that as a negative. The short play time allows you to take in the entire quest, to experience it with another person and form a bond instead of having to switch anonymous partners constantly. It’s even budget-priced accordingly.

Number 7.  – Mark of the Ninja

Mark of the Ninja‘s is a 2D action platformer and the main focus is on stealth. The unnamed protagonist personifies basically everything you’ve ever heard about ninjas, fictional or not. You can climb up sheer walls and along ceilings, dispatch enemies without making a sound and deploy all manner of ninja tools, like smoke bombs and grappling hooks. Many of your ninja tools are also in short supply, but have pretty important effects, like distracting a guard, despite being simple in nature. Though it’s somewhat questionable that a smoke bomb or throwing darts at a wall can’t also draw guard’s attention like a noise making firecracker. It doesn’t really hurt the game once you understand the balance implications, but it is logic breaking. The game strikes a perfect balance of making you feel like a badass when everything’s going well in stealth but also keeping you vulnerable to the guns the mercenaries are packing. You can dispatch enemies instantly if you’re attacking from a hidden location or view, but you’ll need to successfully pull off a QTE to determine if it was silent or if the guard gets off a yelp. If you do get detected, you’re usually better off making a run for it than fighting it out toe to toe. It’s this vulnerability that reinforces the focus on stealth, and every guard becomes a decision to risk an execution to eliminate them or to try and sneak past them entirely.

Number 6.  –  XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Nobody makes games like XCOM anymore. By design it feels refreshingly old-school. From the grey-headed aliens to the intergovernmental agencies, this plays like a game that was designed in 1992, not 2012. From a gameplay point of view, it is so much more unforgiving than strategy games have been in such a long time that it would be unsurprising to hear more casual players are put off easily. It’s a game that is mercilessly difficult but consistently fair. Players will fail frequently, but they can know that it was their own mistakes that lead to that failure, and not a flaw in the gameplay. It’s not a game for everyone, but hardened players who persist amidst the difficult conditions set by XCOM discover a rewarding experience. XCOM can be a cruel, vindictive mistress, but she is one that can be tamed. With an investment of time and patience, players can gain access to a true tactical masterpiece, unlike anything we’ve seen in the past decade.

Number 5.  –  Max Payne 3

The Max Payne series is most known for it’s innovative bullet-time effects inspired from Matrix. And it’s been a good long time since we’ve seen the series back on its feet. Outside of the actual gameplay, Max Payne 3 uses an experience and leveling system popularized in other shooters nowadays, along with a hefty avatar and loadout system that gives you a lot to spend in-game currency on. Custom loadouts allow you to equip anything you want for the most part, but loading your character down with weapons does have drawbacks, including reduced stamina for running and an increased wait time to recharge health. If you’re at all a fan of shooters, then I urge you to run out and pick up Max Payne 3. It’s a great follow-up to one of the best third person shooter franchises around, and while it certainly changes up familiar elements of the series, pretty much all of the changes work out really well. The shooting is, bar none, some of the best you’ll see out of this generation of consoles, and really begs to experienced. So do yourself a favor and pick this one up, it really shouldn’t be missed.

Number 4.  –  Dishonored

As a full piece, however, Dishonored is incredible both as a game and as a work of art. Fun to play, intriguing to explore, beautiful to look at, and emotionally evocative, it’s a game that simply must be experienced. While it offers plenty of gory action for those who are interested in taking that route, its greatest gift is to deliberate, thoughtful players who enjoy stealth-based games with quality settings and meaningful moral choices. Dishonored made me feel like a person struggling to retain the things that were important to me in a world gone mad. It goes beyond “role-playing” to challenge players to draw their own personal moral line in the sand, but does so without being preachy or judgmental. Is it really best not to kill anybody, or are there people who are evil enough to deserve death, should you have the power to mete it out? It’s messy and thought-provoking, just like the real world… or at least a real world in which you have the power to possess rat swarms and perform impressive “death from above” leaping assassinations. Is it a world worth saving? That’s exactly what Dishonored wants each player to decide, and have a wickedly good time in doing so.

Number 3.  –  Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 does almost everything just about right. You can tell the developers put a lot of thought went into the game’s systems and menus to keep the experience streamlined while still offering a lot of customization and information. One thing missing in particular in Far Cry 3 are the non-player characters. You’ll run along endlessly respawning jeeps of bad guys if you don’t take over their outposts, though besides that, you’ll find a small handful of natives hanging out in the villages and towns, and maybe at the beach. Besides occasionally doing dumb things or fighting with pirates, the small number of NPCs don’t do much in the game. On the other hand, wild animals (NPAs?) are everywhere and frequently get spooked enough where they come charging. Having a Gila monster hiss and scurry out of the brush, or shark suddenly strike while swimming through the water will scare the hell out of pretty much anyone. Also, the campaign sort of switches gears for the last 1/3 of the game, which I’m still not completely sure I’m crazy about. There’s no doubt in my mind that Far Cry 3 is one of the best releases of 2012. Ubisoft’s balance of open world gameplay and FPS action really hits the mark, and overall the game does a fantastic job in providing players with an interesting, immersive gaming experience.

Number 2.  –  Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

I’m actually one of those people that actually believe that the add-on is better than the original game itself, and that’s a rarity to say that since DLC/Add-ons are just an extension of the real game. Blood Dragon however is it’s own game.  Visually Blood Dragon delivers a pseudo 80s style, complete with plenty of neon glow to it. The island is a dark place, only highlighted by the bright outlines of soldiers, and their blue blood. Running on PC the effects are gorgeous, and all the issues of the console ports are gone. I was able to max out the settings and enable vsync, and still had the game running at a blazing frame rate. For owners of a machine that can run it, this is the version to own. The music also lit up my nostalgia meter. It sounds ripped from the cutting room floor of the Terminator soundtrack. The thumping drum beats, mixed with ambient tones really solidified the classic action movie feel. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a treat on so many levels. When the base game it was built upon stands as one of the finest experiences of last year, then toss in an entirely new setting, it just amplifies the fun. Add the small sticker price and solid amount of content, and we definitely have a winner on our hands. Fans of Far Cry 3 should not miss this fantastic experience, and anyone who grew up watching films like Terminator, Aliens and Commando owe it to themselves to play this, as it was certainly crafted by people who understand the culture.

Number 1.  –  Guild Wars 2

We’ve waited a long time for an MMO that could stand against World of Warcraft and the second Guild Wars finally accomplished it… plus free of charge! Where World of Warcraft is as traditional an MMO as they come, Guild Wars 2 is the weird, contrarian opposite. Its design can be seen as an attempt to fix and improve on every broken mechanic that online games persist in pursuing. It has no quests: instead players gang together to fight in rolling ‘events’ – mini storylines that playout in stages depending on how gamers perform. It has no raids: it’s endgame is more about exploring the world or leveling alternative characters. It is heavily PvP focused: it is trying desperately to create an eSport with in-game tournaments and a spectator mode. But most importantly, it doesn’t demand a subscription fee from players. That last point is incredible, given the focus the game’s developers Arenanet have placed on improving and expanding the game. Every two weeks on the dot ArenaNet ship out the next chapter of Guild Wars 2. Dubbed the “living story” — changing the world with each release — these bi-weekly updates accommodate the players needs with fresh things to do and major improvements.

Top 10 Video Games of 2011

Number 10.  –  Sonic Generations

So, have Sega succeeded in making the best ever Sonic game? Yes, absolutely. They have taken the original premise of a classical platformer with boss fights played at high speeds and ramped it up to eleven thanks to the devious level design, funky effects and plethora of worlds. Added to this is an even better game in 3D which delivers the true Sonic experience in a new way. Granted, it’s been done before but not anywhere near this well. As mentioned previously if this was all the game was it would be a pleasure to play anyway, but thanks to the volume and variety of challenge acts plus all the extras and things to spur you on to better scores and the like if you want to, the package is embellished even further with delights. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely the best Sonic money can buy. Sega have finally altered the paradigm. Sonic Generations is a good 2D platformer and a great 3D one. It’s the best of both worlds.

Number 9.  –  L.A. Noir

At first glance you may mistake Rockstar Games’ newest open-world game has nothing more than another Grand Theft Auto clone.   But look closer, because Team Bondi’s newest game has very little to do with Jack Thompson’s least favorite franchise.  With its slow pace, emphasis on characters and graphic adventure roots, L.A. Noire feels more like Sam & Max than Grand Theft Auto.  But the rich blend of police procedural and intelligent writing has not only led to the most impressive game of the year, but also one of the very best titles Rockstar Games has published. L.A. Noire is unlike anything I’ve ever played before.  Sure it takes elements from other games (Grand Theft Auto, Phoenix Wright, etc.), but never before has a title managed to combine these things into something on this scale.  It’s hard to believe that somebody would spend seven years making what amounts to a graphic adventure, but I certainly appreciate the job Team Bondi put in.  I have a hunch that L.A. Noire is going to be an incredibly influential game moving forward.  L.A. Noire is an intelligent game with stellar acting, game changing technology and a cast of memorable characters. It’s also Rockstar Games’ most refined product, making it one of the best games this high profile company has ever published. If you’re into solving crimes and police procedurals, then this game was made for you. Just remember to switch to black and white!

Number 8.  –  Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution has been a long time coming. Its predecessor, Deus Ex, has been named one of the greatest PC games of all time and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Its 2003 sequel, Deus Ex Invisible War, divided the fans and received a mixed critical reception. So what then of this third installment in the Deus Ex dynasty? How well does Eidos Interactive’s third attempt at a dystopian FPS/RPG hold up? The answer, is well; but with caveats. For a game with as much depth of story and of action that Deus Ex Human Revolution offers you cant get too hung up on individual problems. The game needs to be looked at as a whole. As a complete package its clearly an impressive, engrossing experience. Its storyline is excellent, its characterisation, voice acting, score and script are very well done, and its aesthetic is deliciously dystopian. The only fly in the ointment is its binary combat mechanics. But these are not enough to detract too much from the overall experience. Deus Ex Human Revolution is a great game, and its one that all fans of the franchise should enjoy.

Number 7.  –  Portal 2

I’ll give the sequel a lot of credit for try to surpass its original, but no matter how creative this game was, it was not better than the original.  Valve has proved time and time again that they are masters in their craft. Portal 2 is so expertly made that you can’t help but savour its creation. The story keeps you engrossed, the gameplay is fine-tuned and accessible, and the co-operative mode is a blast. Keeping to recent form, Valve also includes a developer commentary mode, in which the team comment on the game’s creation and bring to light aspects of the development process you would simply have glanced over. The Source engine also keeps pace. Early on, Portal 2 might appear a tad dated, but as the game sweeps you up in its lore it’s impossible to nit-pick. Yes, the odd texture looks a little grainy, but Valve hides any technical limitations behind their impeccable art direction. Moreover, the voice work and soundtrack is such that visual quibbles will soon fade from view. What you have then is a package brimming with quality. The singleplayer campaign expands on the original and turns it into a fully-fledged game. The co-operative mode is an entirely separate beast, with different chambers and puzzles, and can be accessed via split-screen or online. And then, as a final treat, you can revisit Portal 2 and listen to the developers comment on this game’s creation. Were life to imitate art, we might all be shooting portals and stepping out through the other end. Indeed, this is both mathematical and storytelling art-work; it teams a gripping narrative with an inventive gameplay mechanic that makes for an excellent and unforgettable ride.

 

Number 6.  –  Dead Space 2

If you’re squeamish, then this could possibly be the most disturbing game for you. As for me who has seen a lot of violence, this is more of an action game. Lots of people would love to say that “Dead Space is just Resident Evil 4 in space,” however what the Dead Space series does more successfully than the current Resident Evil games is to staying consistent with the scares. Though the series uses blood and gore as the selling point to scare people, it’s the very nature of hopelessness in space and the many necromorphs need to kill that makes Dead Space 2 such a haunting experience. I favor for Dead Space 2’s level design much more because it has more creative and has varied locations that shows that inside a spaceship can look more than what we all already seen like churches, nursery, etc. This is what makes this experience not only more like a breath of fresh air each section of the game, but also stick out some horror.

Number 5.  –  Dark Souls

Think back for a moment to the most challenging game you’ve ever played, but not the kind of challenge that resorted to cheap tactics and made luck a tremendous factor in succeeding. Instead think back to the game that challenged you to accomplish its tasks, the puzzles that resisted being solved and the bosses that could not be overcome in a single try. When you did succeed, how did it feel? Were you excited over your accomplishment, or walk away frustrated that the ordeal took so long? This kind of question is important when discussing Dark Souls, as it is a game based entirely around defeat and success. That said, calling it cheap is a flawed argument, considering that playing the game assumes that you accept its inherent difficulty. The packaging even warns you with a message on the back, “Prepare to die,” in multiple languages. This isn’t the kind of game that allows you to progress at a rapid pace, slashing through monsters and otherwise cutting a bloody swath from beginning to end in a few short hours. This is the kind of game where even the most emaciated of villains can dispatch you if you’re not being careful. Dark Souls provides an amazing experience through a fantastic world, and it demands your patience and control every step of the way.

Number 4.  –  The Witcher 2:
Assassin of Kings

As an RPG it has everything you could possibly want; armour, armour upgrades, short and long range weaponry, loot, levelling, skill trees, crafting, magic, potion making and sexy time with other characters. It reads very much like a checklist for modern RPGs and that is by no means a bad thing, The Witcher 2 merrily ticks all the right boxes when it comes to RPG mechanics. As a player you are granted such freedom when tackling a given quest or combat situation it can be a bit daunting at first, however this is helped by the excellent button mapping job that has been done to accommodate the 360 controller.What is definately not like an old school RPG is the tight responsive combat. Peering over someone’s shoulder while they play The Witcher 2, witnessing them hacking away at multiple enemies it would be easy to ask the question “is this a new hack and slash title?” NO, it really isn’t. The wealth of combat options available coupled with the well mapped responsive controls makes for some enthralling battles but by absolutely no means is this a mindless button basher. At times it is punishingly difficult but never frustrating and ultimately if it all gets too much you can pop to the menu drop the difficulty for a few minutes and move on. The only real criticism that can be levelled at the combat is the sometimes odd hit detection, making it tough to know if you have been wounded and the odd sound drops when taking on multiple enemies.

Number 3.  –  Batman: Arkham City

Video games related to comic book heroes don’t have the best of reputations. It’s quite strange, because the source material is all there – you’ve got rich lore and you’re going to end up playing a super-charged character. Yet developers always found it hard to transition this into a functional game. Well, that was until Rocksteady got their hands on the Batman franchise. Arkham Asylum did what so many other super hero games had failed to do beforehand; it made being a super hero fun. Now Rocksteady are looking to do it again with Arkham City, a much more expansive tale that they hope can turn this into a successful franchise. Although, Batman: Arkham City is not perfect, Rocksteady have proven once again that they can make a super hero game work and work rather well at that. Arkham City provides players with hours of content layered underneath a solid storyline and compelling gameplay. Now that Rocksteady have made Batman an open world experience, it’s hard to say what innovations they’ll bring into the next game, but for now, Arkham City can proudly hold the torch as one of the greatest superhero games of our generation.

Number 2.  –  Rayman Origins

Rayman Origins perfectly embodies what made many of us fall in love with gaming in the first place. It’s a nigh-on flawlessly executed romp through intricately designed levels that boast the most gorgeously detailed and vibrant visuals you’ll see this generation. Tight controls, a perfectly judged difficulty curve, fantastically surreal boss fights and tons of replayability go that extra mile to make sure that after years of being relegated to countless remakes of Rayman 2 and having those pesky Rabbids stealing his thunder, Rayman is back on form and back in the spotlight where he belongs. Drop-in/drop-out cooperative play for up to four players is the icing on an already sumptuously sweet cake. If you have any love for 2D platformers — and the idea of getting your friends together for an encore of New Super Mario Bros. Wii’s four-player action appeals to you — you’ll pick up Rayman Origins straight away. It represents the very pinnacle of 2D platforming and is undoubtedly one of the Wii’s very best games. Truly unmissable.

Number 1.  –  The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Though it’s far from perfection, this is the one role-playing game that fulfilled our dark fantasies come to life. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is every single reason to love a Western role-playing game, condensed into a single comprehensive experience with nothing lost in the conversion process. It is a game that will drown those who step into its absorbing, overwhelmingly detailed world, a game that will bury you and refuse to let go. Yet your submergence will be agreeable, your burial ecstatic, and the hands placed around your throat welcomed like those of a lover’s. To play Skyrim is to enter into a relationship, one that provides feelings of empowerment, yet demands total submission.

How is it that after 60 hours of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the first thing I want to do when I finish writing this review is play more Skyrim? It’s simply because, like Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls and Fallout games before it, Skyrim offers a fantasy world so rich and expansive that to describe other games in those terms after playing this one would just feel hollow. The sheer amount of content packed into the game is a true marvel of video game production; it’s even more marvelous that all of it is so well executed that you want to see and do everything, and better still that you’re free to play it all in whatever way you want. Unsurprisingly, Skyrim isn’t perfect in a technical sense, but it gets close enough to fulfilling the potential of this specific role-playing format that the experience it offers is absolutely essential.

You’ll probably have your own set of stories about the crazy things that happened during your many hours in Skyrim, including a horse fighting a dragon, and a conjurer who raised a slain chicken as her undead minion during a battle. Those both happened to me, by the way. Aside from the infrequent hard lockups and such, the oddities that tend to pop up in Bethesda’s games have almost become part of the charm for me, though you know yourself how much those things detract from your own experience. But it hardly matters. No other game I know of operates with this many moving parts to create such an immense world filled with this much choice in how you engage its excellent, endless fiction. It’s one thing when a game offers dozens of hours of gameplay; it’s quite another when that gameplay is good enough you’ll want to live in its world for that long.

No other game I know of operates with this many moving parts to create such an immense world filled with this much choice in how you engage its excellent, endless fiction. It’s one thing when a game offers dozens of hours of gameplay; it’s quite another when that gameplay is good enough you’ll want to live in its world for that long.

Top 10 Video Games of 2010

Number 10.  –  Darksiders

This game came to me as part of the THQ Humble Bundle. I myself had skipped over it up until this point, for no real good reason. I had never got round to it and well, you know how it is. After getting this bundle it was the first game I played; being in a game drought at this point for me personally, it came at a perfect time. From the moment I picked it up it oozed quality and love. You play War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and you’re accused with starting the end of the world a tad prematurely. The environments are great, along with the way this game feels to play. It’s naturally weighty which, given War’s short stocky build and over-the-top weapon set, seems a perfect fit. The gameplay is a mixture of faster paced spectacle-fighters such as Devil May Cry and adventure titles such as Zelda. The story kept me coming back for more, while the gameplay kept me wanting to play just a little bit longer. With this pretty much dirt cheap everywhere, it’s a time to pick it up if you haven’t already.

Number 9.  –  Super Mario Galaxy 2

Sorry that I couldn’t put it any higher, but if you take out Yoshi and Luigi feature, this game is the exact same game as the first Galaxy game. Thinking it would be fresh and innovative on the same level of super mario galaxy where it really just rehauled game mechanics similar to super mario sunshine was to super mario 64. The gameplay worlds were entirely the same except for yoshi world which really was the first mario jungle type stages (which was a nice change from the generic prototype art designs of the lava, ice, green pasture, and galaxy levels that were in the original and previous super mario 3d games) my biggest problem though was the level design. Easily the worst besides super mario sunshine. The difficulty was non-existant since the developer made the game with the clear intention that people won’t use any of mario’s special moves. Basically cloud mario was a joke in terms of difficulty. They basically made the levels in order for you to just press A and waggle every time. They didn’t bother to require you to use Z + A double flip the quick backward jump, and wall jumping at the pure minimal possible. I basically saw in world 4 a hint that tells you that you could do a running jump to get through tight spots which is just shocking that nintendo developers made this game for the lowest common denominator. Probably the easiest 3d mario game.

Number 8.  –  Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Peace Walker takes the Portable Ops formula and fixes the big issues. It still focuses on short missions, but recruiting enemy soldiers via the Fulton recovery system gets you back to base sooner. Building up Mother Base is a great way to illustrate Big Boss’ growing power, making you eager to hunt down as many recruits as possible. The addition of co-op play provides a fun way for friends to team up, but I was always more interested in Metal Gear as a solo experience. I was also a bit disappointed in the lack of great boss fights. I remember the strange tune Chrysalis emits, but otherwise, a parade of tanks, APCs, and helicopters don’t make for satisfying or noteworthy victories.

Number 7.  –  Donkey Kong Country Returns

Donkey Kong Country Returns did a lot of things right. It brought back an old franchise with a new sheen that somehow still preserved the magic of the originals, and it re-introduced something I felt was sorely missed from new Nintendo platformers: challenge. Seemingly out of nowhere, Returnstook the Wii by storm, offering up one of the most challenging platforming experiences on the console.  Truthfully, as a retro gamer, while I never found the core game to be that challenging, attempting to get everything (including the extra mirror mode that restricts you to one heart and no power-ups) is one of the hardest quests you can ever embark upon in gaming. While I gave up in the original due to some motion frustration, I’m well on my way to utterly completing the 3DS version (I only have mirror mode left), and I’m loving every minute.

Number 6.  –  Halo Reach

Acting as a prequel to Combat Evolved, and providing a good exposition of the events that resulted in the discovery of the first Halo ring, Reach stands as one of the most accomplished and self-assured games in the series, providing a fitting swansong for Bungie. For the first time in the series’ history, players enjoyed a story that featured other Spartans, and the tale of Reach’s destruction proved to be one of the most gripping and emotionally engaging narratives crafted by Bungie. The plot benefitted from being relatively straightforward and focussed, with the gradual demise of Noble Team forming the central theme. Not only were the characters and battles memorable, but they also seemed to matter. Most memorable of all is the final epilogue stage, where a stranded Noble Six, having ensured humanity’s survival, is overwhelmed by Covenant forces. All of the core FPS elements were polished to near-perfection, but Bungie proved that they weren’t afraid to try new things, as their inclusion of a spaceship combat level proved. Multiplayer was as addictive as ever, and the introduction of daily and weekly challenges provided yet another hook to keep players glued to their consoles.

Number 5.  –  Limbo

Short? Yes! Simplistic? Yes! A bit too easy? Yes! A lot needed more? Yes! But you can’t deny that this game brought back the forgotten Cinematic Platformers like Oddworld. You know that feeling you get after a really intense, really weird dream? You know, that uneasy sense of dislocation as your head continues to reel from the impact of what you perceived the night before? That strange, swirling feeling of an unsettling significance, the source of which you can’t quite put your finger on? Limbo is dripping with that. The Boy’s influence on the world around him with complete freedom. Every puzzle requires a different approach or a new way of thinking, and any concept that is repeated is expanded upon immensely as it progresses. Limbo is a game that really trusts the player to think. There is no tutorial beyond what you learn of your abilities first-hand, and every solution comes about through nothing less than creative thought and experimentation. As well as bringing about fantastic gameplay, it’s a philosophy that also creates a powerful bond with The Boy himself. It’s also a deeply affecting, at times absolutely terrifying emotional experience, with real weight and a subtle but densely-layered narrative. Things won’t look the same after you’ve finished it.

Number 4.  –  Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Take Hideo Kojima and his production team, ask them to completely reboot the Castlevania franchise and, in turn, we got the first Castlevania title to efficiently make the transition from side-scroller to 3D. A percentage of fans were rather upset at the conclusion of its story (we’d rather not spoil it for those hoping to still play it), and at Shadow’s obvious influences taken from the God of War series, but overall, Lords of Shadow was rather unforgettable. Robert Carlyle (the dad from 28 Weeks Later), and the ever-great Patrick Stewart provided stellar voice acting as Gabriel Belmont and Zobek, respectively. Despite having both its titan-sized battles and overall combat system both being taken almost directly from Kratos’ playbook, Lords of Shadow proved that killing vampires with a whip is still immensely fun in the modern era of gaming.

Number 3.  –  Amnesia: The Dark Descent

You can see flashes of Amnesia in Penumbra and its sequel: a first-person adventure game where the world is a reactive, physical space to be poked and prodded. Penumbra nearly made it in here, but there’s something about Amnesia that raises it above the others. The story is ridiculously hokey, and the setting is closer to a cheesy Hammer horror story than something you’d expect to give you sweaty palms. But in Amnesia you’re not a typical game hero: when bad things happen, you don’t have the power to confront it, you don’t have a buff bar full of counters, and you don’t have a gun in your hand. You have a lamp. You have to run and hide and hope whatever it is goes away. Your character’s fear is palpable: the screen shakes and warps as the terror builds, and the monsters seem to wait for the perfect moment to strike at you, delivering the sort of scare that has you hyperventilating along with your character. Just keep telling yourself that it isn’t real.

Number 2.  –  Red Dead Redemption

When Grand Theft Auto 4 was released it was praised as the holy grail of open world games – the amount of detail and polish that went in to Grand Theft Auto 4 was amazing. Unfortunately, the game lacked variety and gamers grew tired and bored of it’s linear and repetitive game-play. We then had inFamous, a game that had a little more variety and was a lot more fun to play. The Good/Evil system, although shallow, was fun and it certainly added to the sandbox experience. Just Cause 2 was the next sandbox game to deliver top notch graphics with a vibrant and colourful world that was fun to explore – though it was not as realistic as Grand Theft Auto 4 it was definitely more fun to play. We are now getting closer to the release of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption and so far it’s looking like the best open world sandbox game to date.

Number 1.  –  Mass Effect 2

Ok, take everything I just said about Knights of the Old Republic and multiply it by 5. Everything that BioWare does great, story, world building, dialogue, combat, was done almost to perfection in this game. You are Commander Shepard (who is always Commander despite actually being given a ship and thus technically being a Captain) the first human to be accepted into the Specters, an elite group of operatives that have free reign to do whatever they want in the interests of protecting the Citadel races. Does that mean nothing to you? Then play the game, I’m not going to explain the entire world to you. Even to summarize it would take up too much space, that’s how much effort BioWare put into creating the world of Mass Effect.  It is the most expansive and user determined ending I’ve even encountered in a game. Without spoiling anything I will say that no matter how you choose to play your character, noble hero, hardline human patriot, blood thirsty killer, ect ect you will be able to tailor the ending to fit your character. This game is a must play for any RPG fan.

Top 10 Video Games of the 2000s

Video Games from 2000 to 2009 was a much different experience from the 1990s. The moment Sega officially stopped manufacturing anymore consoles, it was all Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo throughout this decade of gaming and its still remains that way today. Though it wasn’t as evolutionary as the 80s and 90s, the industry has reached an even more interactive experience with online gaming, HD graphics, and motion gaming that became a worldwide phenomenon. Consoles and handheld gaming in the 2000s wouldn’t achieve such a thing if it wasn’t for PC gaming going on in the 2000s. PC games grew more artificially advanced with the power of Steam that changed the way we play games by downloading the games we purchased (similar to mp3 changing music). With the new direction of downloading games, it made independent games (indie) to have more exposure in the world of gaming. The popularity of PC gaming saw the decreasing of importance in the game industry due to the fact that many titles were ported to consoles and it became standard for Sony & Microsoft’s consoles to be multi-media machines– playing not only games for the machines, but also surf on the internet, play DVD’s and movies, and do so many things that a normal PC can do. Meanwhile, Nintendo wanted their Gamecube & Wii to be pure gaming machines like the Nintendo DS that doesn’t do all those fancy things that Microsoft and Sony were doing. It seemed that Nintendo was toast with the Gamecube, until it captured the casual audience, that loves their iTouch/iPad games, by re-introducing motion gaming that actually works! There were so many trends happening all at once in gaming that made it fun to go back to, just like these lists that I’ve made for each year of the 2000s in gaming.

Top 10 Video Games of 2000
Top 10 Video Games of 2001
Top 10 Video Games of 2002
Top 10 Video Games of 2003
Top 10 Video Games of 2004
Top 10 Video Games of 2005
Top 10 Video Games of 2006
Top 10 Video Games of 2007
Top 10 Video Games of 2008
Top 10 Video Games of 2009

I have mixed feelings about this decade of gaming because not only did some of the best games of all time get released here, but PC gaming lost popularity, Sega is no longer competing in the console market, companies releasing incomplete games that you have to buy [more than $60] from DLC to get the full experience, over-saturation of first-person shooters, less number of platformers, and the quality of JRPG’s as diminished greatly. When you compare gaming in the 2000s to gaming in the 1990s, the 1990s was more interesting. It had so much evolution going around the industry and each year of the 90s felt almost completely different than the last; making it a very exciting time to see what’s going on in the gaming world. On the other hand, the 2000s was a really bad decade but the video games released here really brighten things up as the years go by. There’s absolutely no denying that these games kept our spirits up as the world continues to go downhill in the post-9/11 era. Not to mention that the internet became the norm, hearing recommendations from video game journalists, Youtubers, bloggers, and fansites really changed the way we communicate about video games. Back in the 80s and 90s, we didn’t have the internet so we didn’t hear people’s recommendations or being aware of what’s worth buying or skipping. And since you’re all here to know what are the best games from 2000 to 2009 let’s take a look as the some of the most best of the best of this decade.

 

Number 10.  –  Metroid Prime

It’s been 8 years since the Metroid series had another game. A lot has changed since Super Metroid; 3D graphics has significantly evolved, first-person shooters became famous, and Nintendo is now rivaling with Sony and Microsoft. Understandably, Metroid needed to evolve with the modern times, but this game could have been a disaster because it was being developed by the unknown Retro Studios who was making the next big game into a FPS.  Many longtime Nintendo fans were just a tad enraged when they learned one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises had been given to an up-and-coming studio, not to mention the longtime 2d series would not only be going 3d, but also 1st person. Early screenshots and preview builds of the game did nothing to quell those fears. Sensing the game wasn’t shaping up as they’d hoped, Nintendo and Retro started meeting more often. When the game released, it blown everyone away. Not only did the game play well as a 1st person shooter/adventure, Retro took Metroid from 2d to 3d flawlessly.

The series retained its sense of exploration, isolation, platforming, and epic boss battles. Though the controls are unlike any FPS games before and since because it borrows heavily from the Z-targetting from Ocarina of Time. This made targeting enemies much more flexible than ever before.  While Prime has plenty of action, you play as a bounty hunter who is very much alone. This is made completely evident from the moment you investigate the Space Pirate frigate Orpheon. There are so many power-ups that are returning to the series various suits, beams, missiles, morph balls, and many more (seen from the previous games) that’s meant to progress through the game, solve puzzles, and beat bosses with them. This is some of the most impressive accomplishments in the new millennium of gaming.

 

Number 9.  –  Halo: Combat Evolved

When the Xbox was released, what’s the the big talk about the system? Well, there wasn’t anything to talk about the Xbox in 2001 other than a brand new franchise called Halo. This was unlike any shooter of its time where we were given a war drama that made the campaign worth a damn. The story is great and progresses you through the game very believingly with twists and turns that keep it intriguing. Each of the game’s campaign refuses to stop being suspenseful as you have the best variety of expanded level designs, coolest weapons (seriously the pistol is the best ever seen in the FPS), great variety of vehicles (such as the Scorpion tank, hoverbikes Ghosts, Banshees, and a Warthog), and so many enemies to blow off or gun down. Even despite the fact that the enemy variety is left to be desired out of the Covenant (Elite, Grunt, and Hunter as the only variety) the game’s atmosphere is like no other.  Halo is never, ever the same twice. That’s something that Halo 2 couldn’t do for me because playing as the Arbeter instead of Master Chief was laboriously boring. Even in the Flood-swamped doldrums of the Library, even over hundreds of man-hours of replay, it somehow manages never to repeat itself, not once.

There’s an alchemy at work here, a precious equilibrium in the AI and the design and the psychology of the game which means that things don’t happen the same way and, crucially, you don’t behave the same way in the same situation two times over. It’s a game that has broken free of its binary origins and come, gloriously, to life. Even among the medium’s greats, that’s rare indeed. And if that’s not a good enough reason why to play Halo there’s the multiplayer. The multiplayer was so much fun with it’s competitive nature, has all the weapons and vehicles seen from the campaign, expended map selection that so fleshed out, and so many more that creates many hours of fun. But in the end, Halo has totally revolutionized how we look at console FPS games. Because of its revolutionary take on FPS, it became the phenomenon that it really is. For the entire decade we have to endure the annoyance of Halo fanboys and even the awesome Red vs. Blue comedic series. Combat Evolved never becomes a simple shooting game. This piece of work will continue to shine in your Xbox because of how varied it is. With an addictive multiplayer mode, completely random single player experience, and the title of Halo, you won’t be let down.

 

Number 8.  –  Super Mario Galaxy

I must admit that Super Mario Sunshine is not that great follow up to the like of Super Mario 64 because it wasn’t revolutionary and the setting was unimpressive. However, it would take 11 years since Mario 64 to have a game that feels like the Mario series can be revolutionary once again. If Wii Sports didn’t get you into buying the Nintendo Wii, Super Mario Galaxy will!  Super Mario Galaxy doesn’t have a particularly deep or involved story, but what stands out from the rest of the Mario games is the adventure through outer space and the many creative level designs that looks like Nintendo’s best effort without having to use HD graphics. This is the most uplifting experience since going to Disneyland and you can simple feel it from the presentation, scale, creative level designs, and musical orchestra. The likeness factor is throughout the roof, but the objective of Mario is all the same. Once again, Bowser has stolen 120 stars and kidnapped Princess Peach, this time in an attempt to conquer the entire galaxy.

Mario, of course, sets out to foil the dastardly lizard’s plans once again, this time with the help of a princess from the stars named Rosalina and her army of adorable sentient mini-stars called Lumas. The real charm here is in the nostalgia. Super Mario Galaxy is packed to the brim with callbacks and cameos from other Mario titles and even an occasional reference to other Nintendo titles. One moment you’re ice-skating in outer space; the next, you’re bouncing on a conveyor belt made of Battenberg. Such is its energy and thirst to explore new frontiers that even the emergence of all Mario games fails to make this any less than essential!  It has everything. Great bosses, great power-ups, great levels, a great concept, great innovation, great design, great graphics, a great musical score and most of all it is brilliantly good fun. It makes you think, it makes you smile and it compels you to play just one more level. Flat out, the most addictive platform game ever created, if not one of the most addictive games ever created. The perfect demonstration of how to ‘do Wii’ and what’s more, a game that matches, almost inch for inch, the genre defining heights of Mario 64. To play Galaxy, is to fall in love all over again.

 

Number 7.  –  The Sims 2

The Sims 2 seriously improved over its original by every stretch of the imagination. What once was the most unpredictable video game phenomenon ever to occur (The Sims) had a sequel that was more creative, educational, and even more enjoyable to interact! The Sims 2 improved over the original by introducing our Sims to age, pass on to generation to generation (family tree), reaching Sims goals, new objects to interact with, have full camera control, being able to place objects in more than one direction, and hundreds more! Sims 2 was so good, that going back to the original made it look like bare bones in comparison. The most significant addition to the Sims’ complexity as personalities comes in the form of their Aspirations – as well as the usual wants and needs of daily life, the Sims now have more idealistic desires, such as buying a nice TV, getting married, teaching their children to talk or simply a quick game of SSX 3 which is there to keep players busy from getting bored.They have one general aspiration in life – family, romance, popularity, wealth or knowledge – and from this one general aim spring hundreds of varied individual desires which really help define the Sims as individuals. Satisfying these desires will help them to become happy, balanced individuals, and also of course lets you buy them rewards.

We also have a variety of other complications to get to grips with – many new mannerisms (some of them slouch, some of them like to read newspapers in the bath, some of them scratch themselves inappropriately), more complex Sim-to-Sim interactions, closer family relationships and, most importantly, several different stages of Sim-life. From Sim-babies they become Sim-toddlers, at which point they have to learn to walk and talk and potty train to become children, who later become hormone-addled spotty Teens and, eventually, progress into boring old adulthood before retiring to Elder status. Sadly, this also means that Sims can die – and an addict like me would say that it’s often before their time. Just like the original Sims, if you want a better experience of the Sims 2, you’re going to have to buy the expansion pack that came later on after Sims 2, but it was worth it! Sure the expansion packs were more or less the same expansion packs from the original but what matters is that we’re all playing it better in full 3D and so many more features never seen before! I cannot recommend this game enough. It remains uniquely personal, terrifyingly addictive, and it’s worth getting ahold of under any circumstances!

 

 Number 6.  –  Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Who would have guessed mixing Bill Murray films with Zelda would have birthed such an incredible game? Since they were re-using the engine built for Ocarina of Time, Nintendo was free to spend their time developing a weird and particularly unique (among Zelda games, at least) story, where Link – somehow stuck in a parallel dimension – has to battle a sentient mask before an evil-faced moon crushes a city that has somehow not been evacuated yet. The intricate, complex schedules that the townsfolk follow, the effects of the various masks you can collect, and the three-day time limit made for a very different Zelda game, pretty much unlike any that had come before or since. It still had all the big staples: dungeons, annoying fairies, playing music with instruments, cool weapons (HELLO, FAIRY SWORD), and  a lot of new, game-changing additions that would stick with the series for the rest of its lifespan. Majora’s Mask was a Zelda game made on a tight schedule, meant to be a direct sequel to Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which allowed the team to re-use the vast majority of the assets from it to create a new adventure quickly. While the game only has four main dungeons, Majora’s Mask has a ton of content in other areas. It is tightly designed and features one of the darker, apocalyptic storylines in the series. Uncovering more details about the various lives of the characters around them also has the effect of making the player feel much more connected to them and the world in which they live. Let’s not forget about the the masks in the game that each of them have a purpose for a quest, some of them for a special ability, and three of them has a transformation for link to turn into a Zorra (my favorite), Goron, or Deku that each of them have their own ability.

It’s simply amazing to see what each of these masks as used for and as a result it makes it wonderful to experiment what each of the masks can do and what advantages you can have with many of the quests. Overseen by a giant grinning moon awaiting the end of the world, Majora’s Mask‘s mechanics and atmosphere are still unlike anything else in the series and the biggest surprise on the Nintendo 64. Unlike Zelda II, this is actually the first Zelda sequel on a singular Nintendo system that actually executed all of their new ideas successfully. here are a lot of skeptics out there that doesn’t think Majora’s Mask is worth their time, but I urge you go give this title a second chance because once you get pass through the first hour of the game (it’s really part of the story), you’ll really love the intensive (and scary) journey that lies ahead of you and still to this day, there is no game quite like it. Quite frankly, the franchise will never go back to this idea ever again because Zelda fans everywhere only wants another Ocarina of Time which shows how stale the franchise has become over the years. Because of it’s impressive gameplay, level of creativity, and so many different quests to go through, all of it left me in complete amazement and it’s the reason why this deserves to be called the best Nintendo 64 game of all time!

 

 Number 5.  –  Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando

Given that Ratchet & Clank was rather unflatteringly held up as Jak & Daxter with guns, it hardly seemed fair when Naughty Dog’s Jak II: Renegade borrowed a futuristic location and flying cars, and mixed heavy weaponry and traditional platforming to great effect. Doubly so when you consider the quantum leaps Ratchet and Clank made over its predecessor’s narrative, structure and sense of humor. Compared to Jak II, Ratchet & Clank 2 is a much more straightforward sequel. There’s no massive deviation from the previous game here – just smaller, subtler changes and a new and larger selection of planets to consider that’s almost reminiscent to Banjo-Kazooie (which we all greatly miss). But although Insomniac Games refrained from throwing the whole thing out the window and starting again with a blank canvas, their platformer grows to reveal itself as a far more thoughtfully resurrected package, and shows us that while Naughty Dog had to build an entirely new premise to stage the Jak series, there’s still a great deal of life left in the R&C universe.

On the surface, the game play the same as the previous game, but it’s stored with new features that made it some of the best sequels ever. The newest feature in the game is the Nanotech Leveling System. It is an RPG element in which you upgrade your health and weapons with experience points by defeating enemies. Once you’ve gained enough experience points and filled up their growth bars, you will level up one unit of your health or upgrade a weapon into a more powerful one. For those who hates level grinding, rest assured that this new feature will make you feel totally rewarded. Leveling up weapons (though it does take time) doesn’t feel at all like busy work, it’s all natural as you shoot away enemies and then get rewarded for a better weapon. Each level is a different planet in the galaxy that you travel in. While they run the gamut of traditional game levels (fire, ice, desert, industrial, etc.) they are beautifully drawn and wonderfully designed. From time to time, you’ll frustrate yourself trying to make a leap that was never intended to be made, but for the majority of the game you won’t fight anything other than the game’s intended enemies. In addition to traditional platformer-style levels, there are alternatives scattered throughout the game.

The game is full of side-quests in which completing them earns you a number of bolts such as the ever-so-popular gladiator arena battles (where you take on various challenges like defeating all enemies or fighting a boss), hoverbike races, spaceship combat, Giant Clank on the moon, and those open-world crystal collecting stages all made them wroth coming back time, and time again! After you’re done with the game, there is still plenty to do. The most time-consuming of the extra features is collecting skill points, hidden bolts, and even going even further with leveling up your health and weapons with harder enemies and challenges when you restart your play through in challenge mode. These are all the features that all Ratchet and Clank games that came after that follows the same formula and features that resolves back to what this game has started. Insomniac has came a long way from Disruptor and Spyro trilogy to making one hell of a game. This game is a testament to how fantastic Insomniac’s vision was, and seems to relish its success while still paying proper homage to its benefactor, Naughty Dog (with Jak II advertisements subtly and not so subtly placed throughout). This game is cute, clever, and tough, offering about as much variety as can be found in a single game.

However, when it’s all said and done, what really puts Going Commando over the top is the game’s writing. Simply put, this game so funny that I found myself laughing at nearly all the cutscenes. The game features a great cast of characters, with only one (the new-age hippie mystic) who overstays his welcome. Players who like an entertaining story to break up their platforming and shooting should be pleased, even despite the fact that there’s no drama between the two like the previous game. But best of all is how unpredictable the story gets – at first we expect to just capture the thief who stole the corporation’s experiment to questioning if the corporation is evil or not. This is a game appeals to anyone (shooter fans, kids and adults, platformer fans, action-adventure gamers – anyone!) This is no doubt some of the best exclusives that ever entered the Playstation 2’s library and it’s some of the biggest highlights on the console. Some say that Ratchet and Clank is 3D platformer’s Mega Man and no doubt Going Commando is 3D Platform game’s Mega Man 2. If nothing else, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando should serve as a blueprint for future sequels in the gaming world. It’s proof positive that developers can make a game that’s bigger than the original in nearly every way while tweaking the core mechanics and making it better at the same time.

 

Number 4.  –  Beyond Good & Evil

Beyond Good & Evil is the surprise critical smash that, sadly, everyone seemed to ignore. BG&E is a fantastic game that you can find for cheap these days, and it is absolutely a must play. If you look back over the history of gaming there are very few female leads – the ones that we know are all busty babes with no character depth. BGE broke this trend, smashed it in fact, when character Jade came out as an intelligent tomboy who uncovers the truth about the world using her camera, stealth skills, a few kick-arse moves, and, shockingly, intellect – perhaps this is a reason why it didn’t sell: cup size has proven to be the main driving force for many-a title.  What with Jade being a photojournalist, you can imagine that the camera is quite a key feature in the game: not only do you use it to capture incriminating evidence, but you also use it to take photographs of animals. Scattered throughout Hillys (and space) are a whole variety of creatures whose photographs will earn Jade cash (in the form of Pearls), which can then be used to upgrade your vehicle and make other essential purchases.

Don’t get confused here though, Beyond Good and Evil is not just about taking photographs, it’s also an action game reminiscent to Legend of Zelda. There are many sections where Jade must sneak past the enemy, or bash all sense out of them with her staff, and there are even levels where her trusty hovercraft comes into play. You’re also have a companion with you who’s willing to help you in battle and solve puzzles making the group dynamic great. It’s amazing how intuitive everything feels: the controls will come as standard to all adventure players, camera manoeuvrability is picked up in seconds, and there are even stealth aspects… that works!

Switching items between characters is simple, and being able to upgrade/downgrade their health is a fantastic idea. Then there are the hovercraft sections thrown into the mix: in these you must traverse the world and battle leviathan-like monsters. Of all the facets of the game and their controls, there is nothing that can be found frustrating or awkward – simply put; it’s a perfect system. Beyond Good and Evil is a game that focuses on character depth and involvement rather than voluptuous bimbos and their minimalistic storis. It’s an intelligent, refreshing, well-balanced, and entertaining piece of genius– essential for adventure fans. Please do not be put off by the whole ‘photographs speak louder than action’ message: this is truly an action-packed title, just with a bit more class.

 

Number 3.  –  Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

After the atrocity known as Metal Gear Solid 2, Hedio Kojima finally given us an apology letter to all of the MGS fans with Metal Gear Solid 3. I can say without a doubt that MGS: Snake Eater is better than its predecessors in nearly every way imaginable, including the ending, which totally blew me away. This is actually the prequel to the original Metal Gear where this title goes all the way back to where Big Boss (the antagonist of the game) started the whole series all the way back to the 1960’s set in Cold War Russia in a one-man mission to prove America’s innocence from nuking Russia. We never knew what Big Boss (or Naked Snake as he’s called in this timeline) was like but this game shows us that he’s every bit like Solid Snake (his clone), but more fragile and relatable. After three installments to the series, this one here takes a revolutionary step to the stealth action genre. This was an innovative direction for the stealth gaming genre (as a whole) where the player is left with only one weapon and must scavenger for not only for new weapons, gadgets, tools, and other items, but must also think about their own survival for food and recovering for health. Each and every part of the game, the player can find anything lively like animals to kill as food, enemies to take out for ammunition, and so much more! Sometimes when you get poisoned or injured, you can go play doctor and heal any damages and intoxication which is really revolutionary! You really feel like your an one-man-army and this game makes you feel like this is all about survival with the limited resources you have. But the original Snake Eater had a bunch of drawbacks that made Subsistence a more recommendable pick for this list.

If there was just one game that need an upgrade overhaul to reach perfection, there is no better pick than Metal Gear Solid 3. This isn’t the first time Kojima has re-released a Metal Gear Solid title with extra content, as both the original Metal Gear Solid and its sequel, Sons of Liberty, received the same treatment with new features such as virtual reality missions, demo theaters, etc. Subsistence, however, is a far more ambitious update, as it not only offers much of the same content that Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance did, but also a totally revamped single player campaign in addition to a very in-depth online mode.The original Snake Eater used the same top-down, fixed angle camera as the previous two titles, and while the game was still widely praised, many fans felt the camera angle to be obsolete and counterproductive. Apparently Kojima agreed, as Subsistence now features a completely user-controlled 3D camera in addition to the default angle. The result is a single player experience that feels remarkably different as it not only changes the way players tackle the game, but the level to which they can appreciate it.

One of the major flaws in Snake Eater is the camera was while off camera enemies can see you in a distance, forcing players to either slow their progress through the game to a crawl (by constantly stopping to scope out upcoming areas through the first person camera), or put up with an inordinate amount of alarms and dangerous situations that often weren’t their fault. Subsistence’s new camera angle completely fixes this problem by giving you any view of the terrain you desire at any time, simply by rotating the right analog stick (though it should be noted that certain boss fights do not allow players to use the new camera angle). This provides a single player campaign that is not only far more flexible in terms of stealth, but also the myriad survival aspects of the game, and while the new camera was the only real update to the single player mode, it’s arguably a big enough change to justify playing through the entire game again, even for those who’ve beaten Snake Eater more than once.  It’s hard to describe such a wonderful package in so many words but I think my excitement and opinion of the game has made it across.

Number 2.  –  Bioshockbioshock 2 1366x768 wallpaper_www.wallfox_net_26

System Shock 2 left the audience with a cliff hander, we’ve all waited for a System Shock 3. Due to bad marketing, System Shock 2 sold poorly and that left Looking Glass Studios start loosing its business. However, Irrational Games survived and aligned with 2K games to make the spiritual successor of System Shock 2. But since EA still owns the rights to System Shock, they had to make a setting that video games never made before, while take the gameplay from System Shock 2 and make a whole new series. That game is Bioshock!  Never have I seen a game that created this amazingly, deep world that I want to explore in. I never seen an FPS that wanted to be taken seriously by making itself as artsy, as original, and as creative as humanly possible. I love the story about morality that really is the biggest difference between this and System Shock 2.

I really felt effected when I’m rescuing or harvesting the Little Sisters because they stick out to me as the most innocent bystander of the game. Despite the fact that I never once was scared with Bioshock, the crazy variety of what the player can do from plasmids, shooting, hacking, and a sense of exploration, no doubt this is a game that’s up in my alley. Even though most System Shock fans would say otherwise, (despite how similar the story is) Bioshock was a true successor of System Shock 2. EA will never give us a System Shock 3 and the only way we can actually have the similar gameplay as to SS2 is to start the Bioshock series with the developers who made System Shock 2. Novels have accomplished sci-fi originality with Jurassic Park, Movies have accomplished sci-fi originality with The Matrix, and Video Games accomplished sci-fi originality with Bioshock! Bioshock really is one of those games that deserved all the credit that it has gotten and it has been one of my personal favorites from the 7th Generation of Video Games!

 

Number 1.  –  Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

It’s wondrous to see that Grand Theft Auto III revolutionized the sandbox genre into big popularity and San Andreas just packaged the player with just everything you can imagine! The setting, characters, atmosphere and story all appealed to me at what I thought was the typical “gangsta” way of life. The protagonist, Carl Johnson was your typical Grand Theft Auto main character. He was someone who has come from nothing with the aim of making a name for himself and had recently returned to San Andreas after his mother’s death. From the beginning, you could feel yourself getting to know the characters inside out. Fellow members of the Grove Street gang were Sweet, Big Smoke and Ryder. These characters provided a feeling of close family, once you had won them over in the beginning of course. The cast of characters was huge and included people such as The Game, James Woods and Ice T to name but a few who voiced characters in the game. The improvements which San Andreas had featured from Vice City weren’t hugely noticeable but, there weren’t many changes needed to the gameplay. Players could create stereotypical drive-by shootings, dramatic leaping out of a moving car and stunt driving moves. When you compare the gameplay at that time and games now, it may not seem revolutionary or definitive but, at the time, everything came together brilliantly like a gun-toting American visiting Ammu-Nation. As I have already mentioned, the setting was an excellent part of the game. It places us back to Los Angeles 1990s and the very essence of being in this game’s atmosphere really feels like we’re back in the 90s!

Many believe that GTA’s missions are mostly all the same. Drive here, kill these guys, get chased and lose the chasers. I don’t believe this is the case with San Andreas at least. There are several missions which come to mind when you think of San Andreas. ‘Are you going to San Fierro?’ is one that springs to mind in which CJ has to burn all of the Truth’s drug supply before the police come. As far as missions in games go, this one is extremely strange. ‘End of the line’ is another which many gamers will remember as the final mission in which a traitor is finally brought to justice in tremendous fashion. Not only are the missions excellent, but also the smallest things keep you entertained.  To be honest, at times it seems San Andreas is almost an action-RPG. Virtually every little thing Carl does affects some aspect of his skill. Going to the gym and pumping iron enhances his strength, making his fists far more lethal. Frequently firing guns makes him more proficient at aiming them, while spending lots of time driving vehicles improves his ability to stay on the road. Add in little things like Carl’s ability to get into relationships with certain female characters and the number of barber shops, tattoo parlors and clothing stores that allow players to customize nearly every aspect of his appearance and this game has far more depth than most action titles.

Some of the new abilities added to this game includes being able to rob houses (which requires planning – you can’t just walk in and take anything), buying properties, gambling in the casinos to earn money (or lose it), swim in water (rather then instantly drown), get a haircut or tattoo to your liking, change clothes and appearance and recruit gang members to control parts of the cities or your properties. The targeting system in the game has been improved and is now modeled on that in Rockstar North’s uber-violent but very cool game, Manhunt. This means you can now lock onto a single enemy, and remain locked while moving around him or her to avoid attacks. The range of weapons is impressive with everything from your fists to shotguns, knives to machine guns. Another area which has been ramped up, and once again inspiration has obviously come from Rockstar’s Manhunt is the stealth in the game. It is possible to hide from police or enemies in the shadows, or behind buildings and objects. While Los Santos is absolutely massive, and about twice the size of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in terms of area and missions, the game eventually moves onto two more cities, San Fierro which is based on San Francisco and finally Las Venturra which is based on Las Vegas. Customization was a large chunk of the game as well with tattoos, haircuts, clothing and body size all being able to be customized by the player. Even though the graphics at the time were not what they are today and the tattoos looked poor, it was still great fun to do. Choosing how your CJ should look was an excellent feature by Rockstar, especially the gym mini games and when you opted to ride a bike it helped you become fitter. All great features in a great game!

Sure, this game is far from perfect like having to deal with glitches seen once in a while, the game world is go big that it would take you a while to reach one side of the map to the other, and some of the missions were a bit frustrating, but not once was I ever bored with this game! Is there anything that GrandTheft Auto: San Andres doesn’t do? It’s like going to a thanksgiving feast and offered so much food that you can’t finish it all in a single day alone. It’s a game that begs you to keep coming back and the more you play it, the more you’ll enjoy it, I guarantee! Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas meets every expectation and then some. I think it’s important that no-one forgets where San Andreas made its name with a lowly ‘gangsta’ CJ who became a huge success through hard work, determination and some hilarious missions. Looking back on the game I still believe that the charm it had in 2004 still exists and is why some gamers still play the game from time to time. I know from time to time I play the game and I am still as much in love with it now as I was when it was first released! I can easily say that there hasn’t’ been another game that satisfied me more than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas did and since then I’m still playing.

The Top Rated Games of the 2000s

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