About Me

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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


            This has certainly been an interesting year for gaming.  We’ve seen BioWare nearly obliterate their reputation with the ending of Mass Effect 3, one of the first movements that successfully that had such an ending changed, (or at least made it the way it should have been in the first place), a spinoff movement called Retake Gaming that’s trying to invoke a Gamer Bill of Rights, (I’m not joking about that last one), a revival of the Max Payne franchise, that abomination that was Resident Evil 6, and a surprising number of new franchises being introduced like Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning and Dragon’s Dogma and although I couldn’t get into either I may give them another chance later down the road.  But the game that I want to talk about today is a new game that is not part of a franchise nor does it have a big developer to its name.  And in this I am referring to Dishonored.
            Released earlier this month, Dishonored is a game that had some interesting build up to its release, in my opinion.  For starters, developer Arkane Studios had next to nothing to its name outside of some additional level design and animation on Bioshock 2.  It also earned a ton of pre-release nominations and awards by various gamer magazines and websites for being one of the most original and innovative games at its showings at E3 2011.  So did Dishonored live up to its initial hype and does it deserve your money and time or is it another overhyped game that will be discarded and forgotten about by next year?  Read on to find out.

The Plot

            The game takes place in the steam-punk city of Dunwall; a city decaying of a massive plague that seems to kill any who are infected.  You play as Corvo, the bodyguard to the Empress of the city who is framed for her murder and the kidnapping of her daughter sentenced to death by the real culprits who have taken control of the city.  After escaping this fate, Corvo joins a group of people determined to depose the culprits and restore the Empress’ daughter, Emily to the throne, killing or otherwise neutralizing anyone who stands in his way.  And along the way a mysterious being known as The Outsider grants Corvo magical abilities in order to help him on his quest.
            Now, the best part of this game is the set up as you really feel how this city is suffering and why it is that the antagonists need to go down and it very quickly invests you into the plot with its characters and gameplay style.  Your actions actually do affect the places you go and will often have consequences, especially towards the ending and Epilogue.  If there is one major problem with the plot and the rest of the game, it’s that it was too short.  It gives me the impression that it was originally meant to be a lot longer but parts of it were cut out to meet a budget or deadline.  For example, the game never gives us a real answer as to why The Outsider decides to help Corvo and the game seems to hint that this was all part of a much larger plan but never expands on it which was really strange.  There is also a relatively predictable twist towards the end of the game, and if you were paying attention to the game and characters you should see it coming a mile away.
            Despite how basic and apparently cut down the plot was, it still works due the gameplay and characters.  While we’re not looking at the next Rockstar or BioWare in terms of writing and it is more than a little basic, the storyline does have a surprising amount of depth to it.  But again there really isn’t much to say about the story itself other then it worked because of the games other elements but seemed to have been cut down in size by a limited budget, time table, and the lack of a major reputation to Arkane’s name.

The Gameplay

          As I’ve mentioned above the game is pretty short but, damn do they pack a lot into its limited length.  For starters, this is not what I would call an easy or action based game.  If you run into a camp full of enemies or allow one to raise an alarm, you are going to get swarmed and get your ass kicked.  In this game, it’s not so much about killing everyone on the map as it is getting to your target and it really seems to reward you for taking the stealth approach as opposed to killing everyone in your path.  There are multiple ways to get into a single area, be it jumping across the roof tops, slipping right behind an enemy soldier while he’s taking a leak, or possessing a rat and just running right past them.  Further encouraging stealth as opposed to battle is the limited amount of weapons, health and magic you can have at one time, forcing you to decide when it’s the best time to use these abilities or weapons.  Some of which encourage battle while others encourage stealth and it’s up to the gamer to decide when which approach is best.
            The actual number of magic abilities you have are relatively limited when compared to games like Skyrim or Dragon Age, but good God are these abilities cool.  The Blink teleporting ability is incredibly useful for quick escapes and reaching places that you wouldn’t have been able to go before and or just to dodge around enemies and is useful in both the action and stealth ways of playing.  Bend Time has similar applications and can be extremely useful when fighting or using stealth and the possibilities with these two alone is endless.  There are a few other abilities that aren’t as useful or noteworthy but the two that made the abilities for me were the Possession and Devouring Swarm abilities.  Now with the possession ability you can inhabit the body of a soldier or a rat which will allow you to go places and do things without drawing to much attention for a limited amount of time.  But by far the most satisfying ability to use is Devouring Swarm, where you summon a swarm of rats to eat your enemies alive and just watching them strip the flesh from your enemies is oh so satisfying.  If you decide to play the game you’ll know what I mean but it should suffice to say that this is probably the only game that I have ever played where rats are actually a threatening protagonist.
            The last thing to note is the fact that the developers actually give you the choice to either kill your targets or sentence them to other fates that may or may not be worse than death.  And what I find so wired about this is that so few developers do this.  For example, in one mission you have the choice to either kill two brothers or allow a crime syndicate in Dunwall to kidnap them, who will in turn shave them and cut out their tongue and sends them to work back breaking labor in a diamond mine for the rest of their days.  The only other games that really seem to give you these kinds of choices usually boils it down to either killing the guy or letting him go to disappear or repent his ways and quite frankly I like the option that this game offers a little bit more because either way you choose if feeds into your sadistic side. 
However, there are some downsides the gameplay.  For starters, the graphics in this game look downright ugly and look like something that would have come out four years ago as opposed to today.  And it’s more than a little buggy and sometimes the enemy AI really isn’t as smart as it should be, (like a soldier will see a corpse and not raise the alarm) and the whole stealth/action choices probably won’t seem as fresh if you’ve played Deus Ex: Human Revolution and one might make the argument that they did it better in that game.  The other problem it suffers from is, again, the length of the game.  It seemed like there should have been more missions and more targets to take down, particularly in the final act of the game that almost seemed rushed.
Despite the graphics, bugs, and comparisons that will probably be drawn to Deus Ex, this is a really fun game and I was really impressed by what they did in this department and this is not easily done.  The options were just so good for the missions, both for what you do to the target and how you get to him.  The way they limit your arsenal is something that they don’t do enough of these days and it was really refreshing to see a game that actually does require a degree of stealth in order to win it and the main magic abilities are so much fun to use and is the highlight of the game.  I just wish that the game could have been a bit longer to add on to this and that the graphics had been better to make it a bit more visually pleasing.  But as a whole I really love what Arkane Studios has done in this department and I can’t wait to see what they do in their next project in this department.

The Characters

            Like everything else in this game, the characters are limited by its length.  But like the gameplay, they managed to pack a surprising amount into it within a limited amount of time.  When I found out that Corvo was a silent protagonist with very limited dialog options my respect for the game took a nosedive, as I’ve always hated protagonists like this and feel that they should have died off long ago.  Apparently the developers did this so it would be easier for the gamer to jump into his shoes and project himself as the character.  And this works surprisingly well.  Unlike the protagonists in games like Far Cry 2, it’s obvious that Corvo has some kind of emotional attachment to this world which makes his battles against his enemies all the more compelling.  Exactly what that attachment is seems to have been intentionally left open for interpretation.  It could be a lust for revenge, service to his country, or out of love for the Empress and her daughter; it’s never made clear and your own interpretation makes the character all the more compelling.
            Most of the other characters are a little bit more difficult to describe.  On the surface they’re a little bit one noted but have other sides to them that we do get to see.  For example we have Admiral Havelock who seems to be a good soldier and wants to restore Emily to the throne but has a sadistic side that he only rarely reveals and saying anything more will result in spoilers for the game as will saying to much more about the bulk of the supporting characters.  Many of them have very good voice actors including John Slattery, (best known for Mad Men) as Havelock, Lena Headey as Emily’s caretaker, Callista Curnow, and Susan Sarandon as the mysterious, insane witch Granny Rags; each of which are very well acted and have a surprising amount of depth to them.  The best of the whole bunch, however, was Brad Dourif as a mad scientist character and his voice was just perfect for the part and knew just how to capture the insane, arrogant and ingenious parts of his personality and he happens to be one of the most entertaining characters in the game.
            However, the game did drop the ball a little in this department as well.  We really don’t grow attached to a lot of the supporting characters who don’t have a big name to them, mostly because they are kind of pushed aside in favor of the major ones so when some of these characters die we really don’t care and you’ll probably be asking yourself “who was that?”  The villains likewise have so little screen time that they ultimately lack any kind of depth or complexity and they may as well be Rodger Moore Bond Villains for how basic they are.  And again, the game’s length seems does take its toll on the character interaction as well.  I get the impression that many of these characters were suppose to have larger roles and maybe have a few more subplots going on but the game just didn’t have the length for this and it really drags it down.
            All around the character are compelling and you do get attached to many of them.  But at the same time, many of them are not as developed as they could have been and like the plot feel like they were slashed to meet a budget and a deadline.  But still, I think that if you decide to play this game, you’ll find them compelling and likeable and they really help to invest you into what was otherwise a mediocre plot.   

The Verdict

            So, what do I think of this game all around?  We’ll to be honest, I’m kind of split.  This is a game that is absolutely worth your time but I cannot say that it is worth the full $60 you’ll pay for a new copy.  It’s just too short.  Granted, the pack a lot into its short length, but it is still just to short of a game to justify paying $60 for.  The story was a little to basic, it was too short, and the characters weren’t as fleshed out as they should have been.  However, I can whole heartedly hope that this game is successful because, it deserves it.  Just based on the gameplay and how good the set up was for the plot and characters, I can tell that Arkane Studios is a development company that has a lot of potential and I really want to see what they can do with a bigger budget and more ambition.  This game is doing things that I honestly haven’t seen before in recent memory and I want to see more of this.  If you have the chance to play it or have the $60 to spare, I say spend it but if you can get a hold of a copy without paying for it do that instead.  But all the same, I really enjoyed this game and hope it succeeds but damn, was it a game that that was just shy of greatness.

All Around

Monday, October 8, 2012

Resident Evil 6

            Well, everyone, at long last it’s time for me to do a full review of a video game.  It has been way to long sense I’ve done one and I decided to a review of one of the latest game of one of my favorite franchises, Resident Evil.  For those of you who aren’t aware, the Resident Evil series is a franchise that focuses on a group of heroes who are constantly fighting the bio-terrorist actions of the Umbrella Corporation.  Now, I openly admit that I missed out on the first few games of the franchise, as I was really too young to play any of them.  Not that I was scared by them or my parents wouldn’t allow me to play them, but from what you’ve seen of my favorite video game list, around the time these games were released I was in to simpler games like Spyro and Star Fox and wouldn’t have enjoyed the difficulty factor of those games.  However, that all changed when I got my hands on Resident Evil 4 and holy hot damn was that one good!  The gameplay was challenging, the boss fights were incredible, the protagonists were likeable and the villains were menacing.  If I had one major complaint against it, it’s that the storyline wasn’t very complex and almost insultingly simple.  But in spite of that it’s actually one of my all-time favorite games and only just missed my Top 15 list and if I had to rate it today I would probably give it 8.75 out of 10.  After playing the game I very became very well versed in the characters and storylines of the series, reading all of the wiki articles I could find and watching all the play throughs of the games on YouTube.  In other words, I was hooked and have considered myself a moderate fan of the series ever sense.   
            Resident Evil 5, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well for me.  Just about everything that was good in 4 was dumbed down in 5.  Our main protagonist was not as interesting, nor were his relationships with the people around him.  The gameplay was dumbed down, making it far less difficult with ammo in abundance and felt more like action horror then it did survival horror.  And then we had Wesker.  Oh dear God, what a cheesy villain.  To put it simply, he came off like Agent Smith’s, (the villain from The Matrix Trilogy), less talented brother who was trying to prove himself and his actually goal was beyond cartoonish, (something that they actually poke fun at in the game).  But in spite of all of this I still liked the game and found it enjoyable.  I consider it to be among sequels like Iron Man 2 that are still good, but are prime examples of how a sequel can and will take a step backwards if you’re not careful.  If I was rating it today I would give it 7.75 out of 10.
            Now as we all know in the years since, Capcom has developed something of a…controversial reputation to put it lightly and has been subject to a huge amount of criticism and fan backlash over their Day One disk locked DLC practices, games that are just half-assed in many areas, and flat out lying to their customers regarding their games’ capabilities and often make you pay for an enhanced addition of said game to have these problems fixed.  The list of their bullshit just goes on and on.  And I am sad to say, Resident Evil 6 is just the latest in their line of colossal fuck ups.  Now I am going to keep this article as professional as possible, (but given the amount of cursing that I’ve already done that doesn’t seem likely), and do a proper review of this game, pointing out all of its pros and cons.  Just don’t be surprised if I start ranting on how certain things about how this game sucks and how it feels like a sell-out of a once great franchise, etc., etc.  So I present to you The Illusive One’s Review of Resident Evil 6.

The Plot

            Where do I even begin?  I mean, the series was never exactly Inception with its storylines but this…Ok I guess I should start with the “larger” plot.  It’s basically the same as the first few games and the crappy Paul W.S. Anderson films; Umbrella is attacking the world with mutating viruses, apparently being led by Ada Wong, and it’s up to a handful of people to stop them.  Oh, I’m sorry.  It’s Neo-Umbrella that’s doing this.  That alone just raises so many questions.  Like, what the hell is this organization?  Why do they call themselves this?  What are their goals?  Why the hell are they launching attacks all over the world?  How and why do they keep developing viruses that basically do the same thing but react radically differently depending on the person?   Now some of these questions do get answered, but often they just confuse the hell out of you and are so obviously aimed at the movie audience of the recent zombie trend that it just feels like a complete sell out, is utterly boring and underwhelming, and fails to grab you attention in any way.
            But then we have the individual storylines and this is one of those things where you will just ask “what the hell were they thinking?”  For starters you have to play each campaign individually that will start at one point, but all of the campaigns end at the same time, ensuring massive spoilers for the other campaigns.  It seemed like they were trying to go for a sort of Vantage Point style but it just doesn’t work at all and even once you have beaten all the storylines, the overall plot isn’t satisfying and still leaves you confused as all hell.  After playing the first campaign, I immediately started to wonder why they didn’t just have it all as one continuous story where the point of view shifted.  Maybe it’s because other games that tried that were commercial and critical failures.  OH WAIT!  THEY WEREN’T!  They did it in Transformers: War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, and Batman: Arkham City and it worked like a charm!  Hell, even Capcom did it with Resident Evil 3 and Coder Veronica and from what I gathered it worked pretty well there to!  So I have to ask, WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING CAPCOM?!?!?!?!  GOD!
            Anyway, most of the individual storylines suffer from the exact same thing as the overall story; they aren’t well written, are uninteresting and boring.  For starters, Leon’s campaign just drops you in the middle of everything where he is in the middle of another zombie attack and has to kill the president who has become one.  Apparently a very high level official is responsible for the attack and throughout most of the campaign you are trying to take said official down who is laying the responsibility of the president’s death at your hands.  And, while these are great ideas for a story, it doesn’t work, due to poor pacing and completely failing to take advantage of the ideas.  You could have based an entire game around the protagonists trying to take this guy down while killing zombies and his goons and they just fail to do so.  It also doesn’t help that the main characters are completely unlikable but we’ll get to that in a minute.
            Chris’ storyline fares a little better.  Most of it focuses on Chris as he hunts Ada who is apparently responsible for the death of his BSAA team.  While it’s still incredibly confusing when playing without the others, it somewhat works, due to the development Chris goes through.  Unfortunately it’s still not very interesting until you get towards the end and they fail to invest you in the story.  It also doesn’t help that his storyline is also relatively stock for a soldier.  A guy suffering from survivor’s guilt finds his way back to fight his old enemies?  I mean come on!
            The one shining light in this entire cluster fuck is Jake’s storyline.  He happens to be a mercenary who is immune to the C-Virus, (the virus of this game), and the government needs his blood in order to make a vaccine.  His campaign actually works because of the two main characters of it, (more on that later) and because of a reoccurring villain who just won’t die and is the highlight of this game’s storyline.  But again, if you just play this storyline you’ll still be confused as all hell without the others and the latter reason for it being so good was ripped straight out RE3 so make of that what you will.
            There is also an additional campaign that answers some the questions you will inevitably have at each campaign’s ending but this one is just as dull and uninteresting as Leon’s.
            So in conclusion, the storylines for this game just suck.  Jake’s storyline is ok, but it’s an all-around terrible, confusing plot with really bad storytelling and just makes you wonder just what the hell Capcom was thinking.

The Characters

            Then we have the characters and they are almost as bad as the plot, (and in some cases worse).  Now in Leon’s campaign the four big characters are Leon, newcomer Helena, Ada Wong, and the villain Derek Simmons and this is where you get the biggest betrayal of the entire series.  For you Resident Evil 4 fans, do you remember how Leon was this upbeat, likable, snarky hero who constantly threw out cheesy one liners?  Yea…that character doesn’t exist anymore.  Now he’s this unlikable, brooding, douchebag who comes off as some emo hero from bad JRPG without a personality.  I mean, it’s unbelievable how badly they fucked this guy up.  Now you could make the argument that all the stuff that he’s been through has damaged his formerly sunny deposition.  But, I would make the counter argument that he went through RE2, a situation that I would argue that was a lot more hellish, and was still a likeable hero in RE4.  This sudden shift in his personality just really doesn’t make any sense and comes off as a complete betrayal of the character.  All I can say on this is FUCK YOU CAPCOM!
            Ada Wong fares a little better and her storyline actually does have some decent twists but is still a little to brooding for my taste.  Actually, her role in this game brings up a question that’s been bugging me for a while and has only been made worse by this game; why the hell is Leon still not over Ada?  I mean this woman has betrayed and tried to kill you on several occasions and is a terrorist apparently responsible for all the recent C-Virus outbreaks.  I mean, GOOD GOD MAN!  GET OVER HER!  SHE IS CLEARLY NOT GOOD FOR YOU!  THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER GOOD LOOKING WOMEN IN THIS SERIES TO HOOK UP WITH! USE YOUR HEAD MAN!!!  God!  It really pisses me off when characters are stupid in storylines and this is just Leon’s stupidity at its highest.
            With newcomer Helena, there really isn’t much to say.  She doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and is one of the Resident Evil characters that will probably be forgotten about in the long term.  Then we have our main villain of Leon’s campaign, Derek Simmons and oh dear God does this guy suck.  I mean, he makes Wesker from RE5 look like Hannibal Lector in comparison.  He has no charm, no charisma and no menace and calling him a one dimensional villain would be an insult to one dimensional villains.  This guy JUST SUCKS.
            Again, in the character department Chris fares a little better.  For one thing, unlike Leon his character has a personality and any changes his character experiences is explainable due to events within the game, going from reluctant soldier, to a crazed leader who wants revenge, back to a man who wants to serve the world by doing what he does best.  But even still his character is pretty unlikable and it would have been far more effective if the BSAA agents he lost under his command were characters from previous games as opposed to the anonymous flunkies that they just introduce for the sake of killing off.  It’s the kind of thing that smart writers just don’t do any more.
            Like Helena in Leon’s campaign, newcomer Piers doesn’t really offer anything new and you get about as attached to him as you do Billy from Expendables 2, (in other words you don’t).  As a villain, Ada is a much more effective and menacing antagonist then Simmons and truly feels like the kind of villain that I would expect from this series.  The only problem is that you will be extremely confused by her actions if you play Leon’s campaign first and her deal is only explained in the bonus campaign.  All around, not as bad as the characters in Leon’s but are still relatively underwhelming.
            And once again, our main shining light comes from Jake’s campaign in the character department.  Newcomer Jake Muller actually has a personality, is interesting, likable, and charismatic and just comes off as a cool guy.  Plus he is probably the only character that I know of who could take down a nine foot, 800 pound B.O.W. with his bare hands.  This guy is just sweet.  Sherry likewise is a likeable character and the chemistry between the two actually helps move the storyline along and you just can’t help but wish that the whole game was about the two of them.  It also seemed like they were trying to set up the next generation of RE heroes and if another game comes out that’s about the two of them, I’d actually be happy with that.  The only downside is that their character arcs move predictable ways and it will dilute from the experience.
            But still, Jake and Sherry aside, these characters just underwhelmed me.  Leon was a complete betrayal of what he was before, Ada was a mixed experience for me, Chris didn’t impress, Helena and Piers were forgettable, and Simmons was just a joke.  I mean what the hell happened?  I mean, the characters in the Resident Evil series were never Rockstar level of good, but this…this is just sad….

The Gameplay

            Now, after all of that, how well do you think the gameplay holds up?  Well, again this depends on who you play as and what you prefer in your gameplay style.  Unlike previous games you can actually move while shooting which is a change that I liked.  As usual with the series, the graphics look great, the enemy designs are fantastic and creative and the deaths are grotesque and interesting.  The combat in the game is intense and know how to get your heart pumping.  In terms of gameplay, Chris and Jake’s campaigns are the best as they fully embrace the action horror style that the developers clearly wanted to do and all of these things do bring the game up considerable and makes it playable and you’ll probably get around 25 hours of gameplay on a normal play-through.
            The problems really start to show in other areas.  For one thing, Mercenaries mode is exactly the same as it is in previous games and the control layout just sucks and will confuse the hell out of you until you get used to it.  Likewise the camera and aiming controls feel very clunky and awkward until you get used to them and to be honest I don’t think that I ever did.  It also happens to have one of the worst leveling systems that I have seen in a mainstream videogame in years and just has to be seen to be believed, as I honestly don’t know how to describe it.  Ammo is way too easy to get and for some reason there is an option to have unlimited ammo before you even beat the game.  The rest of the problems go hand in hand with the campaigning.  There is a laughable attempt to bring survival horror elements into Leon’s campaigning but it just fails and it’s clear that it’s still an action horror game and the last boss fight just goes on and on and on when it clearly should have been dead a long time ago.  And as mentioned before, the levels fail to keep you invested and often feel really padded, (which is terrible considering they average around an hour and a half in length).
            So in the end, the gameplay is what it is and even if it was fantastic it still wouldn’t change the fact that the levels are boring and the plot and character are completely fucked.

The Verdict

            I think that it’s pretty clear by now that I HATE this game.  There are some elements within it that makes it playable, particularly with Jake’s storyline but it was an all-around turd of a game and an insult to what was once a great franchise.  I was oblivious to a lot of Capcom’s practices mostly because none of those really hit home for me.  This one did and Capcom has gotten away with this crap long enough.  This is why I am asking people not to buy or play anything made by Capcom in any shape or form.  Capcom clearly does not care about its fans and has ignored all of us up until this point so we’re going to have to hit them where it hurts; their wallets.  We need to find a way to make the listen and this is the only way that I know of how.  Again, I am asking you all not to buy this product or any other product made by Capcom in any shape or form and encourage others to do the same until they shape up or go under.  We have got to show this company that they can no longer get away with this and that they either need to up their game or burn.  The choice is theirs and I hope you will all help me in making it happen. 

All Around

It’s time to hit Capcom where it hurts.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Two Year Anniversary: Top 15 Favorite Video Games

            Well, everyone, it’s been two years sense I started this blog, and once again it is time for an anniversary post.  Now last year’s post was dedicated to panning the hell out of Korsgaard’s blog and he immediately wanted me to do a post where I point out his best posts.  Well, that is not happening today as I wanted this post to be a bit more personal.  So to celebrate my two year anniversary I’m counting down my personal fifteen favorite video games of all time.  As with most other top lists they’ll be my least favorite of the group down to my personal favorite.  This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while but never quite found the occasion to do it and this seems like as good a time as any.  So I humbly present to you my personal favorite videogames of all time.

Number 15
Sonic the Hedgehog 2

            There really isn’t much of an explanation as to why I like this game other than to say that I grew up with it.  It was the first videogame that I remember playing regularly as a child and there was something that I always found very appealing about an animal that could turn himself into a spinning ball of death who was trying to rescue other animals from a mad doctor.  Looking at it today it’s nothing special but it has a big nostalgia factor for me just because it was one of the first videogames that I ever played and I’d turn it back on any day just relive some of those old memories of my preschool days.

Number 14
Spyro: Year of the Dragon

            Similar to the way Sonic was the first game that I really got involved in, Spyro was the first video game franchise that I ever invested myself in.  I honestly don’t know why, but there was something that I always found appealing about a small purple dragon saving the world from various villains in all these parallel dimensions and Year of the Dragon was my favorite and often considered the best of the franchise.  It’s one of the first games that I ever played where I found myself invested in the characters as much as the gameplay.  I honestly cared about what happened to the characters and whether or not Spyro succeeded in rescuing all of the dragon eggs.  It was also the first game that I can think of where I played as different characters other than the main protagonist.  All of which had their own personalities, were appealing in their own ways and had their own gameplay style which I just loved.  It also happened to be the final Spyro game by the franchise’s creators Insomniac Games and also happened to be the last really good one as after this game, none of them really had the same steam or appeal and I remember being very underwhelmed by later installments of the franchise.   Again, there really isn’t a whole lot more to say other than it holds a big nostalgia value for me and is a game that brings me back to my childhood playing an old PS1 game.

Number 13
Star Fox 64

            There really isn’t anything to say on this one other than to say that I loved the gameplay.  It was the only flight simulator game that I’ve ever really had the chance to play as I wasn’t aware that games like Wing Commander even existed and even if I was I wouldn’t have been able to play them due to my family’s P.C. limits.  So this game was basically the only real exposer to the genera that I ever had and I loved every second of it.  I played this game through again and again and just loved shooting down enemies in my jet, blowing bosses out of the sky, going head to head with Star Wolf and finally confronting Andross in the deep reached of Venom.  Again, it holds a bit of nostalgia factor for me and I fondly look upon all the hours that I spend on that game and know that not a second I spent on it was wasted.

Number 12
Gears of War 2

            I have to admit, the Gears of War franchise and I have, for the most part, never quite seen eye to eye.  The first game had great gameplay and multiplayer but I could never quite get passed how half-assed the plot and main story missions seemed in the grand scheme of things.  The third game had this look that was far to polished and a storyline that confused me more than anything else.  And with the next installment of the franchise a prequel, my patience with this series has all but run out.  However, I loved the second game as if it were a child.  The plot this time around was radically improved, giving more depth to the world and characters and giving us a more complete view of both.  This time around, the stakes seemed higher and our investment in the characters and story was at an all-time high and we truly cared about what happened to both.  The gameplay also radically improved, giving us more weapons, more enemies, and probably the first time Horde Mode was ever introduced to a mainstream shooter, (but I’m not entirely sure about that).  Again, not a whole lot to say about this one other then I really enjoyed the story and gameplay.

Number 11
Halo 3

            The Halo franchise is basically the one that got me into first person shooters and this one is my all-time favorite of the franchise.  Like Gears of War 2, this time around the stakes in the storyline just seemed a lot higher as Master Chief and The Arbiter rush to stop the Covenant from activating the Halo Rings which will eradicate all life in the galaxy while fighting an occasional attack from the Flood.  For the genera at the time, the characters were compelling and you cared about what happened to them and when some of them died it was depressing.  It also featured the best engine to date, with vastly improved graphics over its predecessors, new weapons and very well done levels and multiplayer that still holds up to this day.  Truly one of the best shooters of the 7th Generation consuls and one that I highly recommend that you play.

Number 10
God of War

            I may not have mentioned this before on this site, but I am a huge fan of hack and slashers, Greek Mythology, and extreme amounts of blood shed on screen.  So when I got my hands on God of War, it was like the developers got their ideas directly out of my subconscious, (although considering my Bane prediction for The Dark Knight Rises I’m kind of worried now).  The game follows Kratos as he tries to exact revenge against Aries for past slights and the rest is history.  As the game goes on, you slash through Cyclops, Minotaurs, Gorgons, undead soldiers and other creatures that I can’t remember right now all in externally bloody and over the top fashion until you confront the God of War himself in a one on one battle to the death.  The second game is also noteworthy for its improvements in gameplay style and boss fights but never came close to the novelty of the first game and I loved every second of hacking though enemies in all the over the top fashion the series is famous for.  AND I STILL HAVEN’T PLAYED THE THIRD GAME AND IT’S DRIVING ME INSANE!!!!

Number 9
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

            The missions, the characters, the multiplayer, and the over the top 24 style plot.  I really can’t say much more about it then that and that is all you need to know.

Number 8
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

            This was probably the first rated M game that I ever played, so a lot of the appeal of it came from the novelty of seeing and experiencing a lot of these things.  I first played the game when I was around 12 and it blew my mind away.  Just being able to walk up to someone and shoot them to death or steal their car or kill a hooker right after having sex with her was an extremely novel experience for me at the time and I had never seen anything like it before.  Of course it also generated a lot of controversy for these things but that actually made people like me want to play it all the more.  It also helped that it had a really good story, characters and missions to boot.  You play as Tommy Vercetti who is trying to survive and prosper in the criminal underworld of Vice City and it follows him from being a hired thug to becoming the most powerful criminal in the city and the player actually gets invested in his fate and wants to see him succeed.  It also had a lot of great supporting characters and a great cast of voice actors that included Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, William Fichtner, Burt Reynolds, and Gary Busey.  While the graphics and gameplay have not aged well, it’s still one of those games that I look back upon fondly and reminds me that there was a time where these sorts of games could have been pulled from the shelf.  But they weren’t and it is glorious.

Number 7
Rome: Total War

            Now again, given all the games I review on this site, you probably would never have guessed that I was a fan of RTS games and Rome: Total War is one of the finest that I have ever played.  To put it simply it was the first time that I had ever seen a game like it.  Just seeing these massive armies collide with one another and how actual military tactics are necessary to win some battles was something that I had never seen before in an RTS.  The same goes for the various troop strengths and weaknesses and how you can effectively play these to defeat a superior army.  And then we had the campaign map and factions.  Now, up until this point, most of what I had played was the Age of Empires games where most of the units and factions were interchangeable save for a few differences.  In this game, however, what faction you choose affected your troop types, what buildings you could have, ect.  It was also one of the first games where you actually conquered an enemy as opposed to just destroying all of his buildings and armies and where the economic state of you empire could cause it to collapse if you didn’t take good care of it.  Like I said, there were a lot of first times with me on this game and I cannot wait to see what this group has in store for Rome 2.  I highly recommend that you take a look at this game and see how to create and empire.

Number 6
Assassin’s Creed II

            Anyone who has been following this blog sense its creation know that I completely adore this game and it’s one of the few games that I ever gave a perfect score to before I really got my review format down.  As an unexpected result, I never really said why I loved it so much.  The main reason for this is the fact that the game radically improved on its predecessor in nearly every way.  The first game had a very head scratchily confusing plot that was so historically inaccurate it was painful, characters who clearly had great stories to them but failed to be properly told, and gameplay that was painfully repetitive and had you doing the same things over and over again.  All of these faults, however, were completely gone by the time the sequel came around.  Our main character Ezio was an extremely compelling protagonist and watching his journey from a hot headed punk with only a desire for revenge to a disciplined assassin is one of the best I have ever seen in a videogame.  The storyline itself was also very well done and pitted Ezio in the middle of the politics of the Italian City States and went out of its way to stay relatively historically accurate.  The supporting characters were very fleshed out and extremely entertaining and this version of Leonardo Da Vinci remains one of my favorite supporting characters of all time.  And of course, we have the gameplay.  Unlike the first one, this game had missions that required different ways of thinking and approaching a target and never seemed to repeat itself.  You also got a large range of weapons that the first game utterly lacked, along with a city that you were tasked to rebuild in order to gain funds for these sorts of things.
            In a nutshell this game improved upon everything the first game did and in my personal opinion this is sequel making 101 for any aspiring videogame makes out there.  Even if you didn’t like the first game or have heard about the less then positive things said about Revelations, this game is more then worth your time, energy and money, and I can only hope that Assassin’s Creed III is able to recapture even a fracture of what this game had.

Number 5
Dragon Age: Origins

            I’ve already talked about this game at length during last year’s Dragon Aegathon for the release of Dragon Age 2 but believe it or not, there is still more for me to say.  One of the things that I left out was simply how well this game executed its relatively standard issue story.  Each of the missions for the various factions of Ferelden often required you to make choices that often didn’t lead to happy outcomes and only rarely solved the underlying problems between the races and even then it seemed like a temporary measure.  The actual race and class you choose also has a profound effect on the way other characters interact with you, often treating you like dirt if you happen to be an elf or a castless dwarf.  To put it simply the story had subtext in its writing that elevated it past being a basic high fantasy story and no video game of the genera before or sense has ever matched it.  The characters also helped to elevate the game but this is the thing that has seemed to have the most lasting effect.  For me, this was the high fantasy video game that killed all others.  After playing this game I just couldn’t go back to the standard issue storylines and one note characters of games like The Elder Scrolls and Fable and ensured that games like Dragon’s Dogma and Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning were doomed from the start.  And I can only hope that Dragon Age III is able to have the same level of intelligence as this game as well as a similar level of story and characters.  Make it happen BioWare!  Don’t let us down again!

Number 4
Final Fantasy X

            This is another game that has a big nostalgia factor for me, in that this was probably the first game that I ever played where I was completely invested in the plot and characters.  As we all know the story follows a group of travelers as they try to defeat an evil monster known only as Sin who constantly wreaks havoc upon the world of Spira.  Looking back at it, there was a lot and I mean A LOT of wired goofy stuff in the story and a lot of annoying characters but these odd things never hindered my enjoyment of the game.  I was fully invested into this world and characters within the first hour of playing and has sense provided me with many hours of entertainment.  It’s one of the few game that I could honestly recommend to anyone who likes RPGs and playing it provided me with some of the most fun I ever had playing a videogame.

Number 3
Fallout 3

            I think that by now it is well established that I am not a fan of Bethesda Studios or their Elder Scrolls games.  Whenever I tell this to gamers they usually look at me like I committed some crime against humanity or something.  I’m sorry but for me it just comes down to the storylines and characters and just how bare boned and the open world gameplay just doesn’t make up for that for me.  However, Fallout 3 has always been that one beacon of hope that I have for the company that they can make great stories and characters along with great open world environments.  For starters, in my opinion, the open world gameplay in this game is Bethesda’s best.  Unlike the Elder Scrolls games, their wasn’t really any limits on what they could do and the quests you undertake range from fending off super mutant attacks, to fighting a war against the Enclave, to trying to find a violin in a vault full of people who have been driven insane, to trying to escape from an alien abduction.  The enemies, (while not scientifically accurate to a how radiation would mutate them but who really cares?), have an incredible variety to them, ranging from bandits who will kill you for a penny, to super mutants who just seem to want to kill and eat, to various mutated animals that are just survive in the world, to entire political factions that are trying to take over the world.  It is a game that truly knows how to mix the horrors one would face in a post-apocalyptic world.
And as I mentioned before, the storyline and characters were surprisingly good, especially considering the developers.  Like Dragon Age: Origins, the story is relatively simple in nature, but manages to put a lot of subtle subtext into it.  Unlike games like Skyrim or Oblivion, you really get a feel for this world and what a hell hold it is and it really feels like it’s a world that desperately needs a savior.  The main storyline mostly consists of your character trying to find his/her father and eventually gets caught up in a war over a massive water purifier and it’s up for you to decide if you want to be the savior of this world and give water to all or damn it.  It’s difficult for me to explain what made it so good but anyone who has played this game knows exactly what I mean and it’s a modern game that I can recommend to everyone.  Truly one of the best games of the 7th Generation era.

Number 2
The Mass Effect Trilogy

            Yea, I know this is cheating, but for me the Mass Effect Trilogy is one complete story arc that tells one of the best Space Opera stories ever created.  Now, I already went over at length what made these games so good earlier this year so I’m just going to give you the cliff notes.  The first game had what was one of the, (if not the), best storylines that I have ever seen in a video game.  Like Dragon Age: Origins it was a story that was ripe with themes involving racial prejudice, very believably politics and told a grand epic story and created a fantastic universe for it all to take place in.  The second game radically improved upon the graphics, gameplay with a brand new paragon/renegade trigger, and gave us a cast of fleshed out characters along with a questionably ally.  Mass Effect 3 is where everything hit the fan and you were forced into a direct war with the Reapers and made you play diplomat and often made you choose between races and sometimes your friends.  If there is one fault to be found with this trilogy it would be with the ending, but even that I would argue was more or less fixed by the extended cut ending.  Check it out if you haven’t because it a series that is more than worth your time.

And At Number One
My Favorite Game of All Time Is
Age of Mythology

                Now this is a game that I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if none of you had heard of, as it seems to be a game that was lost in time.  This was a game that was released back in 2002 under the development of now defunct Ensemble Studios, the creators of the Age of Empires games.  For me, this was the game that truly got me into gaming.  It was the first game sense Star Fox 64 that I played religiously and kept going through my favorite campaign missions over and over again.  It was really the first time I had seen clear distinction between factions in an RTS and being the lover of mythology that I am I just loved being able to summon creatures from Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology to devastate my enemies.  And surprisingly, it told a grand epic story to boot.  Now for some reason, up until this point, most adaptations of mythology always seemed to have had Hades as their main villain and this is the game that seemed to set off a chain reaction of adaptations where this changed.  The story follows Arkantos, and admiral of Atlantis, (obviously before the city sunk), as he journeys across the world trying to stop the Cyclops Gargarensis from releasing the Titans from Tartarus and becomes directly involved in many stories in classical mythology, including fighting the Trojan War, bringing the Egyptian god Osiris back to life and forging a new hammer for Thor.  It’s a game that truly blew me away and is one that I would go back to and play any day.  It was as good then as it is now and it remains my favorite game of all time.

            And those are my personal favorite games of all time.  To those of you who read this whole thing, thank you for bearing with me.  Two years have gone by sense I started this blog and let’s hope that this year was a lot more productive then the last.  Again, thanks for being with me for so long and please continue to do so.  So until next time, this is The Illusive One Sighing off.