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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.

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. 

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