Final part of the Top 300 Games list. The older parts can be found here. This part of the list was so hard to rank, so think of it more as a collection of number ones, because they are all that good. Let’s go!
10: Fallout 2 (PC) – The only game where you really have the freedom to be both good and/or evil. It also has some of the best writing in a video game ever. And the best moody, dark, post-apocalyptic atmosphere music ever. It’s funny, it’s poignant, it’s raw, it’s just so multifaceted. I’ll give you an example. When you get to a small village called Modoc, you can sleep with either the son or daughter of a farmer. They are really jonesing for some bedroom action. If you do, the farmer catches you and forces you to marry whomever it is you got nasty with. Problem? Hardly, you just go the Slavers in The Den and sell them your spouse. Yes, it’s that kind of a twisted game and it is awesome for it. Pure genius.
9: Halo 3 (Xbox 360) – The third and, at this point, final part in the Halo story starring Master Chief. It’s the most solid console shooter I’ve ever played in almost every respect. It’s a great conclusion of the Halo story and it’s so much fun to play in co-op. It’s also awesome in multiplayer, both online and right at home on the couch with three of your friends. I’ve had so much fun with this game. It doesn’t have a weak point in my book.
8: System Shock 2 (PC) – I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared as when I played this game for the first few hours. At one point I crawled into a ventilation tract and just stayed there until The Many were gone. This game and its generally undiscovered greatness is the main reason why I’m annoyed by the attention and accolades heaped upon BioShock. BioShock is, apart from graphics, an inferior game in pretty much every conceivable way. You can play this game any way you want. You really can and not a lot of games can make that claim. The skill trees are very interesting and there is a metric fuck-ton of different ways to customize your character. BioShock is a joke in comparison. Shodan is one of the best villains ever and the narrative is insanely effective.
7: Mega Man 2 (NES) – Mega Man 2 is pixel perfection. It is the pinnacle of 8bit gaming. It is a perfect game. The theme music from the first Wily stage is the best game music ever composed. Metal Man’s weapon is the perfect Mega Man weapon. It just has it all. It’s a goddamn awesome game. Nuff said.
6: Zelda 3: A Link to the Past (SNES) – This is the last great Zelda game as far as I’m concerned. This will probably never be topped. The balance in this game between action, adventure, exploration, puzzles, tension and pure fun is perfect. The pacing and the narrative is awesome. And of course, it explains who Link, Zelda and Ganon are… WITHOUT FUCKING UP THE WHOLE STORYLINE *COUGH* OCARINA OF TIME *COUGH*!!! I will get to OoT later and I will explain further why it is not on this list, but that is the biggest factor. Zelda 3 is pure Zelda. When you go to get the Master Sword is one of the most atmospheric moments in gaming history. Perfection.
5: Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS) – I haven’t played through this game yet. I’m at the end game, but I still have a ways to go, as is often the case with JRPGs. This is the greatest of them all. It might just be 16bit graphics and sound, but this game conveys so much emotion that it’s off the scale. It just grabs you and refuses to let you go. Hell, I never thought I’d care this much about a robot and a frog and even a villain. And Marle and Crono’s connection is just perfect. I love this game, pure and simple. Just play it. It’s like a fine wine, it only gets better with age.
4: Deus Ex (PC) – I recently replayed this game all the way through for the first time in six or seven years and it still holds up. Incredible feat, especially considering it being a first person shooter. I tried to make an effort to make my character a bit different than what I usually play as and I discovered that putting points into melee and using one of those nano-swords along with the melee combat bonus implant will decimate any fighting force in seconds. Especially if you have damage reduction and a speed booster so you can take a bunch of hits while you run up to people and chop them down. I discover new things about this game every time I play it. Just fantastic.
3: Secret of Mana (SNES) – I got this game for Christmas 1993, I think. I told my parents that I didn’t want anything else and I even snuck up at night to look at the presents under the tree. I found one that was for me that was shaped like a SNES game box and opened one of the folds and saw the title of the game in its dark green box along with a screeshot. Then I went to bed, calm and pleased that I would get what I wanted the most. The next day, on Christmas eve, I got it and I didn’t even have to fake surprise, because it all came naturally anyway 🙂 Then I went up to my room and popped the game into my SNES. When the first notes of the title music hit me I just couldn’t press start to start playing. I just sat there on my bed listening to the music over and over again. It was pure magic. It still is, I guess. Anyway, I played through most of this game with a friend of mine and I remember thinking at one point that “man, this game is really long” and I wasn’t even halfway yet. But it kept me going all the way through and the entire game is just genius. Sure, the story and narrative aren’t as deep as Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI, but it still beats them in my book. The art direction, the music, the fighting, the leveling up, the characters, the mood and atmosphere… it’s just all there.
2: Super Metroid (SNES) – Apparently this game was so good that Nintendo didn’t think they could do it justice with a sequel for the Nintendo 64, so that’s why they skipped that generation for a Metroid game. I love Metroidvania games and this is the ultimate game in that genre. You can play this one in so many different ways. Speedrun? You got it. Discover everything? Sure, and even if you think that you’ve discovered most things, I can guarantee you that there is even more in there. It has so many secrets for you to find and this is THE most atmospheric game I’ve ever played. The controls are perfect, the graphics are perfect, the music is perfect, the pacing is perfect, everything about this damn game is absolutely perfect. Just play it.
1: Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn (PC) – Here we are. The number one spot. I don’t want to count how many hours I’ve spent on this game, but I’ve loved pretty much every one of them. It’s by far and without hesitation the best RPG I’ve ever played and it has so damn much you can experience and if you want to get into the mod scene it grows even bigger. The crazy thing is that I never even got around to playing Throne of Bhaal. If I did, it would probably be a runaway victory instead of a neck-and-neck finish like it is right now. I don’t really know what to say about Baldur’s Gate 2… it’s so damn great!
The next step in this list is to make it a permanent part of the blog and add a few games that I’ve played since I started writing the list, such as Splinter Cell Conviction, which I’ve already written about in this blog. I will also make an aggregate list in a post so you can see all of it in its entirety. Then I’ll start writing the spinoff lists, starting with the games that I don’t want on my list even though popular opinion might put them there. Zelda: Ocarina of Time is number one on that list. It’s a bastardized Zelda game as far as I’m concerned. I have no idea what time frame I have on the next stuff since I don’t have as much of a drive to write when I work full-time, but it’ll get cranked out sooner or later.