Time to fire up this list again, now that I’m back in action and everything. For those of you who are only checking out the list because I’m linking to it, I’ve been cranking out a few other posts lately. Check them out if you’d like. Anyhow, time to get down to 51 so there are only 50 games left. As usual you can find the older posts by checking out this tag.
60: No One Lives Forever (PC) – Cate Archer is the agent that, to me, is a classy mix between James Bond, Austin Powers and whatever female action hero you want to throw at the screen. In fact, Archer’s boss seems to be ripped right out of Austin Powers, copying the boss from those movies. But it all ends up being a very nice mix of action, bright colors, fun gadgets, hilarious dialogue and just an overall sense of humor that’s spot on.
59: Metroid Prime (GameCube) – I never actually completed this game, because I took a break pretty far into it and then when I got back to playing it I had forgotten the layout of all the places and I was supposed to find a bunch of hidden glyphs or something. That’s one of my biggest gaming regrets, but in the end… it doesn’t really matter. But I digress. Metroid Prime was for a very long time the GameCube game with the most powerful ambience. At first I was very skeptical about how the developers would transfer the Metroid feel into the first person perspective, but they pulled it off. The music also needs to be mentioned because even if it’s distinctly different from the other Metroid games, it’s still pure perfection for this particular game. Some of the platforming gets a bit old at times, but the action is tense and generally the play sessions end up being really long because you can’t stop playing.
58: Rainbow Six (PC) – I bought this game before I bought the book, but the game was goddamn awesome back in the day. It was like nothing else that had been released back then. Everything was just run and shoot monsters and suddenly, here came a tactical shooter where you shot terrorists and a single bullet could kill. You could also plan the missions in detail, but I wasn’t very good at that. I usually let my guys stand back so I could sneak through the level myself, but there were a few missions that forced me to plan an assault that came through two or three entry points simultaneously and that was just beautiful. The game’s story is a bit gimped compared to the novel, but for the time it was released, it was pretty good. I just wished I read the book before I played the game.
57: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360) – I should begin saying that I never got hooked on the online multiplayer in this game. We played a bunch of split screen deathmatch, but my most lasting impression of this game is the single player part. The sequel was waaaay too all over the place, whereas this one was very focused and the narrative moving between characters and present/past worked perfectly. It wasn’t over-used or anything. The sneak-and-snipe mission in flashback Russia is one of the most memorable gaming moments ever. The game is extremely tense throughout the entire experience and it’s a must-play if you have an Xbox 360. There’s just one thing that got to me with this game and that’s the fact that I got it into my head that I should max out the achievements, resulting in me grinding my way through the story on veteran mode, which in turn resulted in me dying about … hell, I don’t know. 2500 times? I really have no clue. I just know that I died. A lot. And I didn’t even max out the game. I gave up on the next-to-last mission. Still an awesome game, though.
56: Bioshock (Xbox 360) – A lot of people love this game and praise it because of the freedom in how you choose your skill progression and whatnot. Same with the storyline and the way the characters and the story are presented. These people have obviously not played System Shock 2. I have and that’s why Bioshock ends up in spot 56 and not higher up. Seriously though, it is a very special game and it has mood and ambience coming out the wazoo. Rapture, the underwater city the game takes place in, is a character in itself because of its presentation. I also love that this game takes an enormous dump on the so-called “philosophy” of the hypocritical and intellectually dishonest bitch/so-called author Ayn Rand. Objectivism deserves every bit of shit thrown at it and this game illustrates beautifully how fucked up it is.
55: Advance Wars DS (Nintendo DS) – When I got my DS, I got a handful of games and this was one of them. I didn’t really get around to playing it all that quickly because I didn’t really know what to expect from it. I hadn’t played the Advance Wars games that had been released for the Gameboy Advance, so I wasn’t really hyped about the DS game. Then I started playing it and I just couldn’t put it down. It is a perfect game for the DS as a platform and while the characters and story are EXTREMELY corny, they actually work and they actually engage me as a player to keep going until the end. The single player story part is also perfectly balanced in terms of difficulty progression.
54: Day of the Tentacle (PC) – This could very well be the funniest game I’ve ever played all the way through. It has some of the most hilarious writing ever and it’s perfectly complemented by the animation, art style and voice acting. Hoagie is my favorite character, but they’re all golden. The puzzles are really ingenious, especially since you have to send stuff back and forth between different time periods.
53: Thief: The Dark Project (PC) – Garrett, the protagonist of the Thief series, is one of my all-time anti-heroes. He does the right thing when he has to, but he also does the morally wrong thing when he wants to. He’s also been the inspiration to a character I started writing a novel about. I played the second game before I played this one, so it was like taking a step back in some respects, but not enough to make it a worse experience overall. There are several scary levels in the game, but the Bonehoard almost made me shit my pants. The zombies were extremely scary because, as Garrett, you’re not very powerful. The regular guards were also scary, of course, but the unstoppable zombies were one step beyond annoying. Tense doesn’t even begin to describe the Thief series. It is a beautiful experience.
52: Flashback (SNES) – How a game could have such a strong and movie-like narrative on such a relatively weak console as the SNES is astounding. I would almost go so far as to call it pixel perfection, if it weren’t for the somewhat confusing beginning of the game. Every movement by every character in the game seems so lifelike, which was very impressive at that time. Motion capture wasn’t really common then. The whole job system is also interesting.
51: Neverwinter Nights (PC) – I never actually really played this game on my own. I spent a week or so at a friend’s house and we co-oped our way through NWN. Another friend jumped in here and there too. I was playing as a rogue/mage while my friend was a tank wielding dual weapons. I pelted the enemies with arrows and sometimes laid traps. Later on I started throwing magic missiles and fireballs wherever I could and I also found that buff spells were really useful. Normally I don’t use buff spells in RPGs. Anyway, NWN’s story is nothing I remember right now, but I do remember the atmosphere. That game’s atmosphere made the entire experience. The co-op element was also extremely entertaining and easy to control.
There, down to the fifties, down to the nitty gritty.
Not a lot to say here, just keep it going. Check this out if you want to see the rest of the posts about the list.
175: Hitman 2 (PC) – The second game was different from the first in that it gave you an alternative if your regular assassination attempt didn’t work. Regular being using disguises and all that jazz. So what would you do? Shoot your way through it. The game had markedly better shooting controls.
174: Mario Kart DS (Nintendo DS) – I never got that thing that made it possible to connect your DS via wifi to a USB connection point in order to connect the DS to the internet so you could play multiplayer online instead of just within your wifi radius. That’s why this game is down here. It got comparatively boring pretty fast to only play the AI. Still, it’s Mario Kart, so it’s on the list.
173: Army of Two (Xbox 360) – Cookie-cutter shooter but it becomes quite entertaining in co-op. Not blow-your-socks-off great, but solid and enjoyable. Also, the camp factor of this game is through the roof. Miles better than the sequel, since it has a clear bad guy you go after and the environments are a lot more varied too.
172: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (Nintendo DS) – For some reason, this wasn’t as fun as the first game and I’ve been trying to put my finger on why that is, but no such luck. It could be the whole postapocalypse vibe that permeates the entire game. Or that the characters aren’t as entertaining as in the first. However, the skirmish mode is still awesome and the fantastic concept of turn-based strategy is still there.
171: F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (Xbox 360) – The biggest problems with this game were that the narrative was all over the place and that the environment, the ravaged city, got tiresome too fast. I also didn’t think that it had as good of a kinetic feel to it as the first game, especially during the firefights.
170: Worms Armageddon (Xbox 360) – I’m talking about the second Worms on XBLA here. Great game for couch competition, especially the game type where you and the opponent gets a fortress each and you’re lobbing grenades at each other. I tried playing it on Xbox Live, but most people were too boring, never being willfully chaotic, instead just playing tactically to win. Meh.
169: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 (GameCube) – This is the only skateboarding game that I gave a proper shot and for some reason, it stuck with me and I had a lot of fun with it. I tried out some later Tony Hawk games and I’ve also tried out the Skate games, but they’re just “meh” with me.
168: Wii Sports (Wii) – I like this the most when it’s played during a party involving alcohol and lots of people. Or when I try to hit homeruns. I like the baseball part the best, but boxing is fun too, although I suck at the controls in that.
167: Grand Theft Auto 4 (Xbox 360) – I think I’ve played about four or five “missions” of the main story. Hardly anything at all. I still spent 10+ hours with the game, running around like a madman, having fun by creating havoc, shooting people and stealing cars. I actually want to get through the story of this one, but a lot of it is soooo tedious. The brother, for example. Why you’re not presented with an option to shoot him within five minutes is beyond me.
166: Lumines Live (Xbox 360) – I first played this on my friend Micke’s PlayStation Portable years ago and it almost became reason enough for me to buy a PSP, although that never happened. But then when Lumines was released for the 360 a few years later, I picked it up and I just love the music together with the puzzle gameplay. It’s still one of the best puzzle games around and it’s like you get into a trance-like state when you’re completely into it.
165: Lost Planet (Xbox 360) – Lost Planet was the first game I ever played on an Xbox 360 and the first game I experienced on a high definition TV. I tried the demo at my friend’s place on his brand new HDTV and it blew me away. So later when I got my own 360 and HDTV, this was among the first games I got for it. It has incredibly cheesy cutscenes, but the action is very good, both when you’re on foot and when you’re in a mech. Some of the bosses are huge and the game gives you a great sense of size.
164: Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (PC) – This was the first really solid WW2 shooter if I remember correctly. There’s not a lot more to say, I think, because the whole WW2 shooter has been done to death at this point.
163: Splinter Cell: Double Agent (PC) – The story of Sam Fisher, part four. In this game, Sam thinks he doesn’t have a reason to live and becomes a double agent for one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world. It’s a pretty interesting game, actually, in how you have to play two sides, but some of the pacing in the game gets weird. I got to the cruise ship level and stopped playing there for some reason. I think I’ll finish the game someday, because it’s still a pretty good game with solid sneaking.
162: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Gameboy Advance) – I love the Metroidvania games, but this is the worst of them. It is all over the place and a lot of the skills and mechanics are subpar for the genre. Still, it’s a Metroidvania game and I love ’em. Good thing I got this on a dual cartridge along with Aria of Sorrow, which I’ll come to later.
161: Daigasso Band Brothers (Nintendo DS) – A music game on the Nintendo DS? You betcha! I got this as a Japanese import and I don’t know if it was ever released in English. It works kind of like the current console music games, except you don’t get any weird peripherals. It tells you when to press the different buttons on the DS, for how long and everything else. The tricky tunes get really hard when you have to switch between eight different buttons + modifying them with the L and R buttons. On the other hand it’s a lot of fun to play the classic Nintendo music.
160: Hexic HD (Xbox 360) – Another 360 puzzle game, this one is quite the opposite of something like Lumines. Most other puzzle games I’ve played have been designed around pressure mounting by giving you less and less time to do what you have to do. Not Hexic. Well, excluding one of the game modes of course. Most of the time you can just watch the screen and take all the time in the world to figure out what you need to do.
159: Firepower (Amiga 500) – Oh, here’s an old-timer that has gotten waaaaaay too little attention. This was one of the most fun games on the Amiga 500 and I just loved playing the versus mode. My friend and I even made this contraption to put up a cardboard screen between us so we could only see our own half of the monitor. Tank action at its best.
158: Command & Conquer (PC) – The first one. It still has the best death scream of any game ever. This was one of the first two games I bought for myself when I got my own PC back in 1996. The other one is in the 12th spot on this list. I always liked the original series more than the Red Alert spinoffs. If nothing else, then just for the reason that the commando was so much cooler than that damn Tanya in Red Alert.
157: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (PC) – I had a lot of fun with this because I didn’t feel like playing a simulator version of the Star Wars flying games. You just plopped down in front of the computer and pulled off flying that was awesome.
156: Another World (SNES) – Also known as Out of this World. This game is actually not that long, but it has style and atmosphere in spades. Excellent game about someone who wakes up in a strange world. Created by Delphine Software, this had great control and was the start of something great, the result of which will show up in the 50s on this list.
155: Age of Empires 2 (PC) – Another RTS that I spent a lot of multiplayer time with and virtually no singleplayer time. I was never close to being the best of the bunch when me and my friends played this, but it was still pretty fun to build a base and defend it, especially the castles. My favorite units were the Teutonian knights. Damn, they could take a beating before going down.
154: Quake 4 (PC) – The second game in the storyline started in Quake 2, this game gets you back on Stroggos and it’s a wild ride. The wildest part is when you’re turned into a Strogg soldier. That was actually pretty cool and gruesome. Standard action with good graphics, solid game.
153: New Super Mario Bros (Nintendo DS) – I had a lot of expectations for this game when it was released, but they were tempered quickly when I started playing it. It was just not the same thing anymore, not the same, good, old Mario gameplay. I don’t know what it was, but it just felt wrong.
152: Call of Duty (PC) – Pretty much the same as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, but this one had more narrative flair in how it intertwined the different stories. Playing as a Soviet soldier was very refreshing back then. Other than that, not a lot to say, since it’s another WW2 shooter.
151: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS) – What set this Metroidvania game apart from the others was the whole control-two-characters-at-once design. It was actually pretty cool and it made you think more about how you’d tackle each room, but in the end it had a pretty pathetic story that wasn’t very interesting. What was more interesting was the stuff you unlocked when you finished the story. Suddenly, you could control those two scary sisters and you controled them with the DS stylus.
Halfway through the list now, getting closer to the end. I’ll do two more entries of 25 games each and then start with the top 100 with 10 games in each post.