Today Halo Reach gets released and if everything goes as planned, I’m getting my hands on a copy. To prepare for it, I decided to watch Halo Legends, the anime project that was released a while ago. I’d put off watching it for the longest time, even though my best friend told me several times to watch it. Yeah, I’m an idiot that way.
But now I’ve watched it and I really liked it. Then again, I’m a complete Halo nut, so that’s hardly surprising. The DVD has everything a Halo fan can ask for, ranging from Forerunner back story, comedy bits (the 1337 episode was bordering on too silly, but it pulled it off), awesome action, insight into the Elites and it had lots of nods to the novels for those of us who have read them. The last episode where Master Chief, Kelly and Fred save Catherine Halsey was full of that kind of references, for example, but it wasn’t the only one. Basically, more projects like this should get done, because the end result was awesome.
So Halo Reach will be in my hands soon. I’m debating whether or not I should play it immediately or save it for when my best friend gets back from a work trip so we can co-op our way through it. It’s not like I have a lack of quality games to take on in the meantime anyway… We’ll see. Maybe I should get a poll going or something? “Which game in my pile of shame should I take on first?”
Time for some Sunday gaming goodness, getting this list down to 21. As usual, check out the Top 300 Games tag to look at older posts. Let’s go!
30: Soul Calibur 2 (GameCube) – We used to play endless matches in SC2 and this is my favorite beat ’em up of all time. What we did, usually we were four or five people playing together, was that we played a team game where we chose eight characters on each “side” and then we took turns playing until all eight on one side were defeated. I also plowed through the single player part of the game, which was more of a series of different challenges that you had to go through. Looking at the stats, I played about 1200 games with the character Yunsung. Link was a bit overpowered because he was the only one with long distance weapons, but if you just sidestepped, that was all taken care of. The extremely buxom girls in the game were… well, they had extremely large and bouncy boobs, so much so that it just became comical more than anything else. They’ve only gotten bigger in every sequel since then.
29: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC) – Whenever I think about this game, I think about atmosphere and a beautiful world to play in. The story is okay and the side quests are really good at times, but what kept me playing was the world I was playing in. It got me hooked from minute one with the beautiful music and the beautiful setting. Beautiful is really getting a lot of mileage here, but the game is truly beautiful in almost every single way. The only not-so-great part of it is the dialogue. The people look weird and there is a huge shortage of voice actors, so most of the people sound the same. It’s also a bit silly that in order to level up your athletics skill, you go around jumping constantly whenever you walk from one town to another. But all in all this is one of the best RPGs out there and I had so much fun with it.
28: Halo 2 (Xbox) – The game that got FPS multiplayer going on consoles. I played this two years ago or something on my Xbox 360, so I missed out on its release, but I really like the story part of the game and the time I’ve spent with it in local multiplayer has been a lot of fun too. The narrative in the single player story is interesting in how you switch between playing Master Chief and the Arbiter, giving you a better understanding of the enemy from the first game. I co-oped my way through it a couple of times and I think it’s interesting that they included a song by Breaking Benjamin at the end of the game. That felt like a gamble that, if it had paid off, we would see a lot of popular music in more games today, as opposed to just being the soundtrack in sports titles.
27: NHL 94 (SNES) – There was one pretty essential feature missing in this game that was added in later versions and that’s the season function. I promptly started playing my own season where I drew up a schedule on paper and counted goals and assists for all of my players. Most of the times I’ve played a season in the NHL games, I’ve played with the Detroit Red Wings since that’s my favorite team. Same thing here. Steve Yzerman ended up with something like 268 goals and 480 points in 84 games. As a reference for you normal people who aren’t complete hockey nuts like me, the most a player has ever scored in the real NHL is 215 points by the best player ever, Wayne Gretzky. In later years, me and my best friend have taken to playing Detroit vs Pittsburgh (his favorite team) in an endless stream of games. We’re so even and it’s a blast in every game. The games usually end up something like 9-8 to one of us.
26: Super Mario All Stars (SNES) – You can call this my cop out pick of the list because it’s a collection and I’ve been really really torn on where it should end up. We’ve pretty much all of us spent considerable amount of time with the Mario games, especially 1 and 3, but I don’t know… to me there’s something missing. I always preferred Mega Man to Super Mario back in the day if I could have my pick. Regardless, this is a collection of games that is almost second to none. SMB1 is THE video game, in my eyes the one that started it all (or restarted it all, if you started with Pong and those oldies). SMB2 is the black sheep of the family, but it’s still fun. SMB3 is one of the most impressive evolutions of a game series ever and then you have SMB The Lost Levels, which I’ve never actually finished. I will probably go back to it just to finish it one day, probably as both Mario and Luigi, but until then, it’ll have to remain that “too damn hard!” game I never managed to beat.
25: Resident Evil Remake (GameCube) – As good as RE4 and 5 are, they don’t hold a candle to the original game. It was the first game I got for the GameCube and today it’s the only one I haven’t wanted to sell. It is beautiful and sooooo damn creepy with atmosphere so thick you can slice through it with a knife. It’s a testament to some games really benefitting from remakes and it makes you think about how other games could be remade.
24: NHL 10 (Xbox 360) – At the time of writing this, it is four days until NHL 11 is released here in Sweden. I’m getting it on release and I’m trading in this sucker. Since I got it, I’ve played countless games, most of them online. It is THE hockey game to play and I hope that the next one takes it a step further. My friends and I have had endless fun playing together in the couch against random people on Xbox Live. The Be a Pro feature was fun at first but it didn’t hold up for long, especially when you started playing online. The center Thomas Johansson with the jersey number 36 was drafted by the Washington Capitals and quickly rose through the ranks, won the rookie of the year trophy and all that jazz. Then I stopped playing and forgot about that feature as soon as online matches caught my eye and I never looked back. At the end of summer my nephew was trashtalking about how he could beat me and I told him that he had no chance whatsoever. Finally we sat down and 12 straight wins (with a combined score of 80-23 or something like that) for me later, he wasn’t so cocky anymore. That was fun.
23: Half-Life 2 (PC) – I feel that this game is insanely overrated, much like Portal. Yeah, both are part of The Orange Box, but I felt there was such a difference between them, so I kept them as separate picks. I include in this pick, however, the “Episodes”. Writing this now, we are still waiting for Episode 3, so the story is not entirely finished, but it’s been years since Episode 2 was released, so fuck it. This game kept the narrative style from the first game and used more engaging supporting characters to tell a deeper story in HL2, for better or worse. Sure, Alyx Vance is a good female game character, but all too often I felt that she was leading me by the hand every step of the way. The pacing is one of the best things about this game and that’s an underrated thing. But the real star of the show is a weapon, just like in Portal. The Gravity Gun made this game what it is. Along with a solid set of vehicles and intriguing set pieces, the story has gotten deeper and deeper for every part, ending with a heartwrenching loss at the end of Episode 2. How it all ends in Episode 3 will be very interesting.
22: The Legend of Zelda (NES) – Link’s first adventure was awesome and it was also responsible for me looking up a word in the dictionary for the first time in my then short life. There’s a cave where an old man says something about a secret and a peninsula. I was seven or eight years old English wasn’t my first language, so peninsula was pure gibberish for me. Getting it translated didn’t help in making sense of the damn clue, but I finished the game anyway. One of the all-time classics. Not a lot more to say here, actually. Just give it a go if you haven’t already.
21: Mario Kart Double Dash (GameCube) – Another couch multiplayer favorite for the GameCube. We never tried connecting several GameCubes, although with hindsight I think we should’ve given it a shot. Then again, hindsight is always 20/20 and we still had loads of fun with this game. I never fell in love with the SNES or N64 versions and the Wii and DS versions are lackluster in comparison IMO. This is it when it comes to kart action. All the tracks are a lot of fun and the side games are also a really entertaining and that’s what this is supposed to be about. Pure goddamn fun.
Now I’m down to the top 20. From now on it’s nothing but slam dunks all the way to the top.
Climbing closer to the top of the list, with this one we get down to 31, leaving us with the last tenth. No more chitchat. Check out the older posts in the blog series by clicking the Top 300 Games tag.
40: Halo 3 ODST (Xbox 360) – Bungie took the narrative of the Halo series to new and exciting places with ODST, which worked really well considering the group we followed instead of just Master Chief or the Arbiter. I loved the moody setting of ODST and it was, as is usually the case with Halo games, great fun to play in co-op. The casting of the voice actors was perfect and having a bunch of Serenity actors was a stroke of genius. The soundtrack also featured different music compared to the “regular” Halo games and that was also spot on. The downside was that it was pretty short and you couldn’t play Firefight online through matchmaking. I didn’t really play it that much locally anyway, but it was a nice addition.
39: Blade Runner (PC) – Voxels again! Well, some of it. Apparently the characters were made with voxels so they could be more detailed, or something like that. At the time of its release, it looked awesome and I think I finished it three or four times. You get different endings depending on what decisions you make and what people you talk to. This whole game is all about powerful narrative and even though you should have Blade Runner the movie in your repertoire – and that helps a lot to understand the game – it’s not needed to fully get the game. What really got to me about the game back when I first played it was also that it’s a point and click adventure, but not really. You don’t get a thousand weird inventory items and there are a bunch of other unconventional things about it, but it’s still a point and click affair. Masterfully done too, I might add.
38: Life Force (NES) – This is shoot ’em up at its best in my opinion. The controls are perfect, the music is perfect, the feel of the game is perfect and the length of the game is just right. Add the Konami code to the mix and you have 8 bit perfection as far as spaceships go. There’s not really a lot more to say here.
37: Fallout (PC) – I remember getting the Swedish PC Gamer magazine one day and on the demo disc that came with every issue, there was a preview copy of Fallout. It was a small town that wasn’t included in the full game and you basically went in there guns blazing. I’ve shot countless guys with burst mode in the Fallout games, but I still remember that first time I shot a leather-clad punk with the SMG and he staggered for a bit while falling to pieces. It blew me away and, although I had already fallen in love with the setting and atmosphere, I was completely floored by that display of balls to the wall violence. The game may look dated today, but I still think it holds up today. The story kept you on your toes throughout the entire game and there are few games that pull off the moral gray areas of all the actors and factions.
36: Mega Man X (SNES) – The only Mega Man game I’ve really played on the SNES. I tried X3, but that felt way too muddled with peripheral stuff which took away from the core gameplay. That doesn’t hold true for X1 though, because Capcom hit the nail on the head with that one. It’s a very good balance of story, bosses, skill development and music. You can play the game from beginning to end and still miss a huge amount of extra stuff that you can get if you revisit the levels at different times. I kind of miss Dr. Wily as the villain, because Sigma feels a bit too serious for a Mega Man game.
35: Dead Space (Xbox 360) – Dead Space is the reason I got myself a surround sound system and that game alone was worth paying for it. The sound plays such a big part in this horror game and the developers have created a very living and believable world. When I played the game, I also watched the tie-in animated movie, which only built on the experience. The game stands on its own more than well enough though, so don’t think that it’s needed to watch that movie. Whenever I think of Dead Space there’s one word that pops up in my head more than any other and that word is “visceral”. You FEEL this game when you play it. You are practically right there in that world and even though most of the scares are of the cheap “BOO!” variety, the main scare factor of the game is the general atmosphere and creepy feeling of solitude.
34: Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox) – I didn’t have an Xbox back when this was released and at the time I was playing what I considered to be better games on the PC. You CAN’T play an FPS with a console controller, I said. Then when the PC port was released a few years later, it was fun and all, but I still didn’t see what was so groundbreaking. After that I’ve played through it again on my Xbox 360 (backwards compatibility for the win) and that time something happened. I saw how this game made it possible to play FPS games on consoles, thanks to its perfect controls. It just worked. I also started paying attention to the story, something I hadn’t done when I played the PC version, and even though it’s cliche and all, it really got me hooked.
33: Liero (PC) – The original Worms got some Finnish (I think) guy thinking “wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to play this in real-time instead of waiting your turn?” and Liero was the result. And it was awesome. My friends and I played this A LOT, sitting two people in front of one computer, because network multiplayer wasn’t possible. We came up with a version that we called Action Liero, based on the Action mods for a few FPS games. We took down the health of the worms to 10% and severely restricted the weapons. We played it so much that we were able to fly across the screen at incredible speeds and still hit our targets the majority of the time. It was like a ballet of tiny worm violence.
32: Max Payne (PC) – Yeah, yeah, he looks constantly constipated. I know. That still doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s one of the most action-packed games ever. The comic book narrative combined with the dark voice-overs are perfect and James McCaffrey has the perfect voice. Why he wasn’t cast in the movie instead of Marky Mark Wahlberg is a complete joke. There still isn’t a game series that’s done the bullet time effect in a better way.
31: Rainbow Six Vegas (Xbox 360) – This game is some of the most fun I’ve had and the atmosphere is everywhere in this one too, both when you play solo or cooperatively. Perfect controls for a tactical shooter and even though it would be nice to have the skill point system from the sequel, I like this game more because of the environments and the story. I can’t wait for the next part in the franchise.
Well, that’s it for this post. As usual, comments are appreciated.
After watching some videos for Halo Reach, I’m starting to build up a lot of expectations. Normally, I’m pretty mellow when it comes to me buying into the hype of games. I can look forward to playing games, but that doesn’t mean that I go nuts about them. For some reason, I’m not like that with the Halo games. Here’s a video where one of the Bungie guys are showing off some multiplayer action while providing some interesting commentary and all the small details have gotten me all excited.
It’s nothing extremely special, really, but it’s all the small things put together that I really like. The funny thing is that I haven’t actually played Halo 3 that much online. I’ve been wanting to, but I’ve had other games that I’ve wanted to play more, mostly to get through single player story stuff. But I think that I might actually log a lot of time with Halo Reach. I bought Halo ODST, so I should be able to download the Reach beta and try it out.
I also can’t wait for the story mode of Halo Reach. I usually play it through myself first and then I get a few playthroughs co-operatively with some friends and I expect the same to happen with this one.