Inspired by Suskie's post a bit ago, I've spent this evening piecing together my Top 50 Games. Just because I'm that big a geek, really. I threw this together with the sort of careless 'caution-to-the-wind' method that should give the truest results. This isn't about what's technically the best. This is about what games I've loved, and which ones will stick in my memory in the coming weeks, months and years.
As such, I was surprised to see a few of these end up in the list. I awarded STALKER: Clear Sky a 7/10 on release just few weeks back, and I absolutely stick by that assessment, but when weighed up against some of the other great games I've played it managed to somehow hold its own. The Nomad Soul is an ancient adventure game that no one really played, because of its dodgy image and nasty controls, but I can still see the city of Omikron in all its glory in my mind's eye. Deus Ex ends up not being number 1. Baldur's Gate ends up being absent all together.
I feel I should give a special mention to In Memoriam, which clearly should be joint 50th, but isn't because I stick to the rules. If Uplink wasn't around, that lovely piece of France would be in there too.
50 - Uplink (2001)
Rarely do games provide this much tension. A simple yet wonderful idea, gorgeously crafted.
49 - Tomb Raider (1996)
I remember being absolutely mesmerised by this upon release. Deserves its spot for nostalgia value alone.
48 - The Witcher (2007)
I was surprised to enjoy this as much as I did. Genuinely lovely RPG, if a little crass.
47 - Quake (1996)
Too brown, too sparse, but still such a blast to play even now. Its technical innovation at the time was flabbergasting.
46 - Metroid Prime (2003)
On release, I'd have predicted this would have stuck around high up for a lot longer. It's not aged well, but its depth and its intuitive control mechanisms still stand out.
45 - Eternal Darkness (2002)
Survival horror / adventure hybrid with enough spark to keep it in memory for years.
44 - FlatOut 2 (2008)
Big cars and big explosions. What more could you ask for?
43 - MDK 2 (2000)
Oddball craziness with a cool dog. Staggeringly fun stuff.
42 - The Longest Journey (2000)
Still probably the PC's finest 'serious' adventure game. How depressing is that?
41 - Guitar Hero 2 (2006)
Oh yeah, I am a ROCK GOD!
40 - Fallout 2 (1998)
Deep, immersive and thoroughly adult. I cannot wait for October 30th to revist this wonderful world from a new perspective.
39 - The Nomad Soul (1999)
The first 'immersive sim'? Paved the way for open-plan adventuring in years to come. Its universe is still incredible.
38 - Wii Sports (2006)
An impressive tech demo... until you play with a bunch of mates after a night out. Then it becomes your entire world.
37 - Metal Gear Solid (1999)
Stealth to the mainstream. Well, not real stealth, but a darn good old-school romp nevertheless.
36 - Alien vs Predator 2 (2001)
The first PC shooter since 'That One' to really challenge for the crown. Clearly surpassed today, but it does relentless jumpiness better than Doom 3 could ever have hoped.
35 - American McGee's Alice (2000)
It will ruin your childhood memories in the finest possible way.
34 - God of War (2005)
Wonderous symbolic adventuring. One of the PS2's crowning moments.
33 - Doom (1993)
I challenge anyone to play it even now and not be impressed by how entertaining this thing is.
32 - Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)
The most endearing and lighthearted of the series manages to be one of the best.
31 - Halo: Combat Evolved (2002)
30 - STALKER: Clear Sky (2008)
Buggy and confusing, but The Zone remains one of the finest videogame worlds ever realised.
29 - Grand Theft Auto 3 (2001)
Yo' mama's yo' sister. And Lazlow's a genius.
28 - Grim Fandango (1998)
More depression-inducing adventuring from when the genre used to be good. A hilarious masterpiece.
27 - Thief II: The Metal Age (2000)
Still the pinnacle of the series. Terrifying and rewarding.
26 - F.E.A.R. (2005)
Create-your-own John Wu action, and one of the best jump moments ever in a game. Winner.
25 - Quake III Arena (1999)
So fast it's ridiculous. So enjoyable it's untrue. Roll on Quake Live.
24 - Deus Ex: Invisible War (2004)
No, honestly, it's actually really good. You there at the back - stop moaning and pay more attention!
23 - Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
Monstrous. In the best possible way.
22 - Giants: Citizen Kabuto (2001)
Why hasn't anyone done anything like this since? Oh, yeah, Project Nomads - but that wasn't a patch on Giants.
21 - Portal (2007)
This was a triumph. I'm making a note here: HUGE success.
20 - No One Lives Forever (2000)
Simply marvellous. Kitch spy-hero spoof done better than any of the Austin Powers films came close to.
19 - Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
Stands head and shoulders above the majority of the pack even today. Gloriously crafted action-adventure.
18 - ICO (2002)
Videogames can't be art, you say? Stop being bloody stupid and play ICO. Never has so much creative emotion been displayed to wonderfully in an interactive world. Gorgeous. Exquisite. And now I'm going to shut up before I'm lost forever in memories.
17 - Medieval: Total War (2002)
To be honest, the series has improved since then, but it's Medieval that I remember losing myself in for weeks. I'm not even that into strategy games, and this one blew me away.
16 - Half-Life (1998)
To this day, I still can't get over how astonishingly ahead of its time Half-Life was. I maintain, each time it's mentioned, that if this were released now it would receive 9/10 scores across the board, at least. A stupendous leap forward for the FPS.
15 - Counter-Strike (2003)
And some amateurs made the best online game of its time out of its open-source engine. This was my pet game for many months. I was in a clan and everyfin'.
14 - Mario Kart: Double dash (2003)
My housemates and I revisited this last year. It was nearly the end of us.
13 - Far Cry (2004)
Look, just ignore the Trigens, okay? The first half alone is enough to lift it this high in the list. Just beautiful. Far Cry 2 is on my 'most wanted' list...
12 - Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis (2001)
The most hauntingly real portrayal of Scary War in the world. Spellbinding tactical FPS that does wonders for your survival instinct. Probably my most replayed game ever.
11 - Team Fortress 2 (2007)
Play with the right people, who know what they're doing, and it becomes the most incredible, frantic, tactical, magical FPS on the internet. Play it with gun-mad idiots and it's still a barrel of laughs. Delicious lunchtime distraction.
10 - Planescape: Torment (1999)
Nothing has compared to this level of depth and immersion in an RPG. Nothing's even come remotely close. Tantilising, scary, hilarious and moving role-player with one of the most breathtaking scripts on the planet.
9 - System Shock 2 (1999)
A shining example of atmosphere in videogames. This is more than just a game; it's a thrill-a-minute experience, even despite its relatively slow pace. It features the finest character ever conceived for a computer game, and one of the best plot twists to boot. And the monkeys are funny.
8 - Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
I genuinely nearly cried at Morrowind's beauty the first time I played it. An enormous leap forward for the genre, setting the benchmark that all modern fantasy RPGs - including its successor - aspire to.
7 - BioShock (2007)
You're either a madman or Mike Suskie if you weren't utterly captivated by the story of Rapture, BioShock's underwater utopia-gone-wrong. Staggeringly beautiful, and more intelligent than you or I will ever be. And yeah, Suskie did quite like it, but you know...
6 - Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (2004)
Criminally underrated, disgustingly buggy immersive sim from the fallen masters of the role-player. Vampire dares to tread waters few go anywhere near, and pulls it off with enough panache to be considered a true masterpiece. And that haunted house level is astonishing. Get a spare pair of pants ready.
5 - Mass Effect (2007)
There are a lot of RPGs up here, aren't there? I wonder what that says about me. Anyway, this is one of the best out there - wonderful sci-fi stuff, rich in back-story and divine character interactions. It has its problems, but the majority is so spectacular that you'd be a fool to even care.
4 - Super Mario Galaxy (2006)
One of those games that just works. Truly special and inspired level design is the order of the day here, with our loveable plummer travelling around the galaxy on his latest full-blown quest. Old-school gaming really doesn't get any better than this.
3 - Half-Life 2 (2004)
A spectacular full-stop at the end of a long path for the set-piece driven FPS. City 17 and its surroundings are so ingeniously realised that you have to constantly pinch yourself to remember it's not real. Valve have a real talent for telling a story so effortlessly that you don't even realise it's being told. You just know stuff. And Alyx Vance remains the crowning achievement in videogame character design.
2 - Deus Ex (2000)
Started what is arguably the most important genre in modern videogaming. Deus Ex is an enormous masterpiece on so many levels, from its incredible scale to the finest details. You can do as much or as little as you want - but you'll absolutely want to push it to its limits. Even then, it constantly amazes each and every second. Simply ingenious.
1 - Grand Theft Auto 4 (2008)
It's nothing new and it's vaguely predictable, but I honestly haven't enjoyed a game this much in years. Previous Grand Theft Auto titles may have cemented the format, but GTA4 represents cinematic perfection from the word go. It oozes cool from every crack, grips and captivates at every turn. It's huge, it's spectacular... it's the gangster ride of your life.
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|EmP - October 17, 2008 (02:29 PM)
Your complete lack of X-Com only means one thing.
You are dead to me.
|Halon - October 17, 2008 (02:54 PM)
Your list might have comments but none so far have matched the size of mine!
I've actually played every game on that list but six of them (and I plan on playing two or three pretty soon). Rad
EDIT: Those six being #1, 12 39, 44, 45, and 48
|Suskie - October 17, 2008 (04:04 PM)
I think I understand X-COM being left out, since this list's nature means it excludes games that are boring.
You need to give me your Steam name so I can play you in Team Fortress 2 sometime.
Edit: I guess you want an explanation as to why Metroid Prime placed so high on my list. It's literally one of the few games that has left me mesmerized. I've done "top fifty" lists before and Prime has always scored high, but as I said in my intro, I consider it a timeless classic (contrary to your claim that it didn't age well) and that it's literally the second-best game I've ever played, behind Ocarina, which will NEVER be dethroned.
Super Ninja Edit: Oh, and in what sick, twisted world is Zelda an RPG? I mean, dude. You gotta get your terms right!
|wolfqueen001 - October 17, 2008 (05:24 PM)
Wow. So Lewis does play more than just PC games. =P
|Lewis - October 18, 2008 (01:59 AM)
I have no idea why I wrote that Zelda's an RPG. It clearly isn't, though I always think of Ocarina in more of a role-playing bracket, for some reason. Either way, edited.
|Lewis - October 18, 2008 (02:00 AM)
Oh, bloody hell, I forgot Max Payne 2 existed.
|jerec - October 18, 2008 (03:08 AM)
GTA 4 had a real "one step forward, two steps back" feel to it. I really wanted to like it, but I find myself going back to Vice City and San Andreas. Better than GTA 3, but that's about it.
|Lewis - October 18, 2008 (04:26 AM)
I found Vice City a little vacuous and San Andreas not enough of a step forward. Both are resolutely ace, of course, but for me not worthy of a place on the list.
The fourth incarnation had myself and friends gleefully sat aruond a 42" telly going "OH MY GOD, LOOK AT THAT!" for a good few hours the first time we played it. Few titles have managed to do that to me lately.
|bluberry - October 18, 2008 (03:07 PM)
21 - Portal (2007)
This was a triumph. I'm making a note here: HUGE success.
stop fucking with me!
and haha, it seems like you British dudes like Q3A more than Americans tend to. I should move over there.
|Lewis - October 19, 2008 (12:08 AM)
"stop fucking with me!"
It's just a test to see how you perform in an atmosphere of extreme pessimism.
|bluberry - October 19, 2008 (01:26 AM)
i will make the mexican-american war look like the soviet invasion of finland
|EmP - October 19, 2008 (11:11 AM)
Lewis adding Q3A into his list was the only thing that saved his job after the aformentioned XCOM snub.