This is dangerous piece for me to write. I know it’s going to open me up to criticism, and perhaps some hate. I’ll attempt to be succinct in my descriptions of the games and in explaining how and why they worked their way into my cold, dead heart. I’m also going to try to keep these as spoiler-free as possible.
Please note while I know some of these games are objectively bad, I still enjoyed playing them for whatever reason. I’ll be publishing the list in two parts, starting today with numbers 10 to six.
Please enjoy, and feel free to leave your favourites in the comments below!
10. Final Fantasy X (Square Enix)
Final Fantasy hasn’t been good for a very long time, and that’s incredibly disappointing. It was the first game series I played that allowed me to articulate exactly what I liked in a game. This is true both in terms of gameplay as well as story.
FFX has a plenty of interesting locales to visit and a vivid cast of characters. But what really clinched it for me was the way the characters interacted with one another, particularly in the case of the burgeoning romance between the male and female leads.
This game represented the first time I realised it’s okay for a guy to like the mushy stuff, as the game primarily deals with the theme of consequences. Or rather that our choices have them. There is heartbreak, hate and love. Friends fall apart and characters fall in love.
The pond scene in particular (embedded at the top of this post) really struck a chord with me when I was in my mid-to-late teens.
9. World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment)
Some people are going to say this game shouldn’t be on the list because it’s not really a game anymore, it’s a lifestyle. WoW is the digital version of a high-end narcotic, worming its way into your veins and never quite managing to clear out of your system.
That aside, this is the game where I managed to grow as a person. I know that may seem strange but, hear me out.
I was part of a high-end raiding team, and I was one of their key healers. I was also, however, a mouthy teenager when I started playing. It was during this time I met another player whose name will forever be “Sista” to me, even though I know who she is in real life. She taught me that how I said something was just as, if not more, important than what I actually said. She made me start considering what I was saying to other members of our team. I realized there was nothing wrong with being the nice guy. Especially since I was better at it than being a jerk.
Personal growth aside, WoW is such a lovingly crafted game. People bag on it a lot for being bloated, or having out-dated systems, but those systems still work and the game still has millions of people active accounts.
The world is open and sweeping, the characters are rich (are you seeing a pattern?), and the story is riveting if you’re willing to invest some time to actually learn it, and learn where your character fits in.
8. Dragon Age II (Bioware)
This is one of those games that, sadly, a lot of folks didn’t like, largely because it takes place in one city, or the surrounding countryside. But that same aspect of the game is exactly what I liked about it. Dragon Age II proved a game didn’t need to be world- or country-spanning to have an epic story.
Literally everything important in Hawke’s (the player character’s) life happens within or around the city of Kirkwall. He also meets some fantastic supporting characters whom I still enjoy today. Varric, I’m looking at you buddy. You hairy-chested little archer.
Also, I enjoyed the chance to choose how my character responded to something that didn’t involve a morality scale. Instead, Bioware used a personality scale. This was something no other game had ever attempted, and they pulled off without a hitch. It was nice to see it continue in Dragon Age Inquisition. Now if only I could play as Hawke in that game. We’d be all set then.
7. Jet Force Gemini (Rare)
Holy smokes eh? Here’s a blast from the past.
Jet Force Gemini is a third person shooter developed by Rare back when Rare was capable of making good games. It stars a set of twins named Juno and Vela. It also stars their dog Lupus and a floaty little robot named Floyd.
This was the first real co-op game I played, and I can’t tell you much about the plot. It’s been that long. I do remember having to collect the pieces to make Floyd. He’d been destroyed by the game’s main villain, Mizar.
Once the pieces were collected and Floyd was repaired (this happens within the first level if I recall correctly) a second player was able to pick up their controller and use him. It was useful, as there were sometimes so many enemies that having a second gun with you was necessary. Or at the very least, way more fun.
This game is on here largely due to nostalgia. I had a friend named Evan, and we used to beat this when we were in grade school. It usually only took us one pop and chip fueled Friday evening, especially once we’d memorized the game.
Authors Note: I do not recommend playing Jet Force Gemini these days. I love it because of nostalgia, but it really doesn’t hold up. It looks awful by any standards, even those of the PS1 N64 to which it belonged.
6. Assassin’s Creed Rogue (Ubisoft)
You guys knew you weren’t getting out of the bottom five without a mention of Ubisoft somewhere on this list.
So, why is Rogue not in the top five? Well, it’s not as good objectively as the other games on there, simply put.
It’s by no means a bad game. It took what made Black Flag great and made it even better. The sailing is fantastic, the world is significantly larger than the Caribbean was, and it was nice to see a game where the Assassins are the villains for a change, rather than the stalwart, unimpeachable heroes we usually see.
I also found the few new systems they added to be well worth the trouble to learn. These included the air rifle, the grenade launcher and, of course, the awareness meter, which is invaluable when surrounded by assassins.
It was also nice to be able to stride down the road, doing what you wished because, unlike the Assassins, you aren’t burdened by their self-imposed limitations.
But what really got me involved was Shay’s journey from Assassin to Templar. He wrestles with some very heavy questions. Questions of morality. Of right and wrong. And, most importantly, how to live with the terrible consequences of making the right choice.
AC: Rogue has two lessons to teach, and it does both very well: 1) no conflict is ever black and white, and 2) the right choice is usually not the easy one.
So, there you have it. My numbers 10 through six for my personal favourite games of all time. Check back tomorrow for the top five, though I’m sure some of you can already guess which companies at least are going to be contained therein.