20. Tales of Graces f
At first I did not like this game. In fact this was the first Tales game I played, even though I heard many people say it’s not one of the greatest in the series. But after a while it definitely grew on me as I was playing along. The combat is the best in the whole series and one of the best in any RPG period. While the story isn’t anything to write home about, I think the characters, for the most part at least, are likable enough to push through into playing all the way to the end. It goes without saying that the combat was a big factor into me finishing this game. Otherwise I don’t think I would have enjoyed this as I do now.
19. Total War: Shogun 2
This series is what really got me into strategy games. Mostly because you actually fight in these huge battles, commanding units to attack the enemy, etc. However, the series has had its share with problems in terms of glitches, dumb AI in battle and off battle. Shogun 2 was one where those problems weren’t nearly as jarring to muster. Besides the mods that make the games a perfect experience, vanilla Shogun 2 was a really great treat for me as someone who has always had an affinity with Japanese history. If only Creative Assembly could make a WWI or Ancient Chinese setting and not have any glitches or bugs, then this could have some trouble being on this list.
As someone who has played all the games in the Souls series and liked all of them, with the exception of two, Bloodbourne was the one that struck a chord on me that showed that this series can be something completely different than just a game with your sword and shield strafing enemies all the time. Now combat is more faster and kinetic. Almost feels Devil May Cry in a way, except with the occasional slowdown but not vanilla Dark Souls 1 levels of slowdown. Plus I think the art design of the world and enemies is the best the series will ever be. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge Lovecraftian fan and proves a bias in my part, but I don’t think anyone could argue against the fact that the scenarios that From Software created have really outdone most in any of the Dark Souls games.
Sure, the 2nd one is technically a superior game based on how better the controls are. However I still have this closeness to the first one not just in how awesome the John Woo style action but also in how great the story was in how you could watch the news from television sets and other various interactive things you could find in the environment. This was something that was missing in the rest of the games after the first one. The writing is especially good, the atmosphere is tense underneath that dark noir story that is encapsulated by the great soundtrack.
While the title itself implies this game to be scary, it has not aged well in terms of how the scares are implemented into the game. This was during the time when The Grudge and The Ring were huge and we thought little girls with long hair were scary. Regardless, FEAR is my favorite shooter of all time in how all the guns feel and sound. Ten years have passed and this game still looks beautiful with its advanced physics engine at the time. It also possesses the best AI, I think, in any game I’ve played to the point where the enemies don’t feel like just characters standing and shooting from one position. In this, they feel like actual people trying to flank you until you’re dead and it definitely gives you a run for your money in terms of difficulty.
I’ve been a stickler for CRPGs from the Baldur’s Gate games to Pillars of Eternity. As with everyone in the world born after 1990, Fallout 3 was the first entry of the series I played. I enjoyed that for what it was and kinda still do. But when I played the first one out of spite, there was so much to the series that I had not previously thought. Even in 1998, I can still play this game and feel like it has still aged very well with it’s great turn based combat and memorable quests.
The first JRPG on the list! Prepare to see more of these later on. Nevertheless, Xenogears is an experience that all JRPG fans have to play to realize the potential that JRPG stories can become. Even though the translation is not the best, since it was released during the time when most translations weren’t treated very well, there is this level of maturity and resonance with the struggles of the main characters that can rival the likes of classic anime that have dealt with this subject matter. While I don’t necessarily think the gameplay is all that great and the camera when traversing the world can be annoying, the story makes up for an engrossing phenomenon to witness.
My first impression of Persona 3 FES was right off when I played Persona 4, and it wasn’t nearly as positive as the latter. But then I played it again and picked up the nuances that made the characters engrossing that are different in four. It clicked for me when the moments that, at first, didn’t connect with me but all of the sudden did. While I think the combat isn’t as fast and fluid as Persona 4, it still has that addicting quality that I love about the series.
It’s safe to say that Resident Evil 4 is one of the few best examples of changing an already great formula and making it even better. Changing an atmospheric, survival horror game into a 3rd person shooter is usually a recipe for disaster. But Resident Evil 4 managed to create a great refreshing formula that was needed for the series. Yeah it’s too bad that they never recreated the same magic in the sixth entry; five was more or less just not a big jump from the previous game.
Naughty Dog has always been a studio I’ve followed since the Jak and Daxter games. While I do love the Uncharted games, The Last of Us was something that proved to me that studios can create something new that really takes your breath away. Joel and Ellie are wonderful together chemistry-wise, Joel is one of my favorite video game characters, and the writing is on-par with one of the greats in gaming history. I know I might be on the minority in saying that I loved the combat and shooting in the game, even on the PS3 with its occasional frame drops. 30 FPS or not, it didn’t overshadow my perception that this was a triumph of expect proportions.
Much like Xenogears, this game is on the list not because of its gameplay but on its story and characters. Trails in the Sky has one of the best love stories and main leads in any game I’ve played. Estelle and Joshua have the best chemistry and dialogue together as a duo that make the game a joy to play despite its relatively simple combat.
A total mind-bender for a lack of a better word. I enjoyed 999’s story immensely but Virtue’s Last Reward took the puzzle formula and made it even better play through with all of its great attempts to put all these narrative cliffhangers together to make for an intense visual novel combined with puzzle elements. It is best played completely blind, and also playing the previous one to get all of the small intricacies.
While Resident Evil 4 was a great “reboot” if you want to call it that, Resident Evil Remake is one of the few remakes that actually makes it superior to the original instead of it just being a compliment of the original. The systems and atmosphere still hold up even without the HD remaster of it. One of those games that I could play over and over and never get tired of it.
I have always championed this game over Final Fantasy Tactics for many reason. While I enjoy Final Fantasy Tactics for what it is, I think Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, the PSP version specifically, struck a chord with me better in how better the systems are and user friendly the tactics and map is. Not only that but the music is ten times better in how memorable it is.
I know I will get weird looks with me saying that this is the best in the series. Let me be clear that I love all of the games in the main series, even MGS5 for all its faults story-wise. But for me, MGS2 is the best MGS game all-around in terms of its story, gameplay, and level-design. I know many people say MGS3 has the better story coherent-wise, but I’m of the minority that an MGS story is at its best when it is incoherent. It doesn’t feel sorry to try to take risks in being so meta and out-of-this-world in how it treats its narrative.
It’s not often I could have a euphoric experience from just having a conversation with an NPC that has little to nothing to do with the main story. Planescape Torment is game that nobody on Earth disagrees is amazing in not only how revolutionary it was in how game stories are told, but how it still rivals even some of the best storytelling narratives in games in recent years. Yes games are for gameplay but CRPGs are one of those genres where the gameplay isn’t necessarily the main selling point for many fans of the genre. It’s all about interacting with different characters with deep backgrounds that you want to learn more about, which Planescape Torment has plenty of to explore and will leave you contemplating for years to come.
I can already hear the rage from all the people on the internet who think Chrono Trigger is the 2nd coming in gaming. I’m not denying that that game is excellent, but I think what makes Chrono Cross special for me is just the ambience and world that Square made to invoke these feelings of nostalgia to a world that I never once experienced. Not only that, but I also enjoy the story a lot even though narratively speaking it doesn’t exactly pay off near the end. Yet I still think the story has some truly tear jerking moments that make it memorable to play through. The combat is also fun and intuitive in how you can combine different sets of attacks to your liking and how to take down bosses easier.
Previously I said FEAR was my favorite shooter of all time. Yet I have Half Life 2 way higher on the list. Why? Well, because I think Half Life 2 isn’t just a shooter. It is a combination of many different genres that are put together in a shooter. So, in a sense, it isn’t a straight up shooter game like any other. Which is very true considering how legendary Half Life is. For the longest time I always felt a closer connection to the first Half life. However, I began to realize just how much of an impact Half Life 2 was for me as a gamer that just played console games and began to delve right into PC gaming back when Steam was at it’s infantile state; in other words, back when it sucked balls. Half Life 2 made me realize how first person shooters can be something more than just running into an area and shoot bad guys like in Duke Nukem or Wolfenstein. You can now create large worlds that are brimming with life and character that you explore every nook and cranny of.
This was one of the early PS2 games I bought. By the end of the game, I was completely floored by how emotional the game was for me. It was the first time a game drove me to tears by how amazing the experience was. Playing it as this kid trying to save this princess from a castle is a relatively simple premise on paper. But as you play it, you start to grow attached to these two characters with minimal dialogue which blows my mind to this day. There are a few moments that stand out to me as one of the best in gaming. With its absolutely beautiful aesthetic and grandiose puzzle and platforming, there will probably not be another game of this caliber that will have the same effect on me. Maybe The Last Guardian will provide those same feelings, but we will just have to wait.
This may not be a shocker to anyone who knows me personally. Persona 4 was a game that changed the way I look at life in general. I think the reason why I started to gravitate towards this conclusion was that I didn’t think of the characters in Persona 4 as just party members or pixels on screen. I thought of them as actual people that I hung out through a day by day basis. The day/night cycle in Persona 4 was something that I never experienced before in a video game and it really made me believe that I was actually hanging out with these characters as friends. This is thanks in part to the brilliant writing and sublime voice acting that actually rivals its Japanese counterpart. All of these started to make me feel attached to these characters incredibly close to the point where the next six months Persona 4 was the only thing I was ever thinking about. The story is incredibly captivating, the gameplay is fun and fast-paced, and it was a JRPG “gateway drug” for me. Meaning I tried to play more JRPGs, a genre that I previously did not care for before at that point in time.