My favourite games of all time or games you should play before you kick the bucket!

UPDATE: I promised to expand this list to include my top ten favourite games quite a while ago (back when this blog was still brand spanking new), so here’s me finally getting around to doing it! This one is going to be a little more difficult than the last one, because once we’re out of the top 5 I can think of a ridiculous number of games I love for many different reasons and in many different ways, but I’d said I’d do it goddamit, so I will!

I’ll mark the titles of the new additions with the word ‘new’, because as you’ll soon discover I’ve actually replaced one of my previous top 5 games with a new one, so it won’t be as straightforward as simply adding entries 6-10. Let me just say now, it might surprise you which game got forced out of my top 5 and which one replaced it!

As I haven’t done anything like this yet and this is still a fairly new blog, I thought it might be nice to write down a list of my all-time favourite games both to introduce myself a bit more and to recommend a few games to you guys as well. Keep in mind that I’m not necessarily saying these are objectively-speaking the ‘best games ever’ even within their respective genres, so if you think any of them are a load of rubbish, that’s absolutely fine! These are just games that captivated me in some way and brought me immense personal enjoyment. I think whether you like a game or not is mostly a subjective experience. I’m not suggesting that a game can’t be judged only on its technical merit. I’m merely saying that enjoyment and preference, the things that are probably most important to your average gamer simply can’t be quantified in any meaningful way. For instance, I can’t deny that the first Uncharted and LA Noire were technically superb games that made great strides in animation, but they just didn’t have that extra quality that makes a game pop to me. There are lots of people, however, that would probably strongly disagree with my opinion of Uncharted and I completely respect that. There are even some games that I spent a lot of time on, like World of Warcraft, but looking back on, although the game brought me a great deal of immediate pleasure, I can’t say it’s a game that brought me much lasting enjoyment.  I think the best reviews of games that I’ve read are the ones that try to weave those two elements: personal experience and objective judgment, together rather than attempt to ignore or deny the existence of your personal feelings. Although, this piece might be leaning more towards the ‘personal’ side than usual, that’s the kind of style that I’ll be trying to bring my blog and I hope it’s one you enjoy!

Last thing I’ll say on my choice of games is that it was a lot harder than I thought it would be to list only a few of my top games. There are lots of games I really liked, but just didn’t make the final cut. Why didn’t these games make the list? Sometimes, like the games I mentioned above, despite being decent in quality and fairly fun, they simply didn’t fulfill that core need that I have, that all gamers have. You know, that part of you that is only satisfied by playing a really good game that works for you. Clearly that core need is different, whether it’s a desire for an excellent narrative or just a need for escapism and I think it’s what makes you pick this game rather than that one. Of course, there are some I love to bits, but just didn’t quite make the top 5 like the original Fable, or the first Halo, Goldeneye or Unreal Tournament. You can probably see a bit of a trend here, I love RPGs, first-person shooters and and open-world games, although as I’ve mentioned before I’m open to playing anything really.

I’m sticking to the best of the best for me, but I may add to this as I find new games that I think are worthy of ‘the list’ and maybe add on a few more if I get the time. Also, as these are not full reviews of the game, they’re probably less detailed than you might expect if you’ve read any of my other pieces as I really just wanted to write down some of my personal thoughts and feelings on them. If there are any games on there that you haven’t played before, I’d really suggest you give it a shot and see if you can’t get the same kind of pleasure I got out of it.

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Fake Longevity in Games: Are you really getting your money’s worth?

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Thirty Flights of Loving packs quite the punch in only 15 minutes

Everyone wants to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. Especially now that game prices are rising and most of us have to be more selective with what we choose to buy. It’s all about getting a satisfying amount of content, so you don’t feel ripped off. I love long games and having tons of content as much as the next person. What I don’t like is padding that’s as boring as it is unnecessary and games that are made artificially longer without actually adding anything significant or particularly fun. There seems to be an expectation now that games be a certain length, depending on the genre and regardless of the ideal length for telling that particular narrative or to make the desired impact. RPGs in particular, get a lot of flak from their fans if they’re perceived as too short and the number of hours required to be seems to be rising. It seems that on average a good RPG should last at least 20 hours, which is much longer than many games of old and that number will probably keep rising. I think this call for longer games is a hindrance to games developers and ultimately results in a lot of games that would have been pretty solid, if it weren’t for the fact that it was watered down so that it would last for another few hours. Personally, I would much rather have a game that packs quality content into a few hours, rather than a longer protracted one that’s frankly weaker for its length. My point is that what I think really matters is the content and what you get out of it. I’ve seen games with just as much content as games twice as long and more disappointingly, I’ve seen the opposite as well, long games with only a few hours real content on them with a lot of padding. Of course if a narrative-heavy RPG ends in a few hours that might throw up a flag that there’s not enough there for them to sufficiently tell that story, but not necessarily. Many people finished Dishonored in 8 hours and to me that game is packed to the brim with things to do and see. That’s why I think length should just be a guideline and not a limiting factor in the development of a game.  In the rest of this post, I”ll be looking at some of the methods that developers use to pad our games and consider why these techniques might detract from our gaming experience as well as hinder studios from creating the best games they can.

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Borderlands 2: The single-player experience

So the plan was to review Gearbox’s ‘Borderlands 2’ as a co-op experience. The plan was that I would play through the whole thing by myself, all of the missions and then when I had finished it, I would go back and play it co-op. Wow. Yeah. That’s not going to happen for a while. I ended up playing the game for about two weeks and fairly intensively at times. Sure I’m definitely somewhat of a completionist, but it’s still a looooong game, especially when you’re playing by yourself. It’s also an intense experience that I will need a bit of a break from before jumping back into it at some point with another character. I played as Sal, but all of the characters, there were four in the main game plus one added by DLC, were awesome. There was Sal the gunzerker, Axton the commando, Maya the siren and Zero the assassin. Like the first ‘Borderlands’ (which I haven’t played, so I can’t compare) it’s a first person shooter with some RPG elements, although there’s much debate (as usual). I can only talk about this game from my personal perspective, from having played one of the four characters and only on single-player and not having played the first game (I was told that 2 was significantly better and to just play that one and I certainly didn’t have any problems story-wise just jumping right in), but as it stands, I think the game was absolutely incredible. I may even have to update my favourite games list when I round it out to my top 10, because yes, it deserves its place there. I won’t say it’s a perfect game and there were definitely some downsides to playing it all by my lonesome (which I’ll discuss in some detail), but overall, I was blown away by this game. 

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Realism in games – a step in the wrong direction?

Hello my pretties! First things first, you may have noticed from the title that this post is not going to be on the PS4. I toyed with the idea for a while, but decided that many amazing people have written very informative posts on that already, for instance LadyCroft3. You can check out her post here for an excellent rundown on the big PS4 reveal that happened last week and what it might mean for the future of console gaming. Instead, this week I’m writing on an issue that’s close to my heart – realism in games and the general trend in the games industry of making games that are more and more realistic. When it came out, everyone was gushing about Half Life 2‘s physics engine and the ability it gives you to manipulate objects or affect the environment in ways  that closely mimic real life. With every new innovation in technology, we are brought closer and closer to games that not only look like real life, but actually behaves like it and contains people that seem as solid as you or I. If you aren’t convinced, just take a look at Quantic Dream’s impressive tech demo: 

It’s incredible isn’t it? People love this kind of thing and it’s no wonder that developers are scrambling over themselves to provide it for them.

You might think that being a huge fan of immersive RPGs like the Mass Effect series, I would love realism in my games. I’m not denying that it has its place or that I am eagerly awaiting the day where virtual reality becomes more than a game and becomes almost like a second life. However, I believe that there’s more to games than that, that we can take the medium further and that this obsession with realistic graphics, physics engines and AI and so on will have a negative impact on the industry we love so much.

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