Sunday, April 15, 2018

All-Time Game Lists

I started posting at Game Informer's (GI) website recently as an attempt to attract a little more traffic to this blog and so I wrote a bit about the magazine's top 300 games list that was published in GI's 300th issue and decided to add some thoughts here. Obviously lists like this will be subjective, though I still found it to be rather disappointing. The list favored modern games over 30-year-old games and JRPGs that appeared on Nintendo and Sony platforms. Being someone who grew up with Sega consoles and RPGs on the Commodore 64, I simply cannot relate very well to GI's list.

Admittedly, putting an all-time list together is quite difficult as I struggled to make my own favorite 100 games list. Personally I keep a list of favorite games per platform which is much easier to do and at the very least, I'd say it's better to make separate lists for decades or split the list somewhere in the '90s, when games transitioned from 2D to 3D and the console format went from cartridges to CD-ROMs. When making my own list I found it quite difficult to rank a Genesis game versus a PlayStation 4 game, and impossible to compare classic arcade games from the '80s to modern day games that feature realistic graphics and voice acting. The modern games are more memorable in part because they would be more recently played but also because they can have more of an emotional impact on the player.

While GI did choose games from two series of games from my top 10 list (NHL Hockey and Sid Meier's Civilization), none of my top 10 favorites of all time appear anywhere on their top 300. The most puzzling omission is Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987) as that is an amazing game for its time and is still fun today, and it got an update in 2004. It's an open world game where you are a pirate and basically do what you want as you can ally with any one of four nations, sink enemy ships, invade towns by sea or land, search for treasure, and even get married. Another game that I feel is deserving is StarSiege: Tribes. Normally I have a hard time selecting online-only games for a top list but the Tribes series -- specifically the first two from developer Dynamix -- are too significant to overlook despite not being as popular as games like Quake and Unreal Tournament.

The first Tribes (1998) is an online shooter with jetpacks and large, wide open maps when most shooters of the '90s were still focused on combat in tight spaces. It also has the chat program IRC built into it and a great server browser to help players find teams and organize matches. Tribes 2 added a built-in community with team management, email, news, video recording, and voice chat (didn't work well but it was an early attempt). Fans of the game even created an application called T2TV that was used to stream matches and had people shoutcasting. These games were made for online competition and did things better than many of today's games vying for the eSports spotlight do. I'll write more about Tribes later this year as December marks its 20th anniversary.

Here are my top 50 but the rankings beyond the top 20 or so don't really matter much; they're simply games I enjoyed or still enjoy playing:
  1. Sid Meier's Pirates! (Commodore 64)
  2. StarSiege: Tribes (PC)
  3. Sid Meier's Civilization II (PC)
  4. AD&D: Pool of Radiance (Commodore 64)
  5. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC)
  6. Wasteland (Commodore 64)
  7. Shenmue (Dreamcast)
  8. NHL Hockey (Genesis)
  9. Utopia (Intellivision)
  10. Golden Axe (Genesis)
  11. Tribes 2 (PC)
  12. Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360)
  13. Deus Ex (PC)
  14. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PlayStation 2)
  15. Star Wars: X-Wing (PC)
  16. Max Payne (PC)
  17. Snatcher (Sega CD)
  18. Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)
  19. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)
  20. Bully (PlayStation 2)
  21. Age of Empires II (PC)
  22. XCOM 2 (PC)
  23. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Xbox One)
  24. Assassin's Creed II (Xbox 360)
  25. SimCity (Commodore 64)
  26. Baldur's Gate (PC)
  27. Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon (PC)
  28. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Intellivision)
  29. Yakuza 0 (PlayStation 4)
  30. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PlayStation 3)
  31. The Sims (PC)
  32. Phantasy Star II (Genesis)
  33. Wonder Boy in Monster Land (Master System)
  34. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear (PC)
  35. Warsong (Genesis)
  36. Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360)
  37. Summer Games (Commodore 64)
  38. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Xbox)
  39. John Madden '92 (Genesis)
  40. Shenmue II (Xbox)
  41. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (PC)
  42. Max Payne 2 (PC)
  43. Valkyria Chronicles (PlayStation 3)
  44. Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation)
  45. Shinobi (Master System)
  46. Hot Shots Golf 3 (PlayStation 2)
  47. SSX  (PlayStation 2)
  48. Airborne Ranger (Commodore 64)
  49. Call of Duty (PC)
  50. Hitman: Blood Money (Xbox 360)
Like I said, I had Sega consoles, not Nintendo, so my experience with Mario and The Legend of Zelda has been too limited to include. Of course, if you've been following the blog since the start you'll know I've mentioned that quite a few times. I don't dislike Nintendo or any game companies but nobody has time to play every game and Nintendo is one I've had to miss most of to this point. However, I did get a Game Boy when it released and did play Super Mario Land and Metroid II, and I've tried some of Nintendo's other games, albeit briefly. 

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