My top three games
A few months ago, a friend sent the following email around to a few people:
Didn’t know it was on, but put my vote in for ABCs good game top 100 games of all time. I challenge you to pick a better 3 than:
- X-COM: Enemy Unknown (2012)
- Planescape Torment
This seemed to kick something off, with people offering their three favourite games along with really interesting reasons for their picks. I decided to pitch in too, so here are my top three games and the reasons I picked them.
This game defined high school for me. It did stuff that no other strategy game had ever even thought of and was so far ahead of its time that games now are only just starting to catch up. Some of the things I’m talking about:
- Choosing battle location. Want to fight in a forest? Be prepared for poor lines of sight and damage from the almost certain bushfire.
- Holding higher ground. I don’t think there have been many games (SupCom and PA are the only ones I can think of) that implemented this in the same way. High ground really mattered - troops trying to take hills can’t see what’s on top before they get there and hilarity (as well as a massacre) ensued if you put walls just behind the crest.
- Wreckage. The result of an average-sized battle often meant that area was completely impassable for ground troops until cleared.
- Ongoing support that added features (and units!) as well as fixing bugs.
- The +sing option
- Amazing storyline that really set the scene and tone.
Ok, perhaps that last one is a bit of a lie. ‘What started as a battle over the transfer of consciousness from flesh to machines…’ is not one of the greatest lines written for computer games.
While in my opinion Portal 2 was the superior game with better visuals, sound and plot, the first game had more of an impact on me. Aside from the whole first-person puzzle aspect (which was completely amazing), Portal stands out as the point that single player games went from being ‘for gamers’ (i.e. epic stories that required investments of hours to play) to something that everyone could consume as entertainment. The writing was engrossing, immersive, and for the first time I can remember as an adult, genuinely funny. It’s true that games often used humour before Portal but its release at a time when games were pushing for gritty realism (e.g. the Call of Duty and Battlefield series) really set it apart.
I was the last of my friends to pick this game up and will likely be the last to put it down, barring the possibility that when I die someone decides to host a memorial tournament. The most common phrase to describe it is ‘chess with guns’, but for me ‘brain crack’ would probably be more accurate. There certainly wasn’t any game previously (and I kind of hope there isn’t one in the future) that has grabbed me in the same way FS did - I’ve played over 500 games, put in countless hours (the 140 hours logged on Steam pales in comparison to the number played off-Steam) and peaked in the top ten. There are very few things for me that come close to the feeling of priming a turn and seeing a ballet of death (watch the whole thing) unfold because you managed to predict your opponent’s plan so perfectly.
Honourable mentions (yep, way past three)
- Mario Kart DS: semi-regular beer and MKDS sessions are one of my fondest uni memories. The release of Mario Kart 8 had me seriously thinking about buying a Wii U just for reliving this.
- League of Legends: another uni memory, with a regular group of us meeting up online and playing a few games. Had people not got real jobs, I think there’s reasonable odds we’d still be sitting down from 8:30 most nights.
- TF2: because this game cemented Valve as one of my favourite games companies. It’s still being updated; not many games can boast that.
- Johann Sebastian Joust: made me realise just how much fun local multiplayer is.
- Spaceteam: if you haven’t played this yet, you should (and you don’t have any excuse because it’s free). Similar to Joust, it emphasises why local multiplayer is awesome.
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown: I’m rubbish at completing games. I played this through to the end and would still be playing were it not for the crippling bugs that made the final mission unplayable for me.
- Left 4 Dead 2: the best part about this was that it generated the same kinds of awesome stories and in-jokes that tabletop RPGs do (one friend shooting another while he was carrying the last petrol can we needed to complete the mission, simultaneously downing him and setting us all on fire).