This week, we’re going to take a break from movies to discuss video games. To be honest, I’m just going to list my top 11 favorite video games. For the purposes of this list, I’m going to be including PC games since that’s where I got my start as a gamer and that’s where my heart lies. If we’re being honest, I still consider myself a console dabbler. So, here is my list of favorite video games arbitrarily ranked as is my wont. Note: I’m only including games that I’ve finished. I’ve started quite a few.
11. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I don’t talk about this all that much any more (I guess the shine has worn off), but I once spent six months as a QA Tester Intern at Bethesda Softworks in nearby Rockville. One of the games I spent the most time on was Skyrim and it’s a true testament to that game that I’ve actually gone back and played it after spending so many countless hours focusing on the minutiae of that game. What’s even more remarkable is just how much stuff I still discover each time I play it. There’s so much content in that game. Seriously. Also, the score is amazing. Jeremy Soule is a fantastic composer.
10. Assassin’s Creed IV
I know I’m going to catch some shit for this. We can mostly agree that the first Assassin’s Creed game wasn’t the greatest. Most everyone I’ve talked to loves the Ezio Trilogy and it was Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood that showed me the great potential of the games. People are on the fence about Assassin’s Creed III. The advances in game play and stuff made it more fun even if the protagonist wasn’t as dynamic as his predecessor. Assassin’s Creed IV? I love it. Love. It. I love the sailing. I love the piracy. I love the sea shanties and the pub music. I love Edward Kenway and how complicated he is. Seriously. This is about favorites and this Assassin’s Creed game is my favorite. So far.
I like to describe the game as Mario Kart with real-world race cars in a way of review like this one, because, well, that’s what it is. If Activision had marketed it like that, this game and its studio may have stood a chance. As it was, this game didn’t do as well as it could have. It’s a fun racing game and it has a lot of sentimental value for me. We used to spend many hours in Carlos’ basement just playing this game. I introduced some new folks to it at a recent get-together at my house and they loved it. Unfortunately, my disc kept messing up. Fear not! As of the typing of this, I ordered a new (to me) copy of the game. We will drive again! Sic Semper Super Van!
To this day, I’m convinced that this game would make a freakin’ awesome movie. You play Bobbin Threadbare of the Guild of Weavers who’s just trying to find his mother. Said mother, of course, was turned into a swan. Anyway! Things get a little weird and messed up after that. There are dragons involved and a lot of death. Seriously, this game was dark. It was dark and beautiful. The game mechanics involved making spells using musical notes. I’m sad that there never got to be a sequel to this one.
7. The Secret of Monkey Island
Ah, this game will always hold a special place in my heart. It had swashbuckling, romance, and ridiculous insults. Seriously, it’s goofy fun and spawned sequels of its own. It’s even gotten prettier remastered editions. I wasn’t the only one to have loved this game, apparently. You play this guy named Guybrush Threepwood who just wants to be a pirate. Hilarity and swordplay ensue. Also, this game references Loom. Seriously, there’s a guy in the bar with a pin that says “Ask me about Loom.” This should come as know surprise as they were both made by LucasArts.
6. Diablo II
I spent so many hours on this game. I really enjoyed the first Diablo game. I loved the sword, sorcery, and demon-hunting bits. Diablo II improved the gameplay and later enabled me to play with my friends over the internet. At the time, this was still a novel concept. I remember the first time I tried playing on BattleNet. Some asshole lured me into an area of the game I wasn’t at the right level for, killed me, and stole my stuff. It would be years before I ventured forth into a public space with it. I preferred to go solo, but friends convinced me otherwise. It was so much fun to be able to share the experience. That’s one of the things I’ve loved about playing Diablo III. I should do more multi-player stuff more often.
5. Kingdom Hearts
I mentioned previously that I ended up buying my first gaming console, a PS2, in order to play this game. I never regretted that decision. I never knew console gaming could be so fun until I got do run around whacking things with my keyblade as Sora. It also helped that the story was really fun and it was great to see some familiar Disney faces. Sure, I didn’t get all of the Final Fantasy references (I own a couple of the games, but haven’t played them all the way through), but you didn’t need to in order to enjoy the Hell out of the game.
4. Mass Effect 2
I have my brother to thank for getting me into Mass Effect. Well, him and Steam for having the first one ridiculously on sale as they do from time to time. The first Mass Effect game felt a lot like work, but Shepherd and her crew were enough to keep me slogging through it. Mass Effect 2? Oh man. It was great. I laughed, I cried, I got to get it on with sexy aliens. What’s not to love? I played through it so many times and did my utmost to make sure that everyone made it through the end. Though there were moments of Mass Effect 3 that I loved (and wept through), the ending left a sour taste in my mouth. At least I’ll always have 2.
3. Dragon Age: Origins
This was the game that made me a Bioware fangirl. I’ve played through every origin story and have tried to romance every romance option. I’m not going to lie that my ending choices generally remain the same, but I don’t want to get into spoiler territory here. I just loved playing this game. I love this franchise. I even love Dragon Age 2. Though, I’ll be the first to admit that DA2 was definitely rushed and could have used a lot more time and polish before being released. That said, I still go back and play it because it’s a lot of fun. Still, Origins is what brought me to the table and I don’t regret the countless hours spent on it.
2. The Sims 3
Speaking of countless hours, I don’t even want to think about how much time and money I have collectively spent on the Sims franchise. I was hooked from the first Sims game to be released. For years, my brother could count on being able to buy me a new Sims expansion pack for my birthday and Christmas. I think I’ve spent the most time on Sims 3 since I was busy in school for the previous two games. With my fluid employment history, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands and much of that time has been dedicated to The Sims 3. Like I said yesterday, I find being able to control the lives of Sims to be therapeutic. It’s still my go-to game if I just want to play something and don’t want to have to think too hard about it.
1. The Last of Us
There are some games that stay with you long after you play them. All of the games on that list have stuck with me over the years, but none so much as The Last of Us. This freakin’ game made me cry within the first 15 minutes of playing it. I thought to myself, “Well, shit, game, if that’s how it’s going to be. Fuck it. Let’s do this.” Every spare moment I had available after I got this game was spent playing it. I wanted to see what happened to Joel and Ellie. I wanted to see where there story would go and I just couldn’t stop until I’d gotten there. This game broke me in places. It’s terrifying and heart-breaking. I wish I had more poetic words to describe how much I love this game, but I don’t. It really is amazing, though.