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My Top 10 Time Sucks


Since everyone else is calling out their Top 200 snubs and personal favorites, I decided to take a different approach. Which games or series have I physically spent the most time with? These aren’t just games you play through and throw back onto the shelf. No matter what else I was playing, these games never left the side of my console or PC – these are the worlds I returned to in between new games and the cool-down games I fired up to regain my equilibrium after a long thumbstick sessions.

10. Star Wars: X-Wing

My favorite flight combat sim of all time. I bought my first flight stick for this game, and the hours I spent flying X-Wings, B-Wings, and A-Wings head on into waves of oncoming TIE fighters delivered some of my favorite gaming memories. The narrative blended perfectly with the original trilogy, with missions revolving around intercepting the plans for the Death Star, discovering the planet buster's secret location, and fleeing Yavin IV after Luke Skywalker blasts it to bits. Managing your shields, blaster fire rate, and engine resources proved to be a riveting challenge in space battles where the only guarantee was that you would be severely outnumbered. Fighter pilots received medals and patches for completing training missions and surviving tours of duty, and I kept playing until I had every one.

9. Medieval II: Total War

I’ve sunk countless hours into every Total War and Civilization game, but almost four years later I still find myself returning to my grand campaigns in Medieval II. Creative Assembly’s unique blend of real-time military tactics and turn-based political scheming has always appealed to me, but something about the medieval era keeps me coming back for more even after the stellar Empire: Total War released this year. As I expand the reach of my empire though deft political maneuvers and military conquest, I find the it's the little decisions – like grooming new generals into powerful commanders and rigging the Papal Council by filling it with priests loyal to my cause – that keep me so engaged. 

8. NHL 09

Hockey games have taken a large chunk of my time since NHLPA ’93, but after years of above average efforts by EA and 2K Sports alike NHL 09 found the five hole that created a black hole in my life. EA Canada's sporting masterpiece connected with me in a way I hadn’t experienced since my childhood days spent with Baseball Stars, Bases Loaded, and Tecmo Bowl. I was determined to become a legend in the Be A Pro mode, playing through several seasons in my quest to win the Stanley Cup with my beloved Wild, lead the league in scoring, and level my player up to the point that he became best to ever play the game. Top this with the EASHL, which finally brought true six-on-six competition to life, and you have the gaming equivalent of crack for a hockey fan. 

7. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Though Fallout 3 delivered a more fully realized world to explore, Bethesda’s first next-gen game holds a special place in my heart for how clearly it dominated my early days with the Xbox 360. The mother of all current-gen time sucks, I did everything you could possibly do in Tamriel two times over. I completed every guild quest, hunted down every Daedric artifact, picked mountains of alchemy ingredients (why, I'll never know), explored every dungeon, and even fought bears with my bare hands for giggles. The game proved to be the gift that kept on giving as well, with loads of DLC and the wonderful Shivering Isles expansion pack to explore.

6. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

My favorite BioWare role-playing game also happens to be my favorite Star Wars game of all time. The story featured everything the craptastic new trilogy didn’t – engaging characters I cared about, a brave new imagining of the Star Wars galaxy, and a plot twist for the ages. The game's deep battle tactics, open-ended plot progession, Hollywood quality voice overs, and wonderful characters (besides Carth) drew me in like no other RPG. After finishing my first journey with a just and powerful Jedi, I immediately rebooted the game so I could channel my inner Sith Lord and play though the story using the Dark Side of the Force.

5. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

I’m something of a GTA aficionado. From the first top-down PC game to The Ballad of Gay Tony, I’ve finished every one of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto Games. Vice City, however, is the only one I played through several times over. The hilarious parody to ‘80s excess won me over with its fantastic sense of place, wacky cast of characters, the best game soundtrack ever created, and, perhaps most importantly, the addition of the motorcycle. I wasted hours just looking for new jumps to throw my crotch rocket off in the virtual Miami.

4. A Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past

I’ve finished hundreds of single-player campaigns, but A Link To The Past is the only one with which I need two hands to count the times I’ve played the game from beginning to end. The story of Link's coming of age, a new array of weapons, multi-level dungeons, and a dangerous parallel universe gave this game more depth and diversity than any other title in the series. Over the last decade my love of brand new Zelda games has waned, mainly because too many of them copy this thrilling adventure that they will never match or surpass in quality.  

3. Madden NFL 99

The introduction of Madden’s franchise mode was the greatest gift video games offered me during college. My flat mates each adopted a team, and we spent countless hours trash talking, making controversial trades (you could trade fullbacks for first round picks!), and jockeying for bragging rights over the course of several seasons. Some of us even starting scheduling classes differently so we could have time alone on the console to hone our skills and discover new money plays in private. Even though we’re now scattered across the country in our various professions, when EA announced the addition of online franchise mode in Madden NFL 10, my first thought was about rekindling the special Madden-based bond we formed back in college.

2. Battlefield 2

I loved Battlefield 1942, but when DICE took queues from the fantastic Desert Combat mod created by Trauma Studios (now Kaos Studios) and launched the sequel in a modern setting, my dedication to the company’s fantastic multiplayer combat started bordering on addiction. The addition of squads, target objectives, weapon unlocks, level progression, and comprehensive stat tracking had me hooked. Our squad, dubbed Bear Patrol, logged hundreds of hours into striking Karkand and liberating the Sharqi peninsula. The key to this game's quality is the variety it offered on the battlefield. One night we'd rain down hell by chopper, another we'd dominate tank battles, and if we were feeling particularly gutsy we'd make a break for the opposition's base to take out their UAV and artillery with our spec ops kits. No matter which tactic we adopted, one thing was guaranteed – we had a blast. 

1. Tecmo Super Bowl
No game dominated my childhood as thoroughly as Tecmo Super Bowl. Ever try to win the Super Bowl with every team in a football game? I did several times over, even taking the Mosi Tatupu-led joke of a team that was the 1990 New England Patriots to the big dance. My dedication to this pigskin triumph reached Rain Man levels – I even chronicled the history of Super Bowls and wrote down my passing, rushing, and receiving records in a notebook so I could try to best them with another team in the next go around.

So that’s my list. What are your ultimate time sucks?

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