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I was in the midst of doing my homework, when I spontaneously decided to write my first blog in over 2 years (2 years and 2 days to be exact.) Thinking of blog topics, I decided on a Top 10 list encapsulating my favorite games from the 7th Generation of video game consoles. Now I don't have a PS3, barring me from playing exclusives such as The Last of Us or the Uncharted series, and my backlog stretches to the moon (I'll play you one day Fallout 3 and Civilization V!), which prevents me from including some otherwise probably excellent games on here. Without further ado, let's get started.
10. Hotline Miami
Inspired in part by Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, one of my favorite movies, Hotline Miami is a visceral thrill ride. The setting is perfect, the neon-soaked 80s Miami contrasting against blood and gore depicted on the screen. But perhaps even more perfect than that is the soundtrack, which sends chills down the back and causes the blood to pump harder and harder. Although the story is a bit hard to follow and the A.I can at times be frustrating, this "top down f**k 'em up" (as described by Eurogamer), is one of the best indies of 2012. Only a mere $10, you can't go wrong with this one. Let's hope the in-development sequel is every bit as good as the original.
9. Alan Wake
For those who are unaware, I got my Xbox 360 as a gift from my parents nearly three years ago. The 360 Holiday Bundle I got included Forza Motorsport 3 and Alan Wake. If the game hadn't been packaged with the console, who knows when I would have played one of the 360's greatest titles. This psychological thriller is centered around the titular character, Alan Wake, an author with writer's block. His wife, Alice, determined to help him overcome his struggles takes him on a vacation to Bright Falls, Washington. Angered that the reason for the vacation is not for enjoyment, but rather, for Alan to start writing again, Alan storms out of the cabin, only for Alice to disappear mere moments after. What follows is a plot full of twists and turns, surprising at every turn, as Alan starts to uncover the darkness behind this small Washington town. Despite a relatively short campaign, later bolstered by two downloadable add-ons, and some downright terrible lip-syncing at times, Remedy still managed to craft together a darn great game. Alan Wake deserves a play through as well as a proper sequel. Make it happen Remedy.
8. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman: Arkham Asylum succeeded where most other licensed games do not. It succeeded at being flat-out great. During the course of Arkham Aylum's campaign, Batman is plunged into depths of the Asylum, encountering some of his greatest foes, namely The Joker, Bane, and Scarecrow. The Joker instigates a full-on prison breakout, as Batman is forced to fight and terrorize the escaped thugs of the Asylum. What makes this work is Rocksteady's excellent game mechanics, which make you feel like Batman himself. As your combo meter rises higher and higher and you silently wait for a thug to walk under your gargoyle, it's hard not to appreciate what Rocksteady has crafted. Paul Dini's writing made Arkham Asylum come alive, despite some late-game craziness. Complete with some great boss battle and a haunting, dreary atmosphere, Arkham Asylum impressed.
7. The Walking Dead Season 1
I wouldn't have considered myself a point and click adventure game fan until Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 1. As a fan of the comics and the TV show, I decided to try out the game, having heard good things about it. What followed was an emotional 10 hour journey as Lee and Clementine, the characters on the game's cover, and their ragtag group of survivors tried to stay alive during the zombie apocalypse. Throughout the game you are forced to make some tough decisions, and at times, these decisions have long-lasting consequences, which are reflected throughout the rest of the game. Although I am excited for Season 2, I do fear the Telltale has bitten off more than they can chew with the announcement of Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands. Here's hoping, however, that Season 2 is every bit as good as the first one.
6. Halo: Reach
Halo: Reach was the first Halo game I owned, as well as the first FPS that I played extensively. I spent hours plugged into the multiplayer, playing Grifball with friends and toying around in Forge. Firefight was also an entertaining addition as you had to fend off hordes of enemies that were determined to take you down. Although I wasn't heavily invested into the lore of the mythology of the Halo series before I owned Reach, that subsequently changed. When I wasn't playing Reach, I was busy reading Halo Wiki articles. Although Halo 4 was a good game in its own right, I wasn't as invested into the multiplayer as I was with Reach and the nixing of Firefight was also a disappointment. My favorite part of Reach, however, was the campaign, and although some have viewed it as Reach's weakest link, I thought it was great, mixing some excellent set pieces and gameplay with a haunting storyline and a grim, depressing soundtrack by Marty O'Donnell. Bungie's swansong to the Halo series was a great game and Destiny looks like it could top it.
5. Mass Effect
Mass Effect: My favorite series of all time, in any form of media. RPG's weren't my thing when I first started gaming, but I saw a trailer for Mass Effect 3 that inspired me to try out the series. It's a decision I do not regret a single bit. Despite some rough combat around the edges, Mass Effect dragged me in with its strong plot. As the Reapers began their cycle, Commander Shepherd was called into action, determined to discover the cause of discrepancies occurring around the universe. What followed was a journey from planet to planet as more clues were uncovered about who the Reapers were, and what they wanted to do. Mass Effect put you in some tough situations, some of them leading to the death of crew members and others potentially leading to the death of millions. Although some of the side missions were a tad repetitive I aspired to complete every single one of them, mainly because the game was just that good. Mass Effect ended with a bang, and with probably the strongest plot of the series, Mass Effect remains an excellent game, and my first RPG experience.
4. Mass Effect 3
Talk about mixed feelings. With Mass Effect 3's conclusion came the end of a hundred hour long saga; the end of a saga thousands and perhaps millions of people had played through. No single playthrough of the Mass Effect Trilogy is the same, as there are thousands of dialogue choices, dozens of major decisions to be made, and hundreds of missions that can be played any what you want. Mass Effect 3 brought a handful of things to the table, most notably, a multiplayer "Horde"-type mode that was surprisingly enjoyable. Mass Effect 3 perfectly captured the Reaper War, and the horrors of said war, as the Reapers traveled from solar system to solar system, devastating billions as the cycle continued. BioWare tightened up Mass Effect 2's combat system, while adding some more RPG mechanics, effectively creating a solid action-RPG. The scope of Mass Effect 3 is simply immense, as Commander Shepherd struggles to unite the multiple species of the galaxy together, in order to prevail against the Reaper forces. Mass Effect 3's greatest disappointment, however, was its ending. Ending in one of either three ways (all equally disappointing), Mass Effect 3's conclusion failed to honor the series' long-standing themes and although the Extended Cut DLC alleviated some of the complaints regarding Mass Effect 3's last half-hour, in my eyes, and in the eyes of many, it still wasn't the conclusion the series deserved. BioWare, however, did the deliver the great and hilarious Citadel add-on, presumably as a way for us to give the series and its characters the goodbyes they deserved. I recently discovered the Mass Effect Happy Ending Mod, and as I watched Mass Effect 3's last half hour unfold before my eyes once more, I wondered why BioWare hadn't concluded the trilogy like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVnovOBGdF4 (It's a bit rough, mind you.) But then again, it was never about the destination, it was always about the journey.
3. Batman: Arkham City
With Batman: Arkham City, Rocksteady delivered the greatest superhero game ever made, improving on what made Arkham Asylum so great. Featuring the majority of Batman's rogues gallery, Arkham City was another excellent game from Rocksteady, with the help of course, of another strong Paul Dini script. Rocksteady manged to add more variety in the already great combat mechanics, with the addition of brand new gadgets and takedowns. Arkham City, much like Asylum, would not haven been complete without some excellent voice acting, namely Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. After years of work they literally are the Batman and the Joker. A excellent main story that was a bit on the short side was helped out by the addition of side missions, more Riddler Trophies, and more Riddler Challenges With a seemingly endless amount of Easter Eggs relating to other characters of the Batman lore, Rocksteady left the door open for a full-on sequel. I was disappointed that the next game in the series was Origins, but I'm hoping that the Arkham City"s sequel is in development right now. Some of Arkham City's side missions, namely Azrael's and Hush's end in mystery and Easter eggs in the game have been found which say that "Fear will tear Gotham to shreds." How does Batman: Gotham City sound to you?
Grand Theft Auto V's scope is simply staggering. The world is massive and is full of personality, from the glamour and glitz of Vinewood Avenue to the run-down and deserted landscape of Blaine County. Grand Theft Auto V is probably the game with the most attention to detail ever created. With Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar North has crafted the most beautiful open-world title to date. Grand Theft Auto V follows the lives of three shady criminals, Michael, Franklin, and Trevor, as their lives intersect and they are dragged into the shady underbelly of Los Santos. With some genuinely amazing heists, some very entertaining missions, and some of the best American satire the series has given us, Grand Theft Auto V is a masterpiece. And did I mention Grand Theft Auto Online? I don't know why my girlfriend got this for me as an anniversary present, she hasn't seen me since . . .
1. Mass Effect 2
How do you improve on an already great game? You take its weakest link, and improve on it exponentially. That is exactly what BioWare did with Mass Effect 2, as they streamlined the gameplay added in more depth and variety on the side missions. What also made Mass Effect 2 so great was the fact that your Mass Effect save game was imported to Mass Effect 2, and every decision you made in the first game was reflected here. Whether or not certain characters had died, or whether or not you had completed certain side missions, everything was reflected in here, and later, in Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect 2 is a phenomenal game which has you building relationships with your crew members as you struggle to figure out what the Collectors are out for. Set two years after Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 is a triumph that has you going from one end of the galaxy to the other. Boasting gorgeous visuals, a solid relationship-building campaign, unique and diverse characters, and improved gameplay, Mass Effect 2 is my favorite from the trilogy. The final mission is also extremely satisfying as well, and the Illusive Man makes for a compelling villain, thanks to a strong performance from Martin Sheen. And who could forget the second best add-on for the Mass Effect series, Lair of the Shadow Broker? Mass Effect 2 is an action-RPG everyone should play, preferably, after playing through Mass Effect.
Honorable Mention: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2 is my favorite Call of Duty game, despite Modern Warfare's campaign being a tad bit better. Just like Halo: Reach, Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer immediately had me hooked, and the two games in tandem provided my multiplayer fix for good solid year. Modern Warfare 2's campaign was exciting, and had high replay value, with its blockbuster set-pieces and bombastic action. The co-op SpecOps Mode was a nice addition, as it provided a deviation from the campaign and the multiplayer. Although the campaign was a bit weaker and more brief than Modern Warfare's, and the multiplayer had some annoyances (I'm looking at you One Man Army), Modern Warfare 2 is still a fun game in its own right, and Ghost, Soap, and MacTavish are still my favoriteCall of Duty characters to date.
What do you think of my Top 10 List? Any games I should prioritize in my backlog?
Sound off in the comments below and thanks for reading.