"If you enjoy innovative game play, fun puzzles, great dialog, or Tex-Mex then you will love Portal. Though short, Portal manages to combine all of these elements into one amazing game. In Portal you play a test subject who must make use of a portal gun to navigate test chambers. These puzzles will have you using portals to transport weighted cubes, avoiding hazards, and flinging yourself down a pit in order to achieve the momentum necessary to fly out the side of a wall and land on platform that would normally be impossible to reach.
While all of these portal puzzles are nice, the icing on the cake is the writing. This is what has made the game so popular. From the beginning of the game when being instructed by GLaDOS on how to get through your first test chamber to the closing credits you will enjoy every spoken word. In no other game will you find polite sentry guns give a greeting while simultaneously obtaining a weapon lock on you. There is a reason why mentioning cake on any message board will inevitably result in someone informing you that it’s a lie.
If you are one of the few who have missed them gem I highly recommend you give it a play through. At worst you will find you suddenly understand half of the jokes now on the internet. If you have played it, well, play it again you’ll still be amused." -- Written by aclemfaal
"X-Wing, a game which let you fly the famous Star Wars fighters, fight the evil Empire and destroy the Death Star, was predictably a hit. The obvious follow-up was to let you fight for the evil Empire, so LucasArts released TIE Fighter the next year; two expansions followed.
There are seven fighters to fly including the fast but vulnerable TIE Fighter, the slower, tougher Assault Gunboat, the master-of-all-trades TIE Defender and the devastating Missile Boat which can destroy a whole fleet with its profusion of ordnance.
The early training missions teach the controls and tactics at just the right pace – no game has a more perfect learning curve. The later ones are exciting battles in their own right. The ‘real’ battles follow a compelling story full of intrigue and treachery as you fight not only the Rebellion but also pirates, internecine provincials and Imperial traitors. Later missions are very challenging, especially if you’re going for the secondary and bonus/secret objectives.
The developers’ attention to detail is evident as you play, e.g. you can give various orders to specific comrades and target individual weapons and components of a capital ship (the latter is sometimes a crucial tactic). The in-flight graphics don’t look too bad even today and the interactive music system (sadly missing from the ‘enhanced’ 1998 re-release) is the icing on the cake of the game’s wonderful atmosphere.
This game still appears frequently in critics’ “best games” lists, sometimes near the top, and is generally deemed one of just two candidates for “best Star Wars game” (along with Knights of the Old Republic, despite the latter’s huge nine-year technological advantage). Sixteen years after its release, TIE Fighter remains by a country mile the best space combat game ever made." -- Written by Thanatos the Great (originally nominated by Blue Pious)
"After saving the Princess (and seven toads), and following a bizarre alcoholic coma where he dreamed about hurling vegetables at a belching frog (If you haven't played SMB2, please be warned that the previous sentence contains spoilers)... Mario decided that he needed something to do. Something that had never been done before. That thing involved (in order) using a dry leaf to turn in to a flying raccoon, boot-scoot down a slope of ice, hop on to a flying ship to wrest a wand from an evil turtle, stop for Tex-Mex, crush a rock that hides a pair of brothers who have *your* teleporting whistle, break a pyramid (oops! Sorry Ra!), go for a swim in the ocean, get eaten by an enormous fish, obtain a suit that gives him super frog skills, hit a girl (in self defense), stomp all over huge mushrooms (we're talkin' HUGE. Like... Two stories tall!), go through a door that either makes everything else small, or makes Mario comparably massive, head skyward to take down some Devil Birds, deal with some platforms that flip over FOR NO REASON! GAH! I HATE THEM SO MUCH, ride a mega-shoe, take down Bowser's fattest kid, slip all over the ice, melt stuff with the breath that flowers bestow upon him, obtain an epic hammer suit (+3 to hammer tossing), head to a place with more pipes than Willie Nelson's tour bus, avoid tiny piranha plants, finish ending King Koopa's family line, dealing with magma, gunships, and laser statues... And finally, trolling Bowser in to self-terminating. Why did he do all of this? For a suit that allows him to turn in to a statue. He did it all for Tanooki. " -- Written by WadaTah (originally nominated by aclemfaal)
"Final Fantasy Tactics revolutionized the Strategy/ Tactical Role Playing Game genre when it stormed onto shelves in 1997. The game revolves around a young boy who is thrust into a war, eventually becoming battalion commander and having to make some very serious choices which will effect the future of the world of Ivalice. Political intrigue is abound in Final Fantasy Tactics as ministers and nobles betray each other. This hits quite close to him for the hero as he watches his own dear brothers become increasingly antagonistic with each other. What begins as a campaign to eradicate a group of rebels known as the Death Knights explodes into full scale war with the player at the helm in this brilliant war simulation.
Gameplay is simple enough. Choose your squad of soldiers and where to place them, and you are thrust into a quasi-3D battlefield. Terrain varies as this adventure is massive - plains, mountains, slums, boats, snow covered inns, ancient castles, and forests are all encountered. Terrain plays a major part in the game as units attacking from a higher elevation will cause more damage. Units can also be knocked from higher terrain to lower terrain, and this can cause some serious damage if the fall is high enough. If you want a boost in mobility units can even be mounted on Chocobos and can attack as cavalry. There are also special terrain items, such as gates, switches, or levers, which can be manipulated by characters to adjust the battlefield.
The character customization is anything but simple - and that is a good thing. After recruiting a soldier you can train them into over twenty different classes (all the basic ones, like squires, archers, knights, mages, and thieves, all the way to more bizarre types such as scholars, geomancers, and mediators). Skills learned as one class can be transferred over when a unit changes classes, which can lead to a nearly endless combination of characters and abilities. This mixing and matching will become more important as the game goes on as difficulty increases as does the enemy cunning and intellect. Besides the regular classes, there are a number of special classes (Such as Holy Knight) which can only be attained by special characters, who can be recruited if certain conditions are met during a battle. You will need every character you can get, because if one of your soldiers isn't revived by the end of a battle, they are gone forever. Thus is life, and death, in the war torn world of Ivalice!" -- Written by Super Saber Tiger (originally nominated by Ryman2)
"For those who don’t know, The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past is a pioneering and lushly detailed action-adventure game for the SNES. When it came out in 1992, it was groundbreaking. Now, 18 years later, it’s widely considered an irreplaceable classic.
LttP is basically standard fare for Top 10 Games lists, it seems. The distinction is not without just cause, however: LttP is, as mentioned, one of the most influential and widely popular titles from a veritable golden age of console gaming. The story is in LttP is relatively straightforward but quite engaging. You are a young man, descended from a line of warriors, who must save the world by collecting three artifacts, wielding the evil-slaying Master Sword, rescuing seven maidens, and finally destroying the evil Ganon.
Compared to more recent games in the Zelda series, some of the puzzles are less complex and the enemies less difficult to overcome. That said, though, LttP continues to capture the fascination and adoration of gamers far and wide with its simply rendered but flawlessly executed aesthetic and a gameplay style that was truly fun. The various boss fights had creative gimmicks and incorporated the dungeons’ goodies nicely. The overworld was richly detailed and overall just beautiful – especially given the limits of 16-bit rendering. The story was enthralling. The dungeons and puzzles were fun and innovative. All of that, set against one of the most beautiful video-game soundtracks I’ve ever heard, makes The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past a shoo-in for any true video-game lover’s top ten." -- Written by MadcowVII (originally written by clkabuclosa)
"Team Fortress 2 (PC/Mac version) has had enormous staying power as an FPS. It's been called many things (great, revolutionary, hat simulator, etc.), but one thing is for sure: it's unique. It offers an FPS experience like no other. A class like the Spy just can't be found in any other online FPS and the individuality of each class is second to none. From their strengths, weaknesses, and different equipable items, to their charming and bold personalities (seen through the "Meet the..." videos, official comics, and audio clips in game), TF2 has a cast of memorable characters unrivaled by any other FPS. Which, to be honest, isn’t too hard when much of the FPS landscape is populated by grizzled space marines and nameless soldiers.
It's been constantly updated with tons of (mostly) free and new content, and the content isn’t just generic stuff like re-skins and map packs. There have been plenty of updates that have changed how classes have been played. Giving the Pyro's flamethrower an option to work as leaf blower, enabling it to deflect projectiles? Brilliant! Giving the Spy a triggerable fake death animation complete with a fake body? It works more often than you’d think. TF2 also boasts plenty of game modes (capture the flag, arena, control point, payload, etc.) and plenty of official and community maps to play them on.
When a game can have it's own MANNconomy, you have to know you’re missing out on something. Many WoTermelons aren’t, why should you?" -- Written by Odekerk
"Imagine a galaxy far, far, away, in time long ago.
Then go even further away, and back even longer.
There you have the Old Republic, the setting for the Star Wars spin-off smash hit, Knights of The Old Republic. In true Western RPG style, you start by creating and naming your Jedi, allocating available attribute points, then you are thrust head first into perhaps the most lush and vivid illustration of the Star Wars universe to date. Larger than life starships zoom through space, towering urban metropolises cover entire worlds, and pock marked planetary wastelands give rise to beast and brigand alike. You maneuver your character through the three-dimensional world replete with stunning visuals (which have stood the test of time well), hundreds of hand-crafted NPC's, and a swarm of side quests and moral choices.
If you haven't caught on, the plot is absolutely massive. You can't see and do everything in one playthrough, or probably even two. Moral decisions are abound, and karma plays a big factor. To complicate matters (read: make it more fun) the choices aren't always so obvious. Just because someone leaves their door open when they are gone doesn't make you any less of a thief if you take their stuff. Besides affecting the direction of the plot and how other characters regard your own, the caliber of your choices has a strong and startling affect upon the physical appearance and abilities of your character. Stay on the path of righteousness and you will find yourself a dashing Jedi knight, carrying yourself with much deserved elegance and pride. Waver too far and you will become a Sith, replete with scars, mechanical attachments, and horrific lesions. The dark side truly consumes.
Gameplay is a mix of real time and turn based. You queue the orders for your team up, and the battle commences in real time right in front of your eyes. You can pause to order a next volley of attacks, but that doesn't make the battles any less white knuckle. All your Star Wars favorites are here - Wookies, smugglers, droids - as are their signature weapons, blasters, rifles, bow casters, and light sabers. What Jedi powers your character acquires depends heavily on the above mentioned karma system. Remain true to the side of good and you will earn impressive telekinetic and telepathic abilities, while if you become a Sith you can learn their brand of "the force" - the ability to suffocate opponents from a distance and emit high powered lightning from your fingertips. Difficulty ramps up quickly, so be on your toes. Do you have what it takes to be a Knight of The Old Republic?" -- Written by Super Saber Tiger (originally nominated by clkabuclosa)
"Baldur's Gate 2 is a real time, role playing game based on the AD&D Forgotten Realms world and ruleset where you play as the child of the god Bhaal. You can outfit your party with up to 4 NPC's. You can purchase any number of normal or magical items to outfit your party and begin doing quests and basically exploring a huge world of cities and wilderness areas. The story is long and involved and manages to hold your attention easily.
The combat system is one of the best ever created for a video game. You can allow it to run real time, or set it to pause at any number of situations, to the point that you can essentially turn combat into a turn based system.
However, the real selling points of the game are:
1. The sheer number of ways you can go about playing it. You can of course use a character and a party of NPC's, but you can also select to go solo (except in a few instances where certain NPC's are required to be in your party to advance the story). You can also choose how to play the story, good, evil, lawful, chaotic, and your actions in the game are affected by the alignment you choose, as well as certain NPC's actions toward you. Additionally, there are multiple ways to accomplish quests, giving the game almost unlimited replay value.
2. There several user-created downloadable mods that are excellent, that improve and or change gameplay substantially.
3. It has an expansion called the Throne of Bhaal that continues the story adding additional items and locations to explore, new classes, and taking your character levels up into the stratosphere, along with additional amazing and unique high level abilities for your character." -- Written by wvfoos. (originally nominated by DingChavez)
"Ask anyone whose played Resident Evil 4 about it and you're guaranteed to hear either, "I played the **** out of that game," or that it was, "the best non-Resident Evil Resident Evil." Those in the latter may have a point. When it was released in 2005, fans discovered that Umbrella was gone and that zombie apocalypses had become a scarce commodity. The only thing that seemed to connect any of this to the RE franchise was the return of Leon Kennedy and his infamous emo 'do. While searching for the President's daughter, Leon stumbles upon a humble Spanish village that seems normal at first. One crazed mob attack later however and Leon is thrust into an intense action-packed experience full of genre-redefining gameplay. And while some may argue that the quick time events and action oriented gameplay was eventually taken too far (Resident Evil 5...), RE4 managed to blend new tricks with classic scares, leaving you on the edge of your seat every time you rounded a corner.
But ultimately, what kept myself and others coming back from more (besides Leon's brilliants one-liners) was the replayability. The re-vamped weapon system itself, with more than a dozen weapons to attain and upgrade, made new playthroughs exciting. But the return of Mercenaries mode, the PS2 addition of Separate Ways and, finally, the Wii Edition pulling all of these together with motion controls was enough to keep fans coming back for years, long after other games lose their charms. I leave with an anecdote. As I went to Gamestop to trade in some games, the employee noticed I had accidentally placed my RE4 disc inside another case. He looked at me, and asked if I still wished to trade the game. I responded in kind:
"No, thanks... BRO." -- Written by TheRunner PD (originally nominated by capnfoo)
"If you’re going to copy a game then you might as well copy one of the very best. In many respects Castlevania SotN is Super Metroid with a Castlevania coat of paint, so much so that the term ‘Metroidvania’ was termed to describe this. But SotN added to the formula with light RPG elements, the ability to equip various weapons, armor, and items, the ability to change into a bat, wolf, or mist, and a Street Fighter-like spell casting system. This worked out so well that this became the standard formula for future Castlevania games on the Game Boy Advance and DS.
SotN boasted some of the best graphics on the PS1 (ironic give Sony’s supposed anti-2D stance), a beautiful soundtrack, perfect play control, and voice work and dialogue…. well that was so bad that it’s funny as heck. The game had tons of secrets including *spoilers* another whole upside down castle to explore. What’s also interesting is that you don’t play as one of the Belmont clan (except in the prologue and with a special code after you beat the game) but rather as Alcuard the son of Dracula so you’re using swords and maces instead of the traditional Vampire Killer whip, but you still get to use traditional Castlevania sub-weapons like axes and holy water.
In conclusion Castlevania SotN redefined the Castlevania franchise and showed that there was still plenty of room for 2-D gaming in a 3-D world, especially if a game is as well made as this one." -- Written by ninja rabbit
Method: First, the board was solicited for a list of nominees. Each user was allowed to submit up to ten games for the nominations list. The purpose of the nominations list was two-fold: first of all, to give users a chance to nominate games they would like to write for if they won (nominators were given 'first dibs' on write-ups), and secondly, to have a public list of potential games. The second is to guard against a voter suggesting a game late that many previous voters would've voted for had they thought of it.
Then, the games (214 total) were entered in a large week-long poll. Users were allowed to vote for up to four games. Then, the top vote-getters from that round (30 total) were entered into a final poll, where users were allowed to vote for up to three games. The vote tallies of the two rounds were added and the initial round votes served as the tie-breaker.
With that, the Top 12 games were announced and write-ups were solicited. Nominators had first refusal to write-ups; then, any user on the board could claim one game they wanted to write for. Write-ups were collected, added to the list and posted. And then, a bunch of people begged for Super Metroid to get a write-up, so I threw it in the honorable mentions, too, since it had ranked 13th anyway.
Full Results: 30 total games made the final voting round. The rest are, in finishing order:
Final Fantasy 6, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Fallout 3, GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Sim City 3000 Unlimited, Shadow of the Colossus, Earthbound, No More Heroes, Psychonauts, Starcraft: Brood War, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Ace Combat: Zionist Devil Birds, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, Final Fantasy 4, Freespace 2
DDJ's Brief Analysis: As mentioned in one of the write-ups, WOT's history gives it a very interesting kind of audience, and it appears to come through on the list. Its attention to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Alpha Centauri may reflect the board's military-oriented nature. TIE Fighter makes its first appearance, and Baldur's Gate 2 makes a similarly rare appearance. Aside from those games, the rest have been somewhat common among other lists, a couple coming in first for other boards. Yet, again, we see a different first-place winner: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Despite high praise, this is the game's first major appearance on one of these lists, similar to Super Mario Bros. 3's surprisingly delayed appearance.
List by DDJ (02/03/2011)
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