Hey there guys and welcome to another part of our top 100 greatest video games of all time. As you can see, this week we’ll release # 39 to # 21. Yes, 21 and not 20. Reason for this is because I’d like to keep the top 20 as a seperate full post as I imagine that’s the part everyone is waiting for. But yeah, let’s get started then shall we? There are some really good games on the list today as we get closer and closer to the top 20. As always, this is my personal list and as such it doesn’t reflect your opinion. Feel free to leave your comments below though!
39. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2
One of the all time HUGEST video game franchises was the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. It was a bona fide phenomenon when it first came out, a must have for any gamer. The second installment in the series was pound for pound the best by miles (in fact, every sequel after that one started to get worse and worse). Its mix of amazing graphics, open-ended gameplay, in which the player (playing as a professional skateboarder) completes a number of missions which result in cash reward plus the ability to skate on basically ANYTHING on the screen was totally innovative. When you add to that the seemingly endless amount of tricks and combinations of tricks you could pull off and the multiple levels (my favourite was the S-K-A-T-E level where you collect the letters in that word), and trying to find the hidden tape, this game was unbeatable in terms of replayability.
38. Final Fantasy XII
Ah, Final Fantasy games never really die do they? With so many games released it’s hard to pick the best because they’re all really good. For # 38 though, I chose Final Fantasy XII.
The game takes place in the fictional land of Ivalice, where the empires of Archadia and Rozarria are waging an endless war. Dalmasca, a small kingdom, is caught between the warring nations. When Dalmasca is annexed by Archadia, its princess, Ashe, creates a resistance movement. During the struggle, she meets Vaan, a young adventurer who dreams of commanding an airship. They are quickly joined by a band of allies; together, they rally against the tyranny of the Archadian Empire. Final Fantasy XII received near-universally high review scores, and earned numerous “Game of the Year” awards in various categories from noted video game publications.
Throughout the game, the player directly controls the on-screen character from a third-person perspective to interact with people, objects, and enemies. Unlike previous games in the series, the player can also control the camera with the right analog stick, allowing for a 360° view of the surroundings. While in towns and cities, the player may only see from the perspective of Vaan, but any character may be controlled in the field. The world of Final Fantasy XII is rendered to scale relative to the characters in it; instead of a caricature of the character roaming around miniature terrain, as found in the earlier Final Fantasy games, every area is represented proportionally. The player navigates the overworld by foot, by Chocobo, or by airship. Players may save their game to a memory card using save crystals or gate crystals, and may use the latter to teleport between gate crystals. An in-game bestiary provides incidental information about the world of Final Fantasy XII.
Final Fantasy XII restructures the system of earning gil, the currency of the Final Fantasy games; instead of gil, most enemies drop “loot” which can be sold at shops. This ties into a new battle mechanic which rewards the player with improved loot for slaying a particular type of enemy multiple times in a row. Selling different types of loot also unlocks a bazaar option in shops, which provides items at a lower cost, or items exclusive to the bazaar.
37. Shadow Complex
When Shadow Complex came out in 2009, it was a surprise sensation. For only 15 bucks you could download it and play through the Xbox 360 Live network and experience one of the greatest platforming games ever made. It’s presented in what they call 2.5D format; which means the game world is fully three-dimensional, but the player can only move in two dimensions, simulating the environment of a classic side-scroller. Enemies can, however, move in any direction, and auto-aim is utilized to allow the player to fire at nearby enemies or objects both inside and outside of the 2D plane. The player can use the right control stick to aim with a laser sight. Its gameplay is reminiscent of vintage games like Castlevania yet with gorgeous graphics and sound. In short, it is a masterpiece. The game rewards the player with experience points as they complete objectives and defeat enemies. The player can gain up to fifty experience levels, each level boosting basic attributes of the character. These experience levels grant the player skills such as improved gunfire precision or damage resistance. Special rewards such as revealing the full map and unlimited special ammo are granted at specific levels. When the player starts a new game, they will lose all the weapons and items that they have acquired, but will keep the character’s experience level and any benefits they have already received from that experience. In addition to the main campaign, a number of challenge levels, called “Proving Grounds”, are available, generally requiring the player to make it to the exit of a room using a limited set of items and health. Players are ranked based on time of completion and any scoring objectives when they complete the level. Scores and other statistics from the main campaign and the training group are tracked via online leaderboards. All this makes the value unbeatable…
36. Need For Speed 3: Hot Pursuit
Look! Finally a racegame on the list. Need For Speed III was my first ever racegame on the PS1 and I can honestly say that I had great times playing this.
With police pursuits reintegrated into the game, Hot Pursuit’s gameplay now consists of two categories. The first encompasses standard racing, as it has been in its predecessors, The Need for Speed and Need for Speed II, in which the player is allowed to race against one (including split-screen races) or seven other racers in normal circuit racers, knockouts, or tournaments (which allow the player to unlock bonus vehicles and a bonus track). The second category is dubbed the “Hot Pursuit,” where police pursuits are included in races; the mode allows the player to select a standard sports car to race against a single opponent in a police-scattered track, and in the PC version only select a police variation of a sports car to pursue and stop all six racers before they complete their race. Completing both Hot Pursuit challenges in the PC version on every track of the game unlocks additional police sports cars.
Two modes were introduced in the game. The two-player split-screen mode allows two players to race using the same computer. The “Knockout” mode consists of 7 races with 8 racers on randomly chosen tracks, in which conditions such as selected difficulty, weather, and so on that the player has chosen before starting the race-series will apply. Each race consists of two laps where the driver who finishes last will be eliminated from the race lineup. All other drivers advance to the next round and carry on with the battle until there is only one player left, who technically wins the knockout competition. The game also supports network play through a serial port, modem, or IPX, and internet gaming through TCP/IP protocol. It also allowed spawn installations of itself to be installed on other machines.
Racing tracks are greatly varied, with settings ranging from wide desert canyons to homely countryside villages, as well as snow-capped mountain ranges. A particular track in the game is even host to a modern and intricate structure identified as the Electronic Arts development office. Most tracks contain one or more secret shortcuts which can dramatically alter the outcome of a race.
The game also boasts some fairly impressive graphics support for its time, allowing up to 1152 x 864 pixel x 16bit in-game resolution, wide screen support, car chrome effects, and slider settings for car detail and view distance. Motion-sensored controllers receive support as well, granting the players a more thorough gameplay experience by actually allowing them to “drive” the cars.
Car tuning is also introduced, allowing any car’s handling to be customized by adjusting low or high end properties for Engine Tuning and Gear Ratios, front or back Brake Balance, slow or fast Braking Speed, soft or stiff Suspension, low or high Aerodynamics as well as Rain or Racing tires. Any of these options can be modified via sliders to offer a digit-sensitive, percentage-based effect to the selected car’s overall performance. Higher-end engine and gear tuning, for example, will compromise acceleration for better tops speeds. Rear-based brake balance and slow braking speeds make for wider, drifting turns, and aerodynamics provide even higher speeds at the loss of handling.
35. Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Majora’s Mask is the sixth installment in The Legend of Zelda series and the second using 3D graphics, the first being The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the game’s predecessor. The game is set in Termina, an alternate version of the usual series setting of Hyrule, where the Skull Kid has stolen Majora’s Mask, a powerful ancient artifact. Under its influence, the Skull Kid causes the land’s moon to slowly fall towards Termina, where it crashes after three days. The main protagonist Link repeatedly travels back in time to the beginning of the three days to find a way to stop the moon from destroying Clock Town.
The gameplay is centered on the perpetually repeating three-day cycle and the use of various masks, some of which allow Link to transform into different beings. Link learns to play several melodies on his ocarina, which have a variety of effects like controlling the flow of time or opening passages to four temples, which house challenges Link must overcome. Unlike Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask requires the Expansion Pak, which provides additional memory for enhanced graphics and more on-screen characters. Majora’s Mask was well received by critics, who praised the graphics and deep story.
The gameplay of Majora’s Mask expands on that of Ocarina of Time; it retains the concept of dungeon puzzles and ocarina songs, and introduces character transformations and the restriction of a three-day cycle. As in previous installments, Link can perform basic actions such as walking, running and limited jumping, and must use items to battle enemies and solve puzzles. Link’s main weapon is the sword, which can be upgraded throughout the game. Other weapons and items are available—Link can block or reflect attacks with a shield, stun enemies by throwing Deku Nuts, attack from a distance with a bow and arrows, destroy obstacles and damage enemies with bombs, and latch onto objects or enemies with the Hookshot. Magic power allows attacks such as magical arrows or spin attacks, and the use of special items.
A large part of the game revolves around masks that you’ll collect throughout the game. While most masks are limited to an optional side-quest in Ocarina of Time, they play a central role in Majora’s Mask, which has twenty-four masks total.
Unlike previous Zelda games, Link can transform at will into different creatures: the Deku Mask transforms Link into a Deku Scrub, the Goron Mask into a Goron, and the Zora Mask into a Zora. Each form features unique abilities: Deku Link can perform a spin attack, shoot bubbles from his mouth, skip on water, and fly for a short time by launching from Deku Flowers; Goron Link can roll at high speeds (and grow spikes at higher speeds), punch with deadly force, stomp the ground with his massive, rock-like body, walk in lava without taking damage, and weigh down heavy switches; Zora Link can swim rapidly, throw boomerang-like fins from his arms, generate a force field, and walk on the bottoms of bodies of water. Many areas can be accessed only by use of these abilities.
Link and his three transformations receive different reactions from non-player characters. For instance, the Goron and Zora are allowed to exit Clock Town at will, whereas the Deku Scrub is not permitted to leave by reason of his short stature and childlike resemblance. Animals also interact differently with the four forms of Link. For example, Link’s normal form receives an indifferent response from dogs, Deku Link is attacked by them, Goron Link frightens them, and Zora Link makes them chase him happily.
The final mask to be gained in the game is the Fierce Deity Mask, which can only be worn in boss battles, and makes remarkably short work of Majora’s Mask. When donning this mask, Link grows to nearly two-and-a-half times his normal height. His clothes turn white and his face appears with a type of war paint on it. The sword that Fierce Deity Link carries is a helix shape that uses magic power to fire blasts at enemies. There is a glitch in the N64 version of Majora’s Mask that allows Link to put on the Fierce Deity Mask without fighting a boss.
Other masks provide situational benefits. For example, the Great Fairy’s Mask helps retrieve stray fairies scattered throughout the four temples, the Bunny Hood allows Link to run faster, and the Stone Mask renders Link invisible to most non-playable characters and enemies. Less valuable masks are usually involved only in optional side-quests or specialized situations. Examples include the Postman’s Hat, which grants Link access to items in mailboxes, and Kafei’s Mask, which initiates a long side-quest to receive the Couple’s Mask.
Shenmue is a 1999 open-world adventure video game developed by Sega AM2 and published by Sega for the Dreamcast. Shenmue borrows gameplay elements from several different genres, but largely consists of open-world adventure segments with real-time 3D battles interspersed throughout. It was the most expensive video game in its time, with a production cost of $47 million.
Shenmue takes place within Yokosuka, Japan. The four main areas of Yokosuka available to the player are detailed and offer many avenues for exploration. The Hazuki Dojo is located in a small hamlet called Yamanose, where many of Ryo’s childhood friends and neighbors live. Ryo’s childhood friends, Ichiro Sakurada and Noriko Nakamura, are also residents of Yamanose. Directly next to Yamanose lies Sakuragaoka, a slightly bigger neighborhood. There are several points of interest here, including Setsu Abe’s Candy Shop and Sakuragaoka Park. There are also several residents of Sakuragaoka that can offer assistance to Ryo in his quest to find Lan Di. They include local gossips Fusayo Mishima and Fusako Kondo, as well as Naoyuki Ito, who lends Ryo his motorbike towards the end of the game.
33. Super Mario World
Starring the most recognizable character in the history of gaming, Super Mario World was the fourth in the Super Mario series and the inaugural game of the fantastic Super Nintendo console (it initially came packaged with it). Once again, the plot involves Mario (or the constant red-headed stepchild Luigi) traversing different lands on a quest to rescue Princess Toadstool who has been kidnapped by ubiquitous Bowser. It was a critical and commercial success, gaining a legacy and selling over 20 million copies worldwide. Unlike previous Mario games, which take place in the Mushroom Kingdom and surrounding areas, Super Mario World takes place in a new place called “Dinosaur Land”. During the course of the game, you travel through the worlds fighting mini bosses along the way, until you finally meet Boweser and rescue the forever hapless Princess. Levels are accessed through a world map; there are nine worlds, each containing several levels, many of which have a second, secret exit. Once you finish one it unlocks a path on the map allowing you to move on to further levels. As usual, Mario must run, jump, swim, use warp pipes, collect coins (collecting 100 earns him an extra life), defeat enemies, navigate platforms, open doors and avoid other hazards to be successful. The abundant amount of secret levels makes this game infinitely re-playable. The most notable addition, however, of this classic, is the introduction of Yoshi, your adorable and sometimes maddening (he has a tendency to run away scared) dinosaur companion whom you can ride. Conveniently, Yoshi is also able to eat most enemies, which makes him extremely useful to you on your lengthy adventure. What else can we say? This was one for the ages.
32. Metal Gear Solid 2
Metal Gear Solid 2 carries the title of “Tactical Espionage Action,” and most of the game involves the protagonist sneaking around avoiding being seen by the enemies. Most fundamental are the wider range of skills offered to the player. The new first-person aiming mode allows players to target specific points in the game, greatly expanding tactical options; guards can be blinded by steam, distracted by a flying piece of fruit or hit in weak spots. Players can now walk slowly, allowing them to sneak over noisy flooring without making a sound, or hang off walkways to slip past below guards’ feet. The corner-press move from the original title, which allowed players a sneak peek around the next bend is expanded to allow players to fire from cover. Other new abilities included leaping over and hanging off of railings, opening and hiding in storage lockers, and sneaking up behind enemies to hold them at gunpoint for items and ammunition. The environment also had a greater impact on the stealth gameplay, taking into account factors such as weather, smell, atmosphere and temperature.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, the enemy guards were given more advanced AI “to prevent an imbalance of power,” and unlike the original Metal Gear Solid, work in squads. They call on their radios for a strike team upon seeing the player, then attempt to flank him and cut off his escape while avoiding the player’s attacks. Often strike teams will carry body armor and riot shields, making them an even greater threat. Even if the player escapes to a hiding place, a team will sweep in to check the area. The game has a collective enemy AI, where enemy guards work together in squads, can communicate with one another, and react in a more realistic manner towards the player. The game’s enemy AI was considered one of the best in gaming for many years.
The game also expanded its predecessor’s cover mechanic, with Solid Snake or Raiden now able to take cover behind walls or objects and pop out to shoot at enemies, while the improved enemy AI allowed enemies to also take cover from the player character. The enemies would often take cover to call for backup, but during battle, they would take cover then pop out and shoot at the player or blindly throw grenades from behind their cover much like Gears Of War nowadays. Boss battles and set-pieces remain a case of finding a strategy that bypasses the defenses of the enemy. However, in a major break from action game standards, it is also possible to clear the entire game, including boss fights, without causing a single deliberate death, through use of tranquilizer guns, stun grenades and melee attacks.
31. Resistance: Fall of Man
The game starts in the year 1951, with the protagonist, Sgt. Nathan Hale, on his way with a United States task force to retrieve a secret weapon that the British claim can be used against the Chimera. However, the force is quickly wiped out by a Chimeran spire attack, which infects all of the soldiers with the Chimeran virus, soon after landing in York. Hale, the only survivor, appears to be infected with the virus despite not having gone into a coma. He possesses increased strength, limited regeneration, and his irises have become gold/yellow, somewhat like the Chimera.
Hale continues on his mission, meeting and rescuing Captain Rachel Parker while escaping from a Chimeran conversion center in Grimsby. Parker then assists Hale over the radio for the rest of his mission. Hale and the British forces eventually manage to recover the secret weapon in Manchester and deliver it to one of the resistance’s headquarters in Cheshire, only to find it under attack by Chimeran forces. It is revealed that the secret weapon is actually an Angel, a Chimeran creature that British Intelligence was able to capture. The Angels are the most powerful form of Chimeran creature, thought to control the rest of the Chimera forces through some form of telepathy. The Angel attempts to enter into Hale’s mind, but he manages to resist and shoots the creature in the head with his assault rifle, killing it.
Hale continues with the war effort, assisted by Lieutenant Stephen Cartwright, a British Royal Marines Commando. The two of them eventually discover that the Chimera have established a series of metallic towers throughout Britain, all inter-connected by a series of underground power conduits. Evidence indicates that the towers were excavated, not constructed, adding more mystery as to the origin of the Chimera. After helping the resistance evacuate their last major stronghold in Bristol as the Chimera wipe it out, Hale enters the underground Chimeran tunnels and discovers that the Chimera’s main tower in Britain is located in London. Hale decides that destroying the central tower will somehow result in the total defeat of the Chimera in Britain.
The British and American forces launch one final attack against the main Chimeran tower in London. Hale manages to reach the top of the tower and destroy its central nuclear fission reactor, resulting in a massive explosion that obliterates the tower. This sets off a chain reaction along the Chimera conduit network, destroying all the towers in Britain and killing all of the Angels inside. With the Angels dead, the remaining Chimeran forces quickly die off within minutes. Britain is saved from the Chimeran invasion.
As for Hale, he is presumed to have been killed in the explosion of the main tower, and the Americans list him as killed in action. Parker is not convinced, though, and believes that Hale may have managed to survive somehow. The game’s final cutscene shows Hale alive, walking through the snow, armed with only a single grenade. Suddenly, he is intercepted by a squad of soldiers wearing unusual insignia, appearing to be some form of special forces. Hale briefly contemplates killing them as well as himself with the grenade, but ultimately decides against it. He drops the grenade and allows himself to be taken by the soldiers, flying away in a transport helicopter.
Resistance: Fall of Man is a FPS set in an alternate history. Many of its gameplay features stem from this, most notably the weapons. Some weapons are based on real weapons circa the 1950s, while some weapons are futuristically altered in accordance with the game’s storyline. Insomniac Games has combined its passion for creating exotic weapons and vehicles, such as those found in the Ratchet and Clank series, with its proprietary development engine and physics system to create unique human and Chimeran weaponry. Each weapon provides a unique play style and strategy. An example of this is found with the Auger (Chimeran). The primary fire for this weapon is simple rapid fire, but the bullets burrow through walls, actually coming out stronger on the other side, opening up a whole new level of strategy. The secondary fire creates a barrier that is resistant to all bullets but its own. In addition to the usual short- and long-range weapons, the game features several different types of grenades, with both historical and futuristic varieties. For example, one grenade, known as the Backlash grenade, is capable of creating a dome-shaped barrier, where the player can enter for cover. The barrier reflects shots from opposing Chimera. Some weapons are not available on the first play-through of the game but can be found at certain locations on replaying the game.
There are also skill points that can be earned throughout the single player game. These are awarded for certain actions that are hinted at by their titles; however, the specific details are not revealed until the skill point is actually earned. There are generic skill points that can be earned during any single level, and some that are specific to certain levels of the game. Each task is worth a different number of points which are used to unlock additional media for the game.
In addition, multiple Intel documents can be found scattered throughout each level. These give the player an insight into what has happened, is happening, and will happen.
30. Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Ah, finally entering the top 30 video games of all time … good times.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (often abbreviated and officially titled in Europe and Australia as Sonic 3) is a platform game and the 4th installment in the Sonic the Hedgehog series for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. Sonic defeated his enemy, Dr. Robotnik; crash-landing on a floating island, Sonic encounters new character Knuckles the Echidna, and must once more retrieve the Chaos Emeralds while also working to stop Dr. Robotnik from relaunching his ship, the Death Egg.
In single player mode, the player can choose to play solo, as either Sonic or Tails, or as a team, controlling Sonic, with the AI controlling Tails, which is the default configuration. Another player may take control of Tails at any time by using a controller plugged into port 2. The object of the game is to progress through the levels. In order to completely finish the game, seven Chaos Emeralds must also be collected from the special stages.
Sonic 3 included more scope than any other game in the series to date: the play fields were three times larger than previous games, with multiple paths for different characters, more environmental elements with which to interact, faster maximum speeds, more end-of-level bosses, more setpieces, and more environmental effects (like depth), all without any of the framerate issues that plagued certain parts of Sonic 2.
The game introduced many staples to the series, such as an increasingly story-driven game, multiple shield types, several musical indents and themes used in most subsequent games, and introduced Jun Senoue to the series, who would later become sound director of the 3D Sonic games, lending them their signature rock-inspired soundtracks.
Each stage connects to the next, via continuation, backdrop elements or a cut scene to convey spatial relation between the levels. The game conveys a sense of existing in an interconnected geographical location, as opposed to separate, disconnected zones. With these transitions between the levels, the game developer expanded the idea initiated in the final levels of the original title and its sequel. A similar concept was used in the NES game Little Samson.
29. Final Fantasy VI
Originally released in in America as Final Fantasy III, this game is another Super Nintendo game. Combat in Final Fantasy VI is menu-based, in which the player selects an action from a list of such options as Fight, Magic, and Item. A maximum of four characters may be used in battles, which uses the series’ traditional Active Time Battle system, or ATB, which was designed by Hiroyuki Itō and first featured in Final Fantasy IV. In contrast to the medieval settings featured in previous Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy VI is set in a steampunk environment. The structure of society parallels that of the latter half of the 19th century, with opera and the fine arts serving as recurring motifs throughout the game. The fact that Final Fantasy VI is often named best the Final Fantasy game says enough: this is a must play for anyone
StarCraft is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment.
The story of StarCraft is presented through its instruction manual, the briefings to each mission and conversations within the missions themselves, along with the use of cinematic cutscenes at key points. The game itself is split into three episodes, one for the player to command each race. In the first segment of the game, the player and Jim Raynor are attempting to control the colony of Mar Sara in the wake of the Zerg attacks on other Terran worlds. After the Confederacy arrests Raynor for destroying Confederate property, despite the fact that it had been infested by the Zerg, the player joins Arcturus Mengsk and the Sons of Korhal. Raynor, who is freed by Mengsk’s troops, also joins and frequently accompanies the player on missions. Mengsk then begins to use Confederate technology captured on Mar Sara to lure the Zerg to Confederate installations and further his own goals. After forcing Confederate general Edmund Duke to join him, Mengsk sacrifices his own second-in-command, Sarah Kerrigan, to ensure the destruction of the Confederacy by luring the Zerg to the Confederate capital Tarsonis. Raynor is outraged by Mengsk’s true aims of obtaining power at any cost and deserts, taking with him a small army of the former colonial militia of Mar Sara. Mengsk reorganizes what remains of the Terran population into the Terran Dominion, crowning himself as emperor.
The second campaign reveals that Kerrigan was not killed by the Zerg, but rather is captured and infested in an effort to incorporate her psionic traits into the Zerg gene pool. She emerges with far more psionic powers and physical strength, her DNA completely altered. Meanwhile, the Protoss commander Tassadar discovers that the Zerg’s cerebrates cannot be killed by conventional means, but that they can be harmed by the powers wielded by the heretical dark templar. Tassadar allies himself with the dark templar prelate Zeratul, who assassinates one of the Zerg’s cerebrates in their hive clusters on Char. The cerebrate’s death results in its forces running amok through the Zerg hives, but briefly links the minds of Zeratul and the Zerg Overmind, allowing the Overmind to learn the location of the Protoss homeworld Aiur, which it has been seeking for millennia. The Zerg promptly invade and despite heavy Protoss resistance, the Overmind is able to embed itself into the crust of the planet.
The final episode of the game sees Aldaris and the Protoss government branding Tassadar a traitor and a heretic for conspiring with the dark templar. The player initially serves Aldaris in defending Aiur from the Zerg invasion, but while on a mission to arrest Tassadar, the player joins him instead. A Protoss civil war erupts, pitting Tassadar, Zeratul, and their allies against the Protoss establishment. The dark templar prove their worth when they use their energies to slay two more of the Zerg cerebrates on Aiur, and the Conclave reconciles with them. Aided by Raynor’s forces—who sided with Tassadar back on Char—the Protoss break through the Overmind’s weakened defenses and destroy the Overmind’s outer shell, but take heavy casualties in the process. Tassadar channels his own psionic energies in combination with those of the dark templar through the hull of his command ship and crashes it into the Overmind, sacrificing himself in order to destroy it.
Blizzard Entertainment’s use of three distinct races in StarCraft is widely credited with revolutionizing the real-time strategy genre. All units are unique to their respective races and while rough comparisons can be drawn between certain types of units in the technology tree, every unit performs differently and requires different tactics for a player to succeed. The enigmatic Protoss have access to powerful units and machinery and advanced technologies such as energy shields and localized warp capabilities, powered by their psionic traits. However, their forces have lengthy and expensive manufacturing processes, encouraging players to follow a strategy of the quality of their units over the quantity. The insectoid Zerg possess entirely organic units and structures, which can be produced quickly and at a far cheaper cost to resources, but are accordingly weaker, relying on sheer numbers and speed to overwhelm enemies. The Terrans provide a middle ground between the other two races, providing units that are versatile and flexible. They have access to a range of more ballistic military technologies and machinery, such as tanks and nuclear weapons. Although each race is unique in its composition, no race has an innate advantage over the other. Each species is balanced out so that while they have different strengths, powers, and abilities their overall strength is the same. The balance stays complete via infrequent patches (game updates) provided by Blizzard.
StarCraft features artificial intelligence which scales in difficulty, although the player cannot change the difficulty level in the single-player campaigns. Each campaign starts with enemy factions running easy AI modes, scaling through the course of the campaign to the hardest AI modes. In the level editor provided with the game, a designer has access to four levels of AI difficulties: “easy”, “medium”, “hard” and “insane”, each setting differing in the units and technologies allowed to an AI faction and the extent of the AI’s tactical and strategic planning. The single-player campaign consists of thirty missions, split into ten for each race.
27. Gears of War 1
Gears of War is a third-person shooter that places emphasis on using cover to avoid taking damage while strategically moving towards enemy forces. The game uses a number of weapon archetypes, but predominately featured is the Lancer, an assault rifle that has a mounted chainsaw bayonet that can be used to kill foes at close range. The player can attempt an “Active Reload” of a weapon to reload it faster and temporarily boost the damage from the gun, but failing to perform the Active Reload correctly will cause the gun to become momentarily jammed while the player’s character fixes it. When the player takes damage, the “Crimson Omen”, a red cog representing the player’s health gauge, will fade into the screen, becoming more defined with larger amounts of damage. The player can seek cover to recover their health, but if they take too much damage, they will become incapacitated. Once this occurs, a skull will fill the center void of the omen. Depending on the game type being played, the consequences will vary. If single-player career mode is being played, instant death will follow. If there is a second player, they will have to revive their fallen teammate. In multiplayer, the player will fall and be rendered useless until either revived by a teammate, executed by an enemy, or until they “bleed out,” die from blood loss.
The game features a five-act campaign that can be played alone or co-operatively with one other player. The campaign focuses on Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago and their efforts in the Delta Squad to wipe out the Locust forces. The players will be joined by AI teammates that will help fight the Locust. Certain sections of the campaign feature two paths that can be taken as selected by the first player. If there is a second player, their character will automatically take the other path. Throughout the campaign, the players can find “COG tags” of fallen comrades to collect. The campaign can be played at three difficulty settings in the first game. From easiest to hardest, these are “Casual”, “Hardcore” and “Insane”. In the second Gears of War, it can be played at four difficulty settings. From easiest to hardest, there are “Casual”, “Normal”, “Hardcore”, and “Insane”. The “Insane” difficulty is unlocked only when the game is beaten on one of the other three difficulties.
Multiplayer Gears of War features up to four-on-four competitive gameplay, with teams representing the Gears or the Locust. Matches can either be played in Ranked mode where one’s performance is tracked through leaderboards but prevents players from inviting friends or adjusting the settings of the match, or in Player mode in which a player can adjust several settings of the game and invite friends to join, but where performance in the game does not count towards tracking. Three match types were available with the game as-shipped for the Xbox 360: “Warzone” and “Execution” modes are standard deathmatch modes, with the only difference being that players must execute downed foes in Execution otherwise they will revive after a time. “Assassination” assigned each team a leader, who is the only one that can track the other team’s leader and can pick up new weapons after which teammates can then pick them up, with the goal to eliminate the foe’s leader. An Xbox 360 patch added the “Annex” mode, which is similar to King of the Hill, in which players must try to control a shifting control point for a certain amount of time to win. The PC version of Gears introduced “King of the Hill”, a mode not present in the Xbox 360 version, which uses a fixed control point but varies the conditions on which it is controlled.
Gears of War takes place on the planet Sera . A radioactive liquid called Imulsion became a highly valued power source after a scientist discovered how to use it, and the economic shockwave led to several wars between nations. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) originally existed only as an obscure world-government philosophy, but it evolved into a legitimate, though minor, political party during the 79-year long Pendulum Wars. After “Emergence Day,” when the Locust began their attack on humanity, the COG were the ones who took the necessary steps to ensure the survival of human civilization, instituting martial law and taking charge of the effort against the Locust. Fourteen years later, the COG is the only human government left on Sera.
The game focuses primarily on Marcus Fenix, the main character, and Delta Squad (consisting of Jaxton Garner, Damon Baird, Augustus Cole, and Dominic “Dom” Santiago), and some side characters such as Colonel Hoffman, Anthony Carmine, Benjamin Carmine and Lieutenant Kim. Players take control of Marcus Fenix, freshly rescued by Dominic Santiago from the Jacinto Maximum Security Penitentiary where he has spent the last four years. When in co-op two player, the second player assumes control of Santiago. All four of the squad members are available for play during multiplayer games, along with Private Anthony Carmine(Gears of War 1), Private Benjamin Carmine(Gears of War 2), Lieutenant Minh Young Kim, and Colonel Victor Hoffman, in addition to the various Locust characters.
Some of the characters received voice-overs from popular culture icons. Marcus Fenix is voiced by John DiMaggio, General RAAM and many Locust creatures are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker and Augustus “Cole Train” Cole is voiced by Lester “The Mighty Rasta” Speight
Doom is a landmark 1993 first-person shooter video game by id Software. It is widely recognized for having popularized the first person shooter genre, pioneering immersive 3D graphics, networked multiplayer gaming, and support for customized additions and modifications via packaged files in a data archive known as “WADs”. Its graphic and interactive violence, as well as its Satanic imagery, also made it the subject of considerable controversy. In Doom, players assume the role of a space marine who must fight his way through a military base on Mars’ moon, Phobos, that has been overrun with demons from Hell.
At its core, the gameplay is similar to classic shooter games , presenting the player with the challenge of surviving while shooting every enemy in sight, but with its pseudo-3D first-person perspective giving environments a spatial representation that has a major effect on the level design and gameplay experience.
The objective of each level is simply to locate the exit room that leads to the next area, marked with an exit sign and/or a special kind of door, while surviving all hazards on the way. Among the obstacles are demonic monsters, pits of toxic or radioactive slime, ceilings that lower and crush the player character, and locked doors for which a keycard, skull-shaped key device, or remote switch must be located. The levels are sometimes labyrinthine and feature plenty of items such as additional ammo, health increases and other “power-ups” along the way, as well as the occasional secret areas which are not immediately obvious as a reward for players who explore more carefully. To ease navigation through the levels, a full screen automap is available and shows the areas explored to that point.
Doom is notable for the weapons arsenal available to the marine, which became prototypical for first-person shooters. The player character starts armed only with a pistol, and brass-knuckled fists in case the ammunition runs out, but larger weapons can be picked up: these are a chainsaw, a shotgun, a chaingun, a rocket launcher, a plasma rifle, and finally the immensely powerful BFG 9000. There is a wide array of power-ups, such as a backpack that increases the player character’s ammunition-carrying capacity, armor, first aid kits to restore health, the berserk pack (a dark first aid box that puts the character into berserk mode, allowing him to deal out rocket launcher-level damage with his fists and potentially splattering former humans and imps, as well as setting the user’s health to 100% if it was lower), supernatural blue orbs (named soul spheres in the manuals) that boost the player character’s health percentage by 100%, up to a maximum of 200%, nightvision, computer maps (which show every area of the level), partial invisibility, and protective suits that allows the player to survive in toxic acids.
The enemy monsters in Doom make up the central gameplay element. The player character faces them in large numbers, with the number generally increased when the higher of the game’s five difficulty levels is chosen when starting a new game. There are 10 types of monsters, including possessed humans as well as specifically hellish monsters, all which vary in many ways. The monsters have very simple behavior, consisting of either walking toward their opponent, or attacking by throwing fireballs, biting, and scratching. They will fight each other if one monster is accidentally harmed by another.
Having made the fps genre what it is today, Doom deserves its spot near the top 20.
25. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Following its predecessors, Brawl uses a battle system unlike that of typical fighting games. Players can choose from a large selection of characters, each attempting to knock their opponents off the screen as they fight on various stages. The characters in Brawl include most of the same ones as the predecessors, such as the well-known Mario and Pikachu. Instead of using traditional health bars that start at a maximum value and lose value, Brawl characters start the game with 0%; the value rises as they take damage and may rise over 100% to a maximum of 999%. As a character’s percentage increases, the character flies further back when hit. When a character is knocked beyond a stage’s boundary and disappears from the screen, the character loses either a life, a point, or coins, depending on the mode of play. Brawl includes a function which allows players to create profiles with personalized button configurations for each control method along with their chosen username.
The characters in Brawl fight each other using a variety of attacks, that give the player a wider selection than the predecessors. Players execute each move by pressing a button in conjunction with a tilt of the control stick or a press of the D-pad, depending on the mode of control. In addition to basic attacks, characters have access to more powerful moves, known as smash attacks. Each character has four unique moves, which often cause effects besides damage to an opponent. Brawl introduces the ability to perform character-specific super attacks, referred to as “Final Smash” moves. Significantly more powerful than regular attacks, these moves have a wide variety of effects that range from nearly unavoidable blasts to temporary transformations. Final Smash moves can be performed by destroying a Smash Ball: a colorful, glowing, orb-like item bearing the Smash Bros. logo that floats around each stage every so often depending on the selection of items that were set before the start of the match.
Characters can use items ranging from projectiles to melee weapons; each has a different effect on the characters around it. Although many items have returned from previous Super Smash Bros. games, new ones have been introduced as well. Some returning items have changed appearance and function. Two varieties of items, Assist Trophies and Poké Balls, temporarily summon guest characters and Pokémon, respectively, that generally aid the summoner. They cannot be controlled by players and are usually invincible.
In addition to the standard multiplayer mode, Brawl features other multiplayer modes and options in Group mode. Special Melee, from the previous game, returns as Special Brawl. In this mode, players are able to battle in matches using special rules for a greater level of customization. Whereas previously standard options such as “Giant Melee” or “Invisible Melee” were limited to one feature per match, players may now select multiple options for a single match. Another returning game type, Tourney mode (formerly Tournament mode), enables players to create an elimination-based tournament, where up to 32 players can play, with a large number of game-controlled or human-controlled opponents. A “Rotation” feature has been introduced in Brawl, which allows up to sixteen players to compete in sequence by switching out winners or losers after each round.
24. Deus Ex
Deus Ex is a cyberpunk-themed action role-playing game developed by Ion Storm Inc. and published by Eidos Interactive in 2000, which combines gameplay elements of first-person shooters with those of role-playing video games. The game received near-universal critical and industry acclaim, including being named “Best PC Game of All Time” in PC Gamer’s Top 100 PC Games and in a poll carried out by UK gaming magazine PC Zone. It was a frequent candidate for and winner of Game of the Year awards, drawing praise for its pioneering designs in player choice and multiple narrative paths. It has sold more than 1 million copies. Set in a dystopian world during the year 2052, the central plot follows rookie United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition agent JC Denton, as he sets out to combat terrorist forces, which have become increasingly prevalent in a world slipping ever further into chaos. As the plot unfolds, Denton becomes entangled in a deep and ancient conspiracy, encountering organizations such as Majestic 12, the Illuminati, and the Hong Kong Triads throughout his journey.
First published for personal computers running Windows, Deus Ex was later ported to Macintosh systems, as well the PlayStation 2 game console, the latter under the title Deus Ex: The Conspiracy. Loki Games worked on a Linux version of the game, but the company went out of business before releasing it. A sequel to Deus Ex, titled Deus Ex: Invisible War, was released on December 2, 2003, for both Windows and the Xbox video game console.
Deus Ex incorporates elements from four video game genres: role-playing, first-person shooter, adventure, and “immersive simulation”, the last of which being a game where “nothing reminds you that you’re just playing a game”. For example, the game uses a first-person camera during gameplay and includes exploration and character interaction as primary features. The player assumes the role of JC Denton, a nanotech-augmented operative of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO). This nanotechnology is a central gameplay mechanism, and allows players to perform superhuman feats.
A great game in my opinion, but not quite good enough to make it into my personal top 20.
23. Zelda: A Link to the Past
Zelda: A Link to the past was the third installment in The Legend of Zelda series and a major step forward. Its plot focuses on Link as he travels on a journey to save Hyrule, defeat Ganon and rescue the seven descendants of the Sages. It uses a top-down perspective similar to that of debut, but added mechanics and concepts to the series that have become commonplace, including multi-level dungeons and new equipment (such as the hookshot and the Pegasus Boots), as well as establishing the concept of an alternate, parallel (and sometimes far more dangerous) world. A Link to the Past is the first appearance of what would subsequently become a major Zelda trademark: the existence of two parallel worlds between which the player travels. The first, called the Light World, is the ordinary Hyrule where Link grew up with his uncle. The second is what was once the Sacred Realm, but became the Dark World when Ganon acquired the Triforce. The Dark World is a corrupted version of Hyrule; the water is a dark, unpleasant green colour, the grass is dead, skulls replace rocks and pots, and trees have faces. People change forms in the Dark World based on their nature; without an item to prevent it (in this case, the Moon Pearl), Link turns into a pink rabbit. Each location in the Light World corresponds to a similar location in the Dark World, usually with a similar physical structure but an opposite nature (e.g. a desert in the Light World corresponds to a swamp in the Dark World, a peaceful village in the Light World corresponds to a dilapidated town of thieves in the Dark World). Link can travel from the Dark World to the Light World at almost any outside location by using a magic mirror (and back again from the same location using the portal left where he reappears in the Light World). There are also hidden warp locations throughout the Light World. This enables puzzles that exploit structural differences between the Light and Dark Worlds. This is the game that really cemented the name Zelda as one of the premier franchises of all time.
22. Diablo 2
Diablo II is a dark fantasy/horror-themed hack and slash, with elements of the role playing game and dungeon crawl genres. It was released for Windows and Mac OS in 2000 by Blizzard Entertainment, and was developed by Blizzard North. It is a direct sequel to the 1996 hit PC game, Diablo. Diablo II was one of the most popular games of 2000. Major factors that contributed to Diablo II’s success include its continuation of popular fantasy themes from the previous game, and its access to the free online play service, Battle.net.
The storyline of Diablo II progresses through four acts, with each act following a more or less predetermined path and list of quests. Some quests are optional. The player assumes the role of a hero from one of five different character classes. Players fight monsters through wilderness areas and dungeons in order to level-up their character and gain better items. Combat is in real-time, and shown from an isometric viewpoint. Players also have the option of hiring one of several computer-controlled mercenaries, or hirelings, that follow the player and attack nearby enemies. A powerful boss monster awaits the player at the end of each act. Item drops, monster attributes, and most dungeon layouts are randomly-generated by Diablo II.
In addition to the four acts, there are three sequential difficulty levels: Normal, Nightmare, and Hell. On higher difficulties, monsters are stronger and are resistant to an element, experience is penalized on dying, and the player’s resistances are handicapped. A character retains all abilities and items between difficulties, and may return to a lower difficulty at any time.
Players can also create a hardcore character. In softcore, the player can resurrect their character if killed and resume playing, while a hardcore character has only one life. If killed, the character is permanently dead and unplayable, and all items and equipment on that character will be lost unless another friendly character has the “loot” icon checked.
21. Kameo: Elements of Power
Kameo: Elements of Power is an action-adventure video game developed by Rare. Under development for 4 years, the game was released as a launch title for the Microsoft Xbox 360 video game console in late 2005. All in all this game wasn’t that good compared to other titles on this list, but it really caught my attention. Maybe because it’s the first title I bought on the Xbox 360 and I was baffled by the graphics, or maybe just the whole fantasy setting combined with the really awesome music in the game.
When Theena the Elf Queen passes down the ability to become all of the Elemental Warriors and the Wotnot Book to her younger daughter Kameo, Kalus, the first daughter, grows jealous. In an act of revenge, she kidnaps her mother, her two uncles and her aunt, then proceeds to torture them. As part of her revenge scheme, she releases the ancient curse which held the evil troll king Thorn captive by kissing him on the lower lip and unleashes his troll army upon the world. Kameo dashes to their rescue, only to be knocked unconscious and left on The Mystic’s door step. The Mystic informs her that the Elemental Warriors are now Elemental Sprites who have been captured by the Shadow Trolls. She now has to rescue and absorb the Elemental Sprites, save her family and defeat Kalus and Thorn.
After getting all of the sprites, freeing three of her family members (who also tell her more about her past, such as her really being an orphan that Solon, the Elf king found and brought back to his kingdom as well as Solon being murdered by Thorn) and making her way to Thorn’s Airship to save her stepmother, Kameo confronts the two villains and wins after knocking Kalus out with Chilla’s ice spikes. Whilst unconscious, some flashbacks occur through Kalus’ mind which reveals that The Mystic was the one behind the death of Solon and Kalus’ betrayal by tricking them into getting involved with Thorn in whatever possible way she could think of. Kalus then regains her composure and attempts to avenge her father (as well as make up to everybody else) by attacking Thorn, but is no match for a simple punch thrown by the troll. Kameo quickly catches her stepsister and then the two of them combine their powers by hugging each other. They then charge straight towards Thorn and when Kalus gets a chance, she grabs hold of his head and once again kisses the king (this time on the nose) which turns the two of them into a stone statue. Before completely turning to stone, Kalus asks Kameo to apologize to the rest of the family for what she did. Then the statue slides off of the airship.
After that happens, the ship starts to explode and fall apart and Kameo is seen falling to her doom whilst unconscious. She eventually lands on something, which (by the time that the clouds have gone by) is revealed to be the top of a small blimp that her friends stole from the trolls which is heading straight for the Enchanted Kingdom. On top of that, Theena also survived the explosion and landed next to the now awake Kameo. Once the camera is done focusing on everybody cheering down below as well as the blimp, the player then sees what happened to Kalus and Thorn. It’s revealed that the two fell to the bottom of the sea, never to be seen or heard from again. After the credits, The Mystic is seen laughing to herself.
Kameo’s main objective during the game is to return the 10 Elemental Warriors back into the Wotnot and gain the ability to become them, which she must do to progress through the game. At the beginning Kameo has the power of 3 Elemental Warriors, but these are lost during the opening battle. When the warriors were released from the Wotnot they reverted to their physical forms where they are called Elemental Sprites; in these forms they are powerless and have been captured by the Shadow Trolls. Kameo collects the warriors from the Shadow Trolls, or from her relatives when she rescues them.
The concept of playing a shapeshifter who collects more and more shapes was first used in the old Shadowcaster PC game. Kameo differs due to her ability to sprout wings, and is one of the few characters who can jump. With her hover ability she is one of the faster characters, and she the only character who can pick up items. Kameo also gains the companionship of a horse in the Badlands. You have to upgrade your warriors to unlock their full potential. You do this by collecting Elemental Fruit.
Well, that concludes this part of our top 100 list. Be sure to tune in next week when we conclude this series with a bang (Rest assured, great great games coming up next week!). And as always, feedback is appreciated and feel free to post the games you wanted in this list but didn’t find (yet).
You can find the previous post here.