It’s a question that gamers the world over are asked at some point or another. “What’s your favorite video game?”
Now while some gamers will be able to answer this instantly, it’s much more difficult for the more seasoned and hardened veteran gamers who have been playing for more than 20, 25, even 30 years.
Although I’ve been asked numerous times over the years what my favorite game was, I’d always dismiss it with a “There’s no way I could narrow it down to one.” This was until a few months ago when an uninformed relative learning for the first time of my video game writer status had asked me the same question. My answer this time was different.
“I’ll tell you when I figure it out.”
This time I didn’t want to dismiss the question so easily. For the past year or so I’ve been mulling over games I’d be proud to call my favorites. Narrowing such a task down to one monumental game is much too difficult, so I came up with 10 games as my all-time favorites.
What you see here is the culmination of that 10 years of consideration. A moment here, a moment there where I’d put some serious thought into a game that had changed my view of the medium so much that I could recall every single aspect of it. Had I gone straight trying to figure out my favorites, it would only take about a week of thinking of nothing but the games I’ve played and loved.
The process of determining games for a list like this is a tricky one in and of itself. I didn’t want to pick any games that are too close to each other. I could easily fill my favorite games list with a few Final Fantasy or Metal Gear Solid games, but instead chose some single spots for multiple games if they were all similar enough.
The same goes for genre. While I consider myself an aficionado of RPGs, music games, platformers and hack ‘n’ slash games, I wanted to try to mix it up enough to make my top 10 list be reflective of my incredibly broad preferences when it comes to games. In reality, the only games I don’t play are sports games and MMOs.
So without further adieu, here is my own top 10 games of all time.
10. Guitar Hero (PS2)
There are those games on here that shaped my entire view of other games. Guitar Hero is a game that shook my entire life.
Back when it released in 2005, I was still an avid gamer, but not nearly as in-tune as the writer I am today. So imagine my surprise when I had first picked up a Guitar Hero demo at a Best Buy in November of 2005.
The game combined the music I had loved and grew up with along with the thrill of feeling like I’m playing the guitar myself. Granted, Guitar Hero really is a much different experience than a real guitar, but it was close enough for my limited budget and even more limited patience.
Fast forward about a year and a half. June of 2007, I had finally determined that, since I was so skilled at Guitar Hero (the kind that comes with bragging about being able to play songs on expert without looking at the notes,) it was time to upgrade to the real thing. As a sort of creative stimulus for the summer, my mother had bought me a real guitar. Discouraged, I gave up after a week of sour notes and hundreds of “plunks” and unintentional harmonics.
It was the next day when I had came home from high school that I heard SOMEONE playing MY guitar. It was my mom. She knew how competitive I was, and said only “Well, if you’re not gonna learn how to play, I’m gonna make use of it!”
“I’ll show you!” I said as I snatched the guitar away from her.
I did show her. Several years later I own seven guitars and can shred with the likes of the toughest Slayer and Metallica songs. I owe it all to Guitar Hero. That is why the squeaky plastic guitar gets a spot on my top 10.
No, I don’t know why I’m playing guitar in snow. But it looks awesome!
9. Metal Gear Solid (series)
The Metal Gear Solid series has become a simultaneous joke and masterpiece in the video game world. While there are many that love the intricate story and the deep and potentially complex combat system, there are those that say the plot is far too convoluted and would rather call the games “Movie Gear Solid” for the notoriously long cinematics which comes with a Metal Gear game.
This is what I love most about Metal Gear. Over the three generations that the games have been out, the plots of games have been much more likely to be something as simple as saving the princess, stopping the alien invasion or simply to stop the bad guy. Metal Gear takes it beyond that.
Sure there’s the arching main plot involving the rise and fall of Big Boss and his idea of a perfect, military run world, but there’s so much more than that. There’s the background of Meryl and her childhood in a military environment. There’s the various terrorism plots of Revolver/Liquid Ocelot, Solidus Snake and others. There’s the sibling rivalry between Snake and his genetic clone of a brother. There’s whatever the hell happened to Raiden between Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4. The plot is so ridiculously complex and (debatably) well-written that it breaks the monotony of simply killing all the bad guys or being a hero.
I also can’t simply pick one game out of the series. I love the groundwork set by the first game, I love the side-plot of the second game, I love the story of the third game, and I love the gameplay of the final game. Collectively they make up a spot on my game shelf that will never be replaced.