Video Games are pretty cool. You know this, I know this, Roger Ebert never did but the fact of the matter is that games are the most incredible, tangible form of media entertainment that we have. They allow us to meet people, explore worlds, and tell stories in ways that music, books, and movies simply cannot step to. Bottom line, they’re something f**king else man, they really are. And I love them with a passion. Because of this, I’ve played a lot games across a lot of genres and I have my own thoughts and opinions about my favorite games. Here are my personal favorites of all time across these genres.
Western Role-Playing Game
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim, to me, is the best RPG ever made, no matter what part of the world you’re from. It’s absolutely intoxicating. Its character progression system is the best I’ve ever seen because it’s so damned simple and brilliant. The more you do something, the better your character gets it at it. You like to fight a lot? Keep fighting and get better. You want to be a sneaky bastard who stabs people in the back? Keep that sneaking up man, you do you. You relish in those long range arrow kills? Fire away. You find a sick thrill in the simple art of lock-picking and stealing? Put a basket on those f**kers’ heads and get to work. It’s role-playing not just at its finest, but at it’s absolute apex. To me though, the subtle brilliance of Skyrim is that there so much love and care put into every single quest in the game that it’s legitimately difficult to distinguish the main quests from the side quests. They are all literally that good. It is quite possible to have a fun and fulfilling 200 hour experience that is simply breathtaking and never come close to even grazing the main quest line, much less touching it. I cannot think of another role-playing game that gives you that. Not one. You go, you explore, you fight dragons, you steal their souls, you find treasures, you get better, you talk, you fight, you run, you fail, you triumph; You. F**king. Role. Play. You are the Dovahkiin. The Greatest Role-Playing Game of All-Time.
Honorable Mentions: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Mass Effect 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout 3
Japanese Role-Playing Game
Personally, I think the combat of Persona 4 is just alright, like nothing special at all.i In fact it’s a little tedious at times. But that doesn’t really matter though, it’s the characters that push this game to another level. Atlus is probably the best there is at localizing Japanese games and their voice casting and translations and everything single bit of their localization was on point. Persona’s writing is absolutely fantastic to the point that it overshadows any gameplay inconveniences that tend to pop up. Its characters are well-rounded and memorable as all hell and they more than anything else are the enduring image when thinking about this game. Chie, Yukiko, Yosuke, Teddy, Kanji, Naoto, Rise. Names that take no time at all to recall; And characters I love so very, very much. They, more than anything else, make Persona 4 my favorite JRPG of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Persona 3: Portable, Final Fantasy XIII
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
I was tempted to put Rainbow Six: Vegas here as it was a game I played every weekend ii, all weekend for a year straight but then I recalled the game that tore me away from it was Call of Duty 4. The game that started a damn revolution. Its single-player campaign, first off, was outstanding. Starting with a POV experience of a nation’s leader on his way to his own coup d’état, interjecting with sequences like covering your crew from an AC-130 and All Guillied Up, hitting a crescendo with you in the middle of a god-damned nuclear bomb strike, and ending with a climatic gunfight on a crumbling bridge while seasoning its seams with next level urban combat. Call of Duty 4 was doing bombast before bombast was trendy, and it was incredible. Even now, CoD4 is held up as a gold standard for what an exciting, fulling, and to the point single-player campaign can be. And that’s just half the f**king game. CoD4‘s multiplayer may actually be better and more influential then its campaign ever was. It was the harbinger of the perk system which let you craft your character’s abilities to your play-style and while it wasn’t the first shooter to have unlocks and persistent character progress,iii it was the one to perfect it. Not to mention, kill streaks were an absolute game changer as efficient play was effectively rewarded with UAVs, airstrikes, and god damned attack helicopters that allowed good players to dictate the battlefield and caused enemy players to haul ass out of the killzone if they knew what was good for them. Call of Duty 4 is the most well-rounded shooter of all time, and it’s probably the best.
Honorable Mentions: Rainbow Six: Vegas, Battlfield 2, Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2, TitanFall, Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2
Gears of War 3
While Kill.Switch started the cover-based shooting style, Gears of War undeniably perfected it. They called it “Stop and Pop”, I called it “Really F**king Fun.” The original Gears of War was a game whose visuals that dropped my f**king jaw and Gears of War 2 introduced the “Horde Mode” that was ripped by every other shooter afterward that was worth their salt, but Gears of War 3 was the one that put it all together into one well-polished and satisfying packageiv. Its campaign showed a more human side to the chainsaw-fest of before even if a few egregious story threads were left flowing in the wind, and its multiplayer was back on point after its matchmaking got done sh*tting itself in Gears of War 2. All told, no TPS in my mind is better than Gears of War 3.
Honorable Mentions: Resident Evil 4, Binary Domain, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Rock Band is as social a game as I’ve ever playedvvi. Getting people together in a room and pretending you’re in a god-damned rock band is just a one of a kind experience. It’s difficult to really do it justice with just words. Two people on guitar, one person on the drums, and another belting out the vocals is just something you really have to experience to understand why Rock Band is the best rhythm game ever made.
Honorable Mentions: Dance Central, Dance Dance Revolution, Osu!, DJ Hero
Tetris to me is the greatest game ever made, across all genres and eras. Its replay value is unlimited and its gameplay is as deep as the Mariana Trench for such a simple concept. You can just create lines, you can play the dangerous game of building up and praying for that bacon-saving long block, you can T-spin if you’re nasty, there are really so many ways to approach this game that it’s ridiculous. Don’t even get me started on the soundtrack as it is among the best in-game music ever produced, so simple but so fantastic. It’s the first video game I ever played so there may be some bias here but Tetris has stood the test of time as well as any game ever made. Easy to Learn, Hard to Master, Impossible to Put Down. That is Tetris at its most basic and its most pure. The best game of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Portal 2, Puzzle Quest 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2
A lot of people put Super Mario 64 on a pedestalviiviii for bringing the 3D platformer to the fore, but I believe that not only is Super Mario Galaxy 2 the best Mario game, but also the best product Nintendo has ever produced.ix It’s one of the closest things I’ve seen to a perfect game in a long time. Its controls are spot-on especially with the wiimote and nunchuckx but this is mostly due the game’s incredible level design. Its levels are varied to the extent that you rarely even see the same concepts in a level twice, much less the level itself. Each one is ridiculously fun and polished to a f**king mirror shine and, most importantly, none of them outweigh their welcome in the slightest. In fact, I was typically disappointed to see some levels go but when I got to the next level I forgot all about it because what I was currently doing was so damn fun. It is the gold standard by which all platformer games should be judged.
Honorable Mentions: Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, Ratchet and Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal, Shadow Complex, Rayman Legends
Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
I wouldn’t say TERA is the best MMO ever made, because it’s probably not. But it is the one I’ve lost myself in more than any other.xi It has the best combat of any MMO I’ve ever playedxii as it plays out real time with each mouse-click representing a sword swing while letting you chain abilities into other abilities to create some devastating combos when in the heat of battle. It also helps that the game looks gorgeous as all hell and I constantly found myself powering through the boring and unintuitive quest design just to drop my jaw at the next environment. I never got to max level because the aforementioned quest design eventually did wear me down but up until that point I’d never had an MMO grab me like TERA did. It’ll probably be a good long while before another one does so again.
Honorable Mentions: Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, Phantasy Star Online 2
Traditional Sports Game
Suprise, suprise, NBA 2k15 is my favorite sports game of all time. It is damn near the perfect basketball game. I say damn near because the online play, for all intents and purposes, is a laggy broken mess. Can’t win them all I guess. With that said, 2K15 has the visuals and aesthetics that rival any AAA title on the market, a deep rewarding franchise mode, and a single player career mode that is legitimately an engaging and sometimes even immersive experience. Right now, it sits on the throne of “Best Sports Game”. Bow down.
Honorable Mentions: NBA 2k11, NFL 2K5, MVP Baseball 2005, Fifa Soccer 12, Out of the Park Baseball 15
Action Sports Game
A lot of people would typically gravitate towards Tony Hawk to get their action sports game fix, but Skate was most appealing to me due to its execution in simulating the art of skateboarding.xiii Your character’s momentum factored into your street tricks and grinds where Tony Hawk allowed you to jump grind your way up structures, still fun mind you, but it simply didn’t scratch the itch that Skate did. The physics engine, though wonky at times when you bailed, gave your character a sense of weight that was felt in every grab and transition you performed. The world of San Vanelona felt like a skater’s paradise and the inclusion of real life pros who actually would skate around the world at their leisure felt organic when you came across them landing difficult tricks. But most importantly to me, besides their incredible decision to use the right stick to control the board, was the fact that your skater never changed, you did. Attribute-wise, the character that you started Skate with was the same character that you ended Skate with and it was you who got better over the course of the game. The feeling of nailing a difficult trick after a dozen tries was incredible and the several attempts up until that point was never a discouraging experience as you always felt you were just a little bit closer to landing it. Though many will disagree, to me it is the best skateboarding game ever made.
Honorable Mentions: SSX 3, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Agressive Inline
Rome: Total War
I’m not really a big fan of strategy games. The depth in tactics in those games are usually too much for me to wrap my head around, which leads to me over thinking too many of my options and getting stomped into the dust by analysis paralysis. But still, something drew me to Rome: Total War, maybe due to the fact that the game is not just about conquering, but ruling. It’s kinda like if you took the Civilization series and dedicated all of it’s depth of world building around the Military victory condition. You can rule different provinces and cities through military movement and families, manage the happiness of your conquered provinces, and even conduct political marriages to keep your ruling families strong and position yourself to maintain an iron grip on your kingdom. It’s all rather intriguing and I can’t for the life of me think of a game that does a better Game of Thrones impression than this; a game that came out in 2004 no less. Oh, its real-time strategy chops are pretty solid too. Battles take place with literally hundreds of units on each side and it’s superb sound design makes every skirmish sound and feel as chaotic as they ought to be. Overall, it’s just an amazing experience.
Honorable Mentions: Civilization 5, Company of Heroes, X-Com: Enemy Unknown, Fire Emblem: Awakening
xivI’m not particularly into fighting games. I’m also not very good at them so I’m sure that goes hand in hand. I never got the appeal of practicing combos with a certain character over and over again to get it down to muscle memory while memorizing all of the combos of all the other characters in the game to not get my ass kicked. Some people love that shit xv and god bless them xvi but it never buttered my toast. But I will say, I do have the soft spot for the first Tekken. It was the first fighting game I ever played so this pick is as biased as bias can be but I did find to rhythm to that game enjoyable. It was a gateway game that allowed to me legitimately enjoy later installments like Tag Tourament 2 and even sparked my curiosity in other games like Street Fighter. For that reason, Tekken is my favorite fighting game ever. And no I’m putting Smash Brothers here because it’s not a fighting game, f**k that sh*t.
Honorable Mentions: Street Fighter 4, Persona 4 Arena, Dive Kick
Grand Theft Auto 5
Grand Theft Auto 5 makes absolutely no sense. I really don’t know how Rockstar continues to one up themselves 15 years later. It has easily the best, most detailed, liveliest, most f**king real video game world ever made and it’s not even particularly close. Its recreation of Los Angeles just boggles my mind. It also helps that its mechanics are rock solid after being honed and crafted for over a decade. As always, its voice acting and writing are some the best industry has even seen and its characters are as colorful as a jumbo box of crayons and well rounded with incredible character flaws and tics that give them a life of their own. With the rising cost of games and most publishers being allergic to trying new things and pushing the envelope in fear of financial failure, Grand Theft Auto 5 is a legendary piece of art. A true, unadulterated masterpiece.
Honorable Mentions: The Last of Us, Bayonetta 2, Tomb Raider, Uncharted 2, Metal Gear Solid 4
Burnout 3: Takedown
Burnout 3 is hands down the best racing game ever made. F**k your Need For Speeds xvii, f**k your Grand Turismos, f**k your Forzas,xviii Burnout is the one true king. Its sense of speed is absolutely unrivaled by any racing game before it or since and its crash mode was and is a complete revelation. An incredibly engaging puzzle game built on car destruction. How that mode never became a full game unto itself is beyond me.xix Though Burnout Paradise may have by all accounts perfected the formulaxx, Burnout 3 was the one that broke down the barrier and showed us what the best racing game of all time looks like. And it looks like speeding down a track at what feels like supersonic speeds, weaving your way between oncoming traffic and concrete supports before burying your opponent radiator first into the nearest wall as the camera slows down to admire your twisted artwork of metal. Long live the king.
Honorable Mentions: Burnout Paradise, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Blur, Mario Kart: Double Dash, Dirt 2,