I make a lot of video game fan-art and it got me wondering which games I like the most. I've wanted to write this list for a while, but I wanted to be clear on which video games were my favourite first.
24. Street Fighter X Tekken (PS3/XBOX360/PC)
This game successfully combined the characters from the Street Fighter and Tekken universes. The gameplay mechanics from Street Fighter were altered in such a way that they were made appealing to Tekken fans as well as Street Fighter fans. The special moves were also made much simpler to pull off compared to the normal Street Fighter games, and this made me enjoy the game so much more.
23. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (PS3/XBOX360)
I’ve played all of the Tekken games since I was a little kid and this is my favourite. The graphics and character models are fantastic, as is the gameplay. The story element is weak compared to other Tekken games (such as Tekken 4) providing only a short cutscene for each character when the player finishes the arcade mode. The roster is enormous boasting 59 characters.
22. Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)
This game received modest reviews when it was released due to the absurd story, but I really liked it. The graphics in this game are stunning. Part of the game takes place in the desert and it’s one of the best rendered scenes I’ve seen in any video game. It’s seriously staggering. The sense of scale provided by the map at this point is huge, with the desert seeming to go on and on. It’s one of my favourite scenes in any video game that I’ve played.
21. Tomb Raider: Legend (PS2/XBOX/GC/PC)
This is my favourite Tomb Raider game. I really like the gameplay (if your committed enough to jump around all the time, you can avoid most bullets – very rewarding). The puzzles work really well and there are lots of optional artefacts to find.
20. Soulcalibur II (PS2/XBOX/GC)
For me no other Soulcalibur game has gotten anywhere near the dizzying heights of this one. It had so many aspects to it. If my memory serves me correctly it had hundreds of different things to unlock, including characters, weapons and stages. It took weeks to unlock everything, which could then be viewed in a museum. The ‘Weapon Master Mode’ was brilliant, the story unfolding after every fight. Most fighting games just give the player a bit of backstory at the start and the end of the arcade mode, sometimes just the end even (as I mentioned with Tekken Tag Tournament 2).
This series has been run into the ground since Soulcalibur II in my opinion. Soulcalibur III introduced a ‘true ending’ system that most casual gamers would never be allowed to see unless they could beat an overpowered giant and twenty lizardmen in less than a minute (which is difficult even when the game is set on easy). Soulcalibur IV removed the museum aspect, making unlocks much less rewarding. Soulcalibur V removed most of the beloved characters and replaced them with characters that looked like they’d been designed on a napkin in five minutes. Why? I have no idea.
19. WWE Crush Hour (PS2/GC)
I also do a lot of pro-wrestling fan-art. Pro-wrestling just seems to bring out my creativity, and I know that I'm not the only one judging by the amount of wrestling fan-art groups on dA (which is really good to see). This game had such a bizarre concept, combining wrestling stars with vehicular combat. It received lukewarm reviews when it came out but I loved it. I usually just picked the characters with the biggest cars a rammed into all of the other cars. The only problem is that it only allowed for two players at a time, where it could easily have accommodated four players. I would love to see them bring out an updated version of this with the current superstars (and a four player offline multiplayer mode).
18. WWF Smackdown! 2: Know Your Role (PS)
This is by far my favourite WWE/WWF game, despite the fact that it came out in 2000. Newer games focus mainly on the gameplay and graphics, but this is still the only game that captures the excitement of an actual WWE show. It does this through the use of backstage and in-ring storyline cut scenes that allow the game to recreate the sort of atmosphere that the fans used to love during the Attitude Era. It would be so easy for them to make an updated game like this now, by adding a Universe Mode with something like 1000 cut scenes that could appear randomly between (backstage), before and during matches, instead of the same clip of someone being attacked as they come down the entrance ramp.
17. L.A. Noire (PS3/XBOX360/PC)
Now I haven’t really spent a lot of time playing this game but from what I have played it seems to give a great representation of what it would be like to be a detective. The system whereby you interrogate suspects works really well, and changes the way that each mission plays out, as does the way in which you explore the clues at a crime scene. It also uses the tried and tested gameplay mechanics from Red Dead Redemption.
16. Crash Team Racing (PS)
The game is basically a racing game based on the first three Crash Bandicoot games. The racetracks in this game have been designed really well. They are based on the environments from the first game, which is very pleasing to see for anyone that collected and played the first three games. You can play as most of the characters that had been introduced to the series so far and the karts are really responsive, moving more realistically than the karts in the Mario Kart games. The racing is more serious than in Mario Kart, as the weapons aren’t as powered, meaning that you can’t win a race based on pickups alone. I love the unlockable ‘Scrapbook’ option that showcases photographs and concept art from the design cycles for all of the games up to that point.
15. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3/XBOX360/PC)
This was a really good game with all the optional riddles and challenges. The levels were beautifully designed as well, with every location in the game looking different. This is why I prefer it to Arkham City, where every part of the city looks the same to me.
14. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (PS2/GC/XBOX)
This is probably the best first person shooter I’ve ever played. To unlock everything you have to finish the story mode on every difficulty and earn gold medals for challenges. The multiplayer mode is really addictive, and it’s possible for two players to play through the story mode together. There is also a map creator, numerous stats which can be used to compare your skills with fellow players and many hilarious pop culture references. There is also a variety of wacky characters including zombies, pirates and a guy who looks like Vin Diesel in Chronicles of Riddick. It’s a shame that any news on a new release in the TimeSplitters series seems to have completely disappeared.
13. Red Dead Redemption (PS3/XBOX360)
People used to say that Grand theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV were brilliant, and then this game came along and, for me, blew them out of the water. The graphics are beautiful, the story is deep and the game has so much replay value. The game was such a success that most of the Rockstar games since Red Dead Redemption, such as L.A. Noire and the much championed Grand Theft Auto V, have used its gameplay system instead of the tradition system used by the old Grand Theft Auto games.
12. Mass Effect 2 (PS3/XBOX360/PC)
The 7th generation of games consoles brought a lot of games that claimed that your actions throughout the game affect the finale. This is the only game that I’ve played that lives up to that claim to some extent. I spent hours making sure that I mined every resource from every planet and finished every mission. You find yourself getting emotionally attached to the characters and the story, and desperate to make sure that they survive at the end of the game. It’s such a shame that Mass Effect 3 went against that and threw three games worth of emotional investment down the drain for no apparent reason, by having an extremely short ending that didn’t relate to the players actions at all. My description here comes nowhere near to doing justice to how devastatingly disappointing the end of the trilogy was. Anyone who has played the game will know my pain. It contributed to EA being voted Consumerist’s ‘Worst Company in America’ in 2012 and 2013, along with other crimes towards gaming!
10. & 11. Fallout 3 / New Vegas (PS3/XBOX360/PC)
I’ve grouped these two games together because the gameplay is almost identical. I personally prefer Fallout: New Vegas but Fallout 3 is also extremely popular. The games are as glitchy as anything but I can forgive it because the maps are so huge, as are the numbers of missions. I love the way that the conversation options you choose affect your relationships with the people you encounter in the wastelands. The music of yesteryear really sets the tone, and although the graphics aren’t the best that I have seen you really get the feeling that you are in post-apocalyptic warzones. I’ve played Skyrim as well but I prefer the Fallout games simply for the VATS attack system.
8. & 9. Borderlands / Borderlands 2 (PS3/XBOX360/PC)
I’ve grouped these two games as well because I really can’t decide between them. I prefer the levels in the first one because there are less of them and it feels to me like more love has gone into their design. The second game has a better story and more customisation options. The art direction in these games is fantastic, and I love the thick outlines and cel shading. The gameplay is extremely simple yet fantastic. Basically just keep shooting things.
7. Spyro: Year of the Dragon (PS)
The first Spyro the Dragon game was great (as much due to the soundtrack by Stewart Copeland from The Police as anything else). The third game in the series expanded on this and added more characters, scrolling sections where you played as Sparx the Dragonfly and mini games where you could win eggs. You could also chart your progress with an in game journal. When I was young some of the puzzle based mini-games were really taxing but when I come back to the game nowadays I find them to be really rewarding. Knowing that I couldn’t do them all those years ago but have now learnt enough about problem solving to do them without even realising is a sobering thought.
6. Super Smash Bros. Melee (GC)
I’ve picked Melee because I haven’t spent enough time playing Brawl or the new edition on Wii U. There is no greater pleasure in life than smashing your opponent off the side of the screen. If there is a better stress release I haven’t found one. With the trophy mode, well designed unlocks (you can do something really difficult or just spend more time playing the versus mode), challenges and mini-games, the game has a lot of replay value.
5. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 (PS2/XBOX/GC/PC)
This game had so much replay value. To be fair all of the Tony Hawk’s games did but this one is definitely my favourite. To unlock everything you had to beat the story and classic modes on every difficulty and find every gap in the game. It must also be the only game ever made that lets you play as Steve-O, Benjamin Franklin and Bigfoot. It also has my favourite (and most varied) soundtrack of any game I’ve played, featuring the likes of Faith No More, Audio Two, The Doors, Johnny Cash and even Frank Sinatra.
3. & 4. Pokémon Blue Version / Silver Version (GBC)
I’ve grouped these games together because I simply can’t decide between them. The mechanics are very similar, and I think that I had just as much fun playing both. Anyone who’s played Pokémon will know why these games are so brilliant. With filling the Pokédex, puzzle sections, battling and the levelling system there is just so much to do.
2. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS)
The first Crash Bandicoot game was really frustrating. It featured all of the hardest levels in the series and for some reason you had to finish two levels in a row before you could save. Crash Bandicoot 2 was the first game that got it right, and in my opinion the best. Firstly the soundtrack was seriously cool. The levels were also really well designed, based on snow, sewers, space, ruins and more. Not like the later games that seemed to be based on labs, labs and more labs. I also liked the fact that completing the levels was mainly based on the player improving their skills, unlike the later games where a lot of things were only achievable if certain abilities were unlocked (including a rocket launcher). I also found the time trials in later games frustrating more than rewarding, often requiring long levels to be restarted if you made a simple mistake.
The Crash Bandicoot series seems to have hit the rocks now, without a new game in six years. I’d like to see a new one on PS4 with the same gameplay as the original games but better graphics, or maybe even a reboot of the first Crash Bandicoot game with similar gameplay to the first Jak and Daxter game (as long as it has the same story, character and styles of level as the first Crash Bandicoot game).
1. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
This is the most perfect first release in a video game series that I have ever played. There are so many different aspects to this game from puzzle sections, to riddles, to an RPG levelling system, to side quests … and I’ve still probably forgot to mention a lot of them. Everything has been thought of in this game. Instead of walking to a location, you could use a magic spell to travel there. But why do that when you can fly there on a dragon? The story is also very realistic at times dealing with emotional and political issues. The art in the game has been lovingly created by Studio Ghibli, and the player can look at an in-game Wizards Companion with over 100 pages!
So there you have it. Making this list has really surprised me, because I wasn’t really sure what position the different games were going to come in at until I started ordering them. Some games ended up coming higher than I thought they would, and vice versa. I may write more journals in the future counting down my favourite things in a subject that I feel has influenced my art.