I’m sure you are all well aware that making top lists suck. It’s so hard to pick 30 games. Much less, put them in a order that you are satisfied with once finished. Well after many weeks of arguing with myself, I have composed a list of games that, at this moment, I’m happy to say are my “Top 30 Games of All Time.” I’m sure, while you read this, you will have questions, raise a few eyebrows, or desk flip meme a few times. Good, that means you aren’t exactly like me, and your list will be different. I may hate putting the list together, but I love the discussion that follows. Please, go enjoy this list. I hope it doesn’t make you cringe to often.
1. Bioshock Infinite
This game embodies exactly what I want in a video game. The narrative was compelling, complex, and complete. It made me question the concept of choice in a way no other medium had before, and the narrative was carried by incredible acting and voice work. The gameplay was tons of fun, and I don’t know if anything was more fun that skyhooking around Colombia. I play this game every year, and I honestly notice something new each time.
2. Legend of Dragoon
This game was the first time ever being exposed to a JRPG, and I think it was just the perfect one for me at the time. It’s essentially Power Rangers meets Anime, and I mean that in the best way possible. The story was well told, cheesy, and melodramatic. It was perfect. The battle system was so easy to grasp, but it was tons of fun to play. This game may get special treatment because it was my first, but I will never forget it. It made an impression on me that will carry with me forever.
3. Last of Us
This game has been rated, by some, as the best game ever played, and I honestly don’t have any arguments for it. The world was incredibly thought out, it was emotionally gripping, and the characters were perfectly presented. The gameplay fit incredibly well in the world, and it was truly stressful to try and decide whether I should make a Molotov or another medkit. This is one of those games that I hope one day can be presented in a classroom, showing how the medium has evolved in its story telling abilities.
4. Eternal Darkness: Requiem of Evil
Man, I can’t express how awesome this game is. The story of this game is good, nothing great, but the reason why this game is so high and beloved: its mechanics. This game seems like it was built by Kojima in a lab somewhere. It was made to mess with you and your sanity. Between bugs flying on your screen, losing weapons in your hand, and the game telling you that your data was lost, Eternal Darkness just wanted to watch you squirm.
5. Uncharted 4
Just imagine Indiana Jones with more guns and less Nazis. That’s the summation of the Uncharted series, and that’s not a bad thing. Nathan Drake and company take you on an incredible journey that summarizes why we loved this series. Whether it was the banter or the emotion, Naughty Dog showed me why they are the best in the business. The stories were all compelling, and I found myself caring about a pirate that I never actually met in the game. Also, this is the most gorgeous game I’ve ever seen to date.
6. Final Fantasy VII
What can I say about this game that hasn’t already been said? It’s some people’s greatest RPG of all time. This was my first Final Fantasy game, and it’s what got me into the franchise. Cloud is one of my favorite video game characters of all time, and this game is just a great journey following him. The combat system is incredible, and that story is greatness.
7. Resident Evil 4
Chainsaws anyone? This game scarred me for life when it comes to chainsaws, and it also, in my opinion, Capcom’s greatest RE game. Leon Kennedy is the horror version of John Maclain, and the gameplay, while best on gamecube, was still a blast to play. This game gave me everything I ever wanted in a horror game: thrills, tension, fun characters, and the desire to never hear a chainsaw ever again.
This was the first game that I ever played in front of my wife, and she watched me play it for a week, while eating popcorn. I kid you not. That’s what this game was: a cinematic experience that truly created a narrative that was nothing short of superb. Andrew Ryan, Atlas, and the rest of Rapture was the beginning of my favorite series because it was a video game that had fun gameplay, an amazing world, and one of the best stories ever told in a game. It also was a horror game that would freak you out in several spots. Would you kindly go play this game?
9. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I get so much flak for loving this game, but I think you see my sincerity with how high I ranked it. MGSV is the most fun that I’ve ever had in a video game. Hands down. I was able to do whatever I wanted, including use a recording of a guy pooping to allude being caught. Now, I know that sounds childish, but my point is that Kojima is an incredible game maker that was able to do whatever he wanted making it. So in turn, he allows the player the same respect. The soundtrack is also perfect for playlist making. I don’t know if there’s any better feeling than listening to David Bowie while taking over bases for hours. Also, D-Dog is amazing.
10. Super Mario World
You never forget your first Mario game, and I’m so glad it was one of the best games ever made. I’m not a huge platform genre fan, but there’s just something about this game that makes that bias not matter. It’s perfect gameplay, and it still looks flipping gorgeous after all these years. I don’t know if the side scrolling platformer will ever be able to compare to this gem of gaming history.
11. Kingdom Hearts II
This series has become one that many people loved for a long time, but over time, a lot of fans have stop caring. However, Kingdom Hearts 2 is the best game of the franchise, and it’s on of the first games that I’ll describe as just delightful. It was awesome having Disney and Final Fantasy characters fight in the same world to achieve greatness. Yes, there is the annoying Roxas opening, but after that, this game is just a pleasure to play and explore. Also, I don’t think anyone will doubt it was awesome seeing Mickey wield a key blade like Yoda.
12. Mass Effect 2
Outside of Star Wars, this is the best space opera story ever told, and it really hit its stride with this one. The second installment of the series changed a lot of things from the first one that people didn’t like. It also perfected the already enjoyable gameplay. But, the best part of this game is the story and world. Man, I loved this cast. I cared for each character, and I truly came to want them to succeed with me. So, choices in the game were always difficult for me because it mattered so much each time you selected a decision. I also think that this game provides some of the best side stories ever told in a game.
13. Batman: Arkham City
If ever given the option, you always choose to be Batman. And, that’s what this game let you do. It allowed you to be Batman, and fight the way he does. The combat is always the biggest appeal because Rocksteady does hand to hand combat better than anyone. The story was incredibly gripping. It felt more like a comic book story, and I mean that as a compliment. Also, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill may give their best work as their respective roles. I think this game is the best of the series, and I still love to go back a be Batman. Plus, the challenge modes were a blast. It let me be Nightwing.
14. Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
I catch a lot of crap for this, but I believe Majora’s Mask is the best Zelda game ever made. It was the first time that Nintendo did something different with the game, and I embraced it. The clock system was so much fun for me to do, and I loved trying to figure out which masks to use in which situation. The story was a lot of fun for me too, and I honestly wish Nintendo would do more strange and different things with franchise.
15. God of War II
God of War II is the epitome of perfect combat. It gives you incredible variety with its powers, and it offers you gameplay on almost every button on the controller. For its time, this game was above all the rest in terms of visuals; with it’s over the top set pieces and outrageous boss battles. The only negative is the character, Kratos himself, but when I played this game that didn’t mean anything to me. I just wanted to kill more harpies gouge the titan’s eyes out. I still have fond memories of this game while I would climb up mountains and rip the eyes out of Cyclopes.
16. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
The only other series to have multiple games on my list has to go to Metal Gear Solid, and I believe the second game is the best of the franchise after Phantom Pain. Two years ago was my first time with the series, and even then, I was shocked to find out the big twist. The gameplay is still a blast, the story is so much fun, and its totally weird and abstract just as Kojima intends. Fat Man may be my favorite character to face in the game just because of how ridiculous he is. I don’t think this franchise has a bad game under its belt, but I do believe this is the first one that made me actually fall in love with the series.
17. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
This is the first Bethesda game that actually made me “get it” when it came to their beloved games. Fallout is a fun series, but I never really enjoyed the gun combat or the post apocalyptic setting. However, Skyrim offered me a fantasy world with a girth of things to do for hundreds of hours. Plus, I got to fight dragons. How cool is that!? Skyrim gave me a deep RPG system that was fun and progressive for its time. Yes, there was plenty of jank to their system, but it made it easy to travel down a mountain.
18. Goldeneye 007
I don’t know if anything illustrates my childhood, as a gamer, more than this game. Throw in Mountain Dew, O.C.P.’s (Oatmeal Cream Pies), and three friends, and we were set for the night. This game gave us hundreds of hours of multiplayer fun that made and broke some friendships. Facilities with proximity mines will forever be a nightmare sequence of my dreams, but it also gave me some of the most fun with a game that I’ve ever had. This is one of those games that I wish would get brought back, properly, to current gen. I’m sure my wife would love to see me act like a little kid again.
19. FIFA 2009
There was no way that I could make this list and not put a sports game or two on it. FIFA had always been a fun soccer game to play before this installment, but 2009 was really when EA found the secret sauce to making an incredible experience to go with fun gameplay. Sports games come out every year, yes, but this one was just that special game that will never be forgotten. I will always remember playing with Juventus and scoring constantly with Alessandro Del Piero, and I loved every second.
20. Shadow of the Colossus
Working at GameStop opened me to new types of games that I may have never played, none truer than this one. You are a young boy, in love with a girl, and you fight giant monsters, one after another, the entire game. It sounds simplistic, but the boss battles are so unique with each new colossus. The artwork is outstanding, and the soundtrack may be one of my favorites of all time. This game is one of the few that, once I beat it, I set down the controller, smiled, and then exhaled. It makes you earn it, and it feels so rewarding to see the end of this game.
21. Knights of the Old Republic 2
So, I have a lot of passions in my life: sports, comics, Tolkien and Star Wars. Give me a rich RPG, set it in the world of Star Wars, and give me a lightsaber, then I am a happy camper. Bioware games always seem to have paragon system, and in this game that can dictate whether you are a Jedi or Sith. The story is nothing short of spectacular, and the voice acting is so good, especially for its time. I don’t know if any moment, in a game, has brought me more joy than building my own lightsaber though. It was chills worthy.
22. Dead Space 2
This game was the hardest for me to place because honestly, I wanted to put it much higher. In fact, I bet I would if you ask me to do this list again next year. This game was great at what it was. It was an atmospheric horror game with fun combat and interesting story. I will never forget the first time you go into that elementary school gymnasium, and you are just overrun by the creepiest devil children I’ve ever seen. Also, one of the best moments of the series is when you go back to Ishamora, and everyone’s reaction is, “Oh, snap!” The game is also incredibly gorgeous. It’s one of those games that you wish had a photo mode because it left you in awe multiple times. Also, the eye scene is still one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever done in a game.
This is the only game to date that made me throw my headphones off and quit playing. The story is absolutely forgettable. In fact, its flat out weird, but that doesn’t matter at all when it comes to what this game is trying to accomplish: scare the piss out of you. This survival horror game is well designed to give you the highest amount of tension possible before it jump scares the crap out of you with just a guy in a window. The use of hand cam is genius and just adds to then tension throughout the entire game. Also, this game does sound so incredibly well. It sounds so odd to say that, but this game makes you hear every footstep, every board creek, and every drop of blood spill. I highly recommend this game be played with headphones and the light off.
24. Fight Night: Champion
I’ll make a pseudo-bold statement right now: Fight Night Champion has the best narrative ever in a sports video game. I cared for the main character, and I cared for his brother. It meant something to me to beat the big bad of the game, but then, it hit a whole different level when the game forced me to fight my brother. It was so great! Also, Fight Night featured some great game modes, and it gave us a plethora of boxers to choose from to win the next title. The gameplay was of course as stellar as all Fight Nights before it.
25. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2
It was really hard for me to choose which Command and Conquer to put on this list because I believe that is still one of the best RTS franchises of all time. However, Red Alert 2 gave such a diversity in strategy, and it offered an array of attacking forces that were so much fun to execute with. The game was well balanced between the different factions, and the FMV cut scenes were so great in the cheesiest way possible. This was also the first game where my family had two computers in the house, so it allowed some great multiplayer matches that could have caused another Civil War.
My friends think I’m weird, but I call this game the “first modern warfare” shooter. What I mean by that is the big set pieces, the gorgeous layout, and the tight shooting. Plus, Criterion produced some of the best fire animation I had ever seen. The coolest part is that Black offered an interesting blockbuster-like story that wasn’t present in shooters at the time. Black may not have aged very well, but I will never forget shooting those red barrels and saying, “Oooh, pretty.”
27. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Just like with KOTOR 2, Mordor offered me something that my nerdy side wanted: an open world action RPG set in Middle Earth. It was the combat of Batman, the scope of Assassin’s Creed, and some creative powers that gave me my favorite game of 2014. Talion was a great protagonist that enjoyed killing orcs and taking over the minds of his enemies. However, the greatest compliment to this game is how incredible the nemesis system was. It was so much fun to manipulate the ranks of Sauron’s army while also watching out for those pesky enemies that would get away and try to come back to have their vengeance. The story was significantly weak, for a story-taking place in Tolkien’s world, but it was the lore of Middle Earth that was able to shine via its characters and relics that were there to find. I so badly hope that I get a sequel to this one soon because it was such a great experience.
From Software games were always the ones that were labeled, “just not for me.” The slow animation just never appealed to me, but I always loved the thought of a difficult RPG that pushed you mentally. Then, Bloodborne came around. What an incredible experience this game was for me. The combat was smooth, the world was alive and dense, and the boss fights were so different each time I came across a new one. The Dark Souls bug bit me, and I quickly found out why the game was so beloved. The secrets I’d share with my friends were such a blast to talk about. It sounds cliché, but this was the first “water cooler” game for me. I found myself talking to my friends about Bloodborne at work, online, or even at church. It was an addiction to talk about this game just as much as it was to play it. Now, I will play any game that From Software makes because it creates social experiences that not many other games are able to create.
29. Assassin’s Creed 3
Now, this may be the first game that you see and say, “huh?” Yes, this is my favorite game of the franchise. I know that the game had performance issues for many, but I was just lucky, I guess. The glitches never seemed to find themselves on my system. I’m an American History nerd, so I adored the concept of influencing the American Revolution. It was awesome getting to talk with George Washington and bring freedom to my country. I also found Connor to be one of the deepest characters of the series. He wasn’t a suave ladies man, and he wasn’t a pirate who stumbled upon an outfit and responsibility. He was a Native American, whose father was a Templar, and he found himself wanting to make a difference while also hunting down the man that wronged him. I could write a whole paper on why Connor is so interesting, but I’ll just say that I found him compelling and sympathetic. Also, the rope dart may have the coolest weapon ever created.
30. Pokemon Blue
Squirtle all day! I was in middle school when Pokemon first came on to the scene, and I remember begging my parents for two years to get me this game on Gameboy. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that my parents were able to get me one, and I played it religiously. I tried to “catch em all” so to speak. I remember being late to football practice one day because I sat down in an empty classroom trying to find this Evee that my friend had told me was in a certain cave. Those sprints were not fun, but it was great to catch that cute fox. Pokemon is engrained in the video game history forever, but this game was my first therefore it is my favorite. Heck, it’s the only reason why I’ve bought a 2DS recently because I want to play it all over again.