I’ve been playing video games for about two decades now and I’m not planning on stopping any time soon. For those who are interested in my personal taste in video games and those who want to know more about these titles I made this list which includes my favorite ones. Note that I play (and review) around 40 titles a year, so as a way of keeping things up to date I’ll try to update this list next year and see if there are some major changes.
10. Quake III
The first time I played Quake III I hated it. I wasn’t as informed as I am today about upcoming titles so I bought the game without knowing that it was multiplayer-oriented. I installed this title, played for an hour or two and beat it. As I didn’t have a good internet connection to play online, I didn’t touch it again for years, but as soon as faster connection became more popular (and cheaper) I rediscovered the game and started playing multiplayer matches against friends and family members. The whole experience was delightful and I’m quite sure that Quake III will remain on the hard drive of my current laptop for years to come.
9. Counter Strike
I’m not very good at playing Counter Strike and I’m pretty sure I never will. I’m always running, making noise and alerting nearby enemies that I’m there. I don’t know how to effectively hide, I never learned how to quickly switch between weapons and I’m always aiming at the enemies’ most ineffective spots. Still, I love this game. The idea of playing a strategic shooter in which you have to be patient, wait for the enemy to make mistakes, use your arsenal wisely and make your move when the right time comes is simply staggering. Even after so many years of playing the original Counter Strike for the first time, I find myself playing against others from time to time. I may not be very good at it, but I still find the experience quite enjoyable.
8. Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid was the first PlayStation One game in my collection. In fact, the game was part of a trilogy called Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection which included Metal Gear Solid I, II and III. Although the other two games in the package were also amazing, the original Metal Gear Solid has always been my personal favorite. Everything about that title feels right. I know that this isn’t the most meticulous description about MGS that you can find, but it really feels like that. There are no disjointed elements and everything blends in smoothly. Additionally, no fancy CGI sequences are featured, the voice acting is unparalleled, the boss battles are memorable, the story is exceptional and controls are quite precise. But the little things are what make MGS an outstanding game. Let me clarify this with an example: at one point during the game you have to switch the controller to the player 2 slot in order to defeat a boss. There weren’t many games that defied conventions like Metal Gear Solid did when it came out. The game simply deserves to be in this list.
Half-Life was the first game to convince me of the whole cinematic experience. Up to that point, most games felt cinematic when you were forced to watch a cutscene or something similar. Half-Life was different than those games; this was the most immersive experience you could find in 1998. In the game, you control Gordon Freeman and as you see everything from the first-person perspective, there were no cutscenes, videos or other woefully inadequate elements to ruin the immersion. This was a one-of-a-kind title that many companies tried to replicate and miserably failed.
When I bought Half-Life I knew I was getting an awesome game, but what I didn’t know was that this wasn’t just a game, it represented one of the most solid packages you could find. After finishing Half-Life I played it again. Then, I played it again. After a couple of times of replaying the same game, I tried the multiplayer portion. Then, I downloaded new maps, then I got some mods, then I downloaded Counter Strike and it was all possible thanks to one game. One game that has earned every right to be on this list.
Doom is probably the most addictive video game that I have ever played in my entire life. Even watching someone play this hypnotic title was reason enough to stare at the screen for hours, forgetting about everything else. There’s something about this game that I don’t even know how to describe, maybe it’s a hidden quality or an underlying essence that is there somewhere, haunting you, encouraging you to pick up guns and shoot demons. The simplicity of this superb first-person shooter is simply remarkable. The story is overly silly, the raucous action is quite repetitive, but I can’t stop playing it. I’ll continue this feature later, now I want to play Doom for an hour… or ten.
5. Diablo II
I must admit that my high school years revolved around this game. A lot of games were installed on the hard drive for weeks, I tried them and then uninstall them, but only one of those games remained for months and moths: Diablo II. I still own the original copy that I bought at the time (interestingly enough it was a Spanish version published by a Spanish company,) and I’m always tempted to get back to the game and start getting more loot. A while ago Torchlight came out and I really enjoyed my time with it. Eventually, Diablo III will be released and I’ll probably have a chance to play it. But no matter which title may be released, one thing’s for sure: none of those games will be Diablo II.
Final Fantasy X was the first Japanese role-playing game I played. Before that I had spent years playing Diablo II and other similar Western RPGs, but there was something about JRPGs that seemed extremely appealing to me. The best thing about Final Fantasy X is its accessibility as that game in particular has a “simple to pick up, hard to master” kind of approach. Years after playing Final Fantasy X for the first time I have tried many other titles in the series and I’ll continue to do so until I have played them all (at least the ones in the main series.) Since I tried this game, JRPGs have become one of my favorite genres and I owe it all to Final Fantasy X.
I vividly remember the first time I saw this game. I friend had just gotten a brand new PlayStation 2 and he wanted to show the console to me. I was immediately blown away by the graphics and to be completely honest, at the time, I thought every single PlayStation 2 game had that kind of “technical qualities.” But not until I started playing Resident Evil 4 did I notice that that game was much more than just rich visuals and appealing graphics. This simply wasn’t another survival horror title in which you guided a character through a mansion and killed every zombie in sight. In fact, the creatures in the game aren’t zombies, the setting is refreshingly unique and the gameplay is simply excellent. It’ll be really hard for Capcom to top this game. In the meantime, Resident Evil 4 should be remembered as one of the most influential games of the 2000s.
2. Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. is the first game that I remember playing and I can’t think of a better way to introduce someone to the medium than by experiencing this NES title. The game has everything you would want in a 2D platformer: top-notch gameplay, extremely precise controls, a vibrant world that is craving for you to explore it, a mesmerizing soundtrack and a sheer abundance of collectable items. Even after decades of discovering this game I can start playing it and enjoy it like I was 5 years old. Some games work only on a nostalgic level. This one doesn’t. Super Mario Bros. is much more than that.
Playing Day of the Tentacle was a revelatory experience to me. I can assure you that if it wasn’t for this game, this blog wouldn’t exist. This was the last graphic adventure of Lucas Arts that I’ve played (prior to that I played Sam & Max: Hit the Road, Full Throttle, a little bit of The Secret of Monkey Island and of course, Maniac Mansion.) Later on I moved on to more modern graphic adventures, particularly the ones developed by Telltale, but even though I’ve been trying to find a similar game to Day of the Tentacle I know that doesn’t exist. Still, there are many games in the genre that I’ve yet to play, including the Monkey Island series, Runaway, Syberia, The Dig, The Longest Journey, Beneath a Steel Sky, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Loom and Grim Fandango. Yes, I know. I feel really bad about never having played that last one, but maybe next year it’ll be featured in the updated version of this very list. In the meantime, Day of the Tentacle is still my favorite game of all time.