Read: My Favourite Video Games

Last weekend I was procrastinating from a far more important writing project and started making a list of my favourite games of all time over on Giant Bomb. It is initially a top 25 but I will try and update it from time to time. The order isn't so significant, especially after the top ten or so but I wanted to save it for posterity on my website. I wrote a short blurb about my feelings for each game. You can read the initial list below.

Limbo  is aesthetic perfection and it's one of my all time favourites.
  1. The most FUN I have ever had playing a video game. And it's a co-op game that I really only played with strangers and never played a raid (which is a massive part of the game's experience). I think if I had friends to play with, this would be insane. I am insanely jealous of the kids who get to grow up playing this with friends in high school. I never thought a game would surpass Total Annihilation as my favourite of all time because of the nostalgia advantage it had, but here we are.

    A real campaign was a big step up from Destiny 1 and winding in the grind early with meaningful public events with Heroic triggers was a game changer. The strikes lost some importance for grind purposes but their sumptuous settings and increased variety of game play made my first play-throughs of them some of my favourite moments in gaming ever. The Forsaken expansion made me fall in love with the game all over again and I treasured how they continued to innovate with the way they integrated public challenges with the campaign to make the early grind fun.

  2. I've surely put more hours into this game than any other. I've never actually played the campaign mode (I should one day). Comp stomp after Comp stomp, looking to min-max in every possibly way, letting my imagination grow wild with all the units you could build. It was great fun to play against friends at a LAN party, except when it crashed four hours into a match (or the power went out in a storm).

  3. Is there a perfect electronic experience? Journey was the first game I ever considered to be "perfect". Amazing to have a single sitting, emotional experience like this full of sights, sounds, music and fluid controls. The fact that you can share it with anonymous strangers made this an unbelievably unique experience when it was released.

  4. All the fun of Grand Theft Auto (and much, much more fun) without the horrific bloodshed that completely undermines the game. The vast array of mission variety was also amazing and I love the way it fit into a perfectly contained "world". A sequel to this game with perhaps a female protagonist and possibly at an American "college" would be amazing. I guess if they can't build gambling into the game it will probably never happen.

  5. Aesthetic perfection, stimulating puzzles and a journey that was surprisingly emotional despite eschewing a prominent narrative. Saying almost anything more is a spoiler.

  6. Pretty sure this is the fist game on this list where you are required to start dropping terms like "Ludonarrative dissonance" when justifying in your head why a game that involves massacring large numbers of humans can be a "good" game.

    Infinite is the sequel to "Bioshock" from 2007 (Bioshock 2 is just fan fiction), a game with an incredibly creative world and interesting gameplay mechanics but an ultimately disappointing narrative that excludes it from this list. Bioshock is a first person shooter but the primary opponents that you are required to kill are basically zombies and robotic security devices. I don't really want to write an essay about this, but although the robotic security devices return and ghost-like opponents are added in Infinite, you spend a good portion of the game slaughtering humans as part of the "game play". There is a narrative justification for this, and that is why you are playing the game, for it's intriguing, absorbing, narrative journey. I also realise that shooting people with guns that have different idealogical values to you is an essential part of the "American dream", which this game is playing off. I just wished they would have focused on platforming and shooting robots and made avoiding killing humans part of the game.

    The ending to the narrative haunted me for a long time, in a good, ethereal way. I am constantly thinking about re-playing it, I even bought the re-mastered version of it, but I haven't yet, and that is because of the human bloodshed that you are required to commit along the way.

  7. The other essential game on this list that requires Ludonarrative dissonance to enjoy. Like a classic novel, it took me two years of failed attempts to get "into" this game after the amazing opening sequence before it eventually clicked and I devoured it like there was no tomorrow. At the time I said this was the greatest virtual reality game ever made and has no support, and probably never will support, VR goggles or any equivalent. Your immersion in an electronic "world" created by hundreds, maybe thousands of artists, was just leaps and bounds beyond anything else created before it came along. After a gameplay session of the "narrative" I would often enjoy pouring myself a whiskey in the real world and find a bar inside the game, play cards and fantasize that I was in that world for that moment, eavesdropping on all the other tales being told inside that virtual establishment.

    The story-telling as well, although clearly inspired by cinema, got to point where you realised, this just couldn't exist in any other medium. This was the first time I considered video game stories met their potential to surpass cinema. I have long considered this one of the greatest works of art of all time. The sequel might have surpassed it in all regards in terms of quantity and fidelity but it will never be as special as this "first" break in the barrier.

  8. An insanely fun combination of puzzles and platforming in a perfect bite-size package. I loved the progression of this game, where each level you were building a new skill based on the foundations of the skills you had learned previously. By the end game you really felt like a super-hero combo-ing all these skills together.

  9. Seeing pre-release footage of Assasins Creed, Bioshock, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare were what ultimately made me buy my first console in ten years but this was the game that actually made sure I would never regret spending all that money on a new 360. An incredible value package. A campaign with insanely epic "sets" that just took my breath away, close to perfect co-op integration, the crazy unique "forge" and video editor modes. The multiplayer was kinda alright as well :p

    Inventing, building and then testing my own co-op combat game mode with five friends at a LAN party was possibly my favourite gaming moment of all time.

  10. Probably my first introduction to puzzle games and possibly the first video game I fell in love with. I think the only version of this I own was on the Gameboy in monochrome and it did not satisfy my thirst for this game at all. I fell in love playing this on the Amiga at a neighbours house, and now that I'm writing this, I think I need to go find a way to buy this in colour right now on a system I currently use (I don't like my chances). Lemmings 2 adding lots of new "units" and "maps" was also such an exciting idea to me as a child and was perhaps the first sequel I was ever excited for. Ironically I don't think I ever played it because I didn't have a platform at home that could play it. Update: You can play Lemmings 2 in the Chrome browser on the Internet Archive. How cool!

  11. Probably the first game I ever played "co-op" and probably still the best to date. Playing a game through with your best friend on a Commodore 64 for the first time was just amazing.

  12. After Red Dead Redemption, the greatest virtual reality game to ever be made and also does not support VR goggles. Is this a game? It's really more of an experience. Really shows the power of voice over to tell a story and I think if I ever made my own "game", it would build on what this experience does. The story is flawed, you can kind of see that maybe this was the writer's first real story of this length, but it has its moments and I'm really excited about the potential of this style of story-telling in the future.

  13. A revolution in "multi-player". The perfect game to break out after everyone is digesting their Christmas lunch or dinner. Its sister game "Drawful" is a great replacement for Pictionary.

  14. This was the killer-app for my PS1, and really the only game that justified my purchase of that console.

    I fell in love with Fifa 98 while playing it at a friend's house. Initially I was disappointed with "99", part of the appeal of Fifa 98 was being able to qualify your country for the Fifa World Cup. There I could live out my alternate history fantasy of qualifying the Socceroos after their tragic failed campaign of 1997 that truly haunted me despite jumping on the bandwagon so late.

    Fifa 99 had none of that, playing the game was fun I guess, but some of the changes to gameplay I wasn't a huge fan of initially. Then I discovered the custom editing tools. Wow.
    Being able to establish your own league or tournament, filled with clubs you created yourself, all with uniforms you designed was amazing. Then you could run the tournament/league, playing your games and then simulating the results of the other games in the fixture (And being able to watch those simulated games on fast forward), on a console, in 1998. Amazing.

  15. Greatest multiplayer game of all time? Probably. This also felt like the last unique "Mac" game. As Mac OS X came along, and the sale of Bungie to Microsoft, Mac gaming became more homogenised with the PC and it wasn't until the iPhone App Store was released that unique games came back to an Apple platform.

  16. The puzzles in this were just insanely great and the integrated story was more enticing to me than Portal. Solving them made you feel like a true genius and the one time I had to look up a hint, I truly hated myself for doing so.

  17. The spiritual sequel to Limbo, not quite as perfect but still an amazing one-sitter game.

  18. When I first bought my Xbox 360 in 2007, I bought it with Halo 3. I soon realised I didn't know how to use twin stick controllers to play first person shooters (I played Halo 1 on Mac with a mouse and Keyboard). I didn't want to start the Halo 3 campaign until I felt comfortable with the controls so it didn't detract from the gameplay experience. Viva Piñata came bundled with my 360 and I almost traded it in before I came across my Halo 3 dilemma. Now, still to this day, Viva is the only Xbox game I've got the "full 1000" achievement points for. It definitely scratched that "Sims" itch in an immensely more creative "world".

  19. The greatest mod of all time for me. Sunk a huge amount of time into it and of course dreamt about it at night and fantasied about having my own server. Made me really value my purchase of Quake III which I found quite disappointing after the initial sugar rush of seeing the stunning graphics on my family's brand new iMac with its built in ATI Rage 128 chip wore off.

  20. This was basically my sequel to Total Annihilation and my first experience with Strategic Zoom. (Sup Com 1 never came out on Mac and was no fun to play on 360).

  21. Like Airburst, a great multiplayer game to play with friends around a computer. Always meant to buy a version on PS1 but never found one. Need to go look now... Anyway, this in a strange way felt like your lego battles that you had in your imagination in your backyard had suddenly come to life and you were competing against your best friend with the computer as a neutral umpire.

  22. By the time I played this game, 2010, I think, the technology was pretty dated. I had already played Portal and preferred that kind of puzzle solving. However, the sense of "the journey" that you go on throughout the narrative, on foot, on road, underground, on water, is something I still think about today as it is unfortunately unique.

  23. The track editor on this game was my first experience with "user-generated-content" and I played it on the Commodore 64, just amazing to think about. It also crashed a fair bit, but looking back at it now, it is amazing how such a low-fidelity game captured my imagination about "fancy" cars and inspired a continuing mild interest in automobiles.

  24. You all know the sims. I never killed my sims intentionally, in fact I never really cared about them at all... but... I did love designing my own house and turning my Sims into slaves to pay for it.

  25. Very similar to Lemmings, I only ever owned a limited monochrome version of this on Gameboy. The full colour version I only ever experienced at a friend's house. I really don't like fighting games that much, didn't care for the violence of the fatalities. But this was probably the first game where "Lore" became an exciting thing to discuss at school, and even though I never owned a real version of the game, I loved hearing friends talking about the new characters that were introduced to this sequel, why they were there and the rumoured secrets in the game. The endless speculation about what would be added in Mortal Kombat III and what would happen to the game when it would inevitably go "polygonal" was also exciting.