QotD: Top 5 Video Games

What's on your Top 5 video games list?
Submitted by mileena.

In no particular order…

  • System Shock 2: Plenty of games have monster closets that startle you. (Doom 3, I'm looking at you.) System Shock 2 set such an eerie and disquieting tone that it put a sense of genuine fear in you. Looking Glass remembered the "wandering" in the old D&D concept of "wandering monsters", which meant potential attackers came from other parts of the ship, not some nonsensical utility closet or, worse, the teleportation cop-out. So, even though it still startled you, it didn't feel cheap when you heard "Your harmony is not Ours!" just before the clank of a pipe wrench to the skull and a flash of red on the screen.
  • Half-Life 2: HL2 and Episode One have great characters and fun set pieces, but for me, it's the art direction that sets the game apart. From the almost-but-not-quite-familiar Eastern European setting that must have looked gritty before the occupation, to the Combine's slab-sided industrial design and strangely-iridescent blue steel construction, to the Junkyard Wars-inspired vehicles, everything about the environment rings true. Oh, and the gravity gun kicks serious ass. It's everything force push and pull should have been in the Jedi Knight games. I want to include the original Half-Life, but I just can't get over the reliance on jumping puzzles, especially in Xen.
  • Tempest: Yeah, I'm that old. I love how unabashedly abstract Tempest was. There was no attempt to explain what all those geometric things on the screen were. You're the crescent at the edge of the tube. Anything that is not the crescent at the edge of the tube should be shot. Simple. Oh, and Avoid Spikes.
  • Age of Empires series: I guess the historical underpinnings appeal to me more than Blizzard's Warcraft and Starcraft worlds.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Yeah, it's a bit new for an all-time top 5. But I just started my first pure magic-user in an Elder Scrolls game in a loooong time, instead of my usual rangers and paladins. I'm discovering so many new areas that I haven't seen before. (And I don't just mean the Arcane University.) I am continually amazed by the depth of the Elder Scrolls games. And Bethesda says that the Knights of The Nine expansion will be over 150MB!

Honourable Mentions: Halo (Best. Plot twist. Ever.), Jedi Knight (Community theatre acting, bad. Dismembering stormtroopers, good.), Deus Ex (Moral ambiguity can be fun!), Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri ("String theory: A perfect system for a universe of 17 dimensions. If only we lived in one.")

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