Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favorite Games of The Decade (2000-2009)

The decade which brought about tons of new advancements for gaming. They have been more cinematic, dense, and also a first on console gaming was communication upon many others around the world. I never had enough time or money to play a lot of games but I have played enough to make my personal list of the best of what the 1/10s of what the 21st century offered!

Here is to the new decade!

10. Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy(2003)

This game will probably the only place to have great Star Wars lightsaber matches that's not located in the backyard with toys. It lacks the problems that plagued Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (elevators, vague puzzles, etc) and provides much improvements. As opposed to using a gun for the beginning levels, the protagonist already has a lightsaber. Eventually you can use two sabers at once or even the Darth Maul-esque staffsaber for more flexibility.

After an introduction to force powers, it's on out to quick and fun missions involving helping Chewbacca or stopping a train. Along the way, Sith will come and fight. The dynamics of lightsaber fights and the flexibility of picking and leveling light and dark side force powers makes each clash more engaging. This ties on to the multiplayer which the fights are challenging and a quick slip up can change the outcome.

9. Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30 (2005)

You can say that this is the video game version Band of Brothers. In a certain extent, it is. Instead of following the members of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment's Easy Company, it's about the 502nd and what happened to them during the invasion of Normandy. Although the main story with the non-officer characters in mind being fictionalized, it's an interesting story of responsibility and brotherhood during times of danger.

To make the plot work in this game, real life areas and battles are provided. From the capture of St. Mere Eglise, to Lt. Col. Robert Cole's Medal of Honor awarded march in an open and hostile field close to the town of Carentan and finally the Battle of Bloody Gulch (specifically Hill 30), it's exciting to witness important battles that would slowly help end the Nazi regime. The real time tactics of controlling a squad and authentic elements also contribute to the World War II game nobody wanted to compete against.

8. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005)

Until Splinter Cell: Conviction comes out, Chaos Theory is still the best one I have played. As opposed to the stiff animations in the previous two games, controlling Sam Fisher feels very smooth. It feels like I am the Third Echelon operative. This had a big graphical jump where it can match with some games today. Sam's suit can get wet from being in the rain for too long, more detail on the models and the visual modes have more fidelity and look more realistic. Being linear in the big picture, the subtle varied paths to complete and objective are very impressive and something that its successor lack.

7. Call of Duty (2003)

Before it went modern, it was part of the World War II game breakout. With members from the 2015 team (Medal of Honor: Allied Assault), it's expected it would be as good but at the time exceeded and broke boundaries for games based on one of the most important conflicts in history. No undercover work but took influence of Allied Assault's Omaha Beach level and put it throughout the whole campaign. All about intense battles from the eyes of a regular soldier aided by other many and helpful teammates.

The game keeps on the tension with Hollywood like events including amazing car chases and the stunning march up Stalingrad; where I have only ammo to carry and seeing men being slaughtered. A fun multiplayer with the barebones modes helped keep it going for a while. Although people transitioning to the newer products, everybody can play the intense single player and not feel bored that no one is around.

6. Shadow Complex (2009)

It's this decade's Metroid/Castlevania: Symphony of The Night. Providing a very similar reward system to its influences but it has certain characteristics that makes it fresh. It's embraces nostalgia but doesn't do so for the sake of itself. Being a tie in to Orson Scott Card's Empire novels, Chair Entertainment made a very interesting backdrop that would aid the books. Utilizing a control system that's simplistic and effective against the many enemies and weapons that contribute to many situations (especially the awesome foam gun), I really had fun playing this game when attempting to gather 100% items. Challenges and some time trial based courses, there is a lot more to do in the Xbox Live Arcade hit.

5. Counter-Strike: Source (2004)

It's Counter-Strike! With the Source engine! Purists or devotees will say it's not as good when compared to its version 1.6 predecessor. Although it will probably never be equally comparable to its older counterpart, it's just fun though to have the addictiveness of what made the series fun along with the always exciting physics.

4. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (2003)

Although the original Max Payne brought about a mini revolution in first providing the bullet time heavily influenced by The Matrix movie, having a very classic film noir influence with using a hybrid mix of real time and comic book style plot development, and graphics that looked amazing at its time (especially on Sam Lake providing the many and sometimes faces of Max); Max Payne 2 made it even better.

It's a more engaging and complex story about Max's romantic obsession with Mona Sax and the high profile gangster conflict in between the protagonist's trouble emotions. The bullet time had a very necessary upgrade with shoot dodging unconnected with the easily refillable hour glass and the reloading (although animation wise unrealistic) much less of a timer hog in the mode. Stronger voice acting, better graphics that stand very well today, and the chance to play as Max's muse. Those and many other improvements just made the game simply better.

3. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001)

METAL GEAR! Despite Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriots being released, the most memorable iteration of the Metal Gear franchise was the second Solid game. Most of us probably began with the first Solid on the original PlayStation as opposed to Metal Gear or Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Supported by very impressive visuals and a movie like soundtrack from famed composer Harry-Gregson Williams, it was considered one of the games to look out for.

Great experience to play as a bad-ass super soldier throughout. When Sons of Liberty was released, most if not all of us expected to play as Solid Snake all the way especially with all the new moves he has recieved since the Shadow Moses incident. But Hideo Kojima does the most unexpected with something crazy: Play as some guy named Raiden. Kojima-san effectively done it well of trying to mess with our minds. Starting with Raiden and the ongoing communications between him and the "Colonel." It seems all over the place but after looking at the big picture of long plot based cutscenes and codec conversations, the story is clear with discussing the emergence of comm. technology and the future of mankind. If I can have any very cinematic game, this is it.

2. Halo 3 (2007)

The first Halo was great and Halo 2 provided some improvements but had flaws from being much better than its oldest counterpart. When the third one came out, I felt that classic Halo spirit along with the noticeable Halo 2 like additions. Fighting the Brutes in this one is very reminiscent of the Elites from the original. This game's Brutes are equally formidable and intimidating as their once allied partners. They defectors are now friends and some of them including the interesting Arbiter can aid the Master Chief in stopping the Covenant Prophet of Truth from destroying the universe. The campaign especially when playing cooperatively online with friends (and sometimes on Legendary difficulty) is exciting from beginning to [non-Legendary] end cutscene which was emotionally heartbreaking that the Chief''s trilogy journey has ended and reached a full circle.

Even with the epic conflict finished, there is always multiplayer. It's great to have the assault rifle back. Even if there are dual wielding and very powerful melee weapons, there is a Halo multiplayer mentality; probably something Halo 2 tried to recreate. Slayer never gets old especially in well constructed maps (and DLC maps) against 16 players or 8 for team based combat. The additions of a theater mode and user generated Forge helps extend its lifetime (unless Halo: Reach has them and more). After playing many hours online, I realized I will never sell this game.

1. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)

Killing people with rockets, having some prostitute action, and smashing vehicles is a great thing to do when I am not focusing in the missions of a Grand Theft Auto game. In the fourth installment, it's always exciting to play the story quests. Besides having variety, it's exciting to listen to the dialogue between the characters of the world and protagonist Nico Bellic. He is a very detailed and dense character who has struggled to leave his murderous past behind and part for The American Dream. His mentality and his behavior are reflected on both the player and the many well thought out themes that some games lack. Niko Bellic is lovable character and if the most important created in this decade

Lacking the arcade flavor of the previous iteration, this follows a more realistic path with very noticeable changes including stricter (but justifiable) car handling and the physics system backed by NaturalMotion's Euphoria animation engine. Running over a person never gets tireing in this game; they don't fall flat, they flail and tumble naturally. Multiplayer doesn't remove the feature as it's also fun the player model get run over by a friends fast car while running for a helicopter.

Although I don't regularly replay anything single player, this is still the one I always go back and hear memorable characters, experience well constructed plot points, and awesome gameplay. Certainly one of the best games I have ever played.

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