The Top 10 Games of the Decade

I figured since it’s a new decade and everyone else wants to make their “top 10” lists for movies, books, and whatnot, I’d throw in my ten cents.  So here are my top ten video and computer games released in the previous decade.

#10 — Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (released in 2001 for the Playstation 2)

I’m a huge fan of the Gran Turismo series and have been playing them since the first one came out for the PlayStation.  The third installment was the peak of the series for me.  I know it didn’t have as many cars as Gran Turismo 2 and maybe not as advanced in display and options as Gran Turismo 4, but the balance of the races and the progression through the game was by far the best of the series to date.

#9 — Plants vs. Zombies (released in 2009; I played on Mac OS)

PopCap Games is the Pixar of casual games.  All of their games are great.  Plants vs. Zombies is their best.  My eight year-old brother’s friends still come over just to play this game.  It didn’t matter that we had two Playstation 2s, a GameCube, a Wii, a DS or two, or even a Playstation 3 — everyone fought over who would get to play Plants vs. Zombies next.

#8 — Rock Band 2 (released in 2008; I played on Playstation 3)

I was late to the party, playing my first plastic guitar game a little after Guitar Hero II came out, but I was instantly hooked on the games.  I’d been a fan of other rhythm games in the past (yes, it’s true, I played Dance Dance Revolution and Donkey Konga, and the lesser known game by Harmonix, Amplitude, had been a favorite of mine), but I thought Guitar Hero was a stupid idea . . . until I played it.  Now I host plastic guitar parties with my extensive collection of Guitar Hero and Rock Band games.  Go ahead and bundle all the titles from the two franchises in with Rock Band 2.  The Beatles Rock Band is probably the best designed, but I still have more fun rocking out to the Rock Band 2 catalogue, which is why Rock Band 2 gets to be named.

#7 — Kingdom Hearts II (released in 2005 for the Playstation 2)

I love this franchise and I think the second one was the better of the two major installments.  The mix of the Disney locales and characters with Square Enix’s gameplay polish and control of the genre made for a very satisfying play.  More console role-playing games should play like these games.

#6 — Ico (released in 2001 for the Playstation 2)

Beautiful, beautiful game.  I still marvel at the look that developers managed to create on the now dated Playstation 2 hardware.  The puzzles were very well done and challenging, and the story, though simply presented, was compelling and provided enough glue to perfectly keep the game together.  Did I mention that it’s a beautiful game?

#5 — The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (released in 2002 for the GameCube)

Wind Waker held classic Zelda-style gameplay in a new, wide-open setting.  Traversing Wind Waker’s water world and its islands was far more fun than I would have expected and really did give me a sense of exploration.  The cell-shaded art style was amazing in the game.  Screenshots never did it justice.  A great game and nearly, NEARLY beats out my all-time favorite of the series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which is saying a lot.

#4 — God of War (released in 2005 for the Playstation 2)

Brutal. Awesome. Epic. I was not prepared for the amazingness that poured forth from my TV when I put this disc in.  God of War did things I’d never seen before in a game and did other things I had seen, but did them far better.  It’s a brawler, and a platformer, and a puzzle game and it’s great at all three.  Put that with an epic story and even more epic visuals and you’ve got one of the top ten games of the decade.  Oh, and God of War II is just as good, though a bit more cruel.

#3 — Prince of Persia (released in 2008; I played on Playstation 3)

My only real complaint with this game is its ending, and maybe because of that it shouldn’t be in the top three.  I had so much fun with it and the superbly polished gameplay Ubisoft created in it, though, that I’m keeping the latest installment in the Prince of Persia franchise high on my list.  It is a beautifully put-together game, with stunning vistas galore, and ingenious design elements.  The interactions between the “prince” and the princess were fun, informative, well-written and well-delivered.  The feel of the controls make other platformers feel clunky, imprecise, and unresponsive in comparison. Great game.

#2 — Battlefield 1942 (released in 2002 for Windows PCs)

Much time was spent (and arguably wasted) playing Battlefield 1942 and later Battlefield Vietnam at the 11:11 offices when these games came out.  We couldn’t wait to set off renders, take a break, skip lunch, or stay late for rousing battles online and locally.  We played so much during that time that when I went outside and heard a prop plane flying over from the nearby airport, I’d start to take cover . . .

And now a drum roll for my number one game of the last decade . . .

#1 — Fallout 3 (released in 2008; I played on Playstation 3)

This game is awesome.  I’d never really gotten into the previous Fallout games (my college roommate would probably yell at me for that).  I was always intrigued by the open-ended character options, but the chunky graphics and cludginess of the isometric three-quarter view kept me from really enjoying the series.  Then Bethesda got their hands on it and created a first-person role-playing game that actually allowed me to create practically any type of character I wanted and (in the true role-playing sense) allowed me to be successful being evil or good, a talker or a fighter, intelligent or a goober.  I keep replaying this game just to see how situations I’ve already played in the game turn out if, say, I’m a kleptic, gullible guy with fists of steel; or I follow in my father’s footsteps as a scientist who is just trying to survive; or a sweet-talking, gun-nut, gambler with a good heart. All that and I still haven’t even touched the expansions.

So there you are.  The top ten games I played this past decade.  There are some honorable mentions: Quake 3, Starcraft, and Soul Calibur were all games that I had a great deal of fun playing with my buddies in college in the earlier half of the decade (but they all came out before 2000) and I think Civilization IV and the Lego Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Batman games were all great fun and deserve some mention.


Currently playing: Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues

Guitar Hero 5

So the Guitar Hero Van Halen promotional offer reeled me in (or, more accurately, reeled my father in — he really wants the Van Halen edition) and I bought the Guitar Hero 5 bundled with the latest Red Octane guitar.  I’ve had a chance to mess around with it a bit and thought I’d share my initial impressions.

First off, I love the new party mode.  Talk about getting into a game with no fuss!  Instead of a main menu, the latest Guitar Hero goes straight to loading up one of the songs from its library.  If you just want to start rocking out, simply grab an instrument, press the appropriate button, choose your difficulty and go.  Sounds normal in description, but the difference is the song has still been playing the entire time you’ve been setting yourself up.  When your friends have their acts together, they can join in at anytime without you having to stop the song to add them in.  If you didn’t like the difficulty you were playing, change it on the fly.  It doesn’t effect anyone else’s play.  If you happen to have more than the usual two guitars (’cause your buddy brought his axe over, too), play with three or even four guitarists.  It all works very smoothly and I think it’s an outstanding feature to add for those times when you just want to get some songs going and you don’t want to have to run an election to figure out which song everyone’s playing next.  In party mode, when the song’s over, it picks a new one randomly and just starts it right up (showing off everyone’s performance scores while it loads).  Pretty nifty.

The play is just like the previous Guitar Heros, though I could swear there are a lot more chords than the previous games.  Also there are now flaming note sections.  I don’t know what they’re for yet, but I assume they’re something like the band unison sections in Rock Band 2.  There are also interesting little challenges in the Career mode that go along with each song.  Things like upstrumming all of Gamma Ray on bass or trying to whammy the long notes as long as possible on In My Place.  Kinda fun.

The biggest drawback to the game has just been the lack of tunes that I have a great desire to play.  When I first threw it in and flipped to Quickplay (which has most or all of the songs unlocked by default thank you very much!), I was skipping over dozens of songs to find a single one that would be interesting.  I can’t recall anything (except maybe Song 2 or the Santana tune) that I really REALLY wanted to play.  That part was disappointing.  Neversoft did give us players the option of importing some (not all . . . boo) of the songs from World Tour.  It also requires a small licensing fee (like Rock Band), but at least it fleshes out the Guitar Hero 5 library a bit so you can play with the great features the latest edition of the franchise adds.

Oh, and on a side note the faux-sparkly red Fender knockoff guitar that came bundled with the game feels really nice.  It seems quieter than it’s World Tour brother and I like the soft grip they’ve added on the strum bar and directional knob.

All in all I still love these games and I can’t wait for The Beatles Rock Band tomorrow!

Rock on,


Currently Playing: Guitar Hero 5