Note: This article is a guest post written by fellow gaming blogger Twin Sticks. If you like this article make sure to check out his site for some more excellent content! All his information is available at the bottom of the article. You can also check out my guest post on his site about my five top game picks!
GamersBonfire and I have recently been discussing our favourite games of all time, but with so many to choose from, where do we start? The problem is I played so many games when I was young, but if you ask me why I enjoyed them I honestly couldn’t tell you. It’s been quite a while and my memories of certain games are so vivid, almost dreamlike.
So, in order to pick my top 5, I made the difficult decision to exclude anything I played before I was a teenager. This unfortunately means that all of my Gameboy, N64 and SEGA games didn’t make the cut (sorry Pokemon, Super Smash Bros., Streets of Rage and Sonic).
And finally, before we start, my choices are not objectively the best video games. Rather they are those that I enjoyed the most, formed a strong emotional connection with or have created the happiest memories in my life. And because Twin Sticks is an Xbox and Nintendo Blog, I unfortunately haven’t played any Playstation games since the PS2 days (although there are many that I would like to play).
So, without further ado, here are my top 5 favourite games of all time in no particular order. And one joint pick from us both at the end.
The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us is is essentially to fairytales what Watchmen is to superheros. You play as the Sheriff of Fable Town, Bigby (the Big Bad Wolf), and begin investigating a series of shadowy murders. Along the way you cross paths with some of Fable Towns worst citizens; Georgie Porgie who runs the Pudding and Pie strip club, the hired henchmen Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the domestic abuser, The Woodsman.
On paper, the premise sounds bizarre, but the whole experience is delivered in an incredibly mature way. As you become more entangled in the murderers sinister web, tension reaches boiling point making every situation incredibly tense (there is a standoff against Tweedle Dee where I made the wrong decision. Afterwards I literally put down my controller in shock).
But the main reason I love this game is for the atmosphere it creates. Heavily inspired by film noir it uses a purple colour palette, neon signs and a minimalist electronic soundtrack to create nail biting suspense in every moment. Like with other Telltale games, difficult decisions and morally grey areas wait around every corner leading to an experience which is dark, bleak, but utterly mesmerising at the same time. I’m so happy that a sequel was recently announced.
The Wolf Among Us (This Image was my Laptop Lock Screen for a very long time…)
Sure, Fallout 4 has some major objective flaws, flaws like a lack of dialogue options, no RPG elements and a narrative with a whole lot of plot holes. It also arguably marked the turning point of Bethesda Game Studios as the once boundary pushing developers moved further and further away from their RPG roots. Now that’s out of the way, let me explain why I love this game.
For me, the gameplay loop of explore, combat and scavenge had me hooked. I loved wandering the Wasteland and discovering each of it’s intriguing locations, which acted as mini-mysteries to uncover. The use of clever environmental story-telling and detailed terminal entries created passive world-building which I believe is one of the best in modern gaming (Dark Souls also does an amazing job in this regard). For me, these moments were extremely poignant, like reading the emails of two lovestruck co-workers and for a brief moment forgetting they’re no longer alive. The superb OST helped in this regard too, by imbuing feelings of isolation, loneliness and introspection (I used to sit there and listen to the opening theme in its entirety before starting each play session).
But above all, Fallout 4 marked a significant turning point in my own life. The game was released in November 2015, shortly after my Master’s degree finished. The degree was unfathomably stressful which played a large part in the deterioration of my mental health. Fallout 4 not only reignited my love for video games, but it allowed me to cope with symptoms of depression and anxiety as I became lost in the world of Post-Apocalyptic Boston. During this period I would apply for jobs from midday until five, then reward myself with Fallout 4 in the evening. A month later I graduated with the highest grade possible and started my first job in January 2016. I will always thank Fallout 4 for that.
Seriously how good is this opening theme? Inon Zur you are a wizard.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Probably my favourite game of this generation, Red Dead Redemption 2 is equal parts slow burning TV drama as it is game. Each character is believable with most, like main protagonist Arthur Morgan, being flawed human beings. As you spend around 50 hours with these characters, every plot twist and turn is extremely impactful. Certain events spiral out of control to a point which is impossible to return from (the Edith Downes sub-plot comes to mind).
While the narrative was outstanding, the vision of the American West in the 19th century was the games greatest strength. There were thousands of obsessive details littered throughout which most developers would never even consider. Details like salt stains leftover from sweat, real time hair growth and the infamous realistic horse testicles (the size of which was affected by the ambient air temperature). Discovering the insane amount of detail was one of the games greatest allures and I was consistently left in a state of awe.
Check out my review of Red Dead Redemption 2 here (It’s the first review I ever uploaded to my blog, completely unedited from the original version!)
Beecher’s Hope in RDR2. An exceptional end to an exceptional game.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2005)
The original Star Wars Battlefront 2 went above and beyond its predecessor by providing great additions like Galactic Conquest, Space Battles, Hero Assault and a surprisingly solid campaign. It also had great couch co-op options which allowed myself and friends to play together regularly in the same room. Each match was filled with over the top-action across a large variety of locations making you feel completely immersed in the Star Wars Universe.
There was enough to keep me engaged even after hundreds of matches too. The wide variety of heroes and game modes for example, and the subtle medal system. After playing with a certain class for long enough, special medals unlocked a signature weapon – a personal favourite was the Flechette Shotgun which decimated AI opponents. It urged you to keep playing, collecting medals and mastering each class.
In hindsight, Star Wars Battlefront 2 was unbelievably revolutionary due to the aforementioned Space Battles. Here, two teams raced to destroy the other teams huge Starship. There were so many routes to victory in every match. For example, using a Y-wing bomber (with your friend in the turret) you could attack key parts of the ship from space. You could participate in surprisingly fluid dogfights against enemy fighters and allow your bombers to attack hassle free. Even landing in an enemy hangar, dropping off a battalion of troops and sabotaging the Starship engines from the inside was a viable option. Although the new Star Wars Battlefront 2 is now great, it still blows my mind the original hasn’t been surpassed some 15 years later. Great work Pandemic!
Probably like many Xbox gamers, the original Halo trilogy are my favourite games of all time. I spent most of my teenage years playing them, with the release of Halo 3 coinciding with my time at secondary school. And even in a small English town, the hype train for Halo 3 was barrelling towards release day with everybody I knew on board.
The new addition of four player co-op over Xbox Live allowed myself and close friends to finish the fight together. But the reason Halo 3 stands tall in the trilogy for me, is the multiplayer. I personally loved the asymmetric maps like High Ground. Here, a sole teammate could infiltrate the enemy base at the top of the hill and sneakily open the main gate. This allows your entire team to push forwards, launching a full scale assault (I have great memories of my friends stealing the flag while I took on the role of getaway driver in the flimsy quad bike; The Mongoose).
I also loved the custom games made by the community, which were all free to download in-game. Infected placed a team of Spartans against three infected players, who were boosted with super speed and energy swords. Once a Spartan fell, they became infected and were forced to hunt down their former allies. Pirate Ships on Sandtrap was also a personal favourite. Each team would drive the mammoth Elephant tank over sand which acted as water (if you fell overboard you would take damage). The objective was to steal the enemy flag by jumping on board their Elephant, as if two Pirate Ships were battling at sea. You could even send out boarding parties using Warthogs stowed in the underbelly of each vessel. It was so much fun, unbelievably creative, but more importantly allowed a brief respite from the brutal progression of ranked Team Slayer.
Halo 3 is, and will always be, very special to me. Please Halo: Infinite, please be good!
The huge Elephant tank on Sandtrap.
Gamers Bonfire & Twin Sticks – Joint PickFallout: New Vegas
Considering how great Fallout: New Vegas is, it’s hard to believe it was developed in only 18 months. Even though veteran RPG-developers Obsidian were given the keys to Fallout 3’s already developed engine, the end result was a game which is arguably the best in the series.
Whether my love of Fallout: New Vegas stemmed from the Las Vegas meets Wild West setting, the amazing companions (Rex!), the complex role playing or even the song “Big Iron” by Marty Robbins, I will never know. I loved the incredibly well written script and the freedom to complete objectives in a variety of ways (and even fail them spectacularly with no option of a re-do). All of your decisions felt meaningful as if you actually played an important role in the future of New Vegas.
My favourite playthrough was when I took up the mantle of a drunk cowboy. I focussed on hand to hand and small guns (fist fights and revolvers) and limited myself to drinking only beer and whisky. I was always intoxicated which saw me routinely get into fights with anybody who looked at me in the wrong way. The amount of freedom to play anyway you wanted was remarkable and up until the release of Outer Worlds last year, I would have said it is something we are sorely missing these days on console.
Somebody make a Fallout: New Vegas re-master for consoles!
Prey, although had solid sales figures, was severely underrated on release. I think the issue revolved around it being labelled as a first person shooter (It was nominated for Best Shooter of 2017 by IGN – Seriously IGN what are you playing at?) In actual fact it’s a horror RPG with puzzle solving elements that just happens to be in first person and just happens to have a bit of shooting.
Although the shooting was admittedly basic, the remainder of Prey was phenomenal. I loved exploring the space station Talos-1 with its realistic areas like the Art Deco Lobby, Crew Quarters or the zero Gravity Utility Tunnel System (G.U.T.S). You can use a jet-boosted space suit to fly out in zero gravity space. Not only is this visually striking as you witness the gargantuan size of the station first hand, but it’s also a great way to get between zones (if you’re willing to learn the layout of Talos-1 that is).
But the greatest triumph for Prey was the complete lack of hand holding. You’re given equipment and abilities and left to figure things out for yourself. The moment I used the Goo Gun to create a temporary staircase made of solidified goo was exhilarating. And the first time I used foam dart gun to activate an out of reach touch-screen PC was an incredible eureka moment. Moments like this were common during my twenty plus hours with Prey, with each little hack being immensely satisfying to discover.
And there’s the masterful use of suspense, the constant pulling of the rug out from underneath your feet and the outstanding ending which will stay with me for a very long time. If you haven’t played Prey, buy a copy right now.
Prey (okay technically a first person shooter, but it’s so much more than that…)
I’m sad to leave Skyrim off my list as I played many hours of Bethesda’s magnum opus. The sheer scale of interesting things to do, the rewarding progression system (complete with shouts) and a mammoth world you can get lost in for hundreds of hours makes Skyrim a serious contender for one of my all time favourites.
I’ve resisted buying you on Switch Skyrim, but now I think the time is right. Goodbye social life.
Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock
Here are three of my favourite games I played growing up, but I can’t remember much, other than they were great. I promise to replay them soon, and who knows maybe my list will be updated.
After reading through Twin Sticks top five games I am ecstatic at our similar taste in games. I am going to go through each of his picks and give a brief write up of my experiences and thoughts on the games he chose.
The Wolf Among Us was one of those games that always seemed interesting to me but I never got a chance to play. The artstyle and music are outstanding and the plot seems very unique. Fallout 4 is a game where the gunplay incredible,the atmosphere immersing, the music outstanding, but yet the RPG elements were lackluster, the dialogue was weak and often felt meaningless, and the story felt forced and disappointing. I had a great time with my original play through but was never able to get back into it.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is an absolute stunning game in almost every aspect. It provides a strong cast of characters, an engaging story, incredible graphics and an immersive world that offers much to see and explore. You feel like you are constantly stumbling across new and interesting scenarios. While I had a blast with Red Dead Redemption 2 I never actually got around to beating it, always getting distracted by exploring the land or playing poker or blackjack.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2005) and Halo 3 both fill me with nostalgia. I have spent many hours playing this game with my friends and brothers in my childhood, whether it be through piloting an X-wing into an enemy Starship in Star Wars or avoiding enemy fire while speeding around the map on a Mongoose in Halo 3.
I want to thank Jack from Twin Sticks for working on these guest posts with me and highly recommend checking out his site for some great content! You can also view my top five games on his site!
A Note from Jack at Twin Sticks Gaming Blog
Thank you Gamer’s Bonfire for inviting me to this guest post. It’s been a blast reminiscing over old games and there were so many I had to leave behind.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, check our my own blog for reviews of old and new games, gaming articles and gaming memories (where I reminisce about games from my past). I’m also on Instagram and Facebook if you’d like to show me some support there. Thank you!