Welcome to the first in my (hopefully) weekly column called Greg’s Top 5′s. Each week, I’ll be listing the best or worst of something, depending on my whims.
In the inaugural piece, here are my Top 5 favorite games for the current generation of consoles. Keep in mind these are my favorites and not necessarily a best of list, since its based only on games I’ve played through to completion.
1. Grand Theft Auto 4
GTA4 is the greatest technical achievement in gaming, hands down. It is the creation of a living, breathing city in which you feel that any person you encounter could have a story of their own.
There are so definite highs and lows to the story and characters, and Niko often times comes off as some sort of killing savant who does whatever someone tells him to do, but on the whole, there’s an eclectic and colourful cast of characters to enjoy.
GTA4 has shown me the level of detail and nuance that is capable in the current generation consoles, and that’s what makes it my absolute favorite.
Plus, one of my hidden passions in gaming is just driving around Liberty City. Run, steal a car (or better yet, a helicopter) and just travel. See the buildings, the parks, the little secrets scattered throughout the city. Enjoy the obvious effort that Rockstar put into making gaming’s greatest environment. Hey, that sounds like a good idea for a future column.
2. Burnout Paradise
I never knew true love for a driving game until I played Burnout Paradise. The celebrated title’s first foray into open world driving, Paradise City is a joy to explore and race through. You can see how much attention was put into making the racing dynamic and exciting, with a huge selection of cars, outstanding arcade gameplay, spectacular crash physics and an incredible high sense of speed.
The on-line play is also stellar, and is the game that really sold me on how great on-line play could actually be.
3. Fallout 3
The greatest RPG available, Fallout 3 almost redefines the meaning of epic. A huge gaming world filled with danger and violence, a surprisingly low-key storyline (you aren’t tasked with saving all of mankind, just helping to create radiation-free water) and plenty of interesting and quirky characters.
The V.A.T.S. aiming system is a fantastic innovation as well, giving Fallout the edge over the similarly excellent Oblivion, allowing Fallout 3 to be RPG first, shooter second. I put over 100 hours into the pre-DLC game alone, so Fallout: New Vegas can’t get here fast enough.
4. Super Mario Galaxy
There’s one thing that Galaxy brings that no other: whimsy. Each new planet that you discover is a joy, as the diverse and wacky themes just get better and better. Repetitive boss battles are annoying, but they don’t take away from the sheer elation that I felt playing through the game. And some of the tougher levels are almost soul crushing!
On the list for excellence in storytelling, weaving together my favorite narrative yet. Great plot twists, great monstrous charactersand a most importantly, Rapture. In Rapture, the game also presents my favorite non-open world gaming environment of the current gen. From the architecture to the locales, it is (or was) a beautiful place to explore.
On a personal note, Bioshock provides you with the moral choice of saving or killing little sisters in the game. While in theory that should mandate repeated play, as a Dad, I just couldn’t bring myself to kill one of them.
Saints Row 2
While all of the games listed above offered great examples of what the current generation of systems offer, there was one thing not represented: pure, unbridled anarchy. And that’s where THQ’s Saints Row 2 comes in. Never has being a degenerate thug been so much fun. GTA games may cast you as a reluctant criminal, but Saints Row makes a you a hall of fame caliber douchebag. And loves every second of it.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman is perhaps my favorite fictional character, but has never been done justice in video games. Until now, when little-known developer Rocksteady produced Arkham Asylum. Its not only the greatest Batman game ever, but the best superhero game ever. It also features one of the smoothest melee combat systems I’ve ever encountered.