Scott's Top 25 Games of All Time
by Scott

25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1 |

15: Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

Developer: Silicon Knights
Publisher: Nintendo
System(s): GameCube
Date of Release: 2002
Genre: Survival-Horror/Puzzle
Reasons for being on this list:
This game is unfairly compared to the Resident Evil games. Sure, in both you fought zombies, but Eternal Darkness annihilated the Resident Evil games with a complex storyline spanning 2000 years and featured multiple characters that made sense. I mean, come on! Go read some of the storyline analysis of some of the people who have played through this series. Even they can't make sense of several games' storylines within the game itself, let alone trying to connect them together. One of my favorite lines (from the second link):

3. James Marcus, the true creator of the T-Virus, *might* be dead. Yes, he was punched full of holes and left bleeding on the bottom floor of a vast underground complex that exploded very soon thereafter, but this is Resident Evil, and he's already come back from the dead once.

I think quote explains itself, so back to Eternal Darkness (Note: I might rail against the Resident Evil series, but I did like RE4, so please, no hate mail). The lock-on system has gotten some complaints, and why? Oh, I can easily shoot enemies in the head, it's not something you have to fight with (like in Resident Evil games, even 4), so it must be bad! Um, no, that's called intuitive design. And many enemies keep on fighting after their heads have been cut off.

Moving on, there were also some very clever puzzles that a puzzle-deficient person like me can solve, and fan-freaking-tastic voice acting, complete with accents. What really made this game great were the insanity effects. When your sanity meter dropped (when being seen by a monster), the character went slowly insane. Walls would bleed, inventory items would vanish, and you would hear voices screaming in the background. Some even messed with the player, such as fake resetting or turning off the screen while playing the sound effects of being attacked by a zombie, to even the fake deletion of your memory card. All of these effects are totally random, so even if you know what they are, you still get freaked out when your character's head falls off; they pick it up, and recite Shakespeare. That's quality gaming right there.

Ease of acquiring/playing: Moderate. I've seen several places that still have a copy, but your best chance is on-line. Screenshot from the official Eternal Darkness website.

14: GoldenEye 007

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
System(s): Nintendo 64
Date of Release: 1997
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Reasons for being on this list:
Perhaps Rare's greatest success. Rare had made the Battletoads series and other popular games, but it was GoldenEye that really caught everyone's attention. Everyone who worked on this game poured out their heart and soul making it. One interesting thing is that Rare requested and received the actual blueprints of the sets built for the GoldenEye movie. This made Golden Eye perhaps the most accurate licensed game ever developed, well, next to Tron 2.0. This is only the tip of the iceberg. GoldenEye takes a page from Looking Glass's book and builds the difficulty to include not only more enemies and less items and ammo, but also more objectives, and moves some of those objectives around. GoldenEye is still one of the best James Bond games too date, even if it doesn't feature any driving levels (there was no car chase in the movie) and it practically invented the console first-person shooter games. Anyone who mentions Turok will have their internal organs removed with rusty implements.

The vs. mode was what really sold this game, with its multiple and fun modes and variety of weapons. The vs. mode was slightly broken in Perfect Dark, GoldenEye's spiritual sequel (it used the same heavily modified engine) with weapons that really shouldn't have been made. "Hey, let's make a weapon that can fire through walls and can kill in one hit! And its secondary function will find other players!" Yeah, don't worry. That gun sucks.

Ease of acquiring/playing: Eh, Moderate. I can't think of any game store that might have a copy, but you're sure to find a copy on-line. And Perfect Dark is also a very fun game, so see if you can't find that game as well. Screenshots are from the GoldenEye 007 wikipedia page.

13: Freespace 2

Developer: Volition
Publisher: Interplay
System(s): PC
Date of Release: 1999
Genre: Space Flight Simulator
Reasons for being on this list:
Freespace was a highly derivative version of the old X-wing or Tie Fighter games. Hey, if you were going to be derivative of something, it should be the best space combat game out there, right? There were differences between the two series; the biggest one was the enemy that you had to fight, the shivens. The first encounter against them was pretty creepy: you couldn't target them, they had much more powerful weapons, they had shields and you didn't (only one weapon could penetrate it), and their ships made a weird, insect like sound. Also, the capital ships were disappointing, they were just large blocks in space that had slightly more powerful weapons.

It was Freespace 2 that paved new ground for the Freespace universe. It was still like X-wing or Tie Fighter in the fact that you were in space, but the similarities ended there. This is one the only games that the actual game was better than the opening CGI, and it has one of the best openings of all time. Yes, it was traditional space dog fighting, until you have to shoot bombs before they hit you capital ships, which were blasting everything close by with flack cannons that rip apart enemy fighter craft, and huge cutter beams straight from Babylon 5 that actually cut other capital ships in half. The capital ships were hugely improved, you did not want to get between two ships when they filled the screen with beams that were larger than your little fighter.

The story of the first game was told through desperate (and losing) battles against the shivens. It was then punctuated by looks back at a great interstellar empire on the verge of extinction from the shivens narrated by a soft, sad voice. The second game continues this story but is narrated by a seeming mad rouge commander who reveals near the end of the game that his civil war was a ruse to develop the technology to communicate with the shivens, and learn everything about them, why they wipe out countless species, where they came from, and what they want. He learns all this, but you never do. The game ends and they will never make a third and final game for this series, just like no one has made another space simulator of this caliber since this game that doesn't have the words 'Rogue Squadron' in the title.

Ease of acquiring/playing: It's Free! Why the hell are you not playing this right now?! The company released the source code for the game free on-line! Still, if you want a legal copy of the game, it might drive you mad. Not many copies of this game were produced, so it tends to be somewhat expensive. So, why collect this game? Well, like I just said, the source code has been released for free on-line, so there's a large modding community still active. They have greatly improved the graphics, and I am going to provide a link to a youtube video showing what this game looks like in motion. There's also a Babylon 5 mod, a Star Wars mod, a Battlestar Galactica mod, and even a Star Fox mod in the works.

12: System Shock 2

Developer: Irrational Games/Looking Glass Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
System(s): PC
Date of Release: 1999
Genre: Survival-Horror/First-Person Shooter
Reasons for being on this list:
"L-l-look at you, hacker. A p-p-pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you r-run through my corridors-s. H-h-how can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?" The original system shock was written off as a Doom clone, which it was definitely not. It mixed stellar voice acting (even by today's standards), RPG elements, and a downright scary story. The second game was made by Looking Glass Studios, the fine people behind the Thief series, and Irrational Games, who made Freedom force and Bioshock. Simply put, they took everything that was good about the first game and improved upon them. This is the game that made the whole 'space ship in deep space taken over by zombies while you have amnesia' cliché, and it does it well. The game's story is moved along by personal messages that you find lying around the ship, often found next to the corpse of who wrote it. Most of these messages are disturbing, but none of them can compare to the queen of evil herself, SHODAN.

Unless someone spoiled SHODAN's reappearance, you will nearly piss your pants when she shows up. Crap, just the way she talks (the above quote is hers) is enough to make you start shaking in your chair. She is that freaking scary. And she doesn't even have a body, she doesn't need one. She has you to do all her dirty work. That's right, you wind up working for her. Sadly, the game bottoms out after you leave the Von Braun, but damn, is it fun up until then. You cannot fight against SHODAN; join us now, pathetic flesh thing.

Ease of acquiring/playing: Good Luck, we're going to need it. The only place I've been able to find it is on-line. It never made many copies, and so it always goes for a high price. Your best bet is to "borrow" one from a friend. Next, this game hates Windows XP with a passion. There's help on-line to get this game to run, but it takes some work. If you can't find a copy, there's always Bioshock, which is damn close.
Screenshots are from (they are from pre-release builds, in case you are wondering about any slight oddities in them).

11: Syberia

Developer: Microïds (first half) MC2- Microïds (second half)
Publisher: The Adventure Company (first half) XS Games, LLC (second half)
System(s): PC
Date of Release: 2002 (first half) 2004 (second half)
Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Reasons for being on this list:
Ok, let's get this out the way first: yes, the two game structure of Syberia is complex and it does come back to bite this series in the ass, but more on that later. There's way too much talk about how video games are a new art medium, when the average game is some bad movie rip-off *cough*Resident Evil*cough*. There are only a few games that I have played that have moved me beyond simple story twists, made me feel a game had the ability to touch someone's soul. Syberia is one of those games. Flying into the face of 'adventure games are dead', this one had a streamlined interface that stayed out of the way of the graphics and was filled with memorable characters that had great voice acting.

There are college directors who are obsessed with rules, the haunted, beautiful voice cylinders sent by Anna Voralberg years ago, and even an old, retired Russian opera singer. The puzzles were well built into the world and never felt like you were going for an engineering degree like the Myst games, and were easy enough for me to have a fun time solving (I suck at adventure game puzzles), but still hard enough to be a challenge. You also travel around in one the greatest vehicles imagined: a wind-up train.

The second half of the game didn't move me quite as much, but was still a very satisfying end to the story. The first game had a "Heart of Darkness" (the book, not the game) vibe as you searched for Hans Voralberg, which the second game loses. The meeting with him at the end of the first game will always remain one of the greatest moments in gaming for me.

Ease of acquiring/playing: Okay, since this game is split into two parts, and unlike Golden Sun, which got a rather large distribution, Syberia gets two ratings:
Part 1: Moderate. You can find it on-line, just don't try any stores. You might get lucky, however.
Part 2: Hard. Stores don't have copies. Go on-line. This game got very little American distribution. Why? I have no idea.

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