Gears of War has always had a special place in my heart, especially the first game. It introduced me to the next generation; a whole new fidelity of gaming. HD gaming was only a possibility on PC, but with Xbox 360 we could now play games in 1080p natively. Gears of War was the best-looking game made at the time and it featured revolutionary combat, cover mechanics, multiplayer, a unique art style, well-designed enemies, and great characters. It featured traits that most shooters don’t possess which threw it into the mainstream and became one of the best-selling games of all time. Gears of War single-handedly helped sell the Xbox 360 during the holidays of 2006.
The game still holds up perfectly fine 10 years later. While it feels a bit dated compared to newer games in the series, there’s a simpler more personal touch in this game than say Gears of War 4. Each location is unique, the game is perfectly paced, and the story unfolds in a way to keep you interested all the way until the end. Thankfully the team kept the balancing and mechanics exactly the way they were in Gears 1 and didn’t update them. All the weapons feel the same and the characters even move the same.
The only thing that has changed is the visual upgrade which uses Unreal Engine 4 and makes the game look absolutely amazing. Running at 60FPS in 1080p is nice, but being upscaled to 4K on the Xbox One S is just pure eye candy. Honestly, this is the fourth or fifth time I’ve played through this game and I never get sick of it. The original Gears campaign is just so well designed and wonderfully set up that you can’t help but play through it once a year.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on how Gears of War is played because every Xbox fan has played at least one by now. Gears do take inspiration from other games like Resident Evil 4‘s over-the-shoulder camera and Kill Switch‘s cover system. Unreal Tournament’s art style and heavy-handedness on weapons, as well as the gore, were also taken. Playing as Marcus Fenix in Delta Squad you are tasked with deploying a light bomb resonator to help map the Locust’s stronghold who are trying to kill all life on Sera. You personally feel like you are part of this war and the game really shows the devastation and sheer loneliness thanks to epic set pieces and small detailed cut scenes.
Gameplay consists of arena-based shooting in which you go into a large open area with cover, kill everything, then move on. Enemies vary from Locust drones to giant Corpsers. Each enemy requires a special way to be taken down and your arsenal is some of the most unique in any shooter. The Lancer is now a gaming icon with the chainsaw bayonet that helped propel Gears into the mainstream. Cutting a locust in half is one of the most satisfying things to ever do in a game. The Gnasher shotgun, Snub, Boltok Pistol, Boomshot, and various other weapons are just perfectly made and designed for this type of game. You will use each weapon and change your loadout according to enemy type and the environment. This is hard to do in shooters and Gears does it best.
Without going into the game too much I have to say that co-op is well worth it and multiplayer takes a small upgrade. Added are game modes seen in sequels and all the maps have been updated. You can also play as characters from later games. If you loved Gears 1 multiplayer suite then this is for you. I personally find Gears of War a hard multiplayer shooter to get into because it’s tough as nails and requires an extreme amount of skill. I also feel the mechanics aren’t right for multiplayer, but it’s still a lot of fun and plenty of invested time will yield great results.
With that said I still feel this is worth a purchase for long-time fans and newcomers. Just the visual upgrade alone is well worth the cost and the added PC acts are a nice plus since that version is no longer available to purchase and not playable anymore. To briefly sum up this new act, Delta Squad must get to Timgad Station and turn on the power to a bridge that leads to the train yard before the end of the game. During this act, they are chased by a Brumak and the end of the act ensures a shootout with one. It’s a great piece and was sadly cut from the 360 version due to time constraints.
Overall, the Ultimate Edition ups the visuals and preserves the game just how we remembered it. With the added act from the PC version, upgrade multiplayer, and added content for it, there’s no reason not to play the Xbox 360’s best shooter. You will be playing a piece of gaming history.
There are hundreds of thousands of games out there, but only a few hundred are considered masterpieces or classics. These are my personal top ten. I know it’s to everyone’s taste, but you can’t deny that these games are great. I have played hundreds in my 20 years of gaming, I have played through three generations of consoles, so at least I can speak on experience. I will try to be non-biased and even address some flaws in the games I pick because I have no problem with that. Flaws are flaws, and not a single game is perfect. There are more that are my favorite, but I would have to make a top 50 list.
This was one of the first games I had ever played at 2 years old. It helped introduce me to the gaming world and I just fell in love with the fast speed and intense gameplay. StH2 had some of the best level designs out of any game in the series and one of the best soundtracks to date. I remember never being able to actually beat the game because it was too long and too hard. I could never get past the factory level with all the grey orbs floating around Robotnik. I had to beat it many years later using an emulator and quick saves, but I still enjoyed it every time I played the game. I think I actually ruined my cartridge from taking it in and out of the Genesis so many times.
In fact, I even remember my first Genesis for Christmas of 1992. The copy of StH2 it came with kept freezing up in the system, so my mom took it back to Circuit City to exchange it. I remember throwing a tantrum because no matter how many times I blew the cartridge it kept freezing after pressing Start. The series has fallen off the deep end in the past ten years, but nothing can ruin the memories of this classic gem.
9. Gran Turismo
This game changed everything for me when it came to cars. My very first racing simulator actually made me think about every turn and what car I had to choose. I always played arcade racers before because consoles didn’t really have the power yet for realistic physics and graphics. I actually learned some things from this game like how to recognize cars on the street, and basic ways on how cars operate. I was sitting in front of my TV at 8 years old tuning my car and adjusting things like camber angle, toe angle, stabilizers, sway bars and gear ratios like a champ. I then followed the series all the way to Gran Turismo 5 today and have witnessed one of the greatest evolutions in gaming history.
I remember the skepticism from PC gamers because of the greatness and expectations from System Shock 2. I didn’t have a PC capable of playing any major games throughout my early gaming years. My computer didn’t even run Flash very well, so I solely relied on consoles. BioShock’s narrative and atmosphere made a huge impact on me and the gaming industry as a whole. The first time seeing a Big Daddy and Little Sister was just shocking. You felt trapped in this underwater utopia, but you were also memorized by how it could have been accomplished in such an early time period. The game just worked so well and felt different from the standard military shooters at the time. BioShock 2 was too similar to the first game and just didn’t make the same impact.
The second game was so much better than the first because it created a whole new world and a much more likable character Ezio is one of gaming’s most familiar faces and the game itself was revolutionary for its time. A huge open world in a historically accurate Rome, Italy was just unheard of. There was so much attention to detail that you had to sit back and just take it all in. The characters were likable, and the story was memorable with a deep and tangled political plot. The game was also violent with a fighting system never before seen in an action/adventure game. This game was almost perfect in so many ways that the rest of the games have yet to capture.
6. Syphon Filter
Syphon Filter was criticized a lot for ripping off Metal Gear Solid plot-wise. The game had unique characters, a memorable plot, and some of the best-level designs ever seen for its time. The stealth was perfectly executed and had some memorable moments. I have played this game numerous times and was actually my first-ever third-person shooter. I remember how confusing the game was because I didn’t understand how shooters worked. I was so used to platformers, adventure games, and puzzle games. After playing this game I felt like I was part of the grown-up crowd. The other two games on the PS1 were just as good but not as memorable as the first game. This has grown to be one of my favorite games of all time just due to the wonderful memories I have had.
I used to beat the game once a week using the one-shot-kill code then again without it. I memorized every enemy, and how to get every kill without being seen in stealth missions. I even went as far as replaying certain dialog scenes because they were just that cool. Syphon Filter is a mostly underappreciated game because of the lack of releases the series has seen. The last game came out three years ago on the PSP, but thankfully Syphon Filter 4 was announced for PS3.
5. God of War
God of War changed my way of thinking about action/adventure games. I remember driving to K-Mart to buy my copy after reading reviews and hearing the game blow up on forums. I didn’t really expect much other than Greek mythology-themed Devil May Cry. I was dead wrong. The game had one of the most thrilling and epic combat systems ever created. I never really even knew what quick time events were until God of War made them cool and did them right. It added a whole new layer of depth and connection to the combat that has never really been done before. The huge boss fights, gorgeous (at the time) visuals, and unabashed nudity and sexuality that few games dare tread. God of War still impresses to this day and with each iteration in the now 5 game series. Kratos is also one of the most memorable and recognizable characters to date. Make sure to pick up God of War Collection and God of War Origins Collection if you missed out on those four awesome games while waiting for God of War: Ascension.
Gears of War changed my mind on shooters the way God of War did for action games. The gameplay was just so different from your standard shooter. It was heavy-hitting, atmospheric, and featured some of the most memorable characters and stories to date. For a futuristic military shooter that’s a huge achievement. The weapons were memorable, it was perfectly balanced, and everything had a dark crunchy hit to it. The game was nearly perfect, and the graphics were out of this world at the time. I remember this being the first next-generation game I ever played when I got my first Xbox 360 for Christmas of 2006. Each of the three games in the series is amazing, but nothing compares to when I first played the first game. It wowed me like no other, and Gears of War is one of the few games I have played multiple times.
Sure this series along with Rock Band single-handedly killed the band instrument rhythm genre, but nothing compares to the first Guitar Hero. This game is the reason why I currently own and play the guitar today. Pulling off complicated riffs, solos, and chords with the then high-tech guitar controller was like magic. I spent dozen upon dozens of hours replaying songs and getting high scores. Sure it cost a lot, but it was well worth it to me. While the songs weren’t originals they were masterfully re-created and the guitar controller responded perfectly. The games later in the series lost sight of the value of mastering songs and just start pumping them out uncontrollably after GH3. This game redefined the rhythm genre and took the entire world by storm. Most people nowadays never played the first game, and they were missing out on a lot.
This was the first game I spent over 100 hours on. The world was so rich and fantastic that I felt like I was playing in one of my favorite fantasy novels. The lore, characters, quests, and loot were just so addictive and engrossing I couldn’t put it down. I remember one play session going on for 12 hours when no other game has kept me in front of the TV for that long. The expansion pack was even more amazing, and the graphics blew me away. Of course, there were a lot of technical problems, and the PC version was better, but I sure had a ton of fun with this game. Skyrimis just as good, but it didn’t wow me like Oblivion did because this was my first Elder Scrolls game. To be honest I picked this up for $60 expecting not to like it much and I was dead wrong. Anyone who has just played Skyrim needs to go back and play this. It revolutionized the action RPG genre in my eyes and a lot of games have tried to copy it to this day.
Yes, I am talking about the 1992 Sega Genesis/Arcade classic. This is my favorite video game series of all time and this is because it was the first video game I ever played. I remember my cousin babysitting me and seeing him control these characters on-screen at 2 years old. I remember seeing him pull off Scorpion’s mask and burn a character. It was something I saw before, and soon enough I was mastering the controls and beating him at 2 years old. I never knew how to pull off a fatality until years later when the internet became more mainstream, but I loved beating this game constantly. To date, I own almost every game in the series on several different platforms and have pre-ordered every recent game since 2004’s Deception. I don’t think I have played a game more than Mortal Kombat, but I still enjoy Japanese fighters. I find Mortal Kombat more accessible with more interesting characters and a story because they aren’t cliché and generic like most Japanese fighters tend to feel. There’s a whole giant story behind each and every character and they are all unique.
There were a lot of questions throughout the Gears of War trilogy, and only the hardcore fans asked them. The books helped answer all of these and tie up the plot holes that the games couldn’t fill. The final book of the Gears series fills the holes between Gears 2 and 3 and leads right up to the beginning of 3. The book focuses on mainly Bernie Mataki, Colonel Hoffman, and Dizzy. The book explains the fall of the Coalition that you see at the beginning of the third game and why everyone was living on the ship Sovereign. Even little things like why Anya cut her hair short are answered in this book.
Like Jacinto’s Remnant (book 2) you get flashbacks during the Hammer of Dawn strike that wiped out most of Sera, and we get to find out how Baird and Cole met (which is the question about why they knew each other in Gears 1), but it focuses on Bernie, Cole, and Dizzy just before, during, and just after the Hammer strike. The book is riveting and sad and really heartbreaking during some moments. Just seeing humanity crumble and every last hope fall apart is heart-wrenching. Traviss does a great job of keeping the character’s personalities in the book so they feel just like they did in the game. Of course, this is mostly about the stalk and polyp infestation on the island Vectes which is humanity’s last refuge. Hell, you even find out why Prescott left the COG and where Hoffman wound up.
The book has the perfect pacing and I don’t think the book series could have had a better ending. With such deep and lovable characters, a tragic setting, and a great lead-up to the final game you can’t really go wrong here. There isn’t much action here because the book really digs deep into the minds of the characters and more into the tragedy they are facing than actual battles. There are some battles here, but there aren’t any with Locusts because of the polyp crisis they face. This book is really only for hardcore fans, but if you want every single question answered up to this point then pick this book up.
Game of the year is the hardest of them all. What makes the game of the year? Everything must be almost perfect, well balanced, epic, have a great story, characters, mechanics, graphics, and everything that makes up a game must be amazing and better than the competition. I wish I could have picked more than one because there were so many amazing games this year.
Skyrim actually wasn’t my first choice. It won because of how grand in scale the game was and the attention to detail that only a few games this year did. Over 100 hours of gameplay, unique characters, a grand story, beautiful graphics, lots of customization, and a gorgeous soundtrack made Skyrim come out on top of the entire pile. Skyrim is a special game in the sense that no other RPG or game can do it.
Shooters tend to be the most criticized category because they are usually all the same and don’t do anything new for the industry. This year some awesome shooters and not all made it on the list. This year saw some shooters that pushed the graphics cards on PCs, showed some astounding multiplayer, but most lacked in good stories. That’s usually what is looked for in the shooter category is mainly a good single-player campaign.
This was a tough one but Gears 3 topped them all mainly due to a good single-player campaign and an amazing finale to an already wonderful story. The multiplayer may not be as groundbreaking, but it’s the overall cohesive and well-balanced campaign that put it at the top. With great characters to follow and some truly awesome weapons to shoot you just can’t put the game down, and that’s what you want in a good shooter.
Technical graphics aren’t so much the art style, but what’s under the hood. Usually, games that introduce new engine or technology tend to be the best. This year was huge for DirectX 11 games on PC which can not be down on consoles. State of the art graphics cards are needed and a few games really showed this off this year. Usually, high-resolution textures, great modeling, lighting, water effects, weather, and other elements make up a good-looking game.
Were you surprised? Battlefield 3 was the only game to truly use DirectX 11 exclusively and completely left out DirectX 9 and 10. While the PC version only got this treatment the console versions looked pretty close. Battlefield 3 sported some amazing lighting effects as well as water and the textures looked real. Nothing really pushed graphics cards harder this year than Battlefield 3 so it takes the cake.
Multiplayer can be put into any game, but a good multiplayer (whether it be cooperative or competitive) has to have balance, a good amount of modes, and something to set it apart from the rest. Shooters tend to be the main course when it comes to multiplayer. However, those tend to always be the same, but something needs to set it apart. Usually, it’s well-made maps, balanced weapons, and customization. Even something like poorly run servers can make online play bad. There were a lot of shooters this year, but only one topped them all.
Great maps, a beautiful game engine, vehicles, and a change in pace for unlocks and perks is what makes Battlefield 3 the top dog this year. All the rest were just perfections of what has already been down, but Battlefield 3 perfected and added on to what’s already been done. Excellent maps, great balancing, and starting you out with crappy load-outs to force you to be good makes this one shine. Not to mention up 64 players on huge Rush or Conquest matches is an absolute blast and no other shooter can pull this off.
A new character is very important to a game because it can make it or break it. There are also hundreds of memorable characters out there so making a new one and trying to make it on the list is hard. There were very few new characters created this year, but among the few, there was only one that was very strong.
This was an easy pick this year. Wheatley is a very funny and strange character, but being just a blinking orb makes him all that harder to pull off. It’s his personality and voice acting that really make you remember him and put him among the best. His British humor mixed with the insane world of Portal 2 really makes you want to hear him talk and come back into the world. Wheatley’s character is perfectly balanced and you get doses of him throughout the game, and you just can’t help but love him.
A great story is usually memorable and you will talk about it for years to come. You need good characters, voice acting, and a lot of other elements to make a good story. Usually, there has to be a great ending as well as some twists and turns, but it also has to make sense. A good story is probably the hardest thing to find in the video game world, but there were a lot of great ones this year, but there can be only one.
This was the toughest category this year. With so many great stories I could only choose one. Gears of War may be considered a meat head’s game, but the story branching over the three games is full of great characters and a struggle for survival that eats at your heart. These people are fighting a genocidal race of bugs, and in the meantime, they are losing their loved ones right in front of their eyes. The delivery from the voice actors just makes you care so much about Delta Squad, but overall the ending and story in Gears 3 finish the story with a tightness that most sequels can’t really pull off.