Borderlands is well known as a shooter RPG hybrid but with little to no story. There’s a lot of potential with a great Borderlands story and Telltale games finally delivered that. TftB is a fantastic story-driven game with memorable characters and enough Borderlands lore and quips to make a fan faint. The visuals are great and there’s a lot to walk away from after completing it.
You start out by playing as two characters in this game, Rhys, and Fiona. Rhys is a Hyperion corporate employee and Fiona is a Pandorian con artist. The whole goal of the game is to open The Vault of the Traveler and find its hidden treasures. The entire point of any Borderlands game is to open a mysterious Vault. The game is mostly comprised of flashbacks as a man is dragging you two through the desert and having you retell your story leading up to the point of capture. This mysterious figure is well hidden and I couldn’t guess who it was for the life of me and the unveiling was so surprising. Telltale are masters of surprise and plot twists and TftB has plenty of them.
Like most Telltale games, there’s not much gameplay involved, just enough to make you feel like it’s a game. However, the stories are so fantastic that you won’t care much. There are a lot of quick-time events and moral choices in the game. These choices are the key component of any Telltale adventure and are what make them memorable. Some choices don’t matter so much and some can change the course of the entire game. TftB doesn’t have as many story-changing choices like say The Walking Dead, but they do make a difference and can be tough to decide on. Putting your own moral compass in the game is what makes these games so memorable and I love it.
Each episode usually switches back and forth between Rhys and Fiona from Pandora to Hyperion and back. The game truly felt like a long adventure and was very satisfying and fulfilling all the way to the very end. The game has a large scope and there is plenty of Borderlands stuff in here for fans. Opening loot crates can give you cash to use in-game, there are various jokes, and even cameos of Vault Hunters from previous games. I also felt that the story was told at a decent clip and never got slow and boring or felt rushed, each episode probably doesn’t stand on its own, but as a whole the game is wonderful.
I want to complain about the exclusive quick-time events being the only thing that consists of gameplay, but I won’t because it works for the game. There’s action, drama, and plenty of comedy thrown in that any Borderlands fan will love. The visuals aren’t technically impressive, but the meld of Telltale’s art style and Borderlands is a perfect match here and it feels like an actual Borderlands game which is what counts.
In the end, no matter what console you play it on, TftB impresses on every level and tells a story that any fan will love and approve of. Even non-Borderlandsfans will like the game. TftB is a perfect formula of how you do a franchise spin-off and do it right.
The PS2 was a very memorable console for me. I played it during my teenage years and it introduced more mature and more complex games. Coming out of the 64-bit era, I just played games for the hell of it. You could say the PS2 made me a more serious and hardcore gamer. I used to not care about reviews (not much anyway), and I would rent any game as long as the cover looked good, but the PS2 made me think twice about everything. The PS2 era is really 1999-2006, even though the PSP and DS continued after the next-generation consoles were already out shortly after those were released. I also played a few PC games here and there. Half-Life 2 would be on this list if I didn’t play it on such an old computer, and consoles were still dominating my life at the time. You also need to remember that these is the best games that made a difference for me. Some people played only PC games during 1999-2006 so their top games would be different. I did leave a generous honorable mentions section at the bottom for other games I highly enjoyed and just didn’t quite make the list.
When you think about open-world games Shadow of the Colossus comes to mind. It was probably one of the few games that pushed the PS2 beyond its limits graphically. It was so well-loved due to the giant boss fights with the colossi — this is copied in games to this day. The graphics were gorgeous (albeit at low frame rates) and the story was memorable because there wasn’t much of one. The music combined with the emotions of the characters was all that you needed to make a great game. While the controls were piss poor, it didn’t hamper the memories I had with it. I walked away with a new mindset and bosses and enemies in general.
9. Mortal Kombat: Deception
Why a Mortal Kombat game? Well, Deception was the first game I ever pre-ordered for one, and it was the first collector’s edition I ever bought. Not only that, but I was able to play the first-ever online fighting game. I had never been this excited for a game before its release. I watched countless videos online, went on the website every day for updates, downloaded wallpapers, you name it. All the amazing modes in the game were so much fun, and I spent dozens of hours online. Deception was probably the best fighting game of the previous generation in my mind (many will disagree but I didn’t like Japanese fighters at the time)
8. Guitar Hero
Guitar Hero is what got me into the rhythm genre (and many other people). While it didn’t really teach you how to play the guitar, it taught you the basic principles of speed and basic finger placement. While the game, later on, helped kill the genre it made popular again, it was still a great game despite having only cover songs. It was addictive, even without online play, and I spent dozens of hours trying to rack up my high scores and beat “Bark at the Moon” without failing on Expert.
7. Resident Evil 4
This was the only game that made me want a GameCube. The then Nintendo exclusive blew up the gaming community and was considered one of the best shooters ever made. I remember the story and the amazing gameplay. The zombies were so fun to kill and the guns and weapon upgrades were awesome. Not only that, but it looked amazing on the PS2. It was also my second pre-order and collector’s edition. I also remember the quick-time events during cut scenes and the first one threw me off guard.
6. Final Fantasy X
Not only is FFX the best Final Fantasy game ever made (yes it was better than 7, sue me) but it was the first JRPG I could ever beat. In fact, I had to play through it a second time because I lost my original save. I also remember renting this game from Blockbuster and the disc was so scratched up I couldn’t get past the second cut-scene. Despite having so much bad luck with this game I fully enjoyed it. The story was memorable, the characters were great, the monsters were awesome, and the combat system was challenging and fun. Not to mention that playing Blitzball requires math! Despite the game being great it also made me realize how much I can’t stand them. The random battles are infuriating and I won’t play a JRPG ever again if they have them.
5. Kingdom Hearts II
The second JRPG I ever beat. Not only that but it has one of the greatest game-opening themes ever. Utada Hikaru became famous in the West thanks to both Kingdom Hearts games. I listened to that song over and over again for nearly a year! KH2 also introduced many other beloved Disney and Square stuff that didn’t make it into the first game. This is what had me so excited for it. The story was memorable, and the ending actually made me cry. The game may seem a bit dated today, but the series hasn’t held up since.
Okami got my attention for the art style and being able to draw you attacks. Not only that but it was an amazing adventure and just sucked you in. The story was entertaining albeit not very memorable and playing as a wolf was pretty new at the time. I spent nearly 50 hours in this game and loved every bit of it. The best part of the game were the puzzles and drawing constellations to solve them.
The first game set the bar for action adventures. The large boss fights, the perfect combat, the memorable story and enemies, and many other things. I ran out and bought God of War a few days after it came out and loved it to death. To this day I have completed it 5 times — once on God mode. The demo is what really blew me away. I remember getting that OPM disc and booting up that demo. The fight with the Hydra was just fantastic and using quick-time events made you feel part of the battle. Of course, God of War made quick-time events mainstream, and that is why they are in every single game today. While the third game is the best in the series, and the second is even better, the first game changed my mind like Gears of War did.
2. Grand Theft Auto III
Sure this is on everyone’s top PS2 games for a reason. It was one of the first open-world games ever made on consoles that did it right. You could go anywhere you wanted, complete missions at your pace, and just screw around. I remember going over to a friend’s house (I didn’t have a PS2 yet) and we spent all day just goofing around the city and using cheats. The funny thing is, I still haven’t completed the game to this day.
1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
Before you cry foul that Tony Hawk isn’t better than GTA3 — it’s not. I just have more memories with this game than GTA3. I went over to that same friend’s house on a sleepover as a kid and played this until 7AM. I got really good and friends had a hard time beating my scores. The game was just perfect and is still the best THPS game ever made. The controls were smooth and responsive, the trick system was fantastic, and the levels were so well made. Not to mention the memorable unlocks and cheats codes you could enter, and the game had the best pro skaters to ever grace this planet. Skateboarding games just aren’t the same and the pros aren’t like the original guys. Bam Magera, Tony Hawk, Elissa Steamer, Eric Koston, Bob Burnquist, Kareem Campbell, Rodney Mullen, Jamie Thomas. These guys were my idles as a kid.
Because of THPS, I went out trying to learn to do all the tricks the pros did and got pretty good. I even got a portable camera and started filming me and my friend skateboarding. This camera didn’t even record sound and you could only record 15-second videos while unplugged from the PC. I also remember all the fun extra skateboarders like Wolverine, Kelly Slater, and Daisy Duke. It also had an amazing soundtrack with Xzibit, CKY, Motorhead, Redman, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. In fact, THPS had some of the best game soundtracks ever. This game changed my childhood and I will never forget it.
Area 51 | System Played: PS2 | Why: Story, Graphics, Aliens, Solid Shooting, Online Multiplayer
BloodRayne 2 | System Played: PS2 | Why: Sexy Character, Combat, Gore
While the best games are up for debate between anyone, I personally have favorites. Having played a good portion of all the games that have come out this generation it has been a good 7 years. Many bad games have been released while tons of good ones have as well. These are pretty much the most memorable games of this generation for me. While there are many other amazing games these topped them all. For other games that I really remembered I will put an honorable mentions section at the bottom. This is my top ten favorites.
Why the second game? While the first revolutionized the genre the second game improved upon the first and made it nearly perfect. I spent dozens of hours on this game mastering every instrument (except vocals) and downloading dozens of songs. I had never had this much fun with a game that had peripherals before. While I played the hell out of Guitar Hero on PS2, Rock Band was another beast entirely. I played online, with family, and by myself, and still had a blast. There were songs here for everyone and the library was massive — even back then. While the graphics were lacking and the guitar controller was questionable nothing beat the drums. I mastered those and could probably be a good drummer today because of it. Rock Band 2 is probably the best rhythm game period since Guitar Hero.
What makes Dead Space so damn great? The horror. It brought back the genre after years of being in the toilet. Not only did the game look fantastic, but it had a revolutionary minimal HUD system and some of the creepiest monsters to grace this generation. The dismemberment system was also a lot of fun and gave a brand new strategy to third-person shooters. The story and lore were memorable, and did I mention it was scary? It gave you the sense of being alone and by yourself, that’s scarier than the monsters themselves. The game was just so much fun and had a lot of replay value. The controls felt good and it was just so fantastic.4
Why the first game? BioShock was revolutionary when it came to storytelling and atmosphere. It has the best game opening ever and is considered that by many gamers. The pacing was absolutely perfect and the plasmids were revolutionary for FPS games. You had to use the environment around you while you shoot guns. The lore and characters were so memorable and BioShock is one of the most quoted games of all time. I remember staying up all night to download this demo on Xbox 360 and was blown away. It changed the way I saw FPS games — what was the last FPS you played that made you feel that way? Now would you kindly go play this!
While the other 2 were better and improved upon the first game, this one introduced some of the best sci-fi lore since Star Wars. That’s one huge freaking feat. All the aliens, planets, story, characters, and everything that makes Mass Effect is one giant entity that is unforgettable. The mix of RPG and shooter gameplay was so awesome and the game looked amazing on Xbox 360 at the time. It helped boost sales for the console and RPG and shooter fans could both enjoy the game. It wasn’t just the shooting though, the storytelling and branching path choices that made BioWare famous were fully intact here. Many games copy Mass Effect’s dialog trees to this day. Mass Effect is the only game ever made where your save travels between multiple games.
Not only is this one of the most beautiful games ever made on PC it’s just downright fantastic. The atmosphere and lore behind The Witcher are rich and fun. Based on the excellent Polish books, The Witcher 2 improved on everything from the first game. The voice acting and characters were so wonderful and the quests were amazing. The Witcher 2 sat well with me because every little detail just blossomed. The crafting, traps, potion-making, and every town you went to were so wonderful.
Skyrim changed the way everyone sees open-world games. It was probably too ambitious for its own good. The game was just massive with so many quests and characters and even had its own dragon language. Skyrim is one of the most cosplayed, YouTubed, fan-drawn, and modded games ever created. There have been popular fans’ songs, controversial mods, and countless gaming community squabbles over it. I don’t remember it for the game that it solely was, but the modding community. Skyrim is one of the most beautiful games if you mod it correctly. The game was just so outdated when it shipped with countless bugs. While it was a great game at the core — the quests, characters, voice acting, weapons, armor, and countless loot — I remember it for the modding.
Portal is probably one of the most recognizable and played games today. It spawned a huge fan following from mods to YouTube fan videos. Countless people cosplay as Chell and there is so much merchandise out there for Portal. I remember it when it came to Xbox 360 in the form of The Orange Box. My computer couldn’t run it at the time, so this was super exciting. The story was fantastic, GlaDOS was memorable, and the gameplay was revolutionary and one of a kind. The puzzles were perfectly paced and the portals and Portal Gun itself were probably some of the most memorable parts. Don’t forget the college student that sued Valve over the portal tech that was used! That boosted the game sales even more.
Why another Bethesda game? Because they are the best Western RPGs to grace this generation. Fallout 3 was nearly perfect, it was deep, exciting, immersive, and huge. Not only did it revive the popular PC series, but it also became its own entity. Fallout 3 was unstoppable. Everyone played it, some loved it and some hated it. I remember this for the countless hours I spent on my Xbox 360. The main character was the wasteland itself and it sure was memorable. Exploring every nook and cranny was so addicting along with the amazing quests and many memorable locations. The story was fantastic and well-remembered thanks to the wonderful opening scene and the many choices you could make throughout the game.
This was the first game I played for this generation and it changed the way I see shooters today. Gears of War was revolutionary. Some claim it was a step back, but I don’t see how. The cover system is copied and used in every shooter today, the story and lore are fantastic and Delta Squad is some of the most memorable characters of this generation. The multiplayer was a huge selling point and it still played today. The graphics were outstanding and showed off the power of the Xbox 360 in its early years. While the later games were better, the first game holds a special place in my heart and on my (digital) shelf.
While I spent over double the time in Skyrim, Oblivion was the first console game I spent over 100 hours on. I remember one day I played for 12 hours straight with very few breaks. This was the first real open-world game I ever played next to previous games like GTA, Okami, and Shadow of the Colossus. This was a whole new level. It was a living breathing world full of danger and adventure. I actually was so immersed I felt like I was in the game. The story was awesome, the characters were memorable, and the graphics were amazing at the time. In fact, Oblivion was built for the Xbox 360 from the ground up and was why the PC version had such problems. The Shivering Isles expansion was quite memorable with Sheogorath as the main man, he was a crack and the new flora was gorgeous. While there are other games, and not a single one is the best ever, Oblivion was the most memorable game for this generation for me (and probably millions of other gamers)
Alan Wake | System Played: Xbox 360 | Why: Graphics, Story, Characters, Horror, Combat
Assassin’s Creed | System Played: Xbox 360 | Why: Graphics, Open World Exploration, Assassinations
Assassin’s Creed II | System Played: Xbox 360 | Why: Graphics, New Time Period, Story, Characters, New Moves
Assassin’s Creed III| System Played: Xbox 360 | Why: New Time Period, Graphics, Naval Battles, Multiplayer, New Area to Explore, New Features
Bastion| System Played: PC | Why: Graphics, Story, Combat
Batman: Arkham Asylum | System Played: Xbox 360 | Why: New Batman Reboot, Story, Characters, Combat, Exploration
Batman: Arkham City | System Played: PC | Why: Graphics, New Area, Improved Everything, Continued Story, New Comic Characters
Bayonetta| System Played: Xbox 360 | Why: Sexy Protagonist, Fluid Combat, Enemies, Story
Continuing the second and last part of Games That Would Have Gotten A 10. These games are in no particular order, and I highly suggest for anyone who hasn’t played them to do so because you are missing pieces of gaming history.
The first time I saw a necromorph I nearly crapped my pants. I had never played such a scary or visceral and atmospheric game (horror-wise) since the first Silent Hill. Just feeling the dread that something might pop out any minute or watching the few people who had survived kill themselves or listen to their mindless mumbling made you feel uneasy. The game was cinematic, had great controls, graphics, and the weapons were engineering tools that made the gameplay very different. The de-limbing system was revolutionary and helped the game stay away from traditional shooting gallery problems. When I finished Dead Space it was one of the few that I played through more than once and still got a kick out of the entire experience.
I was used to Guitar Hero for years, but nothing prepared me for the show-stopping gameplay that Rock Band brought to the table. It changed the rhythm genre with the addition of the drum set and quickly became my favorite instrument. The game had deeper customization, a more streamlined multiplayer, and even featured a ton of great songs on the disc and had hundreds of DLC. I forgot about Guitar Hero for the longest time and was addicted to this bad boy. Even at the steep price range at the time it offered a unique experience that no other music rhythm game could offer.
While the second game was great the first game introduced us to the beginning of choice-based dialog that really made a difference. Mixing shooter elements with RPG was something that no one thought could be done right and BioWare nailed it. The memorable characters, amazing visuals, and the vast amount of lore and content put it at the top and helped pave the way for choice-based games. I played through this game three times and found new things each time. The excellent voice acting and facial animations were out of this world and remain a classic in my library.
Okami was a game that came out of the left-field with stunning visuals, and one of the most unusual game mechanics of all time: the Celestial Brush. It was so cool using the brush and making things reappear, using it in combat, and solving puzzles, plus the vast open-world helped push the boundaries of the aging PS2. The memorable characters, charming story, and devotion to ancient Japanese lore were mesmerizing as well as fun to watch. Okami was a one-of-a-kind experience that you couldn’t get on any other console and should be played by any fan of games.
There is no such thing as a perfect game. There never will be and that’s just the cruel hard truth. Very few games come close and that’s why I have only ever given one 10 (Gears of War). If I could go back and give games a 10 what would they be? Some almost felt perfect, but there was something there that didn’t quite make it that high. Games that get 9.5’s are usually amazing and probably the best games out, but sometimes games will sit as perfect to you whether they are technically or not. This is part 1 of 2 because there are just too many to list in one sitting. These are the game I have reviewed and sit as 10’s in my heart (in no particular order of course!)
This game pretty much changed narratives from here on out because BioShock really blew me away. Not only was the pacing perfect, but the story was dark and terrible and something imagined in nightmares. It wasn’t monsters popping up out of the closet, zombies shambling towards you, but it took humanity’s imperfections and let them loose. The gameplay had an array of amazing weapons to use, the EVE powers were great to use, and who can forget seeing a Big Daddy and Little Sister for the first time? That demo really blew me away and it was one of the few games that I could play over and over and never get bored. At the time the graphics were fantastic and helped you feel claustrophobic in that underwater utopia. With BioShock Infinite coming along I hope it hits me the same way.
Who can deny the fact that this was the true return of Mortal Kombat? The game was everything fans wanted with the best characters, excellent graphics, a simpler fight system, and the inclusion of great content for single-player users. The X-Ray moves were shocking, plus the return of superb and original Fatalities that have been lacking since MK: Deception. The game was silky smooth in the controls department, plus the addition of four DLC characters and a slew of classic costumes. I truly felt like a kid again and was basking in the feeling that MK was back and felt just like it did 20 years ago.
A puzzle game usually doesn’t get as much recognition as Portal has gotten. It has become a household name thanks to one thing that the game is named after. Portal 2 completely turns the game into a full-fledged adventure through different areas complete with scripted cinematic events. What makes Portal 2 as great as it is the voice acting and characters. Never have characters been so memorable, and being game staples is hard to become. The pacing was perfect, there was just enough content not to overwhelm you, but to make you feel like it was new and fresh. The puzzles were laid out perfectly and gave you that “AHA!” moment when you finally solved it. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed playing through the entire game and laughing through the entire thing. Portal 2 will always sit with me as one of the best games ever made.
Red Dead Redemption
Not only is Rockstar the best at making worlds you can totally get lost in, but RDR also made you believe it was real. When I played through RDR I felt like the game came to life with such accurate landscape, wonderfully played out characters, and some great missions that make you feel like they were different every time. The atmosphere was rich and bursting at the seams with depth. I never played a game where I felt like a real cowboy and felt like I was doing cowboy things that made a difference. RDR will always sit as a game that many should be based on especially open-world games because this one was perfect to me.
God of War III
God of War is the father of a lot of things. Cinematic action/adventures, quick-time events, and huge giant bosses in said action/adventures, but nothing could prepare me for GoW3. The graphics were way ahead of their time (even in this generation) and the pacing and story were just perfect. The combat was so smooth and just ran like butter across the screen. The powers you held, the weapons you got, and the puzzles were so fun that you actually savored each moment in the game. Sure, the first game made me think differently about how games should be made, but GoW3 set the standard and still is today. GoW was the first game series I could play over and over again and never get bored, and GoW3 is probably on top of all of them.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
If I had to pick my favorite game of all time this would be it. I had never spent so many hours on a game as I did in Oblivion. It set a whole new standard for RPGs. The interaction with characters, the looting, the lore, the dungeons were all just fascinating and mesmerizing. Over 100 of just minute detail that I had never seen in any game. All the books could be read, random quests from people who actually mattered because the effects would impact you later on. Being able to pick plants, the number of swords, magic, spells, tomes, shields, armor, and riding horses? It was truly a fantasy book come to life and it had never been done before in that much detail. I actually would get lost for over a dozen hours without putting the controller down and no other game could make me do that. Oblivion sits in my heart as something more than just a game, but a world I could escape in and forget about all my problems.
Assassin’s Creed II
AC2 really hit home with me because of the grand scale of the characters, story, and the just sheer amount of content in the game. I really got sucked into this world that beautifully recreated, and for once I felt like I was playing a piece of history. No other game has been capable of that, but what got me more than anything was how free I felt. Running from rooftop to rooftop and seeing and hearing shingles shift under my feet, climbing grand buildings, unfolding a deep mysterious plot, and using awesome kill moves is something of most kids’ dreams (if you’re a psycho kid like I was). The graphics were unbeatable at the time, and it still holds up as the pinnacle for free world action/adventures to this day.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Arkham Asylum set the standard for superhero games and is declared as the best one ever made. Not only was the combat silky smooth, and the fact that you were Batman, you actually did everything you could in the comics! It was unbelievable using the detective mode, swinging around with your bat claw, and scaring the daylights out of enemies by tossing a Batarang at them. How cool is that?! The excellent voice acting and all the characters from the comic helped make it the greatest superhero game ever made. EVER.
When I found out Bethesda was making Fallout 3 I knew I would be sucked into another amazing world for over a hundred hours, and I was right. Fallout 3 sucked me in just like Oblivion with tons of memorable characters, a great overarching story, but the setting and environment was the main character and drew me in. I actually felt lonely and scared walking The Capital Wasteland, and no other game made me feel that way before. I looted every corner with caution because the game felt so close to home, and you could wonder about this giant apocalypse. I really felt a sigh of relief when I found a new town and almost dreaded going back out in the wasteland alone. What kind of game can you think of that made you feel that way? Probably none.