The long-awaited Infinite expansion set in Rapture is out and about. I honestly didn’t know what to really expect from this other than more questions and fan service of Rapture. The story started out very similarly to BioShock 1 where you are riding down the bathysphere into Rapture. It brought back a lot of great memories and was happy to see the beautiful Elizabeth throughout the whole chapter. What I wasn’t happy about was the length, the gameplay, and the lack of anything memorable.
u feels more like one level from a full game. The one level that is really just action more than the story. It doesn’t pick up at all until the last 2 minutes of the ending which is both shocking, and expected and gives us more questions than answers. The same Infinite guns are back but only one new power and that is Old Man Winter. Not much different from the freeze power in BioShock 1. It can freeze running water to make a bridge and that’s about it. I ran around closing vents to draw Sally out (the girl who Booker must get back) and not much else. The ammo is extremely scarce so you will be scrounging for it more than any other moment in previous BioShock games. You also don’t get the full arsenal in Infinite, and nothing much else has changed gameplay-wise.
The setting is fantastic, however. The underwater city is memorable and it’s great to be back before it went to crap from the previous games. We are seeing the calm before the storm here. The Little Sister program is starting and so are the new Plasmids. It’s very interesting to see how things are happening when everything was prosperous and fun in the underwater utopia. Another great addition is the return of Sander Cohen who is probably the most insane person in Rapture. This section is memorable but dies out quickly with more boring shooting and getting lost in hallways.
Outside of the interesting ending, there’s not much else. This was a real disappointment of how long everyone waited. The gamer who just played Infinite and moved on shouldn’t even bother. This DLC is mainly for hardcore fans actually wanting the ending in Episode Three rather than the tidbits from each episode.
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.
BioShock is awesome! Buy it! That is probably all you need for a review, but that’s not a review really. Anyways, if you don’t know the plot of BioShock then you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months. You play a nobody named Jack who crashes in a plane and discovers Rapture: A failed underwater city whose founder, Andrew Ryan, turns crazy and all the people of Rapture have gone nuts. They go nuts due to the plasmids they use to gain power. Also, the ADAM that can make you turn into anything you want is very valuable and is the key to Rapture. The Little Sisters gather the ADAM and the Big Daddies protect them. The story is full of plot twists and secrets. It’s probably one of the most original stories in any game period. The gameplay is like the average shooter if you want it to be or can it can be a genetically enhanced one. That’s the beauty of BioShock. It can be anything you want it to be boring, fun, stupid, lame it’s all up to you.
The game’s narrative is one-of-a-kind and what most games copy these days. The story is told through radio transmissions with no cutscenes. That is extremely hard to do while keeping the player interested. Atlas guides you around telling you how to get to Andrew Ryan, but the world around you also tells the story of Rapture through audio diaries, things written on walls, and what the psychotic enemies blurt out. This is a rare form of storytelling in games and is why BioShock is such a classic.
The graphics stand up pretty well today with DirectX 10 enhancements, but they are so subtle you won’t even notice. There are supposed to be better water effects and physics, but I didn’t notice a difference except your steps cause ripples in the water now. There are lots of graphical problems on the PC that were never addressed, but they don’t hinder the game much. The game is very surreal and it just sucks you in. The big thing here is the gene splicing and all the plasmids. There are so many of them and you can do whatever you want with them. You can shoot fire from your hands or freeze your enemy with an ice blast. There are others as well that let you gain more health or hack turrets and safes better and faster. There is just so much detail here it’s nuts. You can use a camera and research your enemies to learn their weaknesses and gain new plasmids and tonics. The only disappointment was the lack of any multiplayer whatsoever. All you can do is play this game to experience the true beauty of it all. BioShock is one of the best games in years and I assure you will have more fun with BioShock than Halo 3 or Metroid.
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.
Shooters probably take the most flak from gamers and tend to be the most hated. Most gamers don’t like shooters due to their true-to-life reenactments, or just killing people with guns doesn’t sit well with most. No doubt shooters helped push consoles graphics-wise, and have some great stories to tell, and excellent cinematic moments.
Black Ops not only has astounding multiplayer, but the single-player campaign is probably one of the best this year when it comes to shooters. Most shooters have shallow stories, but Black Ops’ Vietnam/Cold War story is gripping, with some of the best set pieces seen in shooters. Excellent graphics, memorable characters, and awesome weapons make this a winner.
The city of Rapture. Full of life, love, elegance, beauty, innovation, and Big Daddy’s. Well…that’s how it used to be before the civil war broke out for whom has the most Adam. BioShock 2 takes place ten years after the initial fall of Rapture and instead of playing as the nobody you play as a Big Daddy. Not just any Big Daddy though you play as one of the first Delta models that helped build Rapture. After your daughter, Eleanor, wakes you up out of a cold dead sleep you must find her and stop the evil Dr. Lamb from destroying Rapture and using the Splicers to commit her evil deeds.
The first thing I have to say is you MUST play BioShock 1 before even going into this game or you won’t know what’s going on. There are so many tie-ins to the original game that newcomers won’t have a clue. With that said this review is mainly for fans of the original. I also have to wear those fans that BioShock 2 isn’t as good as the first one, but has lots of much-needed improvements and a pretty fun multiplayer, so let’s get to it.
The first thing you will notice is that you have a drill. Yes, a nice big drill to cut those damn Splicers up. Of course, the drill takes fuel to use (sorry can’t have you just drilling people away…yeah…), but the biggest change is that you can use Plasmids and weapons without having to switch. Your left-hand uses Plasmids (LT) and you’re right-hand uses a weapon (RT). This is great for faster combat and makes it less cumbersome. All of your favorite weapons from BioShock have returned but with a twist.
As you can tell all the weapons need to be handled with one hand so you get a double-barrel shotgun (replaces the original pump action), a minigun (replaces the Tommy gun), the grenade launcher, and instead of a crossbow we get an awesome spear gun…yes and you can even impale enemies to walls. With that said there are some new weapons that are very handy such as the hacking gun (more on that later), which can also shoot out auto-turrets which are great for defending yourself against hordes of enemies. You can lay traps with proximity mines, spear traps, and even some new traps from the rivet gun which you can pick up later if any weren’t detonated. The shotgun has a couple of new types of ammo for you to use and these are the slug rounds that knock enemies across the room and phosphorus rounds which look like sparklers that explode all over the enemy. You can use antipersonnel rounds, armor-piercing rounds, etc. for the situation at hand. When you get to Power to the People stations to upgrade your weapons a third hidden one will become available that adds an extra “hell yeah” to your weapons. For example, the third upgrade for the shotgun adds electric charges to shots for extra damage.
One greatly improved element is hacking. In the original, we had to do this Pipe Mania type mini-game, but that has been scrapped and everything is done in real-time while playing via a moving needle on a meter. Green areas are good and red areas have tripper alarms. Blue areas give you bonuses such as turrets doing extra damage or vending machines giving you free items. This is a huge improvement over the original and it keeps the game flowing.
Being a Big Daddy obviously requires you to protect Little Sisters and that’s exactly what you do. Instead of just killing their Daddy and then harvesting them you can adopt them and go find “Angels” to harvest Adam out of. Once the Sisters are all full you can harvest them for tons of Adam or free them. Gathering Adam isn’t an easy task because once you start Splicers start coming out of the woodworks with no mercy. Set up traps and find a good vantage point before setting the Sister down and usually, you can make it through just fine. If you decide to take the merciless harvesting route watch out for the new Big Sisters which are fast mean chicks who don’t mess around. They are harder to take down than Big Daddies and require a lot o firepower to be prepared.
One last little tidbit is the research. Instead of taking pictures of enemies you now have a movie camera. You whip it out and start filming a splicer and the faster you take it down the higher the research rating you’ll get. Research enough and you will get special bonuses and even a secret tonic.
Now that most of the new features are out of the way you’re probably asking “What hasn’t changed?” A lot in fact and I could boldly say the developers played it too safe with this game. Everything is pretty much exactly the same as the original, the art style, the graphics, the menus, the sounds, and even the splicers’ animations are exactly the same. The only new splicer is the Brute splicer (Tank from Left 4 Dead anyone?) and the Big Sister, but that’s about it. All the plasmids are the same, tonics, with few new exceptions. You get a ton more tonic slots, but everything is the same. The other problem too is that the game get’s extremely repetitive. After the first level, you’ve pretty much seen all of what BioShock 2 has to offer. The narrative isn’t as memorable as the original, but the game is still excellent. All of these things staying isn’t so bad since they work, but a whole new approach would have been nice. The graphics are slightly updated, but other than that you won’t see any changes there.
The multiplayer is pretty fun, but it’s an acquired taste. Multiplayer feels more like the first game, you can use plasmids and research other players for bonuses, level up, etc. but it’s kind of short-lived. You can find Big Daddy suits, and there is pretty much every game type you can imagine including protecting Little Sisters and taking down Bid Daddies. The hype about the multiplayer was the narrative standpoint since that’s never been down before. As you level up you will receive messages that let you know what Rapture was like before the civil war.
All in all BioShock 2 is a solid sequel with fun multiplayer, but the developers just played it too safe in the end. I would have liked to see some more bold moves, but what we get is a wonderful package to enjoy.
SPECIAL EDITION: If you paid the extra $40 for the special edition you’re in for a treat. Being the biggest game box I have ever seen the SE packs in a lot of extras for die-hard fans. The SE includes a vinyl record of the soundtrack, the CD version, four posters that represent the in-game ads, as well as a 164-page book about how BioShock 2 was developed. After reading this book you can really tell every idea was scrapped and they just stuck with the original ideas. It seemed the developers were too scared to stray off the familiar path which was a disappointment.