The PlayStation Vita was a great system despite its lack of support from Sony. It had an incredibly strong first 3 years and tons of support from indie and third-party developers over the years. While Sony nailed the hardware down pat, the system was stuck in limbo between mobile gaming and Nintendo’s strong 3DS support. Here are my top ten favorite Vita games of all time. These will not include remastered compilations, HD ports, or anything that wasn’t significantly special for the Vita.
10. Borderlands 2
It may have struggled technically on the small hardware, but there were many patches put in place to make it playable. With that aside, Borderlands 2 is the best shooter on the Vita, and a lack of them didn’t help despite having twin sticks, due to the overall amount of content. We got the entire Borderlands 2 experience, plus all the DLC for $40 which was a steal. While it took a graphical hit, playing with a buddy on the go was never more fun.
9. Gravity Rush
Despite the nauseating camera, Gravity Rush was a treat to look at and featured a full console experience on the system. The characters were interesting, and the anti-gravity gameplay was one of a kind on the system. While it lacked in story and development, the game had gorgeous locales and interesting things going on.
8. Dragon’s Crown
A Vanillaware game is always something to get excited about, but having one on Vita is something more special. The game looked fantastic on Sony’s OLED screen and featured fantastic co-op gameplay with responsive controls and interesting characters. The game may have been short, but the experience was something to remember.
7. Muramasa: Rebirth
Muramasa was one of the best games on the Wii and having it ported to the Vita was a pleasant surprise. Not only did the system get this exclusive to remaster, but it played better than the original. With Vanillaware’s gorgeous visual design it played buttery smooth on the Vita with plenty of DLC, challenging combat, and interesting characters. It remains one of the best Vita games of all time.
6. Uncharted: Golden Abyss
While Golden Abyss didn’t push the series into new directions and played it safe, it was a solid Uncharted adventure that showed off the power of the Vita. Very few games achieved this graphical showcase and all the controls, combat, and adventuring were as smooth as ever. The lack of originality hurt the game a bit, but Nathan is as charming as ever in this adventure.
5. DJ Max: Technika Tune
You won’t see this game on most people’s top ten lists. This is one of the few good rhythm games on Vita and it takes advantage of all the hardware. The DJ Max series was a popular Korean rhythm genre on PSP, and its debut on the Vita is fantastic. With prompts displaying over music videos, the game is addictive with various taps, buttons presses, and modes. This game got me into K-Pop thanks to the game’s front-runner group KARA being featured with several videos.
The makers of LittleBigPlanet pull a fantastic game out of their hat that makes this the single most unique game on the system. It cleverly uses all of the hardware’s features with bright, vivid visuals and fun puzzles. Sadly, the game is really easy and extremely short (less than 4 hours long), and sadly we will never see a sequel.
3. Killzone: Mercenary
The single best FPS on the system, Killzone was the first with the budget of the franchises console brethren, Mercenary is probably the single best looking game on the system and plays amazingly well. With a solid campaign and fun online multiplayer and challenges, this is your go-to shooter.
2. Mortal Kombat
One of the best fighters on the system, and the game I got most excited about for this system. While the game took a mysteriously questionable graphical downgrade, the entire 2011 game is intact with exclusive Challenge Tower modes and all DLC characters. The fighting is smooth, fun, and the only MK game on the system.
1.Persona 4: Golden
While I never finished this game, and I don’t know if I ever will, this game probably gives you the most bang for your buck. A whopping 40-50 hour JRPG with remastered visuals from the PS2 game and added content for $40, it’s a damn steal. The story is brilliant, the combat system is amazing, and there’s something here for everyone. Patience is needed, and some level of grinding, but once you get into the swing of the game you won’t put it down. This is what we needed more of on the Vita and sadly, we didn’t get it.
10. Crysis — This is what showed me what true PC gaming is capable of. When I bought my high-end Alienware laptop back in 2010 this was the first game I played on it. It was non-linear, looked gorgeous in DirectX 10, had fantastic shooting mechanics, and had great abilities and weapons. Sadly, the story sucked, but I didn’t play it for that. Even today, Crysis is used as a benchmark for PCs (more Crysis 3 these days), and I still go back every so often to play through this on new PC hardware. It was ported over to Xbox 360 years later but still didn’t look that good.
9. Battlefield 1 — I usually don’t put recent games in these lists as they haven’t stood the test of time yet, but Battlefield 1 was so good, so new, and so fresh in a decade full of mundane and boring shooters that I feel how can it not stand the test of time? The graphics are phenomenal, fantastic short story single-player missions, and some of the best multiplayer I have ever played. With unique weapons and great gadgets, how can you go wrong here?
8. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault — When I first got into PC gaming back in the mid-2000 I played Allied Assault and realized why everyone said the PC versions were superior to consoles. The game looked amazing and the campaign was so well done and was so memorable that I wish it would be remastered. While Frontlinewas my favorite console MoH, Allied Assault stands as the best in the series.
7. Quake II — While I had the inferior N64 version, I still enjoyed this game so much and played it multiple times, but sadly missed out on multiplayer. It had a strong single-player mode and the weapons and levels were so well done that later on, I played it on PC just to frag people online. Quake II is the best in the series and was a great rival to Unreal Tournament back in the day.
6. Halo 2 — For the longest time I HATED Halo with a passion. I was a HUGE PlayStation fanboy and I remember when Killzone came out I was laughing at the Xbox fanboys saying they were going down, only to realize how mediocre Killzone was. Years later I got over this stigma and started playing the games on Xbox 360 and loved Halo 2. It was original, fresh, the single-player campaign was the best in the series, and the multiplayer was like no other.
5. Unreal Tournament 2004 — While I loved the original, I had to play it in a 320×240 window on my 800×600 CRT monitor back in the day because my PC wouldn’t run it. I still managed to play online and beat the hell out of people, but later I had a PC that could run 2004 decently and I spent dozens of hours fragging people online. It’s still fun to this day and I wish I could experience the sheer rush of multiplayer in this game again.
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 — While the first had a better single-player campaign, the second game had perfect multiplayer. The maps were brilliantly designed, the weapons were perfectly balanced, and the perks and upgrades were fun to unlock. I even wrote my own map guide for this game. Call of Duty has gone downhill since, but this remains one of my top multiplayer games of all time.
3. Gears of War — This game is one of my all-time favorites period. It was what showed me what the next-gen consoles could do and PCs couldn’t. I fell in love with the series and beat the game multiple times on each difficulty. Since then I have been a diehard Gears fan by owning and reading all the novels and closely following the lore. It’s one of the few shooters out there that has story and character to back up its gameplay.
2. BioShock — BioShockwas one of those games I was dying to play since it was announced at E3. I followed this game closely all the way to release and played through the game a few times over. The lore, story, characters, atmosphere, gameplay, just everything about this game was perfect. Yes, it wasn’t System Shock, but I had never played that series so I couldn’t compare it. BioShock had a less than spectacular sequel and Infinitetook the series in a new direction.
Half-Life 2 — This is by far my favorite FPS of all time. The game is just perfect and holds up even today. With the game being told in real time and not taking the player out the situation was something new back in 2004. The level design was perfect, the guns felt great, the atmosphere was lonely and foreboding. I have played this game more than probably any other and with the countless mods and enhancements, you can’t go wrong. Some people don’t understand this game because it’s slower paced and not full of explosions. The story is told not just through dialog but through the world as well, and gamers these days just don’t get that sort of treatment anymore.
The PSP was one of the systems I spent the most time growing up with. I saved up for it with an allowance over the course of 9 months, hacked it to death, bought nearly every iteration, and broke one of them. It was a vital part of my teenage years and I spent hundreds of hours glued to it in my room after school and on weekends. I still play the PSP to this day and I am still discovering great games I missed out on. Below are the top ten I loved the most growing up with, and while these may not all be amazing to some people, these are the ones that meant the most to me.
10. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords— Who would have thought that match-three puzzle games could be so damn addictive and good? I was working during this time and it kept me going through dozens of long and boring shifts. I spent 40 hours in this game and grew fond of match 3 puzzle games. With RPG elements combined with Bejeweled-style gameplay, there was a lot going on here. With dozens of side quests, an entertaining story, and great visuals, this is one of the most underrated PSP games out there.
9. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII — While I wasn’t big into the FF7 reboot series Square announced, I was following it and respected it. Crisis Core was a PSP exclusive and sold units like hotcakes. I remember waiting in anticipation for this game as it looked gorgeous and played really well. While the story was forgettable, and the game was short, it’s still worth playing if you are a Final Fantasy fan or just want a fun action game.
8. DJ Max Portable 2 — DJ Max was a series that didn’t get any attention here in the states as it was a Japan and Korea exclusive. I followed the DJ Max scene closely and fell in love with the rhythm game as it is still the best on the system. While we finally got DJ Max 3 and Fever, Portable 2 has the best K and J-Pop tunes out of all of them. There were three spin-offs known as Hot Tunes and Clazziquai and Black Square, but they were mostly forgettable. If you can find a copy online grab it as you will be hooked like I was.
7. Tomb Raider Anniversary — While I couldn’t play this on PC I risked playing it on PSP and it turned out to be an exact port of the PS2 version with all controls and content intact. This is a seriously overlooked game which is a shame as it plays really well and looks amazing on the PSP. From start to finish the game will keep you interested and remains one of the best action games on the system.
6. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix — This game is also overlooked a lot despite being a definitive edition of THUG2. Everything from the game is included plus an extra level and more music. The game played flawlessly and was seamlessly transitioned to PSP. I spent dozens of hours playing this game and still go back to it to this day.
5. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories — Probably the single most anticipated game on the system it made a huge splash in the game industry and sold PSP more than any other game. Having a living breathing GTA world in your pocket was unheard of at the time. Sure we have all the GTAs on mobile phones, but this was a huge technical achievement for Rockstar back in the day. While the visuals looked dated, and the controls were fidgety, the game played just like a GTA game. Vice City Stories improved the series and Chinatown Wars was probably the best of the three. With this version, I will never forget how awesome it was to play a GTA game in the palm of your hand.
4. Ridge Racer — This was the first game I ever played on the system and was pre-ordered with it. The game looked fantastic and played so well. This is considered a “best-of” for the series and was the last great Ridge Racer. While it doesn’t quite hold up today, it’s still worth owning if you’re a Ridge Racer fan or love the amazing racers on PSP.
3. Burnout Legends — This was a personal favorite as I was so excited for it. I had a poster of it in my room and couldn’t wait for the game to be launched. I was highly skeptical, as was everyone else, but the game held a steady 30FPS and was fast-paced and felt just like Burnout 3. This is probably the best racing game on PSP, but the entire genre dominated the handheld.
2. God of War: Ghost of Sparta — While Chains of Olympus was one of my most anticipated games for the system, Ghost of Sparta blew my mind away as being the single best looking game on the system. It seriously looked like a PS2 game and there was detail in this game that was never seen in any other PSP game. The combat was better, the story was bigger, and is still regarded as one of the best games in the series.
1. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror — While Logan’s Shadow is superior, Dark Mirror was the most played PSP game for me as I even made a full walkthrough for it. The game is the best shooter with the best use of controls and that’s being able to strafe with the D-pad and aim with the nub. It felt reversed from other controllers, but I quickly adapted. Sadly, most shooters on the system wouldn’t allow you to swap controls. The game was full of secrets, and the story was great for hardcore Syphon Filter fans like myself. Sadly, the series hasn’t been mentioned since Logan’s Shadow and completely missed a PS3 game and hopefully will be rebooted on PS4.
The top ten are usually overdone and this is because of the constant peer pressure of creating the overall technically best, or highest-scoring best, or what’s socially acceptable as the best. Most people are afraid to do their favorite they grew up with. Some may have never played Final Fantasy VII like me. In fact, the only Final Fantasy game I played on PS1 was FF8. Back in the day, we were limited to the games we could play. What our parents couldn’t afford to buy we rented and what we couldn’t rent we talked about. There were no Let’s Plays on YouTube or video walkthroughs. It was all word of mouth, reviews in magazines, and what your friends talked about in school and at the game store. Usually, all you could go buy was what was on the back of the box and I miss those days. This is going to be my personal top ten favorite PS1 games.
10. Vandal Hearts — This was one of the last PS1 games I bought while games were still available in retail stores. I wasn’t too big into SRPGs at the time, but I loved Final Fantasy Tactics on GBA and thought the darker and more violent tone would appeal to me more. The story is something I have forgotten over time, but I’ll never forget those cool bloody animations when you defeat an enemy. Blood explodes as the characters disintegrate into gore and it was so satisfying to see. The game was fast-paced and brutal, but rewarding if you thought about every move first. I remember trying so hard to finish this game and the difficulty got the better of me.
9. Die Hard Trilogy — This may seem like an odd choice, but it was a random purchase toward the end of the system’s life and was only $10. I popped the game in and was instantly hooked on the first game that was a light gun shooter. It was a blast and felt challenging and fast-paced, I’m still not sure if I ever beat that one. The second one was a third-person shooter where you wander around a building climbing floors and killing everyone inside. This was more brutal than the first and I never made it past floor ten. The third game was a driving one and it was so hard and confusing I never got past the first five minutes, but even to this day I still pop this game in every so often and kill some bad guys.
8. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped — This was a game I picked up towards the end of the system’s life, but I had rented it earlier on. The game was challenging and getting 100% on every level was so addictive, and I remember the game played so smoothly, looked great, and combined everything that was amazing from the first two games and made it better. More mini-games, more variety in levels, and just more to do. This is one of the most polished platformers ever made, and thankfully Naughty Dog went on to create more masterpieces.
7. Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon — While I played and finished the first two games, the third was is the most polished of the three and the last good Spyro game on consoles (the GBA versions were pretty decent). There were more mini-games, more levels, more enemies, and just more everything plus it was polished and sparkly. This is one of the best platformers ever made and shows just how amazing the PS1 library was.
6. Mortal Kombat Trilogy — I spent more time on this game than most and it was because the 64-bit era wasn’t full of Mortal Kombat games. The only game in the main series released was MK4 and I didn’t play it all that much as I had a preference for the 2D versions. Mortal Kombat 3 was ported, but Trilogy was a “best of” for the series at the time. I played this to death on N64 as well, but the PS1 was the best as it had more characters and played smoother. Having every single character up to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, playable bosses for the first time ever, every level ever made including some from MK1, it was just fantastic. It was a gore fest and is still my favorite MK game to date.
5. Gran Turismo — This game got me into racers and simulators, to begin with. With Gran Turismo, I wouldn’t appreciate or know what I do about cars today. While I’m not a mechanic I know more than the average person and can identify nearly every car on the road. My dad was the one who pushed me to play this game and I learned to be patient with this game. A seven-year-old playing a 100 lap race is a rare sight. The graphics were amazing and the car physics were astounding. I skipped GT2 and went on to master Gran Turismo 3 for PS2.
4. Final Fantasy VIII— Believe it not, and as embarrassing, as it is to admit it, FF8 was the first Final Fantasy game I ever played. I probably never would have played even that if I hadn’t received it as a trade with a neighbor for some SNES games. I remember the opening FMV cinematic was unlike anything I had ever seen and I still remember the music to this day. I never beat the game though as it was very difficult and required dozens of hours and maybe one day I will. I loved the story, characters, art, enemy styles, and everything about it. It was also the first PS1 game I ever saw that had 4 discs. However, it helped propel me into the JRPG scene and was probably the first one I ever truly played. Yes, I never played a single one on SNES or Genesis, but I got there eventually didn’t I?
3. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 — This game impacted my childhood more than any other. It made me actually start skateboarding. I rented books from the library on how to do tricks and was even before I got into Tech Decks. I played THPS1 quite a bit, but I didn’t quite get into it as I did with THPS2. The levels were perfect, the gameplay was perfect, the trick system added manuals and the graphics were better. There were more levels (I live right to Ventura where Skate Street used to be located). I remember saving replays on my memory card and taking them over to friends’ houses and they couldn’t believe the lines I could do. The cheats were super fun and the game has endless replayability. It still doesn’t beat out THPS3, but that version was awful on PS1.
2. Silent Hill — This was actually accidental for me. I forgot the name of Syphon Filter as my dad has just returned it and I had only gotten through a few levels. I knew it started with an “S” so I just picked up a two-word game starting with “S”. I popped it in and immediately realized I was wrong, but I was still intrigued. The game was frightening but not at first. It just felt like a gloomy horror game, but this was my first 3D horror game ever. When I got to the alley with the gurneys and skinless dogs I screamed, turned off the PS1, and my mom returned the game right away. For the longest time, she wouldn’t allow me to re-rent it or even buy it. I got only two hours into the game, but it’s two hours I will never forget.
1. Syphon Filter — This game is one of the closest games to my heart. It was a bonding experience with my dad (who passed away last year) and is the game I played the most on PS1 growing up. It was the first third-person shooter I ever played and something about the story, characters, level design, and gameplay amazed me. It was addictive, fun, and I have probably finished this game close to dozens of times. My dad and I would sit and learn every enemy placement, patrol path, every weapon location, and every box and crate on the level. We would compete to see who could finish the game the fastest with and without the one-shot kill code. Syphon Filter 2 was just as big of an impact on my gaming life as the first, but the original was the beginning.
This is where I just started to get into games in a serious manner. I was way behind at this point and wasn’t on top of the latest games. I was only able to play what I saw at the game store and rental store. I didn’t read gaming magazines, and I didn’t even know reviews existed on the internet yet. This was back when there was still 56K dial-up and broadband had just surfaced in 2000. I didn’t even get on a computer until 1998 and even then I had no idea what the internet even was. The internet was still in its infancy before it turned into the pile of crap it is today.
This 10 ten list is a bit weird because I played a very small group of games. Mostly action games. While I played games like Metal Gear Solid I didn’t like it because it was too hard to understand. I couldn’t understand Resident Evil, I had never played a Tomb Raider game before (just saw it) and I never played or even heard about Final Fantasy VII until after I got my PS2. I had never played Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Mario 64, or any of the good stuff. I actually grew up mostly playing the crap with a few gems thrown in there. The older crowd ate those games up, but I have memories of hating the games. While I enjoy the games now — I didn’t as a kid. I actually didn’t get my PS1 until 1996 and my N64 until 1999, and I wasn’t out there playing all the latest and greatest. Think of this top ten as a mere trip down memory lane. While I have gone back and played many others I missed I just want to stick with my childhood.
I actually borrowed this game from a friend while they borrowed my copy of Syphon Filter. The game was weird and the art style didn’t really click with me, but I remember it being very fun and also extremely hard. I had no idea where to go (I still don’t to this day) and the story was really zany. I also remember how great the game looked, and this was one of the few games that I played that wasn’t crappy.
9. Winback: Covert Operations
I didn’t have a PS1 anymore so I needed the next great stealth action game, and the N64 didn’t really have any. Winback was great because it had good controls for the N64 and graphics. The bosses were fun to fight and I just remember playing this over and over to beat my high scores. This wouldn’t make it on to a top 20 list let alone the top 10. Most people would choose Zelda, Mario, or Crash Bandicoot, but I was sitting there playing WInback. Go figure.
While I also loved MK4 I actually played this more. I wasn’t really into the 3D fighters and I preferred the 2D feeling of the MK games. I bought this on PS1 when it came out along with the N64 when I got that. I played the N64 version until the cartridge stopped working. I did every -ality in the game learned everyone’s combos, and wished I still had the PS1 version. I loved the zero loading times, but having characters missing sucked. I played this with friends and probably played this more than any N64 game.
7. Syphon Filter 2
I was so stoked for this game when my dad came home with it from Blockbuster. I had no idea a second one existed because I didn’t know how to look for that online and I didn’t read gaming magazines. I freaked out and begged him to let me play first. I finished the entire first disc in one sitting. The graphics were awesome, and despite not being able to understand the story, I dug it. The game was really improved over the first and I remember screaming, “Oh my god! TWO discs?!” That was double the Syphon Filter love. I later remember on his birthday that year we drove to a game store in the local mall and he bought it for $30. That was also when during the trip, he explained to me how babies were made.
6. Silent Hill
I actually played this game on accident. I couldn’t remember the name for Syphon Filter so this looked close enough. The box was just white with the game disc in it and just the name. I took it home and when I saw what was on screen I realized it wasn’t Syphon Filter. My mom came home from work that day and watched me run down an alley from a bloody skinless dog. My sister started crying and I freaked out after being chased by the dog after getting the pistol from Cybil Bennet. I turned the game off and freaked out. My mom then later took me back and that’s when I exchanged it for Spyro the Dragon! The game was so atmospheric and is still one of the scariest games ever made. It set the bar for horror games and I just so happened to accidentally stumble across it.
5. Spyro the Dragon
This was one of the best adventures I played on PS1. It was bright and colorful and felt like a cartoon. I was a freaking dragon! I loved collecting all the gems and the levels were so cleverly designed. The story was heartwarming and the various things you did felt different from other mundane adventure games on PS1 and even N64. Both my sisters loved it as well and I only ever played the second Spyro before saying it was a kid’s game. I never got around to Spyro 3, which is the best one in the entire series.
4. Final Fantasy VIII
This was the first JRPG I had ever played. I traded my SNES and all the games for this, Syphon Filter, and a few other PS1 games. I remember seeing the opening cut scene and running to get my parents to show them. Of course, when the game actually started I was seriously let down. I remember the story and never get past disc 2. It was hard as hell and I just couldn’t understand the fight system. I also had no idea where to go half the time. It was a lot of fun, and with this being the first JRPG I ever played it led me to pursue them later on as I grew up.
3. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
Killing dinosaurs! Oh, man! This was probably the second game on N64 that I spent the most time on. My dad and I would sit and figure out every single secret there was. This was actually the first game where I finally figured out FAQs exist. We printed it out and sat there finding everything in the game. I remember how vast the game was and how well the levels were designed. They were so unique and the dinosaurs were fun to kill. I don’t remember the story at all, but there are a lot of great memories here. Surprisingly I never played any other Turok game until much later.
2. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
I remember going to a friend’s house and his drugged-out brother was playing this. It looked so exhilarating and everyone in school was talking it right next to Pokemon. Everyone held their copy sacred and wouldn’t let anyone borrow it. I just couldn’t get a hold of a copy! I didn’t get to play it until much later when I got an N64 and it was so much fun! The controls were perfect, the trick system was amazing, and I completed every level 100% several times over. It still holds up today and is so much fun.
While some people would put FF7 or Metal Gear Solid up here, it was Syphon Filter for me. The best third-person action game to ever grace the console. The level design was perfect, the guns felt and sounded like their real-world counterpart, and I discovered every single secret in that game and remembered every enemy placement. I still play it to this day and still remember everything. I rented this game multiple times, bought it 5 times over, and love it to death. The characters are memorable, the story is interesting, and it just felt so advanced for its time.
While I wish I could put Metal Gear and FF7 and even Tekken 3 up here, I never played them as a kid. I was between 6-10 during the 64-bit era so I couldn’t understand those games. If I put up a top 10 list for just the best one’s period…well everyone does that. No one puts up the list for how they remember it. I wish I played more games as a kid. I did try out Starfox 64 and didn’t like it. I watched a friend play GoldenEye and I couldn’t understand it. I played crappy games like S.W.A.R.M., Glover, S.C.A.R.S, Transformers: Beast Wars, Bio Freaks, Hybrid Heaven, and other horror games. I rented them time after time and didn’t understand the good games so I was screwed. I hope this feature brought back your fond memories of the 64-bit era.
1080 Snowboarding | System Played: N64 | Why: Graphics, Tony Hawk on Snowboard
Conker’s Bad Fur Day | System Played: N64 | Why: Graphics, Humor
Crash Bandicoot 2: Wrath of Cortex | System Played: PS1 | Why: Graphics, Platforming
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
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.