Friday, January 01, 2010

Games of the Decade: #35 - #31

#35: Super Smash Bros Melee (2001)
Substitue Brawl if you prefer it but Melee is the Smash Bros title that won my heart and it remains my favourite GameCube title of all those that I own. The gameplay alone would be enough to win it a star placing in any list of fighting games or party games, but the illustrious cross-franchise roster of characters (that lets you beat Pikachu with a baseball bat) and the obsessive level of Nintendo fan service contained in every aspect of the title take it shooting out in front as one of the greatest titles released on any platform, ever.

#34: Final Fantasy X (2001)
PlayStation 2
I personally think Final Fantasy X is the best traditional JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) released this decade and its lifetime sales figures seem to agree. Whether or not it compares to to the much-loved Final Fantasy VII is open to debate but it kicks the spit out of the anemic and lifeless XII. Yuna's Sending dance remains one of the best and most beautiful cinematic cutscenes in any game ever, the Sphere Grid was a levelling system possessed of extraordinary depth and flexibility, and the characters were lively and filled with a real energy and personality that the angst-ridden archetypes of other games only aspire to.

#33: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
PC, XBox
If Morrowind isn't the best Western RPG of the decade it's only because of the surprising depth and vitality that that genre has engjoyed over the last ten years. Offering a wide, vibrant world to explore that allowed players to set their own goals and their own methods of achieving them, it was an experience of a scope and ambition not seen since the excellent Ultima VII. It was marginally superior to its more linear successor, Oblivion, and were it not for Bioware's twin offerings of Mass Effect and Dragon Age it could easily have claimed the decade's RPG throne.

#32: The Darkness (2007)
XBox 360
The Darkness takes a break from running and gunning - although there's plenty of running and gunning - to let you sit down with your in-game girlfriend and watch the entirety of the film To Kill A Mockingbird as your girlfriend drifts off to sleep. The scene lasts 128 minutes (the length of the film) or until you get bored and turn off the television. It's the most notable example of a dedication to characterisation, pacing, and miniscule details that permeates the entirety of one of the decade's most masterful and criminally overlooked games.

#31: Mirror's Edge (2008)
PlayStation 3, XBox 360, PC
To say that Mirror's Edge is anything less than an amazing achievement says more about you than it does about Mirror's Edge. The game has only grown on me with time. It offers a sense of speed, mass, momentum and agility that no game before or since has captured, it delivers a clean and beautiful visual aesthetic, and it says more about the role of guns in videogames and in society with two simple mechanics than the entirety of the gaming industry combined has said before or since. Good film has never had to be accessible film and the same is true of good gaming; Mirror's Edge is good - damn good - and that's something that I believe that more and more people will realise with time.


Grant said...

I appreciate the intent of Mirror's Edge a lot more than the execution, which was too fiddly and irritating for me to properly enjoy. But the aesthetic, and the concept, and parts of the gameplay - brilliant.

I really do hope they make a sequel to build on the promise of the original.

Paul said...

Totally agree with you on most of those, especially Morrowind and Mirror's Edge. I was like Grant with Mirror's Edge at first but like you say it did grow on me... to the point where I went for Test of Faith on maximum difficulty and somehow did it, despite the game's occasionally poor level design. I think that was perhaps a fit of madness though. :P