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Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Decade in Review: Part 3

The 10 Best Vid-ja Games (as Hank Hill would say) of the 00's

10 Wii Sports
Nobody really thought much of the Wii. And looking at this it looked like an N64 game with weird heads. But after a few minutes playing tennis or golf with this game you just absolutely had to have one. The game and the system that brought casual gamers and families back to video games, it also resulted in the unheard of: gamers working up a sweat.

9 Mass Effect
Improving on Star Wars:Knights of the Old Republic, this epic sci-fi RPG set new standards for the cinematic influence on video games, as well as the amount of variability involved in RPG's. Solid voice acting, and a great story (Star Wars via the new BSG) make up for some lack of variety in the side missions.

8 Wii Fit
A video game which may begin to make up for all the ills created by video games on the past few generations, this is a fun and easy way to get into shape or at least off the couch. Wii fit 2's even better but this set the standard.

7 Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil finally got a control set that didn't result in you throwing the controller at the TV, and made this one fun FPS that was scary, intense, and cinematic, though at times a bit silly. The masterpiece of the short-lived Gamecube.

6 Civilization IV
It wasn't flashy, but it's probably the best sim game of its kind. Straightforward enough for casual player, but deep enough for the hardened sim vet.

5 GTA: San Andreas
The best of the GTA's this was the first of the more serious entries in the series (though you could still wield a chain-saw) creating a massive playable world and putting your character in a morally difficult position trying to save his family while fighting gang war-fare and police corruption.

4 Fallout 3
Probably the best looking, most immersive and massive video game world ever created, and it may also be the most addictive game ever made. Centering around a family mystery in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C., but giving the player free reign over everything this combined the first person shooter (though you could chose to be in third) and RPG like nothing had before. A 1st person RPG is one of those ideas that you think would have caught on before this, adding more immersion in the RP part. Luckily, after this, there are several first person RPG's in the pipeline.

3 Rock Band 2
Sure, Guitar Hero resulted in the first video-game related-sports injury (a pitcher missing a start due to Guitar elbow) but it was Rock Band 2, with its improved vocal and drum peripherals and display that allowed anyone to realize their dream of rocking out to classic songs in full power in front of a crazy crowd. As close as most of us will ever get to rock-stardom, then again we also don't have to worry about a string of re-hab stints...

2 Half-life 2
How do you follow up the greatest game of all-time? Well, sadly it was wait almost a decade. Sure, it was gorgeous, had insanely groundbreaking physics, and gave a half-life fan everything they could possibly want; except for maybe we'll get the story resolved around 2025? The Steam experiment seems to have worked for Valve, and the mod friendly platform allowed for some of the best mods and standalone indie games around.

1 Bioshock
This is the first video game I ever played that I kept playing for the story. Sure it had an awesome art-deco gone to hell design, had some freaky drug-addled baddies in rabbit masks, and was one terrific FPS that gave us some terribly creative powers to play with and threw in some RPG elements as well, but this was the first game where I was fully immersed in the story. From the opening plane crash to its paradigm smashing twist, this is a brilliant story, a moving meta-narrative that stands as a rebuttal against Ryand-ian objectivism, and at the same time is personal story that asks us to consider what it means to be human; the player is asked to make very distinctive moral decisions. What may be the first great masterpiece of interactive media.

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