20: Shadow Hearts: Covenant: This game isn’t far off of Shadow Hearts, and it is more detailed and more advanced, but it seems to involve a lot more running around than Shadow Hearts did, and the story is also pretty good. But the characters are definitely a bit goofier, and so it doesn’t quite have the charm of Shadow Hearts. But the additions are good … if, again, tending towards goofy rather than serious.
19: Wizardry 8: This is the game that can distract me with itself. The mix of classes is good and the personalities really make for a different experience when you play it, and it definitely lends itself to, say, creating the Order of the Stick or groups like that and seeing how they do. Its combat, however, can be a bit annoying and long, especially at higher levels and when you just want to get somewhere. I still return to this game every so often.
18: Disciples 2: I recently talked about this game here, so, well, go see why it ends up here on the list over there.
17: Defender of the Crown: A very nice mix of turn-based strategy and action combat. I became unbeatable once I learned how to joust well enough to win territories that way, but I also mastered sieges and swordplay. The only downside I had was that in the game I had I couldn’t rescue the fair maiden and get married … because the game would crash at the … interesting part. Another game that had a nice mix of styles that ensured that you never got stuck doing the same thing over and over.
16: Dark Age of Camelot: My first MMO, and my first attack of altitis. Lots of classes, so lots of room to make characters, and three realms representing three of my favourite mythologies gave me lots of room to create and play characters. Its biggest problem was that it was a bit hard to solo most of the classes most of the time, and even then I wasn’t that fond of grouping, and it did involve a lot of grinding. And I got lost a lot. But otherwise a fine MMO. And that was without me experiencing Realm vs Realm, one of its big selling points.
15: Sentinel Magic: Future Worlds I: An excellent space RPG. You selected a crew for various roles — which ended up being my friends — and then had to help solve a mystery, starting with a massive battle in space. You switched between space and ground fights, and the story unfolded around you. I never managed to finish it, but that was because I think I had a bug … or missed something in the days before online walkthroughs. I don’t think I’ve played a space RPG this good since.
14: X-Men Legends: Rise of Apocalypse: This is by far the strongest of the Legends/Alliance series of games. It introduces gimmick fights but doesn’t overdo them. The story is strong and well implemented. It has Deadpool in it as a playable character. And since he’s a boss, he gets to talk to himself as well in replays. There’s just nothing wrong with this game at all.
13: Persona 4 Arena: You know how I like story in my fighting games? This one has the best of any game I’ve ever played. You can see the twist coming and it’s still wrenching. And on Easy mode the auto-combo let me get through the fights and experience the story. I’m not sure that this is a game that fight game fans will appreciate, but the story aspects are definitely my type of fighting game.
12: Knights of the Old Republic 2: This comes in a fair bit behind the first game, but I’m not one of those who really hates the ending and the less than finished bits. I liked the attempts to deconstruct some gaming tropes, since it was done in an unobtrusive manner; you’ll get it if you know the games and if you don’t it won’t puzzle you or cause you any grief. So, why does this score so relatively low? Kreia. A lot of people like her character, but she didn’t work for me, as none of my characters would want her around. My light side characters — even the pragmatic ones — wouldn’t care for her grumbling about helping others, and my dark side characters wouldn’t like her constantly telling them not to pursue their evil whims. While she might give an interesting perspective, she’s just so annoying about it that in story and playing as an RPG she really doesn’t fit. I kept her on the ship and never let her leave unless I needed to take her along.
11: Shadow Hearts: The game that introduced us to Yuri Hyuga, an irreverent anti-hero with some charm and a lot of attitude. The story was dark and yet had enough humour to lighten up the mood when necessary. The Ring system was an interesting twist on traditional combat. Fusions were interesting as well. This game rarely put a foot wrong.