40: Fatal Frame 2: This is one of the games that justifies my deciding to not simply add entries by series. Anyone who’s read my blog for any length of time knows what I think about Fatal Frame. Obviously, I don’t think of this game anywhere near as highly. It’s not a bad game, and they added a number of things that should have made it better, but changing from a mansion to a town reduces some of the cramped creepiness, even if adding a pet makes it creepier in some ways. But the biggest knock against it is the section where you lose the camera, which I never got past. But it’s still memorable.
39: Marvel Ultimate Alliance: I think that this game manages to generally do Quick Time Events right, as you don’t get DIAS but instead just have to stay alive for one extra round if you miss it, and there’s usually a good scene after the QTE so you don’t have to miss anything cool. Unfortunately, this game is also the one that ramped gimmick fights up to 11, after they were done well in Age of Apocalypse. But this game also ramps up or introduces the idea of consequences for your actions, albeit in a very minor way, which is a nice touch.
38: Elder Scrolls: Oblivion: After Morrowind drove me to a homicidal range after about an hour of gameplay, playing this game didn’t seem like a very good idea. And I think I played it on the PC first for a very short time. And then I got it for the PS3 and didn’t finish it despite my character’s lack of pants. But when I took the game on as Angel without the vampirism, I actually started to enjoy it a bit, and did manage to finish it. So far, no such luck for Skyrim.
37: Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday: This was not my first AD&D style RPG, nor was it my first space-based RPG. But it was the first time I played that combination, and I did remember Buck Rogers from my youth. The new classes were interesting, and it let me create a full party … and I never finished it.
36: Wizardry: Tales of the Forsaken Land: A JRPG version of Wizardry, trading in the Western RPG tropes for the JRPG tropes. Including meeting friends in the dungeon and having to bond with them to be able to pull of your more impressive moves and tactics. I never did manage to finish it, but part of that was because the disk was a little less perfect than the others and so when my first PS2 started to go it stopped playing it first … while I was playing it. It’s simplified compared to Wizardry 8, but was still fun.
35: Age of Wonders: And soon after justifying my not simply adding entries by series … I hit a series where other than 3 — which I never played — the two games are pretty much the same in quality. This game let you play hotseat and create your own maps, and wrapped that all around an interesting magic and combat system with a personalized leader. You can’t really go wrong.
34: Age of Wonders 2: This game just added more to the original game, which gives it the slight nod. But the two are pretty much interchangeable.
33: Lord of the Rings: The Third Age: I have a weakness for works that insert themselves into an existing canon and talk about other events and the like without contradicting too much the original works. I love “I, Jedi”, which arguably fixes the “Jedi Academy Trilogy”. And I love the parts of “Legions of Fire” that does the same for some things in Babylon 5, as well as the “The Passing of the Technomages” which does that for the technomages in B5. This is probably because as a writer I’m actually better at writing those sorts of inserts than I am at writing original stuff, which might make me a natural fanfic author (which means I should write some, I think). This game actually, in my view, manages to pull it off fairly well. The characters are interesting, the story doesn’t seem to contradict at least the movies too very much, and I managed to finish it. More than once. It implements the interesting system of “Use your skills to level them up” but hurts it with “But they depend on MP that you can’t always restore easily”. This is a game I would consider playing again.
32: The Old Republic: When I play MMOs, I have a strong tendency towards altitis. This is the one MMO that’s an exception to that rule, which is both to its credit and its detriment. It’s bad because there just aren’t as many combinations of unique characters as there are in other games, given the class and story restrictions. It’s good because the story drives you forward more than you see in other games and so you want to stick to one character more than you would otherwise. That means that this is the only game that I’ve hit the initial, at least, level cap with, having a few characters that have hit level 50 and having completed a few stories (Sith Warrior, Sith Sorcerer, and Smuggler I think). I still play this game fairly frequently, and am looking forward to another Christmas vacation burst with it. The biggest problem with the game is all the other people; I tend to try to play when no one else is on, which sometimes is hard to do. So I guess my biggest complaint about this game is that I would have rather seen it as a single player successor to the Knights of the Old Republic games, and think of the MMO portions as necessary evils. In fact, think about that for a second: take all of the stories — which do interconnect — even in their slight shallowness, and build a single player game where you walk through all of them, on both sides, and only then do you get the entire picture. How cool a game would that be?
31: Icewind Dale: I tried to play Baldur’s Gate repeatedly, and hated it. So I didn’t try Baldur’s Gate 2 until very recently, and then simply forgot about it. But I loved Icewind Dale when I started playing it. Part of the reason was that it let you create your own party, which Baldur’s Gate didn’t. I don’t mind companions, but at the time I really did want to create my own characters and play with them, and build the stories and relationships that way. This was, of course, before I became fascinated with JRPGs, which broke that a little. But this game let me create my all-female evil party and play it for a bit. Shame the old-style combat was just a bit too annoying to me to finish. The only thing that IWD 2 had over this were the extra classes allowing for greater diversity of characters, but overall it wasn’t as good a game as this one, that managed to let you feel like a party of inexperienced adventurers suddenly thrust into the role of the only hope for the Dale.
Tags: Most Memorable Games