Thursday, June 30, 2011

Top 10 List : The Top 10 Great Games That Didn't Make It To The Second Round Of Game Of The Decade

We all have enjoyed the Game of the Decade so far- an interesting competition with a lot of great games and excitement, challenges, betting, and hope. We're all wishing our favorite games to win, and we're all eager to see which game will achieve the great honor. But as Fallout series would tell you: "War. War never changes."

An unchangeable part of war are its casualties. There are many great games and of course, all but one have to go. Among them some are really great, and we regret the fact that they didn't make it to the second round, especially when we feel they could even deserve the greatest title.

Sometimes the reason is bad luck, they were paired with far superior and/or more popular games. Sometimes the democracy would fail and a greater game would lose the round. But we're not here to judge the reasons.

We're simply here to honor these games. They have lost the competition, but they haven't lost our heart, our respect.

This top 10 list is a final tribute to ten masterpieces which we won't see later in the game.

#10: Dead Space (PC)

The Gamefaqs voters decided that GTA: San Andreas is a better game and voted this game off.

What's the game?
A 2008 survival horror third-person shooter, you are an engineer who has to fight and uncover the secret of a mysterious substance which turns humans into monsters. The atmosphere is dark, bleak and the game is genuinely scary. Your suit is very vital to you, because the traditional HUD is omitted from the game and the holographic condition of your suit shows if you're doing alright or not. And you have to look at your weapon to see how much ammo is left.

During combat, you should look for your enemies weak point, decide which limb is vital, and dismember it. Therefore if go shooting aimlessly or focus solely on head-shot, you're getting nowhere. And being an engineer means you have to design and do a lot of related work.

What makes it so great?
The game was the sweetest surprise of 2008. While it received no great previews or E3 awards, it blew everyone out when it came out and was an instant classic, a newly born masterpiece.

The game had a great, philosophical, deep story, one rarely found in video games. Furthermore, the gameplay is completely innovative and modern, and also, the atmosphere haunts you.

It's a spectacular game.

#9: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (PC)

The game lost it to Skies of Arcadia, a Japanese RPG, and failed to make it to the second round.

What's the game?
A 2000 western RPG based on D&D rules, one of the very few of the genre in the competition. Played from an isometric perspective, you can create and recruit characters, develop your characters and making decisions as you go forward, and you can focus on combat and interact with the world around you. And the game has an interesting plot too.

What makes it so great?
The game is one of the deepest games ever made. The gameplay is complex and multi-layered. Unlike most games of the genre it isn't merely about combat, but your interaction with your environment plays a great deal. You have to be a manager and you should take your every step and make every decision with the right strategy. The game is an experience superior to many of its peers, and you can easily get addicted to it (I've been there).

The game was considered game of the year and it was on many "games of all times" list, and it hasn't died away in the ten years which have passed since its making. It remains one of the spectacular RPGs every gamer should try.

#8: Sid Meier's Civilization IV (PC)

The only game in the race made by the legendary Sid Meier couldn't attract more votes than the third part of the Persona series.

What's the game?
A 2005 turn-based strategy where you can rewrite history. You choose a nation and a leader (all with their strong and weak points), start as a settler in a single city around 4000 BC and you should expand that one city into a powerful empire. You must improve your empire in all aspects: cultural, industrial, scientific, military, and you should also expand it geographically. You can choose any approach, you can be a harsh warlord or a clever diplomat. The game ends around 2050 when you become the greatest civilization in the world.

What makes it so great?
Being the fourth installment in one of the greatest series of all times. The game is deep, intellectual, and entertaining. It can be addictive. You can replay it until you die (or the next one comes out, at least). It makes you use all the resources of your brain, and it brings about one of the best experiences of your life. It can also teach you a lot about history, politics and a lot more. All features you expect from a goo game can be found here.

And of course, this one is even deeper, better looking, and more complex than previous games.

#7: ICO (PS2)

Although the spiritual successor of this game made it to the second round (Shadow of Colossus) the game itself didn't, it lost to the second Assassin's Creed.

What's the game?
A 2001 action-adventure game, about a boy born with horns trapped in an evil queen's castle, tries to escape from that castle with a girl who's going to used by the evil queen. The gamer has to explore the castle and fight evil smokey things and solve puzzles.

What makes it so great?
Minimal gameplay, minimal story, simple graphics, almost no dialogue, at first, Ico looks nothing like a great game. Here is the place where the normal criteria fails and we see a game above normal standards, one of those times when gaming resembles magic. What can justify the strong emotional attachment each gamer feels when s/he plays the game? Maybe nothing. But the attachment is there, the magic, the charm, is there. Somehow the gameplay is more intriguing, and the love story is so compelling. Ico is one of those works of art which must be experienced, rather than explained.

But maybe the secret behind it all is the calm, the tenderness, and the strange sorrow behind the game which makes it so unique. When you save the game, Ico and the girl sit on a bench and hold hands. It's serene, and sweet, and soft.

I'm a great fan of violence and excitement, but one cannot help but saluting the creator- Fumito Ueda- for giving a tranquil soul to a basically harsh medium.

#6: Devil May Cry (PS2)

The third installment of the series didn't stop at the first round, but the revolutionary first game which is considered by many the best installment of the series lost it to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

What's the game?
In the year 2001 this game out, the story of a white-haired demon fighter who allies with a girl named Trish to fight demons, just to find out everything is far more complicated than it seems. You can go on through your missions and experience the platform elements and solve puzzles but more importantly, you can fight. Your combat is "Stylish", meaning you have to fight more intelligently, and you get to watch all the cool videos too.

What makes it so great?
This game shook the action genre. Before this game, there was no cool pre-rendered videos and all that fun. The game seemed quite revolutionary at the time, and it reset the criteria and standards for video games. Almost all later action games are in a way in debt to this game. The game has strongly influenced God of War, (and therefore all the games influenced by God of War), Chaos Legion, Blood Will Tell, Bayonetta, and even Ninja Gaiden. It's a turning point in the history of the genre.

Ironically, many of its spiritual successors fared better.

#5: Grand Theft Auto IV (PC)

Now there are many GTAs in the race. And they have won very powerful games (two of the games in this list have lost it to an RPG). This one lost though. To Pokemon Emerald.

What's the game?
A GTA. A part of a series which is blamed by Jack Thompson, Hillary Clinton and corporate media for all the evils of the world since the Black Death of 17th century, this 2008 game is an open world game which takes us back to Liberty City as Nikko Bellic, a Serbian war veteran. He comes to USA in search of American Dream and is trapped in a world of crime and corruption. The gameplay is the usual drive and shoot in an open world of GTA series.

What makes it so great?
As I said before, there are many other GTAs in the race and people said, "OK, let's vote one of them out", but as I mentioned in the introduction, we're not concerned why the games didn't make it to the second round. The main point is, they were great games. This GTA is bigger than previous ones, the story (again) is a great critique of today world, and the gameplay is as interesting.

#4: Dissidia: Final Fantasy (PSP)

Final Fantasy series has many games in the race, and they're doing well, but this one didn't. Democracy chose Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 instead.

What's the game?
All the heroes and villains of the fabulous series are here. Two gods, Cosmos and Chaos, are battling, and seem to be trapped in an eternal circle of fighting. They revive ten great warriors to fight for them. It's time for the final show down.

The gameplay is a special and unique combination of fighting and RPG. You have to collect Bravery Points and then attack your opponent to reduce their health. After these attacks your BRV drops to zero and then you have to regain it. You also have an EX Gauge. If it's full, you can turn into a kick-ass form and do a lot of damage to your opponent using special attacks. And also, you must develop your character fully. Like a good RPG.

What makes it so great?
First of all, all your favorite characters are here. And the story is what you expect: deep, and effective. (Especially if you try the Japanese version). But apart from that, the gameplay is simply one of greatest achievemnet in the history of gaming. It's one of those gameplays that you feel you wanted all your life. It's a gameplay so greatly designed that it might create a powerful catharsis, it reminds you why you love video games so much, and why this medium is one of the best inventions by humanity.

If you consider it an RPG or a PSP game, it's one of the best. If you categorize it as fighting, it's the best game in genre. Ever.

#3: Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (PC)

From now on, there are three games on my list I would personally find eligible for the title of Game of Decade. This one, lost it to another game (equally eligible): Morrowind.

What's the game?
A 2002 RTS. The gameplay is the standard Blizzard gameplay in the genre. You must create your base and soldiers, set up your defenses, attack your enemies and win the game. The story follows prince Arthas who starts as a great defender of his country but later falls into the abyss of corruption. At the same time you follow the story of Orcs who escape from this land to make a new living, and elves who have to survive, and the undead who are plaguing the land.

What makes it so great?
Most gamers know this series by MMORPG which came after and became a world-wide sensation, World of Warcraft. The game became so big that there's even a South Park episode about it. Although this game set the stage for that great game, it's equally great in its own right.

Gemaplay is the perfect strategy. Great for playing with friends or alone. But that's not the greatest thing about the game.

The greatest thing is the story. The story is an epic. It's grand in style and subject matter. And it's meaningful. If you compare it with the legendary Lord of the Rings novels, you haven't been wrong.

#2: Psychonauts (PS2)

This avant-garde innovative game lost it to Batman: Arkham Asylum.

What's the game?
A Tim Schafer platformer made in 2005, based on the adventures of people who have the ability to travel to the mind of other people. He travels from mind to mind to unravel the mystery behind the game, using his cool psychic abilities, and also solving puzzles and completing platformer levels.

What makes it so great?
Where to begin? It's one of the (if not THE) creative games of all times, innovative in all its fabric. Each level is designed greatly, each level could be an independent game. The humor is so great. The characters are surreal, and at the same time funny. It's a trip to a mind of a genius, and it's magical.

This game is rightly considered modern art. Level designs look like great paintings, the humor is classic, and each time you replay it, you find some new awesome thing about it.

It will remind you of Salvador Dali and Tim Burton. It's a grace to the genre, and all the insanity, makes it more whimsical and psychological.

#1: Silent Hill 2 (PS2)

Number one in my list, lost it to GTA III.

What's the game?
James Sunderland receives a letter from his dead wife which asks him to meet her in the city of Silent Hill at their usual plays. He travels there but instead of his wife he finds horror- lots of it. And through a horrifying journey, he comes to a greater understanding of his past.

What makes it so great?
Do you like horror? This game is maybe the scariest thing ever made. (Notice that I said "thing", not "game". "Thing" includes book, movie, or your ugly classmate's face). It achieves this using artistic measures. Bleak, gloomy, maddening atmosphere. A dense fog. Ugly monsters making you chill, your static radio tell you of their coming long before their appearance. But most importantly the state of doubt, anxiety, and fear which comes deep from the plot.

I mentioned plot. Every element in the game is meaningful. There's an interpretation behind every move, every scene, every random object scattered in the game. And the plot is psychological, and it will take you to your subconscious, it will revive your greatest fears.

How many games have you played that make you question the nature of your psyche, reality, and life? How many games can turn your life around? This game is such a magic.

What makes this loss especially regrettable is the fact that it's the only representative of Silent Hill in the race. Third Silent Hill, fourth one, Shattered Memories and Homecoming are all mountainous wonders of art and none of them made it to the race. So the one of greatest, most artistic series of all times leaves the race early.
Runner ups:
I considered these games as well, as among them I chose the above top 10:

Ninja Gaiden
Castlevania: Dawn
Viewtiful Joe
Tales of Vesperia
Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core
Soul Calibur II

I want to mention BlueGunstarHero who also came up with the same idea for a top 10 list. Although we acted independently I'd like to mention the games he wanted to put in his list as well:

Jet Grind Radio
Beyond Good & Evil
Timesplitters 2
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

Last Words:
I'm sure my top 10 seems imperfect to you. There will be more games you'd like mentioned. You will think I've overrated and underrated some games. But that's OK. At the end of the day, all of these lists and races are subjective. Top 10 lists and races are fun, because they give us an excuse to talk about our favorite games. But ultimately, gaming is not about top 10 lists or races, it's about games. It's about our greatest moments in life. Our moments of love, hatred, fear, sorrow, excitement, joy, all caused by games. It's about dreams. Dreams that playing great games created in us. Dreams that connect us across continents, into one community, gamers' community.

It's a great privilege to be a gamer. We share the same dream. We might disagree, but we all have one thing in common: we all have gave depth to our lives by enjoying video games. We all belong together. And that's the most important thing which at the same time goes beyond top 10 lists and best game races and makes them so fun. And also, it matter most.

So let's talk about our favorite games.
Originally published at GameFAQS

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