A reader uses his long history with video games to name his favourite titles of the last three and a half decades, from Lords Of Midnight to Breath Of The Wild.
For no other reason than I was bored one lunchtime, I thought I’d try and come up with my favourite 10 games in 35+ years of gaming. And it’s a task I almost regretted, as I found that I was arguing with myself with each entry, and no doubt if I were to ask myself the same question at another time, I’d come up with a completely different list. But, for what it’s worth, here is my list today. Usual caveat applies, in that I can only base this on games I’ve played. So in chronological order of release date, let’s begin.
1984 – Lords Of Midnight
The Spectrum had many great games of different genres, and the limitations of the hardware was sometimes a blessing in disguise as it meant the developers had to find ways of solving problems without having the luxury of limitless memory and off-the-shelf games engines. Lords Of Midnight did this to fantastic effect. Coded by Mike Singleton using less memory than now would be available in an oven clock, this was a sprawling adventure the likes of which I’d never seen before. A strategy game that could be approached in different ways, which borrowed heavily from the Tolkien novels in turns of set-up and themes. It was complex, too for its time, coming with a keyboard overlay to help with all the various commands. Dripping with atmosphere and lore, it was a must have.
1986 – The Great Escape
Another Spectrum great, this time though the play area was a lot more confined than the wastelands, forests, and plains of Lord Of Midnight. As a prisoner of war you had to escape the 3D isometric camp using items you found around the site, whilst trying to keep to the prison timetable to avoid being found out by the guards. You were free to play the game as you saw fit, and from memory there were various ways of escaping. Quite a tense game, and like a lot of games on this list the atmosphere created really added to the experience.
1994 – Super Metroid
There could’ve been a few SNES games to make this list, but for me this was top of the tree. Still as playable now as it was on release, which is testament to the quality of a 25-year-old game. Challenging, innovative (even spawning its own sub-genre), atmospheric, a bona fide masterpiece. Special mention to the music and spot effects that complement the gameplay perfectly.
1997 – Gran Turismo
Although I’d played many racing games before, none of them matched the quality, depth, and handling mechanics of Gran Turismo. The game rewarded practice, trying different lines into corners, alternative vehicle set-ups and bridged the gap from arcade game to racing sim perfectly. Add to this the variety of tracks and cars on offer, it’s no wonder it became a franchise for the next 20-odd years.
2000 – Deus Ex
I remember thinking when I finished Deus Ex that it was one of the best games I’d played, and my thinking hasn’t changed since then. A running theme through a lot of the games in this list is the believable atmosphere the game created for the player, and this is no different. Add to this the multi-threaded story, the freedom to approach each area in numerous different ways, and the many gadgets and weapons that help you to do it, and you have a unique game for its time and an experience that was greater than the sum of its parts.
2001 – Grand Theft Auto III
I could’ve gone with Vice City or San Andreas, or some of the later iterations in the series, but for me it was when the franchise went 3D for the first time that really blew my mind. Great characters, fantastic radio station chatter and music, fun missions, and side quests, a huge map to explore, this was a true game-changer. Yeah, the newer games are more polished but this was the most fun, mainly because it was something we hadn’t seen before.
2004 – Half-Life 2
One of the prime examples of the second in the series of games being much better than the first, even though the first was excellent in its own right. More linear than GTA III and Deus Ex, but no worse for it. A sprawling story, with relatable characters and magnificent set pieces. A physics engine that would be used in many titles in the future, atmospheric music, and varying landscapes make this a modern classic.
2010 – Red Dead Redemption
It would be a cliché to say the world was the MVP in this game, but clichés are sometimes based on truth so I’m happy to go with that statement. The follow-up is larger and better looking, but in hindsight it was too bloated, whereas the original was all killer. Other than the magnificent setting, there were a cast of unforgettable characters, fun missions, mood-setting music, great voice-acting, and a story arc that the player brought into.
2011 – Skyrim
I played and enjoyed Oblivion but this was something else. An open world tour de force where you truly got to play a role, where the main story could be ignored entirely or at least kept at arm’s length to tackle at your leisure. Skyrim has set new standards that few other games have managed to meet since.
2017 – The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
In a year of superb releases, and arguably one of the best years for games ever, Breath Of The Wild stood out. And to my mind, still stands out. It could be described as an action adventure, with elements of puzzling thrown in, but I see this more of an exploration game. With hardly any handholding and little in the way of the screen-filling icons of other series, this title lets the gamer find their own feet and their own way in the world. It can take some getting used to, but when you do it doesn’t let you go. Inventive, huge, mysterious, and fun. Probably one of the best games ever made, and certainly the best I’ve played.
By reader TheTruthSoul (PSN ID)
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.