My Top 5 Games: Answers

 By Shamus Aug 15, 2008 28 comments

So the problem presented yesterday was to figure out what these games are:

my_top5_hidden.jpg

Answers below the fold.

my_top5.jpg

It turned out that people solved it very quickly. By comment #16, Matt had the correct answer, just an hour and forty minutes after I posted it. By comment #41 Deltaway has recreated the list and posted the result.

Now, I know I called these my “top 5″, but in reality, I don’t think this is the sort of thing I’d try to set in stone. Is Half-Life 2 actually better than Fallout? Is ice cream better than steak? I don’t know that I could narrow a list and put it into a definitive numeric order and say, “This is the right and proper ordering of games for me.” So, I tried to pick a favorite for each genre, and then ordered them according to how I felt about them at the moment. I also limited myself to a single game from each franchise.

But even at that, should System Shock really be at the top? I think System Shock 2 is the better game. Not just because it looks better either. The interface is far better. The character-building is more interesting and varied. The gameplay is smoother. The story is better paced. But! The original is the one that got into my bloodstream and irrevocably altered my DNA. It’s the one that eventually caused me to write a book. How can one sort out such intangibles?

So, while arranging games into numeric lists is fun, I recognize that it’s also a little self-indulgent and meaningless.

Still, it’s worth noting: Of the games I listed, only one was made in this century. If you gave me three more slots, I’d most likely add Starcraft, Morrowwind, and Diablo II, also products of that bygone era.

I’m just sayin’.

20828 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. Annon says:

    Whatever happened to FFX? You had a massive number of posts about it, and I have yet to see anyone even mention it…

  2. folo4 says:

    Talked about, not being influenced.

    that is his top 5 criteria. Unless I’m mistaken.

    another thing of note is that, after he finished FFX, I couldn’t see another mention of it for quite some time.

  3. Jeremiah says:

    Oh, yeah, speaking of System Shock, I’ve been using free time at work to make my way through your book (thoroughly enjoying it, by the way).

    Anyhow, this article kind of made me think of it. Thought you (and others that may not have seen it yet) might enjoy it.

    On the topic of picking favorites: I’ve never been one to say I definitely enjoy something more than something else. There might be a group of things I tend to enjoy a lot, but trying to pick a favorite or give them any sort of order isn’t something I’d ever be able to do.

  4. Krellen says:

    I didn’t play System Shock until over a decade after its publishing (just a few years ago, actually), but I loved it.

    My favourite little detail was the musak in the elevators. Such a nice comic relief, yet surreal slice offsetting the terror and darkness of the rest of the game – especially going from level 1 to level 2, which those damn invisible sting ray things.

  5. Brandon says:

    I’ve been reading here for a long time and I’m surprised I’ve never seen Arcanum: of Magick and Steamworks Obscura mentioned here. This Troika gem bears a strong resemblance to Fallout but is great fun in its own way.

    If you, Shamus, have not played this game, I suggest slotting it into your queue. It might claw its way into your top 10.

    And after all your talk about Starcraft’s balance I’m surprised not to see it in this top 5. —And now that I bothered to read all the way to the bottom I see it almost did.

  6. Jeysie says:

    The fact that you like Fallout and The Secret of Monkey Island cements my respect for your critiques. Any chance of your dissecting some adventure games? (Or your thoughts on Planescape: Torment?)

  7. Kevin says:

    As a “lacto-ovo vegetarian” I can say with confidence that ice cream is indeed better than steak.

    Oh, and my wife and I loved playing Monkey Island. Are there any other similar games out there for us?

  8. Ghantu says:

    Also note that he said Silent Hill 2 and Portal would have been on his list if they hadn’t been on Yahtzee’s already.

  9. Randolpho says:

    Monkey Island FTW!!!

    Still one of my favorite games. Too bad Guybrush Threepwood is an invalid character name on Puzzle Pirates.

    And Guybrush is already taken. :(

  10. Avaz says:

    Out of that list, I’ve only played Fallout, but seeing other people play a good number of the rest of the games on that list, I can wholeheartedly approve of that list.

    Also, if I were to make that list myself, I, too, am not sure if I can quantify a bunch of my favorites into numerical order.

  11. Jeysie says:

    @Kevin:

    That depends on exactly which aspects of Monkey Island you liked, but yes, there’s a very large number of quality adventure games out there. IMHO you can’t go wrong with playing LucasArts’ other adventure games, at the very least.

  12. Martin says:

    Yay for Thief! I’m reinstalling Thief 3 this weekend, I never did get chance to finish Shalebridge Cradle, and basically the game.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Jeysie:

    “(Or your thoughts on Planescape: Torment?)”

    No one has thoughts about that game:It simply leaves you so awestruck that you cannot think anymore;)

  14. K says:

    I have never played SS1, only SS2. Definitely also one for my top list. Further games include Planescape Torment (awestruck is a good description alright), Zelda Link’s Awakening (possibly Twilight Princess and LttP), Starcraft, Diablo II, WoW, Portal, Phoenix Wright. Plus most of yours.

    Hey, nearly half of my list is this century! Yeah, old games were better, and that’s not me being all sentimental. Most new games just suck.

  15. I think Bioshock should get a mention, albeit it was essentially just a reskin of System Shock 2 right down to the predictable plot twists.

    And Thief has got to be number one, you Taffer

  16. Malkara says:

    Morrowind did come out this century. :D

  17. Heph says:

    Morrowind was released in 2002, originally meant for 2001, but was entirely made in the decennium before…It was *made* in the previous century :-P
    That aside, I preferred Daggerfall :-P
    Hmm, I’m not sure I could put 5 games in numerical order, either. Too many different genres and types of games.

  18. coffee says:

    James Barlow –

    Shamus can’t comment on Bioshock as a game, since he won’t touch it with the metaphorical fifteen-foot pole. And for good reason!

  19. journeyman says:

    “(Or your thoughts on Planescape: Torment?)”

    No one has thoughts about that game:It simply leaves you so awestruck that you cannot think anymore;)

    My thoughts on PsT:

    tl;dr.

    (I jest, it was a good game, but a) had too much dialog and b) wasn’t as good as Baldur’s Gate)

    I think Bioshock should get a mention
    You’re new here, aren’t you?

  20. Shamus says:

    James Barlow: BioShock was on my MUST-have games list until they added that online activation stuff. The tantrum I threw at the time is kind of legendary.

  21. Carra says:

    Most new games don’t suck. This last year I loved playing bioshock, mass effect & call of duty 4. But would they get into my favorite lists?
    It’s a choice between taking the game that first got you into the series and a polished version. The first one usually wins.
    Or, I’d put in knights of the old republic but not mass effect. Call of duty 1 / Medal of honor: allied assault but not cod4. Never did get around to playing system shock ;) All of these “sequels” are great games but they’re not the same experience as playing mohaa or kotor for the first time. Those games put a huge stamp on my gaming experience and upped the bar for all the games I’d play after.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Carra

    Games where sequels do win:
    Civilization,heroes of might and magic,command and conquer(talking about red alert 1,not the other C&C crap),warcraft,…Heck,one might argue that baldurs gate and half life come into this group as well.As for CoD,first one definetilly was the best one.

  23. Kevin says:

    Thanks Jeysie! I’m checking those out now!

  24. The Lone Duck says:

    Monkey Island is great. I still need to get Orange Box, for Portal, Half-Life, etc. I played some of the old Fallout. Good game, but I didn’t like the time limit. Screw getting them the water. That should’ve been a choice, not a gameplay mechanic.
    Ahem, never played Thief or System Shock. I do plan on getting Bioshock when it comes out for PS3. Shamus, I don’t know if you have any consoles or not, but that may be a modestly easy solution to the DRM troubles on your end. You don’t need an internet connection to play single player games on a console, and it’s cheaper than upgrading a PC. But you don’t get mods, controls are simpler. You may not like that answer. But that’s what I’ve chosen. At least, until they make another Monkey Island game.

  25. Eathanu says:

    Morrowind came out in 2002, Shamus. Not a product of a bygone era, yet.

  26. Justin says:

    [Morrowind came out in 2002...]

    That is a bygone era in hardware dev-cycles. Y’know, because we needed another way to feel old.

  27. Miako says:

    Shamus,

    I’m still waiting for you to start reviewing thief fan missions. As they routinely get people jobs in the gaming industry, they are really kinda good.

    And they do fulfill your criteria of “Games Not Made Expressly for Butch Systems” (in fact, on butch systems, you need to rewrite the drivers to make the fog display properly… Ugg. 30fps Thief and I paid how much for the video card??)

  28. A Reader says:

    Little late I know, but while on the subject of favorite games; if i had to put them in numerical order it would be:
    first: golden sun: the lost age (GBA)
    second: golden sun (GBA)
    third: fallout 3 (PC)
    fourth: morrowind (PC)
    fifth: dwarf fortress (PC)

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