Top 64 Games: 24 to 17

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Nov 4, 2014

Filed under: Video Games 133 comments

Reminder: Try not to stress out too much about the order of the items on this list, what games made it and which ones didn’t. Just use this as an excuse to talk about / praise / eviscerate games we might not get to discuss very often. Read the intro to learn why we’re doing this.

24. Eve Online

Come for the visuals, stay for the politics, corporations, griefing, intrigue, war, controversy, flame wars, shenanigans, stupidity, betrayals, and staggering financial losses.

In contrast to the endless procession of doomed WoW-clones, here is an immensely successful online game that has not a single challenger. It’s not that games have gone out of business trying to imitate this success, it’s that in the eleven years since its launch, nobody has made a serious try at cutting out a piece of this market.

To a certain extent, that’s understandable. This is a scary game. It’s a space game where people shoot at each other with player-built weapons, from player-built ships, made from player-built parts, made from player-harvested raw materials in player-built factories. The factions are entirely shaped by players. Everything interesting about this world from its politics to its wars – is emergent.

If you’re looking to make a quick buck copying an established and proven formula, just about anything else is going to look safer than this.

23. Secret of Monkey Island

The first time I booted up the game, I sat and listened to the entire intro theme before proceeding. And I don’t even like Caribbean music that much.

One day Ron Gilbert looked at everything that was wrong and stupid about adventure games and asked, “Why don’t we make a game that doesn’t do those things?” And then he did. And in one stroke he blew away everything Sierra had ever done. The jokes were better, and have aged better. (Space Quest jokes were very topical. Iran-contra jokes don’t have the sting now that they did in the 80’sKings Quest jokes were always forced and awkward. And we’ve already talked about Larry’s jokes..) The puzzles were still silly, but now they were silly in a fun way. The visuals were delicious. The music was some of the best in the business at the time, and still holds up really well today.

22. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

You have the power to control time itself. Except you can’t fast-forward through the combat, which would be the best power of them all.

The platforming flow in Sands of Time felt so good. It was natural and intuitive and yet sometimes challenging and heart-stopping. The visuals were a feast and the arc of the arrogant Prince who learned compassion and humility still resonates with me today. The later entries might have improved the gameplayAlthough I never thought so. But people keep insisting. but they never hit that magic mix of Arabian fantasy, personal growth, and playful whimsy.

The puzzles were pretty good and the environments always managed to balance the need for interesting things to climb with the need to have rooms make sense.

I’d play through it more often, but the combat was a cruel choreWhen you get to the point in the fight where you’re bored and restless and anxious to get back to the platforming, it usually means you’re about halfway there..

I’ve been saying for years that developers should base a long-running franchise on a series of themes and situations, rather than trying to tell a set of connected stories. This series is exhibit A. I did not want to see what happened after the events of Sands of TimeESPECIALLY if “what happened” turns out to be “pretend the Prince was suddenly a boring unlikable asshole”.. What I wanted was another game with platforming, puzzles, and swordplay set in an Arabian-esque world. Play as a street rat. Play as someone cursed by a genie. Play as a princess. You know – mix things up, rather than grafting endlessly muddled and convoluted bits onto a story that had already ended perfectly.

And now we get annual Assassins Creed instead of this, and it suffers from the same problem. Only moreso. Stupid Ubisoft.

21. Fallout

Catchphrase. This catchphrase never changes.

Looking back, the most amazing thing about Fallout to me is the extreme lack of hand-holding. A generation after the bombs fell, you’re sent out from your nuclear fallout shelter to find some hardware to repair your water purification system. The vault overseer gives you a thin lead, which doesn’t pan out. Thus you find yourself alone in a hostile world with no idea how to proceed. You basically have to spend a few weeks exploring the wasteland and getting to know the place before you pick up the next breadcrumb.

No AAA game today would dare to leave players adrift like that. And to be fair, even back in 1997 a lot of players didn’t like playing a game where you had a time limit and no clue how to proceed. It makes the game frustrating if you’re just looking to “beat” a videogame, but if you like to explore a world and don’t want to feel like you’re just following a fixed path set down by a game designer, then this kind of liberal approach to player agency can feel really goodStill, that time limit was probably a bad idea..

Also, the game nailed a wonderful dark comedy vibe, which Bethesda completely misunderstood as goofball comedy in Fallout 3, like they can’t tell the difference between Dr. Strangelove and Adam Sandler movies. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

20. Saints Row The Third

Bottom line: I’m just not a people person.

When Grand Theft Auto cast aside the crown of “Gleeful Open-World Mayhem Simulator”, Saints Row picked the crown up and wore it on its crotch, pelvic-thrusting into a new era of ridiculous stupidity. While GTA wanted to ram you through its fixed story with fixed characters, Saints Row lets you make just about anyone you want – whether they would fit with the designer’s vision for a gang leader or not.

It almost feels like the designer wants you to have fun, and isn’t sneering at you for being a stupid shallow consumerist phony.

19. Team Fortress 2


This game marks the point where Valve left the videogame business and began selling virtual hats. It’s also a good illustration of the problem with making online shooters: Everyone assumes you just need to make a “balanced” game and you’re good. But Team Fortress 2 has more than simply balanced classes. It has style. Charm. I could take a dozen screenshots from online shooters of the last decade and very few people would be able to match the game with the screenshot. But everyone recognizes TF2, even people who have never played it. TF2 has a sense of humor and playfulness about it, which matters when you’re spending hundreds of hours with a game.

Also, the classes aren’t just “balanced”, they’re radically different. Team Fortress 2 feels like nine different games that share the same space.

18. Max Payne

This is ten-times more interesting than a scripted cutscene. And it’s over in half the time. And its about a hundred times cheaper. So OF COURSE nobody else copies it, because VIDEOGAMES WISH THEY WERE MOVIES.

Like Deus Ex, System Shock 2, and No One Lives Forever, Max Payne is a product of that magical golden age when graphics were just good enough to be able to sell a mood or art style but not quite so good that we had to start cutting down the size and scope of our games to pay for them. It couldn’t last, and I’m not saying we’d be better off if graphics hadn’t advanced at all, but it shows that we did lose something.

I liked all three Max Payne titles. But for me the first one was the one that won my heart.

17. Thief II: The Metal Age

Do these guys have flipper hands? Is thief II a prequel to Octodad?

While a lot can be said of the Shalebridge Cradle as one of the best levels in gamingOf course, the reason it was so powerful was that it was totally unexpected. Now that it has all kinds of hype surrounding it, it’s doomed to disappoint. It can only be great as long as we fail to recognize its greatness., one level is not enough to earn you a place on this list. And the rest of Thief: Deadly ShadowsWhy didn’t they call it Thief 3? I suppose we should be grateful they didn’t call it Thi3f. does not measure up. (Small levels, inadvertently hokey story, terrible cutscenes.)

But Thief II is strong in every way that its sequel wasn’t. The levels were massive, giving you hours of gameplay without ever hitting a single loading screen. It used the great live-action-but-also-animated cutscenes that were so successful in the first game. They didn’t wow us the way Starcraft cutscenes (two years earlier) did, but now 14 years later they have retained their charm while Starcraft’s 1998 CGI looks dated and silly.

Sadly, the in-game graphics haven’t aged nearly as well. Thief II technically came out at the start of the golden age, when environments were still cheap but juuust good enough that characters could emote and show bits of environmental detail. But Thief II was still using the same engine from the original Thief game from two years earlier, and even then it had looked kind of dated. So Thief II looked really pathetic compared to its contemporaries.

However, when given the choice between the boxy sprawling levels of Thief II and the bump-mapped closet maps of Thief: Deadly Shadows, it’s no contest. This was the series at its best, and we’re still waiting for a proper sequel.



[1] Kings Quest jokes were always forced and awkward. And we’ve already talked about Larry’s jokes.

[2] Although I never thought so. But people keep insisting.

[3] When you get to the point in the fight where you’re bored and restless and anxious to get back to the platforming, it usually means you’re about halfway there.

[4] ESPECIALLY if “what happened” turns out to be “pretend the Prince was suddenly a boring unlikable asshole”.

[5] Still, that time limit was probably a bad idea.

[6] Of course, the reason it was so powerful was that it was totally unexpected. Now that it has all kinds of hype surrounding it, it’s doomed to disappoint. It can only be great as long as we fail to recognize its greatness.

[7] Why didn’t they call it Thief 3? I suppose we should be grateful they didn’t call it Thi3f.

From The Archives:

133 thoughts on “Top 64 Games: 24 to 17

  1. Correction: In Fallout, it was more than a generation after the bombs fell that you were sent out. It was 84 years.

    And since 84 consists of 8, which is 2 times 4, and 4 (which is 4), where the heck is any news of Fallout 4? I ask that here because I’m sure Bethesda has somebody keeping tabs on this blog.

    1. Stormcaller says:

      You should have just asked where Fallout 4 was 21 times… cause you know…

      1. Patrick the twice distilled says:

        Actually 84 is twice as much as 42, which as we all know, is the meaning of life. I would suggest you start there.

    2. GiantRaven says:

      I get periodically anxious about the lack of Fallout 4 news. I really need to hear something about it. I wanna dick around in a new radioactive wasteland already!

      1. Humanoid says:

        Whereas I’m hoping that Skyrim was such a runaway success that Bethesda will never have time to do anything other than TES games ever again.

        Thus forcing them to licence out Fallout.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          To Obsidian? Again? One hopes?

          1. James says:

            id like to see ineXile have a go at it, Wasteland 2 was great, and i wonder what they could do with the new style of Fallouts

            1. Humanoid says:

              We might find out soon…. Bethesda has registered “Fallout: Shadow of Boston”.

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                Oh man. If there’s a post apocalyptic group trotting around in colonial era wear, it will have all been worth it.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well there is wasteland 2.It has its fair share of dicks in it for you to….umm,the sentence got away from me.Anyway,theres wasteland 2,give it a shot.

        1. GiantRaven says:

          Oh, fo’ sho’. I’m 5 hours in right now. I really like the epic choice and the resulting radio messages you get when choosing between Highpool and the AG centre.

          What I’ve heard about the game, It’s pretty amazing what they’ve managed to do with the budget they had.

    3. I’ve been waiting 7 months to reply to this.

  2. Bingbong says:

    I kinda enjoyed the combat of prince of persia. There was a way of insta-killing enemies by jumping over them then followed by stab-absorb. Quite glad the developers left this “exploit” for people who prefer the platforming.

    There’s a similar thing in assassin’s creed 2 when Ezio get’s access to smoke bombs. Every encounter became bomb then stab everyone in the face.

    1. Lachlan the Mad says:

      Nah, the real combat exploit in the Assassin’s Creed games (pre-III) comes when you learn how to counter.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Except that papal guards and Janisaires were immune to countering even with hidden blades. You could counter Papal Guards somewhat barehanded but you had to let them hit you first.

        1. Thomas says:

          It never came up enough to really cause problems though.

    2. Robyrt says:

      Sands of Time is one of my top 3 favorite games of all time, and the combat suffers a LOT from not having a proper tutorial. There’s one tooltip that mentions the “jump absorb” move that kills low-level enemies instantly, which turns the game from a complete hassle to an enjoyable acrobatic romp. Without the jump attack move, you’ll probably get stuck 12% of the way through the game, in the first boss fight, like some friends of mine.

      There’s a great game in there, it just doesn’t always want to come out.

    3. Isy says:

      Eventually you run into those guys who are immune to that move, however – and then it becomes nothing but those guys. And it’s terrible.

      1. Bingbong says:

        those guys are still vulnerable haha. you just gotta jump off a wall first

        1. ET says:

          Plus, if you do well enough, there’s the super sword upgrade later on. It makes the combat much easier, which after hours of grind-y, tough-as-nails combat, feels like a huge relief! :)

          1. Isy says:

            The problem with that one is it just kills the dudes, no sand-draining required. Except then I never had enough sand during the fight. Whoops.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “No AAA game today would dare to leave players adrift like that. And to be fair, even back in 1997 a lot of players didn't like playing a game where you had a time limit and no clue how to proceed.”

    Not only that,but the gameplay was a chore to get into.The first time Ive tried it,I quit very early.But the second time,when Ive decided to endure,it finally sucked me.Its a very rough start,but the game was so good that it introduced me to the whole new genre I didnt like up until then.

    1. poiumty says:

      Mostly the same for me and Fallout 2. I saw the hex cursor and the dull opening area where you fight giant ants with sticks and a friend had to beg me to give it another chance.

      Then at some point it was my favorite game of all time, right before Baldur’s Gate 2, which would be #1 on this list if Shamus had played it.

      1. There’s a difficulty curve, to be sure. Even more so now than when they were released, I think, since our expectations are different. Pixel-hunting, guessing what words the game might know, figuring out what areas are no-go until X level/weapon is attained, etc. are “hard” compared to a lot of games these days.

        While I appreciate its gameplay variety, the games are also very punishing when it comes to creating nigh-hopeless characters that make the game next to impossible to play. This was a feat I hadn’t seen duplicated in more modern games until I found Oblivion and didn’t grok how one SHOULD be leveling up one’s skills.

        1. Humanoid says:

          Yep, just reading in a (printed magazine, remember those?) review that Fallout had a timer had put me off buying the game until after Fallout 2’s release. And then I dawdled quite a bit before beginning Fallout 2 in earnest due to the Temple of Trials.

          Admission: I’ve never finished the original Fallout. I’ve come close a couple of times, but ended up not quite getting to the end. And despite that I still love it, though I’d put Fallout 2 in any hypothetical top-64 list of games I’d make.

          1. Patrick the twice distilled says:

            I realized fairly quickly in Fallout2 that you could leave the temple and immediately go to San Fransisco (It takes many, MANY save/re-saves as you cross each square of the world map, saving each time you successfully cross one square without getting a random encounter. Any encounter close to SF is instantly fatal.) Once in SF you could go directly to the brotherhood, get the quest for blueprints (which instantly dings the player to level 8) and gives you a plasma rifle and power armor. Through normal play through this wouldn’t be available until level 20-ish.

            The rest of the game is a lot easier after that. It also kinda breaks the game. Also, the whole Pron-star thing in Reno was HILARIOUS.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its not just our expectations,its the fact that ui has improved much in the last 15 years.Not just for this,but for all the games.Heck,just compare wasteland 2 to fallout 2,and youll notice a bunch of improvements in ui,and those two games are reaaaally close to each other.

          1. Humanoid says:

            Heck, just compare Fallout 2 to Fallout 1. The push-NPC-out-of-the-way function itself is revolutionary!

            1. syal says:

              Although I always preferred pushing people out of the way with bullets anyway.

            2. Eric says:

              I still won’t ever forgive Ian for trapping me in that outhouse…

          2. Tizzy says:

            In addition to years of progress in ui, Wasteland 2 benefited from huge amounts of input in that departments from the backers. For a while, it was all backer emails seemed to be about.

          3. Wide And Nerdy says:

            I’m just relieved I’m not the only one that felt this way. I’ve heard the praise for Fallout 1, fired it up the other day excited and had no clue about any of this business about hexes and shut it down again. I completely missed the part about the time limit too.

            1. Wide And Nerdy says:

              I felt like such a scrub.

              But then I am a scrub . . . (Cue Linkin Park)

        3. Tizzy says:

          As far as finding the right areas for your level, the game was somewhat forgiving in that it was firly easy to run away from fights. Not quite fast enough if you’re facing a bunch of super muties armed with energy weapons, but still enough to save your skin on many occasions.

      2. Tizzy says:

        Actually, getting into Fallout 2 was harder for me. Especially after finishing 1, I guess, it was hard to be booted back to being the guy who can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a club.

      3. Jonathan says:

        I didn’t have any problem figuring out where to go for most of Fallout, and the 150 day deadline is something I only hit maybe once, on my first play-through…and that was because I was shuttling armor back and forth from the Khans to whatever that first real city is (middle of map) to sell it.

        And yes, BG2 is Better.

        1. Supahewok says:

          BG2 is usually better than most things.

          Although you couldn’t really roleplay as an evil dick very well until Throne of Bhaal, the rest of the writing usually was interesting and varied. The romance subplots weren’t pushed into your face as a standard feature. Ah Bioware. How the mighty have fallen.

          Has Shamus really never played BG2 though? It’s still Bioware’s best game, and it’s not as if Bioware was releasing a lot of games until around 2008 or so, when they created their franchises. Pre- Mass Effect, I think their only releases in the 00’s were BG2, KOTOR, Jade Empire (which I know he has played) and Neverwinter Nights. And Neverwinter SUCKED unless you were into the modding scene.

          1. poiumty says:

            He has not.

            Maybe we should start a petition to get him to play it. Totally worth it.

            1. Mort says:

              I’d sign that.

          2. Kalil says:

            It’s really funny to me how much praise BG2 gets here. It’s possibly my most hated game of all time. I loved BG1. BG2 was the first game I ever pre-ordered, I was extremely excited to bring it home, and then… It sucked. I’ve tried playing it many times, and I’ve never made it farther than the second chapter before rage-quitting. The system is horribly flawed (save-or-die is a terrible mechanic in the best of circumstances), the characters are thoroughly unlikeable (shut up, Aerie), the plot is extraordinarily linear compared to its predecessor (one large city and a couple dinky little fast travel destinations, most of which are the subject of class-restricted quests), the writing leans heavily on worn out tropes (opening with a torture scene? really?), and the lore and setting is badly butchered.

            1. Jonathan says:

              If you never finished Chapter 2, you didn’t get very far into the plot. I played BG1 after BG2 and found it to be too non-linear – I spent 80% of my time wandering around through the wilderness fighting for my party’s life against wolves and random undead and hoping to find something interesting.

              I’m sure there are more side-quests in BG2 than in 1, and more NPCs. A couple of the “outside the city” destinations have multiple quests (of varying sizes), if you follow every lead.

              Voice-work on the BG2 NPCs is, generally speaking, better than BG1 (less annoying). Aerie, Anomen, and Jaheira can all be annoying, but it’s an annoying that fits with their personality and goals. Most of the party-member NPCs have a couple of side-quests or trips specific to them, although of varying length and quality.

            2. Zekiel says:

              I would say that BG1 has a much more expansive world – BG2 can feel a little constrained since you can’t just wander through the wilderness (you can’t even GO to a wilderness area until you meet someone to give you a quest to go there).

              But where BG1 is (relatively) expansive in terms of exploration, BG2 is expansive in terms of quests. There are so many quests in BG2, and a large amount of them are interesting, not simple fetch-it quests like BG1. They contain NPCs with personality, they contain humour, they contain interesting enemies to fight, they contain interesting treasure to find. I found it marvellous in terms of the breadth of choice of what to do (if a little overwhelming at the start, where it feels like you can’t walk 5 paces without being given another quest)

              I’ll give you that some characters are annoying (Aerie and Anomen being prime examples) but there are other characters that are wonderful. Korgan, Jan and Edwin are hilarious. Jaheria can be annoying, but she also has a lot of depth to her. Keldorn and Viconia are splendid.

              (I can’t speak to the lore and setting being butchered since most of what I know of Forgotten Realms, I know from the Icewind Dale books and Baldur’s Gate series itself.)

    2. Supahewok says:

      I’ve tried playing both Fallout 1 and 2. In Fallout 1, I got to Shady Sands, took out the Khans, and got some clue about finding a defunct Vault. “A dungeon!” I thought. “Surely all manner of evil beasties have made it their home. I’d best go train up and get some better weapons and armor!” So I proceeded to the town where the fat crime kingpin was trying to take over. Solved that. But there was still better equipment I couldn’t afford! I need more money! So I went on to…Junktown I think it was called? Wherein I joined a caravan. A great way to earn XP and money, I believed!

      Until I remembered the time limit. And realized I’d blown through half of it. Without even having gotten to the first dungeon. That was the end of that playthrough. Never went back.

      F2 was better. No damn timer. But it was in that game that the combat started really dragging. Having 3 companions not under your direct control while fighting more than 5 enemies means you only have input in 1 action out of 8 or more. Fights were more watching everyone else go than anything I could do. But I decided to stick to it. Eventually, got to the super mutant town and, once again, joined a caravan for money and xp.

      Next thing I know, I’m in a fight with over 20 combatants. About 6 actions in I still haven’t gotten the chance to do a damn thing when a super mutant with a minigun shot me in half. A super mutant who I think was on my side, no less. (Although, since I HADN’T HAD A TURN, I couldn’t really check) That was the end of that playthrough.

      This is why, for me, Fallout New Vegas is my favorite Fallout game. I got far enough in both of the older ones to see some of their brilliance in writing, but New Vegas’ writing is almost as good AND I can actually get through combat AND have all the time in the world to do what I want.

      1. Patrick the twice distilled says:

        Dude…if you quit every game the first time you die/fail it’s a wonder you ever finished a single game. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Fallout can be a frustrating, but nearly as much as most games.

        1. Supahewok says:

          Oh, I finish plenty of games. Fallout 1 & 2 are kinda exceptions. In Fallout 1, I’d gotten myself in what was probably a fail-state (I admit it was probably salvageable if I dug up a guide and stuck to it religiously, but that would have ruined the game for me) and would’ve had to redo over a dozen hours of game time. (Yes, I should’ve kept multiple saves. I am TERRIBLE at that.) Fallout 2 was me gradually getting fed up with the combat, culminating in an example of the combat system at its worse.

          As an example of a long, challenging game I’m playing through to the end, I’m almost done with my first playthrough of Xenonaughts. And there’ve been plenty of “Oh shit” moments, like my dropship getting destroyed en route to a mission, killing nearly all of my B-Team. :)

      2. syal says:

        That’s quite the unfortunate time to quit Fallout 1; you were one town away from eliminating the (first) time limit.

        Also the town with the caravans lets you extend the time limit if you’re cutting it close.

        (Also Fallout 2 does have a timer, it just doesn’t let you see it as often.)

        1. Supahewok says:

          Was I now? I did have a look at the wiki a couple years later and learned about the water caravan. I dunno if it would’ve helped, since it would cut down on the second timer. Didn’t know that I was close to getting the new water chip though.

          Edit: y’know, on a second reading of my original comment, maybe my problem was that I should have avoided caravans…

          1. syal says:

            There’s even a caravan job that will take you where you’re supposed to go. It doesn’t go out of it’s way to tell you that’s where you’re supposed to go, either before or after you get there, but if you’re exploring thoroughly you’ll figure it out.

            Or you’ll get yourself skipped to the final boss dungeon and probably killed.

            1. Supahewok says:

              Ah, classic RPG’s.

              That’s all that’s needed to say, really.

              Speaking of, did the Twentysided crew miss Wasteland 2? It’s been a couple of months and I don’t recall them talking about it. Course, they may not be done with it, I’m 30 hours into my first playthrough and at the halfway point; I am currently on a break from it. It’s such a wonderfully DENSE game…

              1. krellen says:

                Shamus has access to a copy of Wasteland 2, but it doesn’t look like he’s redeemed it yet.

                Chris has it too. Josh does not have it.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “while Starcraft's 1998 CGI looks dated and silly.”


    “But Thief II is strong in every way that its sequel wasn't.”

    And stronger than its predecessor which relied so much on mazes and zombies(seriously,fuck the second level).

    “It couldn't last, and I'm not saying we'd be better off if graphics hadn't advanced at all, but it shows that we did lose something.”

    The rapid advance in graphics,I think,is responsible for the lack of good artists.You cant be good in a medium when it changes so rapidly and when it hires on so many hacks just to fill the screen.Which is why the slowdown of the last console generation was so appreciated.And I hope this one will last at least just as long so that we can get more quality art over just the sheer number of brown pixels filling the screen.

    1. ET says:

      I too, hope this console generation lasts a long time for the artists. I also want it to last longer, so that we can stop filling the landfills with obsolete pieces of plastic when we upgrade. ^^;

  5. Jake Taylor says:

    This is where I really diverge from this list. The only games I’ve really played here are Saints Row The Third and Fallout, and I hated Fallout (for many reasons, but I do hate everything ever made with a time limit).

    It does really annoy me with games like Thief 2 – I can’t get into that game now. You can’t go back to a game like that unless you played it at the time, or at least I can’t. Some older games aren’t a problem, but I just can’t get any enjoyment from some of them (other examples I’ve tried and couldn’t get into: System Shock 2, the original Deus Ex, Bauldur’s Gate 1 and 2, the original XCOM, TIE Fighter, and other games I expect will be on this list). I wasn’t a PC Gamer until the late 90s (I played Doom on the PS1, even), and even then I only really played Blizzard games, so I missed pretty much everything before that.

    Also: “And now we get annual Assassins Creed instead of this, and it suffers from the same problem. Only moreso. Stupid Ubisoft.” Yeah, but every Assassin’s Creed game sells more than all the Prince of Persia games combined, so there’s really no reason for them to stop. It’s a pretty hard sell to convince someone to risk trying something different when what they’re doing is guaranteed success.

    1. A lot of franchises are pretty much like the Transformers movie series: Spectacle and evermore tenuous ties to the original. Less plot or reason for the game to happen and more “Rule of Cool” driving the action.

      And before anyone cries “Saints Row” or “yeah, but if it’s FUN,” my point is for game franchise that at least started halfway serious and have kind of devolved into self-parody. They become like bad or campy movies that weren’t made to be bad/campy in the first place.

      1. Vermander says:

        I think most of us that love the Saint’s Row games see them as more of a digital toybox than a traditional game. Since most of the features are available early on, or are easily unlocked, you’re pretty much free to spend your time experimenting and goofing around all you want.

        The other big reason people love it is the incredible character customization. I can’t think of any other game where you can create a fully voiced character of any age, race and gender you want and dress them however you want with no consequences. There’s a huge variety of outfits to choose from and none of them affect your abilities. So if you decide you want to play as a 300 lb latino grandmother who wears a pink sweatsuit for the entire game, you’re free to do so.

        1. Right, but Saints Row has always had the air of silly to it, which is why it works.

          Looking at the new CoD game, it seems like the franchise has gone full “Halo/MGS fanfic.” The previous games weren’t exactly by-the-book military sims, but they didn’t have hoverbikes and super-suits.

    2. Interesting that Diablo (the original) had a time limit (complete with an Angry Diablo who could be turned to stone and whittled down with blood spirits), and then took it out.

      1. houser2112 says:

        Time limit in D1? I played that game religiously until D2 came out, and I’m struggling to think of what you’re talking about.

  6. Jake Taylor says:

    Oh yeah, forgot to do the header image…

    1. Not sure, maybe Daggerfall?
    2. Batman: Arkham City
    3. Tetris
    4. E.T. for Atari
    5. Desert bus
    6. Tomb Raider
    7. Can’t tell, definitely a Doom-era FPS though
    8. No idea
    9. World of Warcraft
    10. Saints Row The Third (or 4, could be either)
    11. Lord of the Rings Online maybe?
    12. Crysis (couldn’t tell you which one, probably 3)

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      7 looks like quake to me.

    2. Birras says:

      7 looks like it might be the first Star Wars Dark Forces? 8 is City of Heroes, I believe.

    3. ColeusRattus says:

      7 is Descent.

    4. Steve C says:

      #1 looks like Doom to me.

    5. krellen says:

      8 is the square in Atlas Park where all the costume contests were held in City of Heroes.

    6. Wolf says:

      7 is indeed Descent
      8 is City of Heroes

      For 12 I would go with Crysis 3 because of the “They used to call me… Prophet” line

    7. Disc says:

      11. is most likely Guild Wars 2. The buildings look very Krytan with the stone colored walls and dark rooves. While LOTRO does have some buildings with similar style, they’re relatively rare, I only ever recall seeing them in the Angmar zone and never in that particular formation or with any living trees near them. The color-scheme is also way off. It’s a zone of dark, toxic and depressing tones and there’s no blue sky to speak of.

    8. syal says:

      1. Final Fantasy
      2. Final Fantasy 2
      3. Final Fantasy 3
      4. Final Fantasy 4
      5. Final Fantasy 5
      6. Final Fantasy 6
      7. Final Fantasy 7
      8. Final Fantasy 8
      9. Final Fantasy 9
      10. Final Fantasy 10
      11. Don’t know
      12. Final Fantasy 12

      How’d I do?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Im not commander shepard,but this is my favorite comment on the internet.

      2. ET says:

        11. Final Fantasy X-2, duh. :P

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          11 is clearly Rad Racer.

    9. modus0 says:

      #1 is Thief II: The Metal Age. It’s a picture of a telescope. Could be Thief: The Dark Project, but I don’t remember any telescopes in that game.

      #7 is Descent.

      #8 is probably either City of Heroes or Champions Online.

      1. Tom says:

        There are two telescopes in Thief 2 that I can remember. One is on the ship behind the warehouse in level 2, but that picture is of the other one, which is actually one of the least-often-found bonus areas in arguably the best level in the whole of Thief 2, Life of the Party. Which makes it a great picture to use! If I recall correctly, it’s the telescope of the alchemist/astrologer/mystic-of-some-sort who built the most powerful explosive device in the game, which he simply placed under a chair to try and launch someone to the moon (I think it actually launched said test subject as far as the local public fountain).

        Damn, I miss those occasionally hilarious incidental notes the designers used to leave lying around the levels for intrepid explorers. I don’t remember there being any in Thief 3, and I sincerely doubt they’re back in the reboot.

        Thief 1 & 2, like a lot of the best late ’90s games, had a dark humour and playfulness that didn’t always really make it to newer sequels. Remember the schmuck-bait “do not press” button in the sherriff’s mansion? To say nothing of the truly unique “Blooper Reel” level that shows off some of the more amusing engine bugs they managed to create while making the game – most of the funniest ones involving doors. I wonder if any game developers today would dare to, or could get away with deliberately sharing their hilarious scripting goofs with the players, and laughing it off? Spoiler Warning clearly shows there’s an appreciation for it!

        “Hadst I a hammer, wouldst I hammer in the morning…”

        1. Naota says:

          It’s such a shame developers don’t do these things any more. Thief’s little easter eggs were both more personal and honestly hilarious than the downright insecurity we see on display in modern big-budget titles, where nobody involved is allowed to even acknowledge that bugs, gaffes, or unintended outcomes exist in their Video Game Product(tm).

          I try to keep the trend alive when I get the chance. These are even a part of the collector’s edition!

  7. Jack Kucan says:

    Kind of sad Fallout made it, because that means New Vegas can’t be on, and honestly New Vegas is probably one of the best-designed games of all time, building upon every previous game in the franchise to create one of the most immersive and deep games I’ve ever played.

    1. DaMage says:

      Agreed, although Fallout original has a great tone is a good game in it’s own right, New Vegas just builds on that quality and caps it off with modern gameplay. They are both vastly different games within the same series that both stand as classics. I enjoyed Fallout 3, but after New Vegas I have never played it again as it just seem shallow and silly.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      While I love new vegas,I think it still lacks some stuff of the first and especially second(which is my favorite).Though if the whole of new vegas were like old world blues,then I think it would emerge as the best one for me.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Agreed about Old World Blues. That rocked. They really went the extra mile turning all the equipment in the sink into characters.

      2. Patrick the twice distilled says:

        My favorite thing about that DLC was the personality they put into it. The ‘scientists’ were hilarious. The conversations were creative. The missions didn’t feel like time filler. The whole package was well thought out and well designed.

        1. Brandon says:

          I did get really tired of the robo-scorpions, though. I hit a point in NV where I felt like I wasn’t getting any better, because the enemies were scaling completely on pace with me. I do like to have some challenges, but when there aren’t any easy fights left because the baddies all leveled up, it gets a little grindy.

          I do agree that the fantastic dialogue is probably the best in almost any game I’ve played to date.

      3. I like Old World Blues because of its contrast to the rest of the game. I don’t think I’d like it if all of New Vegas was wacky-brain-scientists, robot monsters, and a few repainted zombie-ish mobs.

        Mind you, there were some cut endings for NV that talked about the Mojave getting covered in those hexcrete structures and super-science weirdness wiping out settlements and so forth. Having to stop an OWB faction of some kind from spreading across the desert might have been a fun extra questline to put in the game.

    3. Tizzy says:

      I really like New Vegas too, but the Original Fallout (drink) has a special place in my heart. Nostalgia, certainly. But also because I went into this game entirely unsure of what to expect and not necessarily excited, and the game just blew me away and offered way more than I thought possible from a game at the time. Games today probably suffer from the high expectations put on them.

      Also, the more primitive storytelling means that it’s easier to enjoy. I think the modern Fallout games got the tone slightly wrong, but I think also that the earlier games allowed for a wider variety of ways in which players interpreted the tone of the game. Many interpretations coexist more easily when everything is mostly text-based.

      (AndFallout 2 had already managed to fumble the dark comedy vibe, btw. This stuff is hard to nail down.)

      Anyway, to come back to the time limit, I hated the very idea of it when I fired up the game, but I don’t think it was that bad. (1) As I recall, It applies only to the first part of the game. You’re really free to explore once you returned the McGuffin. (2) It was a pretty generous time limit. You didn’t have to know exactly where to go in order to beat the clock.

      While it worried me a lot while playing, the clock beat me only once, and I never had to look up anything online, so I can’t harbor any lasting resentment towards it. And though not essential, I think I can kind of see why the devs wanted to include it.

      1. Patrick the twice distilled says:

        Totally agree with F2 as the winner in the ‘dark comedy’ area. I really liked the story of F2 the best as well. Building upon the story of the first in a normal, seemless way gave the whole thing a true ‘sequel’ feel. Remember your first quest in F2? Bering sent to the temple to retrieve the torn remnants of the vault suit? Maybe it’s corny…but the first time I played through the moment when the cutsceen broke to a close-up of the vault suit, torn and hung on an alter, I got goosebumps and I said, out loud, “fuck yea!”. That’s the moment most sequels fail to provide. Think Assassin’s Creed.

        F3 was a joke. Its been discussed.

        F3NV was…better. But it still crashed far to much. It was still to buggy. ‘A’ for idea, ‘C-” for execution.

        One of the things that I loved about the original was its brutality. Not only was the game design and story new and exiting, but the designers didn’t pull any punches on it’s execution either. It’s the only game I’ve ever heard of that allows the player to shoot kids. Not even GTA or Saints Row had the balls to go there.

        Mind you, I’m not saying that including that in the game was wise or necessary. It certainly didn’t further the narrative. But it took a special kind of daring and dedication to making something new and different to even think about doing it. I give them points just for having the balls to include it in the game.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “Mind you, I'm not saying that including that in the game was wise or necessary. It certainly didn't further the narrative.”

          I disagree.It was both wise and necessary in order to present the full harshness of the world.

          Also,didnt 2 allow that as well?

          1. krellen says:

            It did. And had a couple Fagins, too.

          2. Patrick the twice distilled says:

            Well…it certainly did add an element of brutality to the game. It certainly made it more “real” for lack of a better term. And when compared against the other parts of the game that were light-hearted and comical the game narrative was certainly complex. But I don’t know that it was necessary, per say. I mean, you could also add things like rape and incest, both of which would probably be very common in a post-apocalyptic world. Some things are maybe best left un-said. But i get your point…

            On my 4th or 5th play-through of the original Fallout I decided to go full-out sociopath and murder everyone in the game.

            No talking. No conversations. No fetch side missions. Just murder.

            Everyone dies. If it bleeds, I will kill it.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              “If it bleeds, I will kill it.”

              And if it bzzts?

            2. Sleeping Dragon says:

              And the best bit? The game would let you!

        2. IFS says:

          Personally my ranking of the Fallout games goes as follows: NV, 1, 2, 3, and tactics. New Vegas in particular remains one of my favorite RPGs of all time, as it basically combined the open world aspect of games like TES and 3 but with actually good writing and interesting characters and stories. As for 1 vs 2 I enjoyed both but 2 had way too many ‘funny’ moments (which admittedly were generally funny) that pulled me out of the experience, was too brutally hard in the early game, and the only file I had on it that neared the end was brought to a halt by some nasty bugs somewhat killing my enjoyment of the game. Really it always seems odd to me when people criticize NV for its bugs and then uphold FO2 as the best of the series, because I’ve had far more trouble with bugs in 2 than in NV.

        3. I hated the temple. “Oh, great. It’s basically a mostly-combat tutorial level where I can die multiple times because maybe I don’t want to be a melee character and poison is awesome.”

          Also, who built that temple? If the protagonist from Vault 13 and his new-found tribe built it, I’d love to know how and why. If it was “just there,” it still doesn’t make any sense as to why it exists as-is. Better to have made it a converted old-world ruin and either tailor the monsters to the character’s starting stats or have fewer monsters running around.

    4. Bloodsquirrel says:

      New Vegas < Fallout 3 for me.

      New Vegas had a less aggressively stupid main plotline, but the game world didn't feel as complete. As soon as you got off of the main quest line there wasn't really much to find off the beaten path. Quests often failed to have a logical way to resolve them. The geographic design funneled the player around a lot more.

      1. I find it’s best to think of Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas as two different flavors of game.

        Fallout 3 favors the shooty-shoot dungeon crawler style of RPG play. There are a few quests that can change this up (i.e The Republic of Dave’s election, the return to Vault 101, etc.), but it’s mostly about atmosphere, seeing a familiar world capital in ruins, and blowing things up. The main quest and nearly all the others are all about going somewhere, killing things, and finding loot. You never have to worry about loyalty (you’ll be working for the BoS, like it or not) or having to choose whose goals you’re fighting for in the main quest.

        New Vegas has more quests where the outcome can be violent, speech-oriented, or strategic. It takes more into account for this kind of thing (what I’m wearing, what skills I have, who I’ve ticked off), and while you’re free to roam, a lot of the quests are best done when given to you. For example, if you find the BoS bunker early, you could do the “wrong” thing (if you want the BoS on your side or you want them there for Veronica’s quests) and get depose the Elder in favor of a new one. You could kill the leader of the Fiends, Motor-Runner, which will nix some of the quests from the Great Khans, and so on.

        I think those who favor F3 find the ability to cut off the best outcomes of quests by just walking into places and mucking about without knowing where you’re going can be off-putting. It doesn’t break the game, but perhaps it makes it seem unfair if a fail or less-than-perfect ending is possible, seemingly without warning?

        As for funneling you around without warning, are you forgetting how downtown Washington DC and its metro stations are arranged? They make the invisible walls on the mountain ranges in the Mojave look downright rational.

        1. Humanoid says:

          I find it’s best to think of Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas as two different types of game. Fallout 3 is a bad game, New Vegas is a good game.

          (Pot-shot aside, it’s plenty true for me: gave up on FO3 maybe 5 hours in? 300+ hours and counting for NV)

          1. F3’s main quest is bad and nonsensical, yes. However, the DC area is fun to explore, and a lot of the sidequests are interesting. In a way, Point Lookout has one of the better bits of the game in that you have this drug trip-thing that gets pretty deep, man…

            But as I said, NV is the superior narrative. I’d only ever play F3 again with loads of mods and probably not all the way through.

  8. Darren says:

    Boy, you are right about the hand-holding thing. I was thinking about this recently in regards to the Playstation game Legend of Mana. That game does the exact same thing, providing you with a goal–revive the Mana Tree–and then giving you absolutely nothing to go on. It’s the only game I’ve ever played where I finished it basically by accident.

    I know you were never a console gamer, but if you ever get the chance to play that game, I’d love to see your analysis. It’s not quite like anything else I’ve ever played and would fit in well with a lot of the wonderful oddities on this list.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I don’t know if this counts, but on one run — that I think I never finished — I stumbled across the main quest in Oblivion … while looking for a shop to sell/buy stuff.

      And I didn’t find a shop there.

      I felt like Aragorn …

  9. Alex says:

    I’ve never played Eve Online, but to me it seems like a game that is better watched than played. The gameplay doesn’t look as fun as other space sims, but the emergent gameplay creates some wonderful stories. My favourite is still the story of the bank manager who cleaned out the bank and spent the money on the biggest battleship he could find, the rest on a bounty on himself and told the world “Come get me, suckers!” while flying off into the sunset.

    As for Fallout, I’ll say again that what I really want out of Fallout 4 is built-in support for vehicles. I would love an immersive FPRPG where you can get up to Mad Max shenanigans out in the desert between settlements, or where you and a companion or two can go on a road trip exploring the wastes.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “As for Fallout, I'll say again that what I really want out of Fallout 4 is built-in support for vehicles.”

      Definitely this.Id love to drive around the desert,wishing for a nuclear winter.

    2. Patrick the twice distilled says:

      Hmm..almost like a free-form Half-Life 2?

    3. Tuck says:

      Far Cry 2 gameplay in the Fallout universe!

    4. There’s a fairly good mod that lets you drive cars around in FNV. There’s another mod that fixes a lot of the roads so this is feasible.

      1. Alex says:

        I’m familiar with it, and used it for a while. I stopped before I bought my first car because I ran into a bug that made the game unplayable.

        I want it baked into the game in part because the game’s always going to be more stable if you’re not kludging new and unprecedented features onto the engine, and in part because it would allow the feature to expand beyond the scope of what can be achieved with mods. For example, giving vehicles their own AI the same way flying dragons do in Skyrim is going to be easier if you can access all the code rather than being limited to what’s available in the Construction Kit and your own kludges. I cannot praise Bethesda’s modding tools enough, but even they have limits.

    5. nerdpride says:

      Interesting that there’s hardly any reply about EVE Online… Not that I know a lot about it.

      I’m really, really skeptical about the things that people say about it. Some of the stories about it are neat, but I get the impression I would be too small a pawn to do anything more interesting than clicking some buttons when someone on a voice chat tells me to do something.

      Shamus says most of it is emergent, and different from WoW. I guess I’m not impressed yet? If MMORPGs were being described for the first time, I bet they’d say that having so many people on a server makes the typical single/small multiplayer content null and does emergent stuff.

      Sure, it’s an interesting step, and intimidating for a developer to consider, also worth mentioning in the list of course. But I’m not convinced that it’s very much different. Back in the day I heard arguments against procedural content in favor of developer-created content, and I wanted an unlimited flow of new stuff then, but the hand-crafted position is starting to grow on me (if only they did it right).

      1. Moddington says:

        EVE Online is terribly implemented and all its players hate it. But they’ve also been playing for years and aren’t about to stop any time soon.

        It’s complicated.

        1. Richard H says:

          Bahahahaha… This is very true.

          To elaborate more for the other readers, if anyone else somehow gets this far down and is reading back, yes, you will undoubtedly be a very small cog in a very large machine. You will also, if you get into it, develop a remarkably strong affinity for the group you are playing with in this terribly-implemented game they have just spent the past three years refactoring because the code quality meter reads “indecipherable”, which is a notch below “unmaintainable”. It’s really a lot like nationalism, or perhaps gang wars IN SPACE where some of them have managed to get recognized as nations in their own right.

          Also, as a side-effect of the “mined by players, built by players, shipped by players, sold by players” effect, the old maxim about amateurs and professionals in war absolutely holds true. A remarkably small cadre of shippers (probably 1-10% of the player base at most) keep the war machines rolling. The burnout rate is … high. On the other hand, that’s also the total number of people actually trusted with someone else’s massive cargoes.

      2. Decius says:

        The fantasy equivalent of EVE, Pathfinder Online, is coming up on the Early Access point real soon now.

        They’re even doing it the same way CCP did, with the opening release having only the minimum features to be an MMO, rather than spending $300M up-front. However, spending about 1% of the budget of a modern MMO on development shows; the terrain is procedurally generated rather than handcrafted, for example, and not all of the races and “classless roles” will be included at the start of Early Enrollment.

  10. Geebs says:

    If Deadly Shadows had used the thi4f naming convention, it would have been called 3f

  11. Hal says:

    Hm . . . I don’t suppose you’ll ever go back to finish your autopsy series on the 2014 Thief, will you?

  12. krellen says:

    Kind of surprised to see SR3 get the nod instead of SR4. I mean, I used to prefer SR3, but then I played 4 a couple more times and now I really love it, because it didn’t pointlessly kill anyone.

    1. Mephane says:

      Saints Row 4 most pointlessly killed the fun of causing random mayhem – as soon your wanted level reaches maximum, all enemies are replaced with a mini-boss, which can only be defeated by solving the final quicktime event, after which your wanted level is back to zero.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      What? Didn’t Pierce and Oleg die in that game when Earth was destroyed?

      Sure, the ending might solve that particular point, but we don’t see those characters for the rest of the game after their death.

      1. Supahewok says:

        Pierce didn’t die. It was Oleg, the actor, and Viola. Probably Zimos and Angel too, but since they aren’t mentioned whatsoever in SR4 I really don’t think that’s a spoiler.

        Interesting thing I noticed in SR4: The human companions on your ship are composed of 2 people per game in the series. Johnny Gat and Benjamin King from SR1, Pierce and Shaundi from SR2, Kinsie and Matt Miller from SR3, and Asha and Keith David from SR4. I imagine that’s not a coincidence. The design team was probably told that they had that quota for the purpose of budgeting voice acting. It would explain why so many characters from SR3 were put on a bus. And then had the bus blown up.

    3. Thomas says:

      I’m _really_ surprised Saints Row 3 came out on top. I thought that was the one most people hated?

      I guess Saints Row 3 established it’s identity in a way that SR2 didn’t quite. SR2 was like a _good_ GTA clone (compared to SR1’s bad GTA clone) with some independent legs in terms of customisation.

      Saints Row 3 was the first one the really nailed the whole ‘unrestrained ID’ idea. Having the Saints have their own fizzy drinks and do bank robberies dressed as themselves was the perfect place to go for the franchise. The thing that makes the Saints cool is that they’re utterly themselves but 10x moreso than anyone else. It totally fits a gameplay style when you can be a green naked fat guy fist fighting his way down a street.

      But at the same time SR3’s story beats were pretty bad and some of the GTA mission settings was soooo out of place here. Missions where you’re human trafficking completely miss the point that the rest of the game nailed. It’s enough that it makes me put SR2 ahead of SR3

      And then SR4 by most accounts was SR3 where they didn’t make those mistakes and the gameplay was even crazier.

      Maybe it’s because SR4 wasn’t as ‘Saints Row’ as Saints Row 3 was? It’s kind of bordering on superhero Incredible Hulk gameplay

      1. Raygereio says:

        I'm _really_ surprised Saints Row 3 came out on top. I thought that was the one most people hated?

        Storywise it’s the Saint’s Row game most often disliked. What with the whole killing of a beloved character off screen and the incoherent plot and all

        I think it deserved the spot though because it was the first Saints Row game to completely throw away all pretense at telling a serious story in between the side missions where you spray poop at houses and go “Let’s just be silly”.
        Saints Row 4 is a good game, but I don’t think it did anything really new.

        That said: If Saints Row 2 wasn’t such an awful PC port and I could actually play it properly, I might be furiously arguing that it is the best Saints Row game (which seems to be the common opinion amongst Saints Row fans).

        1. Supahewok says:

          Dunno if I’d go that far. I played SR2 about a year ago (didn’t finish it because after a while it would crash on start; as you said, bad port) and it didn’t really hold up to my memories. Cutscenes are kinda wooden and downplayed compared to 3 and 4, and the supporting cast didn’t have as many moments. And the world feels a little duller without tanks and attack jets.

          On the plus side, you could replay past missions whenever you wanted, and, UNLIKE 3, none of the missions were side activities. That was my biggest problem with 3.

          Although I do like the challenge you have to go through to get the attack helicopter. I think you could also unlock it through minigames, but I preferred rampaging through the police station and stealing it from the helipad on the roof. Can break the game if you do it early enough.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I know this is a discussion for the podcast post,but I prefer to stay current.Plus it is closely tied to the fallout thing.

    So,about remakes,I think that remakes of old games are best done with improvement to ui.Like baldurs gate enhanced edition did.Yes,the tone,story and essence of plenty of old games still remains amazing,but they usually have such difficult ui.Just look at original fallout(drink) and xcom.

    Also ai.The ai of many old games sucks most of the time,which is another thing that would be better if improved.Instead of graphics,improving these two I’s would make old games much more accessible to the young crowd.

    1. Groboclown says:

      I’ll +1 this. I tried playing the first System Shock again, and also the Ultima Underworld titles, and those were really, really hard to play because of the “unnatural” feeling controls. I can suffer this to an extent, but I just couldn’t get the ol’ muscle memory to react properly with the old style controls.

      Re-releasing the game with updated (or at least customizable) controls would help wonders. However, I also know that back in the day, most of the controls were hard-coded deep in the bowels of assembly, and that’s tough to get up to modern standards.

      I did recently pick up the Little Big Adventure release for Android, and the updated “touch friendly” controls were really nice. It changed the game enough that some of the Super Mario jump puzzles became trivial, but there is one that became near impossible because of the control changes. Which is a long way in saying “YMMV” depending on these updates.

  14. Dev Null says:

    I too have fond memories of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. (Also of the original PoP, but that’s just because I’m old.) Enough so that, when they went on sale on GoG recently, I bought the two sequels. The first one starts out so terribly that when I dropped it I almost didn’t bother to try the second. The second one had long stretches of the cunning platforming I remember, but puts enormous gaps between checkpoints to discourage any kind of exploration or experimentation. I was still mostly enjoying it until I got to the first “Boss Fight” with the enormous fat mutant giant in the arena, where the camera spirals around you to make your navigation controls useless, and you use none of the skills you’ve developed so far, instead having to pull off a series of quicktime events or go back to the checkpoint – _before_ the long, boring cutscene. It’s like a tutorial on how to ruin a game with mechanics. Game uninstalled.

    1. Geebs says:

      Warrior Within has the best combat (not saying much) and, believe it or not, actually has the best platforming of any of the original trilogy. The music’s pretty terrible and the grimdark stuff is embarassing but it plays beautifully. Significantly better than Two Thrones, which has actually aged the worst.

      I guess what I’m saying is, give Warrior Within another go because you’re really missing out.

      1. lethal_guitar says:

        “The music's pretty terrible”

        Wait what? It’s one of the best parts of that game!! And I’m not being sarcastic here. I really love the music.

        Well, personal taste is personal taste, I guess.

        1. Geebs says:

          The stuff by Stuart Chatwood is really good, but I’m really not a fan of Godsmack; and there’s a lot of Godsmack.

  15. Isy says:

    I will get in a boxing ring with you over that Monkey Island 3 statement, Shamus. I will not stand for claims it blows everything Sierra made away when Quest for Glory is notably absent from your play list.

    I don’t even think you’d enjoy Quest for Glory after all these years, so I’m not even saying your statement is wrong. It’s just a principle thing, it was the best adventure game series Sierra made and no one played it.

    1. Tuck says:

      Secret of Monkey Island was the first game in the series. He’s just posted a screenshot of the special edition which came out a couple of years back with new graphics.

      1. Isy says:

        I really have to box him, then. Some of those puzzles were TERRIBLE.

    2. Andy_Panthro says:

      I love the Quest for Glory series (except for QFG5, which I have issues with). I have played 1-4 multiple times, and indeed have written about them both on my blog.

      Hugely underrated, and work well as both adventure games and RPGs. The particular highlight being that your character class not only changes your approach to combat, but also puzzles too (and there are class-specific events throughout the games).

      I’d highly recommend anyone interested picking them up (they’re fairly cheap on GOG and Steam), or you can download a free fan-made remake of the second game from here:

      1. Isy says:

        I’d buy the games for him if I thought he’d play them (and I thought there was a way for GoG to do that. And didn’t worry he’d feel like he was obligated to play them, or more accurately, felt like I thought that.). But to be honest, there’s problems with trying to introduce older games to people – ignoring all the game crashing bugs the games developed when placed on today’s Star Trek PCs. Modern gaming has moved on, and stuff that was fun back then and is fun for us veterans now (because this game was SO COOL) doesn’t seem like it would go over well with someone brand new to a series. Baldur’s Gate in particular suffers from that (I was angry at it even back then, for rewarding exploration with basilisks far above my level). Some of the grindy RPG bits in QfG probably would suffer the same fate, though if you play a mage you can avoid most of them.

  16. Just speaking for myself, but I’d be much more interested to read a list of games that influenced you personally the most, rather than a list of the top most influential games or whatever.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      You just say that because mark of the ninja isnt on the list.

      1. Pretty sure Mark of the Ninja wouldn’t be on *either* of these hypothetical lists. Most people don’t like it as much as I do. :[

  17. Thomas says:

    It took me a while in Fallout and a few other games to realize that when the game says “You should stay away from Necropolis, it’s dangerous there!” that didn’t mean stay away from Necropolis. It meant go straight to Necropolis. My first playthrough I made it all the way to the Follower temple with an early-game loadout and had no idea where to go from there. Then I gave up and read a guide. (I mean I usually always read the minmax parts of the guide, but not the walkthrough.)

    1. syal says:

      That’s an interesting problem specific to Open-World games; NPCs say “stay away from X” and you can’t tell if they’re letting you know to go there, or if they’re telling you you’re not high enough level for it yet.

      I think I had the same problem with Necropolis; sure didn’t help that there aren’t any references to it being an old Vault.

    2. krellen says:

      Fallout will, actually, eventually lead you to Necropolis in your search for a chip, but it’s not a clear, easy lead and requires putting a couple clues together from different places (the fact that Bakersville got a bunch of chips and the fact that Necropolis is Bakersville.)

  18. Someone says:

    Picture guesses 24-17:
    1 – Thief 2
    2 – ???
    3 – Tetris
    4 – ET for Atari
    5 – Desert bus
    6 – Tomb Raider reboot
    7 – Descent
    8 – City of Heroes
    9 – World of Warcraft
    10 – Saints Row 3
    11 – ???
    12 – Crysis 2

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