Tuesday, December 27, 2011

P.C v.s Consoles and The Future of these Industries

 (The oldest war known to mankind, or at least to our generation anyways :D , is the old P.C versus Console dispute.)

 The two sides have their rightful points. P.C's do whip any console's butt when it comes to advanced graphics and load times. Not to mention the fact that P.C communities are usually much more powerful and are much more helpful in creating custom patches to P.C games that have gone astray. Console users have no ability to patch their games since they're on static unchanging hard discs and have to wait for the developers to issue updates; sometimes waiting forever for updates that will never come out.

If you mention that to the opposite console fanboy they'll simply laugh and ask about the price associated with buying a gaming P.C. He'll mention that even when the PS3, the most expensive console, came out, it was still only $500 and less than half the price of a modern day Gaming Rig. They'll also consider the fact that console gaming and Xbox live has gotten much more popular and outsold the P.C market, a market they say is dying.

Both are slightly extreme positions, possibly because they're both said by fanboys, and especially because Skyrim completely removed the myth of the dying P.C genre. But the question remains if there can ever be peace between these two warring factions and what lies ahead for both industries.

The Futures of the P.C and Console Industries

I'd like to ask a very specific question that will steer our discussion about the future of these industries. That question is very simple:
Can a future Xbox Console ever run Microsoft Windows and would you want it to?

That singular question will have sent shock waves through most gamers minds, as it did mine when i thought of it. Imagine though, just for a second, hooking your console to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, then... boom, there you go, you now have a gaming rig AND a console.

Don't forget that modern PS3's have 9 Processors and extremely expensive and fast Graphic cards, easily able to undertake the constraints of the Windows Platform.

Xbox may not be there yet with their 360 but the successor to the Xbox360 is said to be a huge step up and will definitely have to be better than modern day PS3s or else no one will buy them instead of just buying a PS3 alternative.

Also don't forget, Microsoft owns Xbox. Why wouldn't they want people to game and use Windows? That way they'd be killing three birds with one stone by selling us a console, a p.c, and a software license of Windows!!

That would get Microsoft in a BRAND new industry it's not even in yet which is P.C manufacturing!! It makes perfect business sense and it would cost them NOTHING except to sell the consoles they were selling anyways. Once PS3 saw this they'd have to make an equal or GREATER product!

There was already a report released in July of 2011 about future plans for Windows 8 to let users play Xbox360 games natively!

Do you see what is inevitably happening? Since Consoles are just smaller sized P.C's anyways, and hardware is becoming cheaper and faster, eventually a gaming rig will be cheap enough to be a console. Some argue, if you hack the PS3, we're already there.

The future of the P.C and Console wars is a surprising harmony and truce that will blend the best elements of both into one singular hardware device. A console, beautifully constructed, with monitor outputs, and gaming inputs, that does everything you could ever dream of, all for $500 dollars or less.

Current gaming rigs are between $700-1,200, depending on whether you make it yourself or buy one pre-built. Regardless, we aren't far away from a gaming rig that functions as a console too.

New Trend in P.C Market

I bought my Core-I7 in February of 2009 for $1,350 and 3 years later it's still on top of the market because Hardware has surpassed software. Software makers are having a harder and harder time maxing hardware because it's becoming faster and cheaper. A MUCH better rig today is selling for $900, that has twice as much HD space as mine did and nearly 3 times the ram. All this again for $450 dollars less.

                       Picture Source By phil_g
I mention my computer because I also bought gaming rig in 2006 and 2 in the early 2000's, each time, top of the line, highly expensive, more than a thousand dollars. Each time they became obsolete in 2 years. That's not the case anymore though. As you've seen, my current rig is pushing 3 years and it's still reigning high.

This trend is why consoles will be able to afford gaming rigs and harmonize them together as one product. They will buy CPUs that are super fast and cost a fraction of what they used to, when consoles first came out.

A brand new future is looming where the P.C versus Console debate is about to be ended. A longstanding peace awaiting with glorious rewards for the gamers that waited patiently til that last victorious day. A day when the dispute will finally come to an end.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Game Ratings - Objective or Subjective? Facts or Opinions?

  ImageSourrce Steve-H
(Game ratings are like shades of colors during a sunset. It's not right to say one particular color rules over the rest or that only one game rating is correct)

One of the biggest dilemmas facing most gaming sites is how to provide their readers with proper game reviews. A good game review is essential at the end of the day and lets people know which games should be played and which are not worth their time.

The biggest question always lies on the game's score though. How do you pick it and how can you get most people to agree with the number you picked? What method did you use to determine the game's score and is that method correct?

Do games even have one unique score they deserve or is a game's score mostly based on opinion? Then if you get into Philosophy you can scratch even deeper by asking if a game even has an Objective score at all or if all game ratings are Subjective.

Objectivity v.s Subjectivity

First off, on our quest to answer some of these questions, I want to define what I mean when a game's score is Objective or Subjective; either it being based off of fact or opinion. The best way to do this is to use an example.

If a knife's edge is truly sharp, it doesn't matter how much I disagree with that statement of fact because at the end of the day my opinion of its sharp edge doesn't take anything away from the fact it's a sharp knife. I can call the knife dull or soft all I want but it's still going to be a sharp knife. That characteristic or attribute of the knife being sharp, regardless of my opinions, would be its objective sharpness.

The same can be said about the color of an object. Even if 100 people decide an object is orange but it's really blue, their opinions would not affect the color of the object and the object itself would have its own color regardless of what we feel.

Something Subjective though would be an opinion on which knife is the best or what your favorite color is. These types of questions have no factual right answer and cannot be said to be within the knife or object themselves. There are no right or wrong answers and because so many variable are at play, subjective questions can have many answers all equally being valid.

Applying these concepts to Games

So when it comes to a game, is its score solely based on opinion, or does it have an intrinsic rating that game reviewers should try to find and evaluate through a certain method? Or is it a slight mixture of the two somehow or something different altogether?

It really depends how you look at games and evaluate them. By evaluating them correctly, I argue, that you come to the right conclusion.

One opinion or evaluation of games is that they are like movies. Just as movies and actors get similarly agreed upon ratings and scores, so too games need scores that are similar to one another, even if not exactly the same.

Certain metrics can be used to analyze and evaluate an actors performance or a movies success at telling a story. Those same methods, some would argue, should be used to analyze games and get "fair" ratings for games so gamers aren't disappointed when buying a game.

Just by looking at how the argument is presented you might be convinced with the above statements and then push for game sites to try to harmonize their ratings more closely and work towards a proper method of rating games.

The counter argument though is much more compelling in my opinion and helps explains a lot of gaming culture and the grayness of the world we live in. It's nice to want things to be black and white but I think the following gray conclusion helps explain a lot about game ratings and why they'll always vary widely between game reviewers, magazines, companies, and gaming networks.

Interactivity plays into Human Nature & Tastes

I think the faulty logic of the previous argument, that games should be reviewed like movies and acting, lies in the fact that gaming is not a lazy occupation.

Gaming by its very nature is interactive. This interactivity throws a monkey wrench into a number of issues that would not be found in movies or books which are much more passive and don't factor in as many variables.

The moment you get an interactive art form or medium, you have to make room for human nature. Some people hate interacting with objects in a certain way.

Take sports for instance. People rarely all agree on their favorite sports. Some people actually have a hatred of certain sports and refuse to play them altogether. On the other hand we have people who can tolerate a sport but would rather not play it because they don't find it as fun.

It's the same for gaming. We like different types of games. Not everyone is a Basketball fan. So when you tell them to play Basketball, naturally, they won't enjoy themselves even if they have the best court, team mates, shoes, and coach.

Take hobbies as well. We all have different hobbies and some of us can't stand to do certain activities for long spans of time. As most of my readers know, I love writing, and while I may be happy to sit down and write for hours on end, it could drive other people mad or insane.

That doesn't say anything about writing itself, only that human nature is different and we have different likes and dislikes. Everyone is different. The world would be horribly boring if we were all the same, so it's good we have differences. It's interesting and creates funny situations throughout life.

But we can't forget those differences. We can't blame others for rating a game low or high because they might honestly hate or love that type of gameplay. Both game ratings have a hint of truth and neither are inherently wrong.

Game Ratings are 70% Subjective and 30% Objective

Taking into consideration that a game affects people differently because we interact with it, gamers should understand that some people don't like interacting with games in a certain way and others love that type of interaction.

That makes game ratings mostly subjective. Not everyone likes the same types of sports, hobbies, or past times as everyone else, and similarly the same game will be experienced significantly differently by millions of people from around the globe.

Trying to say a game DESERVES one particular rating for all people is wrong. Some people hate EA sports games like Fifa. Telling them it's an 8 or 9 out of 10, regardless of the fact that some people don't like those games, is misleading and wrong.

But to say a game's rating is completely opinionated is wrong as well. Certain things such as graphical quality, number of bugs, smoothness of the game, and story elements can all be agreed upon to a certain extent by most gamers. That's where the 30% of objectivity comes in. Someone rating a game  a 3, even though it has excellent graphics, a great story, and has high production value, is doing an injustice to the game itself.

All the effort and polishing it took to make the game would give the game at the very minimum a 5 out of 10. 

But beyond the 30% of  a game we can all evaluate easily and agree upon, the other 70% is really up to the gamers likes and dislikes. It's sad but true and explains why some gamers can never agree upon a rating for a game. Some people just really loved it while others would rather not play it.

 Some people do not enjoy Strategy games, or RPG's, or FPS games. To force them to play one of the best FPS games ever made, doesn't mean they'll enjoy it, if they dislike the FPS genre. To force people to play Starcraft, when they dislike Strategy games, is a similar problem.

But if 70% of a game is subjective how can we get a proper rating? Should we give up on that endeavor altogether? In my next part I want solve this problem and keep alive the dream of game ratings. Even with all these issues we can still have ratings and proper reviews for games.

What Game Reviews/Ratings should look like

1. It should immediately label it's target audience by saying: "This game is for people that like" and list different genres of gaming such as  "FPS games" "RTS games" "Adventure Games" "RPG games" or "Sports games".

From the beginning it's defining its audience. That way anyone who hates a particular genre of gaming can avoid them. If people hate strategy games, they would know right away, this rating does not apply to them.

2. Then it should move onto the rating itself. I've been rating games this whole article on a 10 point system but to be honest 10 points is too wide with too many digits to properly inform a gamer. The rating of a game becomes ambiguous to say it's a 7.5 or an 8. It's hard for our mind to process quickly how different that is from a 7 or an 8.5.

A lot of review sites, for that exact reason, have moved or are using a 5 point rating system which I propose we all adopt. This comes with one extra rule that decimals cannot be used. Games are either 3's or 4's. They are not 3.5's or 4.5's. In both cases we are copping out from a whole number. Saying a game is a 4 instead of a 3.5 is much easier for a gamer to understand.

Also a 4 out of 5 is a much more recommended game then a 3.5 or a 3 out of 5. Decimals make rating games very difficult and we should focus on whole numbers to help gamers understand exactly how good the game is they're thinking of buying.

We also shouldn't shy away from rating a game a 5 if a game is that amazing and game of the year material. There is no such thing as perfection in this world, but that doesn't mean we have to shy away from using perfect scores to signify "Amazing/High Level" quality. There's nothing wrong with that and gaming companies should be rewarded with perfect marks if they made near perfect games; which are the best we can hope for in an imperfect world.

Final Thoughts

So even though games may be more opinionated then factual, that doesn't mean a game's score is fully based on a person's opinion. As mentioned before, in the gray world we live in, it seems games are 70% based on our likes and dislikes and 30% based on the measurable qualities of the game itself.

Together these items should be taken into account and used to form a proper 1 out of 5 point game score that does not use decimals. The games should also be labeled for a certain audience of gamer so that people who are attracted to that type of interaction and experience know to play the game and others whom don't enjoy that experience do not buy it and are not forced to play something they won't like.

An example of a proper review as defined above would be:

Red Dead Redemption:
(Action/Adventure/Free Roam/Story Driven)
5/5 - Possible game of the year contender

It's simple to understand, quick to glance, defines its target audience, and lets the gamer know EXACTLY what to expect, so as not to be fooled into buying a game that's not of their tastes or liking.

Game ratings are essential and important to people looking to know which games are worth their hard earned money. The dark ages before these reviews is a time no one wants to go back to. But doing these reviews properly and with everyone's tastes in mind is the future of where game reviewers should be going. We should move in a more positive light making ratings less confusing.

With that in mind, the 10 point rating system is one object that should be retired because it inherently causes confusion having too many digits and being less sensitive than a 5 point alternative. Lets be honest, a game rated a 6 or a 7, is very close to the same. 

Where as a game rated a 3, 4, or 5, are all significant digits and range from 3= Average, to 4=Great, to 5=Amazing. This clarifies and clears up a rating so that anyone reading it immediately knows the quality of the game they are thinking of buying. 

Also please, again, for the love of God, don't ruin this system by adding decimal scores like 3.5's, or 4.5's, because you're introducing unnecessary digits and making the whole process confusing again. Take a stand, grow a spine, and either give the game a 3 or a 4. Is it closer to an average game or closer to a great one? If it's game of the year material, consider a 5. Our lives are complicated enough, we don't need more problems to deal with. :D

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gaming Culture: You haven't played all the best games of the past ten years. Are you ever going to?

ImageSource IanD Creative Commons License use
 (Never playing the best games of the last 10 years means you'll miss out on some of the best games made of all time. Invest time in past blockbusters because they're probably better than the new release you just bought.)

A problem in the gaming community has been getting increasingly worse and as a result gamers have trouble identifying some of the greatest games of the past ten years. The problem is that we always anticipate new games and invest time in playing them rather than going back and playing the proven amazing games of the past that we never got a chance to try.

Very few people can make the statement that they've played all the great games of the past ten years. You also can't make the excuses that you can't play them as a result of the older graphics of those games because the vast majority of the games are visually tolerable and are sometimes better than today if you look at games made after 2006.

So with the literally hundreds of great titles out there spanning a decade of gaming's golden era, why is it very few people take time to experience the older games or even RESEARCH into finding the older gems?

Why do most gamers obsess about the next Gears of War coming out or the next Halo or the next EA sports game? Sure, these may be amazing games but while you're waiting why not try some other games you missed.

So many people missed out on playing Heavy Rain because it was a PlayStation Exclusive and even today when i ask people if they've experienced the beauty and elegance of that game, they say they skipped over it and SADLY will NEVER revisit past games again! That's our Gaming Culture! That's what most gamers do; they NEVER revisit past games, even if they're only a few years old!!

Why would you gamble on new release titles when instead you can play some of the older blockbusters of gaming?

Then maybe a month after a game is released and proven to be good, you take the time to experience those new games. That saves you unneeded headaches with average or horrible games, especially when gaming is meant to be a time to have fun.

Wouldn't you save time, money, effort, and stress by not having to play those over hyped games, simply because they're new and everyone is talking about them? Why not wait til that hype dies down, the game gets cheaper, and others tell you if the game lived up to everyone's expectations?

Are you really looking forward to playing another Halo:ODST bust that was over hyped and frankly... sucked?

The Exception

There are definitely exceptions to every rule and there are a few reasons why you wouldn't want to wait to play that game you've been looking forward to.

Certain games are made at such high caliber levels by top of the line gaming studios, that you know they won't let you down.

Skyrim is a very good example of a game people look forward to for good reason. Obsidian Entertainment and Bethesda have a track record of making top of the line games, especially when it comes to the Elder Scrolls franchise.

To want to play and experience Skyrim, knowing it will probably be amazingly good, is not an issue and I wouldn't bother you for going that route.

Other games like Call of Duty have rarely if ever let down their fan base by producing high quality content for each and every installment of their games.

These games are the exceptions to the rule. If you don't want to wait to buy them, then by all means, feel free to rush out and play them on release day.

But the vast majority of games are a bit of a crapshoot. If you're a gamer you know this from experience. Even powerful developers like Disney can't be trusted simply because of their name, as we saw when Epic Mickey was released and thousands of gamers were united in disappointment.

Final Thoughts

Gaming culture needs to shift away from this problem. People should take the time to research and look into some of the best games of the past, experiencing them instead of a stress inducing random new release that may or may not live up to the hype.

When I say past, I don't really mean it has to be 10 years old. Maybe a great game that's 3 years old, that people have written about and vouched for, would be a better game to play than the next random new release of this year. If it's only 3 years old and has high production values, it could end up having better graphics than the game you want to play that's BRAND NEW!

PS2 has a lot of great titles and Ps3/Xbox have been making great titles for years. Do you honestly think you've played or experienced all the best games during that time? 99% of gamers haven't.

Very few gamers have. I know because I've routinely asked them about those games and everytime they don't know what I'm talking about.

This problem is getting worse and I guarantee you someone in a few years will tell me they haven't played either Red Dead Redemption, Starcraft 2, or Fallout 3.

Shouldn't we tell them to play that game INSTEAD of an unknown new game that probably won't be as good?

I know most people don't want to play games from the classic era on the Super Nintendo or the Sega Genesis because of the graphics and the possible gameplay issues. But that's why I used a 10 year frame instead of 20 year. After the year 2000, nearly every game is visually tolerable and some of the greatest games were released around this time. Just to give you a time frame, the PS2 was released in 2000.

The Classic era of SNES/Sega FAR precedes that time frame. So I'm not asking you to force yourself to play classic games.

For the few that have the stomach to play classic games, I'd definitely recommend you try them out, especially the early Zelda and Final Fantasy series of games.

No one has an excuse to not play older games. These games have engrained themselves into the history of gaming forever. We only live so long on Earth, so why waste our time playing sucky games, when a couple times a year we can play older games that were the best of their time.

It makes perfect sense, it saves you money, it keeps your gaming experience high, and lets you wait out the periods of the year where there are no good games being released.

This is a shift in gaming culture I hope all gamers adopt.

Since this is the year 2011 and to help support me in changing the perception of Gamers and Gaming culture, I'd suggest a Hashtag on twitter. People could use the hashtag to support the idea of playing the best games of the past instead of gambling on random new games.

If you tweet/use twitter be sure to mention: #BestGamesofPast>LatestGamingOutcasts

A few resources to help you find some of the best games of the past:

Don't Forget Flash Games! :D

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Top 10 reasons Why we Game. 10 unfulfilled needs Gaming satisfies

Source CraigmDennis
(Gaming has always shifted to meet our needs. But exactly what are those needs and why do we game?)

The explosion of gaming at the beginning of the 21st century turned a fringe hobby into a significant pastime for millions of people.

The question follows then: what exactly does gaming give us that we need so badly? What inherent desires do humans have that gaming fulfills?

Today we'll be looking at the top 10 reasons for gaming and showing how gaming gives us what we want. It's become another way to fulfill desires we never knew we had.

Before we start the list, I just wanted to mention that this list isn't in any particular order. It's randomly listing the 10 most important needs that gaming fulfills.

Number 10

Isn't that why we fell in love with Mario and other side-scrollers? The platforming was really fun in Super Mario Brothers but the worlds were also very catchy and well themed. Wanting to go out in a brand new world and venture about was one of the reasons why we played as Mario. His new world was more interesting than ours.

This need inside us, to be adventurous, to go out and explore, is something gaming has come to provide. We used to go out into the woods and find new worlds on our own. Now all it takes is a controller, T.V, and a very very nice couch.

Gaming helps fulfil that inner desire in all of us to see things we've never seen before.

Number 9
Earn Praise - Become a Hero / Interactivity

Imagine working hard and never being rewarded for your efforts. Gaming doesn't do that. Instead when you spend hours grinding away and working hard doing quests, the game, story, and virtual people come to recognize your efforts and in turn praise you for your hard work.

Gaming fulfills this inner desire to become that hero, be recognized for your talents and efforts, and receive praise we may not get enough of in the real world.

The other key with being a hero in a video game is interactivity. You're not watching this in a movie theater. You're actually in control of the main character. You immerse yourself into that character and interact with the environment. This interactivity is a key reason why games are so fun. Being able to influence the outcomes of the story or be a part of it is amazingly fun and a definite reason why we game.

Number 8
Leave Reality - Nurture Creativity

Being able to step out of the real world once and a while is a feeling everyone enjoys, especially if you venture into worlds you could never have thought possible. It's why we watch movies, T.V shows, or any other sort of visual drama. Stepping out of reality has always been a way of helping to cultivate creativity in others by seeing someone else's vision of another place and another time.

Think of how many spinoff stories people write and how much fan-fiction gets created once someone experiences a fictional world drempt by a creative artist.

Number 7
Explore the Dark side - Curiosity

Everyone always wonders what it's like from the opposite characters point of view. We also understand that even though Grand Theft Auto lets us drive into streetlights, we'd never do that in the real world.

Gaming often gets criticized for the freedom it allows it's players to move. But this freedom is really the basic instinct of curiosity. We always ask what life might be like in a different more sinister way.

That doesn't mean we ourselves are sinister, just like wondering how a cat is like doesn't mean we dream of being a cat, it just means we want to see a side of the world we could never try in real life.

Don't let fear mongering against games scare you. People know the difference between virtual and real life violence. Psychologically, something would be wrong with you if you THOUGHT you killed someone while playing a video game. That would be a scarier thought than people merely having fun playing video games .

Even young children know the difference when their action figures/dolls die or get fight each other. They know none of it's real and it doesn't affect their moral conscience.

Number 6
Power/Control - Observe results of our choices

The Sims is the highest selling PC game of all time. The game, which puts us in full control of the lives of other virtual people, is a telling example of our need for control and power.

We like building these virtual worlds, controlling them, and eventually seeing the outcome of our decisions. We get to see if our choices panned out and if we really were the wise rulers we thought ourselves to be.

There is also the sinister side of waging chaos and wrath in-game when we may be in a bad mood in real life. Other games like Black and White make us a God, either merciful or vengeful, with full divine powers, and towns worshiping none other than us.

This quest for power has been intrinsic in humans since the dawn of time. It would no doubt seep into gaming and allow us another way to get our fix.

Number 5

These games seem to have taken over the gaming market. Examples include Halo, Call of Duty, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and a number of other top selling titles.

Competitive games are there for our competitive natures. Sometimes we just want to show others that we excel in a certain field and anyone that disagrees with us can step up and challenge us and be proven wrong in a matter of minutes.

This inner competitive nature in all of us needed to come out eventually in Gaming and it has fully manifested itself now in the line of games filling up store shelves. Multiplayer gaming and cooperative modes let you play with friends rather than just against robots. It takes the difficulty level up to a new threshold when the opponent knows as much or more about how to win than you do. No computer can ever be that difficult and as a result Xbox Live has helped increase sales numbers for Xbox games over their PlayStation counterparts.

Number 4

Just as we enjoy creating and being creative in the real world, so too would we inevitably find a way to do so in gaming. In a lot of ways Gaming is simply an extension of ourselves. It allows us to virtually fulfill our needs and desires, negating the real world all together.

Being able to create was a very important aspect of ourselves and recently games like Minecraft have really raised the bar on our abilities to create things how we choose.

The games, such as Sims, Terraria, and Little Big Planet, provide the tools and then we work with them to create to our hearts desire. The more customization the better. Hundreds of sites are now littered with these unique designs created in these virtual worlds.

Number 3
Real World Simulations

The name Madden or Fifa is synonymous with sports simulation games and independent franchises. Companies like E.A games have been built simply from this one aspect of gaming.

Lots of people love sports but may not always have the opportunity to play at that moment because of weather, energy level, or time of day. Luckily it's always clear, bright, and sunny on our game consoles.

Our favorite sports stars also come packaged with fully virtual playoff seasons that wet your appetite when the actual season is already over. Rosters now automatically update to keep your teams exactly up to spec with how the real world is moving and how trades are occurring.

Gaming is a second home for the sports enthusiast and will remain so indefinitely now that these sports simulations have large fan bases and sell millions of copies.

Number 2
Absurd Real world Sims

These games allow us to do activities and sports in ways that are impossible in the real world. They make us super human, like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and allow us to get air or spin in ways that no skater could do in the real world.

NBA street, a game with ridiculous passes and dunks, let you play street ball the way you dreamed. It was the type of dunks, moves, and exploding rims that not even Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan could imitate.

We had insane racing games that let us get chased by the cops or be underground street racers.
These simulations allow us to bring a bit of absurdity into a real world occupation. The graphics would fool us into thinking the world was unchanged but the game-play showed us a view of the world we'd never seen before. That world was simply impossible to glimpse in ours.

Number 1

The oldest art form known to man will always be a draw to play games. Some stories plotted out in games have outsold and outperformed popular stories in books, movies, or T.V shows.

A good story is always a thrill for a human and it entices the senses while welling up emotions deep inside everyone of us. The need to know what happens next drives us through the game, making us work tediously hard, just so the next page in the chapter can be revealed.

One of the most successful franchises in gaming makes it's bread and butter simply with story. You know when you play Final Fantasy that you've paid for the story. That this game better be epic, better be coherent, and better be enjoyable, or it isn't what you've come to expect.  To be synonymous with storytelling itself is a very high mantle to hold.

Heavy Rain, Red Dead Redemption, Fallout, Starcraft 2, and a number of other games have shown us that storytelling sells and is an important feature of any newly released game. A bad story can ruin a coders years of hard work producing a solid platformer.

Storytelling becomes a powerful glue and cements a game together when it's polished to perfection and fulfills the needs of gamers shown above

Final Thoughts

Gaming is a very flexible activity and new games will have to cater to the needs of it's players by allowing greater and more unqiue features to be implemented.

A multiplayer option is becoming more and more necessary even for games that once were only known for their single player modes. That was the idea behind giving games like Uncharted 2 rich multiplayer experiences.

Other games only known for multiplayer are being asked to incorporate story modes, such as the Street Fighter series. Games like Starcraft 2 have followed through and provided a rich single player experience even before you get into the competitive multiplayer experience that the game was initially bought for. Other games like Marvel V.S Capcom, were recently criticized for their lack of a true story mode and were deducted points; even though the nature and essence of the game has always been in a multiplayer setting and the multiplayer was executed excellently.

Future games will become more and more open, letting people explore what once was very static and tight spaced quests and adventures. Like Fallout and Red Dead Redemption, you will have the ability to do what you choose and continue the main quest when you like. The reins will be in your hands and the days events for you to decide.

Such freedom needs to be incorporated because different people have different wants and needs. The more of them we can pack into a game, the more people will enjoy the freedom of choice.

For those that want to avoid the horror that awaits over the hill, they can put it off for a few days and level up before traveling onwards, possibly connecting with a few multiplayer friends as backup. For those that want to charge in with whatever they have, guns blazing, the game will be flexible and allow both to do as they want. One may die horribly in a matter of seconds, but hey, at least he learned a valuable lesson. :D

Games are becoming an extension of our real lives. The various needs and desires we have will no doubt have to be fulfilled by game designers. Future games will need to incorporate the flexibility to succeed at many things at once and will need to be more graphically breathtaking then we ever imagined.

In every way possible Gaming is becoming less and less virtual and more and more real. Maybe full integration one day with augmented reality will be the future our kids wake up to in 100 years time. The future of gaming is bright. In the last decade its attempt to satisfy as many human desires as it can has been miraculously successful. Where it will be in the next decade is up to anyone's imagination.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Top 12 Nostalgic Games of the "Mid" Gamer Generation

Source: EgoAnt
(We all love feeling nostalgia and remembering the times when we were gamers in childhood. 
What games did we absolutely love then that give us nostalgia now?)

To understand the state of gaming now we need to delve into our past to help answer the question of how we got here. Looking at our past should give us information that helps us understand the state of gaming today and may help us predict the future of gaming.

Anyone born in the late 80's or early 90's, as I was, is part of a special group of gamers that got to see the transition of gaming from a small niche market to a popular large movement.

I, like others in my age group, are part of the "mid gaming generation". That's a new term I'm coining for people that weren't really a part of the earliest past of gaming and are also not children now playing games in the modern era.

We didn't play pong, or the Atari, or any of the early generation consoles. We weren't the earliest gamers and nostalgia for us is much harder to attain because most of the games we played are still fairly recent.

Today I'm going to give you some of my most nostalgic games and I think we'll realize that the foundation of gaming for my generation seems to have been on the PlayStation and the P.C.

Although my earliest console was a Nintendo, it seems that the upgraded game quality given by the PlayStation set those games apart in my mind from the older 8 bit generation.

I'll be listing the games in order of most fun/most memorable; number 1 being the best of the group. : )

Since every gamer's taste is different, and gamers themselves are a diverse group, most likely my list won't fit perfectly with yours. That's only because the world is filled with different people of different opinions and different tastes. : )

(In bold I've marked some of the lessons we learn from this list, as to what makes a good game and general knowledge about gaming today.)

Number 12 
(Yes, there were 2 extra games I couldn't cut out of the list so we have a list of 12 :D )
 Street Fighter 2

I remember the long hours I'd play this getting stuck on Vega and then finding out that after I beat him I still had a NUMBER of other enemies before getting to the boss. Finally when you get to M. Bison, especially as a kid, you're just in awe at how to beat him. Especially when he jumps on your head from across the screen or submarine torpedoes you with his whole body.

Today I don't know if I could play a fighting game as long as I played Street fighter, but that may show how rare a gem this game was when it was released back in the 90's. My favorite characters ended up being Guile and Bison. Street fighter is the spiritual source of the vast majority of fighting games today.

Number 11
Nba Street 1&2

To be honest, you don't really need to love basketball to enjoy this game. This game has a winning formula of taking a real world activity and sensationalizing it with gaming. It's a winning formula that works even in today's gaming world. People don't always want the most real simulation of an activity, especially if they can just get a basketball and play the game with friends outside.

But a game where you can do amazing impossible dunks, globetrotter like fakes, and amazing rim breaking specials, is a game worth playing and a game that's definitely fun.

Nba street may not have been the most famous game of the past but it's a gem worth looking at nonetheless.

Number 10
Need for Speed Underground

With movies like The Fast and Furious, NFS underground capitalized on that tuner formula and made the greatest racing game I've ever played.

It came with a short, but very interesting story and it let you customize more parts of a car than a kid thought possible. My favorite mode, hands down, was drag racing. It required both timing and skill to know EXACTLY when to shift and missing a shift early on would nearly always result in a loss.

The speed, the exhilaration, and the atmosphere as you drag raced or participated in the story of the game made everything feel real and sadly I haven't felt that same level of excitement for a racing game in a long time.

Forza may be a realistic game but it lacks all the tuning and fun parts of a racing game and without the fun and over the top sensationalism, it's just a cookie cutter simulation. Forza and other racing games like it might be geared more to professional racers and mechanics while NFS Underground was for the adrenaline rush junkies and those who liked creative customization.

Number 9

This was a game most people probably didn't get a chance to play. Back when games were affordable and there were no review sites, I simply read the outer boxes of games and when I found a game that seemed enjoyable, I bought it.

Pharoah was one of these buys and I fell in love with it. I am very much an RTS or real time strategy fan, and Pharoah gave you missions to create a city to your hearts content and make sure the people living in it were happy by giving them the services they needed.

If you put the hunters(that went out and got you meat) and grain house too far, people couldn't eat in a timely way and as a result their homes would not evolve. When you clicked on the home it told you EXACTLY what the home needed to upgrade to the next level. Sometimes it was as simple as not having water nearby.

There were so many different levels of homes to upgrade to that I've personally never even reached the highest level, which was known as "estates". If i remember correctly the best homes I got my citizens to evolve to were apartments. That was no small feat as it required nearby water, food, bazaars(markets), entertainment, religious homes, doctors, dentists, architects, fireman, and more!!
Imagine trying to cram all that in one small area all competing for resources!

This game is so creative in how it lets you build to your hearts content that it's a must own for any RTS lover. Sadly it never got as popular as it deserved. But luckily the same engine and game progressed on and the latest installments of this game are Zeus: Master of Olympus and Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom. You may have encountered at least one of the games in the series, even if it wasn't Pharaoh. They're all made by the same studio so gameplay is very similar.

Number 8

Majesty on the other hand became a cult hit. For many years I remember small internet circles buzzing about this game til finally a new studio bought the license to this game and recently produced Majesty 2.

Another PC RTS game like Phaorah, Majesty did one thing that no other game has had the courage to do; stop you from moving troops. You could create as many troops as you can afford in majesty but there was no way to actually move them. They moved themselves, protected you when they wanted to, or ran away and let your kingdom down.

Majesty only let you entice your heroes with monetary benefits IF and only If they killed an enemy or went to a certain area.

The characters were RPG favorites, such as Wizards, Rogues, and Paladins. The feel of the game and this unique element of watching your heroes do what they wanted, was amazing Each hero also acted differently. Rogues were more likely to run away than Paladins would and Wizards were more often studying then fighting on your behalf. Although when they fight, my God, they fight so well :D

Wizards could turn the game around for you, if they decided to pitch in, and although their strength was high, they had very low life, just as the RPG myth indicates and a few hits from a foe could easily kill a wizard.

Majesty is a gem that should be shared with all people. Definitely pick it up, or Majesty 2, if you didn't get a chance to enjoy this game.

Number 7
Dark Cloud

This game was all about adventuring into dark caves for a simple altruistic reason, to rebuild your city that was destroyed. Rebuilding the city is exactly what made this game very unique, as you could place buildings however you wanted but each building asked you to be put in a particular way. Either facing the sun, or near water, or next to a neighbor.

This gave you some flexibility and made your city different from others, but generally in order to get a perfect city, you had to fit a particular pattern.

The sheer customization of weapons and different areas also made this game a must play RPG adventure unparallelled with many other story games I played.  It became an amazing game when you added the catchy story and unique game-play elements, making this an overall great package, especially for the time frame it was released in back in 2000.

Number 6
Age of Empires 2

War was never so fun as it was in Age of Empires. To be honest though it wasn't the fighting that made this game great, but the dramatic buildup to it. That's what made this game exciting. Getting resources, evolving your civilization, and preparing for that war was definitely more fun than the battle itself.

Adding in a great story helped as each mission seemed to have meaning. You were building up to something bigger and you had a larger goal. This wasn't an aimless war and you needed to win and build a team formidable enough to take down your opponent.

Luckily with Age of Empires 3, the game was polished to perfection, especially since we no longer needed to mine both stone and gold, which got very tiring after a while.

This game was leaps and bounds ahead of it's time when it was released on the PC. The first time I evolved my civilization, the mere addiction of doing that, getting new upgrades, troops, and units, had me hooked forever on the Age of Empires series.

It's shocking that we're only at number six and Age of Empires didn't even make the top five. Just goes to show how great the top 5 games are on the list.

Number 5
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2

There is both happiness and sadness at the fact that I'm discussing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Tony hawk 2 was by far the perfection of the series. It was that sensationalized skateboarding that made this game so fun and launched the franchise.

It was amazingly fun to do tricks no person could do in real life, not even Tony Hawk.
The levels were well designed and the missions kept you working hard to find every last tape or secret area you could. I became really good at the game and eventually could beat anyone else I ever played on it.

The downside though, as I alluded to earlier in the review, is that since Tony Hawk 2 this game has gone downhill. It has become more and more realistic and less and less fun.

It lost it's spiritual source and lost the reason for why we played it in the first place. I hope a new Tony Hawk game remembers their roots and goes back to it. It's a good lesson we can take in this article. Other games like Mortal Kombat realized they were heading on the wrong track and similarly went back to their original successes for guidance. It's known as heading back to basics; to what worked and to what sold us on the game in the beginning.

Let's remember what worked well in games and not destroy our franchises by removing those fun elements; another important gem we get from looking back at the past.

Number 4
Grand Theft Auto Vice City/San Andreas

Sandbox games like Fallout and Red Dead redemption get a lot of their inspiration from these two amazingly fun games. The missions are by far what make these games stand out. They were always fun, a bit tricky, and really tied you into the story and made you feel a part of the game.

These immersive and open world games were light years ahead of their time with amazing graphics and could be played enjoyably even today. That's saying a lot for a game made nearly 10 years ago.

Number 3
The Sims 1&2

Sims 1


I discovered and bought this game simply because of a commercial and an idea. I tried to find the commercial on youtube but sadly wasn't able to : ( . The basic idea was it showed real people having fun and just hanging out at a home then all of a sudden BOOM the home and the people transformed into Sims and now you were in control of everything from the home to the people to the career.

The idea that a PC game could give you THAT much control and look that realistic was mind boggling. The game, when I finally got it, was even more fun than just the idea of it, as the gameplay got you to slowly make your Sims richer and upgrade their items to make them more efficient.

Even going to the bathroom could be efficient! I better upgrade my toilet and shower so i can clean myself faster and get to work quicker! I need a better bed so I can sleep less and work more!

The Sims was definitely a contender for number one on this list and I bought EVERY single expansion available on the Sims one; not a small feat or a cheap enterprise....

The Sims launched a franchise and an idea that gaming and gamers could be amazingly creative and that we thrived on the ability to create and have fun with our creations. This is a very similar idea to Minecraft in many respects.

Number 2
Kingdom Hearts

This game hit home for me. I was suggested it and bought it used a long time after it was released. I was told it was the best story I'd ever experience through gaming. Guess what.... They were right! :D

Kingdom Hearts is amazing open world fighting(the game doesn't pause for fight sequences), an amazing and compelling story that DRIVES you forward and forces you to keep playing, and includes a special monster like summoning capability that increases the drama and tensions mid battle.

Epic is a word I haven't used yet and that's because I rarely use it liberally. This game is Epic. Its battles are Epic, its favorite childhood disney characters are epic, and my God, I have to say it again, Its STORY is EPIC.

The whole reason I eventually bought a PS3 was just to be able to play KH3 when it comes out!!

If you haven't played the first game of this blockbuster franchise, you've missed out on a very important segment of gaming.

Number 1
Final Fantasy 8

You knew this list was probably going to end with a Final Fantasy game as they've become some of the most epic games in recent gaming history.

Choosing FF8 over the others will be very controversial as it does go against the majority of people. Then again the majority opinion is statistically not always correct. Remember that people once thought the world was flat.

Regardless I want to give my opinion as to why I choose 8 over the others. I own 7 and 9, and I tried to play both. 7 is graphically nowhere near FF8, as 7 looks more cartoonish and polygonal. I also tried to get into the story of 7 but early on I gave up on it. It may be my fault more than the game itself.

9 is graphically fine but I also never really got into the story and it began to bore me pretty quickly. I also did get stuck trying to get the carnival ticket, and that's what lead me to eventually stop playing the game.

10 and the other games are too recent to be considered nostalgic, so they can't be on this list even if they are better than 8/7/9.

The GF system, which was a favorite choice of mine, was also scrapped in 9, making 9 loose serious points.

Overall though this isn't about which Final Fantasy game you choose to be number one but the fact that most people's most nostalgic games seem to be topped by Final Fantasy, regardless of which installment they preferred.

Final Fantasy 8 is very compelling, heart breaking in a lot of ways, and uplifting in others. The same can be probably be said about the other Final Fantasy games that have a very nice and fast paced gameplay.

If you don't attack quickly or decide what to do, the enemy will attack you. They will not stop and wait for you to decide what to do. 

The story is what gets you though. It's always what gets you. There are always amazing characters at the heart of some problem that threatens the existence of the world. Through lots of grinding and training, you really feel as if you're honing your skills and getting closer and closer to that last boss battle that will test you in every way it can.

Final Fantasy doesn't pull any punches. It makes you work for that final win. Many people have worked to play the whole game, giving up on the last boss. Final Fantasy won't hold your hand. If you want that ending, and you want that satisfaction of beating the game, you have to work hard to do it. There is no easy ending or easy win.

It's a game I'm currently streaming now over at: http://www.justin.tv/immortalphoenix and uploading to my youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheeImmortalPhoenix. Playing it has given me a taste of nostalgic gaming; a feeling i haven't felt in a long time.

Final Fantasy can have a whole article written just about it, but suffice it to say, it's an incredible journey with an amazing story, a fast paced nail biter, that increases in drama and tension as you continue to play it. You can't call yourself gamer, or even a casual gamer, if you haven't played at least one Final Fantasy game.

If you're a "Mid" gamer generation like me, some of these game will be sure to give you that nostalgic feeling that'll make you remember the good ole days of the past.

Enjoy the list, feel free to disagree with it (as we all have different tastes), and comment below your own favorite games of the 1998-2003 era; which was the Mid Gamer generation's childhood years.

Keep feeling that nostalgia everyone. : )

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Top 10 Games of 2010 & 2011 (So Far)

(This past year and a half has been very bright for gaming and we review some of the best games of year, making sure you haven't missed any of these gems. Witcher 2, pictured above, gets an honorable mention for it's compelling story and gameplay. It's also a beautiful work of art.)

This list aims to answer that age old question of what the best recent games are and what you should play. If you don't recognize a game on the list definitely consider buying it as myself and many others have probably verified it as an amazing game to play. Every single game on this list gets a 4 out of 5 or higher on my own rating scale, which is categorized as "Excellent".

Before we get started, I do want to mention that a number of potentially excellent games have not come out yet for 2011. Games like Mass effect 3, Skyrim, and Diablo 3. That's why in the title of this post I put 2011(so far), since this list only includes games we know about, having been released previous to September of this year.

This is simply a round up of all the best games from 2010, til now, and what you should play if you notice a game on here that you haven't heard of or haven't played.

{ A word of advice about my rating system, I never give decimal ratings, such as 4.5's or 3.5's. I think it helps the reader if the game reviewer is forced to choose between a 5/5 game, or a 4/5 game. Decimals make the area murky and gray where as I'm trying to show stark contrasts between games. For that reason a game I rate 4, others may rate a 4.5, and we would both mean the same thing.

But my 5/5's are truly and significantly the best of the best. While others may rate a game a 3.5, it could get a 3 from me, helping you distinguish it from a 4 and not get confused or mislead into buying it. That's why I don't use decimals.}

Number 10
Plants v.s Zombies

What makes this game thoroughly addicting is not just the freedom it allows you to defend yourself, but the numerous items it lets you employ in your arsenal. It's one thing to have to defend your home, but it's another to give someone 100 different possible items and ask them to do what they want, to fight the zombie apocalypse.

That seems to be the greatest aspect of this game, getting new items and using them to become better at destroying zombies. As you progress in levels and get those better items, the game keeps it challenging by upping the difficulty and putting new challenges in your way you didn't have to deal with before.

This makes the game smooth and enjoyable, as far as difficulty goes, and you never feel you have a complete edge over the zombies, while definitely enjoying the new toys the game gives you to destroy them.

Lack of replay ability is an issue though which is why this game gets a 4 out of 5. That's a score of "Excellent" in my book.

Number 9 

This game proves that all you need to have fun is a jump and an action button. The action button letting you interact with your environment and the jump used to save you from that bottomless pit. The creativity, the story, and the yearning this game gives you to get to the end is INSATIABLE.

You want your character to survive, and you've invested your emotions into him. It makes surviving in this game even more important and it makes each death that much more intense and dramatic.

Limbo is simply one of the most creative and interesting games to come recently and it's a must play for anyone who hasn't bought it.

Again a lack of replay ability does make the game lose a point, giving it a final score of 4 out of 5 in my book; again a score of Excellent.

Number 8

This is an adventure game on steroids. Rather than leveling up by destroying enemies, as in most RPG games, Terraria will only allow you to get stronger by the items you loot. To loot better items requires more adventuring and exploring.

More exploring though, inevitably leads to more deaths and tougher monsters. Terraria is a very deep 2d platforming game that on the face of it seems very simple. It's not until you really get into the game and see what's out there that you find bosses and secret areas.

Terraria also keeps updating new content into it's game free of charge and has a very low price point of 10 dollars. In so many ways Terraria was hand tailored for me since adventuring and exploring is one of my favorite elements of gameplay.

The downside of the 2d graphics though is that building becomes less detailed and less rewarding. It's much more difficult to build your dream home when it has to be in 2 dimensions and will never really look like the mansion you envisioned in your head. For this reason, and for the lack of a concrete storyline, Terraria gets a 4 out of 5.

Number 7

The title of the game says it all. You're a miner that can explore your own unique world, going out and scavenging for goods in deep caves and you're a crafter employing those new materials for the betterment of your life and your surroundings.

Possibly the most creative game of the year, or maybe even the decade, Minecraft's survival mode which puts you up against monsters, mother nature, and the fear of the unknown, really is a sandbox game mastered to near perfection.

Each and every world generated is unique and a seed generator which uses your input to create a world is a nifty tool which can give you and your friends the same exact world to toy around in if you input the same numbers. So world 771 is the same on my computer and my friends.

The game makes up for it's downsides by constantly offering updates and new content to fill in those gaps. For instance the future implementation of bosses will make up for the fact that currently there are no bosses in the game and the future implementation of npc's and quests, will make up for the fact that currently their are no such RPG elements.

Having said that, I can't rate a game on work that hasn't been completed yet, and as is, Minecraft gets a 4 out of 5. If it implements everything that it seems to claim it will, it has a very high probability of becoming a 5/5 in my book. A 5/5 by the way, is categorized as a "Near Perfect/Amazing Game", which is essentially a must play game for all audiences.

Number 6
Heavy Rain

I'm a sucker for a good story especially an exceptionally well designed one that you experience with Heavy Rain. This game is hand tailored for those that want to sit back and enjoy an amazing story with minimal gameplay elements. Even though you slightly interact with the game, every interaction really does invest you into the characters, and it completely changes the dynamic so you're not just watching a movie.

The way this game is superbly crafted, it really makes you feel a part of the story, and it's why I'd rather play Heavy Rain than watch a number of Hollywood Blockbuster movies. Movies have you sit back and make you less invested in what actually happens to the characters.

Heavy Rain is dictated by your choices and you will affect the game's ending significantly. What an amazing concept right? This is an interactive movie, with amazing characters, that you get to control to an ending tailored for you. Plus it's a mystery which asks you to identify the culprit, and keeps you guessing throughout the game.

Heavy Rain is truly phenomenal and one of the hardest games to rate as a result. My final verdict again comes back to replay ability, giving the game a 4 out of 5.

Number 5
Mount&Blade Warband

While the last game was very story intensive, this game is a completely different animal. Although it has a very creative and unique back-story selection tool that fleshes out your character from choices you choose, Warband allows you to make the story as you progress.
Once given your back-story it's up to you to continue your life, in a medieval Europe like setting, and to form alliances and conquer how you choose. This is a must own game for those that love politics. You can become friends with the king, do missions for him, and eventually become a recognized lord and king yourself.

The depth of the game is pretty amazing and the sandbox atmosphere is something that will either turn you on or off. Since I love exploring and doing missions on my own, it was a definite plus for me, although other gamers like to be walked to their destinations with clear goals every step of the way.(Like kindergarten school....)

Although the game is very difficult to understand when you start, a nice tutorial over-viewing the main aspects of the game is essential and is something I'm personally working on making for any future Warband players. If you can get past that initial difficulty, Warband is a must play game that has more than a 100 hours of gameplay.

As noted earlier though the lack of storyline is an issue, and the lack of a concise tutorial really does hurt the score of the game that could have been given a 5/5. So as a result it gets a 4 out of 5 and is still one of the best games recently released to play.

Number 4
Deus Ex - Human Revolution

The story of Deus Ex is superb. The gameplay of Deus Ex is superb. The dialog in Deus Ex is superb. The weapons and abilities in Deus Ex are superb. Do you get my point? This game is amazingly superb and brilliant.

If you've played Fallout or Fallout New Vegas, this game is basically how the world would have been if futuristic America were never nuked by the Chinese and growth continued. It's a VERY futuristic mind teasing plot of the world dealing with the politics of human integration with technology.

The game is very open in allowing it's players to beat missions how they deem fit. You can FPS this game from start to finish, or you can stealth your way from the first mission to the last.

Deus Ex is a work of brilliance and I wait with bated breath for the next installment. It's our first must buy and a well deserved 5 out of 5 on my ratings list. Simply a work of art needed to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Number 3
Starcraft 2

While everyone speaks about the amazing fluidity and balance of the multiplayer of this game, don't be fooled in forgetting about it's single player campaign. Sure this game is amazing when played with friends or put in a tournament setting but the sheer length and brilliance of single player mode of this game cannot be forgotten.

You really start investing in the characters in the story and you upgrade abilities at a nice enough rate to where the game gets more challenging yet more fun as you go.

Starcraft 2 is my favorite game made by Blizzard studios and the fact that they put so much effort and time into the single player campaign shows how much they love their fan base.

While Marvel vs Capcom simply gave their fans a nice multiplayer experience and gypped them of a single player campaign, Blizzard decided to work hard on both fronts and for their resilient effort and hard work they truly deserve their 5 out of 5 rating.

Blizzard's dedication is an example to other game studios that sometimes cut corners. Don't cut corners and you will be praised and rewarded by the masses. Starcraft 2 will go down in gaming History for both it's single-player and multi-player campaigns. How many games can say that?

Number 2
Fallout New Vegas

The main gripe about this game is people say it resembles Fallout 3 too much, to which I ask, "Is that a bad thing"? Fallout New Vegas is everything I wanted in a sequel. I didn't want them to rework this game to something new because you don't mess with something that isn't broken and happens to be amazing.

All the new improvements, such as the DPS meter, new areas, weapons, and features make this a definite step up from it's predecessor.

People who mainly give this opinion, have spent little to no time ACTUALLY playing the game. After playing New Vegas, I loved it so much that I can't even play Fallout 3 anymore. Fallout 3 just lacks too many of the features that I need and love in Vegas.

New Vegas also boasts a unique story ending that lets you control the end of the game based on your singular choices. It makes the end very satisfying and makes your choices very important. One choice directly affects others and one faction will end up liking you or hating you based on your choices with other factions.

This game is very sandbox oriented, letting you do exactly what you want, when you want, and the degradation of weapons/limited resources really forces you to think your moves through instead of running in haphazardly.

New vegas has some of the most unique story dialog options that can get your heart moving or have you laughing till you fall off your chair. Anyone who criticizes this game, really hasn't taken the time to play it. For such an amazing full package experience with more than 50 plus hours of gameplay, if you do the side missions, Fallout New vegas is the story and adventure of a lifetime. The wasteland has now become a permanent part of our digital homes.

This game gets a very well deserved 5 out of 5.

Number 1
Red Dead Redemption

What can you say about a game that has such a compelling story with a built in sandbox mechanism and a number of side missions and side jobs that are fun and entertaining for the player. How can you describe just how compelling this game is?

The story is what gets you in the beginning. You fall in love with John Marston and the future he's trying to build for his family. The gameplay is smooth and slick so that whenever you're working hard to succeed and win, you are definitely rewarded.

The ability to slow down gameplay and shoot your opponents also makes the gameplay amazingly intoxicating. Just like in VATS in Fallout, John can hone his skills and focus in on killing his enemies from his years of practice with running in outlaw gangs.

In so many ways this game is a marvel and Rockstar really has outdone itself when it created this game and revamped the whole Red Dead series of games; just like Fallout did. A testament to this game's greatness is that nearly every gaming site, magazine, and reviewer ended up giving Red dead redemption game of the year for 2010. Such a unity of opinion in gaming is a very rare sight to see and shows just how amazing this game must have been for so many people to have given it game of the year.

For those reasons and for the hours and hours of fun gameplay, Red Dead Redemption gets an easy and well earned 5 out of 5. It's worth mentioning that Undead Nightmare, Red dead Redemptions DLC, is an 8 hour adventure of it's own and is widely seen as the best DLC ever released.

Rockstar definitely got it right when it developed this game. It's too bad they followed it up with the L.A Noire flop....

Final Thoughts

I hope everyone enjoyed my 10 game reviews and got to find a gem in there that they haven't played yet. This list does cater to my style of gameplay but I feel because of sales numbers and reviews in general, most of these games will be big hits with gamers.

There are a lot of themes we see here that seem to make the games reach the top of the list. Story seems a very integral part of any game nowadays, as it engrosses the gamer into the atmosphere of the game.

Gameplay is also significant and the majority or these games have a small or significant sandbox feature. This shows the average gamer today really does want more control over his experience and game companies in the future will have to cater to this command by making their worlds more open ended.

Also creation and creativity is the wave of the future with the introduction of games like Terraria and Minecraft that let people create to their hearts desire. Watch more game companies cater to this new demand of gameplay.

2011 still has a number of games that will be very rewarding and could unseat some of the games in this top 10 list and 2012 is just waiting to give us gems that we'll talk about for years to come. A bright future awaits for gamers and the gaming industry. Stay tuned as we take that journey together and once again review the best of the best next year.