#10: Super Smash Brothers: Melee
In the year 2001, crossovers were nowhere near as common as they are today. Characters from separate games interacting was a dream to many, but Nintendo capitalized on the idea. Maybe that’s why the Super Smash Bros franchise caught on like wildfire, but it maintained its audience with bombastic gameplay, smooth balance and diverse characters. Nowhere else in gaming could you experience anything akin to an all-out brawl between Mew-Two, Princess Peach, Donkey Kong and Ganondorf. While Melee is not the newest in the series, it’s widely-regarded as the fan favorite.
Some of the best memories of my childhood included huddling around a television and spending countless nights hammering each other with various Nintendo characters. Almost every character was a blast to play as, and I had mastered both Fox and Link, and each level was an instant classic. While it’s close to sixteen years old, the game still holds a strong following, including Melee Tournaments held across the competitive gaming world. It’s longevity is a testament to its quality, and that’s why it makes my top 10 list.
#9: The Jackbox Party Pack
Ever since the glory days of Mario Party, it has seemed like the party game genre has slowly been declining. That is until Jackbox Games introduced their brand new take on the genre, The Jackbox Party Pack. Each pack provides a bundle of party games that are hosted on your gaming console, but players join in via their mobile device. Each game in the bundle is varied enough to make the investment worthwhile, and nearly each game is a blast to play on its own.
Some games require players to be at their wittiest, like Quiplash, while others tickle the creative itch like a game of Drawful. I’ve never had a bad time playing this game, and it’s even been a big success among my non-gaming friends. I have not found a group that I didn’t enjoy playing Jackbox with, and it never fails to bring laughs. If you’re looking for the revival of the party game genre, Jackbox is exactly what you’re looking for.
#8: Uncharted 4
One of the most recent games on my Top 10 list, Uncharted 4 delivers a cinematic experience unparalleled by any in gaming. Serving as the finale to everyone’s favorite treasure hunter, Nathan Drake, Uncharted 4 traded in the massive set pieces for a more personal story. While the game is filled with the series’ trademark breathtaking action moments, Uncharted 4 truly shines when it allows players to slow down and focus on the characters.
There’s a lot of little things in Uncharted 4 that I enjoy, including the fact that NPC conversations are fluid, and if they happen to be interrupted by a fight or a side-adventure, the characters will pick right back up when you return to them. Uncharted 4 also returns with its signature combat system, and the innovations, like the grappling hook, make it the best in the series. Overall, Uncharted 4 is the perfect finale to a one-of-a-kind franchise.
#7: Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V is undoubtedly the most ambitious open-world game ever created. The franchise shook up its usual formula, allowing the player to control 3 separate and distinctive characters throughout the story. Each character holds different skill sets and personalities, which alters the way you play when swapping back and forth. The standout part of GTA’s campaign are the heists. In a massive parody of popular heist franchises such as Oceans Eleven, GTA V is all about building up to elaborate heist jobs that involve all three playable characters. This allows the player to be involved in the action at all times.
The standout feature of this game for me, however, is in the GTA Online component. I have put countless hours into causing mayhem with my friends in the open-world online world of GTA Online. There’s nothing quite as hilarious as trying to race with friends and ending up in a massive pile-up on the first corner, or as exhilarating as playing various roles in a heist that depends on each player being successful in their own individual parts. By opening up all new possibilities for the franchise, GTA V is one of my favorites of all time.
#6: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
In an hour of playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I was pursued by an entire town’s guard for murdering a chicken, encountered a haunted house possessed by a Daedric Lord and fought three massive dragons at once. And that’s before I even touched the game’s main quest.
Skyrim is one of the most fun RPG games I’ve ever experienced, simply because it dumps you into a breathing and exciting world and let’s you decide what you want to do. Do you want to take sides in the bloody civil war that’s wreaking havoc on the land? Go for it. Do you want to join a league of evil assassins and kill everyone who crosses your path? Knock yourself out. No matter what you choose, Skyrim promises a great time, and the world will suck you in for hours. Though the game released in 2011, I still find myself consistently going back to it six years later.
#5: Halo 3
Serving as the conclusion to the original Halo Trilogy, and the end of Humanity’s war with the Covenant, Halo 3 was one of the most exciting games in years. The game wrapped up the story that began in the original Halo in a satisfying way, and it provided some of the most exciting moments in gaming. Where Halo 3 truly shined though, was its online multiplayer.
The multiplayer component of Halo 3 was the most fun I’ve had in a First Person Shooter, and it’s an experience that has not been replicated to this day. Whether I was playing with strangers in a SWAT match, or having a session with 15 of my best friends in a Custom Zombie match, it was always a blast. Incredibly well-balanced and highly addictive, Halo 3’s multiplayer was all about skill. Halo 3 holds some of my favorite gaming memories, and that’s why it will always be in my Top 10 games.
#4: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
As my introduction to RPG games as a child, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was my first step into a larger world. While it was released during the golden age of Star Wars video games, Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) stands as my favorite Star Wars game of all time. Taking place 4,000 years before Luke Skywalker would blow up the Death Star, KotOR allowed players to place themselves in the shoes of a Jedi.
KotOR contains one of the best Star Wars stories ever told, and it allows the player to play as a benevolent and merciful Jedi or a ruthless and powerful Sith. The game is incredible and the supporting characters quickly become favorites. Overall, the game has stood the test of time and if you have never given it a shot, I would highly recommend you check it out.
#3: Batman: Arkham City
The Arkham series is one of the greatest superhero games of all time. Serving as a love letter to the greatest things about Batman, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and The Joker from Batman: The Animated Series. The first game in the series, Arkham Asylum, was a breath of fresh air into the superhero genre, but it was a mostly linear story that was contained to the Asylum itself. Arkham City blew the roof off by allowing players to explore a massive chunk of Gotham City.
Arkham City truly puts players in the shoes of The Batman. Pitted against some of his greatest rogues, and fighting alongside his closest allies, Arkham City is the best Batman experience available. Allowing players access to Batman’s entire arsenal of gadgets, there are an infinite number of ways to take down a group of bad guys. And if you aren’t a brawling fan, the stealth sections of the game help channel your inner Dark Knight. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as taking out a room full of thugs without them ever seeing you. While each game in the series is a Top 10 contender, Arkham City is the crown jewel of the collection.
#2: Red Dead Redemption
One of the most important things for me to fall in love with a game is a great story to get invested in. Not only does Red Dead Redemption provide one of my favorite stories in gaming, RDR’s tale of John Marston is one of my favorite in any medium. Following a former outlaw who wants start his life over with his family, John is roped up by a group of Government men who promise he will be granted amnesty for his crimes if he tracks down his former gang members.
To suck you into its incredible plot, Red Dead Redemption places players into one of the most immersive open worlds ever built. Each detail is crafted to make the player feel like they have been transported to the dying days of the Wild West. From the animation and handling of the horses, the random events that occur in the world, and the interactions with its inhabitants, RDR is an incredibly immersive experience. Borrowing the highly polished RAGE engine used in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, RDR is one of the most fun and most engaging gaming experiences I’ve ever experienced.
#1: Mass Effect 2
The first Mass Effect game was an epic adventure across the galaxy, and it delivered one of the greatest science fiction universes in recent memory. Throughout the game, you become attached to Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy. In the first 5 minutes of Mass Effect 2, Bioware ups the ante beyond anything we had seen in the entirety of Mass Effect.
Following Commander Shepard as he (or she) puts together a team of specialists for an impossible Suicide Mission, Mass Effect 2 works on nearly every level. The new characters are the best in the series, the returning characters evolve, and players get to visit the darker underbelly of the Mass Effect universe. The drama is high, and the stakes are incredibly personal and engaging, which makes Mass Effect an example of best practices for RPG developers.