10 Best Single-Player Video Games - Part 1
I don’t really consider myself to be a hardcore gamer. Until recently, I never delved into any of the MMO-style video games (that all changed with the awesomeness that is Blizzard’s Overwatch), and so for years I just casually played games that I bought or received as gifts. However, that doesn’t mean I’m a newbie to video gaming; I’ve racked up plenty of hours and played a variety of different styles of games and, in the process, discovered that there are some games I really, really enjoy.
The following are my ten favorite, categorized in alphabetical order, covering games I’ve played on our family computer as well as the Nintendo Wii. They come in a variety of genres, and while some of them can be considered multiplayer games or have multiplayer components, these games make the list because I regularly enjoy playing them on my own. The one caveat is that I’m only including one game per franchise, so while a series like the Batman Arkham games would have a lot of contenders, I’m only including one that I enjoy playing.
Let’s game on.
Number 10: Batman: Arkham City (Steam)
The first game in Rocksteady’s Batman series, Arkham Asylum, is a fantastic game, letting you take control of the World Greatest Detective as you never have before, exploring the seedy depths of Arkham Asylum in search of Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker. The sequel raises the stakes as, instead of an asylum, you get to run or swing through a whole section of Gotham City, taking down thugs and trying to stop the Joker yet again after he’s poisoned you. Fan-favorite characters show up, including Robin and Catwoman, and you get to engage in a plethora of boss or mini-boss fights against multiple Batman adversaries, including Bane, Solomon Grundy, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Deadshot, Ra’s al Ghul, and Clayface. The mechanics of the first game are repeated here, but improved, as fighting styles are complemented by cooler gadgets and even sweeter combo moves to take down multiple enemies at once.
And let’s not forget bonus material. Not only is the main story line a lot of fun, but side quests grab your attention and let you truly immerse yourself in the setting. Can you solve the Riddler’s clues and puzzles and rescue the kidnapped police officers? Can you stop serial killer Mr. Zsasz before he takes another life? Can you figure out the identity of the mysterious figure who’s been killing various people? Random muggings also pop up on the occasion, and there are few moments in gaming cooler than swooping down on an unsuspecting thug and taking him down before he knows you're there. Included in the Game of the Year edition is also a bunch of DLC missions, many of which require you to take control of Batman, Catwoman, Robin, or Nightwing and sneak around various areas, taking down thugs in creative ways in order complete missions. It’s an action-packed romp through Gotham City, filled with hours of quests and fights, guaranteed to bring you closer than you’ve ever been to being Batman.
Number 9: GoldenEye 007 (Wii)
The era of the original GoldenEye was before my time, so I have to settle for the remake. However, “settling” isn’t the worst thing in the world, since I love this game. Following Daniel Craig’s version of super spy James Bond, GoldenEye is a globe-trotting adventure that follows the hero as he tries to stop Russian villains from stealing a GoldenEye satellite and wreaking havoc on the world economy. To that end, you travel through various levels—jungles, secret bases, a nightclub, the streets of Russia (in a tank!)—in order to stop them, using handguns, submachine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns, and the environment around you to take out enemy soldiers. Different levels of difficulty add small missions to this already crazy FPS, making you find further clues or complete small objectives as you fight to reach the end.
The story here is strong, bringing in supporting characters and revealing a dramatic plot twist near the end that, as someone who had never seen the film, was genuinely surprising to me. There are multiplayer components here as well, including online gaming that a friend and I enjoyed quite frequently. Overall, GoldenEye is a really fun FPS game with a lot of replay value, as you can complete levels in different ways each time (such as sneaking around or charging in, guns blazing) and hone your skills to become the greatest super spy on the Wii console.
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Number 8: Guitar Hero: World Tour (Wii)
This is what I mean when I tell my friends I can play guitar.
Moving in a slightly different direction, we come to a musical game, one of the more expensive Wii games I purchased. I was hooked after playing at a cousin’s house, buying the game shortly after Christmas and becoming fairly proficient quickly. Guitar Hero allows players to grab a hold of a plastic guitar and rock along with a great selection of songs from a bunch of different eras of music. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Ozzy Osbourne, Lincoln Park, and Motorhead are all showcased here, bringing some old school rock and roll with some more modern metal as well as the occasional romantic ballad. It’s a fun blend of songs that appeal to the varied tastes of multiple players. As you can see in the video below, players have gotten incredibly skilled at mashing the colored frets.
Best Guitar Hero Player Ever
There are some other components once you’ve finished unlocking and mastering the songs, such as a character creator and a studio where you can create your own music. While these elements are fun, they’re not exactly necessary to the experience of the game. Like GoldenEye, Guitar Hero comes with some excellent replay value, as you can test your skills at different levels of the same song. How fast do you think you can rock? I’ve gotten rusty as time has gone on, but I can definitely see myself popping this game in again to see if I can still jam to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
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Number 7: Half-Life (Steam)
The most recent game I’ve played on this list, Half-Life is a 90s FPS game that I actually doubted a little bit. I typically do not enjoy games from anything before the 2000s, as I think the mechanics won’t be as refined and the animation will look clunky. Admittedly, the mechanics of Half-Life can be a little irksome, but other than that, it might be my favorite FPS game ever, even better than GoldenEye. It follows the story of Gordon Freeman, a scientist whose workplace is invaded by otherworldly aliens. Armed at first with only a crowbar (which has since become iconic), Freeman must fight his way through swarms of aliens and soldiers (who have come to, ahem, “clean up” this debacle”) and bring an end to this problem.
What makes this game better than GoldenEye is the fact that it’s continuous. With GoldenEye, you play through levels, with each level dropping you in some new part of the world. With Half-Life, you’re instead fighting for your life through a base that seemingly has no end; clear one portion, and you’re immediately thrust into a new environment. Health packs and stations help rejuvenate you, and various weapons—such as handguns, shotguns, crossbows, and even sci-fi laser weapons—help you combat many enemies, but make sure you preserve your life and ammunition, because you never if what’s around the corner is an alien or a health station. It’s a tense experience, made only more nerve-wracking at higher difficulties, where enemies are stronger and stations offer less health. It makes you think and plan, causing you to take your time and maneuver stealthily as best you can in a world out to kill you.
Number 6: The Hobbit (PC)
I received this game years ago, way before a Hobbit film trilogy existed, and it might actually be more accurate than the films. For those of you unfamiliar with the J.R.R. Tolkein novel or movies of the same name, The Hobbit allows players to be Bilbo Baggins, a pleasant Shire-dwelling hobbit who is thrust into an adventure with Dwarves at the behest of Gandalf the Wizard. The game nails the vast majority of the book, covering everything from battling Trolls, fighting Spiders in Mirkwood, sneaking around Elvish prisons, exploring Lake Town, confronting the Dragon Smaug, and partaking in the Battle of Five Armies. As a kid, I loved being able to see the vast world of Middle-Earth come to life in such a fashion and being able to wield the sword Sting. I also had a Return of the King video game which was just a bit too frustrating for someone my age at the time, so this was a fun, friendlier romp around Tolkein’s fictional realm.
Of course, it isn’t a perfect adaptation. In the book, I don’t believe Bilbo played hide-and-seek with Hobbit children in the Shire, followed a thief in Lake Town, helped fix all the broken machinery in the Lonely Mountain, or spent hours trying to figure out how to sneak through a pile of leaves in order not to wake up some Trolls (it was really frustrating, believe me). Yet, despite these minor alterations, the story is largely intact, and the changes are even fun in that they add depth to the game. For example, there is not much written about the Lonely Mountain in the book, so exploring the cavernous kingdom as Bilbo in the game is a lot of fun. There’s an innocence about it that can also be found in the book, making it a game for a younger audience, but an adventure that can be enjoyed by older players as well.
This is, of course, only the first half of a two-part blog. I hope you return to see the second half, which will cover five more single player games that I have come to love and enjoy over the years.
Which is Your Favorite Game?
© 2017 Nathan Kiehn