My Top Five Favorite Video Games
With so many amazing games already in existence, and so many continually being released, it can be difficult to narrow down which ones stand out above the rest, but we all have those few games that will forever live on as our favorites, perhaps because we have fond memories of playing as kids, or maybe the story or characters spoke to us in a profound way, or, we love them simply because they are great games. I must say, this list was difficult to narrow down, but here are my top five favorite games!
5. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are two of my all-time favorite games. I’ve certainly logged many hours playing them, and I have fond memories of coming home from school only to immerse myself in these worlds, memorizing the maps, and investing myself into the stories of Claude and Tommy Vercetti, but Grand Theft Auto V takes what makes its predecessors so successful and perfects the formula.
Not only is it graphically stunning, but it presents an intriguing narrative bolstered by three well-rounded and playable characters. I find myself interested in each of these characters' stories, yes, even Trevor. Franklin is my favorite, but I can’t deny Trevor’s psychotic antics are entertaining, and even Michael’s dysfunctional family is fun to watch as they struggle to stay together.
With the biggest map yet, Los Santos is a vibrant setting for an open world game. Whether you prefer to focus on missions or, if your're like me, explore the map to your heart's content, GTA V offers countless hours of entertainment. Every time you play, you can tailor your adventure. Do you want to drive in the city? The suburbs? The po-dunk towns up north? Do you even want to drive? Why not take a boat, or hell, you can steal a plane and fly around Los Santos. The world is your oyster. This game makes the list because it’s undeniably one of the best games ever made and it hits on strong nostalgia notes for me as a fan of other GTA games.
4. Halo: Anniversary
Halo revolutionized first person shooters when it first released in 2001, and as dramatic as it sounds, it changed my gaming experience forever. Previously, I had rarely played FPS games because I was horrible at them, but once I was introduced to the game by my brother and his high school friends, I was immediately in love.
The graphics were certainly stunning for its time, but what lured me in was the story. Progression through the game isn't simply level after level of mindless shooting. A unique, interactive tale unfolds before you of war, survival, and humanity, and as we all know, the plot delivers big time once the Flood enter the scene. Playing as Master Chief means you are the arbiter of the story; you are the great hero of Earth who must keep pushing forward to fight against the Covenant, and its a formula that works well. We also get to watch the complex relationship of Master Chief and Cortana blossom, and then evolve in subsequent games.
While Halo: Combat Evolved will forever hold a special place in my heart, and while I will always have fond memories of playing the game into the early hours of the morning enjoying such teenage delights of mountain dew and pizza, Halo: Anniversary gets the number 4 slot because it is a wonderful update of a great classic. The new graphics are gorgeous, and with the click of a button you can still experience the original Halo in all its glory.
3. Jak II
I grew up playing some of the great platforming games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, but Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is by far my favorite platformer of all time. The game expands on standard platform elements with an open world and immersive environment. You can literally stand and watch the sun rise and set, which was mind-blowing when I first played the game. As much of I love this first installment, Jak II makes the number three spot on this list.
Naughty Dog took a page out of Rockstar's book and turned their innocent, simple game into a darker narrative full of missions for the player to complete. Our once silent protagonist has undergone two years of torture and experimentation, giving him unique powers that propel the game into a whole different atmosphere from its predecessor. We meet new characters, we're in a new world, yet the same mysterious precursor artifacts pull the story along as we wonder who these ancient beings are, and what powers these artifacts really hold.
I've beat this game so many times, yet it never gets old. There are so many great things working for Jak II: an open-world, an interesting story, intriguing characters, puzzle and platform elements, unique weapons and powers, vehicles, races, and so much more. I have no doubt that I will play every reiteration and remake of this game.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
It’s difficult to choose which Zelda game is the best, kind of like choosing which of your kids is your favorite, but if I have to pick one, it’s going to be Ocarina of Time. Although I didn’t manage to play this Zelda game until almost 10 years after its initial release, I still was completely enthralled with it. I had previously played a few of the Gameboy installments, and was familiar with the Nintendo versions because my dad regularly played them, but there is just something special about adventuring as Link in a 3-dimensional Hyrule.
Like many of the other games on this list, one of the reasons Ocarina of Time caught my attention is because its open world setting. There's nothing more magical than pulling out your ocarina, playing Epona's song, and then roaming the green fields of Hyrule or the rocky canyon of Gerudo Valley.
Even though this game was far different from earlier Zelda's, Ocarina of Time still has the core Zelda elements that make it unforgettable. It’s an action adventure game where you play as the hero who must overcome evil and save the world. The game features classic Zelda dungeons, puzzles, weapons, items, and it’s full of quests and interesting characters. Ocarina of Time is just an all-around amazing experience.
Before Skyrim, I had never played an Elder Scrolls game. I tried Morrowind, and within the first ten minutes I wandered into an area with far too powerful foes, and the same thing happened in Oblivion. Up to that point I had yet to play such an expansive open world game, but when Skyrim was released, I had been reassured it was simpler to navigate. So, I gave it a try, and I was immediately in love.
What hooked me first was the character creation. It seems silly, but I’m the type of strange person that spends hours making a character until I deem it to be the most perfect (and handsome) character I can possibly create. What drew me further into Skyrim was the graphics and gorgeous scenery, but what really made me fall in love was the story.
Skyrim is not only a vast open world game for you to explore, but the map is full of fascinating lore just waiting to be uncovered. It feels like you’re exploring a living, breathing world as full of complexities as our own. There's numerous quests, cities people, and books to discover and each will reveal a greater narrative of the countless different races and factions that make up Skyrim. As the Dragonborn, you uncover these countless stories and problems threatening to tear Skyrim apart.
I've played many great games before Skyrim and many great games since its release, but I have never played a game that has captivated me as much as Skyrim did. That is why it will forever hold that top place in my heart. Fus-Ro-Dah!
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This is the one and only game I've played that actually rivals my love for Skyrim. In fact, I think in some cases The Witcher 3 is better. It boasts a gorgeous open world setting full of intriguing people and even more fascinating creatures, and there are plenty of quests and side quests to keep you busy all full of enthralling stories allowing you to uncover and explore the colorful world The Witcher has to offer. The main reason this game didn't make the list is because I played it so recently it hasn't had the time to completely lodge itself in my heart like some of the older, nostalgia- filled games I have on my list. But boy, do I love The Witcher 3.
Along with Halo, Fable is the other game that tore me away from Playstation securing my devotion to Xbox. Exploring Albion as a member of the Heroes’ Guild, increasing your renown as you complete quests, choosing whether you want to don a halo for good behavior or horns for bad behavior, are only some of the experiences that make Fable so fun. As much as I love this game, Fable II, and Fable III especially were a bit disappointing, and my obsession for the Fable franchise has diminished over time, so it did not make my list, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited for the next Fable!
Minecraft is a game of endless possibilities. You can create whatever you can imagine: Houses, mines, castles, amusement parks, spaceships, statues, pictures, calculators, songs, and the list goes on. And with a vast number of mods to download, the game can become even more versatile. Minecraft is also a game of endless exploration allowing its users to wander the immense landscapes, collect resources, kill monsters, adventure through vast caverns, visit the nether, all to your heart’s content. It may be a simple sandbox game, but that’s what I love about it. It’s a game that is accessible to people of all ages, backgrounds, and skills, and it is a game that I will undoubtedly be playing for years to come.