Monthly Archives: April 2013

Best Games EVAR

For no particular reason (well, because I was thinking about it), here’s a list of what I consider to be the best video games ever made. It should go without saying that this list is incredibly biased and idiosyncratic, and since it only includes games that I have personally played and loved, a game’s omission doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means that I either didn’t play it or it didn’t click with me.

Also, this is not an ordered list. Maybe I’ll make one of those later, but for now just wracking my brain for a list of games is hard enough without trying to decide what scale I’m going to use to decide which is my ALL TIME BESTEST FAVORITE EVER.

I’ve also included, in order, the developer, publisher, and the year of publication for my own reference (or the year I bought the game, if I played it substantially in alpha or beta). For series I loved, I just picked the best game.

  • Dark Forces (LucasArts, 1995)
  • Crusader Kings II (Paradox Development Studio, Paradox Interactive, 2012)
  • System Shock 2 (Irrational Games/Looking Glass Studios, EA, 1999)
  • TIE Fighter (Totally Games, LucasArts, 1994)
  • Kerbal Space Program (Squad, 2013)
  • Mass Effect 2 (Bioware, EA, 2010)
  • Age of Empires III (Ensemble Studios, Microsoft Game Studios, 2005)
  • Knights of the Old Republic (Bioware, EA, 2003)
  • Thief 2: The Metal Age (Looking Glass Studios, Eidos, 2000)
  • Minecraft (Mojang, 2010?)
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (Firaxis Games, EA, 1999)
  • Unreal Tournament (Epic Games, GT Interactive, 1999)
  • Full Throttle (LucasArts, 1995)
  • Homeworld (Relic Entertainment, Sierra Entertainment, 1999)
  • Super Metroid (Nintendo, 1994)
  • Freespace 2 (Volition, Inc., Interplay, 1999)
  • Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific (Ubisoft Romania, Ubisoft, 2007)
  • Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Traveller’s Tales, LucasArts, 2007)
  • Dark Souls (From Software, 2011)
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator X (Microsoft Game Studios, 2006)

Apparently I’m OCD enough to require that my list have an even number of items on it, so there you go. Some observations, now that I’ve actually got these written down:

  • Apparently I’m not a big fan of console titles. only three games above are console titles: Lego Star Wars, Super Metroid, and Dark Souls. Those last two the only Japanese games, also. I suspect that’s because a lot of genres that are very popular in Japan, like RPGs and platformers, aren’t genres I often get in to.
  • There’s a range of dates in there. I just bought Kerbal Space Program eight weeks ago but it’s already got a place in the “best games ever” category. On the flip side, TIE Fighter came out in 1994. Most of the titles are spread out over the intervening two decades, except…
  • 1999. Apparently that was a great year. 5 of the 20 games above were released in 1999, and Thief 2 was released in early 2000. All of those 1999 games (except for maybe Homeworld) are ones that I still play off and on.
  • Super Metroid is the only game above that I didn’t play at the time of its release. In fact, I’ve only played Super Metroid on emulators, since I never owned a SNES. I doubt the timing is coincidental: a lot of games, even if they stay awesome in some ways, aren’t always easy to play decades changes in graphics and, especially for me, interface standards can make old games tough to get into. That’s why you don’t see, for instance, Planescape: Torment on this list.
  • The mix of genres is well-represented. I don’t play many sports games or platformers, but I’ve got RPGs, FPSs, and both real-time and turn-based strategy games up there. Even sims! Man, I love sims and it sucks that most of the ones left are either too casual for my taste or too hardcore for the amount of time I have.

That’s pretty much it. What are your favorite titles? Strongly disagree with any of mine? Sound off.

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The Future that Never Was

This post originally appeared on the blog of Brad Cameron, author of the Zeke Proper Chronicles.

I want to talk about a different type of mythology. I’m getting away from dictionary definitions here, because what I want to talk about has nothing to do with sacred narratives or ancient heroes striding into conflict with gods and titans. Rather, I want to talk about a far more recent past and heroes both more and less down to Earth.

This is a hilarious pun, as you’ll see in a moment.

When Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012, he was mourned by the entire world. He represented everything that was good about the USA: he was capable, but humble. Strong, but circumspect. He was a celebrity because of his scientific accomplishments, something that very few men (and perhaps no women) have ever achieved.

People in the spaceflight and planetary science communities mourned him for all these reasons, of course. They’re still people. But they also mourned him because of what he represented: a space-faring future that never was.

In retrospect, once we had beaten the Soviet Union to the moon, political will to power evaporated. We got the Space Shuttle, which was still impressive but felt like a step backward. Skylab was short-lived. Mir was only headline news when it broke. And yet, there was always hope, dimmed though it was, of the glory days of Apollo returning, where the future would once again stretch out before us to an impossibly distant horizon.

Armstrong’s death changed nothing concrete, of course. He’d been largely out of the public eye for years and had a minimal effect on policy. And yet, in the minds of people still yearning for Mars bases and space hotels and day trips to the moon, his death seemed in an instant to turn from all that from possibility to mythology.

Let us take a moment to admire an example of what we might have had.

My personal favorite is this design for a US Air Force space warship. She would have carried hundred of bombs, not as weapons, but as its propulsion system. Every five seconds, a bomb would explode behind the ship, propelling it forward like gunpowder propels a bullet. And she was armed to fight the ships that other nations like the USSR would invariably launch. I’m glad we don’t have warfare in space, but we’re not much closer to having the engineering expertise to build one of these than we were in 1970.

A more peaceful and realistic plan was to use leftover resources from the Apollo program to send astronauts on a yearlong mission to Venus and, at somewhat greater distance, to Mercury. This would have been by far the longest time men had spent in space, and would’ve taken them tens of thousands of times farther away than their lunar-lander comrades. Unlike the Air Force warship, we had the technology to do this, but we don’t any longer–much the knowledge required has been lost through the decades. We’re better at putting people in space for a long time, but not necessarily much better at getting them up there.

Here’s the real kick, though, and the reason why I find all of this so interesting: the future that it describes could still be ours. All we need is the will to make it. Neil Armstrong won’t live to see it, but if groups like SpaceX and the Planetary Society have their way, there’s no reason why you and I won’t. That’s why this is my very favorite bit of mythology: it didn’t happen…but it still could.

Image

SOON

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