5. Worms Open Warfare 2 (DS)
Now we come to the final 5 choices. Again, this is another one of those games that you wouldn't really expect to see so high on anyone's list. The Worms series is perhaps one of the worst series when it comes to progression because it abides the same formula for all the years that Team 17 has been creating the game. Very little in changed in each release, yet there is an audience for this game. While I enjoy the games (so much that I would place one of them as an entry to this list), I can not deny that they need to take the game to a new direction, whether it be a racer, a FPS or a more elaborate platformer. Regardless, this game still has brought me hours upon hours of entertainment with the crazy cartoonish maggots. I'll admit that one of key reasons that this game has managed to be so fun is that it's a very simple addictive game that can be taken wherever your heart desires (provided electricity is nearby for recharging). The game focuses on a simple turn-based strategy where you move a worm from your team to a position that will best help you execute your next move to defeat the enemy teams. It could be anything from an attack, to a further way to progress the terrain to even something for your own protection. The attacks also vary from close-ranged to projectile to remote-controlled. While there is the standard weapons such as dynamite, grenades and rocket launchers, there's also more absurd attacks such as the Banana Bomb, the Holy Handgrenade and the Concrete Donkey. Usually in a game, the more powerful weapons are of a smaller and rarer inventory so that you have to rely more on using skill rather than acting with the more OP arsenal.
That gameplay is very simple to understand and it takes a great deal of time until you can properly defeat more difficult challenges, as it requires you to rely more on your ability. The game also has a good deal of customization as you can name your team and each individual worm on your team, give the whole team a different color, accent, fort and even a different grave. When in-game, the worms dialogue can have a certain charm to it that makes it fun to listen to over and over. Granted it's not something I'd take with me to hear it constantly, but it doesn't become grating when you hear them say one of their automated lines. You can also design your own flag for the team using the stylus...which can be hit or miss depending on how good of an artist you are with the stylus. The stylus being used for customization also comes up when you can create your own war fields, which works very well. In fact, the stylus integration makes the game work really efficiently, as you can pick your next tool very quickly. There's really not much else to explain on why I enjoy this game so much, all that I've said, as basic as it may be, is what manages to hook me into playing the game over and over again.
4. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
Out of all the Mario platformers that there are out there, Super Mario Galaxy was by far the best. It was one of the games that managed to integrate so well the Wii's controls into its gameplay and it had a great sense of creativity and ingenuity behind it. The ability to traverse a planet in all it's odd angles and use zero-gravity to help you move about the complex worlds was handled very well. The new powerups managed to give an interesting change-up in how the game would progress, and it added to the sort of light-hearted atmosphere that is so commonly associated with Mario. This made all the platforming much more enjoyable as it would warp how you could properly go about the terrain. While the difficulty was hardly raised, the game still managed to deliver with loads and loads of fun packed into every single level, whether it be through the extra challenges it offered or simply returning to a favorite stage to see the world more closely. And the music...good god, this game has one of the best soundtracks imaginable. The orchestration in the soundtrack is sublime with how it transforms so well with the theme of the level. There was just a presence in this game that everyone who was involved in making this enjoyed every single minute of it.
With that said though, I believe that the sequel managed to do much better than the original in keep with the feel of the first whilst building up to it. The stages still had a sense of creativity and it seemed that those involved in the design did their best to construct a world that would have it's own charm (even if some of them seem to borrow a lot from other Mario games), the platforming was still interesting as ever and the difficulty still treaded on incredibly easy to somewhat challenging. What it managed to enhance on was not only bringing in some new powerups but also allowing Yoshi to be a part, giving you some wonderful platforming experiences. The soundtrack managed to be even better than the first game with a greater selection of tracks being more catchy and impacting, especially the ones where the mood was more solemn and gave a vibe that it was creating challenge and tension. The amount of variety in the gameplay is simply staggering as you do everything from collect coins, defy gravity, create platforms, fly about the sky, roll by terrain, drill through the planet among many other different aspects that I can't even recall. This is the kind of game where my mind simply gets lost trying to recollect what makes it so great for me. There's too much that I found clinged to my mind that it becomes hard to point out which ones specifically stood out to me the most.
3. Pheonix Wright: Trials And Tribulations (DS)
The Pheonix Wright games are the kind of games that allow whoever is playing the game to enjoy having to use their mind to solve the problem ahead. The reason that it can achieve this is that the world around you plays out like a crime drama show with characters that engage you into wanting to uncover the grander mystery. You begin to search around everywhere with your stylus to find clues, and when you find you, you try to keep it stored into your mind for further use. Every next line you say, you ponder carefully so that you can get closer to uncovering the mystery that is set in front of you. You pay attention to what witnesses say and you check your inventory to see if anything sticks out like a sore thumb. It keeps getting you to think, and you're okay with that because you've managed to engross yourself in the game's environment. I could have chosen any of the Pheonix Wright games to be honest, but I decided to choose the third one not only because it was the first one I played (kind of odd, eh?), but it's also my favorite one.
Mostly it's due to the characters and the first two cases that occur in the game. The cast from these games have always managed to have a sense of depth and charm to them, but this one in particular emphasized this. For example, one of your rival lawyers is a man named Godot, a smooth talking, coffee drinking prosecutor that always wears a cocky grin and a red visor on his eyes. This character seemed to have a relatively calm demeanor about him and enjoyed mocking you out of spite, even going so far to throw his coffee right at your face. Then there's also Luke Atmey, a Sherlock Holmes wannabee who probably shares more with the Penguin that he does with the personality he's trying to become. This character's design is what enhances the oddity of his presence. He's a self-proclaimed master detective which only seems to be that way because he analyzes everything so cartoonishly and expresses himself in such a forced eloquence simply to get others to notice his bizarre nature. And then there's Dahlia Hawthorne. She's by far one of the most engaging characters even if it's only because it takes such an overdone concept to a level that makes her more engaging. I can't really tell you how she manages to do this, but you have to play the game to understand. Trust me, it's worth it.
Each of the cases gets you wanting to go on because there's enough buildup and suspense that gets you wanting to find out the answer. It hooks you from start to end and it makes you look very carefully at what others say rather than simply pass it by. Games that engage you at a level such as that must be doing something right, because it not only allows you to enjoy the experience further, but it gets your brain working.
2. Team Fortress 2 (PC)
TF2 is a game that I hold a very strong love-hate relationship with. On the one hand, it's cool that you have the selection of 9 classes that can change up the gameplay depending on how you feel you must approach an obstacle. Each of the characters has a nice quirk to them and spouts a multitude of hilarious lines that make the game's atmosphere more fun. The constant addition of new weaponry, maps and other content keeps the game feeling fresh. There is an unbelievable amount of community with the game that Valve had managed to properly integrate into the game. It continues to go strong after 6 years, and has a humongous group of people playing thanks to the game going F2P. On the other hand, the game introduced us to the curse that would be hats. This started to get people to obsess over simple virtual clothing to make their character look more classy in game. The trading market began and different hats would value at different prices simply because of the color of the items name. Then came rare items which would be valued at outrageous prices, some people even going so far to pay cash upfront to someone else, which would most likely result in people getting scammed. Even if you don't care all too much for hats, new items keep coming up, cluttering your inventory. If you're a beginner to this game who just happened to download this free game, you still have to cough up a great deal of money to be an adequate level of being on par with others. And if you don't feel like doing that, then prepare to lose a lot.
I fear that TF2 will soon become an island-like game where those who play it, play it a lot and those who want to get into it will need to learn a lot of customs. Yet, I still love it. Mostly because I got onto TF2 before it would become catastrophic and confusing to get on. I managed to improve my skills with certain classes, and I've enjoyed this game enough to throw a few extra dollars Valve's way. You can also venture into unofficial maps and see what other people have managed to create. Some have gone to create their own game modes within the game, while there are other servers out there where you simply goof around. The game can be taken seriously, or it can be just a fun little experience. Relying on your team becomes more and more important as you play as you'll find yourself switching to another class mid-game because you think someone needs a little aid to defeat a roadblock in the team's path. The different events the game has allow you to encounter bosses or see people be more generous to each other around the holiday. As hectic as it would be to get into TF2, once you're fully engrosses in the community, you'll find that there is a lot that you're going to enjoy equally as much as you're not. And you know what? The bits that you will like, you'll love enough to disregard its faults when you enter deep into the game.
1. L.A Noire (PS3)
So we come down to the final selection on this list of mine. Some of you who are reading this blog will find that this will be of no surprise to you. Hell, I made a whole blog basically gushing about the film noir experience. I'm okay with that though, because I truly do think this is one of the best games out there. Maybe it's not as perfect aesthetically, maybe one of its gimmicks isn't exactly played out so well, but there's so much about this game that works. From beginning to end, I found myself constantly listening and staring at the screen amazed by the amount of work that was put into the cutscenes. Each character has a sufficient amount of depth behind them, and the way you explore the inner motives of each one of them is done so wonderfully with a dab maudlin noir oozing through. The story is packed to the brim with troubling secrets, twisted men, dark pasts and cynical overtones that keep you engaged with the plight of the other characters. The gameplay serves its purpose by letting you do what is necessary to solve the next case, either it be through collecting clues, questioning suspects or gunning down criminals. Each aspect is handled well, with the collecting clues portion being controlled by whether you hear music or not, the questioning suspects part being controlled by truth, doubt or lie and whether you have the evidence to prove your claim (or can sense they're lying by their expression) and the gunning down criminals aspect giving you the ability to do the more action packed of the game only when it's necessary for the narrative.
What really makes this game shine is the music. This has got to be the most fitting and well-crafted film noir soundtrack to anything I have ever heard at all. Each instrument plays their part in setting the mood of corruption and mystery hiding underneath the city that you venture into. It ranges from quiet and tragic, to uncovering the bigger picture to an intensity that fits perfectly to the time period of the game to something that simply thematic in the way it sounds. It simply amazes me how much time and effort Andrew and Simon Hale put into creating such a magnificent soundtrack. Even though the rest of the game wasn't brought to a greater level, it managed to deliver enough so that you could become part of an interactive adventure. That's what L.A Noire, it's you being able to control a movie protagonist throughout the game, in a story that is parallel to a great Hollywood epic of the 40s and 50s. To me, a game that makes that leap from a game to an experience is what makes it all the more interesting and engaging, and it's evident with what I have said right here that L.A Noire delivers in that field every step of the way through.
Well that's the end of my list. I hope you enjoyed it!