Mik’s Top 25 All Time Favorite Video Games #5-1

the_witcher_medallion_2-1152x864-1000x750#5  The Witcher

It might seem surprising but this is one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen and it affected the game play greatly. I love how it looks like an artist carefully painted the surroundings, especially in the middle sequences and the different loading screens. Instead of trying to make it look as realistic as possible, they went for a more art-y atmosphere, which I really appreciate. I play for escapism, not to be reminded of how things are in real life. Here, the tone/attitude/mood in the game is completely different from other games, maybe because it’s based on a story from a different culture? It sounds fantastic, it looks fantastic. It’s dirty, violent and rough, mixed with some humor and silliness.  Lots of action, likable characters, magic, a little strategy, a bit of sex (the main character is quite the pimp…), gambling and fighting. I don’t have anything to complain about, this was a pure pleasure to play.

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images (3)#4 Final Fantasy X 

For a short period in my life, when this game came out, I borrowed a friend’s PS2. Only to play Final Fantasy X, and I played and played… for months. Just like the previous game on my list, this is (or was back then) a very good looking one that made a huge impression on me. For some strange reason, I don’t care much about the quality of cinematic sequences or the story as a whole, I usually just skip it (don’t kill me… I don’t want heartbreaking stories). I’m more of an action-player than a “get lost in the story”-player. But I want the monsters that I’m about to slaughter to look amazing, as well as the surroundings my character runs around in, and it’s important that the atmosphere of a game feels just right. FFX is one of those games where everything feels right; I didn’t even mind the silly blitzball-tournaments you have to go through.

The characters you get to spend time with are amazing with their very different personalities and abilities, I’m especially fond of Auron with his huge sword and Yuna’s summoning skills. The magical Aeons you can summon are my favourite part of FFX. They have extremely cool magical abilities and when summoned they come to life in such mysterious, frightening, fascinating ways (see video below). I could summon Aeons all day just to experience their beautiful entrance and that humbling feeling of having something huge and powerful by my side that is ready to fight until it dies, only for me.

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unnamed   #3 Merentha – a text based MUD game

MUD stands for Multi-User Dungeon, and represents an entire genre of online games and I’ll be writing about my fascination of the text-based type of MUD. I find it pretty difficult to describe it to someone that has never tried one of these games. It used to be more popular back in the 90’s, and are essentially virtual worlds made up of descriptive and narrative text, containing objects and continents, landscapes, buildings, monsters, food, people (players) and NPC’s that you can interact with via written commands (to look at something you type ‘look <item>’, to kill a monster you type ‘kill giant’, for example).  There’s the occasional ASCII-art, but other than that it’s entirely up to your own sense of imagination to create images from the text and descriptions provided. If it’s totally incomprehensible, watch the video below.

The MUD I’ve spent many years playing is called Merentha and it’s a fantasy adventure game. It used to have a strong community of players when it was the most active and like in any human society there is politics, scandals, parties, murders, gangs and both romantic and friendly relationships formed.  You’re never limited by graphics or looks of things; you’re free to completely make up your own character, story and adventure. If there’s something you would like to add, you can always join the builder team and code it yourself.

There are kingdoms and guilds to join, people to party with, lands to explore and classes to specialize in. You have many different ways and channels to use to communicate with other players while adventuring and it’s a big part of the experience. Some days you can log in only to chat and hang with friends and not bother to do quests or collect experience points. Or just to run the guild you own and boss around people. Or maybe just to kill another player that pissed you off the day before…

It may not sound like anything special, but believe me, it’s very addicting and a completely different experience from normal video games. Plus, you really get to improve your typing skills and/or English language, with the amount of text you have to read, understand and write. Since your gaming experience is quite dependent on communicating with others to get along in the world, you’re bound to form some strong friendships and allies. The small but vibrant community is what kept me playing Merentha every day for many years. I have some very fond memories and extremely good friends from that game.

(video from another MUD, but basically same concept and commands)

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images (2)#2 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

My #2 and #1 will probably not come as a surprise, if you’ve followed my list and seen what kind of games I like. Role playing, fantasy, epic atmosphere and killing stuff. So of course you’ll find Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls-games at the top.

Because spending time in the enormous, beautiful, mesmerizing world set in my favourite environment, the snowy mountains of the medieval North, fascinates me to no end.  I have so many options, a huge amount of things to do (much more than just killing monsters and doing quests), so much variation and details in every aspect of the game. And most importantly, I have the freedom to play the game however I want, I can choose in which order to do quests, explore the lands or learn things. There isn’t even a set class that I have to choose from, I can customize my own and turn into a barbarian with healing spells, or a sneaky rogue fighting with sledgehammers and fire magic. Even if I get tired of my choices, I can just change them. It makes the game really exciting to play, because I have no idea where I will go or who I will end up as.

In Skyrim I get to meet dragons. The ultimate and most powerful magical creature. But, unfortunately I have to kill them, steal their souls and absorb their powers, to progress in the game. I wish I didn’t have to; I just want to let these beautiful creatures live, so they can glide across the skies during my adventures, make me stare at them in awe and let out a sigh of happiness and admiration over how fantastic this world is.

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the-elder-scrolls-4-oblivion-logo-1_size0#1 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Naturally, Oblivion has a lot in common with Skyrim when it comes to concept, atmosphere, huge world and the freedom of choice, so I won’t go over that again. Honestly, I did not know which of the games to put on the #1 spot, but it feels like I’ve had just a little bit more fun and more of a challenge with Oblivion.

This is a game that never seems to end; I could literally only own all The Elder Scrolls games and be pretty satisfied gaming-wise for the rest of my life. They’ve created a very real and living world in these games so it’s wonderful to be a part of it, and not just because everything looks so damn nice. I like how you can read about the history of the lands and the people in the large amount books you can find in game, how you can be a wizard with lockpicking skills and how you can persuade NPC’s to start liking you and give you favours.

Like I’ve said before, my favourite type of character is a stealthy one and Oblivion more than satisfies my needs for this. I enjoy sneaking up on monsters and people unseen while using weapons to backstab, and own a bow and arrows and get them from a distance, with enough time training skills I can pick all kinds of locks, jump on rooftops, swim underwater, steal items from rich people and pick their purses. And join the Dark Brotherhood, a guild of professional assassins, to go on a murder spree. As you level up your character all the monsters and places become more difficult, so this game is always providing a challenge. The expansion packs you can buy are great fun too.

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About Irmelinis

A friend told me that I was delusional. I almost fell off my unicorn.

Posted on August 2, 2013, in Metal Lists, Mik's Top 25 Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great picks! I’ve spent lots of time with all of those games with the exception of Merentha (though I am curious about MUDs, but I don’t think I have enough gaming time to really add a genre such as that to my already bursting at the seams backlog).

    FFX almost made my list as my order of favorite FF games goes (Top 5) 12, 10, 9, Tactics, 6. I really enjoyed the story of that one and the like the mix of sci-fi and fantasy in the whole thing. Could have lived without Blitzball though, lol. I even had a pet water dragon named Rikku 😉

    The Witcher is an absolutely stellar game and such a breath of fresh air in the RPG genre. Geralt is one of the most interesting characters ever in a game, and I really need to get around to playing The Witcher 2. So, did you go out of your way to collect all the titty cards too 🙂 And if you’re curious, the books the game is based on are pretty damn good. The English translation is a little rough here and there, but for the most part they are enjoyable reads with really unique stories.

    And The Elder Scrolls, such fun games. I have to agree that Oblivion is the best of the two as I play in the same style as you. Stabbing the fuck out of people when they least expect it is so satisfying. I remember Oblivion was the first game I got with my shiny new Xbox and it made the purchase and large sum of cash I dropped on it totally worth it. I sure got my moneys worth out of that game (I’m positive I’ve clocked in over 300 hours). I really enjoyed the DLC for it too. Sheogorath is f’n amazing. I liked how he made a cameo in Skyrim as well, though I was left for a longing of more Sheogorath (that would make an awesome band name).

    • Ah, cool that you’ve played these games too and know what I’m talking about! I haven’t played all of the FF games actually, only # 10, 7, 3 and 13. So I guess I have some really good ones left to check out 🙂

      Yeah, the futuristic, steam punk sci-fi stuff combined with magic is awesome. They do it so well. Even though, now when I look at the videos from FFX, it’s not so good looking anymore lol… but back then, it was wow..

      Haha, I did collect all the titty cards! That was just another weird, but cool feature of the game. Every girl seemed to like him a lot 😉 If you know of any other “breaths of fresh air”, especially role playing. in the gaming world, let me know. I get easily bored with the same concepts over and over and I do not like games that are “stereotypical”. Well yeah, I should also get The Witcher 2, I’ve forgotten about that…

      I’ve mostly played Oblivion and Skyrim on my PC, it’s much easier to control with the mouse (especially when aiming with a bow). But when we bought a big screen tv, I just had to buy them for XBOX 360 so I could enjoy the beautiful surroundings on a huge screen 😛

      • Actually, FFX is getting an HD remaster, so I’m really looking forward to that, and I really have my fingers crossed for a FFXII HD remaster too.

        Since you’re asking about some interesting RPGs that are a bit different, a new Shadowrun game just came out for PC. I haven’t played it yet, but it’s been getting great reviews and if you haven’t played a Shadowrun game it’s basically sci-fi and steampunk mashed together. Think Blade Runner with a heavy Lord of the Rings influence (Hacker Elves, Street Samurais, Ninja Orcs, you get the picture). I know I’ll definitely grab a copy for myself… eventually ‘glares at backlog and obsession to finish every game started’

  2. Well I haven’t played any of these games, but all they all seem cool. For some reason I haven’t gotten into fantasy related games much, but the Oblivion game sounds good and I have heard rave reviews about all those games in the series.

    The Witcher sounds cool with its detailed graphics. I like when a developer takes the time for the little things like surroundings. It gives a game so much depth. Congrats on finishing your list…great bunch of games!

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