15) Heavy Rain – Quantic Dream – 2010 – PS3
Whether this game truly deserves the title of game, or just something like ‘interactive experience’ is besides the point, I adore Heavy Rain. The story of Ethan Mars looking for his missing son is heartbreaking in a way that no other game is. Part adventure game, part quick time event you can alter the path of the narrative in Heavy Rain considerably in every scene. Controlling 4 main characters, each of which can die if you make a bad decision or mistime button presses, with no Game Over or retry screens to be found. Though I’ve played through Heavy Rain multiple times, that first play through is what puts it onto this list so high. I was so invested in the story and finding out who the Origami Killer was that it was easy to forget just how revolutionary this was for gaming. It felt completely natural, like watching a season of Dexter or 24, an achievement in storytelling the games industry may never match again.
How can I play it? – You can pick up Heavy Rain relatively cheap nowadays, and a recent patch allows for PlayStation Move support if you’d like to be continually frustrated while playing it.
14) Final Fantasy XII – Square-Enix – 2007 – PS2
I’ve recently been playing through Final Fantasy XIII-2, and while it’s certainly a serviceable game, I can’t shake the feeling that FFXII may well have been the last truly great entry in my favourite RPG series. Released near the end of the PS2’s life, it’s possibly the most impressive technical achievement on the console. FFXII is huge, with massive dungeons and vast expanses to explore throughout. It’s also one of the most innovative entries in the franchise, the hands off approach to combat being as enthralling as it is jarring to series veterans. Ivalice, a setting taken from the FF Tactics games, comes to life too through the various races, cities and monsters that appear throughout. This is a legendary game, and most definitely deserving of its place here.
How can I play it? – You’ll have to get a copy preowned somewhere, which shouldn’t be to difficult given how popular the game was.
13) Fahrenheit – Quantic Dream – 2005 – PS2, Xbox, PC
While writing the Heavy Rain segment above, I was trying to prepare myself for this entry too, the spiritual predecessor to that game. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly the reasons why I think of Fahrenheit more fondly, all I could think about was the reasons it shouldn’t deserve to be higher. The disappointing ending for instance has nothing on that of Heavy Rain, whilst the over the top matrix style fight scenes can seem out of place at times too. But once I stopped and thought about it, I had to go with my gut feeling, and think back to experiencing the game for the first time. The opening of Fahrenheit is quite frankly my favourite moment in any game, I have never felt so immediately scared, intrigued and hooked as I did when I was first dropped into that blood stained bathroom. Taking a nearby mop I struggle to get rid of most of the blood on the floor, wipe away where I would have left my fingerprints on the body, and try to give myself enough of a head start to escape the police I can see approaching in the 24 style window in the corner. There are several moments like this in Fahrenheit, but nothing has ever affected me like that opening did, which is why it’s at number 13.
How can I play it? – You can get Fahrenheit on Xbox Live through the Xbox Originals service, or you can pick up any version preowned for cheap.
12) Metal Gear Solid – Kojima Productions – 1998 – PS1, PC, GC
When we are only at number 12 and we reach the original Metal Gear Solid, you know that the standard is incredibly high. For me, I credit Metal Gear Solid as the reason I’m sat here right now writing about games. I would not have been a gamer without meeting Solid Snake for the first time all of those years ago. I was far too young for the game to begin with, but unlike pre-teens playing GTA for the first time and going crazy over being able to steal a car or do drugs, I was delving into a world that was just too clever for me to fully understand just yet, and that was incredibly exciting for a 9 year old. I was horrendous at Metal Gear though, I didn’t fully grasp the need for stealth just yet, and I was terrified of the alert sound when you are seen by a guard. I would watch my older brother make his way through, though I remember neither of us could get past Metal Gear Rex it was beyond our current gaming skill. Memories of my 10 year old self aside, few can deny that Metal Gear Solid still holds up today. By using the power of the PlayStation to the fullest, and fully voices cutscenes, it still remains as one of the most cinematic gaming experiences ever. I have a lot to thank Metal Gear Solid for, I literally can’t imagine what I’d be like if I hadn’t played it all those years ago.
How can I play it? – You can buy the Gamecube remake if you want a better looking game, for a high price mind, but it’s best experienced in its original form which can be found on the PlayStation Store.
11) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Nintendo – 2006 – Wii, GC
Many will think I’ve gone mad with my pick of Zelda game here, especially when the bar is set so high with the other games. What other game nearly made the list? Wind Waker, so not the Ocarina of Time most would have been placing in their top 5’s. In fact, I’m not a huge fan of Ocarina, especially as I’ve never completed it. For me, Twilight Princess refines everything great about Ocarina, but replaces the janky elements with simple alternatives that allow the rest of the game to be much more grand in scale. I like Wolf Link for instance, and Midna is the best companion character the series has ever seen. The story keeps things simple too, without feeling too cutesy, see Skyward Sword, or too serious, see Majora’s Mask. It feels like I’m putting the game down when I say the best of all the Zeldas, as if I’m saying it’s simply middle ground. That’s not it though. I play Twilight Princess, and it feels like I’m home, the culmination of everything coming together to make the perfect Zelda adventure.
How can I play it? – Hate waggle control? Pick up the Gamecube version for a ridiculous price. If you’re like me though and actually enjoy the Wii, I would go for the cheaper and more easy to find version.