Ah, we’re back to video games. This is one of my favorite topics — right up there with ancient Greece, bacon and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Anyone who’s ever held the title “hardcore gamer” knows it’s not just a hobby: It’s a lifestyle.
As such, this topic is pretty sensitive to me. I have some loves and hates in the video game world. The good thing is that some video games are common knowledge in gamer circles, so I can help you along even if I don’t personally like the franchise.
1. “Mass Effect”
Whether you’re a fangirl like me or not, “Mass Effect” is popular. It’s a three-game series with unprecedented variety in its storyline. Everyone plays as Commander Shepard, but you can be male or female, act heroic or ruthless, fight with weapons or biotics, flirt with this alien or that one and so on. The story is as involved as you want it to be; if you’re just there to fight, you can go on multiplayer or skip cutscenes. If you want a long story, you can lose yourself in the game for hours. This is my favorite series ever, so I know that well.
There’s going to be a “Mass Effect 4” eventually, but there has been remarkably little information released about it, other than this video at 2014’s E3:
There are plenty of other videos out, as well — some that last over an hour, actually. There has been a consensus, however, that it’s not going to be about Shepard. Some people are complaining about not being able to say goodbye, but I think the Citadel DLC for “Mass Effect 3” was perfect for that, anyway. Whether you like science fiction or not, it’s like the bacon in the video game meatery.
If you’ve ever heard that “the cake is a lie,” it’s because of this game. It’s full of puzzles and hilarious commentary by robots that spend most of the game trying to kill you. You have a portal gun, and you can shoot orange or blue portals onto solid white surfaces to transport yourself. All the puzzles are based around this concept, and if you can get over the motion sickness, it’s fun and works your brain. That earns it GGG’s stamp of approval.
I’m not a Bungie fangirl by any means; their stories leave a lot to be desired, and I’m a sucker for a good story. It does tell you something, however, that I continue to buy and play these games anyway. There’s something so satisfying about blowing stuff up.
Actually, in-game play is something they have nailed down. Panic-inducing Flood monsters aside, it’s a ton of fun. More importantly, it’s pretty central to gaming. Even casual players know about the “Halo” series.
4. “Dragon Age”
This one’s another BioWare hit. “Dragon Age: Inquisition” was a critical hit, but the other two are wildly fantastic, as well. It’s a humorous, adventuresome story where you can choose your gender, your looks and even your bed mate.
The first game was a little dry at points, just like “Mass Effect” was at first, but it picks up further into the game. You don’t get to freely roam so much, but there are a few areas to choose.
The second game felt incomplete. It reused a few maps, and the story didn’t feel as epic. I feel the characters were far more interesting in this game, though. A pirate, a blood mage and a spirit of Vengeance: It’s all pretty sweet. But honestly, you would probably get more done if you just read the synopsis and moved on to “Inquisition.”
“Dragon Age: Inquisition” is probably the one everyone wants to play, but I don’t like the story nearly as much. There is free reign and a lot more customization available, but the characters just aren’t as cool in my humble opinion. I do like running around as a lady Qunari though; it feeds my inner feminist to be that tall and muscle-y.
5. “Elder Scrolls”
Each “Elder Scrolls” game gets hugely better graphics but maintains the same formula: wide-ranging, highly customizable characters and tons of side quests. It is so ridiculously easy to get lost in side quests on this game, it’s unreal. It’s also really easy to just get lost; the worlds are that big. I know from experience, though, you can pick up any one of these games and play it without getting confused. “Skyrim” is the favorite, which is in the Nords’ icy land, but “Morrowind” is also a classic.
While I can only handle so much of this game, a lot of people eat it up. Like “Elder Scrolls,” it’s a free ranging game, but it’s set in the future. The world’s gone to crap, and you’ve survived because you were safe in a bunker. At the start of the game, you break free onto the surface and proceed to get attacked by literally everything. Radiation is everywhere, as well as bandits and messed-up creatures like giant ants. Have fun with all that.
7. “Knights of the Old Republic”
This, ladies and gents, is a BioWare classic. There are two in the series, and they’re both a ton of fun. The first has a better story and cooler characters, but it’s not by much. You get to customize your characters, just like in the other games this company puts out, but you also get to become a Jedi. Do I really need to say more than that?
I’m going to anyway. You travel around in a junky spacecraft much like the Millennium Falcon and take on a crew of miscreants and do-gooders to fight the Sith. Who doesn’t want to fight the Sith? It’s a grand adventure.
8. “Final Fantasy” and “Kingdom Hearts”
Why am I including these two together? Because I’m totally cheating on this list thing. See, it’s not my thing after all.
There are tons of “Final Fantasy” games, so I’ll help you out: Numbers VII, VIII, X and XIII (shush, Lightning is awesome) are the most commonly referenced games. “Final Fantasy Tactics” was also awesome, and I’ve often heard “Chrono Trigger” referenced, though I admittedly haven’t played it.
VII is where Cloud, Aeris, Tifa and Yuffie come in, and it’s arguably the most popular game of the series. VIII has Squall Leonheart, X is all about Tidus, and XIII is Lightning’s show. The “Final Fantasy” series is all about mind-trips; something about the story is going to blow your mind. All of them are roleplay adventures starring people with crazy hair, and they’re generally ridiculous fun to play.
As for ‘Kingdom Hearts,” I would avoid all those little mini-games on the side. The first and second games are amazing, and all the others range from pretty good to vaguely annoying. If you have to be a perfectionist, they released “Kingdom Hearts 1.5” and “Kingdom Hearts 2.5” in HD with the first and second game, as well as scenes, if not the full games, from the others. It’s for last-gen consoles, and there is extended gameplay included.
9. “Star Wars: Battlefront”
I only played the first one, so that’s what I’ll talk about. You get to play various characters in battles that actually occurred in the “Star Wars” movies. It’s a strategy game through and through, and if you like “Star Wars,” it’ll be a ton of fun to fight alongside Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. It is an older game, though, so be aware that graphics aren’t all that great.
10. “Resident Evil”
Since this is a scary game, I haven’t played much of it. I’m sure you’ll understand why it has to be included, however; it’s a popular game with geeks, and it’s really fun to play. If you haven’t watched the movies, it’s about fighting the zombie outbreak, and it gets really bad really fast. Play this only if you have steel in your heart.
I have a heart of gold so, uh, that’s why I can’t play. Yeah.
Life has been hectic lately, so I only have one thing to end with. On Thursday, March 12, we lost the brilliant writer Sir Terry Pratchett. My favorite work of his was “Good Omens,” his collaboration with Neil Gaiman, but it certainly wasn’t the only great thing to come from him. If you’ve never read anything of his, he comes highly recommended.