Sunday 28 December 2014

50 best video games

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Wii Sports
'The game that brought the world the 'Wii elbow',' says Rebecca Armstrong, 'Wii Sports might have injured a few dozy players but it did get them off the sofa in the first place. Golf, bowling, boxing, baseball, tennis - each sport showcases the motion-sensitive nature of the Wii. Also well worth a go - if you can find one - is the bestselling Wii Fit, which takes the exertion up a few notches.'
Braid
'This pricier-than-average download might seem like a common-or-garden platformer but take the time to explore it and Braid will reward you like no other title out now,' says Rebecca. 'It takes gaming stereotypes - lovelorn hero on a quest to save his beloved, a puzzle- filled world - and turns them on their head with style and wit.' Rick Porter agrees: 'Haunting and intelligent, this is a puzzle title that must be experienced.'
Halo 3
'One of the most hyped releases of all time,' says Jack Riley, 'Halo 3 didwonders for first-person shooters on the Xbox 360, combining a stimulating plotline with great online play. The game is slow enough to encourage tactical thinking and features all manner of outlandish new weaponry, as well as a cooperative mode for up to four players, which is guaranteed to prolong the game's appeal.'
Fallout 3
'A post-apocalyptic adventure, the ancient Fallout games see you leaving 'the Vault', a decrepit fallout shelter hundreds of years after the bomb dropped,' says Tim Edwards. 'It offers a brilliant aesthetic vision; a cross between the optimism of the 1950s and the camp violence of MadMax, with some brutal moral choices.' This, the long-awaited, fully-3D sequel, is set to be released by the end of the year.
Rock Band
If you want to take the Guitar Hero format further, and have deep pockets, then in Rock Band you get to play the drums and sing as well. 'The ultimate in musical multiplayer mayhem, Rock Band is the most fun anyone with a large lounge can have,' says Rebecca. 'Consisting of a replica guitar, microphone and drum kit, this is a slick set of equipment that's backed up with a great range of tunes to rock out to.'
Burnout Paradise
Unlike most driving games, in Burnout you actually get rewarded for crashing - and the better the crash, the better the reward. This latest instalment expands on the basic formula, setting it in an open-world environment where you have unlimited opportunities to destroy your fellow drivers. 'When you daren't blink for fear of missing a corner, you know you're halfway to top speed in the Burnout games,' says Tim. 'They're pure petrolhead fantasy.'
Dr Kawashima's Brain Training / Sight Training
There have been a slew of games recently that mix pleasure with self-improvement, but these two are the original and the best. Both involve a variety of mini-games and exercises, as well as tests that estimate the 'age' of your brain or sight, which you then work on improving. Trying to beat your own scores is addictive, but the beauty of it is that it has been designed so you can fit in your daily workout on your commute.
Gears of War
'Hulking space marine-types are such an obvious video game cliché that many would be happy to dismiss any praise of a title featuring them,' says Rick of this beautiful tactical shooter. 'However, the much-plagiarised cover mechanic and excellent multiplayer options featured in Gears of War changed this view forever. The upcoming sequel is the only competition this game truly has.'
Guild Wars
This may have been released over three years ago, but subsequent expansion packs have meant that this massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is still worth getting hold of. 'What was achieved with this title was a genuinely impressive and accomplished effort from the team at ArenaNet,' says Rick. 'Although World of Warcraft is the better and more popular title, the fact that Guild Warswas free to play opened the genre up to many gamers.'
Rez HD
'The original Dreamcast game stunned many gamers when it launched back in 2001,' says Rick. 'Now the recent HD offering has taken the classic formula and improved upon it - all the classic gameplay with the bonus of heightened visuals and audio.'
Mario Kart
The Nintendo racing classic makes its way to theWii, and its imaginative tracks and addictive nature mean it's still a joy to play. 'Anyone who finds driving with a joypad counter-intuitive will love tackling the tracks in the latest Mario Kart title thanks to the way the wireless controller clips into a wheelshaped holder,' says Rebecca. 'As well as being a doddle to control, it has a hysterically high speed and is ideal for playing en masse with mates.'
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution
'My fondest memories of Civilization come not from my victories, but my defeats,' says Tim. 'The idea of the game is to take a tribe at the dawn of civilization out from the caves, to the space age. The problem is the other tribes - led by vindictive personalities. Watch out for Ghandi. He's conniving. He's nuked me twice.' Although impressive, this console version of the classic turn-based strategy game might not please all the hardcore fans, so PC owners should instead find a copy of Civilization 4.
BioShock
'With its off-the-wall back story and dazzling environments, the distinctly dystopian first-person shooter BioShock was one of the most impressive titles of 2007,' says Rebecca. 'A PS3 version is currently in the works so Sony owners can explore the underwater world of Rapture, avoid the terrifying Big Daddies and Little Sisters, while altering their genetic make-up to become less human but more effective. Creepy and incredibly atmospheric.'
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
The original Final Fantasy VII on the PS1 is widely regarded as the best of this long-running RPG series, featuring what Rick calls 'the saddest and most emotional moment in any video game'. You will have to dig hard to find a copy of the original, but this prequel is more than worthy of sharing the name. It may move away from the traditional turn-based fighting system Final Fantasy has always been known for, but is engrossingly deep in content and also one of the best looking titles on Sony's impressively powerful handheld device.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
The game that has taken over bedrooms all over the world. Guitar Hero III is essentially a standard-rhythm game but, incredibly, manages to make you feel like a rock star despite holding a plastic guitar with five buttons. 'After refining the existing, and rather sloppy, hammer-on and pull-off techniques its forerunners featured,' says Rick, 'Neversoft ensured this was the finest title to date with regular track packs being made available via download. It's the guitar game that just keeps on giving.'
Project Gotham Racing 4
'A title that showcased perfectly what the next-generation machines would be capable of, the blend of realism and arcade racing was breathtaking,' says Rick. 'As one of the first Xbox 360 titles it had a lot to live up to and managed to deliver.' Rebecca agrees: 'As driving games go it's hard to find a prettier offering than the fourth instalment of Project Gotham Racing. Its international tracks were scanned centimetre by centimetre to create hyper-real locations and the cars are as sexy as hell.'
Medieval 2: Total War
'Think of the TotalWar games as a cross between the historical politicking of The Tudors crossed with the battle-scenes from Braveheart,' says Tim. 'Most of your time is spent on plotting invasions, marrying off your daughters, and paying off the Pope. Butwhen nations clash, you're given complete control of the result - leading thousands of men, horses and catapults from the front. Amazing.'
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
'If you think Call of Duty is all about the Second World War then think again,' says Rebecca of this first-person shooter sequel. 'This title moves away from vintage battle and into the present with all the hi-tech weapons a virtual soldier could wish for. The single-player campaign is a bit on the quick side but, as ever with the Call of Duty series, the multiplayer mode is where this title earns its stripes.'
World of Warcraft
'World of Warcraft has been described as the new golf,' says Tim. 'A game of dragon slaying and dungeon raiding for the masses, and 11 million players have already succumbed. Its appeal is social - alongside the impeccably paced joy of levelling up your character, and clothing him in magic armour, you'll fight along friends, up to 40 at a time. Once started, few stop playing. Beware World of Warcraft's siren call.'
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
'The simple hi-score chasing nature of the Geometry Wars titles has won many fans over the years,' says Rick, 'but the most recent version's insistence on rubbing rival friends' list scores in your face at every opportunity is a masterstroke of design on Bizarre Creations' part and causes Retro Evolved 2 to be the series pinnacle.'
Forza Motorsport 2
This über-realistic racer comes with over 300 cars, which you can tweak and improve to your heart's content, making it perfect for car fans who are most comfortable when tinkering under the bonnet. 'I've spent hours lapping Laguna Seca with friends, making important, if incremental, improvements to my lap times,' says Tim. 'There's also nothing like the fear of 16 drivers piling into the first corner - each holding on to their line until the last minute, daring their opponents to brake.'
Peggle
'Peggle is the electronic equivalent of Pachinko,' says Tim. 'You drop a ball from the top of the screen, and score points according to the number of pegs it hits. Simple. But then, you realise you've been playing for five hours, and a cartoon unicorn is bellowing 'Ode To Joy' at you. And that you don't care that you're going to have to call in another sickie - because that means more time for Peggle.'
Lego Indiana Jones: the Original Adventures
This is a tongue-in-cheek run-through of the grumpy archaeologist's adventures, although it thankfully misses out the latest film. In many ways it's a traditional platformer, but is done in such a charming and humorous manner than any future games based on movies should only be allowed to be released if combined with Lego. It won't take you long to complete, but once you do you can start looking forward to Lego Batman...
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Link, arguably Nintendo's second most popular character after the fat, Italian plumber, has had the luck to star in one of the most consistent franchises in gaming history, and his debut on the Wii does not disappoint. It's a darker and harder tale than that we've been used to recently, with a grown-up storyline and graphics. It's also one of the best utilisations of the Wii's control system - all in all, a must-have for owners of the console.
SingStar II
'Karaoke has become a national obsession,' says Rebecca. 'But if the idea of standing up in front of a pub full of strangers to belt out 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' fills you with dread, there is an alternative. Sony's SingStar series is karaoke-lite, with easy-to-follow notes, voicemassaging effects and songs that range from rock to indie, retro to pop. In its latest incarnation, players can download tracks on demand to custom-make their evening's soundtrack.'
Football Manager 2009
Addictive and exhilarating - all this from a game that looks like a spreadsheet. OK, so this latest instalment will introduce a 3D match engine for the first time, but it is still a wonder how a simulation of football management can take over your life so completely. 'Men deal with break-ups in funny ways,' says Tim. 'I've had a few friends that have vanished from public life for a fortnight after splitting up with their girlfriends. They emerge, like butterflies, rehabilitated and happy; having just taken Hull City to the top of the league on Football Manager.'
Tetris DS
Surely a game which needs no introduction, this Soviet masterpiece - which is over 20 years old - has appeared on countless platforms and in numerous forms, but is never better than when in its classic incarnation. The perfect portable puzzler, 'it's the only reason to take business trips', says Tim. This DS version lets you pit your skills against up to nine other opponents.
Half-Life 2: The Orange Box
This great-value compilation not only includes Half-Life 2 - generally regarded as one of the best first-person shooters ever - and its two expansion packs, it also comes with multiplayer classic Team Fortress 2 and Portal, a highly-original action/puzzle game that Rebecca calls 'sleekly brilliant' and 'an addictive and extremely classy game'. To be honest, if you have even a passing interest in gaming then you need to own at least one of these titles - so why not buy the whole lot for a single cut-down price.
Mass Effect
A role-playing game which - a rarity in the genre - doesn't involve orcs or wizards. Mass Effect is set in 2183 AD and provides an action-heavy experience with a gripping story, amazing character models and a great combat system. You play Commander John Shepard in a time when human beings have discovered they're not alone in the galaxy, and not everyone is playing nicely. Most noticeably, you get to choose your character's path, and have to choose between being a 'paragon' or a 'renegade'.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Mario's second appearance in this list in a forgotten classic that first came out on the SNES and has just been re-released through the Wii's download system. A collaboration between Nintendo's flagship character and the RPG know-how of Squaresoft (makers of the Final Fantasy series), it provides hours of game play and perfectly mixes Mario's traditional platforming game play with a combat system that was very innovative at the time.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009
The world of soccer games has been dominated by two long-running series as long as anyone can remember, this and EA Sport's official FIFA games. But for real football fans, it's always been the Pro Evolution games that feel most like playing the game. FIFA may have all the official licences, but it has never matched ProEvolution's fluid and realistic gameplay (although it is getting closer). This new edition offers you the chance to 'Become a Legend', taking one footballer all the way to the top.
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
Fast-paced and action-packed, the Command and Conquer series has stuck to the old adage of 'If it ain't broke...', but continues to produce some of the best real-time strategy games around. Just as before, Tiberium Wars centres on the battle between the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod, and you can choose which side to take. There's also the appearance of Scrin, a new alien species who are playable as well. The cheesy in-game movies make a welcome return and the multiplayer is just as frenetic as ever.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
This - Solid Snake's last hurrah in a career lasting over 20 years - was one of 2008's most eagerly awaited titles, and a valuable exclusive for the PlayStation 3. It didn't disappoint, with exhilarating action and an engrossing story, and although there were grumbles about overlong cut-scenes, they only add to the cinematic and polished feel. A true masterpiece.
Uno
'For a truly old-school party game that can be played with pals or solo, check out Uno on the Xbox Live Arcade,' says Rebecca. 'Loners can play against a never-ending array of online opponents - and see what they're up to over a web cam - while up to four friends can play simultaneously. It's a neat way to breathe new life into a classic card game and it's cheap to download too.'
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09
The undisputed king of golf has lent his name to the undisputed king of golf games for many years now, and it's pretty much on its own in its field. And this latest version is also a significant improvement on 08. Strong graphics showcase the beautiful courses, the career mode is engrossing and the new simultaneous-play feature means you no longer have to wait for your opponent's next shot when playing online.
Spore
There are a lot of strategy games out there that let you indulge your God complex, but none let you control an entire species throughout millions of years of evolution, even shaping its appearance and diet. Along the way you pass through six stages, each of which has a different style gameplay and could almost be stand-alone titles in themselves. All the while, your decisions are shaping both the appearance and nature of your creatures.
Grand Theft Auto IV
'You read the headlines, now play the game that has had middle England quivering in fear,' says Rebecca. 'Okay, so there's plenty of sex, violence and carjacking on offer for the over-18 player, but there's also beautifully rendered cityscapes, openworld play and a sophistication of design that's breathtaking. Cinematic in its scope and extremely good fun to play.'
Lost Odyssey
'A recent addition to the genre and one of Microsoft's many attempts to crack the Japanese market,' says Rick of this traditional RPG. 'The title not only looks stunning, but also manages to present characters with true depth and personality. The addition of numerous short stories, penned by award-winning novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu, help create a truly emotional journey.'
Space Invaders Extreme
'For mobile retro-gaming thrills, there isn't much to top this drum'n'bass remake of the arcade classic,' believes Jack. 'The flashing colours and thumping music may be too much for some gamers to handle, but the charm of this update's Seventies forebear is intact, and makes for some great portable action.'
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue
Fans have been waiting an age for a proper next-generation sequel to GranTurismo 4, and still have a while to go with the release slated for 2009. However, this taster more thanwhets the appetite and is a great stand-alone title. The 70 or so cars are meticulously put together and the graphics show off the PlayStation 3's power superbly. There may only be six tracks, but for the low price you will get more than enough to tide you over until the true sequel is released
Picross DS
Picross (which stands for Picture Crossword) is a Sudoku-beating phenomenon in Japan - the puzzles are grids on which the player has to mark the squares in order to reveal a picture. You need to work out from the numbers on the side which squares need to be marked; it may not sound like much, but take it from us, this is seriously addictive.
Soul Calibur IV
'With some ridiculous character creation options new to the latest incarnation of Namco's flagship fighting series, coupled with the series' trademark graphical flair and intuitive controls, Soul Calibur IV has rightly taken its place as king of the fighting sims,' says Jack. Sci-fi fans are in for a treat, as two extra-special Star Wars characters make an appearance - Yoda in the Xbox version and Darth Vader for the PlayStation 3
Diablo II
Available at a bargain price, Blizzard Entertainment's diverse hack-and-slash RPG is one of the easiest games of its kind to pick up and - despite its age - is still one of the most enjoyable games to ever be released. The range of classes, equipment and a huge array of character abilities means this is a game you'll want to repeat again and again
Buzz! Quiz TV
Bring out the competitive sides of you and your friends in this TV quiz show that takes place in your own living room. It comes with four buzzers and a wide array of questions covering enough categories to make sure everyone should have at least a fighting chance. You can even create your own quizzes if you manage to exhaust the game's database
Top Spin 3
This tennis simulation will take you a while to master as it's all about timing and being in the right position for your next shot, but eventually you will stop missing the ball and start hitting some great shots. As a result, the game has a lot of depth and the graphics are also impressive - the players get dirtier as the game goes on, and your heart rate can even affect your shots
Puzzle Quest
Combining the genius of puzzle classic Bejewelled with RPG-style gameplay, Puzzle Quest is a truly unique title. Choose your character from the expected set of knights, wizards and druids, who you can then customise and upgrade throughout. As you complete quests, you fight your enemies on the Bejewelled-style battlefield, both taking turns to flip the gems. It's an inspired mix, and also great value
Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition
Shooting zombies has never been such fun as in Resident Evil, and for this version the action shifts to a third-person view. 'It was a bit of a gamble on behalf of Capcom that paid off in spades,' believes Rick. 'Altering the perspective of its acclaimed Resident Evil series could have ended in disaster, but it actually managed to create one of the finest videogames of all time. The Wii update only adds to the greatness of the title.'
Bomberman Live
Rick describes Bomberman as 'one of the simplest and most successful video game concepts the industry has created, and it could well have reached its peak with this title. Slick gameplay, perfectly balanced power-ups, and the ability to play online ensure that this version is one of the better Bomberman games available.'
Pokemon Diamond / Pearl
Alongside the Japanese-styled games - in which you try and collect all the 'Pokémon' - the brand spawned a TV show, mass merchandise and even a series of films. However, the game behind it all still remains a great adventure beneath the childish kitsch. This version is the latest, and although it hasn't developed hugely it's still a game that is great for the kids - and any adults who might stumble across it as well

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