Top Ten Games of the Decade: 3rd and 2nd

December 10, 2009

You know the drill by now.  Ten games I enjoyed this decade, previous posts below, etc.  Let’s go!

#3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

I wanted to stay consistent and not list this whole series so, while I think the third Phoenix Wright game, Trials & Tribulations, is actually a better game, the first one remains the game I actually enjoyed the most.  Maybe because it was my first exposure to the series or perhaps something intangible, but it definitely deserved a high place on my list.

There’s a line between people who like the series and dislike it – as much of a fan as I am, I can’t comfortably refer to these camps as those who get it and those who don’t, as either way is just as viable and logical.  What makes this series tricky to like is how much you have to overlook to enjoy the mechanics.

The games are very bad at being actual games.  There’s no option for figuring things out your own way, no progress investigating unless you click on spots in the order the game has defined, nothing that would scream to you that you must play the title.  But I recommend it to people like I would recommend a book I enjoy.

It’s in that weird sense that Phoenix Wright succeeds at marrying mediums where other games fail.  The industry is chasing Hollywood and Michael Bay, while Phoenix Wright chases the narratives set out by books.  While big-budget games have the goal of letting you play the movie, still ultimately wrapping you in a scripted experience.  Phoenix Wright lets you play a story, giving you just enough interaction to feel like you’re part of the story without changing it.

#2. Team Fortress 2

It’s kind of hard to spend some several hundred hours on a game and not place it high on my list.  When actually working it out, I decided “high” should be “really fucking high”.

Team Fortress 2, to someone who never really plays online games, is a culmination of what I thought games would be as a kid.  Well, it’s not VR and I can’t physically touch things in the game, but it’s close enough.  When I played Chip & Dale on the NES, slowly making progress with my brother, or my friends, I loved the idea of cooperating for a larger goal.

Through the murder, immolation, bombings, and inevitable arrows through the head, the game is basically team-based objectives that must be achieved.  Every time a strategy comes together and a nigh-invincible enemy sentry goes under and your team rushes to victory, it’s a feeling that most scripted single-player games can’t match.  Team Fortress 2 is freeform artistry at its best and that level of enjoyment is what less talented developers can never achieve.


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