Meghan’s top ten games of the decade…

by Meghan Watt

Everyone seems to be doing a TOP 10 BEST GAMES OF THE DECADE list. At DownWriteFierce, we have no authority to make such bold claims. We can’t qualify whether Ico is better than Prince of Persia or worse than Halo. Instead, we’re opting to share our opinions on each of our favorite ten games since 2000, in no particular order.

The following is Meghan Watt’s favorite games of the past ten years, in absolutely no order at all.

Suikoden III

Honestly, I don’t even remember Suikoden III that much (blame my terrible memory).  All I know is that it left a passionate little spot in my heart where many games have only tried to venture.  Great story, good graphics (for the time, of course) and lots of little things to do.   I’m always a sucker for customization, so I really liked the ability to make a bustling kingdom with lots of shops and friendly residents too.

You can also recruit 108 characters — some through the story and some in your spare time — each with a history and interesting personality.   If you get all of these “108 Stars,” there’s a super special epilogue.  I’m not generally a completionist, but this was so very worth it.

Kingdom Hearts

I love Disney and I love Square, so Kingdom Hearts was a perfect fit for me, no matter how bizarre the combination initially seemed.  I deeply loved the three main characters — Sora, Riku and Kairi — and their un-Disney-like relationships with one another.  You wouldn’t expect it, but the game was full of betrayal, heartbreak and badass fights.  It even had a non- “happily ever after” ending.

Still, I can’t pretend like Kingdom Hearts didn’t have its cheesy moments.  No, your pure heart and many friendships cannot destroy evil.  Maleficent is a dragon that breathes green fire.  You can’t fight that with hope and dreams, Sora.

Knights of the Old Republic (I and II)

Dude, I don’t even know where to begin.  Knights of the Old Republic may be my favorite among all of these.  Uh, *spoiler* alert for the handful of crazy people who haven’t played.  When you find out you are indeed the bad guy everyone fears, and the Light Side dipped into darker powers to seal your memory, you have an unprecedented choice.  Destroy the Republic or save it.  If you decide to go evil, you can immediately kill your fellow Jedi partner and then order the Wookiee to murder his one and only friend.  Holy crap.  It is awesome.

Mass Effect

After Orson Scott Card’s Advent Rising tanked, I feared that dialogue would forever be trite Final Fantasy heart-friendship-stars B.S. or gruff Marcus one-liners.   Even story-driven games like Oblivion have terrible dialogue and grating voice overs.

So when Mass Effect came out like a heavenly light through that Operation Dark Storm cloud in the Matrix,  I was so happy.  Not only did it warrant three play-throughs, but it set a bar for other games.  No more cutting corners.  Good dialogue, well-developed characters, lots of decision-making and crazy consequential events are almost commonplace now.  Plus, Mass Effect is an epic space opera with a riveting story and cool spaceships.  Yay!

Halo (1 and 2)

I don’t need to talk about why the first two Halos are awesome.  I do, however, have to mention the hundreds of hours my friends and I spent in my basement, sitting in total darkness save for four glowing TVs, playing Halo.  As long as my sister didn’t prance downstairs and trip over one of the ethernet cords, we would have four hour-long CTF matches in Blood Gulch and rocket-only Skull games in Hang ‘Em High from the moment school let out ’til the time my friends’ parents started to report their children missing.  I never thought it’d get old.  R.I.P. Halo (and also Splinter Cell) evenings.  You are missed.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3

I don’t know how Persona did it, but it transformed the whole high school routine into something you’d actually want to sit down and play all afternoon.  Half of this game is spent at school, going to class and building relationships.  The other half, you spend in a twisted tower that only you and a few others can see.  The goal?  To battle your way to the top before time eventually runs out via your many Personas.

As if the game wasn’t already weird and creepy enough, you have to shoot yourself in the head multiple times per battle in order to access your Personas’ powers.  It turns emo into cool, school into an intriguing game of relationships, and climbing the same damn tower every night into an addiction.

Super Paper Mario

The Wii still has yet to impress me, but I would seriously recommend everyone get one just to play this gem.  First, it’s got one of the most clever mechanics ever brought to the 2D world.  Throughout the game, you can switch your point of view from 2D, looking at the screen normally as  you see in the picture above, or 3D, the angle you would get if you were standing in Luigi’s position and looking at Bowser.  So, looking at this screenshot in 2D, there’s no way to get past that hulking fire-breather.  But, switch it to 3D, and there may be a big thirty foot expanse to his right.  This dimension-toggling is the game’s foundation, but there’s so much more on top of it.

This would’ve been enough to make the game a hit.  Mario + Clever Gameplay = Good Enough for the Wii.  But the game’s also got a hilarious story and, you wouldn’t believe it, good dialogue.  If you haven’t played it and plan to in the future, I will give one piece of advice that will make your gaming experience far more memorable.  When you’re in space but have yet to put your little fish bowl helmet on, don’t.  Your fairy companion will pressure you, but do not succumb.  Just keep saying no and, uh, save beforehand.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

When I first picked up Call of Duty 4, I thought I wouldn’t like it all that much.  I think the only FPSs I had played before were Halo and Goldeneye.  But together with the perks, classes, various weapon types and the ability to call in helicopters when you’re kicking ass, Modern Warfare has changed what genre I name next to RPGs as my favorite.

GTA III: Vice City

Around the time the first GTA III came out, I was adamantly against the whole thing.  Those three letters just had a very bad connotation.  I heard the outrageous things all the parents hear nowadays: You have graphic sex with hookers, get points for killing grannies with chainsaws and deal drugs to small children… or something along those lines.

But the game’s not about debauchery.  It’s about the complete freedom to do whatever the hell you want.  If that’s debauchery, so be it.  Personally, I liked to seek out the best sports car and drive it as fast as possible while obeying all traffic laws, aside from speeding obviously.  I also liked gradually claiming the city as my own.

As for the other GTAs, Vice City comes out on top.  It was cleaner than the first three, less “gangsta” than San Andreas and less serious and “Niko, come play darts!” than the fourth.  I will, however, admit how much I love every time Niko stumbled drunkenly in the street, shouting “yellow cab” and “taxi man.”

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Gamecube)

I’d put Ocarina of Time in this slot, but it came out before the millenium, so Twilight Princess it is.  Maybe had I played the two in reverse order, Twilight Princess would come out on top, but either way, both are simply amazing.  I don’t envy the guy that had to review the former.  How do you explain it after the other Legend of Zelda titles?  Same style but with updated 3D graphics, more weapons/items, more complex dungeons, great story despite the silent hero, various lands and races from the Zora to the Gorons, astounding orchestral soundtrack and a pretty darn hot guy for a man in an olive green tunic.  Describe that in less than 500 words.  No thanks.

So maybe Twilight Princess didn’t have Sheik, Marin, and the whole “holy crap, amazing” factor from being the first.  But the wolf transformation and impish Midna really worked.  Twilight Princess also had a bigger world, better enemy A.I. and improved graphics.  Gees, I’m making me want to play it again.

Runner Up: Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball

This one, above all the others, fits Mitch’s “favorite but not necessarily good” description which is why I super wanted to include it on the list.  Hell, I know the game’s not that great.  The volleyball was fun but not the best, and there’s not much to do aside from play a few matches and gamble away your money in the casino.

Still, I refuse to give up my original Xbox copy of this game for two reasons: One, I’m a girl and I like pretty swimsuits.  Seriously.  I really just enjoy earning money, improving my collection of swimwear, and letting these women of impossible proportions sport them on the beach in a completely non-sexual way (the enjoyment being the non-sexual part… not the sporting them on the beach.  They do that very sexually).

Two, I have some great memories playing this with my best guyfriend back in high school.  I don’t know why it was such a blast, seeing as he would blow all the cash I earned on the roulette table every night so that I couldn’t buy swimsuits.  Still good times though.  Goooood times.