Tag Archives: the sims

My Top 10 Favorite Games (10-6)

I realized after looking back over my older posts, that June marks the anniversary of my first year as a blogger.  So to celebrate, & as a matter of self-indulgence since my birthday is coming up next week, I decided to write a post about what I would consider my favorite games of all time (so far).  Every gamer has a list like this.  And while I’ve mentioned games that I really like in some of my other posts, I’ve never really talked about a lot of them.

Just some ground rules before I really get into it.  Firstly, I’ve limited the games on this list to one title per franchise.  If I didn’t do this, most of the list would be made up of The Elder Scrolls & Mass Effect games, & that’s not as much fun to read about, I don’t think.  So to get a broader range of games, I’m picking out my favorite games from such franchises.  Secondly, don’t criticize my list.  These are my personal favorites, not an attempt to list the Greatest Games Evar.  While I’d love to hear what your list is, please don’t say you think such-&-such game is stupid & I’m obviously an idiot for liking it.  If you don’t respect other people’s opinions, why should they respect yours?  Thirdly, I’m splitting this list in half for length’s sake.  The entire list all at once would take too long to write & read in one sitting, so this includes games 10-6 while the next post in a few days will have 5-1.

So with that out of the way, onward to the list!

#10 – The Sims

 

The original Sims was the first PC game I ever played (not counting the crappy Jeopardy! game that came with our very first computer).  Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that The Sims franchise is a force to be reckoned with.  The original Sims is the best-selling PC game to date, having shipped more the 16 million copies worldwide.  And even though there have been other versions I’ve enjoyed, such as The Sims: Bustin’ Out on the XBox, the original is still my favorite.  I played that game every way you could.  I’ve cheated & I’ve played it legit.  I’ve been serious, recreating myself & trying to be successful, & I’ve created Sims solely for the purpose of torture.  I can remember being up for hours upon hours playing, until I had to quit because my back was screaming at me or because my laptop was starting the burn the skin off my legs.

I think there were three reasons this game can be so addicting.  One, you could create anyone you wanted within reason.  Although the original Sims had very limited character creation, you could make a close match to most people.  So you could recreate yourself, your family & friends or even an enemy — likely to torment.  Second, the game was very easy to pick up & play.  It was really just a point-&-click game.  The Sims have probably introduced people to gaming who wouldn’t otherwise have played.  And third, there were regular expansions that added a large amount of new content.  Unlike some games these days, the expansions for The Sims didn’t just add new house decor, but new locations, things to do & other mechanics.  These factors encouraged people to continue to play long after its 2000 release.

The only thing about the game I didn’t like was that you had to have friends to advance your career.  I’m sure it speaks to my unsociable nature, but if you’re trying to play the game legitimately, there isn’t a lot of time for socializing between taking care of your Sim, going to work, etc.

#9 – Titan Quest

 

A lot of people compare Titan Quest to Diablo II, but given that I’ve never played that game, that’s a useless comparison.  Honestly, I think all dungeon crawlers follow the same formula, so comparing them is kind of pointless.  It’s like saying all shooters are Halo clones when the whole gameplay mechanic is to point at stuff you want to die.  But even if it is just a clone, Titan Quest is a great one.  I loved the game when I had my old crappy PC that I could only play it on with the settings turned down & still got lag, I loved it when I could play on full settings on my XPS system, & I’m sure I’ll love it again when I install it on my new PC.  I think what I love the most is the setting of the game & the classes.  I love mythology of any kind, but given that I’ve taken several classes on Greek mythology, I really enjoyed recognizing the creatures & settings from the game.  I also enjoyed the variety of classes & that you eventually get to pick two, providing even more variety in the combinations you can make.

The only downside to the game is that it can be very tedious & time-consuming if you’re borderline OCD like myself.  I have the compulsion to pick up every single piece of equipment I come across to sell.  I did eventually wean myself from picking up every broken item once I had a secure amount of money, but the temptation was always there.

#8 – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

 

Given that I listed The New Super Mario Bros. as my worst gaming experience from last year, it may surprise people to see this game listed among my favorites.  But I don’t have anything personal against the Mario franchise, & given how long the franchise has been around it’s obvious Nintendo knows how to make good games.  Super Mario RPG was the last game I played on the SNES, & actually the only Mario game I’ve played completely through.  While the gameplay is traditional turn-based RPG, the game brought the colorful & quirky style that has since become familiar to Mario fans.  And unlike most of the previous Mario games, it actually had a plot that involved more than just “Reach castle at end of stage, rinse & repeat until you fight Bowser & save the Princess.”

Aside from the humor, the other aspects of the game I like are the variety of tasks you encounter, how each area is unique but includes familiar enemies & the unique attacks.  Sure, while at the core you’re just going through each area until you reach a boss fight & find a star, there were a lot of side tasks that added variety to the game.  Some of my favorites were playing music with tadpoles, the minecart stage & the Yoshi race.  I also liked that there were no random battles.  You could see the enemies on the overworld, so if you didn’t want to fight you could just avoid them.

I also have to give the game credit as being one of the few that made Princess Peach sort of useful.  Sure, she gets kidnapped & Mario has to save her, but that’s not the whole point of the game.  And given that she’s only party member who has a lot of healing spells, she’s useful to keep in your main party.

#7 – Fable II

 

Like most gamers, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the Fable franchise.  I lost interest halfway through the first Fable, & only played Fable III once despite having what I think is the best plot out of the three games because of the bland gameplay.  But Fable II I’ve played through several times & still enjoy it.  It’s hard to point to one specific aspect of the game as what makes it superior to the others.  It certainly had its flaws, like the limited character customization, fairly useless NPC population (unless you want to torment them) combined with horrible accents, & samey plot.  And let’s not forgot those annoying children that forced me to run through the town to avoid hearing them begging for an autograph.

But it did a lot of things right, in my opinion.  I loved the different skill systems & that you also had a general experience pool.  The game is graphically beautiful & has some very funny moments.  The dog companion feels more natural than it does in Fable III & has a reason for being there.  I became very attached to my friend through the game, even if he stopped helping in combat to bark about treasure.  The jobs are kinda interesting & varied.  One minute you’re making swords, then you’re hunting a bounty, then you’re serving drinks, then you turn around & drag some poor sod off to slavery.  And while I wasn’t very good at them, the pub games helped expand the world some.  And I can’t leave out my favorite part: that if you level up your Skill (Ranged) ability, you can target specific areas of an enemy, including the crotch, which is endlessly hilarious.

To me, it felt like the good parts of Fable III were the parts carried over from Fable II just for the sake of carrying them over (like the dog, which really served no role in the story) while I missed the parts they left behind.  The world as a whole just felt more alive & engaging.  In fact, after writing this, I have the urge to start up a brand new playthrough…

#6 – Tenchu: Return From Darkness

 

The Tenchu series probably comes to closest to how ninjas actually acted, minus all of the supernatural aspects of the series.  As much fun as it is to lop enemies’ heads off left & right, I can’t help imagining that Ryu Hayabusa would make a poor ninja.  Instead of focusing on flashy combat, the Tenchu series focuses on stealthily eliminating enemies.  Although it takes more patience, I find much more satisfaction in picking a room of bad guys off one by one without being spotted, taking great glee in watching them try to find me but knowing they won’t.

Tenchu: Return From Darkness (also known as Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven for the PS2) is by far my favorite game of the series.  It’s one of those games that I would still play today if the 360 was compatible with it.  The game had a lot going for it.  The stealth mechanics were pretty good.  Of course you could crouch on rooftops or hug walls to remain hidden, but you could also latch onto ceilings & drop down on passing enemies, shoot them with blowguns or use a sheet that makes you blend into the wall.  There were a variety of stealth kills you could make depending on how you attacked.  For instance, dropping on an enemy from above used a different scene than running up behind them.  My favorite strategy was to lay down some poisoned rice to lure a guard away from his patrol, run up behind him when he went to pick it up & score a stealth kill while saving my rice.  The story was also pretty good.  I liked that you played through the story with three different characters (Rikimaru, Ayama &Tesshu) & although each character’s story was different, they linked together.  The game also had replay value because there were a few sections where you had a choice to make & the game plays out slightly differently because of it.

With interesting characters, including one of my favorite female video game characters, some great music, the ability to change enemy positions, a bonus mission putting Rikimaru in a modern city, a versus mode where you could literally fight as a ninja dog & fun ninja items (like exploding pinwheels), this game was a must -have for any stealth or ninja fan.  The only downside to the game was the combat wasn’t too great, & with most of the boss fights this problem was unavoidable.

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In the next few days I’ll post my top five favorite games, which does include some new stuff.

– GamerDame

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Game Review: The Sims Medieval

I’ve always enjoyed playing the Sims games… for a while.  But eventually they get tedious.  Having to look after all of those needs can be tiresome.  Is it any wonder there are so many Youtube videos of people killing their Sims?  Well, The Sims Medieval tries to take the game in a new direction.  Does it succeed?

Complete with knaves & wenches

The Sims Medieval is about as close to a complete overhaul of the franchise as you can get without having to call it a different game.  As the title suggests, the game is set during the time of kings, queens, knights & wizards.  The game does have a plot… of sorts.  Your overall goal is to create & build your own kingdom.  Each kingdom has its own Ambition, which include No Quest for the Weary, Imperial Domination, & Best in Show, just to name a few.  These Ambitions will determine how you choose to grow your kingdom & complete quests.  Speaking of quests, that’s the next major feature of this game.  Quests act as plot devices, telling the story of your kingdom.  Some of the quests include Book Burning, Golems Gone Wild, & The Philosopher’s Stone.  Successfully completing quests can increase your kingdom’s attributes.  Hero characters are created & selected to play through the various quests.  There are 10 total Hero classes: monarch, knight, merchant, spy, blacksmith, physician, bard, Peteran priest, Jacobian priest & wizard.  Which hero you decide to send on the quest determines your goal as well as how you solve it.  For example, during the Doomsday quest you can silence to doomsayer with your spy & bard working together (gaining an increase in security & knowledge), or side with the doomsayer using the Peteran priest & wizard (gaining security but losing culture).

Monarchs, knights & spies can duel others… just make sure you win.

A lot of the gameplay has been simplified.  You can change the aesthetics of your Heroes’ homes, but not the actual structure.  Your Heroes can be customized not only in appearance, but in personality.  For each Hero you choose two traits, such as adventurous or “parents ate by a whale” (no I didn’t make that part up), as well as one fatal flaw, like gluttony or cowardly.  These flaws affect your character in different ways.  For instance, a cowardly character will gain a negative status if they’re out at night.  The needs have also been simplified down to two: hunger & sleep.  You can still do all the same type of activities as in the previous Sims, but they don’t actually have need bars.  Instead, they affect your Focus.  Focus determines how successful your Hero will be at various activities.  A highly focus spy will be more likely to succeed at stealing.  Activities like having a good meal or making friends will raise your Focus.  However, if your character is injured from a duel, ate a bland meal, & was trampled by fairies (again, not making this up) his Focus will lower & he’ll be unsuccessful at his endeavors.  Of course, Heroes also have job that must be completed within a certain time.  These also affect focus, & gain your characters experience.  For example, the physician’s tasks may include gathering leeches & examining patients.  Beware of not completing your jobs.  Leave your duty to the kingdom unfulfilled for long enough, & it’s off to the stocks for you.

Narrative: The addition of quests gives the Sims a much-needed bit of direction.  Rather than just being a boring life simulator, it actually feels like playing a real game. Although they lack the complexity of, say BioWare, the game adds its unique sense of humor to the quests.  I like that each quest plays out different depending on which Hero you use.  Even picking the same path plays out differently based on your class.  A spy & a knight won’t find the Missing Child in the same way.  Even within each class, you’ll sometimes get an options between two different paths to proceed.  That being said, the quests do play out in a sort of “go here, do this” sort of fashion.  They’re not particularly complex.  Score: 4

No, this isn't Hogwarts

No, this isn’t Hogwarts

Mechanics: Personally, I liked the gameplay in Medieval better than the previous Sims.  As I said before, keeping up with all those needs was tiresome.  With the needs just down to eating & sleeping, this allows for much more freedom & enjoyment.  All the previous activities are available, but don’t correspond to a need.  I’m especially glad Social is gone.  However, this is balanced out by the fact that completing tasks affects your Focus, which affects your overall success, so you still do them.  You just don’t feel pressured.  I don’t have to make friends to advance my career.  The game allows a great deal of freedom to create the kingdom you want.  Aside from this, gameplay is essentially the same as in previous games.  Click this, select that.  My main complaint is that you can’t play as a character outside of quests, & then it’s only as your selected Hero.  Some people might also be let down by the fact that they can’t completely customize their buildings.  You can choose the furniture, paint, flooring & other things, but the structures can’t be changed.  There were also some tasks that I didn’t really understand, particularly for the Monarch.  You can pass laws & build relations with other nations, but I never really understood the in-game benefit of it.  But for the most part each Hero’s jobs were fun & unique.  Score: 4

Some music while you’re in the stocks, m’lord?

Aesthetics: Nothing spectacular.  The graphics are nice, but not ground-breaking.  Your Sims are nicely detailed, but you’ll only notice it when you zoom in close.  Sim-speak is back.  There’s no music in general.  And because this is not in modern times, the closest you get to a radio is when the Bard plays.  Score: 3

Replay Value: Generally high.  Some people probably won’t find much reason to play more than once.  However, because there is so much variety in the game, most will probably play through several kingdoms.  Ambitions, character & quests can all be played out differently.  Score: 4

Breakdown

untitled

Overall Score: 4

Final Word: Fans of the Sims will enjoy this game.  People who liked the Sims but found it tedious after a while will enjoy the simplified needs & freedom to play around.  But you don’t like the Sims, or prefer more plot-focused games, The Sims Medieval probably won’t change your mind about the series.

– GamerDame

Game: The Sims Medieval
Console: PC
Rating: T
Developer: The Sims Studio
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: March 22, 2011

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Filed under 4, Adventure, PC, Reviews, Simulation