5. Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines
This game is an underrated gem. When it came out, it was quite buggy, and had issues with some computer hardware. My buddy Gene, who originally showed me this game, was playing it on what at the time was a graphics card that resembled the monolith from 2001, and yet he could hardly break 20fps. The game also was released right around the same time Half-Life 2 was released, and it got very little press.
This game is a prime example of a western rpg title at its finest. Under the hood, the game uses White Wolf's world of darkness system, and the game is set in the same kind of world. This game also has one of my favorite portrayals of vampires. Although they are as varied and as humans in terms of personality, they all have one thing in common: the beast inside that demands blood. And while it may have been ok to chow down all the time a few hundred years ago, now humans have things like napalm, and shotguns, and so forth. Enter the Camarilla, a government which claims every vampire as a member whether they want to be or not, with strict penalties for anyone who violates "The Masquerade."
The best thing about this game...well, one of the best things about this game is the voice acting and the character design. Jack, Nines, Jeanette and Therese, they're all some of the most memorable video game characters ever. They move, they gesture, their faces change with their emotions, and when Jack howls with laughter, you believe it. The strange thing is, since the characters are so memorable, it makes the world more alive. The world seems more open than a lot of modern "open world" games. Play this. You can get it off steam pretty cheap.
I never was a fan of most horror movies, mostly because in most of them, everyone is so terribly, terribly stupid. I like to be scared a little bit, though. I'm also an action movie junkie. I love gunfights, and explosions, and manly things like that. F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is a quite enjoyable mix of action and horror. There's a creepy little girl who psychically murders people, there's a crazy psychic guy commanding a battalion of super soldiers who likes to eat people, and there's you, who's job it is to go right into the middle of it all.
When you're not scaling the walls in fright, the firefights are spectacular. The enemy A.I. is actually good. The soldiers will move to flank you, and don't miss a whole lot. The encounters are well put together, and while the environments get a bit stale at times, the combat happens in enough different ways to keep you interested. The horror sections are very well done, with classic bleeding walls, excellent sound design, flickering lights, etc. The game does look a bit dated, though, so for a pretty new look, check out F.E.A.R. 2. It's pretty much the same, gameplaywise.
3. Resident Evil 4
I literally cannot count the number of playthroughs this game got in our dorm at college. We picked it up for the gamecube about halfway through Freshman year, and played it through so many times, I'm surprised the disc hasn't worn away to nothing. Not only did this game show off the graphical potential of the gamecube, it was pretty much perfect. I've never played the other Resident Evil games, as they came out in an era where I did not own a console, but oh man, is this game awesome.
You play as Leon S. Kennedy, a survivor of the Raccoon City incident, and you carve a bloody swath through a bunch of tentacle-monster-infested Spanish peasants, the attached evil cult that's kidnapped the President's daughter, and some giant tentacled monsters. I literally do not have any criticisms for this game. A lot of people whine that it made a mockery of the survival-horror genre, but they can go die in a fire. This game is frantic, frightening, and most of all, fun. Get this game. If possible, for the Wii. The controls are actually really good.
2. Anything by Valve
If I wasn't allowed to make a blanket statement like this, this list would have a lot less variety. These guys have yet to make a less than stellar game. Half-life, HL2, Portal, all fantastic. This company is doing it right. I could go on forever on how much I love these games, but other people have already done it, and anyone who says any different is a fool.
These guys really know how to make games. Not just how to make a game, these guys know how to make an epic experience. Valve, do not change a thing. Except your slow release schedule. But I'm willing to endure that as long as you keep up the good work.
1. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
I made it pretty clear in one of my earlier posts how much I love this game. I've never been able to be as completely immersed and invested in a video game as I am in this game. Seriously, play it. Do it. Now.
If you have trouble with the dated look, download Better Heads, Better Bodies, and get Morrowind Graphics Extender. Seriously, It's the best game I've played, and to this day, I often find myself with a desire to wander Vvardenfell.
There you go. Top 10 list done.