Not exactly cinema —although even the best video games nowadays tend to double as movies (Uncharted 4, Marvel’s Spider-Man)— but this feels like a good spot to put it. Unless you want me to put it in my “Texas Rangers archive” section? I hear it’s quite popular.
I am, by no means, a true gamer. I’ve played dozens of games on a few different systems, but all things considered, my library of video gaming is a fraction of those that game competitively, or do it for many hours of the day.
However, I can see why there’s nothing like escaping into, and completely losing hours of your life, in a video game.
Cue the countdown. Video game systems decided by mileage. I’ve never had an Xbox.
Honorable Mention: Injustice 2 (PS4)
The Mortal Kombat style of play is admittedly not my computer generated cup of tea. However, I have to mention the Injustice sequel because of its story. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is the historical choice when pitting Batman versus Superman. However, the tale Injustice spins over the course of two games is really fantastic. The first game also spawned a comic, which is just as groovy.
67. NBA 2K Mobile (..Mobile)
Eh, why not? It’s obviously not the NBA sim that the console game is, but it’s one of the better published progression games. Straightforward but more than acceptable.
66. NFL 2K (PS2)
Gameplay wise not my preference, but NFL 2K was way way way way way way ahead of the curve when it came to in-game presentation. Something Madden, for all of its glory years, still hasn’t mastered.
65. MLB Ballpark Empire (PC)
I have to include Ballpark Empire because holy cow was it fun. Introduced to me by a friend, it’s basically MVP Baseball franchise mode without playing the games. Such a blast. Unfortunately once you’re done you’re done with it.
64. Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr. (N64)
The Griffey Jr. games were a 90s Nintendo 64 staple, improving with technological and licensing advancements every year.
63. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (PS3)
Even though they should be, Spider-Man games aren’t always about web swinging. It’s logistically a tough thing to do in technology. For all the Spider-Man games, very few are open world/free roam. Shattered Dimensions is neither, but makes up for it with a creative story and unique comic book-y design.
62. GoldenEye 007 (N64)
I’m not much of a first-person shooter gamer for two main reasons. Guns scare me and I am just terrible at them. I’m the kind of guy who will line up a shot for a good 15-20 seconds and be dead long before I can even consider pulling the trigger. But GoldenEye was soooooo much fun.
61. The Dark Knight Rises (Mobile)
The mobile compliment to Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman finale stacked up nicely. It’s only ranked here and not higher because it was limited by its platform. As visually impressive it is and as fun as it could be, it had major performance issues.
60. NFL Fever (PC)
Just as much of a pain to play as other PC games (crashes, glitches, loading time, frame rate, etc.), there is absolutely no denying how fun it was. Dick Stockton’s commentary sticks with me over a decade —and several console changes— later.
59. High Heat Major League Baseball (PC)
Looking back, it doesn’t look as impressive. But my 9-year old self was absolutely glued to this game.
58. Batman: Arkham Origins (Mobile)
A portable game attached to the console release Arkham Origins (coming up later), the phone version is mostly just boss fighting but it’s rewarding all the same.
57. Star Wars: Battlefront (PS4)
Like I said, I’m just dreadful at first-person shooters, but the beautiful video game scenery created in Battlefront, EA’s first big partnership with Lucasfilm Games (formerly LucasArts - RIP) is really something to behold. No story mode and a lot of pay-to-play/upgrade/have fun blockage got in the way of what could have been a brilliant journey to the galaxy far, far away.
56. Wii Sports (Nintendo Wii)
The Wii games were what they were, but they were fun all the same. Tennis was my favorite by far.
55. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (PS4)
The first Lego Marvel game weaves its own expansive narrative, using pretty much the entire Marvel comics roster, while also capitalizing on the worldwide popularity of the burgeoning Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s exciting to see all the different heroes and villains in one place.
54. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3)
The first Uncharted game, in my peeled opinion, is limited by its time. The later games utilized advancing technology to expand visuals, combat and gameplay. The first one is puzzle-heavy and required message board consultation for yours truly.
53. Spider-Man (PS1)
Movie tie-in video games are usually rushed, uninspired finished products. The first four Spider-Man movie games are an exception to this rule. I spent way more than this game is actually worth in tokens to win it at some off-brand, don-’t-call-me Dave & Buster’s when I was 10. Then spent the night at my friend Kyle’s house and played it until we saw the sun. Selective memory for the win.
52. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)
The non-Nathan Drake Uncharted game is as graphically impressive as its siblings, but I found myself missing Drake, Sully and Elena.
51. NFL Blitz (N64)
Before MLB Slugfest (stay tuned) made baseball a true contact sport, NFL Blitz transformed the NFL from contact sport to epic Roman gladiator battle royale. Epic, indeed.
50. Triple Play Baseball (PC)
When it wasn’t crashing on me, this game was amazing. Was also my first baseball video game in 1997.
49. Pokémon Stadium (N64)
Another Nintendo 64 classic, Pokémon games have gotten the shaft when it comes to consoles. Until very recently, most games with Ash, Pikachu and the gang were limited to GameBoy (also stay tuned) and then the Pokémon GO revolution of 2016.
48. Marvel: Contest of Champions (Mobile)
Games on your phone have inherent limitations, and Contest of Champions didn’t get to where it is by being graphically impressive or having a story mode. However, I really can’t think of any other mobile game ever that I played more than this. I’m still playing it. It’s a perfect time-passer yet it also extremely rewarding, introducing new game modes like quests and wars for your alliance’s to play in. Like any mobile game, there’s the dreaded pay-to-upgrade structure, but it’s not vital to the Contest.
47. Backyard Sports (PC)
All of the Backyard games were great, especially baseball and football for me. The mix of likable custom players like Pablo Sanchez and real-life superstars like Pudge Rodriguez somehow worked wonders.
46. Cars (PSP)
The PSP never really took off. It kind of missed its window and playing sports games on it was more trouble than anything. But the game for the movie of the same name was a lot of fun. Simple racing game hits the spot.
45. Deadpool (PS4)
With the incomparable voice talents of Nolan North was Wade Wilson/Deadpool/my Valentine, everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed wiseass superhero gets his own game and it is a ton of fun. Gun combat and gadget trickery are fun to mess around with. Level design and writing is funny and smart, throwing you right into the game with a loony premise.
44. MLB 2K (PS3)
When the beloved MVP Baseball franchise shut down, there was a time before I dove into MLB The Show and played 2K’s baseball game. 2K retired their baseball division in 2013, reeling from me leaving the company after 2008.
43. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (PS3)
A low-res button-masher that truly captures the spirit of being an Avenger. Or an X-Men. Or a member of the Fantastic Four. You control one hero at a time, but a roster of four is always at your disposal.
42. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (PS3)
Relive the monumental saga with the legitimately funny, creative wit of the Lego team.
41. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (PS4)
The Borderlands franchise is absurd in every single way, a feat in creativity, storytelling and fun. Claptrap is the man. Or thing. He’s the entity!
40. Watch Dogs 2 (PS4)
I ordered Domino’s on a 2017 Saturday night and played a lot of Watch Dogs 2. Good times!
39. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)
How I met your Sully!
38. Spider-Man: Edge of Time (PS3)
The unofficial sequel to Shattered Dimensions, Edge of Time has an engaging story divided by modern day Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099. A good combat system makes up for the restricted level design.
37. Wolfenstein II: The Old Colossus (PS4)
The easiest difficulty in the Wolfenstein games is indicated by a bib and pacifier. That’s unfortunately the best I could do in this sequel.
36. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
The second Uncharted starts off with quite the cliffhanger. For real though, in a series studded with beautiful visuals, the snow-capped peaks and the villages of Tibet are some of the finest. I wonder if Doctor Strange was there at the time.
35. Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (PS4)
An odd gaming model, where you have to buy physical figures to play as that character in the game. Connected to a sensor pad that plugs into your PlayStation. It’s as cumbersome as it sounds, but there aren’t a lot of super hero games on next-gen consoles. Flying characters like Thor and Iron Man are a good time, though I usually gravitated back towards Cap.
34. Saints Row IV (PS4)
Okay, I said Borderlands was ridiculous. Saints Row is probably even more ludicrous considering you play as the President of the United States. (That joke used to not write itself.)
33. Pokémon Yellow (GameBoy Color!)
Unsure if GameBoy and GameBoy Color needed separation but man those were good times. Technology changes the world in many ways, but the 90s and GameBoy’s look absolutely archaic. However, like the Nintendo, sometimes simpler is better.
32. Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC)
There are a handful of computer games on here. It’s never been my preference to access a game via keyboard. Just never got the hang of it. But for The Old Republic, I went to great lengths to conquer my weak keyboard skills just to live in this extended Star Wars universe.
31. Watch Dogs (PS4)
The first Watch Dogs protagonist, Aiden Pearce, is one of my favorite video game characters. He kind of reminds me of John Wick. I enjoyed kicking ass via his personage.
30. The Amazing Spider-Man (PS3)
Tie-in video games, as I said earlier, are usually not successful. But when they do succeed, they do well to separate themselves as best they can from the movie plot that they sibling. The first Amazing Spider-Man game takes on a whole new story, and reaps the benefits. The 2018 blockbuster game (which is to come) perhaps inadvertently (or perhaps not) took some inspiration from the 2012 game’s narrative.
29. Infamous Second Son (PS4)
One of the first games I played on my shiny new PS4, I was surprised by this one as I hadn’t heard of it. In fact, why did I even pick it up? GameStop credit for days.
28. MLB Slugfest (PS2)
Baseball is often criticized for being too slow, lacking contact and taking forever for anything to happen. Well, throw in some jump-kicks and a turbo meter designed to ignite supreme violence and you have a much, much more exciting game. Weapons aren’t hard to find in a sport with a ball, bats and cleats. Also shoutout to the A-Rod cover.
27. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (PS3)
In typical Star Wars fashion, a story that seemed like it couldn’t possibly continue earned a sequel. When it’s a completely fictional galaxy, you can bend the rules. Before Starkiller was a souped up Dearth Star, it was a man. And that man was Darth Vader’s OP apprentice.
26. Borderlands 2 (PS4)
Another thing Borderlands is so great at is content, content, content. There are many ways to skin this particular cat, through many levels and side missions, and they are all gratifying. (Not that skinning a cat is.)
25. Roller Coaster Tycoon (PC)
This one takes me back.
24. Spider-Man 3 (PS3)
I actually called someone (who, I absolutely could not tell you) to vent about not being able to beat one of the Lizard levels. I was fuming. And crying. My dad had to console me. He was not happy to do it. As infuriating (the game literally features a “fury” mode) as this game could be, it was too much fun to put down and switching between the regular and black suit at the click of a button was cool.
23. Mario Kart 64 (N64)
Sometimes the simpler things are best, like race car driving with flying turtle shells and exploding banana peels.
22. NBA Street (PS2)
In-N-Out like a fast food restaurant! Off the heezy!
21. Super Smash Bros (N64)
Back when I had friends, there was no game better to share.
20. Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
I’m pretty incompetent when it comes to gun games, but I had some badass times humming the Winter Soldier theme and mowing down Nazis.
19. NBA Live (PS2)
Now merely serving as a footnote to the NBA 2K series, there was a time, way back when, that EA Sports was a finely tuned machine and had the best basketball game on the market.
18. Dying Light (PS4)
As my movie lists will indicate, I’m a big fan of the Zombie-pocalypse genre. Dying Light seems to take some very specific inspiration from the fantastic I Am Legend, with a terrifying night mode that I mostly stayed the hell away from.
17. Madden (PS3)
While NBA Live has fallen off, Madden also seems to be a shell of itself. But there was a time, in the early 2000’s and really up to Madden 25 in 2014, that the football sim was the best sports game on the market.
16. Borderlands (PS3)
The only possible complaint I could have about the Borderlands games is a confusing, sometimes inaccessible map.
15. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (PS3)
Reading Mark Millar’s groundbreaking Civil War comic, you’re tempted to fantasize about it becoming a video game. Well, here ya go. (With an assist from Brian Michael Bendis’ Secret War as prologue.)
14. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)
The final chapter in the Nathan Drake story plays out like a movie that I’d see opening night and then again Saturday afternoon. If there’s a chink in Uncharted’s armor, it’s the emphasis on cinematics. For someone who can’t aim a video game gun —and is a movie lover— that’s quite alright with me.
13. NBA 2K (PS3)
I switched from Live to 2K sometime between NBA Live 08 and NBA 2K10. Lets confidently call it 2009. I spent way too many high school days coming home for lunch, turning on 2K, and then not turning it off. Shoutout to the 10 minute quarter club.
12. Captain America: Super Soldier (PS3)
Before Marvel’s movie universe took over, they released video game tie-ins with their movies. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America received companions. Cap’s SEGA game somehow ended up strong amongst disappointing company, boasting slick combat and Chris Evans’ actual voice.
11. Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
The newest addition to the list, the aesthetically scintillating Spidey game is expected to finally open the door for next-gen super hero video games. If they’re anything like this, we’re in for good times ahead.
10. Arkham Asylum (PS3)
Enter the greatest video game franchise ever. The Arkham’s. Asylum deserves better than fourth out of four, but somebody had to finish last. For most, it’s Origins, which came from a different studio than the other three and uses the colorful character of Gotham to barely edge out the first in the series.
9. Arkham Origins (PS3)
I had some nagging frame rate glitch trouble with the Arkham prequel, but I’m going to ignore that and give credit to another fabulous game in the series. It also claims the best score of the groundbreaking series (from Christopher Drake), an easy way to my heart. Maybe I just love prequels.
8. The Last of Us (PS4)
Take the gameplay delight of Dying Light and pair it with the narrative prowess of Uncharted (made by the same developer NaughtyDog) and you have The Last of Us.
7. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS3)
The Force Unleashed isn’t just a game, it was solidified into Star Wars canon before new ownership wiped it. It takes some liberties, introducing a crucial new face, one who inadvertently helps start the Rebellion.
6. Arkham Knight (PS4)
All great things must come to an end. Even the Arkham franchise. An over-reliance on the long-awaited Batmobile can be distracting, but at the same time the wait is worth it. The move to next-gen for the series produced some truly awe-inspiring moments and one of the most impressive games I’ll ever play in terms of graphics, AI and writing.
5. MLB: The Show (PS4)
Video games became a part of my life because of sports games. Now, with an exception of a rare dip into a Madden rental, MLB: The Show (affectionately referred to in my inner circle as “TS”) is my sole sports game. Which is okay, given the amount I play it. If franchise mode got some love, it could be number one.
4. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (PS2)
The game pretty much follows the movie, but seeing as how it’s my favorite movie of all time, I’m more than happy to relive things through Anakin and Obi-Wan. Not just that, but the lightsaber combat is epic. That’s a must for a Star Wars game.
3. Spider-Man 2 (PS2)
And a must for a Spider-Man game is web swinging. No game has ever done it better than Spider-Man 2. Even the high-definition darling that is number nine on my list didn’t match the flawless ease that Treyarch accomplished with this 2004 game.
2. Arkham City (PS3)
Replay ability isn’t something a game really needs. But with the sequel to the smash hit Arkham Asylum, Arkham City takes the cake for personal playthroughs.
1. MVP Baseball (PS2)
Best soundtrack ever. Franchise customization. Stadium creator. John Dowd. MVP Baseball is peak video game fun. Not just for sports but, for me, any game every burned to disc.