Best Games of All Time by Genre Part 2 «

Best Games of All Time by Genre Part 2

These are the video games that have defined their genre. They are the standard by which all other games in their category are judged. This is part 2 of this list.

Click here to go back to Part 1 of this list.

Best RTS of All Time
StarCraft (1998)
Platform: PC
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

StarCraft Box Art

Starcraft has withstood the test of time like no other game before or after it. It is a game that is easy to pick up, but is so deep that even after a decade, millions of players are still developing new strategies and continue to evolve the gameplay. The ability for players to easily save and share replays of games was instrumental in elevating the techniques and strategies being used. The replay feature allowed players to be able to study games and learn from their mistakes and even watch their opponent’s strategies and adopt or adapt to them.

Despite StarCraft’s three completely unique races, it is the most balanced RTS ever created. All three races had completely unique units and equally skilled opponents would have very even chances of winning and could employ numerous different strategies to do so. Countless tournaments in the decade since the game’s release have proven StarCraft’s balanced gameplay. Blizzard has the best track record of any developer to continue to support a game well after release and StarCraft is no exception. Blizzard continues to release occasional patches and balance tweaks that keep the game fresh. This has been necessary as players continually push the gameplay balance with the discovery of new strategies. Despite the evolving gameplay in StarCraft, the game continues to be remarkable in how balanced the three races are as new strategies for one race are countered by new strategies created for their opposing factions. Here is a site dedicated to Starcraft replays.

No entry about StarCraft can go without the mention of the South Korean attachment to the game. StarCraft is a televised national sport in South Korea. The game has corporate endorsed teams of professional players. The players are big personalities and celebrities who are recognized and worshiped by their huge following of adoring fans. StarCraft tournaments are nationally televised events with slick production values and play-by-play announcers or “shoutcasters” as they are called. Here are some of the GOMTV tournaments translated into English. They are very interesting to watch even if you only know the rudiments of the game.

StarCraft, in spite of its age, is the most relevant and popular RTS today. There can be no doubt that it is the greatest game of its genre.

Best Action-RPG of All Time
Diablo 2 (2000)
Platform: PC
Developer: Blizzard North
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo 2 Box Art

Diablo 2: the Mouse Killer. Diablo 2 and its predecessor Diablo have likely destroyed more mice than any other game in existence. I owned an expensive gaming mouse and when Diablo’s million click gameplay destroyed it, I ran out to the store and quickly replaced it with a steady succession of $2 mice and kept my replacement expensive mouse well away from the game.

Diablo and its successor single-handedly invented the action-RPG genre. Dozens of “Diablo” clones continue to be produced, but to this day none can match up to Diablo 2. The randomly generated dungeons, loot, and monsters in Diablo 2 keep the game fresh even after dozens of play-throughs. Diablo 2 remains popular on Blizzards free online service because of its addictive easy to pickup gameplay, randomly generated content and Blizzard’s patented brand of long-lasting support and updates to the title.

In many ways, Diablo 2 laid down the groundwork for World of Warcraft. From the branching tiered tree of talents, the UI, to the randomly generated set of colored loot, World of Warcraft owes much of its success to Diablo 2.

Best 3D Fighter of All Time
SoulCalibur (1999)
Platform: DreamCast
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco

SoulCalibur Box Art

There was some internal debate between this game and Virtual Fighter 2, but in the end I have to give it to SoulCalibur for the following reasons.

SoulCalibur introduced three revolutionary gameplay mechanics.
1. Eight-Way-Run
The introduction of the eight-way-run gave very intuitive control over the player characters. It is a feature that truly opened up the 3D fighter to the third dimension. Whereas previous games functioned for the most part in 2D, with the only lateral movement coming from a short sidestep, SoulCalibur allowed the player to circle, or continuously move in any of the eight directions. The game controlled how you would expect and was incredibly intuitive.

2. Increased Move buffer
The move buffer is the window of timing that a player had while executing a move before the next controller input was accepted and executed. In both Virtual Fighter and Tekken, while a character is performing a move, the player needed to wait until a move had finished before inputting another move, otherwise the command input would not be accepted. This forced players to be very exact with the timing and execution of moves. SoulCalibur’s increased move buffer allowed players to input and string their attacks without waiting for a move to finish. The command would be accepted and after a move completes the next inputted player command would be executed. The move buffer coupled with the eight-way-run gave new players responsive controls and maneuvers that were simple to execute and impressive to behold. The mechanics of SoulCalibur opened a traditionally hardcore genre to a much wider audience.

3. Guard Impact
SoulCalibur is a part of a rare collection of games that opened the genre up to a less hardcore audience, while still maintaining all of the deep gameplay that a hardcore player expects. Each of SoulCalibur’s characters had deep move sets, air juggles and combos that allowed the expert player to easily set them apart from the novice player. The inclusion of the Guard Impact counter put SoulCalibur well out of the reach of its competition. The Guard Impact is performed either high or low and deflects incoming attacks. If the opponent performs a high attack at the same time that you perform a high Guard Impact it would deflect the attack while at the same time stunning the attacker and not allowing them to perform any other moves besides a counter guard impact for a short period of time. This would allow for really ridiculous strings of Guard Impacts as the attacker would try to mix up their angles of attacks and add delays before executing an attack in an effort to breach the defender’s Guard Impact defenses.

No other fighter encompasses the ebb and flow of combat like SoulCalibur. No words can fully describe the feeling of a long string of guard impact reversals between two good players. While SoulCalibur did not invent the 3D fighter, its mechanics made it truly 3D and introduced the genre to many new players. SoulCalibur was so far ahead of its time that in four iterations and nearly ten years the gameplay has remained nearly identical to the original with only a few minor tweaks.

Best RPG of All Time
Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000)
Platform: PC
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Black Isle Studios, Interplay

Baldur's Gate 2 Box Art

Baldur’s Gate II is an epic, timeless masterpiece that marks the last of the truly great RPGs. It sort of makes me sad going back and revisiting this game, because this game book ended a great style of games that developers today will likely never return to. They really do not makes games like this anymore.

Baldur’s Gate II is the last title to use the AD&D second edition rule set and was so accurate that I found the AD&D Player’s Handbook indispensable and constantly open and on my lap as I pored over it to find the best way to min/max my characters.

The story and writing for the game really shines. There is a great deal of text in the game, however it is really well written and the story plays out as if you are reading a great novel. The storyline is so good that even this game’s epic side quests easily outclass most other full RPGs’ main story lines.

The decisions players made in Baldur’s Gate II carried real weight and affected the outcome of future events. Many modern day RPGs distill choice down to good or evil. The player in Baldur’s Gate II had to make decisions that were often gray. The complex characters would support your decisions, offer their advice and even discuss events amongst themselves. With the numerous combinations of characters that the player could select to be apart of their party, this attention to detail was amazing. The player could choose to start up romantic relationships with members of the opposite sex with many of the characters in their party. The writing for these segments were very well done and often memorable. Baldur’s Gate II is one of those few titles that kept you up and playing until 4AM because you had to find out what happened next.

Baldur’s Gate II’s countless optional side quests, different combinations of characters and meaningful decision-making created almost unlimited replay value.

This is the definitive role-playing experience.

Click here to go back to Part 1 of this list.

See my other related articles also:
Become a Video Game Designer: Everything You Need to Know Part 1
10 Greatest Video Game Designers Part 1
10 Greatest Video Game Designers Part 2
Low Skill Cap and Luck (RNG) in World of Warcraft PVP
Roger Ebert is Right: Games are Not High Art…Yet
What’s Bad About Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Mode?
Dead Space Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
Call of Duty: World at War Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
Gears of War 2 Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
8 of the Most Underrated or Overlooked Video Games of All Time
Pimps at Sea err I mean Age of Booty & Gen 13 Cosplay
My Student Films 2: EverQuest Documentary and Guilty Gear Isuka Trailer
Best MMA Fights & Genki Sudo: Real Life Video Game Character

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 at 3:34 am and is filed under Video Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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