Monday, April 25, 2011

Staying Power

Games come and go. Each and every week there's something new and exciting to tempt the attention span of anyone who makes a habit of playing them, and more often than not, new games do just that. They pull us away from whatever we had been playing with the promise of shiny, new graphics, gameplay, or stories and characters.

Of course, there are the exceptions; games that are so good, so well crafted and so deep and re-playable that they pull us back despite such distractions.

Here are a few of my current favorites:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Windows/360/PS3)

As far as I'm concerned, this game is THE reason to own a hot gaming PC. Sure, you can play it on an XBOX 360 or PS3, but the look and feel of it on a nicely-equipped PC is a big part of what gaming is all about for me. Needless to say, I'm extremely excited for Battlefield 3 this fall.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (Windows/360/PS3)

The best racing game since Burnout Paradise; unsurprisingly crafted by the same developer. The cat and mouse nature of the "Hot Pursuit" mode is a phenomenal gameplay experience that transcends the racing game genre; giving you more to do in the game than simply drive from point A to point B as fast as possible for those unsatisfied with simply racing. Again, play this on a hot gaming PC if you can.

Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)

I know. I know. Forza 3 for the XBOX 360 is a better game from a structural standpoint. But there is something about GT5. It may not have been the end all, be all racing game that everyone was expecting it to be, but it does have merits and the sheer level of car porn in it is unrivaled. The steady stream of patches since its release don't hurt and there's no denying the passion and sincerity of it. Call it a guilty pleasure if you want, but I like this game and often find myself returning to it above all others when I'm looking for a simulation racing fix.

Civilization V (Windows/Mac)

Even though the newness of it has worn off and a few design flaws have yet to be corrected in it, there's no doubt that Civ remains the king of the turn-based strategy genre. When I feel that particular itch, I need go no further for relief. Are there problems with it? Indeed there are, but the simple fact is it does more right than it does wrong and there are few if any games out there that can rival its ability to make doing the same thing over and over feel fresh and exciting with each new game.

World of Warcraft (Windows/Mac)

What list of addictive, recurring games would be complete without this one? I have no doubt sunk more time into this game than any other. Whether it's soloing an alt, or raiding with a guild or grouping with friends for a 5-man or some PvP, WoW still offers the best combination of the RPG and social gaming genres. If you're into swords and sorcery, and you want an RPG you can play alone or with friends, for better or worse, there's precious little out there that can hold a candle to it.

Modern Combat: Domination (PS3)

Go ahead and mock me all you want. This PS3 downloadable game is fun and easy to pick up, play, make some measurable progress, and put back down on a whim. It surely doesn't have all the bells and whistles of better shooters like Battlefield, but for a cheap and easy thrill, it's hard to beat.

Left 4 Dead 2 (Windows/Mac)

When you want to shoot things in the face and you don't want to have to worry about levels or kits or perks or any of that nonsense, Left 4 Dead 2 is your game. Sure, zombies are a little played out, but the zombie-apocalypse theme is almost inconsequential to the gameplay. The zombies might as well be Teletubbies. In fact, there's a mod for that. :)

Borderlands (Windows/Mac)

This game is on the list for one simple reason: Co-op. With support for up to four-player co-op throughout the entire single-player campaign plus extensive DLC packs and support for multiple playthroughs, there are literally hundreds of hours of satisfying FPS/RPG gameplay to be had here. True, there's room for improvement, but that's what sequels are for. Borderlands 2? Hell yes, please! :)

Worms (Windows/360/PS3/iOS)

Worms: Reloaded for Windows is the current incarnation I'm playing, but I've been playing and enjoying this delightfully-twisted take on the classic, turn-based "artillery" game genre for years on a variety of platforms. In fact, I probably own more versions of this game on more different systems than any other.

Are there other games I love as much or more than these? Sure there are. There are fantastic games that I spent five or 10 or 15 hours playing through and "finished," or that I enjoyed for a good, long while then got burnt out on and haven't returned to recently. This isn't meant to be a definitive list; just a few recommendations for games that I've personally spent a lot of time and had a lot of fun with and have periodically felt compelled to revisit over the past several months.

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