Last week, The Spalding and South Holland Voice’s Andrew Clucas wrote about his top ten video games of all time. Here are the final four…
#4: Grand Theft Auto III (2001): It’s hard to pick my favourite GTA game…mainly because they’ve all been so damn good. While 2013’s GTA V was by far the biggest and most impressive, I knew what I was getting. GTA 3, on the other hand, was a jaw-dropping experience.
It was the first game I played on the PS2, having previously done most of my console gaming on the N64. The open world. The graphics. The story. The radio stations. The humour.
Every GTA game since has built on that first foray into Liberty City, but none will ever deliver that instant wow factor like the series’ first venture into 3D.
Nostalgic fact: I think I was 17 when my mate Whitey casually popped round with his new PS2 and GTA 3. We played it solidly from Friday to Sunday, only really stopping to eat, sleep, drink and wash. My mind was blown. But my abiding memory of that weekend was hearing my mum moan about hearing a lot of police sirens, which was pretty rare in our quiet part of the world on the outskirts of Bourne. Little did she know, it was the Liberty City PD making all the noise.
#3 Mass Effect 2 (2010): If you scroll down to number one in my list, you’ll see that Mass Effect is my favourite gaming trilogy of all-time. Of the three, ME2 – in my opinion – had the best story.
More action based than the first game, it also added some of the series’ most memorable characters. Miranda (pictured below), Thane, Mordin and Grunt rate among my favourite allies, while Martin Sheen’s Illusive Man (and his menacing music) is just brilliant.
I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that the opening to ME2 is among the best in the business. I was genuinely worried that Shepard was a gonner.
Nostalgic fact: I remember asking my mate Gavin Miller to lend me both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 having heard good things about the series. Having not really played an RPG game before, I blasted through the original pretty quickly before getting stuck into the second.
The penny finally dropped in ME2 and I must have explored every corner of its universe before I finally put the game down. It hooked me in like no other game before and the story was genuinely gripping. Of course, I eventually went back and did the same with the original. Most fans have ME1 as their pick of the trilogy, but the latter two edge it for me. Either way, the series introduced me to the RPG – and opened my eyes to a genre that I now love.
#2 Gears of War (2006): Gears was the game that made me jump from a PS2 to the Xbox 360 back in the mid-noughties (that ‘Mad World’ advert still gives me chills). It was also my first experience of HD gaming – and it quite literally blew me away.
A new IP (that has since spawned three hugely successful sequels), Epic’s first offering is the one that I remember the most fondly.
I’d played plenty of shooters before, but Gears raised the bar…especially when it came to the guns. The Lancer – an assault rifle with a chainsaw bayonet on the end – and the Hammer of Dawn – a devastating laser attack sent down from a satellite – were mind-boggling at the time.
While the single player campaign was awesome, Gears also introduced me to the wonders of Xbox Live.
The four-on-four team deathmatch brought myself and my friends hours of fun – and to this day it’s probably the only online shooter I’ve really genuinely enjoyed.
Nostalgic fact: As touched upon above, Gears was my first foray into online gaming. I remember making friends with a group of lads from Doncaster and we’d play against (or alongside) them for an hour or so almost every night.
There was also an Italian fella known only as ‘Azzurri’, who’d come online and hand us our behinds most evenings. Defeating him was always something worth celebrating – and those multiplayer matches were regularly talked about in the pub or on a night out.
#1 Mass Effect 3 (2012): One of the biggest bug-bearers in my gaming life is the universal criticism this masterpiece had to take on the chin. For those of you that didn’t play it, the ending didn’t satisfy Mass Effect’s monstrous fanbase…which unfortunately seemed to taint the glorious 50 or so hours of Bioware brilliance that preceded it.
But enough of that. Mass Effect 3 was a game that had it all for me. A flawless third person shooter with ample RPG elements, it was the ending of the best story I have ever invested my time into and a sci-fi epic that would rival Star Wars if it had been on the big screen.
The lives of characters I had spent hundreds of hours getting to know and fighting alongside were on the line – and many didn’t make it, depending upon my choices. Never before in my life had a game tugged at the emotional heartstrings (poor old Mordin), but the conclusion of Shepard’s universe-saving mission did just that.
The additions of the ‘From Ashes’, ‘Leviathan’, ‘Omega’ and ‘Citadel DLC’ – as well as the amazing extended cut ending – also made my second playthrough an absolute blast too.
A unique gaming experience that will live long in my memory.
Nostalgic fact: Myself and my fiancee Nikki were going through the process of buying our first house when I was playing ME3. As I sneaked back into bed at around 3am in the morning following a big Shepard session, she told me she wanted to press ahead and bid for a house in Cowbit…which we ended up buying.