Gush about your favorite game!
Aaron Tubb
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Fuquay Varina
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In celebration of VGG's 5th Birthday, let's talk about the games we love! Pick a favorite game of yours and let us know why it's awesome and everyone else should try it if they haven't already!

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1. Video Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:429]
Video Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Aaron Tubb
United States
Fuquay Varina
NC
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I love this game! I really like the whole series, really, but this game remains my favorite. It's a blend of horror survival, post-apocalyptic feel, and authentic looking and feeling environments that appeal to my sense of exploration. It is the most accurate depiction of the Chernobyl/Pripyat area in a videogame by far, and actually feels more authentic even in its generic industrial buildings than most other videogames do. It's an open world game, but without padding or RPG-esque leveling systems, which I feel like are usually a waste of time or are poorly implemented. It is also refreshingly challenging, and it features a lot of interesting events and fights that are completely unscripted. I even like the small amount of story that there is in the game, and I really enjoyed the plot twist and the discovery of the cause of the mutants and anomalies (it's NOT radiation, the lazy go-to explanation for everything weird in other post-apoc games).

It has a number of bugs and stuff, but nothing game-breaking, and with mods the game truly shines. The modding scene for STALKER is one of the more active ones in videogaming, and there are so many high quality mods out there that you can play through the game multiple times, and each time it could be like a different game.

If you like survival horror, I HIGHLY recommend you try this game!

If you do try it and don't like some aspect of it, I highly recommend checking out some of the more famous mods to see if they specifically address your issue, and giving it another chance!
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2. Video Game: Far Cry [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:921]
Video Game: Far Cry
Rudy
United States
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Pennsylvania
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I remember getting excited about this game before it came out. I watched videos of the new graphics engine and was memorized to the point of building my first gaming PC to be able to play it. I was not disappointed, the graphics blew me away. I love the tropical setting, running across stunning islands, swimming in crystal waters, hiding in the lush cover of the forests.

The FPS action is very very fun. I love being "Rambo" and causing havoc. The maps are well designed and fantastic. There are so many ways to attack a level being that the area is wide open to explore. Then, just when you think it cannot get any better, the game kicks in another gear and the gameplay intensifies.

The story has been compared to that of a B movie, which I like, but others may see this as a negative. For me, getting lost in the scenery and the action was more than enough keep me going.

I love this game. I try to play this game once every couple of years it's that much fun to me. If you love FPS games and enjoy action, then give this a try. There are two things you need to consider, if you do check this out. First, you need to download the unoffical patch to fix some issues. Second, there are two or three spots where you might have to lower the difficulty until you get past. Other than that jump in and have fun.
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3. Video Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [Average Rating:8.52 Overall Rank:13]
Video Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Amy
United States
Phoenix
Arizona
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My pick for this list is Skyrim. I adore this game. I don't normally replay single player games, but I've already had four different characters in this game and I can see myself playing this game again in years to come.

There is so much to explore in this game on many levels. The open game world is vast and there are many things to discover. In most RPGs every coded area or dungeon is directly related to a quest that is given by an NPC. This isn't the case in Skyrim. There are many caves and areas you can find that the player isn't directly led to through direct prompting. Even with the four characters I've played, I don't believe I've found and explored every bit of Skyrim.

Beyond the main plot, there are many faction or guild related subplots. In fact, there is so much content in the game that I ignored the main plot with some of my characters and had a splendid time! One of my characters I primarily focused on the Assassin (Dark Brotherhood) and Thief story lines controlling the criminal underground of Skyrim. One of my favorite characters I played as a peasant with little fighting ability who was just trying to make her way in the world. I'm hard pressed to think of another RPG that has enough non-combat quests and activities to allow an interesting passive character play through.

I also greatly appreciate that it is very possible to be successful in Skyrim with a multitude of strategies. There are many effective ways to play the game. A player can embrace or ignore alchemy and crafting. Playing as a long distance archer can be just as effective as charging into battle or sneaking around the battlefield. Instead of tailoring your own play style to the game, the game gives freedom to play as you like.

The reason I keep coming back to Skyrim is that with different strategies, perspectives, and choices I can get a different playing experience with each new character. My advice to anyone who plays Skyrim if they are getting overwhelmed by content is to not focus on completing everything with one character but roleplay through choices leaving content for later playthroughs. (It is impossible to get through all content with one character anyway!) Hero or villian, charging fighter or cautious thief, warrior or merchant, Dragonborn or not; Skyrim is a versatile game for a variety of play styles.


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4. Video Game: Thief: The Dark Project [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:161]
Video Game: Thief: The Dark Project
Nate Parker
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
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One of my favorite games that created the First Person Sneaker genre was Thief: The Dark Project, a game that set the bar high for what to expect in terms of both the environmentals and the gameplay that comes from a game that primarily relies upon the player not killing absolutely everything they encounter in a level.

Depending on your difficultly level in the game, a successful mission was not just determined by achieving the mission's goal but by the number of people that were killed during your conduct of the mission. The levels themselves really tested your abilities in understanding patrol routes and timing your movement so as not to be detected in addition to coming up with creative ways around the levels themselves as there was always more than one way around but not all paths were obvious. Hidden bits in the levels, not just Easter eggs but other information that fleshed out the story or increased your haul for the missions were neat, unexpected fun things to find. Eavesdropping on conversations, creeping about a variety of locales from city streets to sewers to prisons to mines to crypts and otherwise, all the while still trying to steal your way to the end was a great way to enjoy the game and its world.

Exploring the world of Thief from this perspective really aided the immersion. The world of Thief was grimy, dirty, and morally ambiguous. The supernatural was still solidly there even in a low-tech, sort-of-steampunk-gas-light type world. Sometimes, running into the undead was more than inconvenient, and being a soft character with no armor and limited fighting abilities meant that encounters of any kind could be deadly. All of this only added to the already-tension-infused creeping about. Drop the lights and only play it with the soft glow of your monitor and that only adds to the creepiness.

While this game was not a horror game by any measure of what those games are now, this game was definitely scary. Run into an undead you didn't expect, or turn the corner and run into a Hammerite you didn't know was there, or hear the scritching and scratching sounds of a huge spider that really sounds more like a death rattle surprise you, and it will make you think twice about your real level of fortitude. There were multiple times when I played this game that skulking about in the dark got so intense that when something unexpected rushed at me I would swear out loud, run my character to safety, and then have to pause the game and step away for 10 minutes to regain my composure.

By today's standards, the original Thief game is dated, but it really did open my eyes to what can be achieved with a video game both then and now. I, personally, still think this game is fun to play, and would encourage you to check it out if you haven't. When Thief was made, Looking Glass Studios was just exploring this world and scratching the surface of the richness it could offer. Thief II: The Metal Age was a better game that continued with this, and then things went off the rails in the series from there in terms of continuity and such as Looking Glass dissolved as a company not long after. While there might be better sneaking games out there now, the earlier Thief games are a history lesson worth experiencing, in my opinion.
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