Recently we posted the first portion of our Shadow’s Sixty list, and I’m here today to share with you numbers 54 through 49! Our next six games range from real time strategy to fighting games to JRPGs. We have games set in alternate versions of modern Earth, in the distant past, and a couple of fantasy worlds.
54. God of War 3 (PS3)
There are few series that manage to create battles that feel as intense and brutal as the God of War series. And they just kept doing it better. God of War 3 is, in my eyes, the ultimate culmination of the series’ goal to produce a visceral, engaging, and impactful experience. In God of War 3, Kratos gets to finally see the culmination of his revenge and the player gets to feel every blow. The game’s combat system is incredibly satisfying, with responsive controls and a ton of variety.
The game even fixed one of my biggest problems with the series by giving Kratos some standoff capability in the form of a bow. This may sound like a small change, but it goes a long way to making the game feel more dynamic than its predecessors. When you add to that some of the best graphics of the generation and some great platforming and puzzle solving, you get one of the best action games I’ve ever played and one certainly worthy of this list.
53. Mortal Kombat (SNES)
It’s hard to really evaluate what it is that made the original Mortal Kombat so great. It was one of those games that was just fun to play. I think a lot of it was that games just weren’t willing to go to that type violence in those days… but even ignoring that, it was just a lot of fun.
The abilities were distinct and the characters had their own styles. It was fun to combo the abilities together, and each character’s abilities really fit their style. From Scorpion’s iconic chain and Sub–Zero’s frozen attacks to Johnny Cage’s superstar fighting moves. And, of course, there is nothing quite like hearing that ‘FATALITY’ cry at the end of a match and watching the cheap corny gore!
52. Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3/X360)
If you’re looking for a real challenge, few games will offer you the type of skill-intensive challenge that Ninja Gaiden Sigma offers. Even on its normal difficulty, it requires you to have a deep understanding of your attacks and abilities. I recall spending over an hour on a single fight of regular enemies on normal, but I never felt like it was impossible. I never got discouraged or lost hope, because I knew that the game was completely fair, and it was just a matter of me becoming better… skill is the defining factor, for the most part, not memory. And this type of challenge is just so satisfying in the end.
Of course, it helps that the animations, audio cues, and visual effects all work together so well to create an impactful and engaging experience. The story may not be anything to write home about, but we don’t get into Ninja Gaiden for the story and every other aspect of this game works together to turn the overall gameplay into some of the most challenging and rewarding around.
51. inFamous: Second Son (PS4)
inFamous: Second Son was one of the first showings of what the PS4 could do. They recreated large portions of Seattle in stellar detail, allowing you traverse it with an amazing variety of powers. It is in this variety that Second Son shines, offering a ton of choices and a lot of ability to pick your playstyle. This game also features my personal favourite set of powers from any game: Neon. The Neon powers are simply a joy to use – nothing beats running around at absurd speeds, shooting multi-coloured lasers.
I also particularly loved Laura Bailey’s character: Fetch. And not just because she’s a Laura Bailey character (although that’s almost reason enough). Her development over the course of this story was simply incredible. It’s hard to make me sympathetic towards delinquent, drug addict characters… but between the great writing and Laura Bailey’s amazing delivery, I really felt strongly for her traumatic past and rich story.
50. Atelier Shallie (PS3)
In the past few years, I’ve noticed a few JRPG series that I missed throughout my childhood. The Atelier series is one of these, and man am I sorry that that’s the case. The Atelier series is easy to dismiss due to its girly art-style and fairly simple characters… but you’d be making a mistake. When a game developer goes this far to perfect a mechanic, it deserves recognition. Atelier Shallie has, hands down, the best crafting system I have ever seen in a video game. Shallie’s crafting even stands a step above the other entries in the series.
They have gone through numerous iterations refining and perfecting this one system to be the core of the game and it has paid off. I can – and have – spent hours just working on creating that perfect item, either that one item that fits my setup just right or that piece of equipment that shores up that one weakness I’ve noticed in my party. It’s a great feeling, and it is immensely satisfying to have spent that time and come out with just what you were looking for. No other games offer the level of freedom in crafting that this series does.
49. Dungeon Keeper (PC)
It’s always fun being evil… and one game offers you all the imp-slapping, hero-torturing, good-defiling action of being an evil overlord: Dungeon Keeper. This classic PC RTS was such a unique gem back in its day, and even to this day while other games have tried to take the same ingredients and reproduce the magic, but none have offered quite that same satisfying level of being evil.
It’s weird, there’s an almost Sims level of people management to this game, as you don’t actually choose your creatures. In Dungeon Keeper, it’s all about the design. You build the right dungeon, make sure your creatures are well tended to, and you’ll attract the creatures you want. It’s kind of funny being the evil overlord and having to make sure your creatures have plenty of chickens to eat, and plenty of pay available… but it makes sense. Of course, unlike a normal lord, you get to smack your workers and your underlings all you want with the giant hand of evil. And that just makes it all worthwhile, in the end.