T. J.’s Ten, Part 3

Closing in now on the final instalment, following are 4 through 2 of my top 10 favourite games. I hope you’re all excited.

With no further delay, let’s get into it.

4. Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto has been a staple on consoles since 1997 and it feels as though we have had one every year since. That isn’t quite accurate but speaks for how prevalent the series is.

Rockstar really mixed it up with the most recent installment of the franchise, introducing three playable characters who have different abilities and attributes. The location for this game was the inner city of L.A. and its surrounding locale.

The work Rockstar put into landscaping this game was immense. They left out no detail and those who reside in the area could recognise many of their local hang out spots. This added an extra level of intensity to the gameplay that ensued.

The majority of the game is based around heists, bank jobs, robbing jewelry stores, and stealing vehicles. There is a planning stage before every job, and you have to gather supplies to make the job possible. In some cases these are police cars and in others it’s grenades.

As I previously mentioned there are three main characters to play as in this game. There is Trevor, the psychotic lunatic who easily flies off the handle and has the capabilities to make a very mundane situation a million times worse. Then there is Michael, the suave, cool-headed calculator of the trio. A pro in the business, he knows how things are done and knows how to do them. And finally there is Franklin, a newbie in the biz who was always pulling car jacks and initially got involved with Michael and Trevor when he hijacked Micheal’s son’s car. Together these three make the backbone of the team that is involved in each and every heist, each putting their own unique talent into the task at hand.

Michael’s ability is to slow down time in a gun fight, allowing improved accuracy and better maneuverability to surround your enemy. Franklin’s ability is to slow down time when he is driving, improving the nimbleness of any vehicle that is being driven. This is why in most if not every heist Franklin is the getaway driver. Trevor’s ability is in line with his nature; he has a berserk mode, which sends him into a frenzy where he takes little to no damage when shot and can identify enemies as they approach. There are missions where all of these come into play and they can also be used while freely roaming.

Aiding the three musketeers in planning the many jobs is Lester Crest. A computer genius and heist mastermind, he worked with Michael on a couple jobs before, and loves the thrill of what they do. He plans each and every move with meticulous precision.

This game is fun to play even if mulling about the map taking in scenery and playing whatever mini games and side missions are available. Rockstar will be challenged in trying to outdo this. I rate this game 10/10.

3. Evoland

Developed by Shiro Games, a French development company, Evoland was first released in 2013 on PC. I discovered Evoland when it was released on handheld devices in 2015. Since its initial release, the game has exploded in popularity.

Evoland takes its players on an adventure through generations of RPGs. The start of the game is basic with a simple, black-and-white style and only two direction options, but as the game develops it takes you through every progression of video games. 8-bit graphics, 16-bit graphics, polygons and full 3D graphics come your way.

Beyond graphics, the gameplay evolves as well. The battle style changes, from turn-based through to free-roaming battles. This game is an ever-changing formula designed to take the player on not just an adventure through lands and dungeons but also through their gaming past.

Evoland has strong influences from quite a few well-established franchises such as Final Fantasy and Zelda. Many of these games’ influences can be very easily identified throughout the game from the simplicity in the general gameplay to the design of the enemies and story.

When played on a tablet, the game comes into its own. Not only then do you get the progression of the graphics and the gameplay but you actually get a change in the game’s input, starting with D-pad controls and ending up with an analogue stick (or the best representation of one on a screen). This really shows the plethora of changes our games and gaming systems have been through over the past 20 years.

This game doesn’t carry personal historical meaning for me but it was an excellent play. I completed it in about forty-eight hours (less if I hadn’t had life commitments). It isn’t a long game but the journey it takes you on is one that spans years. I give this game a 9/10.

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls series takes place in Skyrim, a province of Tamriel. Released on November 11, 2011, five days before I turned twenty-one, I had booked a week off from work with two reasons in mind: having my birthday off and dedicating my every waking second to playing this outstanding game.

From morning until night, with minimal breaks and maximum focus, I played through caves, dungeons, graves, cities, towns, an expanse of wilderness, up mountains, and through lakes. This game had it all. It had a near endless environment to explore – as far as the eye could see someone could travel to and visit.

Everything about the land in this game had thought, dedication and lots of love put into it. The skies above Skyrim were a thing of beauty. From the brightness of the day with the floating clouds to the piercing light of the stars at night, to the pulsating dance from the aurora borealis, each and every detail took your breath away.

You don’t need a lot to create intensity if the setting is right, but one thing that always goes a long way to setting the tone and mood of a situation is audio. If a soundtrack hits the spot it sets the entire tone for the rest of the game. Prior to Skyrim, the series had always hit the mark with the soundtrack and this was no different.

The gameplay is flawless – it’s smooth and well designed. The combat system, from dual-wielding to magic and archery, is responsive and executed well. Two-handed weapons act how you would imagine, especially when it comes to weapons like sledgehammers, which feel heavy and cumbersome. On the other hand, light melee weapons swing fast and effectively, with a reduction in damage. Archery is free flowing, especially when in sneak mode, allowing for more accurate targeting and more damage with the sneak bonus.

All the weapons are designed with their own perks and play styles, allowing for different tactics to be used in combat to work your way through the challenges laid before you.

Magic is also an option in your offensive arsenal. Spells are diverse with elemental damage including fire, ice, and lightning. Along with the basic melee magic there are also shouts that can be used — the perks of being dragonborn include the power to use a dragon’s voice. With the Thu’um, you are granted different abilities depending on the shout you have selected, from the infamous Fus Ro Dah to the lesser known Laas Yah Nir (Aura whisper – detect local life). The shouts of the dragonborn may be wielded to many ends.

Shouts are gathered and learned in different ways and in different places throughout the land; you can find them lying in caves, on top of mountains and in the depths of draugr tombs.

There are many things within this game that you will be able to discover if you play it, and should you desire a document to read you may search a more in-depth review. My only purpose here was to relate the general vibe. I rate this game 10/10.

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