5 modern day video games you should be playing

Published: August 27, 2011
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Not only does Fallout 3 boast some exciting gunplay, but it features a huge rich world, which can take hundreds of hours to explore.

Having worked for five years as a video games journalist, when I learned that I could do a top five blog on video games, I was quite excited.

Initially, it started as a list of the greatest games of all times, but the comprehensive list grew too unwieldy to be any fun. I then decided that a personal top five would work better, but realized that talking about ten year old classics like Deus Ex and Baldur’s Gate served little purpose. For similar reasons, I decided against a ‘top five games of the past decade’ list, and it was too late in 2011 to do a ‘favorite games of 2010’ list.

So instead, what I have for you, is a list of 5 modern day video games, you should be playing:

Plants vs. Zombies (all platforms): Popcap Games, creators of insanely addictive casual titles like Bejeweled, Peggle, and Zuma, have often been affectionately called the makers of digital heroin. When they ventured into slightly more hardcore territory with Plants vs. Zombies, their fan base was skeptical: Could they really convince housewives playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook, to play a more robust video game? As it turned out, the answer was an emphatic yes.

PvZ is a fantastic mesh of the traditional tower defense game, with a more casual presentation. Moreover, while the learning curve is gentle enough to appeal to both ‘casual dad’ and ‘hardcore son’, this is no casual game. My own mother, who was up till three in the morning the first time she started playing, can easily outplay me at the more advanced stages.

 Heavy Rain (PS3): I am a tall muscular dude, who likes watching contact sports, eating steaks, and doing other manly things like riding Harleys, shaving my face with a dagger, not asking for directions and then getting lost etc.So when Heavy Rain made me emotional enough to shed a tear, I knew I was playing something special. Have I ever cried during a movie? Yes, the ending of Braveheart gets me every time, as does the super cheesy ending of Armageddon (yes, a Michael Bay film, please kill me now).  But, a video game? No, not until I played this great game from developers Quantic Dream.

Heavy Rain is a special title, which plays as much as an interactive movie, as it does a video game. While some of the voice acting is inadequate, and the game has no replay value to speak of, the soundtrack is tremendous, and the powerful and beautifully directed narrative has the strength to touch your soul. Heavy Rain is one of those games that can make a believer out of those who wouldn’t otherwise be caught dead playing one.

Sid Mier’s Civilization V (PC): While Civilization 5 feels a bit streamlined, and does lack some of the complexity of its predecessors; it is still a fantastic turn-based strategy game. Not only does it look stunning visually, but its gameplay is extremely compelling.

The game has you start your selected civilization from the beginnings of man, and has you manage and expand to the space age. Along the way, you make peace, war, manage your economy, build world wonders, explore the planet, pursue scientific and technological advancements etc. The beauty of the game is that you can play according to your style: You can be a militaristic tyrant, conquering other civilizations like Genghis Khan would, be more culturally and spiritually aware like Gandhi, or simply find your own balance.

Be warned: Once you start playing, you may find your days and nights disappearing. ‘Just one more turn’, is a popular rationalization thrown around by Civilization addicts.

Fallout 3 (PC/ Xbox 360/PS3): When hardcore fans of the first two Fallout games learned that Bethesda Game Studios were making a sequel that was going to be played in first person (rather than the original isometric perspective), and be more action oriented, their collective nerd rage was of such ferocity, that the effects could be felt all over the internet gaming community.

And even though Fallout 3 ended up with little in common with the first two Fallout titles (which were released in the late 90s), it did turn out to be a great action/RPG. Not only does Fallout 3 boast some exciting gunplay, but it features a huge rich world, which can take hundreds of hours to explore.

Mass Effect 2 (PC/XBOX 360/PS3: The gameplay in Mass Effect 2 works better than its predecessor because it sheds some of the convoluted role-playing elements, in favor of being a purer action game. The story telling is fantastic, with the narrative told through one brilliant cinematic moment after another. Plus, the characters are rich, well written, and memorable, while some of the action set pieces are just out of this world. And the art direction is a feast for the eyes; the first planet in ME2 is especially reminiscent of the classic film, Blade Runner.

In my opinion, while Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 is easily the best game released in 2010, it is also one of the greatest games ever made. And if there is one title you should play on this list, then it is this story driven action/role-playing masterpiece.

Want to hit goose bump city? Watch the launch trailer.

Notable Mentions:

Games that didn’t make the list, but I feel are worth mentioning are:

Demon’s Souls

God of War 3

Dragon Age

Uncharted 2

Starcraft 2

Company of Heroes

What are your favorites? Please let us know in the comments section!

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rehan

    Uncharted 2 = Modern-day masterpiece! Can’t wait for the third installment.
    Regards,
    RehanRecommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Yea dude Uncharted 2 rocks. I loved the narrative. :)Recommend

  • Waqar

    Call of duty = epicness
    Assassins Creed ! :D
    Arkham Asylum = Waiting for the sequel :D
    NFS Hot Pursuit = Engaging gameplay :D
    Prince of Persia = beautiful game :DRecommend

  • PyroMenace

    I would say definitely play the Uncharted games, or ones that have heavy cinematic qualities. Mass Effect is a good one, also Red Dead Redemption, LA Noir, GTA4, Dragon Age. Then on the other side of the AAA budget games are those great indie gems like Braid, Limbo, Puzzle Quest, Osmos, Aquaria, and World of Goo.Recommend

  • Derick

    I think I can do a list of Top 10 List:
    The Witcher 2
    Mass Effect 2
    Dragon Age: Origins
    The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
    Fallout 3
    Fallout: New Vegas
    Bioshock
    Assassin’s Creed 2
    Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
    Deus Ex: Human Rev – not done w/ it, but so far, looks like it will belong on this list…Recommend

  • Mirza Abeer

    With all due respect bro, Uncharted 2 should have been on the list. It has won 50+ awards and has almost as many perfect ( 10/10 ) game reviews. Recommend

  • http://wasioabbasi.wordpress.com Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    Dragon Age and its sequel Dragon Age 2 (PC) are definitely my favorites. Their DLCs and Expansion packs are also fun.Recommend

  • muneeb

    no call of duty?? Recommend

  • Huzaifa

    Where does Angry Birds go? :PRecommend

  • J.

    Favorite game is Angry Birds! Recommend

  • J.

    I liked Bioshock for the 30 minutes I played. Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Huzaifa:

    haha well, it is more of a casual game. :)Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @muneeb:

    The CoD games are pretty cool, but I don’t think of the newer ones as “great”. They are very good, without doubt, though.

    @Mirza Abeer:

    Yea I really liked it quite a bit, but couldn’t find it better than any other game on my personal top 5. Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi:

    I liked the first Dragon Age, though the half-assed expansion left me cold. I am currently playing DA2. I am enjoying the combat, though I really miss the tactical aspect of the first game. Recommend

  • Abbas

    Halo !!!

    and why are there no fifa fans here ? :(

    btw above mentioned are some great games for sure, but for those who have not played ‘Alan Wake’, do check it out, amazing storyline and gameplay …Recommend

  • Saad

    FIFA = BEST EVER, EVER!Recommend

  • http://djdurrani.blogspot.com Saad Durrani

    I might sound like a wuss but I go for Sims 3.Recommend

  • WALEED

    What the hell man no CRYSIS 2 ???Recommend

  • smiley

    GTA IV & the rest of the series are some of the best games for my list of top games!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Saad Durrani:

    I love playing The Sims. Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @WALEED:

    Crysis 2 isn’t bad at all, but not as good as the more open ended first game. Feels a bit too consolized. Recommend

  • Levelheaded

    Mortal Kombat 2011!!

    Never played a single videogame as a child except maybe mario and now as a woman am obsessed!!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Levelheaded:

    Oh my god dude. Mortal Kombat 9 (the reboot) has me hooked. I use Scorpion mostly. :)

    I am planning to save MK9 for the best of 2011 list. :) Recommend

  • NFI

    Nothing beats the exploring, combat and general epicness of Tomb Raider: Last Revelation. Though I understand why it didn’t make the list – its an old game (rel. in 1999) that still delivers a great punch, with an awesome storyline – though graphically it just cannot compete with games nowadays. AoD comes close, again with a truly awesome storyline (that inspired me to start writing) but it was still an unfinished game, flopped at the gaming market due to its technical flaws. TR games now are a joke – a “mummy-daddy” Lara trying to act tough and nothing more.

    MK(2011) should have gotten a special mention – a great MK game truly!

    Uncharted series are great – but rely a tad more on combat (which isn’t really my fav – but “Dude” raider still is pretty good) Recommend

  • ALI

    GTA San-Andreas, the best game everRecommend

  • Karim Javed

    You forgot The Game of the Century ” Counter Strike” Every 1 should play this :DRecommend

  • Haroon Saeed

    what about Crysis
    Gears of Wars
    halo
    battlefield 2Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @NFI:

    Have you checked out the upcoming Tomb Raider? It looks pretty good. She is on an island or something.

    @Haroon Saeed:

    I liked the first Halo and the first Crysis. Battlefield 2 is pretty cool. Gears is a cool game as well.

    @Karim Javed:

    haha please stop playing CS. There are so many newer and better shooters out there. Valve announced a new CS game for 2011 though, so that’s cool.

    @ALI:

    I loved San Andreas. It is a bit old, but was one of my favorite GTA games. Recommend

  • zain

    Devil May Cry 3 and 4 roxxxxRecommend

  • NFI

    @Noman Ansari: Yes – it’ll be out by fall next year I believe. However one part bothers me alot – the developers have said “previously, Lara was all into exploring tombs. Now its all about getting the hell out of them, alive…” A very uncharacteristic thing, actually.

    I’ve a feeling this going to be another mummy-daddy game. As a gamer, and a writer, I rely upon character development even in games to create a certain “feel.” Damned loyalty to TR is the reason why I couldn’t give up the games. They’ve rebooted the once bad-ass Lara, who’d shoot first then ask questions later into a “oh-my-mommy-went-to-avalon! oh-my-daddy-got-lost-trying-to-get-her-back-from-avalon” slaps her forehead

    Still hoping the new reboot is better though..Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @NFI:

    I agree that this isn’t standard Tomb Raider material, but at least they are trying something different. But I hope they keep the exploration aspect of it alive. I don’t want it to turn into a survival-horror game. Recommend

  • WALEED

    Uptill now game developer have not fully utilized the potential of PS3 and XBOX 360, the raw power it withholds, therefore i’d say that there are many great titles yet to come, for example RAGE the upcoming FPS by the developers of DOOM.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @WALEED:

    Actually, those consoles have been pretty much tapped out. Counterparts on the PC look infinitely better. Epic (makes of Unreal) have already said that their next engine will solely focus on PC gaming.

    Expect the next generation of consoles to come very soon. Recommend

  • NFI

    @Noman Ansari:
    No idea how many people want that, considering the older games were simply true classics, but here’s hoping this new version is better. Although developers should just not reboot the series after 1-2 games (as is this case).

    If all else fails, they should just work on and release a finished Angel of Darkness (including all deleted levels, moves, cut-scenes, whatnot etc). Now that game had tonnes of potential, which just went down the drain because it was released unfinished.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    I didn’t really play too much of AoD. Got bored with the Tomb Raider franchise. 3rd person games have gotten infinitely better, but TR still sticks to the traditional limited feel. Have you ever played Legacy of Kain? Old vampire title, but sorta similar. :) Recommend

  • Ali Hasan

    Killzone3 and Resident Evil 5 on the PS3. Resident Evil 5 in particular! Loads of side games and stories make it an incredibly layered game!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Ali Hasan:

    RE5 was pretty good, though I don’t like the limitations on the camera. Recommend

  • Scott

    While Mass Effect 2 is a good game, the first in the series is the superior game. It had a far superior narrative and while the exploring aspect with the rover in the first wasn’t well-received, it was better than scanning the planets for resources a la 2. But to each his own…

    I really need to get a PS3. I don’t pay very much attention at all to games on that platform and you really piqued my interest regarding Heavy Rain. Also, I’ve hear Uncharted 2 is really good as well.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Scott:

    Scott, I did enjoy the 80s sci fi music/atmosphere in the first ME more, but the dice rolling mechanics for me just didn’t work with the shooting. It was a frustrating game, for me. I will play it again in time for ME3.

    Yup, there is a PS3 price drop coming, so that would be a good time to get one. Uncharted 2, Heavy Rain etc., are just some of the great games you can play. Demon’s Souls as well.

    Thanks for commenting. :)Recommend

  • Simon

    Heavy Rain is an amazing game, but you can’t say you never felt teary at some of Square’s finest games – Final Fantasy 7 and 8, anyone? Also Kingdom Hearts, a game that I think is criminally underrated and overlooked because of the disney characters. Also, after playing Ocarina Of Time again I have to say that if I was going to make a top ten, that game would shoot right up there for the top spot, maybe competing with FF7. Recommend

  • Simon

    And on the subject of Square-Enix, the new Tomb Raider game looks very good. Although I’ll probably be putting my money towards Elder Scrolls: Skyrim before I look into getting that game.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Simon:

    Yup, some of the FF games were emotional, but didn’t quite take me there. Recommend

  • Dua

    Sims,beats all the other games! :DRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Dua:

    Hah! Yes The Sims is fun! Recommend

  • FAK

    @Noman Ansari:
    I don’t think Levelheaded is a dude!!!…:P
    If you like strategy games new Tropico 4 is really great. AOE is best ever in this genre.
    FIFA is always the best.
    Deus Ex: Human Revolution haven’t got my hands on it yet but looks good.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @FAK:

    hahah yup, you are right. Missed that bit.

    Tropico 4 is cool. Age of Empires was good, but too bad MS pulled the plug on the studio. Recommend

  • Hassaan Anis

    Fallout never did it for me. Its just one of those games that are excellent in concept and art direction but lacking in execution. Its just.. too buggy for me. The character animations aren’t smooth or believable, the movement and environmental interaction isn’t fluid and polished, the combat is hit or miss and the conversations are all text based. Its actually very ES:Morrowind-ish that way. I guess I prefer my games to focus a lot on polish. Things like clipping and stuttering animations really bother me too. Ruins the immersion.

    Besides that I wouldn’t argue with the list. Civ 5 is amazing, as were Civ 3&4. Heavy Rain is more of an interactive movie but I have no qualms with that sub-genre, and I already gave you my opinion on Mass Effect 2 on facebook :) Deus Ex: Human Revolution would have definitely made this list if it were released a little earlier. Also, looking forward to Bioshock Infinite. And lusting for Battlefield 3 at this point – though mostly for the multiplayer.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Hassaan Anis:

    Hey Hassan, FO3 I installed two or three times because I just couldn’t get into it. Once you start exploring, and get into the sidequests, you just can’t stop! It took me a while though! Recommend

  • NFI

    @Noman Ansari: Honestly, its a pretty unbalanced game (AOD). It was released unfinished, and the technical bugs, glitches etc. all prove that fact. That was the negative, the positive however was the storyline, which I remember reading the developers initially wrote a whole book on. T’was supposed to be a trilogy – but they gave up after the first part (should have published the book!).. Afterwards, for me it was all downhill from there. The 3rd person games did get better, but that for me it was the classic feel that made the franchise a winner. TR: Anniversary came close, but even that feel was destroyed by the cry-baby storyline.. Each to their own, I guess..

    I played a bit of Blood Omen 2 back in the day (legacy of Kain). Haven’t played all the games of that series – but I remember my cousin complaining (big fan of the series) that this particular game focused too much on gore, and the best thing (puzzles etc) ended up being too simplistic (needless to say, he’s a TR fan as well!)..Recommend

  • J

    all the guys love lara croftRecommend

  • J

    i prefer april from longest journyRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @Saad:
    @Abbas:

    Guys, I love me a good game of Fifa. I used to be more a Konami’s Winning Eleven/Pro Evo fan, but Fifa has really gotten good during the past few years. :)Recommend

  • umar

    Hey Ansari,
    Nothing for Wii players? :( not a signle game made it to your list ?Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/noman.ansari Noman Ansari

    @umar:

    haha sorry, that’s the only console I don’t know, though I hear the Supermari Galaxy games are a hoot. Recommend