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.