Anthony Siebert – 5 Games to Spend the Winter With
You may have convinced people that you occasionally leave the house in the summer, but no one will believe it when it’s 20 degrees outside. So, how will you spend all of this free-time at home over the next few months? There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a game to make you forget your frozen extremities, so here’s a list of some of the best games for the job.
Borderlands 2 – PC/PS3/360
For fans of: Collecting loot, any shooter or RPG
Despite the fact that the Borderlands series draws heavily from other shooters and role-playing games, there is nothing else quite like it. This is because the first-person shooter genre’s visceral thrills of head-shots, point-blank shotgun blasts, and well-placed grenade tosses meld surprisingly well with classic role-playing tropes like endless loot gathering, leveling-up, and questing. It kind of leaves shooters without RPG elements and RPGs without shooter elements feeling a little dry.
Final Fantasy Tactics – PS1/PS3/PSP/Vita/iOS
For fans of: Final Fantasy, JRPGs, strategy games
If I had to pick a single game that I feel is worth spending countless hours with, I would chose Final Fantasy Tactics. It has the most mature and complex story in the entire Final Fantasy series, includes a level of party customization that has never been matched, and manages to pull off timelessly beautiful graphics within the limitations of the original Playstation’s hardware. Also, it’s available on so many platforms that it would be hard to not find a way to play it.
Rogue Legacy – PC
For fans of: Difficult games, Roguelikes, Metroid, Castlevania
Lately, hardcore difficulty and permadeath have been popular design elements in indie games. Rogue Legacy successfully pulls-off the addictive “one more try” style of gameplay with randomly generated Metroidvania-style platforming levels, a silly sense of humor, and simple but nuanced character customization. Roguelike games typically make you completely start over upon death, but Rogue Legacy adds a nice layer of persistence by letting you purchase upgrades and keep the loot that you find for future runs. Plus, it’s only $15 on Steam, and frequently goes on sale for much less.
Pokemon X & Y – 3DS
For fans of: Pokemon, JRPGs
With so many hundreds of Pokemon (over 700 now!), I doubted if we would ever see fully 3D battles in a proper Pokemon title. However, Game Freak has finally pulled it off with this newest entry in the series, and it completely reinvigorates the excitement of catching them all. Much of the monotony that held the previous games back has been removed, and though it is still a slow-paced experience, the fancy new polygonal coat of paint makes the familiar sights feel almost brand new. With the ridiculous number of Pokemon, items to equip them with, and moves to teach them, the level of variety and customization is mind-boggling. X & Y is definitely the best entry in the Pokemon series.
Super Mario 3D World – Wii U
For fans of: Mario, Platforming, or having fun
It’s not surprising for a Mario title, but Super Mario 3D World plays heavily on nostalgia. For example, the cast of playable characters and their abilities matches that of Mario 2, sprites from the series’ 8-bit days pop up everywhere, and there are references to nearly every previous Mario game (and even Zelda).
This could be seen as cashing in on fond memories rather than providing new ideas, but I doubt you’ll feel that way after playing it. Nintendo has taken the best elements from every game in the series and refined them, then added some great new ideas to the mix, making for a nearly perfect platforming experience. Also, seeing so much nostalgic imagery rendered in glorious detail on the Wii U is wonderful. This is truly the best looking game Nintendo has ever released.