Gothic I & II
From the german developer Piranha Bytes
The Gothic I game was the first title I played from the RPG genre, so excuse me if I sound a little bias towards praising this little piece of marble. But the praise is entirely justified.
Even though the game is 12 years old, it is still one of a kind. Sure, the graphics have aged and the lack of animation can send you running for the hills. But don't give up! Once you get through all that, you will experience one of the most amazing and unique atmospheric experiences in the gaming genre.
Gothic I has a really solid story line. It begins as you arrive into a prison mining camp, where your aim is simple: survive. You can do that by gaining experience, becoming stronger, training your sword skills, archery and even killing animals and then selling their skins for profit.
Gothic II is basically the same thing, only you start on the main island, free to explore a much bigger environment. Gothic II also received an add-on Night Of The Raven, which adds even more new enemies and a new part of the island.
Both games should take you about 50 hours to complete.
The best part? You can get them dirt cheap at Amazon for the PC.
A timeless action RPG
Yes, Diablo 2 and not three has made its way into the top 10 list. But why?
Its kinda hard to say really. Diablo 3 is a good game but it just fails in the comparison to its predecessor.
Diablo 2, even after 13 years, is still a relevant game and is getting the ladder reset sometime in November.
For those few of you who don't know what Diablo is and have been apparently living a rock for the past decade, here's a quick recap:
It is an action isometric RPG, which means it's a top down viewed slasher, where you kill hordes of monsters for the main purpose of getting better equipment. Which doesn't sound all that exciting I know.
But as you try it, you get hooked on leveling and trying to get the best loot possible. You can even upgrade the weapons and armor into more powerful versions and once you complete the game, you can try it again on a higher difficulty. And you don't need to start over as you keep all the equipment from the previous run.
The game offers you a wide choice of characters to play with:
- the sorcerer
- the necromancer
- the amazon
- the barbarian
- the paladin
- the assassin
Each has its special set of skills and talents, so the play style is never the same.
The story is nothing special, basically you have to destroy Diablo and some other mini bosses. There is also an add-on called Lord of Destruction, where you have to kill Diablo's brother, Baal. The add-on adds an extra chapter to the base game, so you have even more stuff to kill, burn and decapitate.
The game is perfect for long hours of mindless slashing, where you just want to sit back and kill demons without straining your brain too much.
If you're thinking on buying it, you should get the Diablo 2 Battlechest, where you get Diablo 2 with the add-on Lord Of Destruction.
For PC only!
Widely regarded as one of the most deep RPG's of all time, Planescape Torment is certainly one of the most unusual experiences you will have.
You awake as a strange, grey corpse simply named The Nameless One. Standing next to you is a floating, talking skull named Morte, that gives witty remarks about your appearance. From there you delve into the deeply strange world of Torment with the main purpose of figuring out of who you are and what is your purpose here.
And where exactly are you? Well, the game takes place in the city called Sigil. This city is sort of central hub between different dimensions, surrounded by other planes of existence, each with its own creatures and rules of existence.
It is a world where you can walk through a doorway and when you turn around and walk back, you end up in a different place. Or not. Multiverse can sometimes be a tricky thing.
The setting itself as you can see is something special. But the gameplay is also different then a typical D&D slasher. Sure, you can finish the game by equipping an armor and just kill everything but it is much more enjoyable, if you invest skills into speech skills, as a lot of fights can be talked out of, usually with a really clever and insightful dialog options.
In short, this is a game where the power of the pen is mightier than the sword and if you are a fan of many dialog options in RPG's then look no further. You will finish this game again and again and after each play through the game will seem fresh and different.
You will learn, you will laugh, you will ponder. And you will be sad because the game never received an official sequel.
For PC only!
Baldurs Gate 2
Another oldie but goldie
Baldurs Gate 2 is a classic RPG title. The D&D background adds a rich background to a game that is the exact opposite to Diablo 2. Both games get high praise as the best to the genre but as we can see even genres can have sub-genres.
Baldurs Gate 2 takes place in the land of Faerun, populated with mystical beings like dragons, trolls, gnomes, elves, humans and dwarfs.
The game offers us a huge choice of classes based on the 2nd Edition of Dungeons and Dragon rulebook. If you don't know what that is, don't worry, neither did I when I first played the game. But even with the lack of tutorial, you can pretty much figure out everything by yourself but it does help if you played an RPG title before, because the game is pretty damn challenging and hard.
The storyline is pretty much one of the best of its kind, with an awesome main villain, that will haunt your dreams.
This is one of the first games from the developer Bioware and if you played any of their later titles (like Dragon Age or Mass Effect) you will get that familiar Bioware tone in the dialogs (unfortunately very few of them are voice acted).
Baldurs Gate 2 also has an add-on called Throne of Bhaal and recently received a HD remake, which adds better graphics and support for widescreen resolution.
The game is huge so it will last you a really long time and is well worth its humble price.
For PC only!
Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic I&II
The best game from the Star Wars universe Period
Somewhere in the galaxy far, far away...
The opening sequence is the typical yellow letters on a starry background, explaining the basic premise of the game: the Jedi are all but defeated and one of the last Jedi's named Bastilla is in the fight for her life aboard a republic cruiser. You, a young promising Republic cadet, are one of the last hopes of saving her and the galaxy before the darkness consumes all. The intro is really not all that surprising. What is surprising however is that Lucas Arts actually allowed making of a Star Wars game that isn't complete garbage.
I remembered how surprised I was when I first played this game. As a huge Star Wars geek I was even expecting to make compromises, by playing a bad game (because, at that time Lucas was milking the franchise for all it is worth) just so I could hold a lightsabre.
But the skies quickly cleared when there was an announcement that Bioware was heading the development. And boy, did they deliver.
The game takes place thousands of years before its film roots, when there were plenty of Jedi and the Sith all fighting among each other.
As I mentioned before, you are a young cadet for the Republic that soon realizes that he is force sensitive. I'm not giving any more story away because it is awesome and even a tiny spoiler is too much. I will mention though there is an awesome twist, that makes you drop your jaw in awe.
The gameplay consists of over the back combat with an active pause between fights so you can issue commands more tactically. When you're not fighting, you're talking, which is not really something new for a Bioware game.
What is new is the moral decisions in dialogs, that can either be positive (for Jedi's) or negative (Sith). They can even affect your appearance, so if you're to evil, your skin goes all grey and cracky and some companions will even leave you for good, if they don't agree with your decisions.
The game received a sequel, The Sith Lords, which is basically more of the same with some improvements. The Sith Lords excels at dialogs, (kinda of like Planescape Torment) so really if you played the first game and liked it, you have to play the second too. There was no third part but the online MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic is also worth checking out if you liked the first duo.
This game is available for the Xbox (yes, the original) and PC.
Fallout: New Vegas
The legend is back!
Black Isle Studio was the developer of the original Fallout. They were a great developer. And of course, because they were great, they were shutdown. But the team reunited under the name Obsidian Entertainment and one of the their projects was Fallout: New Vegas.
If you played Fallout 3, you will feel right at home. You play the game through the first person view in the irradiated wasteland of former Las Vegas. Fortunately the bombs didn't hit Vegas as much as they did the other parts of the USA so the environment in a bit of a better shape than in previous titles.
You play a vault dweller, that survived the nuclear blast in an underground shelter and are ready to take on the now mutated nature with great vengeance and furious anger.
You can solve quests, kill monsters and gather equipment to do this.
The game is really huge and many hours of fun are had if you plan to explore every last corner of the Wasteland. The game also received multiple add-ons that add real value to the game, such as the higher level cap and new areas and skills to explore. If you're planning on buying then be sure to pick up the Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition as it has the base game + all the add-ons.
This game is available for all the big platforms like the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Dragon Age: Origins
Old school RPG in modern times
The developers of Dragon Age had one simple premise: bring the old school Baldurs Gate type of play into the modern RPG gameplay. This resulted in one of the best medieval type role-playing games of the last decade.
The first thing that stands out in Dragon Age is its rich storyline. The setting is dark; an evil force is once again rising in the lands of Ferleden and the kingdom is in jeopardy. The only thing that can stand against it are the Wardens, an ancient society of protectors, that have guarded the lands for centuries. The task is on you, young Warden, to unite the warring factions of dwarfs, elves and humans against the impending doom, led by an ancient Arch demon.
Sitting of the helm of the developer steering wheel is Bioware, a company known for its rich story, interesting companions and great gameplay. The decisions you make can greatly impact the storyline and the game offers many different endings so you can finish the game multiple times with different results every time.
This title is different from other Bioware games, as it offers a more dark, George R.R. Martin type of atmosphere. After a fight, your character (or one of your companions) can even be dripping with blood which is kinda of a cool effect. The gameplay is behind the back fighting, with an active break where you issue commands for a more tactical experience.
If any of these things sounded attractive to you and you want a more adult RPG experience, then this is the game for you. You can even pick up the Dragon Age: Ultimate Edition, that offers a great add-on called the Awakening, with extra new items, enemies and new, exciting areas to explore.
You can get the game for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
The space RPG that delivers
When I started this list I really wasn't expecting that half of the games up here will be Bioware titles. But I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles and truth be told, Bioware is the one developer that produced such high volume of quality RPG-s without sinking into a cheap "make money because of our brand name" tactics.
Mass Effect is another modern RPG, that shall be remembered long into the future.
It's a rare sci-fi RPG that puts us into the shoes of a commander named Shepard tasked with, what else, saving the universe.
The main enemies this time are the Reapers, an ancient species of aliens that were in slumber for the past millennia and are now awake again, bent on wiping out all the existing life in the universe.
Mass Effect plays as any other Bioware title, with a big difference: guns! Yes, the main technique of fighting is shooting things, so there is no typical medieval weaponry like axes and swords. The game blends the shooter aspects of modern shooters with a sophisticated RPG leveling and the ending result is quite satisfying.
You should note that Mass Effect 1 has more RPG elements than later sequels, that are more action oriented.
The rich storyline is something which we come to expect from Bioware titles, but they really outdid themselves this time in the voice acting aspect, which is superb. They actually hired some high quality Hollywood actors and the result is one of the best, immersive role-playing games to this date.
If you decide to play this, you have to go through the trilogy to get the full impact of the story. A really cool feature is that save games are transferable between the games so if, for instance, you killed a character in part one, he will be also dead in part two and vice versa.
So the best thing to do is to get the trilogy pack and enjoy the best (yes the best, not one of the best) sci-fi role-playing games that were ever created.
You can buy it for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition
The title says it all
This is main point and the state of mind you should have when you delve into this Japanese RPG: prepare to die. Over and over again.
But if you enjoy a challenge and think that most of the todays games are too easy and to user-friendly, then this just might be a the perfect game for you.
When you start the game, you don't really know where you are and what exactly you should do. You pick a class and on the merry way you go. But after the first couple enemies, a sudden realization hits you: this ain't gonna be easy. Then after 20 minutes you arrive in a boss chamber, where a huge demon with a health bar as long as a Monday turns you into flat pancake without missing a heartbeat. Are you tough enough to continue or will you give up?
This game will test you. But every time you die, the blame is on you. The game offers you a wide-set of skills coupled with a superior fighting system, so if you mess up, it's probably because you rushed things and didn't took the necessary precautions to avoid getting killed.
There are no dialogs like in Bioware games, you learn from the world surrounding you by picking up items and reading their descriptions. If you die, you spawn at the last checkpoint (called bonfires) but the catch is that all the enemies re-spawn too and are now tougher.
It's really hard to describe this game so I will try giving you an example of a play:
you die for the 10th time and are re-spawned again. You pick yourself up dust off and try again. You now know the enemy movement and are also skilled enough to take them down faster than before. Then you arrive at the huge metal warrior that killed you before. You circle him, block and little by little chop away at his health bar. Finally he collapses. The feeling of satisfaction you get is something special. You are proud of yourself. Then you see the warrior was guarding a chest. Rewards! You kneel and open the chest... when the chest comes alive, stands up on huge legs, picks you up and swallows you whole in one gulp. You re-spawn at the bonfire and have to go through it again. That is Dark Souls.
If you do decide to try this challenge then pick up the Prepare To Die Edition that offers new enemies and new areas to explore. It is time to test your RPG skills!
You can get the game for the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls series have always been popular because of a single premise: do whatever you want and go wherever you want. All of the games are huge and that also applies to the newest game of the series Skyrim.
As in all the Elder Scrolls games, you start as a prisoner on his way to get executed. But everything changes when suddenly a dragon swoops down and you have to escape certain death. It is soon discovered that you are Dragonborn, a mighty legendary warrior that can talk to dragons and is the only one that can absorb their souls and ultimately destroy them.
The game world is huge, with tremendous amount of content, be it side quest or just randomly walking around and discovering new, exciting places.
You can level up, teach yourself smithing or make new potions at the alchemy tables. There is really a million things to do, so you can never become bored. The game also features tools for modding, which enables you to enjoy tons of user-created content that you can find online (unfortunately this applies only for the PC version).
If you would like a game where you can sink tons of fun hours, then look no more. Pick up the Legendary Edition, where you get the base game and some add ons that expand the base game even more, with new skills and areas to explore.
The game is available for the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.