13 August 2007

Top 10 Essential RPGs

*Big* D20

Over at Tales of the Rampant Coyote Jay listed the 16 Essential RPGs. I thought I'd give it a go myself, there is quite a bit of overlap with his list but then it's likely that there would be. I've also only done ten, I've been conditioned to base 10 scales though I salute Jay and his hexadecimal ranking :D.

Baldur's Gate II
Though I enjoyed the first Baldur's Gate I also found it deeply frustrating. The second one changed all that. The character interaction with members of your party was mature. I don't mean that they talked about rude things, I mean that your party turned to you for advice, they had conflicting emotions and opinions about situations. Often I'd be playing through the game hoping that one of my party members would start their next conversations (indeed I changed the heartbeat or flags at times to insure they would). Your character felt like it was an influence on the world around it, that your actions mattered and the game brought you in.
Final Fantasy VII
The Final Fantasy series has long been at the top of my list. I guess VII stands out, in part, as it was the first I played but also for its solid story and good game system. I really enjoyed FFVIII and FFX and FFXII wasn't bad but I think one Final Fantasy game is enough for the line-up.
Fallout 2
I'd start by saying that Fallout 2 had a bigger impact on me than the first one. I picked up a Fallout pack that included them both so I played them at roughly the same time and, I felt, the second one had the edge in character interaction. The post-apocalyptic setting and the dark humour of the games really made it one of my top RPGs of all time.
Planescape Torment
Unlike Jay I have played this game. It's an amazing game that focuses on the story of the central character, a man who wakes up on slab in a morgue. It's got some interesting philosophical dialogues and solid story.
System Shock 2
System Shock 2 is genuinely creepy. It's probably the first game that put me on edge about the sounds in the ship around me. Some people might not consider this an RPG but I think it has the same level of story development as many of them along with stats, so what more do you want? It's immersing and involved and had me more emotionally attached to the stories of the crew members than many more traditional RPGs have ever succeeded with.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
As Ray stated many consider Morrowind to be a better RPG. However I think Oblivion's quest system is better sorted which means I can better manage actually getting through the varieties of quests and side-quests there are in the game (even still it has take me many, many, hours to get through it). Graphically it is beautiful, and though not something that should be a factor in this compilation, does add to the feeling of an immersing world and made me continue to want to explore the setting.
NeverWinter Nights
NeverWinter Nights represents two main things for me. Its development tools are great fun to work with (I'm designing a module with it at the moment) and it was the first RPG I really took online to play with friends. That experience was great. The single player though, felt a little like a step back from Baldur's Gate II. In part just having one henchman rather than a party didn't feel as good. I can see focusing on both single and multiplayer experience might well do this though.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Yet another BioWare game but with a good set of characters and a great story (ok, I admit I didn't see the plot twist coming and was pleasantly surprised when it did) with the Star Wars universe background but not directly linked to the films setting I was a really enjoyable game.
Arcanum was somewhat a flawed game in its execution. Buggy and rough around the edges but I really enjoyed the magic against technology clash and the Victorian steampunk setting.
Phantasy Star III
Phantasy Star was probably my first real introduction to computer RPGs (along with Rogue). I'm actually not sure how well it has aged. I bought the first three as a pack for the GBA and I found the user interface so bad that I had difficulty playing it. Plus, often, it resorts to you needing to talk to everyone in a town just to find out what to do next. However I loved the way it was about generations of a family (including branches of who said character is marrying) and at least tried some attempt at political intrigue rather than just there is a super-villain who hates everything (though it has that too).

So there you go, what would other people place in their top 10/16 RPG games that should be played?

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