Saturday, 20 November 2010

Jonathon Wisnoski's Top Ten Role-Playing Games (RPGs)

Following Johnathon's Top Ten Adventure Games list, I've persuaded him to do one for RPGs as well..

The following is my top ten favorite RPG list. RPGs were my first love in gaming, and while my interest has waned over the years I still enjoy a good RPG on occasion. The only thing about RPGs that personally make making a list about them hard for me is that I tend not to finish them, and many entries in this list were never finished but were played enough for me to feel confident about my opinion. Again, I have only included one list entry per series.

10. Mr. Robot
Mr. Robot combines two genres into one; as Asimov, a lowly service droid, on board the spaceship Eidolon you must solve puzzles and platform about the ship, some of these puzzles involve going into the virtual world to combat viruses and hack computer systems, in this world you must battle software in a RPG turned based manner. Mr Robot was made by the indie developer Moonpod and released in 2007.

Mr. Robot makes this list by taking the great JRPG genre and mixing in a lot of platforming/puzzle solving fun. It really manages to liven up the game and really turns out to be a good combination. And the two modes are not completely separate, in the real world you can find many upgrades that help you in the virtual world. Additionally it just has a interesting story and great characters.

9. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic is a WRPG based in the Star Wars universe, 4,000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire. It was released in 2003 by BioWare for Windows and Xbox and latter ported to Mac OS. It has a direct sequel, Sith Lords, and a MMORPG entitled Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Knights of the Old Republic, or KotOR personally my favorite abbreviation in all of gaming (it's just fun to say), makes this list because it takes the interesting Star Wars universe and fully realizes it while also encapsulation a great game in its own right; KotOR has fun and challenging combat, a wonderful story, interesting characters, and most of all a huge number of abilities and skills to customize and advance your character with.

8. Breath of Fire
Breath of Fire is a 1993 JRPG for the SNES. It has four sequels and a spin off series on mobile phones.

Breath of Fire is the first RPG game I ever finished, and I think that really says something as I did play other RPGs before this one. One difference from many other games in its genre is the number of things that can be done on the traveling map view. As you add characters to your party you gain new abilities that can be used on the map screen; Some of these abilities are; hunting with a bow and arrows, cutting down tree obstructions, and other abilities to get past obstructions and uncover treasure. In addition to the unique aspects of the travel view the game also features some very interesting and varied gameplay. Each new area in the game had significantly different challenges to first get to and then get through; often you have to talk to town folk in the general vicinity to get hints and tips on what you will have to do to continue. This puzzle aspect combined with the unique travel view actions makes a vary interesting and varied game that does not get as monotonous as many others in its genre.

7. Fable
Fable is a action RPG that was released in 2004 for the Xbox, but made available for the PC in its Lost Chapters extended edition. The game currently has two sequels, with the last one being released earlier this year.

Fable makes this list because it takes a often complicated and mathematical genre and simplifies it, and is possibly even the first game to do this successfully. Instead of the sometime monotonous grind to slowly raise stats you simply get a skill system; This skill system allows any character to invest experience into getting and improving a myriad of skills, from throwing fireballs to being better at shooting a bow. And while the game is not perfect, and can be somewhat bland and oversimplified at times, I think it was a very fun game to play and represents a milestone in gaming.

6. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Oblivion is a first/third person action fantasy RPG released in 2006 for PCs and the Xbox 360 and latter ported to the PlayStation 3. It is a open world sandbox game with a plethora of side quests that can keep you busy far longer then you are likely to play, without even touching the main storyline. As you move about the world and level up most other enemies level with you, allowing you to go pretty much anywhere and find a doable challenge at any level. The game is very combat based, and features many ways to go about this, including a wide supply of melee, ranged weaponry, and spells. The game has three prequels and many expansions.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a great game, but it does have some critical flaws. It is great because it gives you a huge world to explore and many ways to go about doing this. One of the more noticeable flaws is something that RPGs are normally very good at, character strength progression; because everyone else levels with you you are often killed in the most outrageous and humiliating manners. After winning the game and killing all the top bosses you can still easily be killed by a single scrawny wolf, or encounter strangely powerful foes like bandits wielding legendary weaponry.

5. Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is a JRPG that was released in 1995 for the Super Nintendo by Square. At the time it had many revolutionary features, multiple endings and branching plot paths as well as a unique battle system. It has one sequel, Chrono Cross, released in 1999 for the PlayStation, and several ports.

Chrono Trigger makes my list because of its crazy sci-fi story line, lovable characters, and the unique battle system. In the battle system multiple characters are able to combine abilities to create super abilities and area attacks are not just targeted to everyone on the screen but specific areas on the screen; This of course means the location of enemies is important and Chrono Trigger again does not disappoint, enemies do not just line up in a static formation from the beginning of the battle and then never move, enemies will appear in battle in realistic formations and will continue to move during the battle.

4. Deus Ex
Deus Ex is a FPS RPG with elements of stealth thrown in for good measure and set in a cyberpunk dystopian future. It was released in 2000 for the PC and is perhaps the only game to meld a complex RPG system, with all the items, stats, and upgrades that entails, with a fully functional sandbox FPS. It has one sequel, Invisible War, and another currently in the making, as well as a strong modding community.

Deus Ex is so amazing and unique because of the huge amount of free will you get. You can complete missions using brute force, stealth, intelligence and planning, hacking, or any combination of these or even a few others depending on the circumstances. Because of all of these choices it is potentially the most complex game ever made.

3. Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy IV, or II in America, is a JRPG that was released in 1991 for the Super Nintendo. It, of course, has many sequels and many remakes/re-releases. It features a turned based battle system and a strong character driven plot. Additionally, in 2008 a direct sequel, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, was released for mobiles phones and latter ported to the Wii.

This was the first RPG I ever played, and one of the few JRPGs I ever finished. It is just classic JRPG goodness, with great music, an interesting plot, good looking graphics, and a simple battle and leveling system. Additionally, it has some amazing characters, including Telleh the sage, Cecil the dark knight, and Kain the dragoon, some of my favorite characters in all of gamedom.

2. Mount & Blade
Mount & Blade is a medieval sandbox RPG, that was released in 2008 for the PC and got a, sequel/expansion in 2010 entitled Warband. In the game you control a single hero that as he/she levels up you can marshal greater and greater numbers of troops as well as becoming more proficient in many different skills.

What elevates this game over so many is its real time battle system. In the battle you control your group of soldiers with simple commands, leaving most of your attention to focus on your own efforts to wreak havoc onto your foes. You extract this carnage with pretty much any medieval weapon you can think of, bows, swords, pikes, lances, maces, and many more and on many different fields of battle, including castle sieges, forests, mountains, and plains. But I have left the best for last, for the most part you will be fighting on horseback, and the damage calculation takes into account your current speed.

1. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Super Mario RPG was developed by Square and released in 1996 for the Super Nintendo. It is a mostly traditional JRPG set in the Mario universe. It has no direct sequels, but two series, Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi, are considered spiritual sequels.

Super Mario RPG is my top pick because it takes the wonderful, but sometimes long and monotonous, JRPG genre, and breaths some needed needed life into it. This life include some platforming and puzzles out of battle, and some of the best use of timed key presses during battle to add critical damage to your attacks or other special effects.

In addition to all these amazing games I would like the mention the amazing game Dragon Age: Origins for its incredibly huge world and Lord of the Rings Online a free to play MMORPG I am currently playing that is very good (better then WoW in my opinion) and probably would have been included in this list if I had more time to play it before the writing of this list.

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sean said...

Only the top level creatures level up in oblivion, for example minotaur lords level up with you but wolves do not, they have a cap. this rules true for many of the enemies in the game. I found my self after about five levels taking the piss out of anything I fought by magicking up a tank then retreating rinse and repeat. I felt morrowind was better, felt more immersive and scary and although its dated, at its time it was mindblowing

James M said...

Hi John. Not sure if you are reading this comment but I am from Pawn. I am an ex-mod and my username is Nirvana. As you should know the community is dying out fast. I am wondering how your project ZED is doing. Are you working hard? Is it dead? We are all itching to know.



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