10 Great Games You Should Be Playing Right Now
I've been doing a lot of writing about console gaming lately, and it's a little unsettling, as for the last few years I have considered myself primarily a PC gamer. Not that it matters, because as a gamer, I pride myself on not being a fanboy of one console or platform over another. That gets you nowhere. There are many great games and experiences on all formats that you'll miss out on entirely if you let fanaticism plague your mind. So it was this thinking that inspired me to create the definitive guide to the top (exclusive) games that you should be playing right now.
These are not necessarily new games, and they're net necessarily old either. Some of them may have been reviewed poorly, and some of them won every award there is. But what I wanted to highlight here was how allowing yourself to experience games on multiple platforms, you open yourself up to a world of opportunities. Just for the record, I have included games from the PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PS Vita, as these are the systems I have currently. If I owned a Wii U I would certainly have included them here as well. But I can only go with what I know, so without further ado, let's begin!
Might as well start the list off controversially, right? SimCity is pretty much a love it or hate it kind of deal. Launch issues plagued its release last year, and many gamers never forgave EA for their always-online stance. It's their loss though, because what waits on the other side of an internet connection is a fantastic city-building experience. Yes there are issues. For example, I am still not a fan of having to choose from little plots of land scattered across the map. I want to be able to build anywhere and everywhere on that map. I don't like the limitation. There are other minor quirks, but if you can get past these issues, the game is incredibly deep with a wealth of options to help you build a beautiful, jam-packed metropolis.
The Last of Us (PlayStation 3)
This is one of those games that will earn a "No duh," from many readers, but this is absolutely not only a contender for my favorite game of the year, but perhaps all time. Its gripping story, beautiful graphics, and fun and engaging gameplay make for an incredible ride that begs to be replayed. If you don't own a PS3, this game is absolutely worth the purchase price alone. And I don't say that lightly.
Bioshock: Infinite (PC)
I know, I know... this game was not console-specific, but it shines brilliantly on the PC. With incredible graphics and its intense action, Bioshock: Infinite harkens back to a time when first-person shooters were just as much about the story as the action (Half Life). If you don't have the gaming rig capable of cranking up the graphics, I can attest that it still looks great on either Xbox or PlayStation, so don't hesitate to pick up whichever copy you can immediately.
Forza Motorsport 4 (Xbox 360)
The game I'm looking forward to the most from the early lineup of next generation games is Forza Motorsport 5. But the 4th version of the game is no slouch either, and if you haven't played it, there's no better time than now. The Forza series rapidly caught up with (and in my opinion passed) Sony's Gran Turismo franchise. The cars are beautiful, the races are fun, and the customization is addicting. This is a game that you'll want to just keep playing and playing, even if it's way past your bedtime.
MLB 13: The Show (PS Vita)
The Madden and NBA franchises have received most of the attention when it comes to sports games, but the Sony exclusive The Show franchise is probably the best of the bunch. Incredible graphics, smooth gameplay, and an amazing career mode with seemingly unlimited customization options make this game endlessly playable. The thrill of starting out a player in the minor leagues and working your way up the ranks until you eventually land with a major league club is addicting. I've singled out the PS Vita version of this game simply due to the portability factor. The game looks better on PS3, but it's tough to beat the pick-up-and-play functionality of the Vita. And depending on how you have your games set up, a game can last as little as five minutes, so it really makes squeezing in some gametime during your lunch breaks feasible.
Fable (Xbox 360)
Before anyone yells at me, yes, I know Fable was released on the original Xbox. But a while back I picked it up through the Xbox Live store to play on the 360, and as you may also know, Lionhead Studios is re-releasing the game in an anniversary form later this year. So I'm counting this as an Xbox 360 game. Even though it's nearing a decade in age, this game has an appeal that I can't resist. Whether it's building an evil menace that kicks chickens and swoons all the girls, or a knightly hero that does his best to make all the right decisions, Fable offers a level of freedom that wasn't seen much at the time. It's a little dated today, but I am hoping the anniversary edition breathes some new life into the game. I spent hours in this game upon release, and I still return to Albion in my free time today, and you should too.
Lord of the Rings Online (PC)
I'll start off by saying I'm not even close to max-level in this game yet, but I have really enjoyed every moment I've spent in LOTRO. Living out my character's adventures in Tolkien's world is so much more rewarding than any other MMO I've overplayed, simply because of where it's based. I can run through the Shire, I can retrace the Fellowship's route, and coming soon, I'll even be able to visit Helm's Deep. Good Lord that is some epic stuff. Better than all of that, it's free-to-play, so you can try it out for yourself and never spend a dime!
Infamous (PlayStation 3)
Perhaps my favorite game on PS3 is Infamous, thanks to the open-world, parkouring, super powers, and fun story. Being able to make decisions that ultimately shape your story is a great touch, and makes for a game that is replayable even after you've played through it exhaustively once. I continue to return to this game to find the hidden items, do lightning strike landings when jumping from tall buildings, and to slide across power lines between buildings. It's crazy, it's unbelievable, and it's pure fun.
Dragon Fantasy, Book 1 (PS Vita)
Much like MLB 13: The Show, I am picking the Vita version of this Final Fantasy-style game for its portability. With a great story, humorous and memorable characters, and nostalgic gameplay, Dragon Fantasy is a great game to play on the go. The game even features cross-save, meaning even if you do want to switch over to the PS3 version at some point, simply save your game to the cloud and load it up from your PS3. I got my start on RPGs playing Final Fantasy on the original; Gameboy, and this game on the Vita brings me back to those simple days instantly.
Total War: Rome II (PC)
This game just came out, but I can tell already it will be sucking my life away. The long-awaited sequel has ramped up the graphics and sheer size of the game, giving players an endless selection of ways to enjoy battling through the Roman Empire. It's a daunting game at first, and it has a pretty steep learning curve, but it is rewarding, and players who stick it out will be hooked on a game that shows what makes real-time strategy games on the PC one of the best genres in the industry.
What are the "must play" games for your console of choice? What games are out there for systems you don't own that you're itching to get your hands on? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.