Video Game Ratings

mario

Here are my video game ratings on a scale of 1-10. I’m open to (good) suggestions!

Platform is PC unless otherwise stated. Year is when the game was released.

Key:

  • 10+ (favorites) – bold orange
  • 10 – bold purple
  • 9 – bold blue
  • 8 – bold green
  • 7 – bold
  • 1 to 6 – normal

2017

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda – 9
  • Nier: Automata – 5

2016

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – 7
  • Doom – 3
  • Grim Dawn – 2
  • Layers of Fear – 6
  • Offworld Trading Company – 2
  • Quantum Break – 8
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – 7
  • Stellaris – 3
  • The Division – 6
  • The Turing Test – 7
  • XCOM 2 – 8

2015

  • Cities: Skylines – 7
  • Fallout 4 – 9
  • Grand Theft Auto V – 4
  • Heroes of the Storm – 7
  • Kerbal Space Program – 2
  • Life Is Strange – 4
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – 5

2014

  • Civilization: Beyond Earth – 8
  • Deadcore – 4
  • Divinity: Original Sin – 1
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – 7
  • Endless Legend – 8
  • Far Cry 4 – 7
  • Hearthstone – 9
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – 5
  • The Talos Principle – 5

2013

  • Bioshock Infinite – 10
  • Dota 2 – 7
  • Europa Universalis IV – 1
  • Gone Home – 6
  • Metro: Last Light – 6
  • Outlast – 6
  • Path of Exile – 10
  • Remember Me – 4
  • Saints Row IV – 9
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist – 7
  • The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – 4
  • The Swapper – 2
  • Tomb Raider – 9

2012

  • Borderlands 2 – 4
  • Diablo III – 10
  • Dishonored – 6
  • Dragon Nest – 6
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – 5
  • Mass Effect 3 – 9
  • Spec Ops: The Line – 7
  • Torchlight II – 4
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown – 6

2011

  • Batman: Arkham City – 3
  • Crysis 2 – 6
  • Dead Space 2 – 7
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – 8
  • Might and Magic: Heroes VI – 6
  • Portal 2 – 7
  • Saints Row: The Third – 8
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 3

2010

  • Assassin’s Creed 2 – 2
  • Bayonetta – 4
  • Bioshock 2 – 4
  • Civilization V – 9
  • Halo: Reach (Xbox 360) – 7
  • Mass Effect 2 – 9
  • Metro 2033 – 6
  • Mirror’s Edge – 2
  • Starcraft 2 – 10
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm* – 10

2009

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum – 5
  • Dragon Age: Origins – 5

2008

  • Dead Space – 6
  • Far Cry 2 – 3
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) – 8

2007

  • Bioshock – 8
  • Crysis – 4
  • Mass Effect – 10
  • Portal – 9

2006

  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – 5

2005

  • Age of Empires III – 4

2004

  • Half-Life 2 – 2

2003

  • Enter the Matrix (PS2) – 4
  • Rise of Nations – 8

2002

  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (PS2) – 7
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos – 10

2001

  • Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox) – 5
  • RuneScape – 5
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee (GameCube) – 8

2000

  • Diablo II – 6

1999

  • Age of Empires II – 4

1998

  • Starcraft – 10

*The convention above is to list by release date of the original game, regardless of when I played relative to expansion packs or DLC or beta testing. However, as the expansion World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was released 6 years after the original game, I’ve listed it as separate.

These ratings are my subjective opinion and reflect how much I enjoyed playing each game. For instance, Half-Life 2 (2004) is considered one of the best PC games of all time, but playing it for the first time in 2017, I got bored of it very quickly. On the other hand, I found Quantum Break (2016), which has mixed reviews, to be really fun.

As I’ve mentioned before, rating video games seems a lot harder than rating something more standard like movies. There is a lot more variance in time played, games have different goals, and pricing is not so simple. There are some games that I included which seem like good games for some people or even myself at different points in my life, but at the time of playing it was clearly not for me. For the sake of statistics (not excluding negative results), I have included games even where the time played is very small, in the hope that someone with similar tastes in video games may benefit from such a list.

I generally like newer games better than old, but since I play out of order, it may be the case that for two games released in the same year, I played one of them on release and the other 5 years later, and had disparate ratings between the two even if they were similar in quality, depending on which I enjoyed more at the time.

Below are additional comments for each game. For a lot of the newer games I can use Steam or some other tracking to see exactly the hours played; for older games I can only estimate.

Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: 101 hours

This is an excellent game. However, I can see why it got so many negative reviews. I think the main thing is the disconnect between what many people expected and what the game was intended to be. People seemed to want Mass Effect 2 revamped, but Bioware took this in a different direction. Namely, even before release, it was very clearly stated to have open-world elements, and that the plot would involve humans and other Milky Way species exploring parts of a star cluster in the Andromeda galaxy to find a new home. The game’s title even contains another galaxy. Based on that, I went in expecting a focus on exploration and environments, and on these fronts it definitely delivered.

Exploration/Environments – This is where Andromeda shines. The overall graphical look is bright but realistic. Some (though not all) of the planets are breathtaking, and the main player ship and space station look gorgeous. Without spoiling the plot, there are enough varied environments to cover a huge range.

Pacing – The game starts off very slow. It has a couple of large tutorial missions, and it took me about 10 hours to get to the point where I had a full base and could start exploring at will. Once you get to this stage, the game really picks up. Though, because the game is basically open-world, it is still slower than any of the first three Mass Effect games. The slow pacing may be offputting to people, but I thought it was definitely worth it.

Facial animations – For some reason, this game has received an incredible amount of criticism over facial animations, and while I would agree it is not 100% realistic, I would also like to point out that it is a video game. If I wanted 100% accurate facial animations, I could go talk to someone in real life. Also, I noticed that only the human animations seemed off, as if Bioware was really trying to enhance here but made some mistakes. On the other hand, the Turian/Salarian/Asari/Krogan/other-alien animations seemed fine.

Characters/Dialogue – Similar to above, I don’t expect games to have super convincingly realistic characters or dialogue. Regarding the dialogue, there were certainly good moments and cringey moments, but it never took away from the game immersion. Plus, sometimes the game is self-referential in addressing how awkward the dialogue is. My personal order from best to worst of the original trilogy is 1 (known for story/exploration), then 3 (known for combat), then 2 (known for characters).

Combat – I would agree with the critics here that the combat is extremely good.

Plot – The overall premise is really exciting – exploring a star cluster in the Andromeda galaxy and finding a planet for habitation. Of course, things don’t go as planned. The main story was pretty straightforward but was fleshed out enough to be satisfying.

Nier: Automata (2017)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: 5 hours

One of my greatest pet peeves is backtracking, and it is exceedingly horrible in this game. Yes, I got to the point in the game where you unlock fast travel, but still, those early hours were incredibly painful. The quests are boring, and the environments seem mostly bland with vast stretches of nothingness.

This could have been a 2/10, but the combat definitely comes to the rescue. The first 30 minutes, which is basically a well-scripted tutorial level that comes before any of the problems mentioned above, was mind-blowingly awesome.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (2016)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 23 hours

This follows up Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011), and it definitely lives up to its predecessor. The best thing about the new one is that you have tons of ways to complete missions, giving it a high amount of player choice and replayability. It’s also the first stealth game I’ve played where it actually felt fun to go completely non-lethal; I didn’t feel the same way in Human Revolution, Dishonored (2012), or Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013). (Not that those were bad games—just that I preferred the lethal approach in them.)

The story is very interesting but it gets heavy-handed for a video game; I would normally praise this but I feel like this game basically forced many story elements on you in sometimes annoying ways, e.g. being ID’d by police for the tenth time. Basically, the world is divided into mechanically-augmented people (“augs”) and non-augmented people (“naturals”), and there is lots of blatant discrimination and segregation against augs, including the player character. It’s clear what this parallels in real life. It had potential to be best social commentary in video games, but the story is told in a way that comes off as painfully obvious/sometimes annoying, rather than a more subtle “show, don’t tell “approach.

Doom (2016)

Rating: 3/10

Time played: 9 hours

Maybe it’s because I never played the original Doom (1993), but I really couldn’t find anything satisfying in this game. The graphics were nice and detailed, but that was it, and it really didn’t capture the scary feel for me like Dead Space and Dead Space 2. I felt like I was just mindlessly jumping around/dodging/shooting from one level to the next. And maybe I quit the game too soon, but the player character never really felt powerful; every gun that felt good to use ran out of ammo really fast.

Grim Dawn (2016)

Rating: 2/10

Time played: 17 hours

This game is pretty fun for the first few hours, but it then devolved into your everyday ARPG. The plot was uninteresting, graphics were meh, and gameplay felt really slow and repetitive. It doesn’t compare at all to Diablo III or Path of Exile, and you’re better off playing either of those if you crave an ARPG.

Layers of Fear (2016)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 3 hours

This game is Escher painting meets jump-scare horror. I’m generally not a fan of walking simulators, but this was well done. The best parts are when the spatial orientation is messed up, such as when you walk into a rectangular room, turn left, go through a door, and end up in the same room.

Offworld Trading Company (2016)

Rating: 2/10

Time played: 5 hours

As a professional trader, I was really excited about the premise of this game and really wanted to like it. You get to trade resources, take out loans, and buy out other companies! Better in theory I guess. After I finished one match, I had basically no interest to play another.

Quantum Break (2016)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: 8 hours

This is one of gaming’s underrated gems. It has one of the most compelling plots of any game, and it is both perfectly rational and mind-blowing. It’s also a weird game in that it is part game and part live-action TV show. The combat is not spectacular but it’s good enough to not detract from the story.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 16 hours

Something about the combat and environment didn’t feel as good as in its predecessor reboot Tomb Raider (2013), but it’s still a solid game. It just never made me say “wow” like the previous game did. It does have insanely good graphics.

Stellaris (2016)

Rating: 3/10

Time played: 12 hours

Had potential to be good, but resource management, combat, and diplomacy were all lacking. At one point in a game against an easy AI, I just wanted to end it so I amassed a fleet and went to war with the AI. However, I didn’t choose the objectives carefully (demanded 3 of their 5 planets), and after a while the AI just surrendered the planets I demanded, thus forcing peace without my ever agreeing to it. Then began one of my most frustrating hours in video gaming. It turns out having 3 extra planets is a nightmare because of resource maintenance and civil unrest, and it was pretty clear that this was just draining my resources, and that I would be better off just giving away these planets. However, the game doesn’t let you do that. I had to wait the requisite amount of time before you could declare war again, and by that time my resources had basically gone to zero and I had been forced to disband most of my fleet.

The Division (2016)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 20 hours

Has really beautiful graphics and is an open-world Manhattan! It doesn’t have enough of the city to visit where I currently live, but I did manage to find my former Murray Hill apartment in-game! There are a lot of mixed opinions about this game, but my experience was positive. The graphics are nice, and there is a real sense of progress as you spend more time. The main downside is that the combat feels very repetitive. It’s basically a cover-shooter MMO.

The Turing Test (2016)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 6 hours

Decent puzzle game in the style of Portal/The Talos Principle with interesting enough mechanics and pretty nice story and graphics. The Europa landing scene that happens early on was epic, one of the best landing on the ground scenes in video gaming and film. I enjoyed this game much more than The Talos Principle. For the most part, there weren’t any super gimmick puzzles, and the philosophy was pretty elementary but well organized, and it didn’t feel like too much.

XCOM 2 (2016)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: 43 hours

I liked this one better than the 2012 game XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It has really solid graphics and customization, and the core turn-based squad combat feels great. The DLC was a blast. It is brutal in terms of difficulty: I played on the easiest setting and still felt like I needed to save/reload constantly.

Cities: Skylines (2015)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 10 hours

Had fun building a city. It was exactly the experience I expected.

Fallout 4 (2015)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: 128 hours

I had recently gotten bored of open-world games. GTA5 and Witcher 3 felt super overrated and not that entertaining, while Far Cry 4 was actually good but became boring towards the end. However, Fallout 4 drew me back in. The RPG, combat, story, open-world, and crafting elements are all superb.

My last real-life vacation was in Boston, but exploring a fictional future post-apocalyptic Boston was so much better than exploring real Boston. It’s incredibly detailed as well: you can find all kinds of historical landmarks, and even the Freedom Trail exists in-game. I found the DLC to be pretty good, though I think I’m one of the odd few who prefers Nuka World over Far Harbor.

I’m giving it a 9 instead of 10 because I really didn’t like using the settlements: the system itself seemed fine, but I didn’t like having it be required rather than optional. Also, the load screens could get annoying. For example, why are there three load screens between the Commonwealth and the main deck of the Prydwen?

Grand Theft Auto V (2015)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 7 hours

It had some good plot moments, the character switching is pretty cool, graphics are decent, and there is a ton of content. But the thing I can’t stand about this game is the realism and slow pace (at least in the beginning). Yes, I’m complaining about GTA5 not because it is violent, but because it is boring. For a game that literally has “theft” in its title, there’s not too going on.

In contrast, if I go 7 hours into Saints Row IV, much more plot and action will have occurred. It feels like in my 7 hours of play in GTA5, nothing really happened, and to make something happen, I will need to elaborately plan the details of a heist and spend effort doing that. I quit the game after being asked to prepare for the first heist.

Heroes of the Storm (2015)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: est. 15 hours

A solid game, pretty fun since I’ve played Blizzard games extensively and it’s cool to see all the crossovers from different franchises. I could see myself playing this if I get bored.

Kerbal Space Program (2015)

Rating: 2/10

Time played: 44 minutes

This sandbox spaceship-building game is probably awesome for some people but I’m clearly just not the target audience. As much I love space and sci-fi, this was among the most boring 44 minutes I have ever spent in a game.

Life is Strange (2015)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 16 hours

Definitely had a great plot with some memorable and gut-wrenching moments, but the whole experience (all 5 episodes) felt excruciatingly slow and could have been over in half the time. I also encountered a very frustrating glitch near the beginning which meant I had to restart the first un-skippable minutes a couple of times. It had potential to be an 8 or 9.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: 58 hours

This has got to be the most overrated game of the last few years  (along with maybe Skyrim). It’s not a bad game—in fact, it is pretty good. But I really don’t understand how it has universal acclaim from both critics and the wider playerbase. It is not even close to “the best RPG of all time” as some claim.

The combat was boring and extremely repetitive, and nothing else could really make up for this. Player control and movement never felt good, though briefly controlling Ciri at times was a surprisingly good exception. Graphics were awesome, but the controls made exploration more annoying than exciting. And the backtracking through certain paths in the main Novigrad quest chain was horrible. Basically, the first 5 hours are very good (before repetition sets in) and “On Thin Ice” is one of the best video game set pieces ever, but everything else felt lacking.

Civilization: Beyond Earth (2014)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: 39 hours

Definitely an underrated game. It is often criticized as being Civ 5 in space, but how is that a bad thing? You build a settlement on an alien planet. The soundtrack is ridiculously good and somehow makes me think of actual grand space exploration, of solemn optimism and hope after a great tragedy (like 2016). The main thing lacking is definitely the uniqueness of the sponsors/beginning choices. It never felt like you were really choosing between different options.

Deadcore (2014)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 2 hours

A pretty interesting/fun platformer for an hour or two. The game gets intense quickly and becomes far too hardcore. Beating certain puzzles felt very rewarding, but it devolves into having to perfect the art of insane controls/timings, which is not for me.

Divinity: Original Sin (2014)

Rating: 1/10

Time played: 10 hours

A game where I clearly lack the required patience level. It was good for the first 30 minutes, including a tutorial highlighting the combat system. But it went massively downhill once I entered the first city. I got stuck quickly on the main quest, and all the gates leading out of the city were shut and the guards told me I didn’t have enough experience to venture outside. After some frustration in figuring out what I was supposed to do, I did one of the things I dread most in gaming: look up online how to get past the first level.

As an aside, I strongly believe a well-designed game should not make you do this. For example, Portal is an extremely well-designed game in terms of difficulty curve and I never felt like I needed to look up solutions online even for hard puzzles. In Divinity: Original Sin, not only could I not figure out how to do anything, but I could not even figure out what it was I was supposed to do. I should not be brickwalled in the very first town.

Other things: graphics were meh, controls felt bad at times and movement especially in a city felt really slow. The dialogue is pretty boring and I ended up just skipping them as quickly as possible. Once I finally ventured outside the gates, I found combat to be much less interesting than I had thought at first (although this was after ~4 hours of frustration and I felt pretty negatively at this point). I really wanted to like this game, probably because of sunk time fallacy, but it was to no avail.

Overall, I can see how the game can be really fun for some people, but it was probably the worst gaming experience I’ve ever had.

Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 57 hours

This is a wonderful game, with some amazing landscapes and scenery. The combat is pretty good but again repetitive. However, it is definitely a step up from Dragon Age: Origins (2009). The quest system felt kind of weak, in that it was vastly overwhelming and I ended up not caring much for most of them. Exploring was awesome though.

Endless Legend (2014)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: 25 hours

Solid 4x game. The game and ui are very pleasing to look at and it feels very polished. The factions all feel cool and unique. Some of the tech choices seemed useless but I haven’t spent so much time on it. Also, the tactical fight view felt like a waste of time, as there aren’t that many decisions to make, nor are there difficult decisions. I eventually just had combat always auto-run.

Far Cry 4 (2014)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 39 hours

Overall a pretty fun open-world game, though nothing was spectacular. The main quest is good, side content is good, combat/stealth is okay, and exploration is great.

Hearthstone (2014)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: est. 450 hours

A card game where you can basically spend countless hours. It’s made by Blizzard so it’s super well polished. The actual mechanics are pretty simple but combining cards in different combinations is really cool, and the classes all feel unique even if they are just WoW classes.

The only reason I am not giving it a 10/10 is that for a game that is always online and probably 90% multiplayer, it has roughly no interface for talking to other players other than a bizarre 6-emote system. I understand why Blizzard left out chat, but this really bugs me. Overall, the game is excellent.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)

Rating: 5/1o

Time played: 23 hours

This game is often praised for its combat, and I definitely agree, at least for the first few hours. At the beginning, the story, exploration, and combat are all superb (other than ranged combat).  However, after a while it becomes very repetitive—every fight and side quest feels the same. Still, there is enough cool stuff left to plow through the rest of the game.

The Talos Principle (2014)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: 12 hours

A puzzle game with a philosophical twist, but it doesn’t compare to Portal or Portal 2 at all. Some of the actual puzzles were superb, but the story really got in the way. I grew increasingly annoyed every time Elohim talked, which was like every five minutes. A good number of the puzzles felt like filler, making the game length pretty bloated. For context, I spent more time on this game than Portal and Portal 2 combined, and it was maybe half as fun as either.

The puzzle distribution was as follows: 20% were tutorial-ish (but still pretty fun as there are interesting mechanics), 30% were really satisfying to solve, 40% were grindy/a bit repetitive, and 10% felt like cheap gimmicks where you had to know or stumble upon some trick. But overall, it’s solid, and there are many puzzles.

Bioshock Infinite (2013)

Rating: 10/10

Time played: 39 hours

Easily one of the best video games I have ever played. The plot is unmatched. It continues to explore social and philosophical themes like in the original Bioshock (2007), and it does so in even greater depth. Character development is among the best in any video game. The city of Columbia looks amazing and inspires just as much awe as Rapture. And you get to see some of the apparent utopia in action before conflict breaks out, as opposed to how in the original Bioshock, you start well after society has already crumbled.

Level design and atmosphere are superb. It had one of the most memorable enemy types ever, which was simultaneously comical, scary, and very sensible in terms of how it fits into the plot: Motorized Patriots. Everything fit together very well, making Columbia a living, real place.

Dota 2 (2013)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: est. 50 hours

I’ve played many more hours of Dota 1 than 2, so I’m not really sure if I’m rating Dota 2‘s improvements over Dota 1, or just Dota 1 itself. Anyway Dota 1/Dota 2 is a really good game, though I cannot see myself having fun playing this as I did 10 years ago.

Europa Universalis IV (2013)

Rating: 1/10

Time played: 51 minutes

Similarly to Kerbal Space Program and Divinity: Original Sin, this game isn’t actually bad but it was a combination of realizing “obviously not for me” and “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do and the tutorial clarified almost nothing.”

Gone Home (2013)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 54 minutes

Decent mystery/walking simulator, has a good amount of content while not wasting any time.

Metro: Last Light (2013)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 8 hours

A dark, gritty post-apocalyptic shooter. Felt very similar to the original Metro 2033 (2010), but had enough improvements and the story felt fresh enough.

Outlast (2013)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 1 hour

A survival horror that is the only game I have ever quit due to its being too scary. So I’m giving it a solid rating despite that I stopped playing.

Path of Exile (2013)

Rating: 10/10

Time played: est. 300 hours

This might stay the best ARPG of the decade. It has a combat system that is easy to get the basics of, but it is incredibly complex, allowing for tons of depth. It has a mind-boggling amount of customization in both active and passive skills. And the combat can actually be fast. There are not many games that feel anywhere near as good when you are super geared, where you can use one skill to clear an entire screen full of enemies, use a very fast movement skill to get to the next screen in under a second, clear that screen, and so forth. I think Diablo III is a really good game, but Path of Exile is just better.

Remember Me (2013)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 4 hours

Storytelling and scenery were impressive, but combat was super frustrating. You often fought multiple enemies at once, and there was basically no AOE. Combat was based on combos, but you had to break combos to dodge attacks from many enemies. And there were invisible enemies that you couldn’t attack without doing certain things.

Saints Row IV (2013)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: 38 hours

This is basically the Family Guy/Monty Python of video games. It’s very fun, mainly from the outrageous plot, relentless parody of other video games (the GTA and Mass Effect series immediately come to mind), numerous jokes/references to pop culture, and some unexpected mini-games (like Family Guy cutaway gags). You get to play an old-style 2D side-scroller game within the game during a key plot moment, and at other times you can chase a fast-moving, flying golden orb in what is essentially street Quidditch. And you can shoot people with a dubstep gun that causes them to move in beat. Oh and you get superpowers.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 19 hours

Solid stealth game. One of the few games that actually got me to replay some levels.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (2013)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 3 hours

A squad tactical shooter that had really weird controls and it took a long time for combat to feel reasonable. The intro mission was actually pretty fun because you had squadmates with powerful abilities and the visuals of the base. However, the game lost its luster after that. I also encountered various technical issues with this game that were quite frustrating.

The Swapper (2013)

Rating: 2/10

Time played: 1 hour

Learned that it was not for me. The first few chambers were pretty cool, but the entire point of the game (clone/swapping mechanic) quickly became a chore.

Tomb Raider (2013)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: 15 hours

Excellent storytelling and environment. The protagonist’s character development is one of the best in recent gaming. Graphics and combat were also really good.

I felt like I can’t give it a 10/10 because of one particular annoyance, which was that the early levels were littered with things/areas that couldn’t be explored until you get mechanics from later, and this fact was very unapparent. I spent what felt like a couple of hours early on trying to get past a certain area, before I realized much later that you need to get rope arrows for it.

Borderlands 2 (2012)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 11 hours

Was genuinely fun for the first couple hours, but then it felt like a leveling grind. There were some humorous aspects of the story, but it felt very over-the-top and disjointed. I never cared for any of the characters. The RPG elements were mediocre, while shooting was good but had its annoyances. I wasn’t a fan of the graphics style, and I could not stand the backtracking.

Diablo III (2012)

Rating: 10/10

Time played: est. 600 hours

I still think this was an amazing game on release, and that the early criticism and subsequent nerfs to Infero, the hardest difficulty level, were unjustified. The game definitely did have some issues. The variety of skills was excellent, and the ability to respec was awesome for trying out new things.

Most of the controversy I think comes from socio-economics/behavioral-economics, in that the original Auction House allowed players to bypass all of the end-game and immediately get the best items, thus the chance of ever finding a better item is exceedingly small. Once I realized this, I played without using the Auction House, and the game was actually incredibly fun. (Yep, that linked post was me, and I still wonder if it contributed at all to the Auction House’s demise.)

Dishonored (2012)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 26 hours

Overall a good game. I encountered weird and devastating technical issues that definitely bring down the rating. In addition, the game provides you with the option to go combat over stealth, but the combat aspect was definitely lacking. I remember reloading from saves over and over and over again.

Dragon Nest (2012)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: est. 30 hours

Still has among the best combat I’ve seen in an MMO. However, the game was extremely grindy and repetitive.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (2012)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: 47 hours

A decent RPG, gets repetitive but is enjoyable most of the time.

Mass Effect 3 (2012)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: 51 hours

An excellent game. It felt like Mass Effect 2 with better combat/RPG elements. I don’t understand why people hated the ending; I thought it was fine. Instead, the reason I can’t give it a 10/10 is that it didn’t feel like it improved upon Mass Effect 2 very much.

Spec Ops: The Line (2012)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 6 hours

I can’t tell whether this game is overrated or underrated. Combat-wise, it is a simple pretty boring shooter, but it has a pretty deep plot where you really reflect on the actions you have done. Without giving away too much, I thought the white phosphorous scene was among the most memorable and disturbing in video gaming.

Torchlight II (2012)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 4 hours

It would be a pretty good ARPG in a world without Diablo 3 and Path of Exile, but it just doesn’t compare to them. I had some fun but the combat pace feels really slow (in comparison to D3 and POE), the story is basically as filler as a video game story can be, and the skill system has nowhere near as much depth.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 18 hours

A really solid game. The missions are really fun, but from the strategic perspective it always felt like you were in a rush, though it gets better once you start building satellites.

Batman: Arkham City (2011)

Rating: 3/10

Time played: 1 hour

I didn’t play much of it, but it felt identical to Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009), and I couldn’t stand playing a game like that again.

Crysis 2 (2011)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 6 hours

I liked this game a lot more than the original Crysis (2007), as it had much better gameplay, graphics, and story. As a New Yorker, I found the exploration in New York City is pretty amazing. However, I still could not stand the general repetitiveness of fighting the same enemies ad infinitum.

Dead Space 2 (2011)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 10 hours

A very scary and enjoyable game. The environment/atmosphere is amazing. Graphics were fine, and shooting was done well.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: 28 hours

Gameplay was not very fun at the start, but it becomes phenomenal once you start building up augments. Excellent story and settings. Good stealth and action. It really gives you many ways to complete a mission.

Might and Magic: Heroes VI (2011)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 80 hours

A pretty interesting premise where you coordinate strategy on a grand map and also run tactics on smaller map. The tactical battles are actually really fun, if a bit repetitive. The campaign was excruciatingly difficult and I gave up somewhere along the Sanctuary campaign (I had beaten the Haven, Necropolis, and Inferno campaigns and some of the missions I had beaten only by exploiting certain AI behaviors). The games are very snowball-y, where the more units you preserve early on, the fewer units you will lose later on. And the computer scales up in power every so often, so if you snowball too slowly, you reach a point where it’s impossible to win.

Portal 2 (2011)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 8 hours

Great game but for me it lacked the intrigue/mystery of the original Portal (2007). And I thought it dragged on for way too long.

Saints Row: The Third (2011)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: 32 hours

An awesome game. I played this after Saints Row IV, and while much of the absurdity exists in The Third, it was much more down-to-earth and I liked it less. However, one of the final missions was ridiculously good (the one where “Holding Out for a Hero” starts playing).

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)

Rating: 3/10

Time played: 77 hours

While the game was a pretty solid open-world RPG, I found it to be vastly overrated. I also had one of my worst experiences in video gaming ever. Pretty early on, I unwitting contracted Sanguinare Vampiris and became a vampire, which was super annoying. Trying to live as such a creature, I repeatedly failed to feed on the blood of NPCs, as they would just start attacking me. Finally, I went online to lookup how to get rid of it, and it took a couple hours of maddeningly following online instructions (and once getting glitched and having to start over again) to finally cure myself.

Apart from that, the game is probably okay (6 or 7/10), but the vampire experience was very memorably horrible. I also got glitched on multiple other quests that I couldn’t finish. And the story is not very good. The only thing it has going for it is that it does open-world gaming correctly. (Even so, having played World of Warcraft for 3400+ hours, I did not find a generic buggy fantasy open-world game to be super compelling.)

Assassin’s Creed 2 (2010)

Rating: 2/10

Time played: 1 hour

In the not-for-me category. I found the combat pretty uninteresting, the setting uninteresting, and even the parkour/platforming/stealth pretty bland. Also, it had some really weird controls for PC.

Bayonetta (2010)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 4 hours

I played the PC port that came out in 2017, but because of the massive time gap, I’m including it under the original release year.

The graphics and style are really nice, and it also has a good sense of outlandishness in terms of plot and characters. The environments are very good. The combat was cool at the beginning but it soon became repetitive, and some of the “trials” in-game were very annoying. I could not get myself to finish the game.

Bioshock 2 (2010)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 1 hour

Could be good, but I literally could not play it much due to a game-crash bug that would happen as soon as I stepped into a certain area needed for the main story. During the moments when I did play, it seemed very much like the original Bioshock.

Civilization V (2010)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: 110 hours

An awesome game. It is one of the few non-Blizzard games I have spent over 100 hours in.

 

Halo: Reach (Xbox 360) (2010)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: 8 hours

One of the few console games on this list. Reach was a solid game, though I’m not really that opinionated about it.

Mass Effect 2 (2010)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: 46 hours

I replayed the game recently (2017) in anticipation of Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017), and I feel like there’s no way this is the best title in the Mass Effect series so far. In fact, it might be my least favorite (though still miles better than most video games). I forgot how boring the planet resource mining was, or how annoying the hacking/bypass puzzles are. Still, its RPG/combat/sci-fi/plot/character-development/atmosphere/graphics are all insanely good.

Metro 2033 (2010)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 8 hours

I got glitched at the end of a level and didn’t want to replay the whole level. Otherwise, it is a pretty solid post-apocalyptic shooter.

Mirror’s Edge (2010)

Rating: 3/10

Time played: 33 minutes

A parkour/platformer. It was super frustrating to play, I died repeatedly in the first level. The controls did not feel very fluid for a game all about running. Then I got to a point indoors where the frame rate dropped dramatically. The graphics and environment was really cool, and the plot was not bad so far.

Starcraft 2 (2010)

Rating: 10/10

Time played: est. 200 hours

It was the only relevant RTS game for a long time. Multiplayer is great, and the campaigns are spectacular. I can open up the game in 2017 and it doesn’t feel outdated at all. Speaking of not outdated…

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (2010)

Rating: 10/10

Time played: 3472 hours

Of all the games I’ve ever played, this one has the most time spent by a long shot. Also, while the original game World of Warcraft was released in 2004, I started playing in late 2010, which was technically during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, but 95% of my playtime and 100% of my endgame play was during Catalcysm. Thus, I’m counting the game as Cataclysm for the purpose of the review, but it’s really a review of WoW in general.

The game is unmatched in terms of quality. It’s a 12-year old game and it still does certain things much better than any game I’ve seen. Having a spell book and being able to drag skills to a menu of hotkeys is amazing—I’m surprised how many newer games have obviously worse control systems than this. The inventory system is 10/10—you just press B and you see all of your items at once and can use or examine any of them while still running or fighting, without having to scroll through menus or lists (*cough* Skyrim, Witcher 3Fallout 4). I guess that’s the advantage of being designed specifically for PC. The UI is just so much better than games released even a decade later.

And it did open-world 7 years before everyone went “omg open-world is awesome” with Skyrim. You could walk from one end of Kalimdor to the other without a loading screen. And Kalimdor/Lordaeron/Outland/Northrend are each much bigger than Skyrim. The classes all feel unique and have tons of backstory behind them (partly because it was based on a lore-rich franchise). And while the graphics are a bit dated, they do enough to maintain a sense of awe and wonder.

The way I describe WoW to people who haven’t played is this: WoW is actually two games in one. The first is a leveling game, in which you get to max level and which feels like every other RPG except it is much more polished and the story is better. That is about 10% of the game. The other 90% is after you hit max level. Then the real game starts, with dungeons into raids.

Most of my memorable experience was during Tier 11, or the first set of raid bosses in Cataclysm. The fights were not trivial and had pretty complex mechanics, which I was unused to in an RPG game at the time. Up to that point, most “boss fights” I was accustomed to were just big things with tons of HP and damage, and to beat the boss, you just get really strong weapons and armor and you win. However, WoW bosses were largely not like this. Sure, they had big HP bars, but they also had plenty of mechanics. There were bosses where even if your group’s gear sucked, you could still win if your coordination was good enough. And for most bosses, even if you had insanely good gear, your whole group would die if you didn’t respond to boss mechanics properly. There were 10-person boss fights where if 9 people played perfectly and the last person made one mistake during a critical time, it was game over for the whole group. And that was the fun part—getting 10-25 strangers on the Internet to communicate and coordinate effectively with one another.

The only problem is that the game is too good, to the point where it is addicting. I spent literally a third of second-semester-freshman/first-semester-sophomore years of college on this game.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: 7 hours

Was pretty fun at first but the combat became quite repetitive. Fortunately it was a pretty short game. It had some great levels with Scarecrow.

Dragon Age: Origins (2009)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: 31 hours

While the combat was really cool for the first few hours, the game got super repetitive. The RPG elements are ok but plenty of the dialogue is very boring and should be skipped. I could not hold enough interest to finish the game.

Dead Space (2008)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: 5 hours

A really scary game. I actually liked Dead Space 2 better than than this one.

Far Cry 2 (2008)

Rating: 3/10

Time played: 1 hour

Fits the not-for-me category. I picked this up in 2015 along with Far Cry 4. The graphics/controls felt pretty aged and the malaria was already annoying.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) (2008)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: est. 20 hours

It was good like Melee. I still don’t see why people liked Melee so much over this.

Bioshock (2007)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: 18 hours

Had excellent philosophy and exploration of Objectivist themes and also a stunning environment of Rapture. However, some of the levels felt pointless, there was a medium though not a frustrating amount of backtracking, and there was the escort mission.

Crysis (2007)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 12 hours

This game didn’t really feel complete. It had numerous graphics issues even setting it on low (though the same computer could run Crysis 2 with no problem), there were large quantities of basically the same enemies, and the plot was super lacking until entering the alien structure. This game basically felt like a sandbox though I wasn’t expecting it to be one.

Mass Effect (2007)

Rating: 10/10

Time played: 19 hours

Basically a perfect game. Great story, sci-fi, combat, RPG elements, and environments. Exploration using the Mako was pretty cool. Some of the planets—Noveria, Virmire, and Ilos—are still memorable. Saren/Sovereign were impressive antagonists.

Portal (2007)

Rating: 9/10

Time played: 3 hours

Despite being a short and simple game, Portal was extremely enjoyable. It had a surprisingly good story given that there were only two characters, one who never spoke and the other who was an AI. The pacing/learning curve was perfect.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: 9 hours

Pretty solid, though it had extremely dated graphics/interactions by the time I played it (in 2014). Still, it was fun enough.

Age of Empires III (2005)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: 18 hours

I never really got why Age of Empires II was so popular (or why it’s better than III). I thought III was a reasonable game.

Half-Life 2 (2004)

Rating: 2/10

Time played: 1 hour

This game is either vastly overrated or it has not aged well. Either way, I had no fun playing this game in 2017. The plot, graphics, and physics system don’t compare at all to later games. One of the physics puzzles, the one where you stack a bunch of cinder blocks on one side of a balance beam, seemed to be bugged, as even after figuring out the stacking immediately, it took a good 10 minutes before I glitched my way across. Even with all the blocks on one side, I could not jump across normally. I also got stuck more than once and had to reload the level.

Enter the Matrix (PS2) (2003)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: est. 20 hours

Had some pretty good cutscenes, even if the best were just taken from the movie, and had pretty cool fights/scenes. Still, I got super glitched even on a PS2 and literally could not proceed with one of the characters due to an infinite load screen.

Rise of Nations (2003)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: est. 60 hours

I always thought this game was better than Age of Empires II, mainly because the UI was so much more modern. The “Conquer the World” campaigns are really fun, and 1v1 skirmishes are great. The different nations were sufficiently different from one another to feel unique.

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (PS2) (2002)

Rating: 7/10

Time played: est. 30 hours

I remember this as a great platformer/exploration/Australia game for the PS2. It is also maybe the only game with collectibles that I 100%’d, collecting every single thunder egg.

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002)

Rating: 10/10

Time played: est. 500 hours

Had a really good campaign with fleshed-out characters whose moralities are not black and white. Really good multiplayer, and the best map editor I’ve ever seen (better than that of Starcraft II in terms of ease of use). Maybe half the time I’ve spent on this game was in the map editor, learning how to code and do things (and developing Smota and helping out with Battleships Pro). The map editor was good enough for maps like Dota to be created, spawning the entire MOBA genre.

Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox) (2001)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: est. 5 hours

I didn’t play much of this game, though I remember not being an FPS player at the time and therefore not being too impressed.

RuneScape (2001)

Rating: 5/10

Time played: est. 50 hours

This was the first RPG game I ever played, and it was pretty cool though super grindy. I also learned market making. Basically, stand at a bank and offer to buy coal for 100 gold a piece, and then immediately offer to sell at 200 gold a piece. People traded a lot, and I collected the spread a lot.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (Gamecube) (2001)

Rating: 8/10

Time played: est. 15 hours

This was basically the ultimate party game for years. Still, I never got why people obsessed that this was better than Brawl.

Diablo II (2000)

Rating: 6/10

Time played: est. 50 hours

Maybe I didn’t go far enough in this game, but I basically never found a really impressive item or got to the part where my character felt strong. Most of my playtime is also without the expansion Lord of Destruction. The game was certainly fun, but I think it is overrated.

Age of Empires II (1999)

Rating: 4/10

Time played: est. 10 hours

Having played Starcraft at the time, I could not understand why people liked Age of Empires II so much. The controls seemed obviously worse than in Starcraft, though I still remember it being ok.

Starcraft (1998)

Rating: 10/10

Time played: est. 100 hours

A very good game. It was my introduction to the RTS genre, and it was a blast. All three races Protoss, Terran, and Zerg felt cool and unique. Controlling units was very difficult at first but it became pretty cool. The map editor was just good enough that many good custom maps were created, and the multiplayer was a really fun experience.

***

 

I’m planning to update this list every once in a while with new games.

I also have a list of movie ratings.

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