Shpeshal Nick’s Top 5 – “Games of the Decade”

Obviously we had a pretty hectic fortnight after my last Top 5 and as we explained on the podcast, we skipped it. There was just too much news to allow me my indulgence.

But with the decade winding to a close, I decided to make my Top 5 Games of the Decade, which is kinda tough given the sheer number of consoles and games that spans. But I’ll do my best to make this work and I absolutely know there’s going to be some unbelievable games not making the cut.

5. Alan Wake

Alan Wake for me is still Remedy’s magnum opus. Most will tell you Max Payne 1 or 2 is their best work, but for me, Alan Wake feels like the embodiment of everything Remedy strives for when making games and contains all the nice touches, quirks, nods to the past and incredible atmosphere the studio has become known for.

Like many of my other favourite games, Alan Wake doesn’t rely purely on cut scenes to deliver its story. It uses Alan’s own narration, in game collectibles and other items from the world to help tell the story of writer Alan Wake who is trying to solve the mystery of his wife’s disappearance.

It wouldn’t be a Remedy game without a an extra mechanic added to the gunplay to keep things interesting. Max Payne had bullet time, Quantum Break had time powers and Control telekinesis. But Alan Wake being a survival horror/thriller set almost exclusively at night, you needed your flashlight to wear down an enemies “shield” or darkness in order to expose them and be able to take them down with your gun of choice. It really added to the tension and further enhanced the creepy and tense atmosphere the game had already established through its art style and visual effects.

This absolute classic is backwards compatible and was also re-released on Steam not all that long ago so you can still get your chance to play this amazing game.

4. Mark of the Ninja

This might sound strange, but Mark of the Ninja is the game I dreamed about playing as a kid. After loving Shinobi in the arcades, I used to envision a ninja game that looked like a cartoon where you could quietly take out your enemies and pull off incredible moves and attacks. Then in 2012, Klei made my dreams come true.

Mark of the Ninja is everything I always wanted in a game as a child and everyone owes to themselves to play what is easily the best 2D stealth game and arguably the best stealth game of all time.

With ridiculously tight controls that almost never fail you, an easy to understand stealth system and a fantastic selection of weapons, abilities and gorgeous visuals, this is a game everyone should give this a try, particularly now that it has been remastered for all modern consoles and PC.

3. Super Mario Odyssey

In a time where reviewers seem to want to trip over themselves to hand out 10/10 review scores, for me Super Mario Odyssey stands alone as the only game this generation and of the last decade to truly deserve it.

Odyssey is the distillation of everything Nintendo has been perfecting in 3D Mario games since 64. Stunning visuals, pixel perfect gameplay with incredible platforming mechanics and worlds that beg you to discover every secret and easter egg as you explore every nook and cranny.

Despite taking on many of today’s “open world” elements, Odyssey does so without overstaying it’s welcome, or padding out the game with unnecessary or forced quests that make the game feel longer than it needs to be. The world design and gameplay combine beautifully in a way that makes you wish the game was longer so you could continue to explore and collect moons.

Super Mario Odyssey is the very definition of a modern classic.

2. Rocket League

I mean….come on, you knew Rocket League to be here somewhere right? There is literally no game in my gaming life that I’ve spent more time on and will continue to do well into the next generation. Rocket League is by far the most enjoyable and fun game I’ve ever played. I adore it.

True story, if it wasn’t for PlayStation Plus and the trophy system on PlayStation, I never would have even played Rocket League. I only tried that game because it was free on PS Plus and honestly, it initially wasn’t for me. The learning curve was pretty steep and I just didn’t see myself ever really clicking with it, despite my brother’s insistence that I persist with it.

So I just dropped it. It just wasn’t really grabbing me. But after a while, I was looking to boost my trophy level and thought I’d give the trophy list a look. It seemed pretty doable and most of it could be done without being destroyed online so I went back. I’m so glad I did. By the time I got the Platinum trophy I was in love and the rest as they say is history.

Needless to say I double dipped on Xbox and then triple dipped on Switch. There aren’t many games I love more and this is definitely my “desert island game”.

1. Titanfall

Back when Vince Zampella and Jason West had their very public split from Activision, it shocked the gaming world and everyone wondered what these veteran game designers would do next.

It came as no surprise when Vince’s new studio Respawn revealed a new first person shooter called Titanfall at E3 of 2013, everyone stood up and took notice. How could they possibly compete with Call of Duty? What could they possible do to make something as good? Let alone better.

But it should come as no surprise that Respawn did just that. Titanfall to me is the best multiplayer shooter of all time. No other shooter feels as good to play. Respawn stripped back much of the weight that had come to burden Call of Duty multiplayer and put the focus on traversal and mobility. The maps were perfectly designed to exploit the players movement as well as cater for the giant hulking mechs known as Titans, which are set on a timer which can be sped up by making kills.

But Respawn also introduced an almost MMO like feature in the form of AI powered soldiers and robotic spectres that act as fodder for players to build up their score or speed up their Titan timer. But the usefulness of the bots went beyond the individual player’s score. The bots also gave Titanfall a great level of accessibility. Newcomers to shooters could feel like they were contributing to the teams overall score while the Pros racked up the big numbers. Better players who were having a bad game could also still contribute or build some momentum by taking down the AI.

Much like Rocket League, there isn’t a shooter out there I spent more time on than Titanfall and even today, despite the almost non-existent player base, you get into games quicker than many more highly populated shooters, such is the quality of it’s online infrastructure.

While it’s hard to recommend an online only shooter to people in 2019 as the player base is just about gone, you can always give its sequel a run to at least give you an idea of what Titanfall was like. While the multiplayer in the sequel isn’t as good as the original, it’s still pretty good in its own right.

Nick "Shpeshal Nick" Baker

Australian gamer, AFL Football fanatic and father of 2. Follow me on Twitter @Shpeshal_Nick

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