Top 25 of this Decade: #20 – 16

11.24.2009

For the majority of this project, the format is going to look the same.  Due to some recent oddities to how I am able to put articles up, I have to use periods to separate paragraphs so that the format doesn’t come off as a jumbled mess. That’s not to say it looks odd now, but I find it harder to read anything without some sort of tl;dr of some sort between mass layers of text.

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20

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outcast

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Star Wars – Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast
PC
US Release Date: March 26, 2002

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What is it?
Guide Kyle Kartam, a former Jedi whom turned his back on the ways because he almost went to the dark side, through an experience that brings him closer to the force once again.  Honestly, the single player campaign of this game was never something I cared much for.  Whip it online, and that’s why we’re here.
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Why did it make my list?
Single player wise, it was an okay game.  Online though, this game was just nuts!  Force powers abound with both light and dark side powers, choose to run and gun, or use your lightsaber and cut the competition down to size.  Multi leveled stages, huge pitfalls, corner hiding ambushes, Jedi Outcast’s multiplayer had it all.  It was, for the most part, a paint by numbers multiplayer in terms of gun weaponry, but the force powers and lightsabers gave it a flair and flavor all its own.  This game was one of the very few titles that got me off playing Everquest for longer than a week.  In fact, I spent months playing this baby online and I never got tired of it.  Between Jedi Outcast and Starsiege (I’m talking about the mech game, not that Tribes hub bub!), online battles early in this decade for me was bliss.
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Patch 1.04
This patch completely ruined multiplayer lightsaber kills.  Don’t get me wrong, the multiplayer was still awesome as all hell, but the element of rock/paper/scissors punishment was eliminated.  Nothing was more thrilling than catching someone without a force shield up, force pulling them to you and instant-killing them while they tried to get up.  It forced you to stay alert and made playing dark side tougher.  It’s a shame that they really hurt the game with that patch, but all in all, it is one of the best online games I have ever played.

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19

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borderlandsfinal360

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Borderlands
Microsoft XBox 360
US Release Date: October 20, 2009

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What is it?
Take a trip through Pandora, a planet overrun by bandits and hideous creatures, journey to find out more information about where “The Vault” is.  Choose one of four different characters with their own perks, and find as many clues as you can to what “The Vault” is and where it is in this first person RPG.  Find and loot thousands of different guns (according to devs, more like hundreds of thousands), with different bonuses and stats to them.  You will never find the same gun twice….other than weapons from bosses on a second play through.
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Why did it make my list?
Granted it’s a fairly new title, Borderlands is a breakout new IP that meshes together FPS goodness with Diablo 2-like weapon drop variety.  The developers bill this game as one with “500,000 different weapons” and although I sincerely doubt this, there are more than enough weapons in this game to make you think that maybe they added two too many zeros, but that’s still a ton.  With pistols with 4x zoom that shoot explosive shots, laser rifles with unlimited ammo, a freaking shotgun with 2x zoom that shoots in 5 shot bursts with rockets that fire out, sniper rifles with 200% critical hit damage bonuses that devour shields…the weapon variety is near;y endless.  The story is mostly throwaway, however the gameplay, whether single player, or multiplayer (especially if each of the four players picks a different character, four in all), is top notch fun.  Be warned though – don’t try to take on tough quests alone.  You WILL be challenged and you WILL die quite often if you’re going into a Tough ranked mission with weapons that are not strong enough.
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Best new IP in years?
I’d say so, if not one of the best.  Over the last few years, I’d say only Dead Rising and Mass Effect have come close to it. The strong sales and ratings have shown that many out there have enjoyed this title as well.  Even better news is how devs have mentioned that a sequel at this point is a “no-brainer”.  Borderlands is definitely a strong new IP and hopefully one that has a long and healthy future.

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18

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ps2_championnorrath

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Champions of Norrath
Sony Playstation 2
US Release Date: February 12, 2004

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What is it?
Following hot off the heels of the success of Everquest, Champions of Norrath is a spin-off of sorts to the Everquest universe.  This time, instead of playing hours on end of the MMO brand, you will be playing hours on end with this action/RPG hybrid.  Working off a modified Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance engine, Champions of Norrath is filled with hack and slash gameplay, tons of armor, and weapon and augmentation drops.  Experience up to four player action online with broadband connectivity!
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Why did it make my list?
Simple – it mixed two (then) awesome things together – Everquest lore/characters and item collecting dungeon crawling.  Champions of Norrath was more pick up and play, and infinitely more accessible than Everquest, offering the option to more easily solo through the game, or group up with three others and advance playthrough.  Pick one of four classes, with male or female avatars, and journey through a different world of Norrath, collecting loot throughout, in your ultimate goal of defeating the Hate Plane’s Innoruuk.  I’ve always enjoyed games with random drops, as well as randomly generated dungeon layouts, and Champions succeeds at both aspects.  For its time, Champions of Norrath looked exceptional, although there were pockets of slowdown.  Defeat the game and play again at a higher difficulty, with all the items you accumulated during our first journey.  There was even a sequel released, Champions: Return to Arms, however the stiffer difficulty and recycled feeling never took my attention away long enough from the first title. Definitely a must have for any dungeon crawling, loot whoring fan.
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Sad Fact
I’ve played Everquest off and on from 2000 – 2003, 2005 – 2007 and 2009 – present. I could have made a good bit of money selling my warrior at the end of 2003, but I didn’t want to part with him.  Also, I was probably the best warrior that ever played that game!

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17

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oblivionrank

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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Microsoft XBox 360
US Release Date: March 20, 2006

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What is it?
Follow the character of your creation through a huge, lush, and detailed world.  Follow the main story arc, or get lost forever in the endless amount of side quests and sub plots the game provides you.  Play the game through whatever style you enjoy, whether it be sneaking and stealing like a rogue, or a front line tank like a warrior, or ranged sorcery like a mage.  With so many different ways to play, so much to see, so much to do, so much to gain, so much to lose, your journey may never end.
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Why did it make my list?
Oblivion is a massive beast that will keep you occupied for a long time to come.  You can get lost doing side quests for dozens of hours, and totally forget about the main story arc.  Some would say that this fact would hurt any game, but with how open ended Oblivion is, and how you are allowed to tell your own story, it doesn’t hurt much at all.  Oddly enough, Morrowind, the game that precedes this game in the series, did not grip me as much as Oblivion did.  There’s still a wealth to do, no matter what class you choose to be, or what class you choose to make and play as.  Games like Grand Theft Auto live off an open ended structure, but Oblivion takes that model, builds on top of it, and expands it considerably.
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Dark Brotherhood Fun!
I recall spending several hours between several save states, trying to pickpocket the members of the Dark Brotherhood without being caught. If I stole something successfully, I’d save the game.  If I got caught, I’d reload that last save. Those guys had some pretty bad ass armor and some nice 1 hand weapons as well

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16

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sony_playstation_2-tony_hawks_underground

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Tony Hawk Underground
Sony Playstation 2
US Release Date: October 27, 2003

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What is it?
Really?  Do I have to describe this one? Oh alright…it’s a Tony Hawk game, brought into an almost open world.  Travel to different locations with your created skater, bust out some sick kick flips, 5-0 grinds, McTwists and other tricks to get closer to being a somebody in the world of skating…and progress a filler story of sorts that’s really not important to mention.
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Why did it make my list?
As far as the series goes, Tony Hawk Underground was the peak IMO. No longer tied down to a linear progression method, you can now free skate around to find activities to advance the story, or just bust out random tricks.  THUG introduced a few new things to the series, aside from the more ‘open world’ aspect, such as uploading your picture online and having it transferred to your creation (needed broadband adapter for this), as well as jumping off your board and running and climbing to advance tricks even further.  You could also take your game online and challenge others, or free skate around.  The overall package is solid and there’s very little for me to hate about Tony Hawk Underground.
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Pretending I’m a Superman?
Tony Hawk has gone through a complete overhaul as of late.  Titled Tony Hawk Ride, now you can interact with a skateboarding game in ways you ever thought possible!  Stand on this plastic board and pull out tricks on it with enough practice. Will this be a new level of immersion, or will this be the biggest bail since THUG 2?

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Check back here next Tuesday to see what five games made it just under the top 10, as we continue my Top 25 of this Decade!

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No, Link. You have not been forgotten. Your turn has not come up quite yet.

No, Link. You have not been forgotten. Your turn has not come up quite yet.

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Top 25 of this Decade – #25 – 21


Jason V.

I am the Co-Editor-in-Chief here at Chocolate Lemon. Over the last 15 years, I have been writing gaming articles here and there, including my time with GameSages, a then IGN affiliated video game code database that's now owned by IGN, as well as my near four year stay on this very site. I'm quite the gaming enthusiast, have a somewhat "old school" soul, and enjoy a wide variety of geeky shows, movies and so on. Follow me on Twitter @Jas0nVelez