This is the last of March’s weekly posts for this 30-day video game blogging challenge. It’s been a fun way to come up with new gaming-related topics to discuss! Please share your thoughts if you have some answers to these too. This week, it’s all about the “bests” in games — best music, best gameplay, etc.
This is really hard. I actually spent a whole day at the office listening to some of my favorite soundtracks just to decide which one is my favorite favorite. At least that was extremely fun research that made the day go by faster!
I narrowed things down to Destiny, Borderlands 2, Mass Effect (the original is my favorite there), Halo (I don’t even know which one I like best, seriously), and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. All of them are not just background like some soundtracks, but soundtracks that can make you want to move in your seat. I find these scores really inspiring when I’m writing my sci-fi novel, too — they help transport me to other worlds.
Of those, my very favorite is probably the original Mass Effect soundtrack. Destiny is a very close second, but I have loved and listened to ME for so long, I have to give it the award. It features very strong electronic bass beats, as well as other tech-sounding effects that make the whole soundscape feel very sci-fi. That’s my favorite thing about this score. There are also some iconic songs, like the “The Presidium” that makes me feel like I’m back on the Citadel, and “Uncharted Worlds” that plays when you’re viewing the star map in the game. Everything is beautiful and melodic, but instead of featuring heavy strings, it prefers electronic sounds, which I love. That’s also what sets this score apart from the other Mass Effect soundtracks, making it my favorite in the series.
Best Voice Acting
Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us blew me away. Troy Baker voices Joel with a perfect drawl. It makes him sound fatherly, world-weary, even a little irritable yet trustworthy… And his chemistry with Ashley Johnson’s teenaged Ellie is beautiful. Ellie’s voice is crystal clear compared to Joel’s mumble, and she has a lot more humor and cadence to her speech. You can see how they start caring about each other, surviving together, in almost a father-daughter relationship.
The storytelling in The Last of Us is great, but I think the voice acting is actually what makes it remarkable. I’d never played a game that focused so much on a relationship between two characters like this, just interacting in natural ways as they tore through this post-apocalyptic landscape. I’d say Troy Baker’s performance in particular is my all-time favorite in games.
Best Graphics / Art Style
I love the Borderlands art style. A part of me wants to go with some of the most beautiful games I’ve played, such as The Witcher 3 and Bioshock Infinite, and I also want to praise the amazing map-based UI of Destiny. But when it comes to pure creativity and excellent production, the Borderlands series is the most impressive to me. When I played the games, it was the first thing I noticed.
Borderlands’ graphics feature a cartoon art style that’s all grown up and gritty. It’s a cel-shaded style that apparently started in their concept art, but they decided to keep it rather than go with a more realistic take on the world. It allows an amazing level of detail and explosive action — not to mention it’s extremely colorful and fun, a perfect fit for the games’ sense of humor and fast-paced FPS gameplay. I frequently make screenshots and concept art from the games my computer desktop backgrounds.
I’ve written about this before, but I’m not afraid to praise it again. I am addicted to the hack-n-slash gameplay of the Devil May Cry series. The most fun, for me, is DmC: Devil May Cry, the newest game in the series and therefore the freshest and smoothest, in my opinion. The fun thing about this gameplay is that you can switch weapons mid-combo, and your score constantly adjusts based on how well you’re doing — how varied your attacks are, how you avoid damage, etc. If you stick to the same weapon and set of moves all the time, you won’t do well. There’s a thrill to switch from Dante’s beat-em-up power fists to his sword to pair of pistols to… Well, there’s just a lot you can do in DmC. It’s difficult to learn and never slows down for you, and that’s exactly why it’s so exciting to master.