Friday, October 25, 2013

Top 5 Best Video Game Trilogies of All TIme (1985-2013)

Let's just get a few things out of the way first. This list applies only to the trilogies that I have played completely. So games like Metal Gear Solid and Kingdom Hearts (though that one technically doesn't count) will not be included. This does not say anything about the quality of those games, I simply haven't experienced them. Also, for a game to qualify, each game in the trilogy needs to have expanded upon and improved upon the previous in countless ways, which is why you'll see no mention of the Gears of War or Call of Duty series on this list, and last but not least, this is simply my humble opinion. So let's get the ball rolling, yeah?

V: The Super Mario Brothers Trilogy (NES)

It's virtually impossible to have a list of best games ever and not have Mario mentioned at least once, and in terms of the original trilogy released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, these games were ace. Super Mario Brothers was a classic and is still ripe with impeccable design choices, Super Mario Brothers 2 changed the formula entirely and really took us by surprise, and the holy grail of gaming that was Super Mario Brothers 3 had a fantastic art style, a killer sound track, and some of the most memorable gameplay in the trilogy. Each game expanded upon the last one in massive ways and that's really the main reason it's on this list. Each game was great and each game felt different from the other ones. Simply masterful.

While Super Mario Brothers 2 has some valid criticisms about it, it's still a fun game to play, and with SMB 3 being as universally cherished as bacon, it's no surprise to see the original Super Mario Brothers trilogy on this list.

IV: The Spyro Trilogy (PS1)

Developed by Insomniac Games for the PlayStation, Spyro The Dragon was a charming 3D platformer that had collect-a-thon elements from Banjo Kazooie and some of the finest "open world" platforming on the PS1. Beyond the slick controls, cheerful art design, and fantastic music, the Spyro games never failed to improve upon the previous iteration during the PlayStation's life cycle. (We don't talk about the other ones. This is a happy place.) The sequel, Spyro: Ripto's Rage opened the world up and refined the platforming, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon perfected everything and allowed players to not only control Spyro, but several other character's in his gang of allies including a badass military penguin and a snarky Kangaroo all with their own unique gameplay styles and abilities. 

This is one of the most engrossing video games on PS1 and it's still one of the most immersive games on any platform. The art, the characters, the gameplay, the world. Everything in the game makes you want to spend time playing it and there's never a dull moment. While I may be more nostalgically attached to Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage, there's no shadow of a doubt that the series only got better over time, by refining the gameplay and the wondrous atmosphere Spyro had offered in the beginning. While the game isn't particularly challenging, it's certainly one of the finest trilogies in existence.

III: The Splinter Cell Trilogy (Xbox)

I had very little experience with Metal Gear Solid, and I know most people prefer that series to this series, especially considering they're both stealth oriented, but there was always something about the Splinter Cell series that made me feel uncomfortable while playing it. It feels incredibly stealthy and your heart beat really get's pumping in some areas and the each game is legitimately challenging. Absurdly difficult. Each game offered more tools, more story, and even more modes as the trilogy moved forward. The first one offered a solid stealth experience, the second one offered slicker controls and more intuitive locales, and the third one refined it all with the addition of one of the most interesting multiplayer modes ever seen in gaming with spies versus mercs, in which one team played in first person with heavy fire power, equipment, and limited mobility and the other played in third person with better level traversal, more methods of hiding, and special equipment suited for stealth.

Now, I'll readily admit, this franchise isn't for everyone in the same vein Metal Gear might not be for everyone, but it's ace. Quality increased with each sequel, a memorable voice for the lead protagonist, and very challenging and engaging gameplay puts this series firmly at number three.

II: The Halo Trilogy (Xbox - Xbox 360)

I've gushed about this franchise for years, and I've already written several articles about why I love these games, but I'll run through them here so there's a general idea and if you'd like more in depth analysis click THIS LINK to read it. Each game drastically improved upon the last in every way imaginable. Halo CE gave us a great story, solid controls, impeccable physics, and some addicting gameplay. Halo 2 made the story even bigger with more missions with more variety, a more robust multiplayer suite, more customization, and it started a multiplayer revolution by laying the foundation for the future of multiplayer games on the console platform. Halo 3 refined everything, tied up a fantastic story in a rich universe, gave us the most options we've ever had with customization and multiplayer, more modes including the first ever inclusion of a comprehensive theater mode, and the addition of a map editor when in combination with the heavily customizable custom games settings allowed for players to create their own gametypes on their own play spaces. This series progressed so gracefully, I can hardly believe it and it truly is the franchise that is most near and dear to my heart ... so why is it at number 2? ... Well ...

I: The Crash Bandicoot Trilogy (PS1)

I know, this is surprising. Especially coming from me considering how much I adore the Halo series, and I was honestly going to pull a real jackass move and put both Halo and Crash Bandicoot at the number one spot. The thing to remember here though is that although the Halo series is really fun, really fantastically well made, and just overall great, Crash Bandicoot has it beat in one category and one category only: It can be played at any time. Halo is a somewhat serious First Person Shooter and you usually have to be in the mood for that kind of thing to play it, but Crash Bandicoot? Happy, sad, tired, excited, angry, apathetic, this trilogy can be played at any time. Although I love the Halo series to death, a lot of the replayability comes from the multiplayer, which Crash Bandicoot doesn't have so by default it doesn't need to rely on it. Each game just gets better, the music boosts in quality, the controls get tighter, the levels get more and more varied, the visuals improve, the themes change gradually and in ways that feel well paced, the story is kooky and good fun, the animations and characters get more established, the humor finds it's footing, and the gameplay is simple and top notch. 

But in addition to all that, it's got a charm to it that comes from being on the original PlayStation that makes it feel like it's got it's own personality. Not to mention each of these games were made within one year of each other. Considering the huge jump in quality between these three games in the short amount of time the developers had to work on them, that's massively impressive, and Naughty Dog is still pumping out fantastic games today. 

It was a hard choice to make, but I think all these contributing factors place Crash Bandicoot at number one for me. It's simple, it's fun, it's challenging, it's unique, and more importantly it is (in my humble opinion) the best platform game ever made across all platforms.

The Mass Effect Trilogy

This game series is bursting with content ... but the third one didn't really do much to improve upon Mass Effect 2. Which is a shame because if I made a list of best sequels, Mass Effect 2 would definitely be on there. The third game in the franchise felt empty in comparison and although I had a blast playing through these games, there are far too many problems with it. (Like how horrendously boring the first one was.)

The BioShock "Trilogy"

BioShock is probably my favorite stand alone FPS of all time. The story and the atmosphere were magnificent and though the gameplay was clunky, it fit well with the tone of the game. BioShock Infinite is my favorite game of 2013 so far including The Last of Us. BioShock 2 ... isn't. BioShock 2 really didn't bring much to the table aside from a new protagonist and a tacked on multiplayer mode. Even though BioShock 2 is the odd man out, I still felt I couldn't put this in because it didn't feel like a trilogy to me because BioShock 2 was just so forgettable. 

The Destroy All Humans! "Trilogy"

The first one was fantastic. The second one was a great improvement. The stars were aligned for an even better sequel, and not only that, but on the next generation of consoles; PS3 and Xbox 360 ... and they FUCKED it up. EA shut down Pandemic studios and Destroy All Humans! 3 never happened. Instead we got Path of the Furon. I seriously get sad just thinking about the potential this game could have had. Thanks EA.

"Electronic Arts. Because your dreams are ours to destroy."

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