Chey’s Top 25 – #4 – Diablo 3

Genre – Dungeon Crawler
Platform – PC

It has taken me a very long time to write this article.  Every time I go into the game to get some screenshots, I end up playing for hours and forgetting about the screenshots.  I already have Diablo II on my top 25, but Diablo 3 takes my number 4 spot.

I have been playing this game since day 1.  It did some things well and some things not so well.  Blizzard has made some major changes over the years, usually for the better.  In the beginning, there was a player market place where you could sell in-game items for real money (or for in-game currency)!  I made a whopping $13 way.  Many argued that this made the game unfair.  I found it a new and thrilling element to the game.  A couple of years in, they removed the auction house.  In doing so, they really upped the quality of crafted items, which made the reliance on super-rare drops less, which ultimately made the game more enjoyable.

Another thing that I was disappointed about was the skill tree, or lack thereof.  Instead of highly customizable skill trees, there are a handful of skills that you can pick from.  You can go into an advanced mode, which allows you to put any skill into any slot, which helps a bit, but I still miss those skill trees.  After you hit level 70, you start to gain Paragon points, which allow for some further customization, but I would still like to see more.

Another thing that was changed was the inventory.  Diablo has always been about the loot, and they greatly improved this in Diablo 3.  Items, no matter their size, only take up one inventory block.  The runes are a thing of the past, but items are still socketed and there are many different sets of armor.  In a more recent update, they rolled out ancient armor, although I still have yet to see one.


The story is solid.  The graphics are great (check out some of the screenshots below).  If you have the expansion, you can pick from the following classes – monk, witch doctor, wizard, crusader, barbarian and demon hunter.  I’ve played each one up to level 70, but my favorite, by far, is the monk.  I also enjoy playing on hardcore mode, which means that when you die, it’s game over.  As you progress through the story, you can choose followers to join in your quest.  They are actually useful and have different abilities.

I would say ignore the negatives that you may have heard about this game and try it for yourself.  It’s a lot of fun and you’ll likely get sucked in!  I have played over 600 hours on my main monk alone and I keep going back to it.


Chey’s Top 25 – #5 – Psychonauts

Genre:  Adventure/Platform
Platform:  XBox Original, PC

Psychonauts is the highest console game to make my list.  Everything after this is a PC game.  This game is one of my favorites ever.  Top 5, actually.  It is also the most unique game on this list.  I happened to have found this one day at a GameStop.  I hadn’t heard of it previously, but it looked interesting.  I have since bought the game two more times as I gave away my first two copies to other people because I want everyone to play and enjoy it as much as I have.  I am a Psychonauts evangelist.

You play the game as a character named Rasputin, or Raz.  Raz is just a kid.  A kid with special powers.  His family doesn’t approve of his powers and is in a circus.  Raz runs away to a summer camp for kids with special mental powers hosted by the Psychonauts – a do-gooding organization whose members all have psychic abilities.  At this camp, he makes new friends and quickly shows that he is special indeed.  Then something bad happens and it’s up to you and Raz to return the camp to normal.  Through the game, you learn new powers, which help you defeat many enemies.

The game play is broken into two main areas – the campgrounds itself and the psychic realm.  In the campgrounds, you go from area to area, looking for hidden objects, buying upgrades and progressing the story along.  In the psychic realm, you are helping individuals sort out their mental issues.  This is really where the game shines.  Every psychic level is completely unique.  There is a level where you are basically Godzilla and hated, one where you are essentially in a pinball table, another in a person who thinks he’s Napoleon and so many more!

There are tons of things to collect in this game, which I always enjoy.  The graphics are also unique.  Some people like them, some don’t.  Because they are a bit unusual, I feel the game still stands up today.  What makes this game for me, however, is the writing.  This game is HILARIOUS!  There were a couple of levels where I laughed for a solid 5 minutes.  When you play it, I recommend that you really take your time and listen to the things the other characters have to say.  If you stick around, you’ll hear some really funny stuff.  Read the billboards, too!  The Milkman level is one of my favorites and I have played it over and over because it’s so funny.

This was the first game I had played by developer Double Fine, headed by Tim Schaefer.  I have Psychonauts shirts, pins, a signed poster by Schaefer and Psychonauts figurines.  This game has reached cult status, and I’m definitely there.  I am a big fan of a lot of their other games as well.  They all have that same sense of humor and excellent writing.


My little Psychonauts

I only have one criticism about the game.  The game plays really well, not overly difficult, until the ending.  As many times as I have played this game, I have never finished it.  The ending requires ridiculous precision and is really frustrating.  It’s so disproportionate to the rest of the game.  It’s never made sense to me.

Otherwise, however, if you have not played this, GET IT NOW AND PLAY IT!!!  It’s available for PC on Steam and it’s available in the Microsoft Store for the XBox 360.  I’m not sure if it’s been ported to the XBone yet.

By the way, Psychonauts 2 is in the works.  I will likely disappear for a week or so after it comes out.  I’ll come out a zombie, but a happy zombie.  I’m a bit nervous about it, though, because this is a tough game to follow.

Chey’s Top 25 – #6 – Civilization 4

Genre:  Strategy
Platform:  PC

My husband first introduced me to the Civilization series via Civilization III.  I was immediately hooked and played that game A LOT.  When Civ 4 came out, I was really excited and was not disappointed.  The game really came together with the next two expansions, specifically Beyond the Sword.

This game is a turn-based strategy game, meaning that you make all of your moves during your turn, end your turn, and then all the other players take their turns.  If you are playing other humans, this can make for a really long game, especially if you like to play on the huge maps like I do.  For this reason, I only played multiplayer for maybe two games.  I prefer to keep this a one-player game against computers.  I do like a lot of opponents, however, and will often add up to 15 other civs, just to keep it interesting.

Everyone plays this game differently.  My husband is a war-monger.  I prefer a peaceful game and would rather win by cultural victory, democratic victory or space race.  I tend to focus more on defense and democracy or theocracy than conquest.  While my husband builds structures to aid in his military domination, I build the great wonders of the world and make sure that all of my citizens have access to theaters and universities.  That is a part of what makes this game so great – you can play it a different way every time.  The maps are different, the opponents all have their own personalities and tendencies and the game feels dynamic.  You can pick which era you start in, how many years go by with each turn, what the general climate of the world is and so many more things!

Your ultimate goal is to win by several different means – cultural, space race, conquest, democratic, domination or score (if you can’t achieve any of the others).  You start with a single settler and military unit.  You found your city and start building items to help you grow as a nation.  The early exploration is one of my favorite parts of the game.  There are primitive huts that you can find that will give you a surprise.  They usually help, but not always.  As you play, you research technologies which allow you to build new and better things.  The tech tree is large and highly customizable:


There are also many civic combinations to try to play to your civ’s strengths and weaknesses:


Another big part of the game, especially for a cultural player such as myself, is religion.  It is a powerful tool to earn allies or enemies.  I always try to race to get Hinduism first and then use great wonders to get quick religions early.  I’ve found that if you own the foundations to as many religions and spread only the one that you want, a cultural victory is nearly guaranteed.  A democratic victory is also within your grasp if you build the apostolic palace early.  You can build the UN later in the game, too, and try for a democratic victory that way.

Anyway, this game is awesome and I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys map-based games.  It has endless replayability and I still play it regularly.  My husband plays this near-exclusively still.  We did not like Civ5 and you can find my reasons for that here.

Chey’s Top 25 – #7 – EverQuest 2


Genre:  MMORPG
Platform:  PC

I started playing EverQuest 2 the day it was released.  I lived in Hawaii at the time but was in Wisconsin visiting friends and family.  It was November of 2004.  I had long been an EverQuest 1 player and was excited for the upgrade.  I would not be disappointed and would end up playing this game for over 1,000 hours.

EverQuest 2 takes place hundreds of years after EverQuest 1.  The game is a massively multiplayer online role playing game, or MMORPG, or MMO for short.  You create a character from scratch and fight your way through the world, either on your own or with other players.  As you fight, you get better items and abilities.  New areas are available to you as you level up.  The character creation process is fun and they give you a good amount of customization.

EQ2 fixed many of the problems that plagued EQ1 such as, you know, QUESTS.  EQ1 was often called NeverQuest as the quests were fewer and hard to find.  There were no indicators showing who had something for you to do.  Instead, you were forced to talk to every NPC (non-player character) and see if they might have something for you.  EverQuest 2 fixed this.  There were icons above the NPCs that had quests to offer.  And there were thousands of them.  And I did thousands of them!

The graphics were also excellent for the time.  EQ2, however, would always be compared to another small game that came out at the time – World of Warcraft (WoW).  EQ2 actually came out a couple of weeks before, but WoW would eclipse EQ2 in the MMO community.  The result was actually positive for EQ2 players as a lot of the more novice players played WoW, leaving us with a more mature player base and a more enjoyable experience.  If you ever played WoW, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The world of Norrath was huge and exciting.  They regularly added content and expansions.  I still play from time to time, but my character, a brigand (rogue) is currently level 95.  I’m not sure what the cap is now, but it was 95 the last time I played.  It is easy to level up, which some saw as a negative, but I thought was more fun.  It was also a more solo-friendly game than EQ.  Again, there is a lot of debate about whether this was good or not.  I personally preferred it, but others thought it ruined what made EQ1 so great – socializing with other players.

The crafting system in this game is also the best I’ve played.  It;s more like a mini game than a mundane crafting system.  And the items you create are actually useful and better than what you can get in most spots.  I have a chef that I leveled up to at least level 90.  There is also player and guild housing, which can be fun if you want to sink the time and (in-game) money into it.

As I stated, the game is still around and I believe it’s free to play now.  If you’re looking for a fun MMO with a LOT of questing and leveling, check it out.  I’d love to see others enjoy this game as much as I did and experience before it’s gone.  There was going to be an EverQuest 3, called EverQuest Next, but after Sony sold the franchise, it was scrapped.  That’s too bad, in one way.  In another, I’m kind of glad because I just don’t have the time and energy to go through another obsession like I did with EQ2.

Chey’s Top 25 Games – #8 – Rock Band 3

My love affair with music games was immediate and heavy.  I had heard of Guitar Hero back in the Playstation 2 days, when I was an XBox owner, and was intrigued.  Alas, it was not released for the XBox.  When I was visiting my brother, I wanted to play it so much that I bought him a PS2 with Guitar Hero.  I was in love.  I then went home and got my own PS2 with Guitar Hero.

Guitar Hero 2 came out not too long after that and I sold the PS2.  I was just immediately good at the game, having a music background and strong rhythm skills, and enjoyed the game immensely.  I have every single Guitar Hero or Rock Band game and have played through them many times.  It was hard to pick a single favorite game for my list, but Rock Band 3 wins out.

Rock Band 3 allows you to import any songs that you purchased through their store into the game, even if you purchased them for other games.  It also allows you to bring in songs from Rock Band 1, 2, AC/DC and Greenday.  The Beatles songs were not importable.  It introduced harmonies on vocals and a keyboard controller.  It also has pro modes for all instruments, so you can basically learn a real instrument as you play.  The keyboard controller is good for this, although it’s a mini keyboard with just over an octave to play with.  I bought a real electric guitar to plug in, but the pro modes take a lot of work, which I wasn’t up to at the time.

What really makes this game fun, though, are the songs.  I have spent a gross amount of money on the songs, so I have quite a list to pick from.  This makes it a fantastic party games.  When we lived in Daytona, we were somewhat known for our Rock Band parties, and we’re starting to rebuild that here in Houston.  Everybody has fun at these parties.  It’s amazing who you can get to sing, even if they are adamantly against it at the beginning.  Add a bit of liquid courage and even the most staunch person is singing their heart out.

I haven’t seriously played these games in a long time and I’m really rusty.  They are still a lot of fun and definitely have an air of nostalgia about them.  I’m undecided on whether I want to touch Rock Band 4, but Rock Band 3 will always have a special place on my shelf and heart.


Who’s ready to ROCK?!?

Chey’s Top 25 – #9 – Fallout 3

Genre:  RPG
Platform:  XBox 360, PS3, PC

I had no idea what Fallout 3 was about when I picked it up.  The back cover looked interesting, so I decided to give it a shot.  I played it that night starting around 7PM and was still playing when Matt got up the next morning at 7AM.  I had no idea what time it was and didn’t really care.  This game will suck you in and keep you engaged until someone makes you stop or you pass out, hopefully not at the same time.

The game has a neat tutorial and character creation process.  You start as a child who was just born.  You are allowed to pick what you are going to look like when you grow up, but the character creation process doesn’t matter much as you will rarely ever see your character throughout the game.  As you grow through your childhood, you select more attributes that shape your character.  It’s pretty creative and a bit more fun than other tutorials.

Once you complete that, the story starts and you find yourself outside of your home, which as been a nuclear-safe underground vault.  You leave this comfy home and are out in the wasteland and sure enough, it has been ravaged by nuclear war.  You’ve got radiation to worry about as well as a myriad of mutated creatures.  Humanity is few and far between, but the people that you will meet need help.  They will send you out on missions and you will find the rewards helpful.  They also seem to be stuck in the 1950s.

Once again, this game makes my list mostly due to the engaging story.  You are trying to find your surviving family, but you get wound up in a fairly deep controversy.  This game gives you a lot of choices and they matter later in the game.  If you help one guy destroy a city, you’re going to make some enemies.

I am typically not a fan of first-person shooters (FPS), but this game has a combat system that takes out a lot of the “twitch” aspect.  It’s called VATS and allows you to target specific parts of your enemy.  It’s very clever and made me look forward to battle instead of dreading it.  I would call the game more of an RPG than FPS, however, as you level up and pick attributes to strengthen your character.  There are so many options to choose from that you will likely never create the same character twice.

Fallout 3 VATS

There is a lot to this game including a basic crafting system.  There are things to collect (yay!) and it is just a lot of fun.  It’s also an open-world game, meaning that you can go and do what you want when you want.  The game doesn’t force you down a certain path, although I do recommend playing through the main story.  I’m including Fallout 3 New Vegas as well as all expansions in this Top 25 as they are all fun and add to this game.  New Vegas is its own stand-alone game, but it runs off of this same engine.  Look for a post on Fallout 4 later on.

The graphics in this game are great, the soundtrack is awesome and the sound effects add to the game.  You will be singing music from the 50’s for a long time after playing this one.  The controls are great and everything about this game feels innovative.  This is by the same company that makes the Elder Scrolls series and I’ve been told it just feels like an apocalyptic version of that, but I think it feels different enough.  I strongly recommend that you play this one.

Chey’s Top 25 – #10 – Phantasie

Genre:  RPG
Platform:  PC

This is the oldest game on my list by far.  It’s a DOS-based RPG.  It was like no other game I had played at the time, but I spent a lot of time on it and still play it, thanks to a little program called DOSBox, which allows you to play old DOS games on modern computers.

In Phantasie, you create characters and assemble them into a group.  There is a surprising amount of customization in the character creation.  It’s old-school DND rules, so you “roll” your character and get random stats.  Don’t like them?  Roll again.  And again.  And again until you have stats you can live with.  For example, you’re not going to want a fighter with only 4 starting hit points and you’re not going to want a wizard with 2 intelligence points.  Once you have your team assembled, you leave your starting city.

Phantasie Play 3

Once you are out of the city, you enter the scary world.  You just kind of wander around, kill monsters and bad guys, gain experience and money, go back to town to train and do it all over again until you are high enough level to handle some of the more challenging areas of the map.  The map consists of multiple screens and is all blackened out until you explore it.  Exploration is always one of the more fun elements of a game for me, and this was my first intro to that.

Phantasie Play 2

There are also dungeons to be explored.  These are large concentrations of mobs and have good gear just lying around.  There are copyright checks built into the game, however, and can ruin a game if you don’t have the online manual readily available.  Sneaky early developers.  There are often specific tasks to complete in a dungeon, but since there’s no explanation of this in-game (I’m sure there was in the manual), you are left to your own devices to figure out what to do.

Phantasie Play 4

I’m sure we all have these really old and nostalgic games that we still play from time to time.  The simplicity of it is refreshing and the lack of awesome graphics and sound leaves you to focus only on the good game play.  This is an RPG at its most basic and is a lot of fun as a result.  There were a couple of follow-ups to this one and I did play the second for a bit, but I only play the original now.