To conclude the three part series I have been talking about over the past couple of weeks, today I am going to talk about my top five games that I scored 9 out of 10. Every game included are incredibly enjoyable titles that don’t quite make it to godhood, and I promise I will try not to lament on the sometimes just one significant issue I had with the games featured that prevented them from reaching 10 out of 10 status.
Please be aware that this article includes spoilers for the ending of Red Dead Redemption 2.
5) Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
This game is exactly what the franchise desperately needed at the time. An injection of fresh new environments and a great protagonist to finally move passed the early games based around Altair and Ezio, without going too far to the other end of the character spectrum with the roundly dull Connor. Edward Kenway is easily the most likeable protagonist of the Assassin’s Creed games before the switch to the RPG genre.
Like all the titles on this list, there will always be one glaring flaw that prevents me from being able to award them a perfect score of 10 out of 10. On this occasion the flaw is the series staple of punishingly boring mandatory stealth sections. It’s apparently not wounding enough that they still existed in the at the time five year old franchise, but they also rub salt in the wound by making you start again from the very beginning if an enemy so much as gets a whiff of Edward’s musk.
This annoying developer oversight aside, what you get in the final product is a rewarding and thrilling pirate assassin simulator, positively brimming with exciting ship to ship combat and swashbuckling high sea adventures that truly captured the imaginations of millions of players.
4) Batman: Arkham Knight
Controversially, Batman: Arkham Knight is the only Batman game I enjoyed enough to finish. Again, controversially, I really enjoyed the Batmobile tank combat and to this day still don’t understand why it gets criticised as much as it does. I will concede that the later game vehicle battles could get pretty gruelling and feel like there was never an end in sight, especially if you died a lot and had to restart, but isn’t that the case with a lot of late game difficulty curves?
I couldn’t give Arkham Knight a higher score as even though I enjoyed it as much as I did, the amount of falsehoods told by Rocksteady during the games promotion is one of the reasons I distrust video game marketing to this day. You may call stating that the Arkham Knight would be an entirely new character and that the Joker wouldn’t be in the game as clever misdirection, but I call it for what it is. Lies.
All that aside the core gameplay was relatively faultless. Traversing Gotham, beating down bad guys and growling grimly at anyone in the vicinity all felt authentic and as believable as possible when role playing as a billionaire dressed up as a bat.
The issues I’ve already listed aside, even if I’d given the game a 10 out of 10, those jump-scares are worth knocking a whole point off from me, and to be perfectly balanced and reasonable they can Fuck. Right. Off.
3) Infamous: Second Son
Everything about this early Playstation 4 exclusive title was pretty much perfect. The battles against the oppressive forces of the D.U.P wielding a mix of supernatural powers stayed fun and exciting all the way through the great story and well into the post-game.
Unfortunately, the post-game content is where this game slips from its 10 out of 10 status earned thus far, into the not so amazing though still respectable camp of 9 out of 10. The reason for this is because the final power earned in the game (and my favourite), Concrete, does not become available until you have thwarted antagonist Augustine and taken the power from her. If there was much to do after the story concludes then it wouldn’t have been much on an issue, but as the game effectively rewards you with a range of abilities you have little use for, it feels like more of an insult than a reward. I enjoy using the Concrete power, but as there isn’t so much as a new game plus option after you beat the game I struggle to understand why Sucker Punch bothered putting it in at all.
The powers available throughout the rest of the game are fully fleshed out and fun to use, particularly because they develop along with Delsin as the story progresses. As Concrete receives no equivalent growth, and because of this seemingly intentional snub I couldn’t give this fantastic experience a higher score than 9.
2) Just Cause 3
Just Cause 3 came from strong beginnings and most definitely built on them as its first venture into a new generation of consoles. Its marketing was abundant with fire, rockets and explosions and when the finished game released in December 2015 it delivered on all it had promised. Driving mechanics were wacky and erratic, Rico was rocking his double denim and every military base as far as the eye could see was crying out to be burnt to ashes in whatever way you wished to make it so.
The story wasn’t particularly great but as this is a Just Cause game that was to be expected just so long as long as developer, Avalanche Studios, put all their effort into making the world and gameplay as fun and responsive as possible. Did they achieve this? Yes and no.
The gameplay as described above was exactly what players returning to the franchise had hoped for. Explosive and dramatic but also with the ability to reload quickly when you die, which you will often, and able to carry on from where you left off rather than having to begin a whole assault anew. The first two islands were detailed, beautiful and varied, but then the creativity just seemed to stop for the last and largest island where there didn’t seem to be much of anything except empty space and map consuming mountains that sheltered nothing more than one or two bases.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call this disappointing but the noticeable drop in variety and creeping aura of staleness certainly tainted what was until you started exploring the final island, a well deserved 10 out of 10 game. I’ve played multiple playthroughs of Just Cause 3 and it always leaves me satisfied, but the last island combined with the fact I broke a controller attempting to conquer some of those unnecessarily rage fuelling challenges in the late game means I have to bump it down to a 9 out of 10.
I promised I would get through all of this entry without mentioning my hatred of Just Cause 4, and now I’ve done that, Just Cause 4 can get in a burning bin.
1) Red Dead Redemption 2
Everything was going superbly in Red Dead Redemption 2. I had started the game with admittedly low expectations as I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Red Dead Redemption, but the well written and hugely likeable Arthur Morgan quickly put my preconceived notion to rest once the game really hits its stride. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that this is a very slow burning experience but one that perfectly executes its narrative beats as strongly as it nails its punchy gunplay.
This is where that earlier spoiler warning comes into effect. I knew going in that Arthur would die at the end of the story, but that alone isn’t the reason I cannot give this a game a perfect score. The real issue is that after his tragic and still painful to recall demise, we start playing as the whiny bitch of the gang, John Marston. It is clear throughout the story that we aren’t supposed to start rooting for him until before the moment Arthur dies, but I feel a disservice has been done by Rockstar by forcing this new change of character on players after so much time building a relationship with Arthur.
I know my opinion on this topic isn’t a popular one, especially for how frequently I have called out Rockstar for being money hungry with an abundant lack of respect for their player base (in Grand Theft Auto V) but on this occasion I would have greatly appreciated the epilogue of RDR2 being cut from the game and instead released as DLC. This would mean that after the sad conclusion to Arthur’s story, the endgame would revert back to before the final mission took place so we could continue to play as Arthur in the carefree hours of post-game exploration, with his terminal cough miraculously absent as it was getting very grating over the last hours of the story.
Thank you for reading my picks for the best games that I gave 9 out of 10. Let me know your thoughts and choices on this topic in the comments section below or over on our Twitter @RespawningUK. I’ll be back next week with a new trophy orientated list feature and so I’ll speak to you then!