In today’s Grand Thrash Auto we see Mark Wilson of Blackpool prog rockers A’priori, whose new single ‘Chasing The Dragon’ can be heard below, struggle to whittle down his list of favourite games into just five. A collection of some of the best games the industry has to offer, his list features some real big-hitters.
MA: I’ve been avid console gamer for the last 20 years (currently PS5) and have really enjoyed the development of games over that period. My top achievement, as sad it was, was temporarily hitting third in the world for a game mode in Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, although it was short-lived (literally fifteen minutes) I took a quick snap on my Sony Ericson Walkman and embraced the achievement! Although most people enjoy playing ‘The Classics’ from when they were younger, controversially, 20 minutes of Tetris or Spyro soon turns nostalgia into boredom for me. So here are my top 5 games that have genuinely been significant timestamps throughout my gaming history.
The Last Of Us (Part 1 & 2)
The Last Of Us is a 2013 action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog. Players control Joel, a smuggler tasked with escorting a teenage girl, Ellie, across a post-apocalyptic United States. The second game (2020) sees Ellie embark on a relentless journey to carry out justice and find closure, when a violent event changes her world as she knows it. As she hunts those responsible one by one, she is confronted with the devastating physical and emotional repercussions of her actions.
Opening this up, this franchise was the first ever story in any game to make me cry! You develop such an emotional connection to the main characters, Joel and Ellie, that every twist and turn throughout both games sends you on an emotional rollercoaster. If anyone was to ask for any game recommendation, I’d always start with these. With seven years between both games, the build-up was insane and with such a gritty storyline, it actually divided fans opinions on whether they loved or hated the second game and it became a huge talking point in the industry. I had free access to both games but still went out and bought copies because of how much I loved them. Suffice to say, if you like playing gripping storylines and don’t mind blood, guts and zombies, both games are a must! Sidenote: a TV series is currently in the works, Joel and Ellie both being played by Game Of Thrones cast members, so be sure to play this before you watch it!
God Of War (2018)
In God Of War, players control Kratos, a Spartan warrior who is sent by the Greek gods to kill Ares, the god of war. As the story progresses, Kratos is revealed to be Ares’ former servant, who had been tricked into killing his own family and is haunted by terrible nightmares. The latest release (2018) is set following the death of Kratos’ second wife. He and his son Atreus journey to fulfil her request that her ashes be spread at the highest peak of the nine realms. Kratos keeps his troubled past from Atreus who is unaware of his divine nature. Along their journey, they come into conflict with monsters and gods of the Norse world.
As a self confessed lover of mythology, this game ticks every box for me. Typically with God Of War games they are set around Greek Mythology, so it was really refreshing for them to inspire this game on Norse Mythology with the majority of it set in ancient Scandinavia in the realm of Midgard. As the eighth game in the franchise, I was worried I’d need to refresh myself on the previous games to catch up, but thankfully it’s a standalone game where you can play it from the off-set. This was the most beautiful console game ever released at the time (in my opinion). The graphics were unreal, the gameplay was smooth and the boss battles unleashed your inner demi-god! Much like The Last Of Us, my main love for this game is the gripping storyline, which sees his son really learn about Kratos’ true nature and his dark past. Another game that is hands down in my top 5 and I will always recommend to anyone looking for a good story to sink their teeth into. Thankfully (for me) it’s a PlayStation exclusive so those on Xbox, suck it up! Sidenote: God Of War: Ragnarok is set to be released in 2022 and looks to be even better than this!
Overwatch is a 2016 team-based multiplayer first-person shooter game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. Described as a “hero shooter”, Overwatch assigns players into two teams of six, with each player selecting from a large roster of characters, known as “heroes”, with unique abilities.
Overwatch for me has to make my top 5 games, simply down to how often I play it (over 1000 hours gameplay). Unlike the aforementioned titles, this game has no campaign story to play and is purely multiplayer combat, making it my ‘go-to’ game whenever I load up the PS5. Like all multiplayer first-person shooters (like Call Of Duty) you develop a love-hate relationship with the game due to it being frustrating if you don’t play well. Each hero in the game has unique abilities that counter other heroes, so it’s very much strategic and team-based as it is just a point and shoot. The second game is due to be released at some stage, it’s been repeatedly pushed back that has become a bit of a joke within the community. The current game is pretty dead if I’m honest, not many people playing it like there used to be, however I’m crossing my fingers that Overwatch 2 will bring in a fresh set of fans and re-ignite the franchise.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Set in a fictional recreation of the American Old West in 1899, Red Dead Redemption 2 focuses on the life of Arthur Morgan and his position in the notorious Van der Linde gang. The game follows the gang’s decline as they are pursued by lawmen, fellow gangs and Pinkerton agents.
Although I never played the first game in 2010, this game was an amazing experience to play and I can only imagine how satisfied fans of the franchise were eight years later to play the second. The game developer for this game (Rockstar) also created Grand Theft Auto and this game is often referred to as a cowboy version of GTA. The graphics are incredible, the gameplay immersive and I love the ability to free-roam the entire map, taking the main story and side quests at your own leisure. This game still has a vast fanbase now with the ability to team up online, riding horseback together, robbing banks, shooting up bars, or even all gathering round a campfire playing poker. It truly has the most attention to detail that I’ve seen in any game ever which is an incredible feat given it’s based in 1899. If you like taking games at your own speed, whether that’s robbing a train or hunting a deer, or simply watching the sunset over a lake, this is the game for you. Sidenote: loads of easter eggs in this game too and the map itself is so big to explore, you’ll get your money’s worth.
Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War
Shadow Of War continues the previous game’s narrative, which is based on JRR Tolkien’s legendarium [with some massive deviations – ed.] and set in between the events of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings film trilogies, from which the game takes inspiration. The player continues the story of the ranger Talion and the spirit of the elf lord Celebrimbor, who shares Talion’s body, as they forge a new Ring of Power to amass an army to fight against Sauron. The game builds upon the “Nemesis System” introduced in Shadow Of Mordor, allowing Talion to gain followers from several races of Middle-Earth, including Uruks and Ologs, and plan out complex strategies using these to complete missions.
This probably won’t reach most people’s top 5 games, but we in A’priori are massive The Lord Of The Rings fans, so this game ticks the perfect box for me personally. The first game Shadow Of Mordor (2014) was good, but Shadow Of War (2017) just tops it for me. The three-year wait was well worth it, knowing I can control orc fortresses and convert their commanders to follow me into battle. The game can get a little samey once you’ve invested 30+ hours into it, but it won’t stop me loading it up for half an hour to quench my The Lord Of The Rings thirst without watching the film. If you love LOTR and/or The Hobbit this game is a no brainer. One of the cool elements is that if you lose a fight with a commander, they grow stronger, making it even harder the next attempt round, which early into the game was a good challenge. Sidenote: a Gollum game is set to be released in 2022, keep an eye out!
Chasing The Dragon is streaming now. For more on A’priori, click here.