My Five Favourite Game Series

Another great idea is making the rounds in our corner of the blogosphere right now, which is to name your most beloved game franchises and sing their praise.

Krikket, Naithin, Telwyn, Endalia, Izlain and others have already done so, now I’ll have a crack at it. Late to the party, as per usual.

I’m not aware of any official rules, but like Wilhelm I’m just going to assume that to qualify as a series there must have been at least three distinct games; expansions or DLC don’t count.

Anyway, here goes.

The Secret of Monkey Island


I started to play video games a lot earlier than that, but the first titles that managed to absolutely enthrall me and keep me glued to my chair until four in the morning were the early Lucas Arts adventures (actually ‘Lucasfilm Games’ back then), Maniac Mansion and Zak McCracken.

It’s no wonder then that those will always have a special place in my heart. However the pinnacle of that development team’s work was and remains the Monkey Island series.

Or: how to become a pirate in the weirdest, wackiest way possible

I don’t think I’ve played any other adventure game that’s as good as Monkey Island 1 and 2, before or since, which is hardly surprising as those are pure perfection. Puzzles, dialogue, humor, control scheme, music…all unmatched to this day. Even the graphics were great by 1990’s standards.

Of course the special editions look even better; highly recommended

Part three, The Curse of Monkey Island, introduced voice acting to the series, which was also outstanding. Overall it’s ‘only’ a very good game, but it was still miles ahead of the competition.

Unfortunately everything that came after couldn’t hold a candle to the first three titles, but those alone easily make the series one of my all-time favourites.


When I bought a Playstation 3 in 2010 the first two Uncharted games had already been released some time ago, and while I was aware that people had a lot of praise for them – especially the second one – they weren’t high on my shopping list for some reason or other.

Part three released in 2011 to critical acclaim, but even then did I not jump on the bandwagon, at least not right away. The hype prompted me to add its predecessor to my Amazon wishlist though, and some time later Lakisa’s parents gifted it to me for my birthday.

Ain’t that the truth

Holy crap, that game pulls no punches. Its prelude is probably the best, most gripping opening sequence I’ve ever experienced in a video game. It sucked me in, digested me thoroughly for about 15 hours and spat out an entirely new person. Or something. Look, I’m obviously exaggerating, but not by much. It was that great an experience.

Of course I bought parts one and three immediately afterwards and played them in order. The first is a bit rough in comparison, but still very good; the third is almost as great as the second, but not quite.


Uncharted 4 is one of the very few games I’ve specifically bought a piece of hardware for, in this case the Playstation 4, and it did only disappoint insofar that – spoiler, kind of – the ending makes clear that we really won’t be seeing any more adventures of Nathan Drake, like the game’s subtitle suggests.

If I had to rank them I’d say 2, 3, 4, 1, from best to worst, but in truth there is no ‘worst’ because they’re all great. I firmly believe that anyone who loves video games should have played these.

Grand Theft Auto

What can be said about the GTA series that hasn’t been said a thousand times? From GTA III onwards each game was a paradise for open world fans, full of memorable characters, action-packed missions, exciting and/or wacky stories and tons of optional side-activities.

Also featured: stealing and driving cars; the name wouldn’t make much sense otherwise, would it?

Each new title’s release also reheated discussions about violence in video games, and the series has often been used by politicians as a poster child for ‘bad’ games that should be banned outright. I believe the most recent entry, GTA V, was the first that didn’t make much headlines in that regard, although the gameplay itself hasn’t changed much.

I guess that’s in part because gaming as a whole has finally started to become much more widely accepted in recent years, and it’s not quite as easily to scapegoat anymore. However the bigger reason, I believe, is that the game is just too good not to acknowledge it as what it really is: a piece of art.

We’ve all matured, you see. We talk things through first now, THEN we shoot

I’ve extensively played GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas and V. They’re all great. If you only ever play one I suggest to play V though.

Mortal Kombat


I’ve already talked about my history with the Mortal Kombat series in some detail here, so I’ll keep this short.

I’m actually not a big fighting game buff, so to have fun with a game like this I need it to be accessible above all else, and I also need more than ‘just’ the fighting to hook me.

The fact that one character looked and sounded just like Bruce Lee, of whom I’ve always been a big fan, was what prompted me to buy MK1 for the SNES, and since the game was pretty easy to learn I liked the gameplay a lot. MK2 was even better and introduced some of my favourite characters to the series.

Just like with GTA, Mortal Kombat games were always the subject of much debate, mainly due to their huge repertoire of gory finishing moves. Obviously no one ever really dies in a fighting game though, and MK is no exception. That fact alone serves, to me, as proof that the games don’t take themselves very seriously. The hilarious story modes later entries had only reinforced that impression.

Those two alone must have killed each other millions of times by now

Over a span of 27 years I’ve played five Mortal Kombat games extensively and dabbled in a couple more. Yep, definitely a favourite.

Unreal Tournament

When I bought the first UT in 1999 it was quite a revelation. Up to that point I’d already spent a lot of time playing multiplayer shooters with a couple of friends – the likes of Doom, Doom 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood and Quake – and we’d had a lot of fun.

Unreal Tournament was quite different though. Above all it was a lot faster and much more fluid. Sprinting across maps and fragging people had never felt that good, and I loved every minute of it. The futuristic setting was also right up my alley.

The icing on the cake were the available game modes though. We’d played pretty much only free-for-all deathmatch before, and while that can be all kinds of fun fighting in teams over flags or control points offered us a whole new level of tactical gameplay. We even used the great Assault mode to team up against CPU-controlled opponents, giving us our first experience of co-op shooter gameplay.

The series’ second entry was called UT 2003, and while it looked much better thanks to a new engine the gameplay was, in my opinion, inferior to that of its predecessor, mainly due to a changed Domination mode that I didn’t like as much, and the Assault mode outright missing.

Then came UT 2004 though, the undisputed apex of the series. It didn’t actually change that much, but it brought the much-missed Assault back, and also a cool new mode called Onslaught that had huge maps and vehicle combat.

Unfortunately “Mailvaltar” wouldn’t fit on the license plate

I was so into 2k4 that I even joined a German UT-clan for a while. They were a great bunch, however playing the game that much and at that level made me realize that a) I’m not actually that good at playing shooters, and b) even the best ones get repetitive after a while. So I left the clan again, but kept playing the game on and off.

Of course I was pretty hyped for the release of Unreal Tournament 3 regardless (what is it with gaming franchises and their weird numbering?). Unfortunately it disappointed, for reasons I can’t quite explain myself. It had a new, great looking engine and hoverboards. Hoverboards!! Those are the only merits that immediately spring to mind though, so I guess by 2007 we’d all hoped for a bit more innovation.

My enthusiasm fizzled out relatively quickly then and I moved on to other franchises. I assume I wasn’t alone in this as there’s never been talk about another UT game as far as I’m aware. Still, I’ve sunk ungodly amounts of time into the first three titles, and 2k4 will probably remain my favourite multiplayer-shooter of all time.

Blapril 2020 post count: 10

Get over here!!


I’ve been a Mortal Kombat fan from day one. I played the first game on the SNES and fell in love with it right away. MK2, also on SNES, was even better in every regard and became my favourite fighting game for a very long time. It actually held on to that throne all the way until the series’ reboot came to the PS3 generation in 2011.

In my opinion the games inbetween weren’t quite as good. MK3 was okay, but the more modern stage settings weren’t as stylish and the new characters didn’t do much for me. Then came the time during which many established franchises of pretty much all genres had the same problem: the shift from 2D to 3D graphics wasn’t favourable for them. They looked crappier, felt clunkier, had camera problems and often didn’t run as smoothly as their 2D predecessors. Additionally many of those MK titles were relatively complex mechanically, with different fighting styles to switch between during battles, weapons and stuff like that. That wasn’t what MK had always been about.

The reboot, just titled Mortal Kombat (sometimes called MK9 by fans), was a return to old strenghts gameplaywise and looked pretty amazing to boot. All of my favourite characters were there, it had a good story mode and loads of stuff to unlock. I had a lot of fun with it.

Despite that I didn’t really keep a close eye on what Netherrealm Studios were up to afterwards. I can’t even say why, I guess I just had my hands full with the MMOs I was playing. I took note of Mortal Kombat X’s release, but didn’t buy it and pretty much forgot it existed right away.

Then, some time in December of last year, I watched Angry Joe and his crew react to a surprise reveal at the Video Game Awards:

To say that this got me fired up to play a Mortal Kombat title again would be an understatement. I especially appreciated the short timespan between reveal and release of the game. I don’t know about you, but I can’t hold my excitement for an upcoming game on a high level for, like, two years or more. If you want me to get excited and stay excited up until launch, dear game developers and publishers, this is how you do it.

During the few month’s wait more and more info became available. Previews looked very promising and Ed Boon and co. don’t have a reputation for delivering half-assed games or ripping off their playerbase, so I decided to buy it at my local GameStop as soon as they had it.

Minor spoilers ahead.

Mortal Kombat 11_20190426205340

I jumped into the story mode right away, and I gotta say it’s awesome. The story itself is typical Mortal Kombat stuff, so don’t expect too much, but I quite liked it. They use a plot device to bring some fan favourite characters who had died and basically become zombies during the past few games back in their living state. It’s especially nice to see Liu Kang, the game’s original main hero and winner of the first two tournaments, alive and kicking again.

Mortal Kombat 11_20190426210713
Him and his little, fiery friend

The cutscenes are extensive and very well done, the transitions into and out of the fights you actively play are pretty seamless. During some chapters you can even choose between two fighters, which is great. One aspect of MK9’s story mode I didn’t like was that I had to win too many fights with heroes I don’t like to play very much, and this is a cool way to reduce that.

Mortal Kombat 11_20190421002425
Guess who this chapter’s main cast is

It’s not really that hard to get into the groove with different fighters though, which in my opinion has always been one of Mortal Kombat’s strenghts.

You see, I’m not a hardcore fighting game buff. I don’t want to study and practice a single character for months so I can hold my ground against the best of the best. I just want to play some fun matches every now and then. When playing against the CPU I choose the medium difficulty setting at most. I also like to be able to pick up the controller and just play even after a longer break.

Mortal Kombat is perfect in that regard. The basic attacks are the same for every character and pretty much haven’t changed at all over the last 27 years. When I pick up any MK game and choose any fighter I always know that I need to use Down + Triangle for an uppercut and Back + Circle for a sweep, for example. Coming back or transitioning from one title to the next couldn’t be easier. It’s the casual gamer’s dream, really.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun here if you like your fighting games to be complex though, far from it. Learning all those special moves, blocks, counters, combo-breakers and stand-up moves definitely takes a while, becoming proficient in reading your opponent and executing the best moves in the exact right moment is a science in itself.

This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way when I tried to play some Towers of Time. These are beefed up versions of the series’ staple single player mode and have fixed difficulties and various modifications to make them more challenging. Since the game’s release many players have already reported them to be too hard and frustrating, and unfortunately I have to agree. Getting repeatedly shot at with unblockable missiles or attacked by a second enemy whom you can’t hit back is really not much fun. There’s been a patch already though, with more on the way. Netherrealm studios seem to take our feedback to heart.

Which is a good thing, because the biggest gripe players have right now has to do with the game’s microtransactions. Gee, what a shocker. And here I had promised not to talk about that stuff anymore for a while.

Mortal Kombat 11_20190419113446
Even Raiden is seriously pissed off

The gist of the complaints is that unlocking costumes and stuff in the Crypt is now completely random, and it takes too long to earn the multiple currencies needed for those unlocks. There’s no question that this is supposed to encourage us to spend additional money in the cash shop, so I’m glad that they have promised to shift the balance to the players’ benefit somewhat.

Personally I’m not affected all that much to be honest. While it’s very important to me that my MMORPG characters look exactly the way I want them to look, in a game like this I care much less about that. My current main character, Baraka, looks perfectly fine from the start, and I wouldn’t notice his blades looking differently or his tunic having a different colour while fighting anyway. Still, it feels much more motivating and rewarding to get shiny new stuff regularly of course, so I’m looking forward to the changes.

Is there something on your mind?

Even in its current state MK 11 is the best Mortal Kombat yet. It plays great, it looks awesome and to me the story mode alone was worth the purchase. If you liked any of its predecessors you won’t be disappointed.