#29. Gears of War 3 – Gears Keep Turning
The most recent entry on my list of gaming ironies deals once more with picking up undesired games so as to qualify for a Best Buy discount. I knew I wanted Battlefield 3, Arkham City, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. That left two: games I might not play terribly much but hey, free games are free games, right? So I went ahead and ordered Gears 3, knowing I hadn’t cared very much for the last two. Also there’s a certain stigma attached to the Gears community, one which they tend to either ignore or embrace. I did not want that stigma attached to me. Even as I embarked on a cooperative campaign again, and again, and again. Even as the ribbons and medals began to pour in. It took a long time for me to realize I had become a Gear.
I’m not quite as hardcore as others, and I’ll never get Seriously 3.0. But Gears of War 3 was, for all intents and purposes, my raison de jouer for a great many months, and formed the basis of more than a couple relationships I’ve come to value deeply.
#30. Skyrim – Main Theme
This spring, as Battlefield 3 continued to gather absurd quantities of dust (I’ve literally not played it since the day after it launched; let me know if you’ve got a reason for that to change), I picked up the other game I wasn’t going to enjoy: Skyrim. Looking back on all the hours renewing the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood, embracing and then renouncing lycanthropic form, getting married and buying one or two (or five) houses, and shouting at dragons to light them on fire, I can’t help but chuckle a little at just how not according to plan it all went. And as with Gears, a theme song I never thought I’d so much as listen to now fills my blood with fire, my imagination with zeal.
#31. Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Groovy Chocobo
Today, I’m plowing through the tangled timelines of Final Fantasy XIII-2, a game which I finally broke down and bought after the announcement of a much cooler-looking XIII-3 convinced me I may as well find out what happened after that boring chore of a game concluded. I must say, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by a sequel which plays more like an apology than a continuation. If XIII was linear, uninspiring, and generally bereft of any memorable music or characters, then XIII-2 flees to the opposite extremes.
When playing I find myself intentionally pausing to listen to the music, to talk as much as possible with every character I come across, and to figure out just how Chocolina carries, well, anything. Even when I’m not playing, I’ve actually found myself thinking about the real-life implications of past and future, of time travel, and of a God who transcends all time.
One of my favorite things about XIII-2 is how, musically, it pays constant homage to Uematsu’s legacy. The first time I five-starred a battle, I was eager to do so again, if only to ensure I had properly heard the age-old victory fanfare hiding in the super-modern variation. And riding a chocobo is, as ever, cause to smile, which is why I’ve chosen to end this list with one of two chocobo themes.
You have no idea the urge I had to use the other one.