Top 5: Sci-fi Video Games

Another month, another Top 5 here at Shoot the Rookie, and this month I wanted to take a look at my favourite genre – Science Fiction. So let’s go where (sorry about this) no one has gone before and take a look at my Top 5 Science Fiction Video Games. Sorry again.

I’ve always been fascinated by sci-fi, not just in games but also in films, TV shows and books. I’m obsessed with the idea of going to space. I love looking at stars and planets and just imagining what could be out there (apart from the truth *ahem*). Science fiction isn’t necessarily about imagining what is actually out there, but rather, about creating new worlds, introducing new ideas, species, technologies and stories to create the highest possible level of entertainment. This is perhaps better explained by our friends at the Oxford Dictionary:

Science Fiction

noun

mass noun

  • Fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.

What’s a ‘mass noun’? Anyway, when I started thinking about this I realised that video games do science fiction both regularly and to a high standard. I also realised when brainstorming that I could have made this a Top 10 without even trying, but instead I had to be cruel and cut out some amazing games. There are also a lot of very famous science fiction games that I’ve never played, so I would really like you to let me know which big games you think should make this list. After you’ve actually read the list that is.

Without getting further sidetracked, here are my Top 5 Science Fiction Video Games, and for added spice this month I’ve decided to put them IN ORDER OF BESTNESS!

5. Half Life 2 (Valve, 2004)

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Half Life 2 is an excellent first person shooter which depicts life during a pretty damn scary alien invasion. As soon as you arrive in City 17 and are greeted by the calm yet unsettling face of Earth’s nominated administrator, Wallace Breen, you are thrown into a complex world where you must lead humanity’s resistance against the Combine invasion.

Whilst it has its not so great moments – there is too much driving and some of the lengthy combat sections become kinda samey, Half Life 2 presents not just a great sci-fi story, but also a compelling struggle for survival against monumental odds.

Even though the protagonist Dr Gordon Freeman cuts a silent figure, the world has a number of interesting characters that make it feel very relatable, whilst the game also boasts cool sci-fi technology like the gravity gun and the teleporter. All in all it provides a thrilling and compelling science fiction gaming experience, which is even further enhanced by its overlap with the Portal universe.

4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Platinum Games/Konami 2013)

Image: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2013, Konami/Kojima Productions/Platinum Games)

Metal Gear Rising is an exciting action romp in an entirely believable dystopian near-future world.

Whilst it was perhaps strange to make a Metal Gear game that owes so little to the stealth-heavy action gameplay of its predecessors, it is a good fit for the series and it manages a convincing portrayal of the political and military intrigue that are common to Metal Gear games.

It is the technological elements however which identify it as a sci-fi game. The main component of this is the protagonist Raiden, who by this point in the series looks distinctly cyborgian, and the details of his transformation make for interesting reading.

He runs on a kind of fuel which he can harvest from other cyborgs. If he gets enough he can initiate ‘blade mode’, which links this fuel to his big massive blade thing, and allows him to cut up enemies in a precise manner, in turn enabling him to harvest more fuel.

This may sound kind of gruesome. In fact, yes it is, but not all of his modifications are so deadly. He also has an inbuilt Codec device for easy communication, as well as some kind of crazy AR visor, not to mention his tough-as-nails armour. I can’t help thinking when writing about this technology that we should be at once scared and hopeful for the future of our planet.

Despite being a tough game with a final boss that transcends difficulty, this is a great sci-fi action game that is well worth checking out.

3.Master of Orion (Simtex/Microprose 1993)

MOO A little research tells me that the Master of Orion series has been rebooted in the last few years to not entirely wonderful reviews. However I have extremely fond memories of playing the original.

Master of Orion is a turn based strategy game comparable to Civilization. You start with a ship or two on the home planet of your chosen species and you explore the galaxy, engage in politics and trade, gain access to resources to allow your species to expand, build up your army to achieve galaxy domination, and if you like you can even conquer Orion – the once home of an ancient and technologically advanced alien civilization.

Whilst it has no story of its own, the beauty of Master of Orion is that in every play through you create your own unique story. I envisaged make-believe cultures for each of my colonies, crews for my ships and personalities for my advisors and the leaders of other species. I imagined myself as the ruler of my chosen race and I’d set myself different goals in each play through. Whilst it may now be tricky to find copies of the original release, this is definitely a game that made me dream of a life lived amongst the stars.

2. Super Metroid (Nintendo/Intelligent Systems 1994)

WiiUVC_SuperMetroid_04

I have to admit that one of the main reasons I opted for Super Metroid over the also excellent Metroid Prime 3 is simply that it came first. Metroidvania style games number so many these days that that type of gameplay may no longer be heralded, but as an early proprietor of the genre, Super Metroid gets it spot on.

Exploring the planet Zebes to retrieve a (really cute) baby Metroid, Samus must explore the planet right down to its core, and get past a huge array of enemies and fiendish puzzles on the way. It is the beauty of the way the world opens up to you which makes this game so special. Gaining flashy new sci-fi abilities broadens your (admittedly quite narrow) horizons, each one revealing options where it previously seemed there were only impossible barriers and dead ends. It is a rare example of a game where backtracking is half the joy of it.

Samus herself of course is a great sci-fi character, decked in her power suit to which abilities can be added, but the other main reason I chose this game is because of its atmosphere. As Samus, you are alone exploring a strange planet. It feels very lonely, and that feeling is something which is explored in many great sci-fi stories. I never really think that Samus would be scared, but as the player, the sheer loneliness of the game and scale of the task at hand can certainly make you feel apprehensive. What Super Metroid achieves is a perfect harmony of excellent and varied gameplay, alongside a dark and oppressive sci-fi setting, where the planet itself is a major character.

1. Xenoblade Chronicles X (Monolith Soft/Nintendo 2015)

Xenoblade X Skell

I can get Xenoblade games into any list, but the identification of Xenoblade Chronicles X as my favourite science fiction game is not just a casual afterthought of a Xenoblade fangirl.

Whilst the other two Xenoblade games have strong sci-fi elements, X stands out as a masterpiece of science fiction writing and vision, which could easily be translated to the big screen or adapted as a novel.

It just ticks all the boxes. Not only does it have spaceships, aliens and new technologies, but it has the beauty and terror of exploring an alien planet, the complexities of establishing contact with diverse alien species, and the gnawing uncertainty of survival in a new world. Despite all these elements however, my favourite thing about it is its exploration of humanity.

On the one hand it represents humans as a resilient race, capable of working together to survive. It also recognises that we can be frivolous and fun or adventurous and single-minded, but it doesn’t stop there, and isn’t afraid to suggest we can also be hateful, bigoted, deceitful and violent. This game shows humanity driven from Earth, struggling  to survive in a new world. But instead of depicting humans as the heroes, it paints them as a people who will struggle against each other as much as they will unite to prevent their own destruction, and this depiction feels worryingly close to home.


So! What do you think?  Have I written a passable Hitchhiker’s Guide to the best science fiction video games in the Galaxy, or is your phaser now set to stunned? Let me know your thoughts below.

Thanks for reading,

Pix1001 x

 

32 thoughts on “Top 5: Sci-fi Video Games

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  1. I havent played many sci fi games that I can think of. Im not sure id the Gears if War series would xount… I mean they have aliens and different weaponry so maybe. I have to through in Galaga though hehehhe that has to be a sci fi arcade game right?

    -Luna 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Of course you would get Xenoblade in there.

    For me my relation with sci-fi games extends to Final Fantasy XIII… and that’s all really.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always thought I hated science fiction for some reason, but then I played Mass Effect and fell in love. Now I feel like I’ve been missing out on a whole genre and need to catch up!

    Is Half Life 2 worth playing nearly 15 years later? I’ve been on the fence about that one for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There are so many great sci-fi games that I’d struggle to cut it down to just five.

    But some that would be on my short list, the Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Dead Space, Dead Space 2, Gears of War (series), Halo (series), Chrono Trigger, Parasite Eve, Resident Evil (series), Final Fantasy VII, Xenogears, Xenosaga trilogy, Xenoblade Chronicles, Killzone 1-3, Bioshock trilogy, Starcraft, Starcraft 2, Portal, Portal 2, Deus Ex (series), Metro 2033, Doom (series), Perfect Dark, Beyond Good and Evil, No Man’s Sky, Freelancer, Wing Commander III, Elite Dangerous, this is becoming more than just a short list…. I’ll stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mass noun
    /ˈmas ˌnoun/
    noun
    plural: mass nouns

    a noun denoting something that cannot be counted (e.g., a substance or quality), in English usually a noun that lacks a plural in ordinary usage and is not used with the indefinite article, e.g., luggage, china, happiness.

    (Source: Google Dictionary)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My favorite science fiction games are the Zero Escape series. I really like their angle on science fiction because the games are based on real pseudoscience (talk about an oxymoron!) as well as incorporating lots of references to popular science fiction works like Schrodinger’s Cat and Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. The sci-fi is also heavily blended with thriller elements, and focuses on time travel rather than space travel. I haven’t played any on this list, so I might have to keep my eye open for them in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My favorite Science Fiction games. Easy –

    Mass Effect (all of them)
    Star Wars KOTOR
    Stellaris
    Xcom 2
    Starbound

    That’s just off the top of my head :). I’ll be here all night if I keep going.

    Nice list!

    And Xenoblade X is awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A lot of the FF games have big sci-fi elements, it is something I really like about them. I originally thoguht I would hate FF because I assumed it would too ‘fantasy’ for my tastes, but actually it has all kinds of things.

    I’ll let you in on a secret…there is no Xenoblade in the next Top 5. First time ever!

    Like

  9. I’ve never played Mass Effect. Based on all the love I see for it I really should consider trying it!

    I’m not sure I can really recommend Half Life 2 unless you really like First Person Shooters (which I don’t). The world and characters and story are great, but for me the gameplay was too repetitive, and there were too many stretches with no story development or conversations.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lol! Yes I had the same problem. I decided to save Resident Evil for a horror based list, and I tend to include Portal in every list I make so thought I’d skip it this time. There really are just so many!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am intrigued by the Zero Escape games. I played the demo of Virtue’s Last Reward on the 3ds and thought it was fascinating, but for some reason never actually bought it. Does it help to play the games in order or does it not really matter?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I can truthfully say that I have never played any of those games! I will need to check them out. I really should have played a Mass Effect by now, even if jsut to see what they are like!

    When I made my list initially I had about 20 games, there are just so many great sci-fi games it was jard to cut it down to 5.

    Glad to know you like Xenoblade X, it seems to divide opinion somewhat!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Order is pretty significant, I would say. You could start with Zero’s Last Reward and it wouldn’t be too bad, but some of the biggest reveals at the end of the game wouldn’t have any significance because they are related to characters from the first game. The last game (Zero Time Dilemma) relies heavily on both games that came before it, so that one you definitely don’t want to touch until you’ve played the others.

    If you have a Steam account, I think you can get the full trilogy there which may be easier than finding the three of them individually for the DS/3DS if you ever do decide to jump in.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I highly recommend all of them :). If you game on PC I would check out Stellaris. It’s amazing! And it’s easy to lose track of time in that game. Mass Effect is tied with The Elder Scrolls as my favorite game series. All 4 games is fantastic!

    I know the pains of making a “best of” list. Whenever I do a top 10 list I usually have about 30-40 games that I consider great and have to narrow it down to only 10 games is a real challenge.

    Xenoblade X is the best game on the Wii U by a mile (I’m including Breath of The Wild in that). It’s such a good game and is one of the few to max out my scoring system. It’s the only Wii U game to max my system.

    I would like to add Titanfall 2 to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Basically, a mass noun is something which is referred to but can’t be measured, quantified or doesn’t physically exist.
    For instance, “suitcase” is a noun because you can count how many of them you have and can hold them. But “luggage” is a mass noun because you cannot have “1 luggage” or “2 luggage”, only “some luggage”.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for the recommendation! Despite including Half Life 2 in the list, I don’t often play first person shooters, but I should try and play the really good ones!

    Like

  17. Mass effect series would be there for me. Portal/Portal 2 I guess (if that counts?). Halo series though I still haven’t played them a bit I have some fun memories of co-op playing Halo games so they would be high up on my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I would have put Portal in, but didn’t want to include both it and Half Life, and I feel like I always include it inall my lists! Loadsa people are saying Mass Effect – I don’t know why but I’ve never really fancied it, but seeing how much people love it I would consider giving it a go some time!

    Like

  19. This was a good post. I played the recent reboot of Master of Orion and it was ok. I do like Galactic civ 3, along with Star Ruler and Imperium Galactica 2 (I like strategy). Interestingly, when I was at Uni studying comicbook literature and comparing to Sci Fi, the distinction between the two is that Sci Fi is based in a Utopian or Dystopian society, whilst Super Hero Literature is about the journey to utopia/dystopia.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. That’s really interesting I hadn’t thought of the distinction like that, although I don’t really read much super hero stuff.

    I played the first Imperium Galactica and really liked it but I don’t think I had the second one and I’ve never tried Star Ruler or Galactic Civ. Sci fi seems to really lend itself to strategy games!

    Like

  21. I’m a big sci-fi fan as well. I’d probably say System Shock 2 and Half Life 2 are my clear favorites of the genre. Alien: Isolation is also really good. I was amazed at how well it captured the feel of the original film.

    Liked by 1 person

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