Contributed by Suzanne Baldwin, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
We’ve all done it: “Just one more try,” or “Just one more level.” It’s a common phrase, often uttered by gamers who really should be headed to bed or work.
As video and computer games grow more exciting and detailed, they become more addicting; if you’re looking for a good way to bond with your computer or gaming console instead of your bed, here are some games that are guaranteed to put an end to your free time.
My top ten most addictive video games:
10. Guitar Hero (Activision)
We’ve all wanted to be in a band at one point or another in our lives. Guitar Hero allows the player to rock out in front of a screaming crowd needing to overcome stage fright. Mocked by some for its plastic guitars that used buttons instead of strings, Guitar Hero nonetheless managed to win hordes of fans for two reasons: It’s easy to play, and it lets you live out your rock star fantasy… without actually getting on a stage and performing. Later installments added a microphone to the mix, allowing would-be singers to inflict themselves on unsuspecting hordes of pixellated fans.
9. DOOM (iD Software)
Forget the horrible movie of the same name. Doom wowed players and critics alike when it debuted in 1993, allowing gamers to fight demons on a military base…in space. Naturally, gamers around the world found reasons to avoid working, sleeping, or eating, instead devoting themselves to guiding their space marine character through his mission. Graphics have evolved to the point where Doom looks dated and a bit silly, but this is the granddaddy of all the shooters on this list.
8. Halo (Bungie/Microsoft)
Before it spawned sequels, books, soundtracks and a possible Peter Jackson-helmed movie, Halo was marketed as “combat evolved.” A first-person shooter that takes place in the far reaches of the universe, Halo mashed together the best parts of the Duke Nukem and Alien series, and started an industry-wide quest to develop a “Halo killer,” or a game that could knock the shooter off its pedestal. Halo remains relatively unmatched in sheer popularity, thanks to its beautifully rendered graphics and attention to detail. Players can take on the alien Covenant themselves, or play with friends over a network.
7. Left 4 Dead (Valve)
Taking on zombies is a messy business. Left 4 Dead focuses on four survivors making their way through a world filled with “the Infected.” Players pick a character and try to navigate through ruined buildings and cities on their way to a safe place. Part of the game’s appeal is its hyper-realism – things get trashed at the end of the world, and the surroundings are dark and dingy. Much of the game takes place at night or in poorly lit interiors (a trademark of horror games), which means the Infected can spring and swarm from all those dark corners. Maybe that’s why the game is so addictive; the odds of actually facing a zombie apocalypse in real life are slim to none, but Left 4 Dead lets the zombie aficionado dream.
6. Call of Duty (Activision)
It seems like there isn’t much Call of Duty can’t do. The shooter series has installments set in various twentieth-century wars, from World War II to the Cold War. Call of Duty and its offshoots — no pun intended — found tremendous popularity in college dorms, where players teamed up to take out enemies ranging from Nazis to zombies (and even Nazi zombies) instead of completing their studying.
5. EverQuest (Sony)
Before there was World of Warcraft, there was EverQuest, also known as “NeverRest.” Players disappear into EverQuest’s fantasy world for long stretches of time, occasionally surfacing to eat or reassure friends that they’re still alive. Characters go on quests throughout the game world, which the manufacturer updates with frequent expansion packs. Granted, none of the actual playable characters look quite as detailed (or attractive) as the cover girl, but the game’s popularity continues to soar 12 years after its debut.
4. Grand Theft Auto (Rockstar Games)
It’s violent, unnervingly realistic at times…oh, and parents have tried to get it banned. The Grand Theft Auto series has long lured in players with its highly rendered cityscapes and intricate storylines, but let’s be blunt – the real draw is the option to live out a pixellated life of crime. Your character can steal cars, outrun police, and generally commit the sort of atrocities most normal gamers wouldn’t dream of. Sure, you can play the storyline version and help your character reach the top in as harmless a manner as possible, but what’s the fun in that?
3. Angry Birds (Rovio)
The concept is ludicrous – evil pigs steal eggs from birds, prompting the avians to launch a full-scale assault on the pig kingdom – but that’s part of why it works. Originally released for cell phones, Angry Birds is probably responsible for more lost hours of sleep than taxes or finals. The game is as frustrating as it is entertaining, requiring you to launch various cartoon birds at pig dwellings made of wood or stone. This can be a time-consuming process if you don’t aim your birds just right, but you won’t miss the hours you spend trying.
2. World of Warcraft (Blizzard)
Looking to give up eating, sleeping, and the rest of your social life? Come to Azeroth! The undisputed king of addictive video games since its debut in 2004, “WoW” has ensnared millions of subscribers and earned a spot in pop culture references. Players design characters of various species and allegiances, then go on quests and join guilds in the far-flung fantasy world. Stunning graphics and the ability to communicate with other players makes it entirely too easy to plummet headfirst into the game; many a player has glanced up at the clock and realized that his two-hour raid turned into an all-night expedition.
1. The Sims (Maxis)
At first glance, The Sims didn’t look particularly appealing on paper. Create a character and make him live out his life? Force him to go to work, make friends, upgrade his wardrobe and feed his guinea pig? It all sounded suspiciously like real life – which is possibly why The Sims works. The game delivers full control to reluctant Type A personalities everywhere, allowing them to decorate a house exactly to their specifications. The tiny, inch-high characters, called “Sims,” will operate autonomously to some degree, though they often need player guidance to search for jobs, throw parties, and clean the bathroom. Many a player has sat down intending to kill an hour of time, only to be drawn into love triangles, murderous neighbors, alien abductions, and the infamous kitchen fires. Forget real life; The Sims and its various upgrades and offshoots is a network drama right in your living room.