411 Games Top 5 09.07.13: Top 5 Action RPGs
Posted by Sean Garmer on 09.07.2013
From Diablo 2 and Baldur's Gate to Kingdom Hearts, Mass Effect 2, Secret of Mana and more, the 411 staff counts down the top 5 Action RPGs of all time!
Hello everyone, I hope it has been a good week for all the readers out there, who likes some action in their RPG?
* In honor of Diablo 3 coming to consoles this week, the 411 staff were asked to come up with their Top 5 Action RPG's*
Sean Garmer (Games Zone Reviewer, Regular Contributor to Cooperative Multiplayer 411 Games Podcast, Organizer of Games Top 5)
* My list may not be "the best list" or contain what may be the most loved action RPG's, but each game on my list has a story and means something to me. So, I apologize if the game you would have chosen is not here. *
5. The Bard's Tale: (1985-1991 Version) I remember being 5 or 6 years old and watching my brother play this game where you had six characters that had to be made by the player. The game had random encounters and you had to build a party around your Bard because he was the most important part of the game. I remember marveling at the graphics and I could spend hours watching my brother battle the enemies even though sometimes it felt like you weren't really going anywhere.
The game has been remade countless times and most recently for IOS and Android. It may seem a bit antiquated to some, but I would recommend trying out the game because later when I played it by myself it was some of the most fun I had playing games as a kid.
4. Secret of Mana (SNES 1993) This was the first action RPG (I don't consider Legend of Zelda part of this genre) I chose to play on my own after reading in several gaming magazines how great it was. Well, I wasn't disappointed at all. I love the story in this game, but the best part was the ring command system and the battles. I could go around fighting enemies all day because the battle system was so much fun. It was also one of the first games to have drop in and out cooperative multiplayer too. If for some reason you haven't played this game yet, go find it, you'll end up loving it.
3. Diablo II (PC 2000) I didn't get to play a lot of Diablo II because at the time we didn't have a computer that could play the game. I had to go over to a friend's house to play it. We would literally spend hours hacking and slashing away, while also making sure we could pick up as much loot as possible. Without the Diablo series being a success there probably wouldn't be too many action RPG type games out there today, so if anything this game deserves to be on anyone's list because it improved upon everything Diablo 1 did and just stands the test of time as a great game. Diablo II is also the last PC game (as in it was only made for the PC at the time) I've ever played.
2. Kingdom Hearts 1 (PS2 2002) I love Disney and I love Final Fantasy so when I saw this at a gift shop at Disney World I thought someone had put a fake game there. So, I asked the lady behind the counter if the game was real, and she handed me the box. I purchased the game right then and I couldn't stop playing it in the hotel that night. I was so hooked on the game that I stayed in that day playing it, while everyone else went to MGM Studios. This is probably one of the few games I've gone back and beaten several times over because of how much I loved the story and because of how much fun the battle system was. After KH Chain of Memories I haven't been able to play any of the other games, but I will I'll be there at launch to pick up KH 3.
1. Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance II (Xbox 2004) Ok, I know this is more accessible Diablo clone and may have even bordered on Gauntlet type territory. However, this game was just so good. It was one of the first games besides Halo, my friends and I would invest heavy time into at gaming parties. I actually liked this more than the first game because you go to learn more about Baldur's Gate itself, not to mention it had even more options than the first game. I still wish I had my PS2 so I could go kick some ass with my dwarf rogue right now!
Jeremy Thomas (Senior Editor of 411mania.com, Writes A Ton of things around 411mania.com, Regular Contributor to Cooperative Multiplayer 411 Games Podcast)
Caveat: It's rather difficult to strictly define an "Action RPG." A lot of people only consider them the top-down style Diablo-style games; others have their own definitions. I'm using the following: An Action RPG is a roleplaying video game wherein real-time action and hack & slash or shooter systems are implemented over turn-based control. Argue with the definition if you want, but all of these fit the criteria.
5. Borderlands - Confession time: I'm not speaking from a ton of experience on this one. I've played a little of it but most of what I've seen has been over-the-shoulder style gameplay. That being said, what I have played of it has been fantastic. And I actually didn't expect it to be as good as it would be; it looked interested to me at first but nothing to truly write home about. Turns out, it really was worth a little ink.
4. Secret of Mana - One of the big influences on early action RPGS, Secret of Mana is a game whose impact is still being felt today. The game's ring menu system is still beloved and used by games now and the re-releases have all been eaten up as quickly as they cam be released and the real-time action sequences were huge for its time. Hell, even the details around SoM's co-op multiplayer are still utilized in games today. It's funny to see how a game that was essentially a sequel to a Final Fantasy spin-off continued that franchise's dominance of yet another RPG market.
3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - KOTOR is a beloved game for very good reason. Other games had integrated Wizards of the Coast's D20 system or D&D system to one degree or another but I still think that this series did it best. The storylines were incredibly well plotted to the point that they're more positive than many novels on the Star Wars EU and the use of companions was extremely well-implemented. Definitely one of my favorites in this genre.
2. Diablo - Hail to the king, baby. Diablo set the bar for action RPGs upon its release in 1996. It simply did everything right: massive replay value, great but simple and intuitive game controls, solid multiplayer, great graphics (for the time) and even a decent storyline considering it was a big dungeon crawl. Diablo II continued the domination and Diablo III...well, we have Diablo and Diablo II. Let's stick with the positives.
1. Mass Effect 2 - You can agure that Mass Effect is more of a shooter RPG than an action RPG but then you're just splitting hairs. It's an RPG with real-time gameplay so that works for me. ME 1 is a phenomenal game, so that Mass Effect 2 blows it out of the water is absolutely stunning. Much like Diablo the game did everything right within its genre and it was so good, it set the bar at a new level for the genre that I don't think any game's equaled yet.
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