Games, Gamers & Gaming: Armchair Action Heroes, Pt. 2

My last column (LJ 4/15/12) began a discussion of the greatest action-adventure games. Those are all titles you’ll need in your circulating collection. Consider also these few additional games.

Rockstar still produces continual Grand Theft Auto titles with themed spin-offs, but its most recent entry‚ Grand Theft Auto IV‚ is perhaps the best. In an effort to deliver a rich story, the game drags at times, but it’s still an amazingly deep endeavor with limitless possibilities. Red Dead Redemption, however, is even better. It’s set in the oft-ignored (at least in video games) Wild West and has players taking on the role of a reformed outlaw who is under the gun of federal agents holding his family hostage until he can bring his old gang to justice. With beautiful scenery and game play that nails the Old West feel, this is a truly unique experience that will appeal to those looking for something different.

Strong narrative pull

It’s impossible to talk action/adventure without including Rocksteady’s Batman offerings. Batman: Arkham Asylum was the comic book experience gamers have always wanted‚ putting them in the role of the iconic hero who must defeat the Joker’s sinister plot to take over Arkham Asylum (home for the criminally insane)and discover the dark secrets of the asylum along the way.

The sequel, Arkham City, is even bigger in terms of both environment and story, with more villains and a more complete realization of the Batman character. These are two of the greatest video games of this generation.

The inFamous series is another fine selection for your library. As Cole McGrath, the player navigates a bustling city in the wake of a catastrophic event, making choices that will define him as either a hero or a villain.

For gamers looking for a rich narrative experience as well as some intriguing game play, the Assassin’s Creed series is ideal. Fans of historical conspiracies will love the complex story of the age-old feud between the shadowy Assassins and the Knights Templar as they battle over a mysterious artifact.

What’s more, each game is set in a different historical time period‚ the first during the Crusades, the second (which spawned two spin-offs) during the Renaissance, and the recently announced third game during the American Revolution. History buffs will enjoy exploring the detailed environments.

More running and gunning

There is a hybrid genre that’s a joint cousin to both the first-person shooter (FPS) (LJ 2/15/12; LJ 3/15/12) and the action-adventure game: the third-person shooter (TPS). With controls and mechanics similar to the FPS but with a more encompassing third-person view, the main distinction between a TPS and a more traditional action-adventure game is the focus on combat, tactical movement, and precision aiming over exploration, discovery, and adventure.

For many gamers, the TPS genre begins and ends with the Gears of War series. While the sf story of a war between a human government and the vicious alien race known as the Locust is a bit thin, it’s hard to top the thrilling action in these games. The series’ signature mechanic of allowing gamers to fire from behind cover and move from one hiding place to another opened up limitless tactical possibilities and became a major influence on other games.

The multiplayer is consistently high quality in this series; the second game introduced the much-loved Horde mode, where a team of players held off wave after wave of progressively more difficult enemies. The competitive modes are also outstanding in all three games. Gears of War is the total package when it comes to multiplayer games.

Keeping it real

For gamers desiring a more realistic‚ but still very intense and exciting‚ experience, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series is a good choice. Spawning from Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six‚ one of the absolute best FPS games‚ and using mechanics inspired by currently existing or in-development military technology, it’s a solid selection for gamers preferring single-player campaigns over competitive multiplayer modes. There are multiplayer options, but the single-player offerings tend to be more extensive than what’s in most other shooters.

If your collection includes these games, then you’ll be well armed in the action-adventure genre. Until next month, remember: just one more level.

M. Brandon Robbins About M. Brandon Robbins

M. Brandon Robbins ( is the Media Coordinator at Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, NC. He's a member of the 2011 class of ALA Emerging Leaders.