James Comey’s Favorite Video Games, Ranked
James Comey has a lot of time on his hands. Ever since his dismissal as Director of the FBI in May of 2017, the Tall Guy (as his friends and people with eyes call him) has been living his best life. What he tells most people is that he was busy writing a book. That’s technically true. But among his inner circle, James Comey isn’t a writer. The Tall Guy is a die-hard gamer.
Of course, James would be furious if I didn’t specify that’s lower-case g “gamer,” not to be confused with the nasty group of hidebound and hateful gremlins who have co-opted the capital-G “Gamer” title. No, Comey doesn’t post on Reddit or Gab and he honestly doesn’t even read reviews, much less have any reason to be mad about whatever it is these regressive ghouls get mad about. He’s emphatic that he’s in it for the love of the game, and that’s it.
And lemme tell you, he loves the game. Here are his top ten, and what it is he loves about them.
10. Spec Ops: The Line
Comey came up as a Republican, was promoted to directorship of the FBI by a Democrat, then fired by a Republican. Over the years, the Tall Guy’s relationship with America has grown more complex and troubled, and in the last year he was in exactly the right fame of mind to play this fraught and moody First Person Shooter.
He didn’t play it when it first came out, due to being too busy and being circumspect about its confrontational take on American intervention and warfare. Now? James is a changed man, ready to deal with a game that fights back, with both gameplay and ideology. It’s a wide world, and Comey wants to widen his mind to fit it.
9. Horizon: Zero Dawn
A surprise hit on the PS4, Horizon: Zero Dawn captured the hearts of millions of people with its sweeping world and robust characters. James Comey, the Big Guy himself, was one of those hearts.
“I think every father would want his daughters to grow up to be like Aloy,” he said about the powerful, independent hero of the game, “I think my four daughters are a bit like her, honestly. Honestly, my two sons could learn from her as well. Yep, my six children, that you probably didn’t know I had.”
Comey was sucked in by the wide and gorgeous world, stayed for the exciting stealth and combat, and was floored by the hard-hitting message of the game’s story. In a world where everything seems to be spinning out of control, he thinks this is a cautionary tale we can’t afford to miss.
8. Civilization IV
If you’ve never played one of Sid Meier’s Civilization games, here’s a rundown: you control a nation-state at the dawn of civilization, and it’s your goal to create the greatest country on Earth over the millennia, literally reaching for the stars to colonize other worlds by game’s end. This is, of course, right up the Big Guy’s alley, and he continues to try to build up our nation with books and discourse even after being removed from his position of power.
A lot of people go for the later Civilization entries, but James got on board with Civ IV and has never looked back. He’s played V and VI some, but finds them to be lacking the fiddly dials of IV, as well as the truly great mod community.
He’s been slowly coming around of VI now that the Rise and Fall expansion has come out, but it hasn’t broken into the top ten, yet. Don’t tell him, but I think he likes it because it lets him win military victories more easily. His favorite thing ever is to smash a spearman with five tanks.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Nintendo Switch stormed onto the scene with the help of the latest entry in the Legend of Zelda series, a massive open-world adventure full of striking moments both large and small. More importantly, James Comey loves this game.
“I take my Switch everywhere,” he told me, breathlessly, “I’ve put in probably four-hundred hours and I’ll probably end up with four-hundred more. Honestly, I was playing this most of the time while dictating my book. I mean, writing my book.”
Maybe the theme of righting an ancient wrong, of saving the world from a disaster that Link and his allies were unable to defeat before speaks to him. Perhaps he sees something in the tale of the very weapons of order and security being co-opted by an insidious force and used to shatter a once-great society.
Or it could be he just loves the motorcycle.
6. Milon’s Secret Castle
Look, this ancient NES game from Hudson Soft is terrible. I have no idea what’s going on here. I’ve never even seen him play it. But he insists it’s one of his favorites of all time, so here it is.
If you’ve been alive in the last two years, you’ve probably seen some coverage of Blizzard’s Overwatch. It’s like a modern-day Team Fortress 2, which is just a few years out from being the modern-day Team Fortress Classic, all of which are team-based shooters focusing on game modes like capture the flag (or payload, as the case may be).
The Big Guy hasn’t just seen it. He’s dived in headfirst. I’m not supposed to tell you this, but he’s actually competed in some online tournaments, and is pretty happy with his place on the ladder. His goal is to be the best Bastion player in the world, though his friends know, realistically, he’s not much of a Bastion at all.
4. Final Fantasy XIII-2
Out of all the myriad Final Fantasy games, this is the only one that’s been able to keep James Comey’s attention. A little-celebrated entry in the series, this title follows up on Final Fantasy XIII in a truly unusual fashion, telling the story of Lightning’s sister Serah as she time travels with a young man from the end of the world. Despite its often light-hearted tone, it’s not a spoiler to say that the main plot is oddly melancholy and tragic.
“I love the mission-based gameplay and refinement of the battle system,” Comey says often, “also, who wouldn’t want to be able to go back in time? Wouldn’t it be great if you could change the past, if you could avert the catastrophe? We all have things we regret. We all feel like we can see the dark future we’ve helped cause. It looms larger every day. If I could go back, I’d do it differently. I swear to God, I would. I’m sorry.”
3. Sonic 3
Comey’s car is usually pumping out some of the beloved music from Sega’s Sonic 3, widely regarded as one of the best in the Sonic the Hedgehog narrative. James wanted to specify that it’s really Sonic 3 & Knuckles he likes best, but that’s really a combination of two games so we told him it doesn’t count. He can’t have it both ways.
2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
If you’ve ever been around James Comey when he’s had a couple cocktails, you’ve heard him quote this game. His affinity for the punished and tragic Venom Snake is well-known, leading him to jokingly refer to himself as “Punished Tall Guy” on occasion.
Taking the franchise in a new direction, Phantom Pain gives the player control of Venom Snake in a time when he was building a mercenary empire and trying to free a world’s worth of mistreated soldiers from the cruelty of war. In a wide open world, Snake can crawl through, assault, or even steal enemy fortifications.
Al of this comes within a tale of vengeance, regret, and tragedy. Comey himself always cries during the “you are all diamonds to me” scene, though he’ll never admit it. The disgraced ex-hero speaks to him, and the convoluted, bizarre tale of phantom limbs and vocal chord parasites is among his favorite ever to grace a video game.
“He just wanted to do right by his people,” Comey grumbled, recommending the Metal Gear series to John Boehner at a cocktail fundraiser, “But they betrayed him. They threw him on the ground like trash, and he never got any recognition. No appreciation. Both sides hated him, but he fought for his people. His people, John!”
He has repeatedly tried to direct message series director Hideo Kojima with questions. Kojima has yet to reply.
- Halo: Combat Evolved
The grandaddy of console shooters, Halo was released for Xbox in 2001 and changed the game forever. Not only did Bungie invent the twin-sticks control system that would dominate console FPS games thenceforth, Halo also (mostly accidentally) invented online FPS combat on console. Millions of young men around the world suddenly found themselves carrying their Xboxes to their friends’ houses, ready to play together or online.
James “The Tall Guy” Comey was one of those men. He was only 41, not quite a college-aged youth, but still young enough to get on board this freight train. He doesn’t want people to know this, but he actually owns a full master chief suit. He’s gone to several conventions dressed as John Spartan, the giant cyborg who protects Earth from aliens.
He’s modeled his life on trying to be as cool as Master Chief, and now that you know that you’ll see it in everything he does. He just wants to be above the fray, taking out the bad guys, and winning over a few allies on the other side of the conflict. The FBI was his own, personal Pillar of Autumn, and he referred to it as such commonly. It’s a little-known fact, but Rod Rosenstein actually hated that term, and thought it demeaned the organization.
Of course, if ask the Tall Guy? Rod was just mad that Comey used to kick his ass at Halo all the time.