Lists like this are usually quite difficult, especially when you are supposed to identify the best. These are the top 10 games that influenced us in the last decade.
Halo: Combat Evolved
The game was a revelation for the console FPS. It introduced an interesting storyline, massive levels, great gameplay mechanics, and an addictively fun multiplayer into a market that had very little competition. As a result, the franchise thrived, spawning squeals and setting standards for other developers to follow.
Like many others, Halo was the reason we bought an Xbox and had LAN parties every weekend. We contribute Halo as the game that made us the gamers we am today; willing to stand in a midnight release-line for hours just to get our copy sooner and call in sick the next day for no better reason than we just did not want to stop playing.
World of Warcraft
This is probably the single biggest game of the last decade. With upwards of ten million players across the world, three different expansions, and tons of other content, it’s easy to see why World of Warcraft (WoW) has lead the industry since its birth in 2004. It is the juggernaut of the MMORPG industry, and nothing has come close to making it even teeter. WoW has it right, the gameplay is simple enough that most anybody can get into it, as shown by the age factor of Pre-teens to late seniors that regularly play, but is complex enough to keep most anybody coming back. And with the launch of Cataclysm Blizzard was able to bring back many of the old souls who had been gone for years as well as provide a renewed interest in almost anybody actively playing and those who’d never touched it.
We’ve been playing the game off and on for most of the last 5 years and it still has our fickle interest. For all the time wasting grindiness that you get out of the game, we still have fun with it. Blizzard has done a good job injecting variety into some of the most tedious tasks. It probably helps that we’re also more of a PvP junky, as we would go nuts having to deal with some of the BS needed to do any high end raiding.
The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
There have been few moments in video games as jaw dropping as when you first step out of the sewers in The Elder Scrolls 4. The world was realized beautifully, and brimming with caves, ruins, and towns to explore. It was the first time we played that gave light to all the possibilities that a “next-gen” game could offer.
Besides jut being graphically impressive, TES4 offered up an epic main story, great guild quests, and a number of rich expansions. We had difficulty finishing these though, because of the always abundant of caves or ruins that needed exploring.
Shadow of the Colossus
This game changed the scope of what a platformer could be. Instead of the goofy themed worlds of Sonic, Mario, and Donkey Kong, we got one open desert expanse with twelve individual levels/bosses. Shadow of the Colossus defines what epic really should mean. From the first time you see one of the colossi and realize how you defeat it to the final boss, larger than any three of the others combined everything is truly epic in scale and story. Yes, the story is minimal, but you get so much out of the subtlety. This was easily our favorite game for the PS2. For all the reasons described above and more. We didn’t actually own any of the consoles from that generation, but we went out of our way to borrow the game and console from a friend because of what this game was.
We shamelessly admit that we are those kids who played Guitar Hero until our fingers gave out, and that is why Rock Band is on this list. While Guitar Hero may have introduced the modern gameplay mechanics and standard guitar controller, Rock Band perfected it. Harmonix supported the social aspects of the game; they created instruments and parts that were easy for beginners to pick up, and they started the Rock Band Store, which allowed users to create song lists tailored to their own tastes. In our own social click “Rock Band night” has become a regular occurrence; a reason to get together, rock out, and generally act like idiots.
Super Mario Galaxy
This is one of the best platformers ever. While that is awesome, it is not the only reason this is on the list, otherwise this would be the sequel. Super Mario Galaxy was Nintendo saying, “Yes, we can still make real games and they will still blow you away.” Many gamers had thought Nintendo to give away merely to the silly waggle party games that have overloaded the Wii. Super Mario Galaxy restored our faith in them.
Platformers are our favorite type of game. Above anything else, a good platformer will keep us coming back again and again (Rob can do the first level of Super Mario World blindfolded). Super Mario Galaxy is one of the greatest we’ve ever played in the genre and it’s not likely to get trumped any time soon.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
We have always been a fan of the GTA series, but for being a vast sandbox with loads of place to see and side missions to do we haven’t really been able to immerse ourselves into the game, except for Vice City. The franchise’s fourth installment struck the tone of the 80’s perfectly with its almost cartoony cast of self-absorbed materialist characters, great music, and its special brand of humor. From both a graphical and gameplay standpoint Vice City isn’t anything special compared to its successors, but it’s the only game that has a unique feeling world in the franchise, and that’s what keeps bringing us back to it.
Sid Meier understands sims. The man has created most of the best games in the genre. Civ 4 is just the best of that. Bringing a civilization from the nomadic era to the future is a challenge, a fun one. Spawning two expansions and spin off based on a classic game of Sid’s, this has stood as a testament to what he can do.
We’re not normally a fan of the Turn-Based Strategy, I prefer an RTS, but when our buddy had Chairman Mao asking him as Joseph Stalin for Communism I was sold. I have spent many nights up way later than I should, repeating the phrase “Just one more turn.”
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Up until Modern Warfare the COD franchise was regarded as a WW2 shooter, a horse that had been mercilessly beaten. By bringing the game into modern times and incorporating a semi-plausible storyline Infantry Ward gave the franchise a much needed breath of fresh air. From a gameplay standpoint, MW is nearly perfect and has since been copied to many other games as a result. In addition, the campaign offered up a surprising amount of variation between action and stealth, and most importantly the multiplayer introduced a number of innovative mechanics like kill streak rewards, a leveling system, and an addictive array of game variants.
The Orange Box
This choice was initially just Half-Life 2, but after thinking about, and realizing the only reason we have the game is because of this, we decided the full set was worth mentioning. Valve is an amazing company, willing to give out not one or even two games, but three fully realized games and two more expansions for one on a single disc, at the same cost as an average single game. Top that off with the fact that all of the games are at the top of the heap and we have an obvious winner.
The Half-Life series takes immersion to an entirely unprecedented level: no cut scenes and an entirely silent protagonist. The story is told through what you see and who you meet. You have a companion that gives you many of the details otherwise Valve just points you in the proper direction with visual cues. Then we have Team Fortress 2, a sequel almost as awaited as StarCraft 2. Class based multiplayer FPS is with a cartoony bent that is just fun. Finally, we come to our favorite part, the unique experience that is Portal, a mind-bending, physics warping, first person puzzler. We flat out love this game.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
I’m Rob. Gamer, geek, student, friend. I’m Trebor Srarcinth, Blazankar Mristari, and Bor, Immortal. You know one, but do you know the rest?
Behold! The callused conceptions of a conceded mind whose depths have been caressed and convexed into contours unknown. It is I, the confused young coot with a carefully concocted conspiracy to take this corroded circle to the black chasms of our consciousness. There is no need to cower though, for I have contrived this coup to be an occurrence without cringing or crying. It will be a cause for celebration, an occasion and a careless campaign. So come and chart close behind your carnivorous corporal down this chilling crypt and consider not what you construe as inconsequential. Before crossing though, our comrades and cohorts, before we chance this correspondence, let me introduce myself, and I must confess that it is considerably copacetic to meet you. My name is Colter.