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.

Rock Band

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.

Civilization 4

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

Rob Rasmussen

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?

Colter Palen

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.

The Author

Robot Overlord

Robot Overlord

Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to the Robot Overlord. Robot Overlord may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. The Robot Overlord contains a liquid core, which if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. If Robot Overlord begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head. Do not taunt the Robot Overlord.

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19 Comments

  1. applejack1310
    March 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm — Reply

    Wow. No Uncharted? No Final Fantasy? Hmm.

    • Blackthunder01
      March 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm — Reply

      Final Fantasy in the 00’s was rather hit or miss for a lot of people. I can see how someone would skip it since there are a lot of people on polar opposite sides.

      FFX – some hate. (I love it.)
      FFX-2 – A LOT hate. (I love it.)
      FFXI – not many played. (I never played it.)
      FFXII – a lot hate. (I hate it.)
      FFXIII – a lot hate. (I used to until recently, now i like it.)

      As for Uncharted, it’s essentially a Tomb Raider game turned shooter. It’s not exactly an original concept, however, I do have to admit that it’s popularity might have earned it a very well deserved place in the Top 10. But if we were going by popularity, he’d probably have listed whatever games won Game of the Year for the last ten years and had very little work to put into this article for us.

      • March 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm — Reply

        Final Fantasy in the 00′s was rather hit or miss for a lot of people.

        Understatement of the year, sir. As an avowed FF fan, the last one I enjoyed that wasn’t on a handheld was FFX-2, mostly because it wasn’t afraid to bring a sense of fun to the girls’ adventures. But even that one felt like Square just hadn’t gotten its art-house sci-fi fantasy epic out of its system. I can’t weigh in on FFXIII (I don’t have a PS3) or either of the MMOs, but I agree that the franchise’s heyday was definitely in the 90s.

        • Blackthunder01
          March 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm — Reply

          I think that’s still a matter of personal taste though. As it stands, the only FF’s that I like are: 7, 8, 9, X, X-2, Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus, Advent Children, Tactics, Tactics: War of the Lions and Dissidia. (Kingdom Hearts franchise too). I’m still not sure EXACTLY where I stand with FF13 because I haven’t finished it yet. But of those games that I really like 6 of them came out after 2000 and one was a movie.

          FFX-2 is probably my second favorite next to FF7: Crisis Core. They had the best battle system of any RPG I’ve played. The story got a little “light hearted” at times but if you loved X, then X-2 was just all gravy anyway…

  2. colecash
    March 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm — Reply

    I agree with a number of them and disagree with the rest

  3. Blackthunder01
    March 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm — Reply

    First of all, MAJOR props for putting Shadow of the Colossus up there!
    Second, while every list is going to be a personal choice, my favorites would be (in no particular order):

    Shadow of the Colossus
    Batman: Arkham Asylum
    Rock Band 2
    ICO
    Final Fantasy X
    Kingdom Hearts 1
    God of War 1
    Tomb Raider Legend
    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
    Wii Sports

  4. Roosterj
    March 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm — Reply

    Fallout, Mass Effects, or Bioware stuff of any kind (BG2 was ’00, KotoR)

    What was the criteria for the list? Sales? Originality (Then Why 6/10 listed as sequels)? Or just personal preferance?

  5. Slappy
    March 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm — Reply

    I missed only a Star Wars. KOTOR 1 or 2, or even Force Unleashed.

  6. ClubberLang6
    March 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm — Reply

    I believe Star Wars, KOTOR should be there. Also, how about Rome: Total War!!!!

  7. Blackthunder01
    March 3, 2011 at 7:24 am — Reply

    Can we all just agree that any Top 10 is a matter of oppinion? I think he gave really great reasons for why he selected those games for his Top 10 list though. Everyone is going to have a different Top 10. I enjoy reading the perspective of others when it comes to Top 10’s. I tend to agree with a lot of his points. I participate in Rock Band night to this day. :)

  8. Alvarlux
    March 3, 2011 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    Reading this was awkward with the constant use of “us” and “we” but also then sometimes “I”. Was this a group list or an individual?

    • March 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm — Reply

      Colter Palen also wrote this piece, but there is a current bug in the Author tag that isn’t allowing him to show up in the credits.

  9. Eothr
    March 4, 2011 at 10:19 am — Reply

    As with most people, you get a mix of agreement and disagreement from me.

    I LOVED Halo: Combat Evolved, solely due to the campaign (I have only accumulated 28 hours of multiplayer TOTAL in my entire gaming career – across ALL platforms). It was fast-paced, challenging, and fresh, compared to previous FPS games.

    Because I go for single-player games that don’t require online access, I really dig RPGs, but I have a limited catalog to work with. FFXIII naysayers find it too linear or too changed from the mainstream, but I found it to be a wonderful (if skewed) story with deep characters (*coughHope’sabratcough*), and an enticing battle format.

    I have never, not once in the entirety of its existance, played World of Warcraft. Why? I simply can’t. End of discussion.

    A bold leap in a new direction was definately the release of the First-Person-Role-Playing-Shooter known as Fallout 3 (which I personally think was better than ES IV: Oblivion). An absolutely MASSIVE overworld, endless choices (and consequences to match those choices), and an enriching main story, Fallout 3 is one of, if not THE best game of the 00’s.

  10. Generik
    March 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm — Reply

    I would point out a minor correction.. WoW has a subscriber base of closer to 12 million and growning. Some might say I’m nitpicking a minor detail.. but that minor detail translates into over $360 million / year subscriber revenue ignored by this article.

    I would have to say this list was definitely subjective. If I were to add a GTA game as a ‘top ten of all games in 00s’ it would have to be GTA3 since that is the game that truly introduced the world to the possibilities of the sandbox game. Vice City was GTA3 with a different coat of paint and some better known voice actors. Not saying it isn’t worthy, but I think you need to respect the originatal more than the sequel. I would actually pick Red Dead Redemption over any of the other Rockstar games.

    I think a game like Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War would have been worthy. One of the best RTS games to come along since Starcraft in the 90’s and spawning a very healthy franchise.. but the single player was pretty short and somewhat lacking.

    Pretty good overall list though

    • March 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm — Reply

      I would have to say this list was definitely subjective.

      Yep. And unlike many places on the intarwebz, we don’t pretend otherwise. :D

    • Damascus
      April 22, 2011 at 12:24 am — Reply

      Yeah, but if you’re going to respect the original more than the sequel why aren’t you going all the way back to the top down Grand Theft Auto 1? GTA3 is obviously a sequel that deserves props for changing the whole franchise into what it is now, but for their point of view, maybe they just felt that Vice City was more polished. I still wish that they would have something in the newer GTA’s that were a mainstay of the original top-down games; I used to be able to steal cars and take them to the docks and sell the stolen cars. Fun, fast, easy way to make money. Either way, both are good games.

  11. ClubberLang6
    March 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm — Reply

    I think some games are objectively good, ie Star Wars and KOTOR

  12. Damascus
    April 22, 2011 at 12:40 am — Reply

    I liked the list, I would have added a few different ones (based on having different tastes of course).
    Resident Evil 4 fixed all the things I didn’t like about the previous RE games and presented a polished and insanely atmospheric game.
    I’d have gone with Halo 3 over Combat Evolved though, I just found myself glued to Halo 3 like I hadn’t been since Halo 1 came out.
    For a computer game, if it counts, the Half-Life spin off Counter-Strike was my drug during college. I spent so many hours playing that game that I’d walk across campus thinking about where I’d hide or where a likely spot for a camper to be. I still love how open that game was too, people would make their own levels and you could play for hours and hours and never want to leave the screen. Granted most good games are like that.
    I agree with Wii Sports, I’d play until I was worn out and could barely swing my arm to relay a tennis ball back.
    Oblivion is another I completely agree with, I’ve easily logged over 300 hours playing Oblivion and I’m still only about halfway through the main storyline. That game truly game me my money’s worth.
    Dead Rising was another standout game for me, due to it’s open world designs and the ability to use almost anything in your environment to take down zombies. I don’t know how many times I would heat up a frying pan and walk up to a zombie and burn his face off, or how often I’d try to see how many times a zombie would have to be hit with Diamonds or CD’s before they died.
    Also, Crackdown was a super fun game too and Bio-Shock was great.
    Ooh Ooh!! I almost forgot, I loved me some Stubbs the Zombie in Rebels Without a Pulse.

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