It was a great decade for video games – the Golden Age is steadily underway, and there’s no market crash in sight. Budgets increased, innovation flourished and money flowed in like never before. The following list isn’t my favorite games, or the “best” games – instead, it’s a list of the titles that laid the groundwork for the future.
10. Metal Gear Solid 4 – Since almost forever, game designers have sought to deliver the total package: a colorful cast and an epic story to rival Hollywood’s offerings, along with every single gameplay one can imagine to appeal to every taste under the sun. And pretty much everyone has failed expect for one guy: Hideo Kojima. His magnum opus is nothing short of a brilliantly composed and executed symphony of so many separate elements that work together to full the ultimate smorgasbord, plus the technology at long as caught up with such an aim.
9. Counter-Strike – It’s the one that started it all, the current FPS craze that we still enjoy today, with Modern Warfare being the most recent equivalent. But has had come close to the original in terms of it’s level of impact, mostly due to it’s level of customization and especially the fanatical fanbase. It also pushed PC hardware, was one of the first big titles to be used by professional gaming circles, and was viewed to be the ultimate murder simulator. It sucks that as famous as it is, it’s equally infamous.
8. WarioWare Inc: Mega Microgames! – Mini games had been around well before this GBA title game along, but no other title hit the concept on the head better. Not only did it quietly push the envelope in terms of easily accessible gameplay, but in the process became the next great portable game, almost up there with Tetris for the original Game Boy, though obviously not as deep. But it doesn’t matter, since it proved that we don’t have much time these days, so just cut to the chase. It could be argued that 99% of all the iPhone games that everyone plays owe pretty much everything from this title.
7. Katamari Damacy – Even thought the sequel, We Love Katamari, is definitely superior, the original’s impact cannot be denied. For years, wacky games from Japan have had limited success in America or mostly been a curiosity, until its breakout star and gateway drug finally arrived. Which most importantly paved the way for publishers to release riskier software, though no one has had the same degree of success.
6. Shadow Of The Colossus – The PS2 reigned supreme most of the past ten years, and no other game represents the platform best. Mostly since no other game pushed the hardware more; even now it still puts a lot of the HD offerings on the PS3 (and 360) to shame. It also set the bar for storytelling, but telling a far more compelling tale than all the crappy voice acting in a dozen GTA clones could ever hope to.
5. World of Warcraft – At long last, it’s socially acceptable to play D&D with your pals. Or is it? Regardless, millions upon millions of folks across the world are playing this time sink, making rag-tag bands of warrior pals to take down the dragon or whatever. It’s also become synonymous of internet addition and, best of all, a reminder that video games and the people who play them are still not cool. And thank God for that.
4. Grand Theft Auto 3 – For ages, games promised the ability to do anything, but at long last came a game in which you do whatever in a world that wasn’t some spaceport or medieval village. Just steal someone’s car, listen to whatever you want on the radio, punch random strangers on the street, at long last one’s every whim could be realized in a virtual playground. Hence why it kicked off the sandbox genre that still thrives today.
3. Rock Band – On a somewhat related note, some of us play games to be the one that saves the universe, or simply save the princess. But thanks to Guitar Hero, it allowed the possibility to be Jon Bon Jovi, a desire that resonates with far more folks across the board than Star Wars or LOTR geeks it would seem. Even though GH kicked off the genre, it was RB that built upon that foundation to create the ultimate party game, with it’s addition of drumming and singing to the mix. The fact that it also saved the music industry is also fairly noteworthy as well.
2. Halo – While the original might not be able to stand up to the crown jewel that is part 3, it’s the game that not only made Microsoft a legit contender in the console wars (if not for Halo 1, there would most definitely not be a Xbox 360), brought the first person shooter to the masses (and numerous other PC-esque elements to the console gamers as well), but also ushered in the current age of internet gameplay.
1. Wii Sports – As noted for #7, when the Wii was introduced, most of the established gaming audience let out a big “what the f…” It represented a brave new world of gaming that many did not want any part of. Even so, the pack game, without which the platform would not have had the same degree of success, was one that could not be denied. Quite simply, Wii Sports is that game that EVERYONE loves, whether they like to admit it or not. No other recent title is as infinitely playable, or done a better job illustrating that gaming is not just for pimply-faced teenage boys, but their moms as well, even more so than even Rock Band.