Metacritic, Famitsu, Edge – any of these will tell you which titles, by their own criteria, have been the most important of the last decade. But in these situations surely the world’s only weekly trade magazine for the video games industry is the only real authority on the subject?
Below the MCV team has listed the top five games that we each felt were the very best examples made within the last ten years.
Ben Parfitt – Online News Editor / Retail Editor
KATAMARI DAMACY – Namco (PS2, 2004)
There isn’t a game on earth that means as much to me as the original Katamari Damacy. Aside from being an absolute joy to play and thoroughly original, it’s also arguably the game that made small indie titles a genuine mainstream console viability once again. I simply adore everything about it.
WINNING ELEVEN 7 INTERNATIONAL – Konami (PS2, 2003)
I feel a bit poncy choosing one of the Japanese mid-season variants of the PES series (this once came between PES3 and PES4) as my favourite, but WE7 International is in my mind still the very pinnacle of the series. It played like a dream and was the last PES release that didn’t in any way challenge my love of the series.
GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY – Rockstar (PS2, 2002)
Whilst GTAIII is the most important release of the series, I still regard Vice City as the pinnacle. It expanded on everything that made GTAIII great with some genuinely game-enhancing additions. The ‘80s atmosphere was nailed perfectly, too. Vice City is still miles ahead of San Andreas, and a better overall package than GTAIV.
REZ – Sega (Dreamcast, 2001)
An obvious, and some would probably say pretentious choice, but I’ve still not played any game that gets that ‘in the zone’ vibe as well as Rez. The first time I played this, in a dark room with the speakers up load, was the closest I’ve come to a religious experience – aside from that trip to Amsterdam in 1998.
ANIMAL CROSSING – Nintendo (GameCube, 2001)
The amazing thing about Animal Crossing is that despite having nothing to do, there really is an amazing amount to do in it. It’s a game that rewards players proportionately for the amount of themselves they invest. At the height of my addiction I was booking time off work to coincide with events in my village!
Notable mentions – FIFA 10 (EA), SingStar (Sony), Frequency (Sony), Halo 2 (Microsoft), Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Activision), Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft), Burnout 3: Takedown (EA), Seaman (Sega), Bejeweled 2 (PopCap), Fable II (Microsoft)
Christopher Dring – Deputy Editor
JET SET RADIO – SEGA (Dreamcast, 2000)
Sega’s action platformer is best known for being the game that spearheaded the use of cel-shading, which has been adopted by nigh on everyone since. But it was also an absolutely excellent game. It looked and felt like a living cartoon, with a soul and substance most other games could only dream of. Plus, it had probably one of the greatest soundtracks ever. Here’s hoping the rumoured Wii sequel gets the go-ahead.
PERFECT DARK – Nintendo (N64, 2000)
The much-hyped sequel to GoldenEye suffered some serious faults but it was crammed with so many brilliant ideas and hidden touches that makes it one of the games of the decade. Rare were at their creative best in the futuristic world of Perfect Dark. There were guns that could fire through walls, rocket launchers where you could control the rocket in first person, a gun that hypnotised enemies, a weapon that doubled as a cloaking device, and a machine gun you could throw on a wall and use as a sentry turret. And best of all, Shigeru Miyamoto himself was in the game.
RESIDENT EVIL 4 – Capcom (GameCube, 2005)
After five nigh-on identical games, Capcom decided the time was right to modernise its multi-million selling Resident Evil franchise. The result was a spectacular adventure. Gone were the fixed cameras and convoluted puzzles, and in its place was an over-the-shoulder view point and a more action-based experience. It remains the best Resident Evil to date.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: MAJORA’S MASK – Nintendo (N64, 2000)
Following up Ocarina of Time must have seemed like an impossible task, but with just a year of development Nintendo crafted one of the darkest and most innovative Zelda games in its history. It took interactivity to entirely new levels, and coupled with the game’s mask system – which saw Link transform into three other creatures – set the title apart from its predecessors. It’s just a shame it also introduced Tingle to the world.
CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE – Activision (Xbox 360, 2007)
Infinity Ward broke new ground when it released the original Modern Warfare, both in terms of multiplayer execution and the single player experience. The story, albeit short, was crammed with unforgettable moments but it was in the multiplayer that the developer excelled. It remains one of the most addictive multiplayer games of modern times, which has only be bettered by its sequel.
Notable Mentions – BioShock (2K Games), Conker’s Bad Fur Day (Nintendo), Resident Evil: Code Veronica (Capcom), Pikmin (Nintendo), Uncharted 2 (Sony), Portal (Valve)
James Batchelor – Staff Writer
THIEF II: THE METAL AGE – Eidos (PC, 2000)
While the likes of Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Batman: Arkham Asylum are still trying to get their head around stealth, Thief II had this tricky genre mastered at the turn of the millennium. Given the guard’s intricate knowledge of the incredibly well-designed levels, the game had a tension other sneak-‘em-ups lack as any mistakes could make life considerably more difficult. Crucially, the more strategic players could rectify these mistakes, as opposed to being forced to restart the entire mission.
THE ELDER SCROLLS III: MORROWIND – Bethesda (PC 2002)
Even today, when the terms ‘open world’ and ‘sandbox’ have become so common that they lose all meaning, few games boast a world as rich and vast as Morrowind. Fans of high fantasy delighted in the rich narrative and cultures found in-game, and the sheer freedom given to players – whether they wanted to follow the main questline or seek their own adventures – would be further refined in the phenomenal Oblivion and Fallout 3.
METROID PRIME – Nintendo (GameCube, 2002)
Perhaps the most jarring but surprisingly natural transition from 2D to 3D, Metroid Prime brought the classic platformer into the realms of first-person adventure. Nintendo was adamant, and justifiably so, that Prime was not to be mistaken for a shoot-‘em-up or Halo clone. The game introduced a much-needed sense of exploration into the first-person sector, where you weren’t stumbling blindly from setpiece to setpiece, but actually investigating mysterious events.
SPIDER-MAN 2 – Activision (GameCube, 2004)
It may be a clichéd line, but Spider-Man 2 really did raise the bar when it came to superhero games. Not only did it boast a quality seen in very few film tie-ins, the decision to think beyond linear event-based missions and allow players to truly patrol New York City took them closer to realising their superhero dreams than ever before. The fact that every web had to attach to a physical point within the world kept even the most stubborn Spidey fans happy, shedding the ‘swinging on thin air’ mechanic from previous games.
LEGO STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA – LucasArts (Wii, 2007)
The original LEGO Star Wars was the epitome of surprise hits and is one of the most universally appealing titles of the decade. Whether you’re a hardcore gaming adult or a relatively unskilled child, the simple-yet-satisfying gameplay was addictive to all ages. You didn’t have to be a fan of the films, but it certainly helps you appreciate the charming humour. It refined all of the mechanics and tweaked the weaker levels of the original game. And, most importantly, it covers all six of the classic movies.
Notable Mentions – Perfect Dark (Nintendo), The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (Nintendo), Fallout 3 (Bethesda)
Tim Ingham - Associate Editor
GOD OF WAR – Sony (PS2, 2005)
For my money, the best single-player experience in PlayStation’s history. The gargantuan size of Kratos’s foes and the authentic environments pushed the hardware to its absolute limit – and it still looks better than most Xbox 360 and PS3 games.
GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY – Rockstar (PS2, 2002)
San Andreas was visually more impressive, but it lacked the wit and charm of Vice City. Its Scarface-aping plot segments were a constant source of joy, whilst the (admittedly now tired) roaming style of the game offered a thrilling new sense of freedom. Oh, and the soundtrack was the nuts.
FIFA 09 – EA (Xbox 360, 2008)
This entry could have easily been Pro Evolution Soccer 5 which, in truth, was the football game which teased the most love and dedication out of me in the past decade. But last year’s FIFA represented the first time I’d allowed myself accept the truth – that EA was now doing a better job with the beautiful game than Seabass’s team.
BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM – Eidos (Xbox 360, 2009)
I’m the worst kind of games consumer – a complete sucker for licensed superhero games. They are routinely awful, yet I’ve continued to snap them up for silly money. So For Rocksteady to go and make a franchised title for adults that was not only solid but genuinely innovative was massively exhilarating. Can’t wait for the sequel.
CHAMPIONSHIP MANAGER – Eidos (mobile, various)
Beautiful Games Studios has had its problems of late – and Championship Manager has justifiably long lived in Football Manager’s shadow. But BGS were the first to get a rough and ready dugout sim on mobile and – despite it being threadbare in terms of data and sophistication – boy did it eat up my hours. After banning myself from FM on the grounds that IT’S DEMONICALLY BRILLIANT, this acted as a very worthy substitute.
Notable Mentions – The Simpsons Hit & Run (Vivendi)