Top Ten Video Games of the decade

Posted on December 31, 2009 by

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The decade is drawing to a close, and I got together with some friends and their games, films and book collections to come up with a few of our Top Tens of the decade. Todays top ten is the Best video games of the last ten years. This isn’t based on namby pamby statistics about who sold what, this is about what we know in our hearts were the best games out there. Some are predictable, others… not so much. Enjoy.

The Runners-up:

20. The incredible Hulk: Ultimate destruction (2005- PS2, Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube)
19. GUN (2005- PS2, Xbox 360, PSP, Nintendo Gamecube, PC)
18. Rome: Total War (2004- PC)
17. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009- Ps3, Xbox 360, PC)
16. Uncharted 2: Among thieves (2009- PS3)
15. Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic (2003- PC, Mac, Xbox 360)
14. Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009- PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
13. Call of Duty 4: Modern warfare (2007- PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac)
12. Zone of the Enders 2 (2003- PS2)
11. Metal Gear solid 3: Subsistence (2005- PS2)

And now …Drumroll please… here are our top ten video games of the Noughties-

10. Half Life 2. (2004- PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

Okay yeah, it’s an obvious and easy choice. While the source engine it was based on is now really starting to show its age, at the time it was revolutionary, and for the first half of the decade, many people judged the power of their PCs by whether or not they could run HL2 without any framerate issues. It tracked the original action scientist and silent, voiceless protagonist, Gordon Freeman, as he’s brought out of storage by the mysterious G-Man nearly two decades after the events of the first game, where Black Mesa labs were invaded by aliens after a teleporter accident. The game was most notable for it’s introduction to the series of the Gravity gun (that’s the Zero-point energy manipulator to purists) which allowed players to interact with their environment in ways never before seen, thanks in no small part to the marvellous Havok engine, which is now the most widely used physics engine in the industry. The story was also exemplary, and featured no cutscenes what-so-ever as you always saw everything through the eyes of the good Doctor Freeman, and because gamers everywhere fell in love with Alyx Vance, who was scripted, mo-capped and acted so intimately that she set a new precedent for NPC companions that has yet, in my opinion, to ever be topped. Except maybe by the companion cube in Portal. God I loved that cube…

The touching story of one man and his crowbar.

9. Bioshock. (2007- PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Mac)

As the bathysphere descends beneath the water, you hear the voice of Andrew Ryan, businessman, entrepreneur and visionary describing how he started his scientific underwater utopia, Rapture. And then you clear an outcropping of rocks, and you see it. The first time you see Rapture, glowing in silent majesty under the sea (Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter) is one of those rare, beautiful moments in video gaming where you just sit and stare, feeling the goosebumps shiver their way across your skin (In fact, the only other times that this has ever happened for me was during the reveal of the USG Ishimura in Dead Space, and my first glimpse of the Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3). Bioshock provided a scary, atmospheric and deeply gripping story with some shocking twists (“Would you Kindly…?”), and anyone who says they didn’t panic when they just heard the sound of one of the lumbering Big Daddies is an enormous flipping liar. Bioshock was another of those games that really pushed the boundaries of player/game interaction, just like Portal did with companion cube. Oh, cubey…

Drilling for Oil? Sure, why not. Let's start looking for it in your face...

8. Resident Evil 4. (2005- Nintendo Gamecube, PS2, PC, Wii)

Who can forget the infamously hilarious cutscenes from the original Resident Evil? ‘Jill, the master of unlocking should take this key’ and the cringe-worthy ‘You were almost a Jill sandwich!’. Yes, they were serious. From those downright inauspicious beginnings, the Resi series went from strength to zombie mutilating strength. With Five actual numbered games in the series, and christ only knows how many un-numbered instalments, there are few games platforms that haven’t been infected with the Resident Evil bug. Resident Evil 4 is, in my opinion, the best offering from the entire Zombie-stricken cabal. While series purists will insist that RE4 ruined the series forever by implementing an over-the-shoulder perspective, and getting rid of the ‘proper’ zombies in favour of more intelligent foes, infected with mind controlling parasites (The las Plagas) who were capable of using weapons against you, patrolling in formations and, most scarily, running. The new, more action-oriented approach breathed new life into a stalling franchise, as well as making everybody in the world want a yummy coat like Leon’s. I got one for my companion cube. Before I burned it.

This sort of thing can really put a crimp on your day...

7. Escape from Monkey Island. (2000- PC)

One of the last great Point-and-Click adventure games made, Escape from Monkey island was coincidentally one of the last good things put out by lucasarts before they realised they could make a mint by sticking ‘Star Wars’ on the front of everything. This is the first of two point-and-click adventure games on this list, and is one of the best examples of the genre along with the Sam & Max games, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and the Day of the Tentacle. Escape from Monkey island follows ineffectual comedy pirate Guybrush Threepwood, as he fights the nefarious LeChuck, who plans to turn the Caribbean into a tourist trap. It elevated the series hallmark of ‘Insult swordfighting’ to a fine art, giving us such gems as ‘You fight like a dairy farmer!’ – ‘How appropriate, you fight like a cow!’. Genuinely funny, beautifully animated, and deserving of a spot not only here, but in the best games of all time, Escape from Monkey island was a wonderful obituary to a dying genre. And no, I wont be making a portal joke here. The portal jokes are a lie.

Guybrush wonders why he didn't just stay at home...

6. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2. (2000- PC)

As strategy games go, there are few pedigrees more highly respected than that of C&C, and the one we loved the most of all was, after much debate, Red Alert 2. Set in an alternate past where Hitler has been erased from time and the big threat instead turns out to be the Soviet Union. In RA2 they decide to invade America, which gave us the iconic scene of the enormous Kirov Airships hovering threateningly over Manhattan while the Apocalypse tanks obliterated lady Liberty. One of the few games to still use live-action sequences (continued in RA3, with the ever-wonderful Tim Curry doing a russian accent) and unabashedly silly, it never took itself very seriously, which gave us such wonderful things as trained attack dolphins, submarine eating squid, rocketmen, psychics and men who had guns that could erase people from time. While Red Alert 2 didn’t really do anything drastically new or innovative, it was incredibly well put together, solid all round, and the skirmish mode alone sucked up hundreds of hours of our lives. And it had this theme music. You can’t deny how awesome it is. Almost as awesome as my companion cube.

Who can say 'Overkill'?

5. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New age of heroes. (2000- Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox 360, PS3)

MvC2 used to be incredibly hard to get hold of. If you were lucky enough to own a Dreamcast (Yes, I liked it, allright!?) it was almost impossible to find. On it’s re-release on PS2, it was hugely expensive, and was somehow even harder to find. This last nearly ten years before some bright spark decided to put it on the interweb via the Playstation Network and Xbox Live arcade, which means that this rare gem is now readily available at a very reasonable price. Gorgeously animated in 2d, in case you didn’t know, MvC2 is a fighting game featuring the characters of Marvel comics, and Capcom’s video games. With tag team battles featuring 6 heroes and frantic, explosive combat, it set the bar for what fighting games could achieve. I had a team once. With my companion cube. Before I dropped it into the incinerator, and sobbed as its muffled screams echoed through my brain.

Yeah, because this is going to end well...

4. Fahrenheit. (also known as Indigo Prophecy) (2005- PC, PS2, Xbox)

The second ‘point-and-click’ adventure game, paranormal psychological thriller Fahrenheit is technically more of a really long interactive cutscene. It redefined a lot about how we see games in a world where the bland stupid first person shooter is becoming increasingly prevalent. New york has been stunned by a series of murders that all follow the same strange pattern; ordinary people become possessed and kill absolute strangers in public. It did away with traditional methods of games control, instead setting almost all actions to the thumbsticks, which are realistically mapped, from opening doors to mopping blood off the bathroom floor after viciously stabbing some random stranger in the back thirty times. Fahrenheit was chilling and often genuinely scary and panic inducing. It featured an innovative plot with numerous branching and options, described by the developers as being ‘Elastic’. And you know, now that I really think about it, I didn’t really love that cube anyway. I think it was cheating on me with those talking turrets…

Bloodstains wont come out? Well, why not try our new and improved STAINAWAY? (tm)

3. Shadow of the colossus. (2005- PS2)

From the team that brought us the epic cult classic ICO, SotC was an achingly beautiful, lonely and touching game and is another of those special few games where the player really forms a connection with something in-game. In the case of SotC, the bond you formed was with your trusty steed Agro, who is with you for almost the entire game, running you around the massive, gloomy empty open world as you track down the enormous hulking colossi, and often being instrumental in defeating them. We have no problem admitting that when at the games final battle, the horse saved our life before plummeting down a ravine (He got better) we got deeply upset. We cried. And then? Then we got angry. None of us here have ever experienced such an emotionally charged moment in any other game we’ve ever played, with the possible exceptions of Alyx getting stabbed by hunters in Half Life 2 episode 2, and burning that cheating, evil companion cube in Portal. We wanted to utterly annihilate that last goddamned colossi. And we did. While the other colossi were beautiful, majestic and capable of conveying an unutterable sadness, when they killed our damn horse, all bets were off. At least it didn’t make us kill the companion cube…

"I can't see it... no, wait, yeah. There it is, nevermind."

2. Grand Theft Auto IV. (2008- PS3, PC, Xbox 360)

we’ll admit this was a hard one. We have staunch camps in defence of the various GTA games, as well as one person who thinks it all went downhill after GTA: London. But we ignore her. She thinks Twilight would make the best game ever. With the soft pastels, great music and scarface references, GTA: Vice City very nearly won out, while San Andreas was ignored by everybody as being ‘the obvious choice’. We’re strange like that. Eventually though, the Vice City camp were won over by the IV camp, with our persuasive argument- ‘it’s better, live with it’. It’s not a claim that needs much backing up. GTA IV is widely regarded to be on the best video games of all time. Immersive, compelling, violent, and with characters who aren’t just mindless pyschopaths but real people. Tony Vincetti in Vice City was a Tony Montana style drug baron nutcase. CJ Johnson in San Andreas was doing all kinds of bizarre stuff ‘for his hood’ and we never really could work him out, but IV’s protagonist was Nico Bellic. Poor, broken, shell shocked survivor Nico Bellic. He fought in the Balkan conflict, and we only hear a fraction of the things he experienced during that time, which is more than enough to understand why he’s as messed up as he is. As for why he gets involved in a life of crime in Liberty city? Because it’s better than what he was doing before. That says a lot about how bad things have been for the guy. He’s so broken that he can’t do anything else anymore. He came to America to live a better life, only to realise that things were just the same. The story of family, loyalty, friendship, betrayal, love and revenge is moving and complex. The improved graphics, excellent RAGE engine, and smarter AI are all just window dressing for the heartbreaking story of Nico Bellic. Almost as sad as when- actually, that’s enough Portal jokes. You know what’s coming next.

You left him no choice. You tried to make him go Bowling.

1. Portal. (2008- PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Forget that it played mind games with us. Forget about how it made us love the companion cube, the inanimate object which saved our laves and let us continue forwards in search of the Cake. Forget even the darkly hilarious GlaDOs, who acted as your running commentary. This is a game about one thing; No, not the damned the cake. The challenge. Portal is very straightforward. We wont call it simple, because the difficult curve takes a very sharp step up very quickly, forcing you to think on your feet and remember what you’ve learned, and forcing you to imagine new ways of applying that knowledge. This is the one game we could all unanimously agree on as being the best. It was the first one we decided on. If you’re reasonably competent, Portal should take you roughly 3-4 hours to complete. In that way, it’s sort of like Fawlty Towers; brief, hilarious, genius and very, very good. What more can we say? We loved it. We love it. And the cake wasn’t a lie.

Oh, Cubey. No one can know of our forbidden love...

Well, there you have it. You probably wouldn’t have picked those, would you? Really? Well, okay, but not *all* of them. Why not drop us a comment on what your Top ten games of the decade were?

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Posted in: Games