Best of the Decade – Games

This has been a decade when gaming technology has come on leaps and bounds. While the 1990’s were the decade of the third dimension the 2000’s have been about innovative control and high definition. That being said, a lot of the best games I have played came out towards the beginning of the decade. This list is largely comprising the games into which I have sunk and will continue to sink a large amount of my time due to their excellence in either single or multiplayer.

Top Ten games of the 2000’s:
10. Burnout 2 – Gamecube – 2003
The original burnout was a hard game especially in multiplayer as the amount of traffic and the lack of boosts made it tricky to finish a race before running out of time (especially when playing with your feet). Burnout 2 addressed this and made it more casual friendly by making it near impossible to fail the checkpoints while incorporating tracks that work brilliantly and are more varied. The multiplayer is mainly what gets this game here, I have spent days playing this game in multiplayer. While the single player mode gets a little dull in an hour or so with a lot of repetition there is much to be done with a friend round. The strong crash junctions provide something for casual gamers (like my wife) to enjoy the game and this is the only game to which I can add that a blind friend of mine managed to beat me… nuff said.

9. Advance Wars – DS – 2005
Turn based strategy you can take with you. This is my favourite war sim. I still enjoy this series of games from its official start on the game boy advance to the latest Days of Ruin reboot. It is addictive and has made many train journeys seem to take no time at all. If they keep making these I will keep buying. The premise being its a little like rock paper scissors with certain units effective against one thing but useless against something else (helicopters vs AA guns anyone). The level design is varied and the story throws up super weapons to make life harder. The perfect travel companion.

8. Timesplitters 2 – Gamecube – 2002
Of all the games with which I have spent time, this is the one that has sucked the most of it. Timesplitters 2 is bar none the best first person shooter I have ever played with its bizarre story mode, humour, many many challenges and create your own level mode. The multiplayer is also very strong with four players running around blowing merry hell out of eachother. College lunchbreaks would not be the same without timesplitters and I will be still playing at the end of the next decade.

7. Dirt 2 – XBox 360 – 2009
While not perfect this game has a lot of variety in its racing, beautiful graphics, spot on controls and a good damage system. It is therefore the best racing game I have played. It is unfortunate that I had to say racing there as the rallying side is a little underwhelming. Lots of fun to be had here though with a rush coming from knowing you are so close to losing everything around the next bend as you fly towards a wall. Exhilarating and good fun at 2am the day after Thanksgiving…

6. Professor Layton – DS – 2008
Professor Layton was a little slow in finding its way to the UK (it came out in the US in 2007) but it did very well for itself last christmas selling out across the country. The mix between brainteasers and a strong story was what caused it to sell so well. With more games Layton coming there will be much more for the public to sink their teeth into. Whats more its a game my wife finishes before I do and anything that encourages her to play games is fine by me.

5. Boom Blox – Wii – 2008
Another game my wife finishes before I do is Boom Blox which is from Steven Spielberg apparently. To my recollection there has been no better party game. I have never had anyone say that they have not enjoyed this game. Its unique style, perfect use of the wii remote (this really could not be on another console) and physics engine that never gets it wrong place this game in here.

4. GTA San Andreas – PS2 – 2004
It might be odd that this is the version of Grand Theft Auto that finds its way into this list after GTA 4 stole the headlines last year but GTA 4 just isn’t fun for me. The PS2 games had a slightly arcadey feel to them especially in their driving mechanic and this is unfortunately missing in the newer game. The story is fun and the game world is more varied than the cityscape of games past. The variety of things you can do in this open world are limited largely by your imagination. The fun to be had in driving a sports car to the top of the games mountain and flying it off the ramp to be found there at high speed is not to be underestimated. This is also the game where the controls were tightest and the missions the least frustrating.

3. Half Life 2 + The Orange Box – PC – 2007
Half Life 2 would probably have been my number one but for a big frustration… Ant Lions, my word do those things make me annoyed, those buggers are also the reason I am not a big fan of HL2: episode 1 which I am sure I will come back to and finish at some point. The story of Half Life 2 is one of the best with a dystopian world where the citizens are oppressed by the combine. Gordon Freeman ends up in the middle of this and has to first stay alive before eventually trying to free humankind. The orange box represents the best value in video game history with Half Life 2 and its two episode packs plus portal (which is by itself one of the best games ever made taking a simple concept and making it addictive) and team fortress 2 (a crazy multiplayer game)… if only it weren’t for the ruddy ant lions…

2. Mario Galaxy – Wii – 2007
I grew up with sega systems therefore I preferred Sonic, I still do not like Nintendo’s flagship series in 2d form. I keep trying but I also keep failing. In 3d though Mario is more interesting while Sonic is a bit crap with endless gimicks ruining what Sonic should be while Nintendo have struck gold with mario keeping to what made it work. This game is the best platformer ever with graphics that while cartoony are also impressive, a control system that is almost perfect and a physics engine that works superbly to make platforming fun again. Sure the story is the same we have played a thousand times and the game can be a bit easy but these things do not cloud such mastery by Nintendo.

1. Mass Effect – PC – 2008
Having now played the start of the Xbox version this game would not be number 1 if it had been played on that platform. The controls are iffy at best while the PC version flowed beautifully. I fully enjoyed my 12 hour experience with this game. The story worked well, I felt emotionally attached to the characters and this is the first RPG since Final Fantasy 8 I have truly enjoyed. This is also the best sci-fi game on the market. The story sees you as one of the unliked human race struggling to make your name in the galaxy. As things start to go awry you go investigating with your team levelling up as you go. The game is set across an epic scale and for those 12 hours I was hooked. I am very much looking forward to the continuation of this series next year, the problem is I need to complete the xbox version of the game first…
The pc game is my game of the decade because it hooked me into its world, showed me that not all rpg games are rubbish and that there is hope for space travel in games.

Here are the games that nearly made the cut:
Race Driver 3, Metroid Prime Trilogy, Fallout 3, Fifa 10, Star wars battlefront, Madden 09, Grid, Wii Sports, Pikmin, F1 ’06

Come back tomorrow for my review of the year.

Images from microsoft.com, niceskybox.files.wordpress.com, ign and the guardian