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Earlier this year we posted a video of our extremely handsome mugs chattering on about the most important games of the past decade. Did you miss it? Were you so distracted by our handsome facial hair that our words washed across you impotently like waves over rocks? Good news everyone! We fiddled around with our mental switchboards and reconfigured our output from blah-blah-blah to type-type-type. Now you can read our thoughts – you dirty psychic.
By declaring the most important games of the last ten years, we’re making a statement bolder than Lady Gaga’s leotards, and we recognize that. Coming to a consensus was bitterly painful. We grew horns and butted heads. We threw hot coffee at each other. We made rude comments about each other’s mothers. And when the cacophony of nerd rage settled, these twenty games were left in this order. If you disagree, be sure to insist that we’re know-nothing douchebags in the comments.
First released in: 2002
Developed by: Nintendo
Published by: Nintendo
It’s notable for: Surprising the dickens out of Zelda fans with a cel-shaded new look. Naysayers called it “kiddy” and felt that Nintendo was dumbing down the series, and then they ate their words. Wind Waker defied expectations twice, first with its unprecedented graphics, and second by working brilliantly. It is one of the best games on the GameCube, and was more original than just about anything anyone was doing at the time, including Nintendo.
It inspired: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, some of the engine for Twilight Princess, girlfriends to break up with us.
Blah blah blah: “Wind Waker is the only reason I have a GameCube…I don’t regret buying an entire system just for that one game.” -Charlie Barratt, Senior Editor (US)
First released in: 2007
Developed by: Irrational Games
Published by: 2K Games
It’s notable for: Doing so many new things, we don’t even know what to say about it. Sure it was similar to System Shock 2, but that came out in 1999, and we’re talking about the ‘00s. System Shock started the ball rolling, but BioShock polished it to a perfect shine and aimed it at the mainstream. Not even Indiana Jones could dive out of the way quickly enough to escape the Great BioShock Ball.
It inspired: Borderlands, Fallout 3, and many more.
Blah blah blah: “It’s strange that a lot of hardcore shooter fans still don’t get on with BioShock, but basically they’re playing it wrong. BioShock looks like an FPS, but it’s actually a very deep RPG...” -Dave Houghton, Content Editor (UK)
First released in: 2008
Developed by: Number None Inc. (Jonathan Blow)
Published by: Microsoft Game Studios, Number None Inc.
It’s notable for: Being an indie game that isn’t just a pretty clone (though it is beautiful), but that brought a lot of new ideas to games and how they’re played. It’s also further proof that an inspired individual can create something that rivals the efforts of major corporations, and is indicative of the continuing rise of independent games.
It inspired: There’s nothing quite like it, yet.
Blah blah blah: “It’s creative, and innovative, and it approached a very old type of gameplay with fresh ideas. Because of that, and because of the weirdness of the story, and the perceived artsyness of it, it captured a lot of people’s imaginations.” -Mikel Reparaz, Senior Editor (US)
First released in: 2009
Developed by: Naughty Dog
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
It’s notable for: Improving on the gameplay of the already-great Uncharted, giving PS3 owners the killer-app they’d been craving, and doing all that with some of the best developed and best scripted characters ever to grace the digital screen.
It inspired: Nothing yet, it was only just released, but it certainly took the decade out with a bang.
Blah blah blah: “[Uncharted 2 has] got the best lead character in Nathan Drake…he’s got bags of personality, he is actually funny, and the scripting and the chemistry between the characters is just amazing.” -Nathan Irvine, Associate Editor (UK)
First released in: 2007
Developed by: Valve Corporation
Published by: Valve Corporation
It’s notable for: Its dizzying newness. Portal knocked us off our heads with puzzle mechanics we’d never seen, and wrapped its super-entertaining gameplay in a stupidly-well-designed and scripted world. Players developed Stockholm Syndrome and fell in love with GLaDOS and her psychosis, searched for clues scrawled on the walls behind the walls, and pieced together Portal’s world in a way which didn’t require any intrusive exposition. In one go, Valve changed a whole lot of notions about games.
It inspired: Like Half-Life 2 before it and Left 4 Dead after, Portal brought a host of new ideas that will likely be seen throughout the next decade.
Blah blah blah: “The tagline, ‘Now you’re thinking with Portals’ seemed a little bit cheesy before the game came out, but when you realized that you had to develop a whole new kind of spatial awareness that you never had to deal with before, it made complete sense.” -Dave Houghton, Content Editor (UK)