The 20 most important games of the decade – text edition

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.

20. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

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)

19. BioShock

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)

18. Braid

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)

17. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

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)

16. Portal

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)

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  • Joshin69 - February 14, 2010 9:03 p.m.

    For me, Deus Ex is far to low. I do agree with GTA III though i think that was also influenced by Deus Ex
  • Sabtos - January 30, 2010 4:11 p.m.

    Good article. Is that Modern Warfare screenshot from the Wii version? Looks like it, and certainly you aren't giving any credit to the Wii version. That WoW commercial with Mr. T looks nearly identical to the beginning of God of War 2. GTA cheats are awesome. Haven't played IV yet although I've owned it since it came out. Now that the dlc is coming PS3 side, I'm starting it next week.
  • Fiirestorm21 - January 29, 2010 2:16 a.m.

    Oh, and speaking of Resident Evil 4 and Splinter Cell, context-sensitive actions were also apart of the SC series since its beginning.
  • Fiirestorm21 - January 29, 2010 1:26 a.m.

    Why does Resident Evil 4 always get credit for the over-the-shoulder 3rd person perspective? There were already two or three games, the Splinter Cell games, that had been doing that by the time RE4. (Not sure if Chaos Theory was out quite yet.) Over-the-shoulder 3rd person aiming has been a part of Splinter Cell since it's beginning, 3 years before RE4. And while I understand why its number 1 position in itself doesn't mean anything in regards to fun, I take issue with a statement in the description that any of the PS2 Grand Theft Auto games were fun. All them got too focused on the meta-design (large, open world, the story, etc.) and forgot the fundamentals. As a result, there were remarkably frustrating and not-fun to play. As for the rest of the list...good for the most part, though I'd nitpick the order. The only thing there worth mentioning is Wii Sports: No, way too high on the list. Other than that you guys got it pretty much right I think.
  • Felixthecat - January 26, 2010 7:47 p.m.

    @animeman - Too bad that Kingdom Hearts was still an average RPG. It did nothing special BESIDES combining Disney/Square, which was contraversial anyway. Granted it's a good RPG, it didn't do much special. @DrLovez69 - Talk about that stuff in the forums, and RE4 is on the list. @AuthorityFigure - The Wiimote didn't inspire IT at all. IT used the Wiimote and showcased it, thus being an important game for simply being the first game to use something new. Also, thanks for this GR, my computer fucked up when the video was posted.
  • Octaviux - January 26, 2010 9:21 a.m.

    MGS 2 inventing the stealth genre? please, Thief: The Dark Project Came out in 1998. Also this list is a joke without Battlefield 1942. Console games can pretend it's still the 90's while they play their simplistic MW2 but the Battlefield series evolved the FPS genre by making it include varied military vehicles and enormous 64 player battles the whole way back in 2002.
  • super0sonic - January 25, 2010 8:24 a.m.

    I have to disagree with the Zelda Wind Waker "working brilliantly" true most of the game was pure gold!!! but that sailing... I just gave up on the game because I could not take it any more.
  • kaytopher - January 24, 2010 10 p.m.

    I doubt Fallout 3 was inspired by Bioshock. It was a game that had been most likely in the making for years, and if you're talking about the entire apocalyptic thing, then look no further than fallout 1, 2, and brotherhood of steel.
  • Mirako - January 24, 2010 9:28 p.m.

    I think WoW should be above GTA 3 just because every other MMORPG tries to emulate it.
  • DrLovez69 - January 24, 2010 3:07 p.m.

    This my first ever comment on gamesradar. sweet. Eh yeah I personally agree with all of these, but too bad fahrenheit wasn't there, it may not have changed the way people think about games, but it sure changed the way i think 'bout games. Heavy Rain can only be better. On another note; I need a proper partner to play Army of two 40th day with, 'cause no-one has a headset n' none of my friends will get it. any takers? PSN is spidermanX. On another another note; Resident evil 4. nuff' said.
  • AuthorityFigure - January 24, 2010 12:27 p.m.

    'Wii Sports' didn't inspire anything. The WiiMote inspired IT. The controller is the thing that opened up that area of gaming, not that tech demo with zero replayability. Christ.
  • oryandymackie - January 23, 2010 6:12 p.m.

    In my opinion, BioShock did not influence Fallout 3. The architectural design is much different, and BioShock's tight attack system and claustrophobic setting reflects-not on the open world, near-tactical kills of FO3. Also, does anyone see the similarities between the Half-Life logo and the Aphex Twin logo?
  • gilgamesh310 - January 23, 2010 5:16 p.m.

    Everyone seems to forget that it wasn't GTA 3 but driver that was the first fully free roaming 3D game . Even though it had no on foot sections it still gave a huge liberating feeling to be able to explore whole cities for the first time and would have given rockstar the idea for GTA 4.
  • animeaddictoid - January 23, 2010 12:25 a.m.

    Great list and about half Life pic ZERG RUSH!
  • kratos2144 - January 22, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    I'm not sure how GoW isn't on this list.
  • TheGreatStone - January 22, 2010 11:28 p.m.

    I agree with DeadGirls. I didn't see anything new or innovative about Bioshock. It was most notable for its thick atmosphere and a mysterious world revealed to the player in subtle ways (and some very un-subtle recordings scattered about) -- an interesting story and a surprising twist. It was not an innovative shooter. It has the same RPG 'depth' as Half-Life 2. If anything, it was a shooter with unlockable gun upgrades and powers.
  • DeadGirls - January 22, 2010 8:56 p.m.

    Please explain to me how the fuck Bioshock is a "very deep" RPG. It's not even a "very deep" shooter. Unless, of course, we are talking about "very deep" underwater.
  • Xeacons - January 22, 2010 7:36 p.m.

    No denying it. These are the games that everyone knows, gamers or not. Even when shown in a bad light, their impact on the gaming world (or world in general) cannot be denied. Whenever someone bashes violence in games, they have to mention GTA. Addiction = WoW. Exercise = WiiSports, etc. These are the games EVERY gaming connoisseur should have in their library.
  • animeman - January 22, 2010 7 p.m.

    The list was good but I wish that a Kingdom Hearts game had gotten in their. I mean it did show us how to combine to of the biggest opposites and put them together in one awsome game.
  • DriveShaft - January 22, 2010 5:39 p.m.

    Only counted 3 or 4 gsmes that actually deserved to be on this list.