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)


  • iKOemos - January 21, 2010 9:29 p.m.

    Haven't I read this already? Nonetheless, a good article and lets hope this decade brings us more epic games.
  • FalconMbuster - January 21, 2010 9:31 p.m.

    This is unnessesary but... I'd like to make a bold statement in Lady Gaga's leotards.
  • FalconMbuster - January 21, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    You know, understanding what the word "important" means makes the #1 the only answer. It wasn't the "best" or "most fun", but I'll be damned if there is a game that has influenced gaming, gaming culture, and main stream society as much as GTA in the last 10 years. Even the storyline, which would be bland by current standards, was influential. It could be adult, it could be "real." You didn't need aliens or an evil overlord to have conflict. The "real world" is bad enough.
  • dante1924 - January 21, 2010 9:55 p.m.

    Thanks for this article! The video wasn't working on my computer for some reason!
  • hey003 - January 21, 2010 10:41 p.m.

    ∧_∧WELCOM TO: boot.ugg.jacket.jeans.sweart. (UGG) jordan air max oakland dunks $39; Christan Audigier BIKINI JACKET $30; gstar coogi evisu true jeans $35-39; coach chanel gucci LV handbags $36; Welcome you to visit thanks (*^_^*)
  • Yeager1122 - January 21, 2010 10:45 p.m.

    Did i miss something why did you decide to put up something you already did?
  • RebornKusabi - January 21, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    For the people that are "confused" or "missed something", they basically said in the first damn paragraph that this is a text version (notice the '-text edition' added to the title?) of their previous article (That being "The 20 most important games of the decade"). Stay in school kids! Reading comprehension will get you through your adult life ; )
  • RebornKusabi - January 21, 2010 11:18 p.m.

    ...and when did we get an Ad-Bot (hey003) on this site? Forgive my limited IT schooling (I'm halfway to getting my degree lol), but isn't the reCAPTCHA utility supposed to fight against that? Just curious. reCAPTCHA-godly at ( what?)
  • GameManiac - January 21, 2010 11:49 p.m.

    I can still remember the day I got Gran Turismo 3 and was blown away at how real the graphics were. Great article! I couldn't agree more with many of these games.
  • nik41507 - January 21, 2010 11:51 p.m.

    No No No NO No No I'd say Red Alert 2 influenced RTS. With its amazing cutscenes and gameplay NOOOO THERES AN AD-BOT NOOOOOO
  • oufour - January 22, 2010 12:32 a.m.

    um... why the fuck is wii sports AHEAD of halo 2 and half life 2? on that thought, why the fuck is on their in the first place?
  • flare149 - January 22, 2010 12:37 a.m.

    Good article, although I think God of War should get an honorable mention
  • crumbdunky - January 22, 2010 12:58 a.m.

    U2 wasn't the firs "killer app" for PS3 though, was it? That would go to a game you cruelly ignore here to include the WEAKEST in it's series just to be awkward(MGS2 more important than ANY of the others? You, my ddar sirs, are having a woolly!)and though an apparent desire to look like you haven't played any other games made by kojima. Seriously, I'd say the two best MGS were the last two(hard to knock MGS itself as time has been cruel on it's lookms and we can only imagine the greatness of it today but as a dev who leans so heavily on he available tech i'd say that 3 and 4 go way beyond the first two games and the second was easily the weakest of all four. I'd have stuck MGS4 in the top three, actually, as the best game in the most consistently great series ever committed to consoles.The achievements in tying up the story(and one so very convoluted too!)were manifold and done with a genuine flair for undertanding that the medium ISN'T the same as the films he loves so much. He paces even the ripest dialogue fuelled cutscene indulgences better than anyone else(seriously, we fans know the talky goes too far but it's the pace that fits a games length rather than pretending to cater to a two hour movie frame)has even tried. Interactive movie! The fools cried. We played the game and found something we never thought we would:a game brave and big and bold enough to both stand up to it's illustrious past AND to tie up the myriad wonky looking loose ends that Koj had woven in to the fabric of gaming itself. I didn't think he could top the mastery of MGS3 but Patriots did everything right for me and, though a lot of MG fans will argue otherwise, I take it as his crowning, gaming glory. Seriously, to ignore the things he managed with such amazing style AND anal attention to detail AND in creating some more classic boss battles and characters isn't a great move, imho. The gameplay also gave us iconic moments like the microwave "X" button ordeal where you battle both the game and aging Snakes increasing fragility(a metaphor, also, for mans struggle against what he himself has done to, and wioth, the planet earth itself?)and the sun drenched battle with Liquid harking back to fighting games past. Yes, it had cutscenes that went on too long with too many words BUT the cutscenes were, generally, doing a sterling job of one of the stiffest tasks in gaming-reigning in and wrapping up 20 years of Metal Gear and Hideo's imagination. When you add in the slickest gameplay the series has seen(and I played it as a stealth game from the start nd you have NOT finished without that Big Boss emblem!-so no accustaion that it has become "just an action game" around me thankyou!), amazing , console leading gfx, great script and voice work and yet more tjhoughtful, action heavy boss battl;es with a handful of fraught but brilliant set pieces you have both one of the best, most perfect games ever made and also one of the best tales ever told by the medium of gaming. It's the bringing together of every loose strand of a story as complex as any you'll find anywhere that sits atop the masterful hgame Kojima made in MGS4 like the proudest, sweetest cherry ever plucked from God's own cherry tree. Masterpiece is an overused word but MGS4 fits the hill just as much as any game on your list and a lot more than most. I tshould, at the very least, be in there somewhere.
  • StrayGator - January 22, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    A Crack in Time owes quite a bit to braid, I believe.
  • JustTheBoBreaker - January 22, 2010 1:18 a.m.

    I still can't believe Gran Turismo is that high on the list. Maybe it's just because i didn't really play it,that I don't see why it's so important.
  • Cyberninja - January 22, 2010 1:20 a.m.

    they do have a point about wii sports oufour with out wii sports i dont think the gaming market would have made so much money recently that plus its more fun for everyone i cant stand alot of fps like halo because of all the children trying to curse you out online
  • twewy13 - January 22, 2010 1:51 a.m.

    why halo 2 and not 1?
  • gopikmin - January 22, 2010 2:02 a.m.

    @oufour This is the most important games of the decade, not best. These are the games that revolutionized the industry. I feel WoW should be lower ,but that is because i have not played it much.
  • Defguru7777 - January 22, 2010 2:02 a.m.

    @twewy13 It was the first console game to have truly great online multiplayer. Halo 1 probably didn't do anything to make it "revolutionary." It was still a great game.
  • Nupetarian - January 22, 2010 2:12 a.m.

    Good list!

Showing 1-20 of 44 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000