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First released in: 2001
Developed by: Polyphony Digital
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
It’s notable for: Being not just one of the most popular racing games of all time, but one of the most popular games of all time. Gran Turismo 3 was huge and deep, but remained accessible, and ushered in the PS2 with the kind of graphical prowess that everyone was hoping for.
It inspired: Utter awe. GT3 made us more excited than ever for the future of game visuals. Here’s an unmodified screen-grab from IGN’s review, written only nine years ago, to illustrate:
Blah blah blah: “I can’t drive, I don’t know what makes cars work, I don’t know a Corsa from a Chevrolet, but I still love this game.” -George Walter, Editor-in-Chief (UK)
First released in: 2000
Developed by: Ion Storm Inc.
Published by: Eidos Interactive
It’s notable for: Open-ended gameplay which offered choice, something that was rarely offered in the largely linear games of the ‘90s. Like BioShock, Deus Ex took some inspiration from System Shock, but it blended shooter and RPG elements in its own way, and kicked off the decade with something powerfully different.
It inspired: S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl, BioShock , Mass Effect, Borderlands, Fallout 3, and plenty more.
Blah blah blah: “There are some NPCs you’ll never even meet on your first play though – if someone pisses you off you can just shoot them in the face, and by some sort of miracle, the game will adapt the story and change it around you…” -Dave Houghton, Content Editor (UK)
First released in: 2002
Developed by: Bethesda Game Studios
Published by: Bethesda Softworks
It’s notable for: Its scope and beauty. Morrowind was the GTA III of RPGs, and set the bar high for graphics, freedom, and size.
It inspired: Oblivion, of course, but like Deus Ex, it was a precursor to games like Mass Effect and Borderlands. It also influenced the MMORPG genre – Everquest already existed when Morrowind was released, but Morrowind was what we wished Everquest had been.
Blah blah blah: “Morrowind was one of the first worlds where you got the impression that everything was going to go on and keep moving and people were going to keep living and dying whether you were there or not…it was a world, and it was going to live regardless of you.” -Eric Bratcher, Editor-in-Chief (US)
First released in: 2001
Developed by: PopCap Games
Published by: PopCap Games
It’s notable for: Being downloaded over 150 million times - that’s how accessible and entertaining it is. Bejeweled is perfectly representative of the 2000’s casual revolution: it began as a web game in 2001, and by 2009 had invaded Steam, XBLA, PDAs, iPods, DSiWare, Facebook, and mobile phones.
It inspired: A brave new world of ultra-popular, simple games that are accessible on just about any device with a screen.
Blah blah blah: “Easily the Tetris of this generation.”-Nathan Irvine, Associate Editor (UK)
First released in: 2005
Developed by: Nintendo
Published by: Nintendo
It’s notable for: Being one of the first examples of Nintendo’s answer to the “casual games” movement, and kicking off their strategy of inclusiveness.
It inspired: It may not have been the inspiration for Nintendo’s current mindset, but it certainly ushered in the age of “WiiSomething,” and was followed with many other “educational” DS and Wii entries.
Blah blah blah: “One of the first games that made the DS relevant to every member of the family…pretty much anyone could be seen stabbing the DS, trying to do maths.” -Matt Cundy, Associate Editor (UK)