The 20 most important games of the decade – text edition

15. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec

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)

14. Deus Ex

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)

13. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

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)

12. Bejeweled

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)

11. Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training (Brain Age)

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)


  • 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.

Showing 1-20 of 44 comments

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