10. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
First released in: 2001
Developed by: Konami
Published by: Konami
It’s notable for: Better stealth, better graphics, some douchey blond guy, and being one of the games that absolutely defined the last generation.
It inspired: MGS 2 and the series as a whole have hugely impacted (by which we mean, pretty much invented) the stealth genre, as well as gaming at large. Even aside from the series’ gameplay, which spread faster than herpes, its cinematic qualities have permeated modern games.
Blah blah blah: “In the two weeks leading up to the game’s European release, and this will make me seem like a complete raving mentalist, but every night I watched the TGS 2001 trailer and the E3 2001 trailer...it was the last thing I’d do before I’d go to bed.” -David Meikleham, Content Editor (UK)
9. Resident Evil 4
First released in: 2005
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom
It’s notable for: Being one of the most successful reinventions of a series, and for pioneering the behind-the-shoulder cam and context sensitive aiming.
It inspired: Almost every third-person shooter since sticks that camera right above the shoulder when your character raises his weapon, and RE4 is the game to thank.
Blah blah blah: “The legacy of Resident Evil 4 is its over the shoulder aiming…every third-person game has this now. RE4 made that a staple, and that went into Dead Space, GTA IV, Mass Effect, you name it.” -Brett Elston, Executive Editor (US)
8. Guitar Hero
First released in: 2005
Developed by: Harmonix Music Systems
Published by: Red Octane, MTV Games
It’s notable for: Being the first rhythm game of its kind, and the first to enjoy such massive success. Guitar Hero started something new and accessible, but definitely not casual, and invaded the mainstream like Elvis.
It inspired: A hell of a lot. It’s weird to say that Guitar Hero “inspired” Rock Band, given that Harmonix created both the original Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but Guitar Hero is clearly responsible for initiating a rabbit-like reproductive spree of music-based games. It’s also at least partially responsible for the mass-influx of plastic peripherals, especially those made by Activision (anyone fancy a game of Tony Hawk Ride?).
Blah blah blah: “Guitar Hero is the ultimate wish fulfillment game. Everybody at some point has thought about being on stage with a crowd of people screaming at ‘em and you hit that note and you do the horns and everybody flips out, right? But it’s hard. That’s a very hard life, it’s hard to learn to play guitar…and then you get Guitar Hero. It’s that experience in a bottle…well, in a box.” -Eric Bratcher, Editor-in-Chief (US)
7. Half-Life 2
First released in: 2004
Developed by: Valve Corporation
Published by: Valve Corporation
It’s notable for: Pretty much everything it did. It wasn’t the first in most aspects, but it did everything so damn well that, as a whole, it and the Source Engine were absolutely stunning. The storytelling didn’t require long cut-scenes – the characters spoke and interacted in real-time with unprecedented believability. The physics and Gravity Gun were a blast. And it all looked amazing – the Source Engine holds up seven years later, and that’s pretty damn impressive.
It inspired: Aside from the obvious landslide of Source mods, and games made by Valve, which have all taken a bit from Half-Life 2, it set the bar for single-player shooters, especially in terms of storytelling and character design, and it set it high.
Blah blah blah: “Incredible writing, a lack of disassociating cut scenes, unbelievable character animation…it took believability in a game world to a whole new level. Basically, if are not planning a wedding with Alyx by the end of the game, there’s something very wrong with you.” -Dave Houghton, Content Editor (UK)
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
First released in: 2007
Developed by: Infinity Ward
Published by: Activision
It’s notable for: Bringing war out of the trenches and into a world with some of the grandest set pieces we’d ever seen in a game, new ideas about how first-person shooters can be structured, and an innovative multiplayer mode that we obsessed over for years and will be copied for years to come. Sure there were modern day shooters before Modern Warfare, but they were largely niche titles – this was massive.
It inspired: The modern-day Medal of Honor reboot, for one, but bits and pieces of what Modern Warfare did will likely be seen throughout shooters for some time, regardless of their settings.
Blah blah blah: “[Modern Warfare was] a game that my girlfriend disliked intensely, and I’d say that probably goes for a lot of wives and girlfriends out there…woken up by the sound of gunfire and the announcement that UAV is online.” -Matt Cundy, Associate Editor (UK)