The 20 most important games of the decade – text edition

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 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)


  • 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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