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)

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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