The Top 7... Best demos of all time

5: Ready 2 Rumble Boxing

In the weeks leading up to Dreamcast's release, you could find this demo in electronics shops everywhere. It had playable versions of Incoming, Trickstyle, Monaco Racing Simulator and another demo worthy of this list in the shape of Toy Commander. But the jewel in the crown was a two-player demo of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing.

The demo version of Midway's comic scrapper had three fighters (including the awesome Afro Thunder, pictured)... oh, and Michael Buffer. But that was about it. However, in a twist that Midway couldn't possibly have foreseen, all of the full game's additions like weight training and a career mode actually diluted the near-perfect experience that the demo offered.

All you need are comedy boxers, toothless grins and two-player pick-up-and-play fun and you've got yourself a classic. Especially for the moments when you get smacked in the face while taunting.



4: Gran Turismo HD

For early adopters of PS3, there was little to really justify the huge asking price. We can say that, having paid £425 for the damn thing. But the few dedicated gamers who took the plunge were given a huge freebie in the shape of Gran Turismo HD, which was a one track demo of… well, GT5 we suppose. Which still isn't here

So it was essentially a demo of vapourware, but taken as a demonstration of PlayStation 3 it was a very welcome freebie. It had plenty of content, sublime HD car models and loads of tuning options to keep us tinkering with our suspensions into the early hours. Y'know, while we waited for the real games to come along.

Above: One track? Sure, but as an HD time trial sim it was superb

Did you unlock the tuned cars? Or watch the fastest guy in the world via the downloadable replay system? People bemoan the inclusion of only one obscure track, but as with all great racers, this one track could keep a dedicated gamer happy for weeks. For free. Well, if £425 can be called 'free', of course...


3: God of War 3

Another PlayStation 3 demo, this was the E3 build from last year's event, given to the public more recently with the promise that the finished game would look even better. And, even though it did, there's no denying the strength of the demo was high on its own.

The focus on action isn't diminished at all in the trial. In fact, rather than give one small section, the demo takes in events from several different points in the game, such as a Cyclops fight, the Icarus winged ascent section and cyclops riding, making the action here even more condensed than the full game.

Above: This winged ascent concludes the demo and looks like a CG movie

You also get to shoot Helios and his chariot out of the sky and then use his head as a lantern, complete with some of the best dynamic lighting effects we've ever seen. In short, it's better and more varied than a whole bunch of full-price software on its own. GamesRadar's Meiks reckons he played through it five or six times - and only stopped then because he got his hands on the finished game.

Above: Two heads are better than one... so Kratos rips off Helios' to keep

Next page: A flying finish?


Top 7


  • turqua - January 19, 2014 3:09 p.m.

    the best shooter demo is obviously sof2 demo ... soldier of fortune II, good old times man, a simple, perfect game
  • The8bitWalrus - July 13, 2010 8:47 p.m.

    Brutal legend, best demo EVER!
  • Bri77777 - May 15, 2010 3:20 a.m.

    The Lost Planet 2 one was awsome for me. You could actually go inside the freaking thing and escape through the ass!
  • Spybreak8 - May 14, 2010 8:58 p.m.

    Wow other than Lost Planet 2 I haven't played any of these. I'd have to add GTA2 on the list but hey this is modern games. (I loved timed demos on the pc.)
  • GodofPS314 - May 12, 2010 11:03 p.m.

    Bioshock's was fantastic. It took you from the beginning of the game all the way to the first boss. It was about an hour and 20 minutes of playing time.
  • LizarDAZZLE - May 12, 2010 2:43 a.m.

    Half Life 2 and Battlefield 1942 Multiplayer The HL2 demo was amazing simply because you got to explore the first level toyour content playing with - gasp! - PHYSICS!! and B1942 because I still play it today. The airplanes are so much fun
  • kor2disturbed - May 11, 2010 1:55 p.m.

    Wow that's kinda weird I got the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo disc when it came out and I loved it, but for some reason I never ended up playing the actual game.
  • speno93 - May 11, 2010 10:43 a.m.

    what about Portal :first slice, 10 levels out of 19 is a pretty generous offer and portal is awesome
  • philipshaw - May 11, 2010 9:55 a.m.

    Have to agree with the MGS2 demo, I played that thing for hours before MGS2 came out
  • enoop - May 11, 2010 2:03 a.m.

    What about the Phantasy Star demo that's the full multiplayer with only a few things missing.
  • RamenDragon - May 11, 2010 1:48 a.m.

    I'm surprised not to see the Mirror's Edge demo here.
  • NearNRiver - May 11, 2010 1:43 a.m.

    What about Portal:First Slice?
  • infestedandy - May 10, 2010 11:46 p.m.

    @Rhymenocerous Hell yeah man. I remember first opening my Playstation and then popping that universal demo disc into the system. Man did that have some great games on there! Crash Bandicoot Warped, Metal Gear Solid, and Brave Fencer Musashi to name a few. Saying that, I definitely played through the MGS demo about 50 times. Incredible.
  • Cyberninja - May 10, 2010 11:46 p.m.

    demos are good i hope they stay free
  • winghoo - May 10, 2010 11:23 p.m.

    Wow what a trip down memory lane that was! Lou
  • CH3BURASHKA - May 10, 2010 10:25 p.m.

    Looking back, the tanker level was one of the best parts of all of MGS2, and not because it had S.S. in it - it was a genuinely well designed and executed part of the game.
  • lovinmyps3 - May 10, 2010 10:04 p.m.

    I actually didn't like the God of War III demo that much. I didn't find it all that impressive.
  • drroxxo1 - May 10, 2010 9:10 p.m.

    i think the Psychonauts demo was the best one. If it wasnt for that demo i wouldn't have bought the game. Also i think im one of the few people who actually bought pyschonauts at full price when it came out...
  • Shrimpandwhitewine - May 10, 2010 9:08 p.m.

    What about dead rising? That demo was phenomenal and wildly popular.
  • MatzGamer - May 10, 2010 8:32 p.m.

    What about Bataman AA ??? it was a doos demo that gave a combat and stealthy experience of the game!

Showing 1-20 of 56 comments

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