6. Gladiator: Rise of Maximus
Rome was the it thing after Ridley Scott's Gladiator came out in 2000, leading to a media gold rush in TV, film, and, of course, gaming. Suddenly, every publisher was scrambling to try to cash in on the buzz surrounding the film, leading to a slew of Gladiator games hitting shelves in 2002--most of which were crap. One, however, rose above the rest with strong visuals and satisfyingly brutal kills: Gladiator: Rise of Maximus.
Though the game shared little with the film besides the names of some of the principal characters (the developer didn't get the rights to Russell Crowe's likeness), it played exceptionally well, with strong gameplay that rang reminiscent of Mortal Kombat. Each character had their own style, and the level design was fairly inventive, considering the Roman coliseum isn't all that appealing when you're in the pit. We also loved Gladiator's take on Fatalities, which would pan back to show the emperor giving either a thumbs up or a thumbs down, splashing in a serving of historical accuracy for good measure.