The Top 7... Best demos of all time

Demos are great. They give you a chance to try out a game before you part with your money, are usually free and almost always give you the same thrill you get from playing a full game when you start it up.

But sometimes the publisher in question goes a little too far with their generosity and gives us a demo so great it could almost be sold as a standalone game.

We wouldn't normally shout about it, for fear of them getting wind of the financial opportunity, but seeing as there's talk of charging for demos (opens in new tab) now anyway, we might as well go ahead. So here they are: The Top 7 demos of all time.

7: Panzer Dragoon Saga: Disc 1

This demo is so great because it is the actual game. Well, a quarter of it. The UK's Official Sega Saturn Magazine scooped this amazing coup to bring disc 1 of the four-disc Panzer Dragoon Saga to readers, sellotaped to the front of the magazine. Imagine if disc 1 of Final Fantasy XIII's first disc was given away on a 360 mag - it would be that big a deal.And, funnily enough, it was a big deal.

Check out this video of one of the demo's mosty memorable encounters. Feel the quality - the fully voiced characters, the sense of scale, the innovative real-time turn-based battle system with its circular positioning system.

One idiot subsequently wrote in asking when they'd be running the next disc from the game on the cover. It doesn't work like that, sonny…

6: Lost Planet

OK, so the finished game wasn't all that brilliant. But as a demo for the brand new Xbox 360, it was sensational. For starters, the taster gave you two big areas to play around in, so you could sample the snowy wasteland (plus indoor sections) and an underground lair.

Then, it gave you several weapons to play with, including the walking mechs. Add in enemy-spawning pods that you could explode at will and you had yourself a party.

It also threw some astonishing, Matrix-esque visuals at you. Being inside the hive and seeing all the Akrid flying around above you was frikkin' epic when you were used to PS2's modest capabilities.

It kept on giving, which is why it's here - two huge boss battles were the icing on the cake. Quite literally, in fact, as their ravaged bodies turned into huge ice sculptures waiting to be smashed with a single bullet.

Above: That's a pretty big bug. Is there an better advert for HD gaming?

This demo was next-gen gaming summed up in one delicious, free morsel.

Next up: "Weighing in at 121 pounds..."

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.