The 100 Greatest Games Ever – Part 2 (75-51)


Welcome to Part 2 of our 100 Greatest Games Ever list. If you missed Part 1 yesterday where we listed our picks for 100-75, you can find it here.

Today we’ll be counting down our picks for 75-50 on our list. Remember to check back tomorrow for part 3 on our rundown, and on Thursday for the final countdown.

75. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

It was like that when I got here...
It was like that when I got here…

Following on from the critical darling that was Uncharted 2, the third game in the series had a lot to live up to. The game promised plenty in terms of a globetrotting plot that takes players from a London pub to a French Chateau and a desert in Yemen, with all of the luscious environments that are associated with them. While it didn’t quite live up to its predecessor, Uncharted 3 is still a fantastic game in its own right.

Everything that Naughty Dog had honed through their long and varied history came together once more. The writing, voice acting, graphics, cinematic quality and story are all top drawer. There are also interesting flashback sections which flesh out Nathan Drake further as a character, even if they do slow the pace down a bit.

Uncharted 3 contains all of the elements that you would expect from the series, combining them with a tighter control system and an improved, more flexible multiplayer mode through the newly-introduced buddy system. With all these aspects in place, it’s hard to criticise Uncharted 3 in either form or function.

-Harry Bowers

74. Gitaroo Man

Let's give it up for the amazing Mojo King Bee.
Let’s give it up for the amazing Mojo King Bee.

Gitaroo Man is a rhythm game that tells the simple but touching tale of the awkward U-1 as he faces off against a series of opponents in musical duels, growing in confidence after each one.

The controls in the battles are unique, easy to get attuned to, and capture the action perfectly. Precise button pressing, timed to onscreen commands, is essential, especially when you get to the later levels. The levels themselves offer an eclectic selection of wonderful original music through different genres, from opera to J-pop. Each one is extremely catchy and enjoyable, and you’ll find yourself returning to certain levels just to hear a song one more time. The enemies are interesting a diverse, including a trumpet-playing man in a bee-suit and a trio of samba-enthusiastic skeletons.

It’s unfortunate that the title was produced in such small quantities that it became more of a cult classic than a mainstream success. Nevertheless, it’s definitely up there with the likes of Vib-Ribbon and PaRappa the Rapper as one of the greatest rhythm games of all time.

-David Tierney

73. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

If you like pointing, this is the game for you.

Do you enjoy pointing out when people are lying? Shoving their face in their deceit? Of course you do. Everybody does, and that’s what makes Phoenix Wright so enjoyable. Ace Attorney is the first in the series of visual novel adventure games. You take on the role of the titular defence lawyer as he protects the innocent and weeds out the guilty.

It captures the impression of a courtroom drama perfectly, and the feeling when you catch someone out, pulling apart their string of lies, is extremely satisfying. This sensation is intensified by the title’s other traits. The simple but catchy music matches the atmosphere and emotions perfectly as it builds intensity with the action. Characters who have shown nothing but calm faces completely break down, sometimes even throwing their wig at our deft defence attorney.

It’s a simple concept, but one that turned into an amazing game which spawned a series that’s still going strong.

-David Tierney

72. Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor

Filthy Tark
Filthy Tark

Shadow Of Mordor is a surprisingly great game that lifts the combat system straight out of the Arkham games, and combines it with a series of smart innovations. Anyone who has played Rocksteady’s Batman series will instantly feel at home. Attacking, countering and and traversing the landscape are as responsive as you would hope for, with combos that build towards brutal executions. The game also allows you to “brand” your enemies, taking control of their minds and forcing them to fight each other.

Branding feeds into the biggest innovation in Shadow Of Mordor; the Nemesis system. The Uruk army you’re fighting has a distinct hierarchy propped up by Captains and Warlords. If an Uruk defeats you, he’ll become stronger and will get promoted in the field, meaning that you are building rivalries as you progress. Uruks that have beaten you before will stride into battle and mock you over your previous encounter. Conversely, Uruks that narrowly avoid death will often turn up with steel plates on their heads or hideous scars; a visual clue as to what happened last time you met. If you brand an Uruk you can force him to kill rivals and gain promotions until you have infiltrated the whole chain of command. The Nemesis system allows the player to mess around with the hierarchy and experiment in this fashion.

Considering that the Nemesis system creates new Uruks procedurally, it’s amazing how much personality they display despite their randomness. They have strengths, weaknesses and fears, allowing you to exploit them in combat. Combine this with the narratives they build with you over time, the Uruks start to become some of the most rounded characters in video games; all achieved without a writer.

While Shadow Of Mordor does not do much with the Lord Of The Rings license, this game is well worth your time and effort, whether you’re invested in Tolkien’s works or not.

-Adam Lloyd

71. Hitman: Blood Money

Agent 47 kills his targets with the sharpness of his suits.

Hitman Blood Money, above all, emphasised a diversity of play. Open areas were full of traps and disguises, and any path could be taken to eliminate the many targets throughout Agent 47’s, usually, cold-hearted journey. Stages were diverse and fully populated with personable citizens. A night at the Paris Opera to tackle a bunch of paedophiles, would quickly dally into a daytime retreat at a rehab centre in California; the mission in question, Flatline, involved a bathrobe, some weight-lifting equipment and an actual resurrection.

Blood Money’s radically mental happenings are still as quaint and delightful today as they were in 2006, and its outstanding variety is only made better by how much fun it is to play. Perhaps this is just for the purely sadistic, but trying to kill every non-playable character in each level carries an entertaining (albeit, sick) sense of satisfaction; choking eighteen guards and pulling their bodies into a lift shaft before a pesky pedestrian discovers you has always, and will always, be an abject thrill.

– Scott Russell

70. Galactic Civilizations II

If those spacehips are scaled correctly, they could probably push planets around.
If those spacehips are scaled correctly, they could probably push planets around.

In terms of 4x space games, Galactic Civilizations II occupies it’s own niche in time. The game was released in 2006, long after the genre had dried up with the likes of Master Of Orion, yet before some of the more contemporary games that suddenly seem to be vogue such as Endless Space. However, Gal Civ II cements the concept of Civilization in space in a way that not many of its competitors ever managed.

The artificial intelligence on display is rather advanced. The AI will react to you in surprising ways, such as building ships with advanced shielding if you build laser weapons, recognising if you are preparing to invade by building ships near their borders and colonies, and specialising their own planets.

The early game is all about expansion and managing your economy. If you overextend, you run the risk of running out of money too early, but the AI will be trying to snap up as many planets as possible. Once you’ve established your territory, you’ll need to specialise your planets to maximise production, research and taxation. Certain planets will offer bonus tiles, and your decisions when colonising worlds may effect their output. When you’re good and ready, you are able to build vast armadas to lay waste to your enemies, or you can use your overwhelming influence to make rival colonies join your empire. All of these systems are surprisingly deep if you want to micromanage them. With the expansions Dark Avatar and Twilight Of The Arnor, there is an abundance of content that will leave each game feeling unique and special.

-Adam Lloyd

69. Left 4 Dead

Say what you will about the zombie apocalypse, it’s a good time to be a body bag manufacturer.

Four player co-op is a tricky equation. Even two player co-op requires a meticulous balancing act that few studios can pull off. Throw survival horror into the mix, and things start to get even muddier. And yet, when placed in the skilled hands of Turtle Rock Studios, it all seems a breeze. Somehow, Left 4 Dead manages to toe that ever-so-fine line between hope and desperation. It succeeds in always making its subjects feel like they are teetering upon the brink of survival.

Left 4 Dead demands four poor souls dive into a fraternity punch bowl’s worth of misery, sorrow and teamwork. It’s tense, hectic and the bonding experience equivalent of a sharing a prison cell for four months. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Left 4 Dead also happens to be an exceptionally re-playable zombie shoot-em-up. You can be sure that an omnipotent AI director will always be at hand to ruin your day. Much like a box of chocolates, the fun of Left 4 Dead lies in the fact that you never know what you’re going to get. A distinctly troublesome cast of fiendish fancies can materialize around any corner.

Left 4 Dead is horror done right. You’ll find no cheap jump scares here, just the ever-present, nagging worry that everything your team has spent the last twenty minutes working towards can be swept away in an instant. Survival tastes sweeter than you can believe.

– Harry Bowers

68. The Talos Principle

Someone get the Changing Rooms team in, pronto.
Someone get the Changing Rooms team in, pronto.

The Talos Principle wowed us so much that one of our writers claimed to have been fundamentally changed by the experience. The game features a transcendent narrative that challenges your beliefs and your understanding of the human conscience, which is a lofty way of saying that philosophy majors will get a kick out of it.

You wake up in lush Greco/Roman ruin with the voice of a divine being named Elohim guiding you through your journey. Through the dialogue with Elohim and your conversations with an entity known as The Serpent, you’ll soon realise that you are inside a computer simulation that is designed to test your sentience and free will. Not only that, but The Talos Principle offers a series of logic puzzles that challenge, but don’t often frustrate. The puzzles are abstract enough that they are divorced from the puzzles hidden within the narrative, both of which are begging to be solved. In this regard, The Talos Principle is an experience that makes you think on multiple levels; something that is often lacking in the medium of video games.

-Adam Lloyd

67. Ristar

The debate over whether it’s pronounced “Rye-Star” or “Wrist-Arr” continues today.

Arriving late into the Mega Drive’s lifecycle in 1995, Ristar was one of Sega and Sonic Team’s last hurrahs for their most successful console. The world was already moving on to the Saturn and the PlayStation, but this beautiful game bridged the gap tremendously with amazing graphics and sound.

One of the original concepts for Sonic The Hedgehog involved a rabbit with extending ears. This concept eventually evolved into Ristar, a character who can extend his arms to attack enemies, reach higher places, and swing himself around a level. The game was slower paced than previous Sonic Team outings, but this allowed for deliberate platforming, exploration and puzzle solving as opposed to just racing towards the finish line.

Ristar remains an absolute treasure to this day. The game features a bright, vibrant colour palette which pushes the system further than pretty much any other game. It looks very much like a Rayman game before Rayman was even a thing. Then there is the melodic soundtrack which peaks with the fourth planet, Sonata; a music-themed level with enemies that move and attack in time to the beat. These touches all add up to make Ristar one of the underappreciated stars of the 16 bit era.

-Adam Lloyd

66. Team Fortress 2

Lifeguns; the one video game invention that is sorely needed in the real world.

It’s not often that a game arrives with a full roster of characters that are as loved as some of the greats like Mario, Sonic, Cloud or Link, but Valve managed to conjure meme gold with their first-person shooter, Team Fortress 2. Not only are the characters some of the most iconic in all of PC gaming, but the game is addictively fun with fast-paced matches, flashy character-specific abilities and just a feel of all around general chaos.

It’s also incredibly diverse as each vibrant character has their own play style. This gives players a medley of choices based on their own personal preferences, but also affords the title longevity as veterans of the game can familiarize themselves with multiple characters in an effort to become competitive with each.

The word “competitive” also might scare some gamers away, but despite there being an objective to beat the other team, TF2 is quite accessible to even beginners as the game is simple to pick up and play. It’s easy to spend hundreds of hours with friends beating each other down with bats, blowing each other up with countless explosives or simply shooting them with turrets, snipers or gatling guns. The final layer of TF2 then comes in not playing the game but laughing at the endless YouTube videos, GIFs and memes that flesh out, expand and generally make the universe of Team Fortress more lovable than it already is. It’ll have you playing for a few years, but keep you smiling for a lifetime.

-Austin Flynn

65. Tomb Raider (2013)

Anyone who sets up ziplines around their base is just asking to be infiltrated.

In a previous life, Lara Croft was better known as the face (and other bits) of 90’s lad culture. Adorning the cover of FHM wearing only a pillowcase, she exemplified gaming’s move into the mainstream whilst simultaneously pushing the feminist cause back a few years. That’s why it was a relief in 2013 to see such a cultural icon get a realistic reboot, and a bloody good game to boot.

Tomb Raider is the origin story of Lara Croft; an optimistic young archaeologist eager to explore the world and discover the distant past. However, through circumstances largely beyond her control, Lara finds herself fighting for survival against insurmountable odds and in predicaments that would make Bear Grylls sob into his urine-filled flask. Crystal Dynamics took great care with their character development to give Lara a more realistic and gritty realisation this time around, and they got it mostly right.

The gameplay is as good as you would expect. Taking it’s cues from Uncharted, Tomb Raider is a confident, action-heavy thrillride that rarely lets up throughout. In moments of relative calm, the game opens up nicely, allowing you to explore, find treasure, and master several puzzles. All in all, Lara finally gets the treatment she deserves, even if she does end up being dropped headfirst into a pool of corpses.

-Adam Lloyd

64. Civilization V

Embrace the hex.

The following is a list of everything wrong with Civilization V:

1. No Baba Yetu.

Other than that, Civ V outperforms its predecessors on almost every level. For example, the move from square tiles to hexagonal ones is brilliant. Not only does it make conflicts more clustered, it gives the terrain a more rounded and natural feel. This, coupled with the game’s gorgeous art style, results in randomly generated game worlds that are an absolute joy to explore.

Removing the ability to stack units turned combat from a battle of steamrollers into a much more strategic affair. Positioning and coordination matter much more than simple attack strength, with Great Generals and flanking providing crucial bonuses to every attack. Giving cities their own defenses also means you can’t just swoop in and snatch your opponent’s capital in the early game while his Warrior is out exploring.

Of course, Civ being Civ, war is only one of the paths to victory. The various victory conditions are the most balanced they’ve ever been (with the addition of expansions, it must be said), as you no longer have to pick one from the start and dedicate your every effort towards it to succeed. Wealth, faith and culture are all valuable resources that can be put towards practically any victory condition, if you play your cards right. Given that, plus the vast number of playable factions and scenarios, I’ve still only seen a small part of everything the game has to show me. After years of playing Civilization V, I’m still always excited to see what waits for me just around the next corner.

– Owen Atkinson

63. Devil May Cry

Giant scorpions are greatly improved without The Rock's torso being superimposed onto them.
Giant scorpions are greatly improved without The Rock’s torso being superimposed onto them.

Dante is a strong contender for the coolest guy alive. Let’s look at the evidence; He has a badass trenchcoat, confident swagger and lucious silver locks. He is the son of a demon lord named Sparda, he’s practically indestructable, and moves faster than Usain Bolt on laxatives. Also, he pretty much invented the character-action genre.

Upon its release in 2001, Devil May Cry was bold step into the unknown. Starting out as a new installment for Resident Evil, Hideki Kamiya soon realised that the game he wanted to make was becoming something else entirely, and they leaned into the more outlandish aspects until Devil May Cry was eventually born. The team developed the game into a brash, action-intensive experience that focuses on stylish displays of brutality. A combo meter judges your ability to juggle enemies and string a chain of different attacks together, then gives you a rating for how versatile and cool you are. For example, Dante can send an enemy flying into the air, then keep him afloat by riddling him with bullets from underneath. Upgrades add further weapons and abilities to your arsenal, making the combat even more ludicrous as the game goes on.

The plot was utterly ridiculous, but Dante’s nonchalant attitude carried it through to the end. This game paved the way for the likes of God Of War, Asuma’s Wrath, and anything developed by Platinum Games, but Devil May Cry still remains one of the highlights of this genre.

-Adam Lloyd

62. Fez

With great hats come great responsibility.
With great hats come great responsibility.

Throughout it’s protracted and public development, it always looked like Phil Fish’s first (and last) foray into game design might turn out to be a failure. It’s a miracle that Fez ever saw the light of day, let alone turning out to be one of 2012’s critical and commercial success stories.

Through its inviting visuals and marvellous sound design, all the elements of Fez combine to create a complicated game that feels decidedly primitive on the surface. The pixel art and the sound effects that are both serene and also reminiscent of someone molesting a ZX Spectrum. It’s a wonderful aesthetic that compliments the simple, yet sophisticated style of the game.

You play as Gomez, a pale creature who one day discovers a whole new third dimension to his little 2D world. Tasked with collecting 32 cubes scattered across the game, players are able to rotate the world on a 3D plane with a tap of a button; revealing hidden doors, passages, and much more besides. This simple mechanic is central to making progress through intricate puzzles that never feel unfair or obtuse. While collecting the cubes may be a fairly straightforward task, a complex meta-layer exists with a series of 32 anti-cubes to collect, along with mysteries surrounding a floating monolith, heart pieces, a whole lexicon to assemble, as well as hidden gameplay mechanics such as flight and first-person views. Even after the game has been broken apart by puzzle solvers and hackers alike, it still lives on through its mysteries. Fez is deeply beautiful on many different levels.

-Adam Lloyd

61. Portal

GLaDOS, we meet at last.
GLaDOS, we meet at last.

The game that launched a thousand memes; Portal was highly quoted and admired after its release for all the right reasons. The game is a short experience that can be completed quite easily in a handful of hours, but every moment of that is perfectly paced and tightly designed to provide an incredible amount of entertainment in a very short space of time.

Portal’s humour was spot on, providing a type of dark comedy that was, and still is, rather rare in a video game. The malevolent AI GLaDoS is perfectly written and cast, coming across as menacing, yet neurotically hilarious in equal measure. Her veiled insults unravel over the course of the game towards flat out mockery of your intelligence, weight and predicament.

Not only was the writing as superb as you would expect from a Valve game, the puzzle design was incredibly well done. The game very seldom stalls by being intuitive in nature, yet feels challenging and suitably tricky in spots. Portal succeeds in making you believe that you are intelligent with each solution. To do this in a game with such a unique concept (firing portals at walls to travel distances instantly) is a triumph, making Portal an essential game in anyone’s collection.

-Adam Lloyd

60. Super Mario Galaxy 2

Nintendo, making a dinosaur flying away from an erupting volcano possible.

The Wii had a lot of quality games, but, when compared to its predecessor, the games often came up short. Smash Bros. Melee was better than Brawl, Windwaker was better than Skyward Sword, and Metroid Prime was better than Other M. Nevertheless, Mario Galaxy was vastly superior to Mario Sunshine, and Mario Galaxy 2 was even better.

What made Galaxy 2 superior to its predecessor was the amount of fresh ideas used in the level design. Stages typically revolved around quirky ideas and unique gameplay mechanics. One level might see you rounding foes while skating on ice, while another may drag you into a challenge with a sunglasses-wearing simian. New powerups were introduced, Yoshi was reinstated, and there was a greater mix between 2D and 3D platforming. The robust gameplay mechanics allowed all of this to be added without it seeming shoehorned. Plus, its graphics were also some of the best on the Wii, and the game was topped-off with a spellbinding soundtrack that sounds like a mix-up of orchestral music with the catchy tunes of the legendary composer Koji Kondo.

Galaxy 2 was a near-perfect game, and received a huge amount of critical acclaim. It is one of the highest scoring games ever made, and is still seen (in many people’s eyes) as the epitome of 3D platformers. There have been many titles since, including the brilliant Super Mario 3D World, but none have soared as high as Super Mario Galaxy 2.

-David Tierney

79. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

That blood will never wash off, no matter how much Vanish you use.

Being the final game in a beloved lineage stretching back to 80’s, it’s fair to say there was a weight of expectation on the shoulders of The Phantom Pain. This was the game that was supposed to loop together Big Boss and Solid Snake’s stories, while also proving to be the first mainline installment of the series in over seven years. Thankfully, the game lived up to, and exceeded expectations in many departments.

The Phantom Pain is almost the direct opposite of the previous game. Story beats are few and far between in its massive open world, mechanics-focused gameplay. This is the best MGS game ever made in terms of raw playability, giving the player a vast array of skills, tools and weapons to tackle any given situation. The games runs like clockwork, meaning that guards react to you in smart ways and simple events can quickly spiral out of control into base-wide alerts. Fortunately, you’re not as tied to the stealth mechanics (which are better than ever and still a viable strategy) and you are able to shoot your way out of trouble should you need to. The game is responsive enough to allow this and, throughout the 60+ hours you’ll spend in the game, you’ll learn a staggering amount of strategies for dealing with any type of situation.

While players who were expecting a game filled with Kojima-style craziness may have been disappointed by the sparse story (which was still there and as crazy as ever, just spaced out much further), there’s no denying that The Phantom Pain is a phenomenal achievement and a great way to send off the series.

-Adam Lloyd

58. SimCity 4

Looks even better than Milton Keynes.
Looks even nicer than Bognor Regis.

Upon its initial release, the response towards SimCity 4 was rather lukewarm. The game changes the way in which you build cities, stopping the player from building shimmering skyscrapers straight away and forcing them to first grow their population in smart, meaningful ways. The addition of regions was an alien concept at first, but allowed players to create interconnected towns and cities that all relied on each other.

After the initial shock, SimCity 4 remains the best installment of the franchise through its thoughtful implementation and the ability to sculpt realistic cities. As demand increases in certain sectors, your city will grow organically, fuelled by your well-planned city management and taxation. To encourage high tech industries you can ship all the garbage to a neighbouring city whilst buying power from that same city that is incinerating your garbage for energy. Of course, dirty industries and low income areas are just as important to your city, and you’ll limit the growth of your city if you don’t provide affordable housing and jobs. In this way, SimCity 4 finally feels realistic in a way that previous games in the series never managed.

The base game was a little lacking in terms of traffic management and content, but this was fixed via the Rush Hour expansion and a whole host of community-made mods out there that have transformed this game into the definitive SimCity experience. If you’re interested, CAM and RHW are almost a prerequisite at this point, and should be part of any SC4 player’s experience.

-Adam Lloyd

57. Secret Of Mana

Moms found this one weird secret of mana that is making doctors angry!

As one of the first RPGs with a real-time combat system and one of the first games I’ve ever played, Secret of Mana might have done more to shape the way I look at gaming than any other title. The funny thing is that, in many ways, it’s not very unique. A group of young adventurers with the help of a sacred sword fight an evil force to save the world.

Despite the possibly cliche motivation for our heroes, once you pop that cartridge in and hear the famous title song, none of that matters. It’s just you, the three protagonists, a myriad of weapons to power up, magic to collect and one of the most memorable soundtracks on the SNES. Speaking of the SNES, Secret of Mana was created for a console alongside classics such as Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, yet it still remains memorable in this sea of great titles.

It achieved this with the help of everything mentioned above working in tandem with a colorful world where characters spring to life in a variety of environments and make an impression as soon as they’re given screen time. Secret Of Mana is successful because of the way the world is presented and the emotions created through the player’s progression. By the time you’ve gotten to the Mana Fortress and are ready to save the world, you’ve grown attached to each of the characters in your party as well as a few others.

Secret of Mana is an emotional experience that can take you by surprise, and, again, with a soundtrack as inspired as this, there’s not a single moment where the mood isn’t filled to the brim with spirit, wonder or woe. You can also share this adventure with a friend or family member as the game does support a two-player function, an option quite unique for RPGs at the time. There is no doubt that Secret of Mana deserves a spot on this list alongside any other legendary titles.

-Austin Flynn

56. Dark Souls

Enable ‘SDFP’: Standard Dragon Fighting Position!

Demon’s Souls may have captivated crowds of PS3 gamers a few years beforehand, but it was 2011’s Dark Souls that brought an incomparable world of hurt to Western gamers across several platforms. Few titles ever step up when it comes to video game difficulty, but FromSoftware delivered in the most satisfying way possible. Players battled against monstrous demons, crystallised dragons and fire-breathing gargoyles in extremely stressful boss fights where victory, amongst so many defeats, carried an unparalleled sense of achievement.

In order to slay these beasts, players had to traverse the environment first which, at times, made Dark Souls so compelling to play. The path to a boss room was arguably one of the more difficult aspects of the game, where item and stamina management was all part of the game’s strategy. Not only that, but there was the never-ending threat of PvP encounters that ultimately separated the masters from the novices.

Dark Souls took a certain amount of pride in its dimly lit areas, where the sight of a nearby bonfire could never be so far away thanks to a gauntlet of traps and enemies. It’s one of the few legitimately scary games I’ve played and is the sole reason why it now takes me 10 minutes to walk down any corridor in a video game.

-Hayden Waugh

55. System Shock 2

I love what you’ve done with the wires in your face.

The grandmother of GladOS, the patron of Bioshock, and one of the best horror games ever created. System Shock 2 places players in deep space with hostile creatures, limited resources, and the formidable SHODAN. Crushed between this insane AI guiding you and a legion creature known as The Many, players are left in some of the best, most tense environments ever created.

System Shock 2 is frightening, of course, but it wouldn’t earn a top spot on this list simply for being scary. System Shock 2 also features an incredible story and one of the best villains ever put to PC. Not only is the game well respected, but it also bore a spiritual successor in the beloved Bioshock.

While a reboot and a sequel in the form of System Shock 3 are on the way, System Shock 2 remains firmly on its throne of wires and lies for the time being.

– Amber Colyer

54. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Who dares to face this dragon? How about the most flammable character in video games?

The second in the Paper Mario series, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door has that same sort of innocent charm to it that the original had. However, what drives this game more than anything is, to put it plainly, emotion. It is silly, funny, happy, dark, twisted and even sad. That’s right; a Paper Mario game actually has a few tear-jerkers in it.

What sets it apart is that it isn’t just about Mario vs Bowser in a paper world. The Thousand Year Door actually has a grand story, with ancient prophecies, new baddies, and some real weight to it. Sure, Bowser arrives to mess things up here and there, but the old Koopa King pales in comparison to the final villain, a villain who aims to plunge the world into darkness.

Really, everything about The Thousand Year Door is spectacular: the characters, the music, the graphics, the gameplay, all of it is just top of the line. Everything is bigger, more dire, more emotional and just an all out great experience.

– Amber Colyer

53. Half Life

Nice hat! Rocking the “Failed Turkey Dinner” look there.

Before Half Life, first-person shooters were often called “Doom Clones” due to the fact that they rarely attempted to tell a story, and presented little than a gun-littered playground. From the moment that the game starts, Half Life shows itself to be a game-changer through the opening sequences.

The game puts you in the shoes of Gordon Freeman, a scientist at the Black Mesa research facility. The opening sections are all about Gordon going to work, getting on a cable car, walking past people who are busy doing their jobs, and the general mundanity of it all. Then, in a series of scripted moments, a portal to another world is opened in the facility, allowing unspeakable horrors from travel to Earth and run riot. As you try to escape, you’ll see your colleagues being shockingly dismembered, devoured and slaughtered in front of you.

After those memorable opening moments, Half Life succeeds in ramping up the excitement further by introducing new enemies to engage with. Headcrabs, Barnacles and Houndeyes show up in abundance, but when the SWAT team arrive and you think you’re about to be saved, you end up fighting for survival against an advanced team of humans that want to kill everything in the facility and cover up the incident. The SWAT team AI was particularly advanced for the time, using teamwork to flush you out of cover, flank you, and throwing grenades to clear areas. This and the cinematic opening sequences are Half Life’s lasting legacy, and it remains one of the main games that shaped the industry as we know it today.

-Adam Lloyd

52. Heavy Rain

I’m too noir for my shirt, too noir for my shirt, so noir it huuuurts.

Heavy Rain may be the butt of several jokes (JASON!!), but I happen to think that it is a storytelling masterpiece, and that David Cage has successfully created a game that deals with empathy in a way that is both dark and powerful.

My preference may have been to save Ethan and his son Shaun, but that does not mean that this is the required outcome. Every character can meet a grisly demise by the end of the story; not every character has to survive. Nurturing Jayden, Scott, Ethan and Madison on each of their journeys was a necessary task for me however; seeing each one’s story until the end was paramount to my motivation because of the enriching nature of the tale that unfolded with every passing scene. Sometimes torturous, mature and thoroughly poignant, Heavy Rain’s plaudits as a unique, interactive experience in 2010 still holds the utmost weight today.

– Scott Russell

51. The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker

They call me The Wind Waker due to my early morning flatulence.

The story and art style of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker were both divisive upon its release, making it somewhat less successful than Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. But Wind Waker is still a great game in its own right, and the HD upgrade for the Wii U makes it even better.

Toon Link is the best link, and somehow, the “less realistic” version of the Hero of Time shows more emotion and humour than any other version. The open world is gorgeous and vibrant, and the puzzles and dungeons are complex and challenging. But most importantly, The Wind Waker is just a lot of fun to play. The world is an absolute joy to explore, and hours can be wasted simply sailing the open seas. For this reason, though it was an odd departure from the Zelda formula back in 2002, most will agree that, almost fifteen years later, Wind Waker is one of the best Zelda games out there.

– JD Schmidt

Now that we’re halfway there, how is our list shaping up so far? Are you worried that your favourite games aren’t going to make the cut? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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