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The Aughts

My favorite games of the 00s

List items

  • Pure is a 2008 love letter to the action sports boom of the early 00s. SSX spent the second half of the decade in hiding, and Black Rock Studio proudly stepped in to create a game as good as EA Sport Big's best. The jumps are ridiculous, the tricks are bombastic, and the handling feels perfect. You'll headhunt for first in races and succumb to combo fever in score attacks.

  • Third Person Shooters have become a forefront genre this generation of consoles, and RE4's impact can no doubt be traced back to. It's a content rich 20 hour experience with no shortage of action thrills or foreboding atmosphere. The over-the-shoulder shooting structure gives the game a feel all of it's own, captured in time before being obsoleted by it's admirers.

  • Midway's winning taste for arcade ridiculousness revealed another layer of ability in 2001 with NHL Hitz, taking a sport I generally dislike, and overexposing the coolest aspects in true video game fashion. The result was the quintessential hockey experience for anyone looking to just have some fun. Even the use of Limp Bizkit could be forgiven.

  • With Pikmin, Nintendo successfully crafted a console RTS by boiling the genre down to it's basics and substituting in originality and charm for the loss of complexity. Captain Olimar's struggle to return home is surprisingly human, yet the ever loyal Pikmin are able to keep optimism afloat as they help retrieve his lost ship parts.

  • The excellent single player portion is just a snippet of LBP's content and appeal. Media Molecule made good on their promise of user generated content by providing the right tools and continuing to foster a creative culture. The result is a sustained lifespan and no shortage of community brilliance. Hopefully LBP is a glimpse of what's to come in the 10s.

  • Advance Wars boils down turn based strategy to the basics and builds an excellent war-torn cartoon universe around it. A growing cast of enjoyable command officers drive the campaign's story and each battle finds a new way to test your ability to wisely control an enemy engagement. War should be fun, vibrant, and addictive when handled on a Gameboy.

  • Though it was a heinous decade for the hedgehog, it wasn't all shit, just mostly. Of the few good entries in the series, Rush stands the tallest. It is a bullet paced adrenaline high that you're actually in control of, where most entries make the mistake of ditching interactivity. Rush is very smart about implementing action and score combo elements in well designed levels.

  • Rainbow Six Vegas is a fun tactical shooter set in fantastic location. Simple and effective command abilities open the door to accessible strategy. Having a third person cover system may weird some people out, but I feel that makes sense for a game where your view of the current situation needs to be enhanced since you're in command. Vegas is a solid package, offline and on.

  • In a series that defines itself by straddling the arcade/sim line, PGR3 delivers the best of both worlds, as style goes a long way to enhance substance. Real world locations and a roster of supercars are visually morphed by motion blur and color saturation and the handling model is tweaked to encourage showboating drifts. Screw the technical, it's fun to look cool.

  • "Stop n Pop" never caught on as a gaming buzzword, but the third person cover system Gears lifted and improved from Kill.Switch went a long way in influencing the genre. There are campaign hinges and I can't stand the multiplayer, but overall, Gears is a great action game with surprisingly likable characters. The shooting is satisfying, curb stomps and chainsaw kills are twice as so.

  • San Andreas is my favorite installment of the GTA 3 trilogy for an accumulation of personal taste and series progression. Being a GTA-caliber tale set in an early 90s gangsta setting was more than enough to get me on board. Then they went ahead and crafted an entire state rather than a singular city. The gameplay was also completely refined in a much appreciated gesture. The result was 60 enjoyable hours spent in g-funk era.

  • The original Guitar Hero built such a solid structure that we really haven't moved very far in the four years since. The guitar controller has a natural pick up and play quality, the note highway is the ultimate display method, the difficulty curve is smart, and the game includes a solid soundtrack with excellent covers. Guitar Hero quickly won me over.

  • Killzone 2 remarkably overcame it's predecessor's shortcomings and made good on those E3 2005 expectations. The visuals and sound design are top of the class and the game feels wholly original and thoroughly crafted. The weapons have weight and momentum and the bullets have impact. Killzone 2 pulls off a sense of warfare like no other game.

  • The platforming sequences in The Sands of Time are some of the best the entire genre has to offer. It's an absolute thrill maneuvering through the obstacles and platforms separating point B from point A. The story, setting, and protagonists are textbook charming. The only thing holding this game back from a legendary stature is a lousy combat system that often gets in the way.

  • Motorstorm is the white knuckle, arcade style, off-road racing experience my white trash side has always yearned for. Multiple car classes duking it out on jungle gym race tracks, complete with mudpools, narrow bridges, and big ass ramps. There really is no better way to explain it than a storm of off-road vehicles striving for 1st by any means necessary.

  • The ultimate band experience. Rock Band 2 may be a 1.5 sequel, but that was a stellar blueprint to refine upon. A better soundtrack and the necessary tweaks have established Rock Band 2 as the ideal band game platform, frequently returned to thanks to weekly DLC and the undying equation of widespread appeal and local multiplayer.

  • The Crash Bandicoot games were strictly linear experiences. Naughty Dog headed in a different direction with Jak and Daxter, focusing more on exploration and collection than streamlined action. The key is that they crafted a thematically varied world that was interesting to thoroughly trek and push that completion percentage toward 100. Their ability to craft lovable, mascot-caliber characters remained intact.

  • The chaotic, comedic, deliberately R rated tale of Conker's "bad fur day" was the last hurrah for the N64 in 2001, and it's remake arrived toward the end of the line for the Xbox. Live & Reloaded retold the excellent, movie spoof happy, fubar yet tongue in cheek situations of the original while adding in an online multiplayer component that actually removed me from Halo 2 in summer 05, no small feat.

  • A forgotten entry in a forgotten franchise. Wave Race: Blue Storm is an overlooked Gamecube launch title that successfully builds upon the water physics, visuals, and analog control of it's N64 predecessor. Also, just like its big brother, Blue Storm is a unique racer that ages remarkably well.

  • It may be Battlefield 2: Lite, but without a gaming PC, it was an ample substitute for one of the best multiplayer shooters ever released. The open field, class based, 12 on 12 battles were a lot of fun, and gave me my modern warfare fill for the decade. Also, ditching helicopters with passengers who didn't know how to parachute was griefing gold.

  • The Ratchet & Clank commercials will probably go down as some of the most memorable game commercials from the 00s. They summed up the game pretty well; cartoon-crazy weapons and a good sense of humor. The only part missing was the really well crafted adventure, you had to purchase the game for that.

  • My short stint with the Dreamcast wasn't terribly successful. By 2005, most of the best titles had been ported or lost a battle with time. Jet Grind Radio was the absolute highlight. The soundrack, characters, settings, and presentation oozed style. Hell, by introducing cel-shaded graphics to the industry, the game was actually revolutionary for looking cool.

  • It just so happened that one of the most significant releases of the decade ended up at number 50. While I wasn't overcome by a revolutionary blueprint for virtual city fun, I can't deny that GTA3 is a great game. Some clumsy controls could be forgiven thanks to an excellent crime story and setting.