Posted by: maroonmaurader | November 27, 2009

Best videogames of the Decade

Earlier, Chris felt it necessary to excoriate a certain list of the best 15 videogames of the decade. Out of curiosity, I went digging around to find some other impressions as to the “best” video games of the decade, which I list in brief (feel free to follow the links to read their justifications)…

First, the one that kicked it all off: the AVClub’s list of the top-15:

  1. Bioshock
  2. Katamari Damacy
  3. Fallout 3
  4. Rock Band
  5. Portal
  6. World of Warcraft
  7. Ico
  8. GTA: Vice City
  9. Final Fantasy XII
  10. Left 4 Dead
  11. Advance Wars
  12. Braid
  13. Ninja Gaiden
  14. The Sims
  15. SSX 3

Second, Paste Magazine’s list of the top-20:

  1. Portal
  2. Bioshock
  3. Fallout 3
  4. Shadow of the Colossus
  5. Resident Evil 4
  6. Halo
  7. Half-Life 2
  8. Call of Duty 4
  9. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  10. Guitar Hero 3
  11. Gears of War
  12. World of Warcraft
  13. Super Mario Galaxy
  14. Burnout 3
  15. Rock Band
  16. Metal Gear Solid 2
  17. Mass Effect
  18. God of War
  19. Oblivion
  20. Final Fantasy XII

Third, The Toronto Star’s (un-ordered) list of the top 10:

  • The Sims
  • Counter-Strike
  • Brain Age
  • Everquest
  • Dwarf Fortress
  • Bejeweled
  • GTA 3
  • Guitar Hero
  • Halo 2
  • Wii Sports

Fourth, I skimmed the top-20 from’s top-100 list:

  1. GTA 3
  2. Halo
  3. Gears of War
  4. Resident Evil 4
  5. Call of Duty 4
  6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  7. Rock Band
  8. Mass Effect
  9. Madden 10
  10. God of War
  11. Knights of the Old Republic
  12. Orange Box
  13. Guitar Hero 2
  14. NBA 2K2
  15. GTA 4
  16. Halo 2
  17. Far Cry
  18. Bioshock
  19. Left 4 Dead
  20. Counterstrike

Finally, for something a little different, I visited Gamerankings and Metacritic and pulled up their aggregate scores. For Gamerankings I required 20 reviews; in both cases I excluded duplicates due to multiple-console releases, Gold Editions, bundles, and so forth. From Gamerankings’ scores,

  1. GTA 4
  2. Super Mario Galaxy
  3. Metroid Prime
  4. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
  5. Orange Box
  6. Metal Gear Solid
  7. Resident Evil 4
  8. Half-Life 2
  9. Halo
  10. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  11. GTA: San Andreas
  12. Bioshock
  13. GTA 3
  14. Metal Gear Solid 2
  15. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2
  16. LittleBigPlanet
  17. Perfect Dark
  18. NFL 2K1
  19. GTA: Vice City
  20. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

And from Metacritic,

  1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
  2. GTA 4
  3. Perfect Dark
  4. NFL 2K1
  5. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
  6. Halo
  7. Metroid Prime
  8. GTA 3
  9. Super Mario Galaxy
  10. Metal Gear Solid 2
  11. Half-Life 2
  12. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
  13. Resident Evil 4
  14. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  15. Bioshock
  16. Orange Box
  17. Out of the Park Baseball
  18. Uncharted 2
  19. Baldur’s Gate 2
  20. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

All told, I don’t find the AVClub’s list that bad compared to some of these. At least it didn’t include Counter-Strike despite that game being released over a decade ago simply because it was professional packaged and shipped a few years later, it isn’t stuffed with multiple copies of Grand Theft Auto, and all the games on its list that I’ve played or seen played are actually good games.

What this really shows though (and I think Chris also indicated, with his comment about the farcically small size of the AVClub list) is that there’s no practical way to pick the best 10, 15, or 20 games of the decade given how varied the selection is. Even picking only the best game of each genre (which by no means would be the best set overall), I suspect you’d end up needing more than 15 games. I also would have to strongly agree with the Toronto Star’s apparent decision that trying to actually rank the top 10 relative to each other is simply making up numbers, even more than declaring them collectively the top-10.

My judgment is that Metacritic has produced the worst set out of the group – it does a much better job of showing how much review-inflation there is in various videogame genres than actually picking the best games. Of the lists actually published intending to list “best games” instead of just “highest-reviewed games,” The Toronto Star’s list is the worst – 20% of their list actually isn’t even from the right decade, and half the remainder are really, really bad games. Paste Magazine I’d give my “least bad” award.

Thoughts and comments? Know of any such lists that I missed?



  1. We should have a whole post about MetaCritic and whether it’s good/bad for the industry.

    I agree that unordered lists make more sense, and furthermore that it doesn’t make much sense to rake such disparate games vs each other.

    PC Gamer used to do it well, I thought, in their year round up: They picked bests in each genre as well as runner ups. Then they had a Game of the Year which could be from any of the genres.

    Now, things can get hazy there too; what constitutes whether a game is “Action”? The genre lines have definitely been blurring recently.

  2. Did the Toronto Star’s reporter understand his assignment?

    Update: I guess he didn’t.

  3. One: The more extreme shittiness of some competing lists has minimal bearing on the shittiness of the AV Club’s list.

    Two: Paste has a really good list and Gamerankings produced a respectable list too, so it can be done, even by a computer. I bet with a little trimming (one GTA, one Zelda, one Half-Life, etc.) Gameranking’s might become better than Paste’s. RE: the discrepancy between Metacritic and Gamerankings, despite both being aggregators, Gamerankings and not Metacritic only uses certain “legit” sites for its rankings. It seems much better off for it.

    Three: Dear god the Toronto Star’s list is horrible.

    Four: Link to the Past came out originally in 1993 and Metal Gear Solid came out originally in 1996 (and only has 18 reviews).

  4. And yet another game of the decade list-ish thing,..

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