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You needed killin'

The A.V. Club presents its 15 best vidya-games of the decade.

It's a fine list, a solid list, a list with which I have little to no quarrel. Here's my top 20 (absolutely reflecting my own tastes, which explains the general lack of team shooters, racing games, Madden, platformers, Japanese RPGs, MMORPGs, and anything made by Microsoft):

1. Grand Theft Auto III, Rockstar, 2001
2. The Sims, EA Games, 2000
3. Rock Band, EA Games/MTV Games, 2007
4. BioShock, 2K Games, 2007
5. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Activision, 2007
6. Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar, 2008
7. Katamari Damacy, Namco, 2004
8. The Orange Box, Valve/EA Games, 2007
9. Fallout 3, Bethesda Softworks, 2008
10. Civilization III, Infogrames/Aspyr, 2001
11. Wii Sports, Nintendo, 2006
12. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Rockstar, 2004
13. Fight Night: Round 3, EA Sports, 2006
14. Left 4 Dead, Valve, 2008
15. Ninja Gaiden, Tecmo, 2004
16. FIFA 09, EA Sports, 2008
17. Shadow of the Colossus, Sony Entertainment, 2005
18. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Activision, 2001
19. Silent Hill 2, Konami, 2001
20. NBA 2K2, Sega, 2001

When will we ever get a truly great baseball sim? And has any studio/label/publisher put out as much consistently good work this decade than Rockstar Games?


Nov. 23rd, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
Could I get you to say more about Civilization 3, as opposed to 4? What did you like most about Shadow of the Colossus?
Nov. 23rd, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Civ4 was more developed and expansive, but it was building on the great leap forward made from Civ2 (still my fave) to Civ3. Like how GTAIV was the better, more impressive game, but it was building on the overall rehaul made by GTAIII.

Shadow had an incredibly immersive story, which was its strongest feature for me; it was one of the first games that felt like it could almost stand alone on the strength of its premise and story even without the gameplay elements. It also had a great soundtrack, tons of amazing detail, an unusual bend of action and puzzle elements, and it was one of the first games to build a sense of moral choice and ambiguity into the gameplay. It had all kinds of technical problems, but those paled next to the areas where it was innovative.
Nov. 23rd, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
Man, I love me some Katamari. What a fun game. It's actually the reason I bought a PS2.
Nov. 23rd, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
And has any studio/label/publisher put out as much consistently good work this decade than Rockstar Games?

Bioware and Valve.
Nov. 23rd, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
Valve I'll give you -- "Day of Defeat" is the only dud in their catalog. But Bioware has an awfully even percentage of wheat to chaff, even if you're a bigger fan of their high-profile releases than I am.

Rockstar, though, I'd be hard pressed to think of a single title they released that wasn't great. Even if they hadn't pretty much single-handedly changed gaming with the GTA series, there's Max Payne, Bully, The Warriors, Midnight Club, Manhunt, Oni, and, if you wanna go back far enough, Earthworm Jim. Even their fucking ping-pong game was awesome. The only two I wouldn't say were top-shelf were Red Dead Revolver and Smuggler's Run, and they didn't do the original development on the former. Plus, there's Beaterator, Agent and L.A. Noir still to come!
Nov. 23rd, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
I like the Pins-Ball!
Ah, Katamari Damacy. I liked it, but would've had more fun if I wasn't apparently so prone to motion-sickness... Curse my inner ears!

I would also like to express my appreciation for Grand Theft Auto and The Sims. I didn't get killed -too- often when I played those games. But let's be honest: I'm terrible at any game invented after 1992... And many before 1992.
Nov. 23rd, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
All I've played for the last 5 years has been the Total War franchise ... mostly Medieval, if only 'cause my Rome disc got scratched or went rogue or something.

I've nearly bought Spore several times but either (a)figured it was best not to set myself up to waste more months of my life at a video game, as I tend to obsess monomanically once I find one I like, and (b)having informed my husband of that, combined with the price of the game, I was forbidden to buy it anyway.
Nov. 24th, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
Spore, huh? Shit, you did not miss much.
Nov. 24th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
For people who may inexplicably be bothered by some of the omitted genres on Leonard's list, some suggestions/addenda:

-Team shooters: Team Fortress 2, by a mile. Great aesthetic, one of the funniest video game official websites ever created (no, seriously), and just relentlessly fun. Included in the Orange Box, so it's kinda on the list by proxy, but still. I am not very good at the game so I basically just run around as the Pyro setting people on fire and then running away from them because my opponents are better at shooting moving things than I am. It is not the proudest existence, but I abide.

-Racing games: Forza Motorsport 3. It is as though John Frankenheimer was kidnapped via time machine off the set of Grand Prix in 1966 and told to oversee a racing game, and then time-kidnapped Brock Yates and the regular-kidnapped cast of Top Gear were added onto the team to ensure that the notion of driving a realistically-handling car would be as entertaining as possible. "But... but Burnout", you might be retorting. "Also Mario Kart." Yeah? Can you take an underpowered sports car from the 1970s, drop an all wheel drivetrain into that sucker, throw in an additional 400 horsepower, paint it all up with mod pop-art racing stripes that'd make Alexander Calder envious, and let that bastard loose on a ten-mile circuit of some of Japan's most winding and treacherous mountainside roads? No sir.

-Madden: ESPN NFL 2K5. It cost $20 new and I remember good times playing Sega Genesis Joe Montana Sports Talk Football in high school even though football of a non-Sports Talk variety was completely beyond me, so I bought it. And it was the only thing I played for about six months. Someday I should go back and do what I was doing when some other game came around to distract me, and that's to replace every team's entire default roster with the greatest teams in each franchise's history.

-Platformers: Shadow Complex. This game is a moral dilemma for me: on the one hand, it is based on a fictional universe created and provided by Orson Scott Card, who is a total dickwrangling right-wing whackadoo these days. On the other hand, it is basically Super Metroid meets Castlevania: Symphony of the Night with some Contra IV mixed in, and you know what list those three games would appear on? (HINT: It is one very similar to the one Leonard posted above only referring to an adjacent decade.) Running around a gigantic facility trying to uncover as many little alcoves and map sections and secrets and power-ups as possible while doing all kinds of wall-jumping, hook-grappling, jet-boosting gymnastic crazy shit and shooting some vaguely-fascist-in-an-undetermined-way bad guys is fucking king-sized.

-Japanese RPGs: I dunno, never really went for these. Can I pretend this refers to the rocket-propelled grenades utilized by Mask de Smith (note avatar) in the hella-Japanese, ultra-batshit Killer7?

-MMORPGs: I have only played two of these in my lifetime, and one of them, Motor City Online, was a now-defunct racing game. The other is City of Heroes, in which you are a costumed superhero fighting evil, so what the hell, go for that one.

-Anything made by Microsoft: Forza Motorsport 3 again. Did you know they have the Dodge Charger Daytona in this game? Oh man. Sick.


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
Ludic Log


Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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