The internet seems to be filled with lists of the best games ever, best game in the world, absolute totally awesome best games ever times ten.
It’s exhausting, right?
Nope, we don’t think so either!
So here is, as chosen by the REIZE team, the DEFINITIVE list of the best games ever!
Finding the Best Game in the World – GROUND RULES
1 – We’re skewing this list towards OLDER games
Nothing upset me more than, at the end of Triple J’s 1998 Hottest 100, and The Offspring taking it out with Pretty Fly for a White Guy. I mean, sure, it was fun, but the best song of the year? Best song by that band?
I bet you didn’t even remember the song existed until I mentioned it here!
So, we tend to skew things towards games that have been out for at least a few years.
Sure, you’ve picked up Star Wars Battlefront 2 last week, and you’re in the honeymoon period. Congrats. Maybe it’s true love.
Maybe it’s a drunken weekend wedding that you’re going to regret for the rest of your life, and you wish, you really wish, that you didn’t get her name tattooed on your arse.
… or something.
2 – Categories, Not Top 10
We’re going to look at categories here. If you’re looking for a 1-10 list, you’re in the wrong place (well… you’re in the right place, because we think this is better!). Fact is, how can you compare the greatest fighting game in the world with the best real-time strategy game out there? You can’t. They’re too different.
3 – Gotta Give Some Honourable Mentions
Each category is going to get an honourable mention, then a winner. The results are final. There will be no correspondence entered into… because we don’t have a comments section. Like, email us if you want to.
In the honourable mentions, I’ve tried to make sure there are some interesting answers – if you’ve read more than one list of the best games ever, then you’ve likely seen several lists of the same damn games in the same damn order… or maybe they switched number 4 and 5 to be edgy. Ugh.
Here, you’ll see the winners get their just desserts, and hopefully, find something new to try out!
4 – This is Not the Place for eSport Action
These games are just that, GAMES. If you’re after some eSport action, we can accommodate that… just not here. Check out our Newbs Guide to finding a Gaming Club if you’re looking for a place to start.
5 – We’re Talking About Fun!
Games are judged on originality, gameplay, FUN (remember that?), and NOT nostalgia.
At least, as much as we can help it.
(because if nostalgia was the deciding factor, I would be putting the C64 masterpiece, Demon Stalkers, at number one!)
OK, enough ado. Let’s get to the list so you can get yourself educated!
BEST GAMES EVER: Shooting People in the Face! aka First Person Shooter
Honorable Mention – Wolfenstein 3D… because thank you for the music.
When you look at something as iconic as the First Person Shooter genre and start looking for the best game in the world, you come to a revelation.
They’re all kind of the same.
Now, I say this as a true lover of the genre! But, it’s true. There are nuances in gameplay and variation, from the truly brilliant, like Blizzard’s Overwatch, to… whatever God-awful nonsense Dead Island was.
But there’s a reason they all have that same, underlying similarity.
It’s because they got it right the first time.
So, for all you kiddies out there who didn’t cut your teeth on the MS-DOS based shooter, kicking Nazi butt, here’s a little reminder. Go play grandpa’s shooter, and learn yourself a little something about the brilliance that inspired a genre.
Winner! – Halo?
Combat really did evolve with the introduction of the original Halo game. Over the years, we’ve been treated to several sequels with updated graphics and tweaked gameplay, but they’re all little more than elaborate skins on the original.
The story was smooth and immersive. It gave you variation of bad guys to ice, from obnoxious cartoony henchmen, big muscly baddies, and eventually, a sci-fi zombie horde.
But it’s not just the detailed setting, ability to pilot vehicles, or fantastic gameplay that makes Halo a contender for best game in the world.
It’s the step up it made in online multiplayer interactions.
Prior to Halo, I’d played online a number of times, on MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons, you damn whipper-snapper! Think a text-based World of Warcrack) and I’d never encountered trolling. Then came Halo.
Within two minutes, I had a thirteen-year-old calling me a colourful name for very specific lady parts.
Within three minutes, I had him sobbing into his mic as, mid-air, I slammed a rocket into his privates.
You can’t buy memories like that.
BEST GAMES EVER: Playing God! aka Real Time Strategy
Honorable Mention – Starcraft/Warcraft
Is it cheating to choose two different games as the one honourable mention?
But take a look back and tell me that these are different games.
Blizzard‘s first outing into RTS was a slam dunk, and a definite contender for best game in the world. Be it their step into the fantasy arena, or the science fiction one, the CRAFT games were slick, serious, and yet somehow goofy. The character development was incredible…
And you never tired of finding out just how many voice reactions each and every unit had.
Both games rejuvenated Real Time Strategy games in a slick shell, with smooth gameplay, and deep worlds that spawned the imagination of many.
Living on now as two of the most popular online experiences, Starcraft 2 has stayed true to its roots, and given us the only real RTS eSport, while World of Warcraft has given us the biggest MMORPG of all time… also known as “Where the hell did my weekend go?”
If any one company could claim to have created the best game in the world, Blizzard’s name would definitely have to be on the list.
Winner! – Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2
So, maybe I just have a thing about beating up Nazis in my video games at the moment.
But let’s be honest, the concept of killing Hitler and saving the world has run rife throughout pop culture ever since the fall of the Third Reich.
And that’s where the Red Alert games set their story – in a world where Hitler is offed before rising to power by a messed up, time travelling Einstein… just roll with it.
This leaves a world where, unchecked by the Nazi’s, Stalin takes the USSR towards GLOBAL DOMINATION!
What Command and Conquer does with this brilliant Real Time Strategy game that others failed to do, is create a world so close to our own, yet different enough that we don’t mind blowing it up.
The balance of the units is incredible, and the strengths of both the Allied and Soviet forces is spot on. I don’t know that there’s another game that got the balance of units so right. Paper/Scissors/Rock played on expert mode.
It’s quite likely the best game in the world. Though that may be an alternate reality, splintered off by a time travelling Einstein, so who can really know what other games they have?
BEST GAMES EVER: Bashing Your Friend’s Face In! aka 1v1 Fighter
Honorable Mention – Street Fighter 2
Did you guys ever play Street Fighter 1? No. No one did. How the hell this thing got a sequel is beyond me.
But it did. And my God, what a sequel.
Maybe it’s wrong to only give this an honourable mention when listing the best games ever. Maybe I deserve the hate mail I’m going to get from writing this article.
…And maybe my father was right and I should get a real job and join the army.
But, no one, not even me, can deny the profound impact Street Fighter 2 had on the fighting genre.
Spawning multiple games, merchandise, comics, cartoons, and that God-awful Jean Claude Van Damme abomination.
Nowadays, Street Fighter V has turned into an eSport, so that experience you had at the arcade where a bigger kid placed a dollar on the edge of the screen and said “I’m next, nerd” can happen in real life.
Thanks, Street Fighter 2.
Winner! – Soul Calibur
In the monotonous arcades of the 90s, I distinctly remember seeing the brand new Soul Edge when it first hit my hometown. It was a shiny chrome beast
I must have dumped over $100 into that thing, which is all the more impressive when you know that I grew up poor didn’t get an allowance.
But who thought anything would come from that lone fighting game?
Some brilliant creative team!
Because soon after, Soul Calibur hit… and oh baby, it hit hard.
The evolution of the story was epic – directly taken from Sigfreid’s winning scenario in Soul Edge. Now in possession of the Soul Blade, Sigfried, aka Nightmare, is the big bad who must be stopped.
The plot has continued to evolve over the next several games, and continued to break hearts and terrify players.
The gameplay feels like you’ve stepped into the most epic Kurasawa film of all time.
And beyond any of that… it’s a fighting game with swords, you guys. SWORDS.
If you’re not screaming “There can be only one!” at your controller, you’re doing something wrong!
BEST GAMES EVER: I Don’t Want to be Me Anymore! aka Role Playing Game
Honorable Mention – Baldur’s Gate
Did you ever want to play Dungeons & Dragons, but didn’t have a handy group of dateless nerds on hand to gather around a cramped table and eat your feelings with?
I mean… I did. And we played it… a lot. But if I DIDN’T… or when it was 3am and I really, REALLY wanted to set someone on fire, there was Baldur’s Gate.
The game managed to capture all of the rules of Advanced Dungeon’s and Dragons 2nd Edition (yes, that’s the best one) into a sleek, animated world.
More than any other RPG before it, and setting the tone for all those to follow, Baldur’s Gate was a true representation of what it was like to gather a bunch of mates around the table, and delve into a fantasy realm.
Winner! – FF7… cause, Come on.
This selection isn’t so much of a choice as it is the acknowledgement of a phenomenon.
You KNOW about the Final Fantasy series, even if you don’t play the games. Even if you still play the games, despite the fact there hasn’t been a solid instalment since FFX. Shade thrown.
Final Fantasy 7 broke the mould. FF6 was so incredible story-wise that the geeks obsessed with it managed to get everyone else in the damn industry pumped to play it.
And it delivered.
Fantastic gameplay. A deep world to explore and continue to battle through long after the main plot was complete. A plot that was twisted and turned, breaking hearts and taking names. A villain whose name you learned to spit! And cut sequences.
Sure, that’s opened the doors to some terrible things in gaming, where you find yourself wishing the movie would end so you could PLAY. Yes, Metal Gear Solid 4, I’m looking at you
Final Fantasy 7 is so strong, Square Enix is caving to customer demands, and are finally working on a refurbished version. Seriously, check out this E3 crowd go nuts over the trailer That’s a winner right there, folks.
BEST GAMES EVER: OVER THERE! OVER! No, No, you stupid– aka Platformer
Honorable Mention – Mario 64
You knew the overweight plumber would be hitting this list at some point. But where do you shove him that fits?
The original Super Mario Bros was revolutionary. It created a genre, but it didn’t win it. 2 was a steaming garbage fire (or a different game with a Mario skin thrown on to meet release dates, but that’s a whole other article!). 3 is a definite contender for best Mario game out there – it even had a movie based around it!
But, when it came to keeping a genre alive. When 3D graphics threatened to lose platformers to an abyss of jerky graphics and gameplay less intuitive than IKEA furniture
Then, when we needed salvation.
A game so good, people actually started buying the Nintendo 64, which, until that point, had a wide range of diddly squat!
Mario 64 was a sweeping platforming epic. New abilities, familiar worlds, with a solid 3D twist. The choice open to players whether to keep plugging at one map, or move on to something fresh. Collectables scattered around the place. Its influence is still felt today.
Hell, the Arkham Asylum series is barely a homage – give Mr Wayne some red overalls and a cheeseburger, and we’ve got a sequel.
Winner! – Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Come on, nerd. Fight me.
Super Mario Bros introduced us to a genre, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 perfected it.
Sonic 1 was bright, colourful, and most of all, fast. But it was buggy. Sluggish. There was just something about it that didn’t play as well as you wanted it too, even back in the days where you would forgive pretty much anything.
And then came Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The game was fast. Insanely fast. The introduction of the spin-dash manoeuvre let you take over the speed of the game and throw yourself headfirst into the chaos beyond.
It also introduced the best ‘little brother’ system, EVER. Tails. A character who could bounce around beside Sonic, and play the game with training wheels on. Died again? No one cares.
On top of that, you could fly.
Sonic 2 was a perfect platformer. It’s the reason kids today still hear the name Sonic the Hedgehog.
BEST GAMES EVER: Screw your Plot, I’m Going Over Here! aka Sandbox Game
Honorable Mention – Skyrim
I know, I know, you’re going to tell me this is an RPG and not a sandbox game. Well, tough. I’m the one holding the microphone.
Skyrim is a third person, open-world exploration game, with a central plot that you can opt not to follow in favour of taking over the thieves guild, or bard’s guild… or mage’s guild. Man, those guys sure do love their guilds.
The Elder Scrolls series was definitely big enough that their fifth instalment could have come in and not been that great without losing them a bunch of money… but Skyrim was something special.
To call it immersive would be insulting.
I know that I, personally, have lost several long DAYS to this game… and several of those days take place in the shape of weeks… OK, months
The replay value is huge, with different races, and different interactions unheard of this side of a South Park Game.
Skyrim’s impact rippled through the rest of the world, with meme’s and catchphrases being seen in popular culture. I once collected such memes, but then…
When I think of the game I’m looking forward to the most, I can’t get past Elder Scrolls VI, and that’s all thanks to Skyrim. Best Game in the world? Yeah, it could easily be.
Winner! – Saint’s Row 2
That’s right. Not GTA 1-5/San Andreas nothing!
Because they missed something that Saint’s Row 2 did that put it on our Best Games Ever list!
Saint’s Row 2 takes you deep into an R-rated gangster action film that understands something about us gamers…
WE’RE CRAPPY PEOPLE!
We play games for escapism, which means a medium where we can do things that we can’t in our every day lives. Unlike others of the same vein, Saint’s Row 2 KNOWS that the first thing you’re likely to do when you get a gun is shoot a little old lady in the face.
And the first thing you’re going to do with a car is run over a little old lady.
And the first thing you’re going to do with a plane is…
You get the idea.
And in knowing that, it outright rewards you for it! Go, be the colossal jerk you always knew you were inside.
Just came home from an awkward family dinner?
Load up Saint’s Row 2 and go to town.
Heck, even if you play the plot, you’re encouraged to cover houses in faeces from a sewage truck, or just set the damn town on fire.
If you haven’t played it, go. Now.
… but don’t expect too much from Saint’s Row 3.
There’s something about beating someone to death, repeatedly, with a giant dildo, that lacks realism for me.
(NO! I AM NOT INSERTING AN IMAGE OF THAT THING INTO YOUR ARTICLE! – ed.)
BEST GAMES EVER: I Want Sarcasm and Have No Dexterity! aka Point and Click
Honorable Mention – Labyrinth
OK, hear me out. This one is likely not on any of the lists of greatest games of all time you’ve seen before… but it should be.
Waaaaay back on the spectacular Commodore 64, before people were spoiled by fancy things like ASCII graphics, we had text-based adventures.
The computer-based Choose Your Own Adventure novels were a dying breed, around the time that David Bowie ruined childhoods by wearing THOSE pants.
This movie tie-in was a text adventure.
Until you got to the cinema, where Labyrinth was playing. Then, suddenly, graphics burst to life, and Jareth in all his flock of seagulls Bowie glory, appears to tell you you’re being sucked into his Labyrinth like Jennifer Connelly was in the movie.
(sadly, the game did not let you spend time with Jennifer Connolley… and now, thanks to the courthouse, I can’t even do that in real life…)
At the beginning of the game you were asked to input your name, gender, hair colour, and favourite colour… all of which were used to recreate an uncanny computer-based representation that Jareth called by name!
To top this off, the whacky, pixelated version of a Jim Henson acid trip is brought to you by none other than MR DOUGLAS ADAMS.
It’s incredible. You should find it and play it. One of the best games ever? Maybe.
Winner! – The Secret of Monkey Island
There’s only so much I can say when a game like this pops up on our list.
When you think of Point and Click Adventure games, and you think “What could be the best games ever?” it’s not going to take too long before your mind slams headfirst into the quirky tale that was the Monkey Island series.
Following the adventures of Guybrush Threepwood, you find yourself on an epic quest, summed up in six very simple words:
“I want to be a pirate.”
The game was wacky, irreverent, and really, a cracking example of everything a point and click game should be.
They even tried making the game into a movie, but the script got hijacked (how very pirate of them).
If you find it online, you’ll see a striking similarity to the first instalment of a beloved film franchise…
If you love Captain Jack, then The Monkey Island games could be the best games in the world for you. If you can’t find an emulator, the recent Telltale instalment wasn’t half bad either!
BEST GAMES EVER: What’s a Break?! aka Racing
Honorable Mention – Gran Turismo 2
Look, I can’t say that I’m the biggest car nerd, so there are going to be some things that are beyond me.
I drive a Mitsubishi Colt.
It doesn’t even have a spoiler.
But even I know the Gran Turismo name, and I know it’s one whispered in the upper echelons of fandom from those in the know.
Gran Turismo 2 did something incredible at the time it came out. While the other games out there were giving you a choice between a red car and a blue car, Gran Turismo 2 launched with over 650 distinct vehicles!
Which is, like, 10 different shades of red, for starters…
Winner! – Mario Kart.
Yeah, you car nerds can bite me.
NOTHING has transcended a genre quite like Mario Kart. It’s played by everybody. I once had a game against my 14yr old niece and 87-year-old grandfather. At the same time.
Just a little while ago, my gym (yes, Mum, I go to a gym…)
Anyway, they hosted an information night on boring things like fitness and nutrition…
… BUT to get people in the door, and keep us there, they offered a Mario Kart competition on the big screen projector.
Not Mario Kart on the Wii/WiiYou/WiiMe (only in very adult clubs), but original, undiluted, Mario Kart.
The place was packed.
This game is one of the greatest ever made.
BEST GAMES EVER: I Want a Game I Could Watch In a Bar! aka Sports
Honorable Mention – FIFA 20XX Edition
Disclaimer: If you’re looking for a FIFA game to top the list here, you’ve come to the wrong place.
Seriously, I think my hindquarters still have blisters from the last time I was forced to sit and watch a ‘blinder’ of a nill all draw in a real life soccer game.
Ain’t no way I’m choosing to play one for fun. I like myself too much.
But, I know there are many of you out there who, for God knows what reason, actually enjoy soccer.
So, here you go. Pick your edition. No, not that one, the other one. Yeah. That was the best one.
Winner! – NBA Jam!
HE’S ON FIRE!
There are literally multiple generations of basketball fans who’s introduction to the game began with NBA Jam.
OK, maybe not literally, but you get the idea.
This iconic game was everything a sport’s simulator needs to be. It was fast, complex, colourful, FUN, slightly irreverent. It had a league system that allowed you to take your favourite players all the way to the top
And honestly, the graphics still hold up.
BEST GAMES EVER: I Just Want to Explore! aka Adventure
Honorable Mention – Portal 2
Do you want puzzles? Adventure? Crazy jokes about cake and a mad robotic voice luring you to your death every five minutes?
Of course you do!
Every. Damn. Thing.
The game got bigger, the story more in depth, and the puzzles became the most elaborate and entertaining ways to play with in-world physics ever.
Even the music was incredible – if you haven’t heard the multi-faceted Jimmy Wong covering Want You Gone, you’ve been missing out all this time!
There’s even an amazing short film depicting the events of the game.
Anything that inspires that level of fan dedication can’t be a bad thing!
Winner! – Ocarina of Time
So, maybe I love this game. Maybe I don’t want the angry masses of the internet to find out where I live and set my house on fire. Maybe it’s a little of both.
If you’ve seen any list anywhere on the internet, or spoken to a gamer within the last 20 years, then you’ve heard of Ocarina of Time.
Ocarina is a slick adventure driven exploration game. It’s defined by stealth in combat, and exploring the lush world around you. It’s a puzzler. A cinematic experience come to life.
But you already knew that.
Best Games Ever! …probably
And there you go! Are you happy with the list? Mad? Excited to see some new games to try out? That’s just how we roll, boys. We don’t just give you the best games ever that you already knew. We give you the best games ever that you didn’t even know you needed!
So now, get out there, grab your gaming chair, and see if you can’t play one of the best games in the world!