Monday, March 8, 2010

The Most Important Games of the Decade - 1

So I had promised this to Wade at the turn of the new year/decade, but I'm a deadbeat. Excited Common Sense Dancing Readers, we're going to take a fascinating journey down memory lane and take a look at The Most Important Games of the Decade!

This list will cover the games that I feel have had the biggest effect on the industry and the way we play over the last ten years. And so...


Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)
October 2001

Although the GTA series had been around in the 1990s as a top down game, this transformational 3D, 3rd person-shooter/driving iteration seemed to come out of nowhere in the fall of 2001, a vision of the series finally realized by the hardware leap to the PlayStation 2 generation. GTA3, simply put, was a phenomenon. Its open world “sandbox”, do-anything gameplay was a break-through in game design, allowing players multiple ways to complete certain missions.

The game seemed to reward your inner most dark desires as the silent criminal anti-hero. The oft-cited example of picking up a hooker and then running her over and getting your money back was great for gaining nationwide shock-publicity, not unlike what Mortal Kombat did years earlier. There was something thrilling about realizing you could run over or mug pedestrians, or steal a police car for the first time.

In what became a trademark of the series, Liberty City itself was a main character, living with quirky radio DJs and pedestrians with multiple lines of dialogue. Little touches like fire trucks and ambulances showing up to pertinent emergency scenes made the world feel alive. And then, of course, you could steal said emergency vehicles and go on a ironic rampage or a good guy vigilante mission.

How many hours did you spend putzing around the world rather than playing the game’s actual missions? Not only was the game fun as hell, the story was well written and voice acted with memorable characters. It had crime noir elements, yet also a keen sense of humor with social satire sneaking into every radio station.

GTA3 combined with Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X to deliver the most powerful holiday lineup seen for a console at that time, and helped the PS2 leapfrog over the fledgling Xbox and Gamecube and never look back, completely dominating the entire generation. Additionally, it marked an important shift to western-designed games for console from the Japan-dominated 1990s.


Inspector Frank Bumstead said...

On a personal note (which I'm trying to keep out of the main articles), the first time I saw this game was at my high-school g/fs house. Her dad had been kicked off the police force in the 1980s for beating the crap out a perp who beat his wife, so I was always on good behavior when he was around. I was trying to balance my OMG-this-game-is-f'ing-BADASS vibe with him coolly observing that you could shoot cops in this game...

It was better getting my second look when visiting Wade and Jake and got the giggles when you realized you could run over the pedestrians and get away with it.

Claude said...

This wasn't only the most important game of the last 10 years, it's one of the most important things to happen in my life in the last 10 years.

Wade Garrett said...

I had, for the most part, stopped playing video games by the time this came out. But I remember when it came out, and how surprised I was at the little details in the game, like the way that neon signs glow and short out, or how police and fire trucks arrive, or how the different vehicles handle so differently. Clearly a lot of thought went into it, and its understandable why it developed such a big following.