11 – METAL GEAR SOLID (1998) – KONAMI
There was a time when games could get by with relatively simple stories. Kill the aliens descending from the top of the screen, save the princess, get to the shiny teleporter at the end of the level; all of these were relatively standard fare before 1998. Then, a man by the name of Hideo Kojima gave the world Metal Gear Solid, and showed the world that games could deliver a narrative that rivalled anything coming out of Hollywood.
Featuring numerous detailed FMV’s that advanced the story, along with hours of CODEC conversations that revealed more about the world and the facility that Snake was infiltrating made Metal Gear Solid feel like so much more than just another game. It was more like an interactive movie, one that you could affect with some quite big consequences depending on how you reacted to certain elements of the story. The added effect of having more video footage also meant that bosses could become more fleshed out characters, leading to some pretty memorable sequences with Psycho Mantis taking the top plaudits.
And alongside this cinematic development of events, there was a totally new way to play the game. Running in with guns blazing was a sure fire way to end up dead – instead, Snake had to be as stealthy as possible, using the environment to his advantage to avoid the constantly patrolling guards. Metal Gear Solid was the first game to perfect stealth, which has become a staple feature in pretty much every action adventure game since.
The adventures of Solid Snake proved to be only a starting point for the evolution of outstanding narratives in video games. Alongside the Metal Gear Solid sequels, the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Bioshock, Mass Effect and Uncharted have all been shining examples of giving the player an engrossing story to play through whilst not sacrificing anything on the gameplay or graphical front.
12 – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME (1998) – NINTENDO EAD
People will never seemingly shut up about Ocarina Of Time, which indicates that it must have done something to change the playing field. The first Legend Of Zelda game to feature the adventures of Link in three dimensions didn’t just change the much lauded series for the better, but also implemented some features that most modern games would even think twice about including.
Probably the most significant change was the introduction of the Z-targeting mechanic. The ability to lock on to a target and then move around freely whilst always keeping him in your sights allowed for a tactical element to be added to boss fights, and also allowed ranged attacks to be reliably successful. Ocarina Of Time is also credited with popularising the use of context sensitive actions where one button could be used for several different actions depending on the situation, e.g. pushing a box, opening a door, picking up bombs etc.
It wasn’t just the new mechanics that impressed though; it’s the small things that make Ocarina such a delight to play. The limitation of the use of certain items by young and adult Link means that you would have to travel forwards and backwards through time on a regular basis to solve the trickiest puzzles the game had to offer. The use of the Ocarina itself to solve puzzles was a genius idea, seamlessly integrating music into the game. The detail of the world of Hyrule, whilst looking average at best nowadays, was also well ahead of most other games released at the time.
No video game has really managed to match the legacy left behind by Ocarina Of Time. It received perfect reviews across the board upon its release, and has been voted as the greatest game of all time by no less than 13 official publications – nevermind receiving the same accolade from thousands of normal punters. It continues to be a defining, maybe the defining, moment in video game history 14 years since it first burst onto the scene.