15 – WORLD OF WARCRAFT (2004) – BLIZZARD
World Of Warcraft, or WOW for short, was not the first MMORPG. Many would argue that it’s not the best either. I haven’t played it personally, but even I can see that even now eight years since its initial release, it is still the MMO by which all other MMO’s have to be judged. Entire subcultures have been created around the WOW universe, and it has permeated into popular culture more times than I can remember. Despite a few fluctuations every now and again, the playerbase has consistently stayed near the 10 million mark for years now, an astonishing number for a subscription based gaming service. Few games have ever managed to achieve that sort of popularity or longengivity. Even with threats from the likes of the recently released Star Wars: The Old Republic, World Of Warcraft continues to draw in new players.
16 – HALF LIFE 2 (2004) – VALVE
Did you know that Half Life 2 was the first game released online that required product activation? Oh, you did? Bugger…well how about the fact that it won 39 ‘Game Of The Year’ awards? Oh…you knew that as well? It’s hard to find anything new to say about Half Life 2 that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before; but I’ll have a go.
The key to the success of this game is the Source engine, a new game engine which allowed Valve to produce a game with physics and artificial intelligence that was light years ahead of anything else. The core dynamics from the original Half Life, including the complete lack of cutscenes (everything happens in real time through the eyes of silent protagonist Gordon Freeman) were enhanced with fantastic puzzles using the shape, weight and buoyancy of certain objects, as well as adding new vehicle segements. Half Life 2 also gave the world quite possibly the greatest weapon ever in the form of the Gravity Gun, which could be used to pick up and manipulate objects – suddenly, you could kill enemies by cutting them in half with a saw blade or launching a toilet at them. On top of this, graphics, gunplay, story and setting were all pitch perfect.
It wasn’t just that it was a great game – Half Life 2, with the power of the Source engine behind it led the way for the opening of the Steam distribution service which has drastically altered the way that people purchase games online, and also led to the creation of several other great titles such as Counter Strike: Source, Left 4 Dead and Portal. In my mind, it remains the most influential first person shooter of all time.