You've doubtless read by now the "official" top ten games of the decade, or indeed any of the top ten game lists that have spilled onto the Internet as the so-called "naughties" ends and 2010 ushers in yet another arbitrarily assigned ten-year time period. I'm here to tell you that all those lists are WRONG! The subjective opinions of these people fail and should be ignored, and the sheer volume of amazing games that have been ignored is nothing short of criminal.
Fortunately, I'm here to reset the balance and highlight the games of the past ten years that actually deserve to be honored with the prestigious title of "game of the decade." None of these games made the final cut, and their exclusion makes me cry into my Hatsune Miku dolls at night.
Read on for the REAL top ten games of the decade. This is the list that other outlets simply did not dare to publish.
Bloodrayne had it all: Vampires, sex and plenty of Nazis. Very much a videogame version of Mel Gibson's life. Developed by Terminal Reality, Bloodrayne changed the face of gaming forever by crafting a badass female character who was as sexy as she was deadly. This was incredibly innovative for the time, where female videogame characters simply did not exist, let alone highly sexualized ones. It was Bloodrayne's anti-hero, Rayne, who blazed a trail followed by weak female leads such as Lara Croft and Nathan Drake.
The World War II setting was also a first for games, and showed franchises like Call of Duty or Wolfenstein that Nazis made for excellent villains. Also, every time Rayne jumped on an enemy, wrapped her leather-clad legs around him, and started sucking on his neck while moaning, I felt that one-surge pulse go through my penis that you get when something only slightly arouses you, but doesn't provide quite enough stimulation to fully get you off. If that's not "game of the decade" material, I don't know what is.
Dynasty Warriors 3
The higlight of one of the greatest videogame franchises of all time, Dynasty Warriors 3 was more intense than Halo and more emotionally engaging than Final Fantasy VII. Koei invented perhaps the most innovative gameplay mechanic at all, where pushing one button let you win the game. Bear in mind, this was years before anybody had even heard of the Nintendo Wii. Koei was pushing casual gameplay long before Nintendo ever did.
It had everything: RPG elements such as level-ups and in-game text. Adrenaline-pumping action sequences which featured real-time button presses. An amazing story based exactly on Chinese history. Graphics. Box art. Compatibility with the system I was designed to be compatible with. Yes, Dynasty Warriors 3 truly was the game for the gamer that thought he had it all.
James Cameron's Avatar: The Game
Despite only being released a few days ago, the fact this had not been listed as one of the best titles of the past ten years is a SHAM. James Cameron's Avatar: The Game is awesome and perhaps one of the most life-changing experiences you'll ever encounter. For a start, it's in 3D, which is amazing new technology that I've never heard of before, Imagine your usual videogames ... but in 3D! How amazing is that?
Ubisoft Montreal surpassed themselves with this game. By totally ignoring insignificant details like a cohesive story, competent gameplay and environments that aren't confusing and shit, Ubisoft was able to concentrate on the most crucial aspect of game design -- the graphics. Who cares if your game could barely qualify as playable when you have PRETTY BLUE ALIEN HORSES to look at!?
For looking almost as good as Viva Pinata, James Cameron's Avatar: The Game is one of the top games of the decade.
You know a game is awesome when the studio that developed it went out of business a few months after it was released. Yes, Catwoman was so intense that Argonaut Games simply couldn't withstand the power of its own creation and disappeared from the face of gaming. The studio had already proved itself as a developer of amazing licensed games with such as titles as Scooby Doo Mystery, Alien: Resurrection and The Emperor's New Groove, but Catwoman blew them all out of the water.
First of all, it starred Halle Berry, and since Halle Berry is a reasonably attractive woman, the game instantly gets a 10/10. Second of all, it's based on a movie that has been hailed by many as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, second only to Darkman II: The Return of Durant. Third of all, SHUT UP IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME!
50 Cent: Bulletproof
What's better than a black man propagating the negative stereotypes of his own race and living in a disturbing fantasy world where childish gang warfare is something to be celebrated and not looked down upon with disdain and pity? Not a lot!
50 Cent: Bulletproof is something of an autobiography, since 50 Cent's life is exactly how he tells us it is, and he's a brilliant man for having been shot a couple of times. This game truly makes you think about what a hard life it must be for a professional rapper and helps you understand the world of Curtis Jackson, a world where infantile fueds with other rappers and playground talk of dissing and loyalty among glorified high school cliques is the most important thing in the world.
The Polar Express
The Polar Express is an adventure video game released in 2004 by Blue Tongue. The game is based on the film of the same name.
Shadow the Hedgehog
Shadow the Hedgehog is regarded by all Sonic fans as the best and most popular character. His brooding angst makes him unique among videogame protagonists, as does his status as a "dark" version of the franchise's main character. These elements combined to make Shadow an iconic and memorable addition to Sonic's brilliant cast of hilarious and thought-provoking anthropomorphic animals. A videogame dedicated to this standard bearer of black culture was inevitable.
And what a videogame! Shadow the Hedgehog mixes high-octane gunplay with off-the-wall acrobatics to create the ultimate fusion of high-octane gunplay and off-the-wall acrobatics. The gunplay is high-octane and the acrobatics ... boy ... they are off the wall. Off the wall as fuck! It's hard to pick out a favorite moment in this intense adventure. The vehicle sections are jawdropping, with a control scheme that realistically gives us an idea of how difficult it would be for a hedgehog to operate a tank. The story is so mature and deep that it lends a dimension to the Sonic universe that was so inconceivable, nobody ever asked for it. As for the guns ... wow. Gears of War could only dream of the mindblowing arsenal at Shadow's disposal.
Shadow set the benchmark, not only for future Sonic games, but all shooters to come. Games like the aforementioned Gears of War or Uncharted: Drake's Fortune owe a lot to this history-making title.
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
When Jeff Gerstmann accidentally gave Kane & Lynch: Dead Men a bad review on GameSpot, he was so horrified with what he'd done that he promptly resigned from the company and has never been seen or heard from again since. Some say he dashed his own head against the stone steps outside Eidos' offices. Some say he took the cloth and joined a sect of Bavarian monks in order to cleanse his tainted soul of sin. Whatever became of him, one thing is known -- he did a very bad thing, because Kane & Lynch is one of the greatest games ever made.
The game's narrative is as compelling as A Nightmare on Elm Street Part VI: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, with deep and complex characters that really make you think about morality and justice. The relationship between Kane and Lynch is very much a statement on society. It tells us that, in a way, we are all murderous schizophrenics who have been kidnapped from a death row transit by mercenaries who want to coerce us into doing their bidding. That really makes you think, doesn't it?
The only thing people love more than a good stealth game is a World War II game. It's no surprise that Velvet Assassin, a game that so deftly combined the two, became one of the most important titles of the decade. Combining an incredible narrative with unrivaled gameplay, Velvet Assassin was to videogames what the atomic bomb was to World War II itself -- it may have claimed many lives, but it altered the course of history and helped carve a better world.
The game gets extra credit for realistically representing the difficulties a single woman would have going against the entire Third Reich, in that she is completely incapable of defending herself. This is, of course, a brilliant use of gameplay to tell us something very important -- that a single woman finds it pretty hard to fight an army. This is crucial information that we'd never have known if Velvet Assassin hadn't educated us! Thank Christ for RePlay Studios and this brilliant masterpiece.
Sitting for ages while Nazis talk about chocolate in German with subtitles that are too small to read, badly placed checkpoints, and repetitive gameplay that consists of standing behind someone and pressing a button have been combined to make a game that is certainly unique, and everybody knows that innovation automatically means a game is good. It's unique, therefore it's brilliant.
And that was the top nine! Nine awesome videogames that sum up what this whole decade has been about -- great gameplay, and even greater games. However, there is one final game, one to rule them all, that we are yet to discuss. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the greatest game of the decade ...
Too Human. The alpha and omega of videogame development. Cooked up from the glimmering brainbox of Denis "The Sonic Architect" Dyack, Too Human is not just a game -- it's a gift. A gift from Silicon Knights to the free world.
From its engaging and enthralling storyline to the kind of gameplay that should have been seen in the medium six years ago, Too Human is an unrelenting triumph that grabbed hold of the player and refused to let go. From the moment we inserted the disc into the Xbox 360 to that climactic moment when the end credits rolled, we were all little more than helpless fish caught on the end of a line. The bait? Awesome exposition. The hook? Rock solid gameplay. And the fisherman? Only the greatest mind this unworthy industry has been honored to ever know.
The story was an undeniably brilliant fusion of sci-fi trappings and Norse mythology as players harnessed the real power of a God to take down robots that were named after goblins and elves in a brilliant meta-parody of fantasy fiction and futuristic quasi-referential looking-glass philosophy that was both perfectly subtle and life-shatteringly rousing. After experiencing the first chapter of this epic saga in full, I felt ... insignificant. Pathetic, even, and angry to think that I had the sheer nerve to exist in the same world as such effortlessly superb narrative.
If the story is terrific, then the gameplay is impeccable. Using a unique and innovative analog stick combat system, Silicon Knights redefined in-game action as we knew it. Combat was a blast and so simple to perform, you felt like you're doing nothing at all. However, you WERE doing something -- you are taking part ... conspiring, if you will ... in something that turned the videogames industry on its head. Mark my words, Too Human was and still is the future of gaming, and that makes for a future so bright, you may very well scar your retinas if you look too long into it.
And all this is before we get into the fantastic Valkyrie death scene -- where every death was followed by an unskippable thirty-second cutscene that players every time you die in a game that's designed to kill you so you have to watch the scene over and over because Silicon Knights felt it was that important. And it is important! Too Human is THE most important game of all time and -- God bless me for saying it -- the greatest game ... the GREATEST game ... of the decade.
Thank you, Too Human. Thank you for everything.
[About Jim Sterling: Jim Sterling is Destructoid's reviews editor and writes a wide variety of articles, including editorials such as this. He does not consider himself a journalist. His work can be humorous or serious but its up to you to decide which articles are which. The opinions expressed -- be they satirical or sincere -- are entirely his own and don't reflect the opinions of Destructoid's staff as a whole. He might annoy you sometimes, but his aim is never genuine offense. Try and take him for what he is -- one guy having fun on the Internet and talking about videogames.]
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