#1 Half-Life 2 vs. #16 Shenmue
Valve’s crowning achievement, Half-Life 2 has you play as Gordon Freeman in a dystopian alternate history once again. The sequel features upgraded graphics, new weapons, a great story and better physics, all operating out of the then-revolutionary Source engine. An innovative first person shooter. A charming game, Shenmue was an expensive title that saw odd eccentricities come to the adventure game genre. Quick time events were used to provide interactivity to cut scenes. The game reflected cultural changes to 80’s Japan, while simulating day and night life of the region. The purpose was to be authentic, down to the weather and martial arts style used in combat.
#2 Grand Theft Auto III vs. #15 Deus Ex: Human Revolution
You know how everyone is putting open world elements in their games these days? Thank GTA III for that. I remember one of my roommates playing for hours without advancing at all, just holing up in a building and seeing how long he could last with his wanted level at five stars. I drove around doing taxi and fire fighting missions for days. Deus Ex is a great, but I don’t remember it changing the way people played games. GTA III should move on.
#3 The Last of Us vs. #14 Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead did zombies before they were cool, and it did them right. But come on! Gamers are a “What have you done for me lately?” bunch, and The Last of Us took a boatload of awards as the shining star of the final wave of games developed solely for the previous generation of consoles. I expect L4D to live up to its name and be left out of advancing to the second round.
#4 StarCraft vs. #13 Star Fox 64
Stars, stars everywhere. In 1998, StarCraft changed the real-time strategy genre forever. It wasn’t innovative in the truest since of the word, but it did take everything a player wanted in an RTS game, and nearly perfected it. Star Fox 64 was graphically pleasing, sounded good and played great. It was literally a perfectly tuned game that had fans clamoring for a sequel. We’re still waiting on that true sequel.
#5 Super Smash Bros. Melee vs. #12 Tomb Raider (OG)
The original Super Smash Bros. was good, but Melee put the game on a whole other planet. The game boasts a nice roster of 25 classic characters, and the single-player mode isn’t half bad. Tomb Raider showed how good CD games can be. It was one of the first true tests for Sony’s PlayStation, and proved to be a big reason for the console’s success.
#6 Kingdom Hearts vs. #11 Tetris
In the pantheon of ideas that are so crazy they just might work, Kingdom Hearts is right up there near the top. Combining Square’s knack for RPGs (back when the company was firing on all cylinders) with some of Disney’s most iconic properties was a brilliant concept, but it could have easily been a disaster if the execution wasn’t on point. Happily, it was. Yet Tetris is an all-time classic, one of the earliest puzzle games that captured the imagination of many different dmeographics. In its own way, it foreshadowed the kinds of simple puzzle gameplay so prevalent on mobile platforms today. I think Tetris is more historically signifcant, but Kingdom Hearts is probably more beloved among gamers who would read sites like ours, makng this a toss-up.
#7 Super Metroid vs. #10 Sim City 2000
Samus makes her debut on the SNES in this story-minimal game. Landing on the planet Zebes in search of the stolen Metroid, players upgrade our protagonist and fit her out with improved weapons, missiles, suits and energy powerups. The sequence of the game’s areas can be broken, offering a grim exploration into a multi-faceted world. Everything you could ever want to create in a booming metropolis is here and available in Sim City 2000. Depending on your play style, one could try to create a populous city or enjoy the destruction and chaos of the game’s supernatural events of pre-made places. The creative tools provided by Maxis let you decide the layout of your own ingenuity.
#8 Castelvania: Symphony of the Night vs. #9 BioShock
As Alucard, players return to the Castlevania series by combining the side-scrolling action with RPG elements in a 2D system. With a dark and foreboding setting and mood-setting music, defeating Dracula has never been so exciting. BioShock is a first-person shooter set in the underwater city of Rapture. Similar to System Shock 2 at set in the 60’s, you play as Jack. Use both traditional guns and magic-based plasmids to defeat your foes, while learning more about the little sisters to complete the game by the way of your choosing.