Imagine that you’re looking back through the years and thinking about some of your favorite games of all time. You have such fond memories of these games from when you were younger, so you pick ’em back up knowing you had to play through them just one more time. You pop it into your gaming system, or you reinstall it onto your computer after all of these years just to find out that what was once, in your mind, the pinnacle of video gaming is now a washed up, clunky, unimpressive piece of software that’s not even worthy of the dust it collected on the shelf over these past few years.
Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but this has been my most recent experience with LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. I used to play this as a very young kid on my PlayStation 2 over and over again collecting every character, coin, and video clip. Going back to it has been a nightmare of inconvenient camera angles, boring story tropes, repetitive gameplay, and imprecise mechanics.
Is this the game’s fault? Absolutely not. Are the developers to blame? On a few levels, yes, it is. However, I think the most important and obvious contributing factor is, of course, time. Time is patient and deadly when it comes to video games. It slowly eats away at a game as new, more sophisticated technologies and plot devices emerge from seemingly nowhere. The simple linear story of LEGO Star Wars that we’ve already seen in theaters doesn’t fly in modern video games. So much more work is put into the camera work of a game these days that inconsistency is unacceptable. The modern age has ruined this game, at least for me.
Despite the destruction that time brings to the industry, there are select video games that, given some precise tuning or the right attention, manage to survive many years, or even decades with some luck. These are 10 games that manage to do just that:
I figured since the original LEGO Star Wars episodes were released between 2005 and 2007, we’d stick right in that timeframe to start off. The original BioShock was released in August of 2007 and became a resounding success.
There are certain things that just give a game exponentially more value, and one of them is smart puzzles. BioShock is filled with dozens of puzzles in which the player must kill, manipulate, and overpower the beings and elements around them. These puzzles take you through the game flawlessly and each of them ends up contributing to the impressive story that explodes from within the city. These puzzles are simple, but the design of Rapture and the enemies within it can give even some of the best and brightest gamers a run for their money.
Graphically, it’s impressive how well the game holds up. I believe “quality graphics” are extremely subjective and based almost entirely on personal taste. However, I think it’s hard to deny that while games like Mass Effect, which came out the same year, have become old and worn in this department, BioShock manages to stay vivid and, in a lot of ways, beautiful.
Not only does BioShock retain its visuals, but the story and puzzles just don’t get old. Anybody who has never played the game before can easily jump into it and fall in love with it despite it being released over a decade ago.
Uncharted Series (1-3)
This may be cheating, but these all have to be on the list and for the same reasons. Staying within 2007, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was released shortly after BioShock by Naughty Dog and Sony Computer Entertainment. The second installment, Among Thieves, came in 2009, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception hit shelves in late 2011.
All of these have spanned two console generations and have consistently been put on the highest pedestals by critics and fans alike. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has been called one of the best games of all time and remains probably the most visually outstanding game to date, yet Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has a higher rating on Metacritic, IGN, Trusted Reviews, and many other sites. On a lot of them, the third game isn’t far behind either.
What’s special about this series is the attention to detail, the ability to make precise shots and movements effortlessly, the complex characters, and the deepening plot. Someone could play the fourth game first and the first game last and never experience a dip in quality or delight. Naughty Dog knew they had a masterpiece after the original game and went absolutely nuts with it. Although there have been complaints with the cover systems in these games, there is no doubt that time has stood no chance against Nathan Drake.
Call of Duty: World at War
Ah, one of my personal favorite games of all time. This will likely be the unpopular opinion of the day considering that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is considered by most to be the greatest game in the Call of Duty franchise, and it’s even older than World at War. Unfortunately, I never did play it, so it’s impossible for me to include it in an opinion piece when my opinion is worth jack on the game.
Anyway, enough justifying myself. Either way you look at it, World at War will turn 10 years old in November and it’s still better than most games from the franchise since then. What makes this one special are the characters and the unique missions. While modern Call of Duty games attempt to impress with futuristic mechanics and new technology, I find them all inferior to the simple idea of puncturing a whole into a barrel of gasoline, driving it into a bunch of enemies, and blowing them up. There’s no complex tech here, just intuitive game design; making something big out of something usually small.
No matter how many times I play this, no matter what year it is, I find myself enjoying it and discovering new things about it every time. For example, I was so young when I first played it (sorry ESRB) that I didn’t even realize that Kiefer Sutherland played a prominent role in it, or that you get an achievement for saving Private Ryan. Never gets old.
You had to see this one coming, right? As time has gone on, people have criticized Minecraft for its lack of graphical innovation, its monotonous gameplay, and its young fans, but even these people have to admit that it’s a phenomenon that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
With a procedurally generated world, thousands upon thousands of multiplayer servers, and tons of building potential, Minecraft has infinite possibilities. It’s managed to sell in the vicinity of 144 million copies across its platforms. Only one game has sold more copies in the history of video games: Tetris.
However, Minecraft is much more impressive considering the classic version of it came out in 2009 and has since only been published by Mojang. Tetris has been officially published by close to a dozen different companies and has had the benefit of being around since the early 1980s. Over its 25 extra years on this planet, Tetris has only managed around $26 million more in sales. This sounds astronomical, but when considering the relatively short life of Minecraft, and when talking about nine figures, this is amazing on the part of Mojang.
With endless opportunity, Minecraft cannot be denied as a time killer.
League of Legends
Who would have thought that a single league filled with hundreds of legends would become the frontrunner in the MOBA world? League of Legends is so topical and relevant that it’s hard to believe that it came out originally in 2009. Sporting more than 140 champions and counting, it’s come a long way and become an addiction for millions of players across the world.
League of Legends is an outlier on this list. While all of the other games on this list were amazing at launch, but still fun to play, this entry actually has gotten only better throughout the years. Riot Games has gotten consistently better at balancing, bug fixes, champion creativity, and general patching. Because of the attention that this game continues to receive from the developers, this game has no ceiling and will continue to achieve greatness for many years to come. Hmmm…I wonder if they’ll have anything fun planned for their tenth anniversary?
Mass Effect 2
I mentioned the original Mass Effect game earlier when comparing it to BioShock. In today’s world, the game is just too disappointing graphically to make onto this kind of list. Its sequel, on the other hand, received a visual upgrade, but kept a lot of what made the first game so special. Almost everything about this game is timeless: the choices, the characters, the voices. I could go on.
2010 was a great year for BioWare, as Mass Effect 2 would go on to receive critical acclaim and eventually remain the highest-ranking game in the Mass Effect franchise. It even shows up three times in Metacritic’s top 100 best video games for each platform it released on.
The story and advanced gameplay are the parts that truly beat time, though. The story progressed well beyond what Mass Effect had to offer and, frankly, it makes its predecessor look a little weak in this department. So many more layers were added to the gameplay by improving upon what worked and adding plenty of new mechanics.
This is worth a play and will knock your socks off, even now.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
We return to the best-selling list once again with the 12th most purchased game of all time. This entry is pretty short and sweet: there is just too much to do. How is one human being supposed to complete all this game has to offer in just seven measly years? Does Bethesda know that we have lives? I can’t give up my day job to beat all of Skyrim, unfortunately (although that would be wicked awesome).
The visuals aren’t much to look at (get it?), there are plenty of bugs, combat certainly isn’t flawless, but there is so much story to unlock in this vast world. This truly is an adventurer’s game. The world has a detailed backstory, there are objectives within quests within missions, and plenty of extra collectables and lore. Not to mention that after it’s all done, you could still experience the whole thing differently by simply changing your race.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way: I hate this game. This is one of my least favorite games ever. I’ve deleted it and reinstalled it so many times now out of rage that I’ve had to stop myself, for the sake of my own mental health. You may be thinking, “Oh, you just don’t like the game because you suck at it.” To which I would respond, “Exactly!” I suck at it, and the likelihood is that you suck at it too. The ranking system is a nightmare, it takes hundreds and hundreds of hours just to be considered decent, and by that time it’s already not fun anymore. If this game were a person, I think it would be Benito Mussolini.
But, if there’s one thing that CS:GO has done, it’s continue to attract players from across the world to a genre that is even more overcrowded than Battle Royale. There’s a strategy to playing Counter Strike that’s mesmerizing and addictive. There’s nothing quite like communicating with your teammates, especially your friends, and coming up with just the right angle of attack/defense that makes the other team fall to their knees.
This is one of the few times that repetitious gameplay works well. Although it’s tedious at times, the bulk of the game is always changing depending on who you verse, who you are playing with, and what they decide to do. In response, the player has to adjust and play according to the variables, which will always attract players to a game. Time can’t keep up with the demand of this terrible monstrosity.
Grand Theft Auto V
The key word for Grand Theft Auto V is “adaptability”. This game was once given high praises for its single-player mode and extremely detailed look at Los Santos, which was based on Los Angeles, California. However, it only takes so long for people to drive around the map and pretty much accomplish everything there is to accomplish.
Ever since that point, Rockstar Games has poured its resources into the online mode. While it certainly isn’t the prettiest online experience, the true value in the game comes with the people that you play with. Grand Theft Auto Online has basically become its own game at this point and gets millions of players every month.
It’s all about endlessness. With the online mode and the vast world, it’s in the same ballpark as Minecraft; the possibilities seem to never end and there’s always something fun to do. Hopping onto GTA Online where there’s a real city with no real consequences or regulations is an extremely attractive kind of game. How could anybody get sick of that?
There’s nothing like the classics. Pac-Man is simply so unique. It’s so unique that the formula for the game has remained the same for nearly 40 years and is still beloved by just about anybody who puts their hands on it. This is just a consistently fun game to sit down and play whenever.
Is it always going to be your go-to game? Probably not. Is there anything new about it? That’s a no. Should I even own it? Not anymore. However, I dare anybody who gets a chance to play to not have plenty of fun with it.
Despite its age, it’s a thrilling experience because of its premise, increasing difficulty, many variables, and ease of play. Anybody can play this game, which means anybody can love it.
No game is ever going to be perfect, but these are certainly games in which the developers sunk a lot of thought and effort into to make them what they were, are, and will continue to be. But, what do you think? Do you agree with our choices above, or have you other games in mind? Let us know over on Twitter @SickCritic!
Brandon is a young writer who loves going deep into games to explore meaning, purpose, and life. He believes that there’s nothing better than getting lost in a world full of characters to love and lessons to learn. He has a special place in his heart for single player games such as Mass Effect and Life Is Strange, but he also blows off some steam playing some of his favorite multiplayer games, like Paladins.