As we approach the end of the 2000s decade, we begin to see some of the most refined games from the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 era. As always, we took off the list games with less than 20 reviews to their name, and games that had multiple versions on the list.
We have removed versions (while keeping the highest rated one) of Modern Warfare 2, and Batman: Arkham Asylum.
10. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (DS) – 91.01
The Nintendo DS was a huge success for Nintendo. It could be said that the DS along with the Wii’s unexpected success put Nintendo in a great position after the Nintendo 64 sold less than expected, and the GameCube basically gave away further Nintendo market share to Sony and to newcomer Microsoft.
Bowser’s Inside Story is one of the best games on the system, and it is the third game in the Mario and Luigi role-playing game saga. BIS is the overall second highest rated game in the entire “Mario RPG” subset of Mario games, second only to the Nintendo 64’s Paper Mario.
Bowser’s Inside Story was praised for its plot line, humor, and Bowser’s role as a focal character. The game would receive numerous praises from reviewers working for major publications with some even calling the game “the greatest RPG” on the DS.
9. Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City (Xbox 360) – 91.41
Grand Theft Auto continued its dominant run-on consoles at this juncture, and Episodes from Liberty City was a standalone collection for the Xbox 360 featuring the two episodes for Grand Theft Auto IV. The collection contains the Ballad of Gay Tony, and The Lost and the Damned on one disc.
Both of these episodes featured improvements in contrast to the main game, including improved motorcycle dynamics, and a dramatic storyline which added hours to the game’s gameplay. The game would also feature a scene with full male frontal nudity which was a controversial topic at the time.
The Ballad of Gay Tony also received praise for its storyline and for its focus on a well written LGBT character. The expansion as a whole is considered one of the best of all time in terms of DLC content.
8. Forza Motorsport 3 (Xbox 360) – 92.26
Within a few short years of its first entry on the original Xbox, the Forza series overtook Gran Turismo as the premier racing simulator on consoles. The game pushed the power of the Xbox 360 to deliver one of, if not, the most realistic sim racing game of the era.
The game featured fantastic visuals, and over 400 real world cars that could be customized and tuned. Critics praised the game as one of the best racing games of the generation, and many felt that Forza 3 had taken away the racing simulator crown from the Gran Turismo series.
Forza Motorsport 3 would go on to win many “racing game of the year” awards and would earn a few nominations for the overall game of the year award on many publications as well.
7. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360) – 92.34
Batman made an impressive debut on the 360/PS3 generation of consoles with a game built on the Unreal Engine 3, and it was quite an eye-opening experience. AA was an action-adventure game that offered plenty of freedom within the Arkham Asylum facility for Batman to engage in mainline story missions and side quest affairs.
In some ways, Batman AA took a page from The Legend of Zelda book of adventuring, with several locations of the island (located off the coast of Gotham City) being blocked off until certain storyline milestones were achieved.
Before its sequel, Arkham Asylum held the distinction of being the most critically acclaimed superhero game ever. With many critics echoing the sentiment calling it, “The best comic book hero video game of all time”, or the best “superhero game bar none.”
Many reviewers also praised the game’s atmosphere, and visuals. Others were simply awestruck by the game’s excellence in level design, making gamers feel powerful enough as Batman, but with enough vulnerabilities to make the game challenging.
6. Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii) – 92.35
The Metroid Prime games are some of the most revered classics of “modern” gaming. The Wii’s popularity provided Nintendo with the perfect (and most welcomed) excuse to deliver the Prime trilogy to gamers in a single bundle.
The bundle updated Prime and Prime 2: Echoes to take advantage of the motion control features of the Nintendo Wii. Consequently, these games played similarly to the third game in the series, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. These versions would also receive improved texturing and lighting plus the much needed wide-screen support.
Critics loved the collection with many citing the amazing value of receiving three amazing games for the price one, and others considering the bundle to be the greatest collection made by Nintendo since the SNES’ Super Mario All-Stars bundle.
While some critics would complain that the game’s visuals were beginning to look dated thanks to the unimpressive hardware specifications of the Wii, it was generally accepted that the addition of motion controls were enough of an incentive to replay the first two Prime games for most fans of the series.
5. Minecraft (PC) – 92.79
While Minecraft would officially make its worldwide appearance in 2011, it was in 2009 where the game was first made available. It would be this ‘Beta’ version that would make its way to these rankings, and even in an unfinished state (has Minecraft ever been “truly” finished?”) the game wowed critics.
Critics would praise the game’s freedom. This ‘freedom’ included the game’s ability to let players create their own worlds and structures, and the deep and complex item crafting system in the game. Even the game’s “blocky” graphics were considered appealing.
In the 2011 official release of the game, critics would complain about visual glitches and unpolished elements, but such was nature of such an open-ended game. The game would end up selling 238 million copies by 2021 (a number which continues to grow) making it one of the most successful and highest grossing video game products of all time.
4. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (DS) – 92.71
Chinatown Wars was GTA in portable form with some additional features thanks to the DS’ touch controls. The game was a follow-up to Grand Theft Auto IV, and it gave players the ability to buy drugs from suppliers in order to re-sale them to make a profit which caused a bit of a controversial stir at the time.
Taking place in a scaled down take on GTA IV’s Liberty City, GTA CW made a return to the series top-down view roots. The DS wasn’t powerful enough to hold GTA3 visuals and thus the game played quite differently from post PS2 entries.
However, critics were impressed by Rockstar’s ability to condense the GTA experience into a portable format and did praise the game’s cell shaded visuals. Reviewers praised the game’s combination of old style GTA visuals with newer gameplay innovations made by the series. Eurogamer would go on to grant the game a 10/10 score.
3. Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360) – 93.23
In a decade where Tekken, Soul Calibur, and Virtua Fighter had dominated the market with their 3-D excellence in Martial Arts combat, Street FIghter IV had a hard task of pleasing old school fans with fast 2-D gameplay, while attracting a new generation to its universe with 3-D rendered backgrounds and characters.
Critically speaking, Street Fighter IV succeeded on both accounts. The game looked well enough for a 2009 title, and it played with the great fluidity of Street Fighter II Turbo. Street Fighter IV would go on to win many “Fighting Game” of the year awards, including Spike TV’s version of it.
The game is still regarded as one of the best fighting games of all time, and it is likely to please to newcomers to the genre who are looking for a hard to master fighting game that is throwback to the old arcade classics.
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360) – 93.57
Ah, the days where multiplayer focused first-person shooters spent genuine thought and money on their single player campaigns. In that sense Modern Warfare 2 was a gem. The game provided a legitimately great single player campaign, while also providing a tremendous multiplayer experience for gamers with an online connection.
The game would sell over 22 million copies, making it one of the most successful games of its generation. Critics praised the game’s campaign and multiplayer modes. Both modes were considered superior, thanks to added elements, in contrast to its excellent predecessor.
At this point in time, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had little competition as multiplayer shooter, with Halo being its closest competitor, but Halo was not available on PS3. Most impressively, Japanese magazine Famitsu named Modern Warfare 2 its 2009 best game of the year, beating Japanese contender Metal Gear Solid 4. Along with Grand Theft Auto IV, MW2 was the magazine’s highest rated western title, at the time.
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) – 96.43
Before Uncharted 2, it could have been easily argued that the PlayStation 3 was losing the exclusives battle to Microsoft which had the Gears of War, Forza, and Halo franchises under its wing. The original Uncharted was a good game, but it left much to be desired when stacked against the original Gears of War. Uncharted 2 would fix those issues.
In what must be one of the most improved sequels in history, Uncharted 2 took its predecessor to 100x power. The game looked impossibly good in 2009, managing to look a bit better (at least in my eyes) than Gears 1 and 2.
Uncharted 2 was a cinematic tour de force of the PlayStation 3’s rendering capabilities. These capabilities had been difficult to harness by most PS3 developers, but Naughty Dog made it look easy.
Uncharted 2 was large, well-written, and acted action adventure that featured some of the most cinematic and unique set pieces seen…anywhere.
Upon release, critics praised Uncharted 2 as one of the greatest games ever made. The game would be the consensus 2009 “Game of the Year” winner, managing to get 41 perfect scores from major video gaming publications.
The game’s largest claim to fame, apart from being one of the most gorgeous looking video games ever, was that it managed to take video game cinematic scenes, and set pieces, to a big budget film Hollywood level quality. This type of cinematic style for video game sequences would go on to become popular with many other development studios, but none would go on to do it better than Naughty Dog.
Agree with the author? Couldn’t disagree more and are frothing at the mouth to tell him? Leave a comment here, on Facebook or send an email and make sure to follow Never Ending Realm on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!