What's Your Favorite Game From the Last 20 Years?--GameSpot Q&A
What's Your Favorite?
Welcome to the GameSpot Q&A, where we ask our staff and readers an interesting discussion question about video games. Look at this as a forum where you and others can discuss and compare your opinions of this beloved hobby of ours.
In celebration of GameSpot's 20th anniversary, we asked our staff what their favorite game is from the last 20 years. Click ahead to see our responses, and be sure to let us know what your answer is to this week's question in the comments section below!
Journey | Mary Kish, Senior Producer
I began Journey on top of a golden sand dune with my goal straight ahead of me: a tall mountain peaking out of the distance far, far away. From those hills I embarked on a journey of discovery, exploring caverns and sliding down dunes. Another player joined me along the way with the same goal. We worked together to keep each other safe and find secrets, with no way to speak but a slight ping. I liked that other player, I felt like we went on a grand adventure together, that we connected in some say. I'll probably never meet the person I played with, but that feeling of connection stayed with me.
I have never felt anything like that playing a game before, and never again since. Journey is a truly special game, and it's the best game I've played in the last 20 years.
Final Fantasy Tactics | Peter Brown, Senior Reviews Editor
I cherish Final Fantasy Tactics for how it enraptured me in the plight of the noble hero Ramza, his troubled family, and most importantly, his childhood friend Delita. It is one of the most distraught tales I've ever witnessed, where morality is blurred; where the flawed nature of humanity takes precedence above all else. It also contained a satisfying combat system, driven by a deep array of character classes that could be remixed to suit your whims or the challenge at hand. Final Fantasy Tactics is my favorite game in the series, and my most beloved game of all time.
Super Smash Bros. Melee | Jimmy Thang, Tech Editor
It’s really hard to look back on the past 20 years and pick just one favorite game. But when I think about how many hours I’ve sunk into this title, the answer becomes abundantly clear: Super Smash Bros. Melee. In college, I sunk thousands of hours into Nintendo’s four-player brawler, and I still occasionally play it today. While it was a well-received game when it launched, I think it’s one of those rare games that gets better over time. The game’s tactics are constantly evolving, and it’s still more popular in the esports scenes than all of its sequels. If that doesn’t make for greatness, I don’t know what does.
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos | Zorine Te, Editor
Whenever someone asks me, "What is your favorite game of all time?" there is a single title that springs immediately to the forefront of my mind. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos was more than just a game--it was a catalyst that would change the rest of my gaming life forever. I still gush about the game's campaign, online modes, and gameplay mechanics. But perhaps most important of all was the custom map editor, which introduced a whole new world to me. From those early humble beginnings came several ideas I remember fondly to this day: tower defense, warchasers, and Defense of the Ancients.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater | Scott Butterworth, Editor
I’m a sucker for story. Games that impact me emotionally inevitably stick with me the longest. The Last of Us, BioShock, Mass Effect--all these titles capture everything I love about games. But Metal Gear Solid is especially close to my heart. The original MGS’s ambitious storytelling and innovative stealth mechanics forever changed my perception of what games can accomplish, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater solidified the series as my all-time favorite by perfecting that formula. I’m a lifelong Kojima cutscene apologist, and I have MGS3 to thank for that.
Mass Effect 2 | Lucy James, Video producer
I’ve replayed Mass Effect 2 more times than I care to admit: Renegade run, Paragon run, romance Miranda, romance Garrus, punch the reporter, leave her be. I’ve done it all.
You'd think I'd get tired of it, but the universe BioWare crafted is so rich in detail that each playthrough gives me something new. Mass Effect 2's world is fascinating, filled with nuanced characters, and underpinned by a fascinating web of interspecies politics. Whether it’s a throwaway line, a new outcome for a decision, or interactions that I previously completely missed, Mass Effect 2 is a game that keeps on giving.
Rock Band 3 | Edmond Tran, Editor / Senior Video Producer
Mashing buttons on a plastic guitar neck while strumming a paddle in time with colored gems on screen is not necessarily the kind of physical action your body might be used to. But the feedback you get when you succeed in nailing a note streak is amazing: a melody that corresponds to your rhythmic movements. If you stop, the music stops. "Whoa," your brain says. "I am making this music. My friends and I are in sync. I have a greater appreciation of 20th century music. This feels awesome."
Rock Band 3 represents the pinnacle of the rhythm genre: a quality, inclusive package of memorable, empowering experiences. It's an all-time classic record that makes you smile every time you put it on.
Spelunky | Chris Watters, Host
Spelunky is that rare game that you can come back to time and time again to find that it just gets better and better. The procedurally generated levels and complex array of enemies, weapons, and environmental elements have an evergreen potential to surprise, delight, and kill horribly. This platforming adventure is a masterclass in game design and replayability. It welcomes in new players and challenges veterans; and as you find yourself growing from the former to the latter, you experience one of the most exhilarating journeys of personal growth, discovery, and mastery that gaming has to offer.
Super Mario 64 | Rob Crossley, Editor
Super Mario 64 was the big bang for 3D games: an explosion of ideas that were perfected at first attempt. Perhaps the most extraordinary among them was Mario's nuance and fluidity of movement where the player is free to flow from wall-jumps to somersaults to slides to tiptoeing to butt-stomps.
Before Mario 64, navigating 3D was an overwhelming technical and design conundrum, but this game made it suddenly seem as obvious as running from left to right. That profound elegance runs through virtually everything it offers, allowing the intoxicating bliss of Mario's world and characters to shine through.
Battlefield 1942 | Rob Handlery, Producer
My earliest memory of Battlefield 1942 is from a torn-out article I got from my grandma. "A WWII game incorporating land, sea, and air," rattled my pubescent brain hard.
I went full-on diabolical and convinced my mom we needed a PC for Microsoft Word. This wasn’t just my first PC game; it was my first online multiplayer game. Months later, I was still ripping apart aspiring pilots’ dreams of flight before they lifted off the runway. LANs, clans, and mods--Battlefield 1942 combined my personal dreams and gaming needs.
Left 4 Dead | Ryan Schubert, Youtube Channel Coordinator
Playing Left 4 Dead with three of my best friends every Tuesday night is one of the highlights of my years as a video gamer and a big part of why I have a job at GameSpot today. We played through the same campaigns week after week, and occasionally got together on a weekend in the same house to play through all of the L4D 1 or 2 campaigns back-to-back, without ever getting tired of the carnage. The AI director, Valve’s weekly mutations, and the sheer unexpected randomness of special spawns kept each playthrough fresh.
Dark Souls | Tamoor Hussain, News Editor
Firelink Shrine’s beautiful, haunting music encapsulates what I love about Dark Souls. The strained violin notes are a mournful serenade to Lordran, a world on the brink of collapse. Isolated plucks of a guitar string echo as the symphonic backing fades away, embodying the Chosen Undead, a figure prophesied to overcome great trials and either relight Lordran’s fire or smother it. Amongst it all, a bright cluster of harp notes somehow perseveres against overwhelming hopelessness.
The Souls series’ reputation for difficult gameplay is thoroughly deserved. But it's also filled with deeply personal, human stories of loss, and how it can consume a person.
Halo 3 | Eddie Makuch, Lead News Editor
2007's Halo 3 from Bungie is my favorite game of the past 20 years. The story--well, most of it--was excellent, and the multiplayer hooked me like no other first-person shooter I'd played before. The game came out when I was a senior in high school, and I couldn't get enough. Whether I was playing locally in campaign co-op or on Xbox Live, Halo 3 offered everything I was looking for in a FPS. No shooter has come close to appealing to me in the way that Halo 3 did all those years ago.
Guess it's time to go fire up the Master Chief Collection...
The Longest Journey | Jess McDonell, Host/Producer
I’ve been lucky enough to have my favorite game define both my childhood and my adult life. It began in 1999 when eight-year-old Jess met eighteen-year-old April Ryan, an art student who was prophesied to save the balance between the worlds of magic and science.
The Longest Journey is an awe-inspiring and emotional ride punctuated by clever point-and-click adventure game mechanics. The epic story and complex characters of The Longest Journey series have considerably changed what I expect out of video games, and influenced my opinion that there is no other storytelling medium that can compare.
Halo: Combat Evolved | Mike Mahardy, Editor
Halo has come a long way--from the far reaches of space, to the cities of Africa, to places humans forgot long ago. But it was one mysterious ring world where it all began. Halo: Combat Evolved has fantastic shooting mechanics, organic level design, and a momentous story that all flow into one another. But it also has mystery. It has that sense of the unknown. The Master Chief doesn't know what Halo really is, and neither do we. The horrors within are just there, under the surface, waiting for us to unlock them after millennia of quiet slumber. I love video games that can create an atmosphere like that. In my mind, Halo has no equal.
Vanquish | Matt Espineli, Associate Editor
Few shooters have impacted me as deeply as Vanquish. It’s bold and unafraid to set itself apart from others in its genre. Where other shooters often encourage you to sit behind cover, occasionally popping out to take a few shots, this action/shooter hybrid pushes you outside of your comfort zone. You're always in the midst of gunfire, sliding past bullets in your jet-powered augmented suit, as you unleash hell onto waves of Russian robots. The action and speed of Vanquish taught me to embrace the thrill of movement in games. As a result, it's easily one of my all-time favorites.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 | Aaron Sampson, Senior Producer
Indiana Jones meets Battlefield--what’s not to like? Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has it all: hilarious characters, mystery, destruction, and Rush--one of the most focused modes in all of the Battlefield series. Bad Company 2 also has the unique Vietnam DLC that adds almost another game into the base multiplayer playlist. My boss even has the Bad Company ringtone on his phone, which makes me uncontrollably happy whenever it rings. If that Pavlovian response doesn’t speak to the impact this game had on me, I don’t know what would.
Half-Life 2 | Danny O'Dwyer, Host/Producer
I took a month long break from college the month Half-Life 2 came out. Granted, at least half of that was due to Counter-Strike: Source, which launched alongside it. Half-Life 2 was not only a sequel to the best FPS up to that point, but it somehow managed to eclipse it. Varied level design, a new benchmark in AI, outstanding atmosphere, and the ability to kill members of a fascist police force by bouncing toilets off their heads. The fact that I go back and play through it again every year is a testament to the game's enduring design. 12 years later. It has yet to be topped.
Portal | Justin Haywald, Managing Editor
It physically makes me a little ill to have to choose just one game from the last 20 years to call the "best." I've had thousands of adventures exploring digital lands over the last two decades that I genuinely cherish as much as many of my real-world experiences. But if I had to choose a single game that exemplifies what makes gaming great, it'd be Portal.
Portal’s puzzles are blended masterfully into its narrative. The voice acting and writing exude genuine humor. And I'm pretty sure that, after beating the game, I'm at least 10 points smarter than I was before.
For me, Portal isn't just one of the best games of the last 20 years, it's one of the best games of all time.
Fallout 3 | Randolph Ramsay, Editor-in-Chief
As a huge fan of the first two Fallout games, the third entry’s shift to an open-world viewed through a first-person lens had me worried. But within minutes of traversing the ruins of Washington, D.C., I was hooked. Here was a whole world filled with details and story--some of it right in front of you, a lot of it tucked away in notes or environments--and it all felt so alive.
Or it used to be alive. One of the game's greatest achievements is how it tells you its tale through the people you meet and the places you see, but the story of the old world that existed before war took its toll is still there. Fallout 3 is a wonderful place to visit, and it remains the highest point of my gaming in the last 20 years.