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Top 5 Influential Games of All Time

Aug 11, 2008
I'm sure anyone that has ever owned a video game console or played games on their PC has those few games that they remember most fondly. As the game industry has grown up and evolved so too have the players themselves. The kids who were playing Mario on their NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) are now spending hundreds of pounds on top end PCs and Xbox 360s.

I'm no different and video games were a huge part of my childhood while growing up. While many people are glued to their TV spending hours watching the same mindless shows I found that games consoles gave a much richer experience. I'm not alone and there are many great games I've played over the years. The following five games are ones that stand out above all others and the ones that changed the way I saw electronic entertainment.

Tetris was the first. As a six year old boy in 1990 I was the proud owner of an original Nintendo GameBoy with Tetris included as the only game. Now obviously as one so young I was never much good at it. I never saw the rocket ship that supposedly appeared if you got a really high score, and I never finished the game. However, what Tetris did do for me was spark an interest in computer games.

Created in 1985 by Alexey Pajitnov the game is one of the most popular and influential of all time. It has appeared in some form on almost every single device capable of running games since it was first released. The version that I played 18 years ago on the GameBoy was one of the most popular and the version that shot it to international success. Tetris is consistently named in the top 5 of 'Greatest Game of All Time' lists, I expect for reasons similar to my own.

There have been many games since that have far eclipsed Tetris in almost every facet but it still remains that first introduction to video games for thousands, maybe millions of people.

Next up is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. A flagship title for the SNES in the early 90s, A Link to The Past was unlike anything I'd ever played before. Offering two huge worlds to explore and a plot not unlike anything from a Lord of the Rings book it offered more gameplay and replay value than any game I'd played. For the time the graphics and the sounds were amazing and I spent many hours lost in the immersive game world.

The reason I picked this game over it's successor, Ocarina of Time, is that this is the first Zelda game I played, and as such has left a lasting impression. While Ocarina of Time is generally thought of, and rightly so, as being the superior game it was A Link to The Past that really made a huge success of the Zelda franchise.

The next game I chose for this article is one that is actually fairly similar to A Link to The Past. It is made by a Japanese company, features a large explorable game world, a great cast of characters, an engaging story and fantastic gameplay. Final Fantasy 7 was a massive hit. The first of the series to make any impact outside its native Japan the game features one of the best stories ever told in a video game.

This was the first game where I felt that games and film were really starting to merge. FF7 featured many non-interactive cut scenes and FMV (full motion video) sequences to augment the gameplay and help tell the story. While many people are put off by the lengthy pauses in action and hefty amount of text to read I found that the game became like reading a book in which you could decide how the story would unfold and which characters would star, and even if they would live or die.

The success of Final Fantasy 7 led the way for many similar games to get made and flourish in the western market, which typically hadn't warmed to Japanese RPG titles, instead preferring driving and fighting games. It is my belief that even online games such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft would never have enjoyed the level of success they have if it wasn't for FF7.

Usually games based on films are some of the worst games you can play. I don't think I've played a good one before or since my next entry. As important as FF7 was for the Playstation, Goldeneye 007 was so for the N64. A brilliant game that helped bring FPS to consoles and pioneer many features that are simply taken for granted these days.

However the reason I've mentioned Goldeneye isn't for the single player game, nor for the groundbreaking technology. It is for the multiplayer. This was the game that made me realise that as fun as games were, they were far more fun when playing with and against your friends instead of on your own. I lost countless hours of sleep in the late 90s to all-nighter Goldeneye multiplayer sessions with school friends. A brilliant game and the best use of a film license that I can think of.

Last up is a game that brought me back to the PC for games, and one that thanks to its huge modding community has kept me playing for years after its initial release.

Half Life and its sequels and mods that followed were and still are the defining PC games of their generation. The first Half Life game was praised for the complete immersion it offered the player, telling the story entirely through the eyes of Gordon Freeman, without ever taking control from you.

Half Life also had a huge and dedicated modding community. These people created their own single and multiplayer games using the Half Life engine and the SDK released by Valve. Of these mods Counter Strike is by far the most successful and was later released as a commercial product. Counter Strike also happened to be the game that introduced me to games online and on LANs, an extension of the multiplayer gaming enjoyed with Goldeneye on the N64 some years earlier.

Well these were the games that influenced me the most, it is really hard to pick a top 5 and there are many that I've missed. I'm sure that some will agree with the games I've listed and others won't be able to comprehend some of the titles I've left out. Hopefully in the future we'll see some games that will push the boundaries even further and eclipse what we've seen so far.
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