The 12 most incredible games of the decade

6. GTA 3 (2001, PC, Xbox, PS2)

Just as with the original Call of Duty, there have been a number of genuinely classic Grand Theft Auto games throughout the last 10 years, but we would vehemently argue that the one that changed the game entirely was GTA 3, an immense 3D sandbox game, when nobody really knew what that term even meant. Many have followed since. None have even come close. (Well, apart from Rockstar, of course.)

Grand theft auto 3 - quite possibly the most controversial videogame of all time...

FOR LIBERTY: Grand Theft Auto 3 - quite possibly the most controversial videogame of all time...

GamesRadar UK said in the review of Rockstar's finest: "Almost immediately after your first play you'll realise that underneath the cloak of controversy that will forever shadow GTA3 sits a truly special, groundbreaking and brilliant game. You'll love it."

And, unsurprisingly, we did. And still do.

5. Ico (2001, PS2)

Ico was a charmingly left-field story about a small boy with horns who had to look after a mysterious princess. It was defiantly arthouse, yet mesmerizingly lovely to play and watch others play. In a world of generic sub-Tolkienesque fantasies, big guns and beefy aliens, Ico was also proof positive that not all gamers were morons. The studio's follow-up title Shadow of the Colossus was also a triumph (and sold a lot more), but it is Ico that still tugs at our heart strings. Next year's The Last Guardian is already on our must-play list, too.

Ico, one of the first truly arthouse videogames of the noughties

BOY MEETS GIRL:Ico, one of the first truly arthouse videogames of the noughties

"Persevere to the bittersweet conclusion and Sony's uniquely atmospheric puzzle adventure will hold a place in your heart forever," said Official Playstation 2 Magazine UK in 2001. And it still does. So they were right.

4. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006/7, PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

Bethesda's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion took up so much of our time in 2006, that it seems bizarre that anybody else might not be aware of how immense it was. The world was massive, the number of side-quests seemed never-ending (and never seemed in any way dull) and the fact that this was an unashamedly geeky RPG in a very traditional sense did not stop us all playing it to death.

The mighty oblivion was the decade's ultimate role-playing experience

MASSIVE:The mighty Oblivion was the decade's ultimate role-playing experience

"Magesterial. That's the word we're looking for," said PC Zone.

"Morrowind can take the plaudits for laying the groundwork and scrubbing out the rules of location linearity in role-playing, but The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion takes that model, streamlines it, seamlessly integrates exhilarating combat, smothers it in beautiful graphics and takes both Tamriel and the art of role-playing to an unprecedented new height."

3. BioShock (2007, PS3, Xbox 360)

When we first saw BioShock running on a debug Xbox 360 'behind closed doors' at E3 in 2006 we genuinely swooned. After numerous false starts and missed opportunities and broken promises about the new 'next gen' of gaming, this one took us by surprise – because this was the real deal. The art-deco underwater city of Rapture was beautiful.

The mere fact that we had a cracking shooter that wasn't based around a fantasy or a historical war scenario was almost enough in itself. The big daddies and little sisters were genuinely frightening and unsettling. Suffice to say that the follow up, BioShock 2 (out early 2010) is one of our most highly-anticipated games for the new year.


THE DADDY:BioShock - art deco meets Ayn Rand in an underwater dystopia

"It wasn't impossible to build Rapture on the ocean's bottom; it was impossible to build it anywhere else." The quote is from Andrew Ryan, the fictional founder of Bioshock's setting, the great utopian city 'Rapture', but the sentiment could apply to the game itself. Bioshock is the ultimate self-contained game, completely internally consistent, beautifully-designed and endlessly rewarding," wrote the Official Xbox 360 Magazine rreviewer at the time.

"It fits perfectly in its location, a dreamlike steampunk city where biotech has run rampant and where philosophers and scientists murder artists and musicians over conceptual quibbles."

2. Fallout 3 (2008, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

While we furiously debated whether or not Fallout 3 should have trumped Bethesda's 'other' magnum opus, Oblivion, in our chart, the overwhelming consensus was that it should. So it has.

Fallout 3 'game of the year' edition is the one you need to buy, should you not have it

SURVIVING:Fallout 3 'game of the year' edition is the one you need to buy, should you not have it

"In almost all respects, Fallout 3 is a staggering, genre-defining achievement - marrying an utterly immersive world, memorable characters, incredible production values, some of the most inspired RPG mechanics ever devised and so much heart," enthused CVG's Rob Taylor in his review of the Xbox version.

"Fallout 3 stands as the perfect companion piece [to Oblivion] - a near unparalleled RPG that stands so far ahead of the majority of the games on 360 that it would be a crime against gaming not to laud this title as anything other than a masterpiece."

And the best game of the decade is...

1. Half-Life 2: The Orange Box (2007, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Valve showed pretty much everybody else how to do things properly with its sublime Half-Life 2 series, culminating in the release of every episode of the game to date and two stunning extra titles - Portal and Team Fortress 2 - all bundled together in one awesome package that represents, in addition to lots of other things, perhaps the best value-for-money entertainment product released to market in the last ten years. The Orange Box is something that every gamer must own.

The orange box - valve's masterpiece is the single greatest entertainment product of the noughties

BEST BOX:Valve's masterpiece is the single greatest entertainment product of the noughties

It is simply the gaming masterpiece of our age. Even Edge relented from its usually harsh scoring system and agreed that it was worth a perfect 10/10, noting at the time in December 2007 that: "As a whole it is almost overwhelming in its depth, irresistible in value and certainly, unreservedly, brilliant." (as well as every other videogame website and magazine in the world) wholeheartedly agreed, noting that "Valve's Orange Box is finally here, and its five big sections - Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, Portal, Half-Life 2, and Half-Life 2: Episode One - are all juicy, delicious, and priced to sell."

With the general agreement that for less than £40 at the time (and much less now, over two years later), this was unbelievable value for something of such depth and consistent quality.

Adam Hartley