I can remember doing a list just like this one around the back end of 2009. If I remember correctly, Bioshock took first place. I don’t have a link for this unfortunately as it was likely only sent in a text to my little brother and/or my fellow PS Pod co-host Javier. Well here I am ten years later with a platform that allows me to waffle on about the video games that have eaten up the majority of this decade! So sit back, relax and prepare to argue with every entry in to my top 10 games of the decade. I’ll probably still sent this list to my little bro…
Although this isn’t my number one, there’s no arguing that it’s the number one game of the decade when talking sales. Rockstar’s prime cash cow is always guaranteed to make a ton of money but GTA V saw the addition of GTA Online, a service which has kept the game alive and pretty much constantly in the top end of the charts since its September 2013 release date. Having sold a mammoth 110 million plus copies over two console generations, there’s no doubt that the most recent GTA was a hit with players around the globe including myself. GTA is a tried and tested formula that never fails and the latest instalment was no different. I found V to be a major improvement over GTA IV with the wacky comedy being pumped up a little more without ever feeling too over the top. Add to that stunning visuals, one of the best ever open worlds and timeless gameplay which has taken up hours and hours of my life and you’ve got yourself an all time great that deserves its place on this list.
With a release date of May 2010, the first Red Dead Redemption manages to just about sneak its way onto this list. Basically just copy and paste everything I said in the above entry but replace cars with horses and gangsters with cowboys. Once again that tried and tested Rockstar formula is a winner, this time however they smartly applied it to the wild west. Right I’m about to spoil my list a little here but I’ll say now that this is the last Rockstar entry, meaning that Red Dead Redemption 2 will not make the cut. The reason that RDR1 sees off its successor is because for me, it was a lot more fun. The story was more engaging, characters were more funny and interesting and unlike the sequel, I wasn’t bored out my mind for the remaining few hours of the game. In fact RDR 1 easily has one of my favourite video game endings of all time. It was revolutionary and an undeniable classic of its generation.
I know for a fact that I’m going to get heat for this one but I don’t care! I realise that David Cage is a divisive figure (okay most hate him but still) but for me, Cage and his team over at Quantic Dream delivered a gaming experience that was original, different and set a trend for narrative driven titles including the likes of Until Dawn which narrowly missed a place on this list itself. For someone like me, this was most welcomed. I loved the fact that it felt as if I had control over a blockbuster movie, I loved that one silly mistake would spell a permanent end for whichever character I was controlling and I especially loved the corny twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat through the entire experience. The many multiple endings was something I loved seeing as well and gave me motivation to platinum this entertaining thriller. Another thing I really loved was how great this game looked. Released in February 2010, this qualifies as the oldest game on the list but probably not the worst looking one. There may not be a ton of substance nor actual gameplay here I agree, but I loved my time with Heavy Rain none the less. JASON!
Speaking of my love for narrative experiences, this one came out of nowhere in 2012 and hit like an emotional brick to the face. On the surface this never looked like a game that could challenge for my game of the year, let alone the decade! I was a fan of both the TV series and the comics (both of which I ended up falling away from) so I was always likely to give this weird comic looking point & click game a chance and I did exactly that with the free demo. That lead to be instantly purchasing episode 1 to see what would happen to my character Lee and the young girl – Clementine who he’d come across in the early stages of the game. What I didn’t expect 5 episodes later was to be sat in front of my TV, holding back floods of tears as one of, if not the strongest ever stories I’d witnessed in any medium came to its tragic conclusion. The emotional ending (which I won’t spoil) was made even more heartbreaking as you yourself are making the decisions that lead to those unavoidable events. It’s dark, it’s brave and the unexpected success took Telltale Games to new heights which they were sadly never ever able to recreate before eventually shutting down in October 2018.
I can already hear the screams coming through the screen at me, let me explain quickly why this isn’t higher… I haven’t finished it yet. That’s right, there’s a game I’m still half way through that’s made it onto this list! That should be enough to explain just how incredible this masterpiece is. The reason it’s unfinished at the time of writing is simply down to the fact that I only started it a few months ago on the recommendation of Respawning’s Javier as well as pretty much every other person on the planet, and I’ve had recent big releases such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to complete in the meantime. I’m not usually a fan of RPG’s but that didn’t stop me from hearing about what many have called the game of the generation. Playing it for myself, I soon found out why people say this! Characters, story, visuals and locations are easily amongst the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve never known a game distract me so much with brilliant side quests, some of which have better stories than most full games! I can’t wait to finally finish my adventure and who knows, maybe I’ll need to amend this list when I do.
Imagine not having an Uncharted game on this list. Although Uncharted 4 isn’t my favourite in the series, it’s reasonably recent release of 2016 means it’s technically the best one when talking graphics, performance, the gigantic set pieces the series is known for and probably gameplay as well. Plus Uncharted 2 was out in 2009 so I couldn’t choose that! Regardless of this, 4 still managed to tell a great story with some of the best characters ever to grace PlayStation. Naughty Dog managed to bring an end to the series with true class and style. There’s not really a fault I can pick with Uncharted 4 and its position on this list only speaks to the unbelievable quality of what is still to come.
I loved Arkham Asylum, and I love that Rocksteady said to themselves – “Hey you know how we can make this even better? Let’s just make it five times bigger!”. Although I still stand by preferring the previous decades Asylum for its more isolated and darker setting, there’s no denying that City is a much more impressive and replayable experience. Much of what I’m about to say applies to every game in the Arkham series but City managed to present it all in the nicest of packages with a perfect little batbow on top. The combat is near perfection, the story is worthy of being amongst the very best Batman stories ever told, the amount of lore and backstory built into the side missions and the ever impressive rouge gallery is enough to make any fan of the franchise weak at the knees. In a world where good superhero games were few and far between, Batman: Arkham City was a shining light in the darkness and almost certainly had a lot of influence on the next game on this list…
Just when Batman and DC thought they ruled the superhero gaming universe, along came PS4 exclusive – Marvel’s Spider-Man to knock the bat off his throne! Well I say that, but in truth I’ve been sat here for the better part of half an hour debating to myself which is better because let’s be honest, they’re both bloody brilliant. Just as the Arkham games absolutely nailed giving you the feeling of being Batman, Insomniac managed to do exactly the same with everyone’s favourite webslinger. The combat admittedly takes a lot from the Arkham games, especially in the stealth department, but it’s Spider-Man’s story and its massively fun set pieces that just about pushes it into third place for me. That and the feeling of swinging around an authentic looking Manhattan complete with Avengers Tower is just a feeling of pure joy that Batman just can’t quite match when gliding around the streets of the dark and wonderfully depressing Gotham City. It’s also got some of my favourite voice acting ever and although nobody can touch my beloved Tom Holland for the best ever Peter Parker, this version does a great job at coming in a close second.
Oh Kratos you big beautiful son of a bitch, you very nearly stole the top spot here. I’ve always enjoyed the God of War games so when the 2018 sequel for PS4 was announced I was excited to get my hands on it. As the release date crept closer and some lucky players were able to get early hands on, the talk began turning towards game of the year. I thought this wasn’t a massive surprise given the quality of its predecessors but I was surprised to find that this wasn’t just another great hack n’ slash revolving around Greek mythology, this was a god damned Norse inspired masterpiece. The combat was so much tighter, so much more exciting and the addition of the Axe that worked much like Thor’s hammer with the ability to throw it and call it back whilst beating the living hell out of your enemies was nothing short of thrilling. It made the previous God of War games, which I’d previously seen as near untouchable classics, feel like cheap knock off’s in comparison. It wasn’t just the exciting combat which made this amazing, it was the emotional story and grand locations which gave me the feeling I was on a larger than life adventure. The relationship between Kratos and his son Atreus is the beating heart of this tale and both are voice acted to utter perfection, there really wasn’t a single second of this game that fell below a 10/10 and the fact the entire game is shown through one single camera angle from start to finish is simply outstanding. I’ll never ever forget my time with God of War and in any other decade, this would take top spot.
Before we hit the number one entry on this list, I need to give a shout out to some honourable mentions. As I said above, God of War 3 was the king of the old hack n’ slash before being out-shined by its 2018 sequel. Arkham Knight may have been sat in City’s spot if it wasn’t for those damn Batmobile missions and Until Dawn was another narrative driven game (this time with cheesy teen horror) that was right up my street. What remains of Edith Finch tugged at my heart strings and in truth would be sat in the number 11 spot if I allowed myself to have one. I loved the crazy end to Bioshock Infinite, had a blast with Uncharted 3 and even though I often moan about it, I can’t deny the technical achievement that was Red Dead Redemption 2. I’d also regret it if I didn’t bring up my favourite indy game of the decade – Undertale, something that I usually wouldn’t care for but absolutely took me by storm as did Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and A Plague Tale: Innocence, two indy-like games with AAA presentations that I really loved. Also having just completed the wonderful Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, I feel that deserves a shout and may well have made it onto this list if it didn’t take its best bits from so many other games that had come before and had a few annoying bugs along the way. Also let’s be honest, it’s still a bit too fresh in the memory to be judged fairly. Right then, let’s finish this thing!
If you’ve read a few of my articles before, watched any of my videos or listened to a podcast then you won’t even be slightly surprised to see The Last of Us snatch the number one spot. The Last of Us was the first game to feel more than that, to transcend video games and become an experience that will stick with me until the day I finally kick the bucket. I’ll never forget my first playhtrough of Naughty Dog’s classic, the emotion I felt from beginning to end, the attachment I had to these wonderful characters and way the near perfect, easy to use mechanics had me glued to my controller. By the time credits rolled I was a mixed bag of emotions because of what I’d just been through. Some may not understand why I feel this way and truth be told, I don’t either, but being so invested in every second made every moment stick with me. I loved the small character interactions between Joel and Ellie (take a bow Troy Baker & Ashley Johnson) and even on a recent playthrough, still found myself hanging on every word.
There’s a part of the game where you’re walking through the post apocalyptic streets and Ellie sees a poster of a slim underwear model, confused she asks Joel why the woman is so skinny when food was never a problem back in those days… It’s dialogue like that which makes these people feel so real and quite frankly is the reason I play video games, I want to lose myself in these worlds. The Last of Us’ prologue is still my favourite ever opening to any video game bar none and one quick Google search of The Last of Us will reveal many YouTube videos of fans getting people who don’t usually play video games to at least play this opening. Partly to see their raw emotional reaction but also because its something that everyone should experience. I could go on forever but I wont, take a bow TLOU, you deserve this. Roll on the next decade for The Last of Us Part 2!
Thank you all for reading and here’s to another decade of absolute classics. Make sure to let me know your top 10 and make sure to keep an eye right here on Respawning for more end of decade content.Become a Patron!