All right, everybody, we've entered the second half of our list and the competition is heating up considerably. There's been a lot of cheering, jeering, and head-scratching so far, but I like to think that these articles have told us a lot about you, the readers, and the games you like to play. Let's find out a bit more!
50. Mario Kart 64
The Nintendo 64 was known for its multiplayer: ask almost anyone, and among their fondest memories of the system will be the ability to sit down with three other people, fire up a game, and play together for hours at a time. Mario Kart 64 is important in that it exemplified this idea first, and was in many ways the best get-together game on the system. Everyone remembers playing Battle Mode in Block Fort, or those accursed moles tripping players up on Moo Moo Farm. Perhaps the game's greatest legacy is that, even after twelve years and four new iterations in the series, you can still find people in dormitories pulling out the N64 to play a round. Mario Kart 64 is a game about staying power. For many, there's nothing else quite like it.
Platforms: Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii Virtual Console
49. Gran Turismo 4
Fans of racing games wage turf wars about which series reigns supreme, but one voice rings clear and loud like very few others: people love Gran Turismo. Love it, love it, love it. It may be the strict (even slavish) adherence to model detail, one of the most advanced physics models in the genre, or the sheer and varied selection of vehicles that you can choose from, but our community loves these games. Gran Turismo 4 in particular is known for its sheer size, boasting more cars than a reasonable person would count from more manufacturers than this writer knew existed.
Platform: Playstation 2
48. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
There is almost no end to what can be written about the fourth game in the Elder Scrolls saga. It has practically defined the generation during which it was released, at least in terms of what can be expected of games which boast an open world. Oblivion is game in which one may literally do anything in several senses. In the first place, the game is an open world like no other: you may go anywhere and do anything, without or without direction as you see fit. There is almost no end to the number of things you can see or do or explore, and the way the game's AI interacts with itself often leads to complex and sometimes bizarre situations. As much as the game itself, though, the love for Oblivion is built around its mod community: people have taken Oblivion's toolset and used it to create hundreds of new possibilities and quests which serve to expand the game far beyond its previous boundaries, which were already wide or even nebulous. In Oblivion it's possible that you could wander away from the main quest, disappear into the woods or the mountains, and then never come back. This idea is what draws people to it, what has made it so well-loved.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
47. Tales of Symphonia
Tales of Symphonia was a sort of perfect storm when it was released. At the time it originally came out, the Gamecube audience was starved for RPG experiences, anime in North America was more popular than ever before, and Tales of Symphonia provided easily recognizable voice actors from some of the most popular cartoon shows of the time. Combine these elements with a solid action-based battle system and the option for co-op play, and it's easy to see why Tales of Symphonia remains so popular among the people who played it. Cited for its strong characterization and exemplary voice acting, Tales of Symphonia was the biggest and most popular game in the franchise's history and continues to hold that title to this day. This game holds a very special place in a lot of fan's hearts, one that is not easily relinquished, and that has placed it a mark above its peers.
Platforms: Nintendo Gamecube, Playstation 2
46. Super Mario Kart
If you didn't see this one coming after how its sequel placed, I don't know what to tell you. Super Mario Kart is the first game in its series and still regarded by many fans as being the height of all Mario Kart. It's easy to see why, too: Super Mario kart took an idea as simple as Mario and friends riding in go-karts and from that concept forged a legacy that has lasted to this day, with every Mario Kart thereafter selling millions and millions of copies. You want the GP mode, the battle mode, the bananas and shells and Bowser driving along in a kart smaller than he is? You want the game that is responsible for the kart racing genre as it exists today, the game responsible for a franchise that is its own cottage industry? Look no further. Super Mario Kart is a titan for the affect that it has had on the industry after its release, both in terms of development and how its mark is printed indelibly on the minds of the people who played it.
Platform: Super Nintendo
45. Deus Ex
People enjoy cyberpunk; that's a fact of life. People also enjoys RPGs, as our list has shown so far. They enjoy shooters, too. Sometimes, people want a game that could combine all of these lovely elements into a single product with a simple and unified vision. Deus Ex delivered on that concept, and has carved out its own legend ever since. Deus Ex gave you control over your character and his abilities in a way that few other games did, allowing you to set down the parameters for what he could and could not do and then going wild within them, offering a tremendous degree of freedom in defining yourself in the context of the narrative. Beyond that, though, this freedom was combined with an intensely focused and thoughtful plot, entrenching players in a world of mystery and conspiracy and violence, where all the secrets in the world seemed to unravel, one after the other. Deus Ex is remembered for the way that it blended and transcended genres in a way no other game had done before and few (if any) games have done since, standing solid in each aspect that it meant to represent. People still speak of it fondly, and for good reason: in many ways, the game still has not been matched.
Platform: PC, Playstation 2
44. Halo 3
I think it fair to say that players everywhere were ready to finish the fight for a long, long time. Halo 3 was the center of the kind of media buzz and attention that games only get once a generation, with an ad budget bigger than some Hollywood blockbusters and expectations so high that scientists used them as an anchor for the world's first space elevator. But what did it come to? Well, quite a lot, actually. Halo 3 had one of the most explosive launches in the history of the medium and has remained consistently popular to this day, still selling in stunning quantities and on the road to selling over ten million units. Some might ask: how did it do it? The answer is simpler than the question: this game is everything that Halo fans ever wanted. It deals with a scale that other shooters only dream about, it has a competitive online community larger than some countries, remains the most eminently played and playable shooter of the generation so far, and its fans have made sure their friends know it. It brought to the table everything that Halo fans could want: an explosive finale, four-player online co-op, rebalanced multiplayer, and more of the gameplay that fans had come to expect and adore. Many are divided on whether or not it's a good shooter in the same way that other shooters are, but millions and millions of people have agreed that the experience it delivers is incomparable, worthy of a culture all its own. Halo 3 is the culmination of everything that Halo stands for, tremendous and terrifying and weirdly beautiful, and if the past is any indication, people will continue to love it and play it in huge numbers for years to come.
Platform: Xbox 360
When you talk about games that changed gaming and the way people look at genre boundaries, it's hard not to mention Half-Life. In 1998 developer Valve broke the mould for shooters of the era, releasing a game that was both thoughtful and carefully paced, atmospheric and cerebral, adrenaline-pumping and action-packed, glorious and absolutely terrifying. The story unfolds simply, with no cutscenes and control never wrested totally away from the player, placing him or her firmly in the shoes of Gordon Freeman, probably the personification of faceless heroism. Half-Life came out in the world of Quake and Unreal and said, "This is not enough; we can have more," and more is what players got out of it. Bereft of normal storytelling forms and given an organic, almost seamless world in which to play, Half-Life did things to gamers that no other game had done before, drawing in people who would not have been drawn in by any other experience in the medium. People protected Barney the security guard for as long as they could, and shook their fist at the enigmatic G-man, and wondered at the kind of horrors that could be lurking beneath the whirling blades of a ventilation shaft. In a game where the entire world was hostile, where the environment itself would mobilize to eradicate you, people found themselves incredibly alone, and in that loneliness they formed bonds that would be burned into their memories. Of course, the mod community had a lot to do with the power of this game - without Half-Life we wouldn't have Counter Strike, and then where would we be?
Platforms: PC, Playstation 2
42. Donkey Kong Country
Mario, meet your match. Donkey Kong Country did two very important things at the time of its release: first, it managed to establish the Super Nintendo as a powerhouse of a system, pushing graphics that the more powerful systems of the time could only match. Secondly, it took a property that hadn't been particularly relevant for years and made it into the silicon incarnation of simian awesomeness. In making Donkey Kong Country, Rare took solid platforming elements and combined it with the kind of collecting potential that gave birth to obsessive compulsive tendencies in many, many people. Introducing a colorful cast of characters (this is where we get Diddy Kong from, for those of you not in the know) and making them essential to the gameplay, Donkey Kong Country made great leaps in terms of what people expected from Nintendo consoles and from platforming games in general. To this day, no other Donkey Kong game has commanded the same kind of respect or the same kind of financial returns, and that is probably the most profound statement about its legacy.
Platforms: Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance, Wii Virtual COnsole
41. God of War II
God of War II is a game that goes a long way toward the obsolescence of expository writing: no amount of waxing eloquent can capture the sheer visceral absurdity that this series has come to stand for in the space of only three games. God of War II, the second major game in the franchise, took every single element from its predecessor and built on it as far as the Playstation 2's hardware would allow the game to go. The first level is comparable to the finales of some very exciting games, and it never lets up from there, ramping up the adrenaline levels and the excitement quotient until it becomes a matter of sensory overload. After killing Ares, the previous god of war, our hero Kratos finds himself feeling very bored and very violent, and for his proclivities toward killing on an enormous scale he is struck down by Zeus. Instead of accepting the inevitability of fate, Kratos decides to crawl up out of Hades (again) and tear down the very foundations of the mythology in which he has been placed, changing the very weave of the Fates so as to change the outcome of his own story. The world-changing violence in this idea is actually outclassed, at every opportunity, by the violence which the player can partake in during the game's myriad and varied battles. If the first God of War was a theory of game design taken to its logical extreme, God of War II is an attempt to push past that extreme, to carve out a place in gaming history by force rather than by finesse. The most wonderful thing about it? God of War has succeeded in this aim, and the love of its players reflects that.
Platform: Playstation 2
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The VGC Top 100 Best Games of All Time is based entirely on votes by our members. The source for the list can be found here . Only games released before January 1st 2009 are included.