AATG Readers' Games: 10-1

   24/05/2007 at 23:38       Joe Bennett       50 COMMENTS.
At this stage I know you don't care about intros and just want to see what eventually finished up as number one in the 'AATG Top 100' but I would urge you to read through this list in order and keep the suspense building for just that little bit longer. It'll be worth it in the end I'm sure.

Today we kick off with an absolute classic and one that shouldn't need any introduction...



Platforms: Acorn/Amiga/BBC Micro/C64/PC

Developer: David Braben and Ian Bell

Released: 1984

The second oldest game in the Top 100 and an absolute classic, Elite surely had to be another tip for the top before this was published.

In fact this received more votes as your favourite game of all time than any other game in the Top 100, other than the eventual winner. It also received a lot of praise from you along the way. eviltobz wrote:

Why is this my number one? Look at the title. It's Elite, E-f***ing-lite. Everything else pales in comparison to Elite. My other choices are just like waaaaaaaay below it.

Then there was FlexibleFeline who said:

The gameplay blueprint for so many games - buy, sell, equip, kill, rinse repeat - that has possibly never been bettered. And they say there was a planet called Arse.

That last bit I can confirm isn't true as Braben and Bell discovered it and removed it before the game was released, although there was a planet called "Rear".

Elite also spawned two sequels, both of which were riddled with bugs and caused frustration amongst fans. I remember the backlash of Frontier: Elite 2 from when I worked in the shop. It was the best selling game we'd sold to that date and we stocked up heavily on them...then they started coming back. Loyal customers complained about the bugs (and remember, this was before the days of readily available downloadable patches that we have now) and we ended up having to refund their money. In the end we ended up with quite a lot in stock as word got out about the bugs and we still had stock when I left the shop nearly three years later.

But let's not sully the name of Elite with talk of its sequels. Let's remember what it did well, how it ruined so many people's education and eventually led to many people rubbing the letters off of their Spectrum keyboards.

Eight galaxies (although it was originally going to be 282,000,000,000,000 galaxies, thankfully they saw sense) containing 256 planets each; trading; piracy; military missions'; asteroid mining; ship upgrades; bounty hunting; the list goes on and on.

There were issues such as being able to get stranded by some planets being seven light years away (the maximum fuel capacity) from their nearest neighbour and not having a fuel station to fill up on. There were also some more comical errors, such as the inhabitants of certain planets. As the inhabitants were generated from an adjective list and a noun list you could end up with some hilarious inhabitants such as "edible arts graduates".

It may also be hard to imagine it, now for those not old enough to be there when this first came out, but the wire-frame graphics were also state-of-the-art those days and had people staring at the screen in awe. But that was Elite all over, it left you in awe every time you played it and so few games have been able to do that over the years. Mr Braben and Mr Bell, we salute you!


Street Fighter II

Platforms: Everything

Developer: Capcom

Released: 1992

There were so many different versions of Street Fighter II and you managed to vote for them all, but whichever version you played it came to the same end result; it was the best multiplayer beat-em-up of its day.

I know there were quite a lot of differences between all of the versions but at the end of the day I thought it best to amalgamate all of the votes into one entry and I'm sure no one will have too many complaints with that.

Street Fighter II was the reason why most kids I knew bought a SNES. The graphics were almost arcade quality and the gameplay was utterly superb. It cost £69.99 new but it still sold by the bucket-load and still does to this day.

It's hard to think that any of us reading this don't own a copy of Street Fighter II in one guise or another. It's wheeled out for almost every retro pack that Capcom produce these days. It even has its own dedicated retro compilation pack called 'Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition' (Capcom love their short, snappy names). It's available to buy for almost every system out there at the moment and I must admit that it is starting to get a little tedious to see its name crop up so many times on so many different platforms. But Capcom aren't silly and they know that the name 'Street Fighter II' brings with it the reassurance that if every other game in the compilation turns out to be cack, you'll still have one utterly playable game for the entry price.

As mal put it succinctly:

The ultimate 2d fighter technically, and it just oozes style and attitude like only late 90s Capcom fighters know how.

Responsible for many blisters in the Bennett household, the control scheme has lived on and is why we have such deep and rewarding beat-em-ups in this day and age. Would we have had Virtua Fighter or Soul Calibur without Street Fighter 2? Arguably not and for that alone we should be very thankful for it! HADOUKEN!



Platforms: PC

Developer: iD Software

Released: 1993

This brings back even more memories of when I was sixteen and working in the oft-mentioned computer shop. In order to sell PC's we always had a game running as a demo to entice people in and despite this at that time being only a Public Domain release, Doom was the chosen one. We had dads arguing with their sons over who's go it was next, people buying new machines just so they could play it and being out of stock of it as soon as we managed to get more in due to its popularity.

Multiplayer was also fun back in the days when playing against someone actually required cables and network settings (and again the hardware required to do so flew off the shelves at an alarming rate).

Sadly the game was inevitably banned from being played in the shop after my boss (cantankerous old fart that he was) decided that me shouting "Die you Bastard...Diiiiieeeeee!" at the screen whilst a customer had stealthily walked in behind me wasn't very customer friendly. I argued that the man had bought the game as a direct result of my profanity but he wouldn't have any of it.

Doom revolutionised the FPS genre (yes Wolfenstein was there first and is very similar but Doom offered so much more) and is still bloody good fun today. The AI is woefully lacking (backing away from enemies and side-strafing whilst firing maniacally is all that is required) and the level designs aren't exactly varied, but it's still just so much fun running around with the shotgun filling hells finest with lead...just don't tell The Daily Mail!

Surprisingly Doom II only received two votes and didn't feature anywhere near the Top 100.


Metal Gear Solid

Platform: PS1

Developer: Konami

Released: 1999

While some developers try to shoehorn cinematic sequences in-between the action, Kojima likes to shoehorn action in-between the cinematic sequences.

Oh I'm only joking, settle down you narcy buggers.

Metal Gear Solid was a landmark game that brought stealth to the masses. Who'd have thought sneaking around could be as much, if not more fun than running around all guns blazing. The beauty of Metal Gear Solid though was you could play it either way, although a mix of both was the easiest and most rewarding way to play it.

Olly was one of you who voted this as his number one game and said:

This is my all time favourite game, at the time it was a graphical delight, few ps1 games ever came close to it. The Voice acting was a real winner too and that, along with strong characters in many ways made the game and set a standard for games like Splinter cell, Syphon Filter and the Hitman series to follow.

The gameplay had new conventional ideas too, like the genius of Psycho Mantis being able to read your mind (basically he read what button you pressed); you actually had to switch your controller to the other port to beat him and at the time this was astounding.

Perhaps no other series has ever split opinion like Metal Gear (although it could be closely rivalled by Splinter Cell in those stakes), with some loving the direction of Hideo Kojima and others claiming it to be pretentious and over-the-top.

The story and constant codec sequences of the latter games did grate me, but for me this is the pinnacle of the series and was an absolute joy to play. Snaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake!


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Platform: N64

Developer: Nintendo

Released: 1998

This is another one of those games that deserves the title 'Classic' and is considered by almost every videogame critic ever as being one of the greatest games ever made. You really can't argue with it as it sits at the top of Metacritic's highest ranked games with a...wait for it...whopping 99/100 average score. That is phenomenal (do dooo do do doo)! If you disagree with that you're clearly in such a microscopic minority that I would advise you to keep quiet for your own sake.

As Espad said: everything was amazing about this, the atmosphere of the day/night cycle, riding your pony around the fields, the great dungeons, the inventive boss battles, I could go on...

Unfortunately he didn't so it's now over to Kay to eulogise:

What more can be said about this title? Even Twilight Princess, its spiritual successor, couldn't better it after eight years. The whole game design in general is polished to perfection, everything is in the right place and even now, after three full play-throughs, I

really can't think of any major flaws. But more than that, it was also chock-full of memorable moments, locations and characters. The storyline was also rather great, and the variety and range of classic

dungeons have yet to be bettered in any other Zelda title. Needless to say it's the definitive version of one of the greatest series of all time.

From your trusty steed Epona to the superb visuals (for the day), the engrossing storyline, the vast dungeons and the interesting characters, Ocarina of Time simply had it all and still does for many of you reading. The fact that at least two of the following games finished higher is perhaps going to start a war!


Pro Evolution Soccer 3-5

Platform: PS2/XBOX/PC/XBOX360

Developer: Konami

Released: 2003

Yes that's right, no one voted for the latest version of Pro Evolution Soccer 6! Perhaps more people shared my opinion than I originally thought when I reviewed the game!

But despite the fact that it's now stepping ever so close to the "wafer-thin on improvements EA yearly update" style of production, PES is still one hell of a game.

No other football game had come close to feeling like the 'beautiful game' until PES came along and as a result its even had a positive effect on the FIFA series as EA have realised that they are now the ones in the uncomfortable position of playing catch-up. There are annoyances, such as a poor career mode (Master League), some strange AI (why do my men run out of the box when I'm trying to take a free kick?), the fact that Thierry Henry with the ball is slower than Sol Campbell without and it does have the REALLY F***ING IRRITATING SUPER CANCEL (why exactly is having to press two buttons to stop someone doing something you haven't asked them to do super?) but it's still a lot of fun.

Coming back from 4-0 down and scoring four goals in the last ten minutes, taking it into extra time, taking the lead, having them draw level and then eventually winning on penalties is one of those gaming moments I just won't forget (true story, hello Olly). As is scoring a perfect counter-attacking goal after you're opposition have just hit the post.

I've only lost four times (count them, that's four times) in what I would estimate to be around 300 matches against human opposition and it's the only game I've played where losing is actually as enjoyable as winning, as it just urges you on to play them again and exact revenge on them.

It's not the perfect game and despite how much I enjoy it I would argue that there are probably at least fifteen games in this list that are actually better "games" as a whole package. You generally agreed with this as well as the majority of the votes for PES were outside of the Top 5. But so many people voted for this that the sheer number of votes got it here. It actually received more votes than any other game in the Top 100, including the game that finished top such is its universal appeal. But (thankfully) it missed out on the top spot by not getting the all-important Top 5 votes.


HALO: Combat Evolved

Platform: XBOX/PC

Developer: Bungie Studios

Released: 2002

Oh dear god I really don't want to talk about this. I know you're not going to be happy with the 4th spot but you voted for this bloody thing and I'm going to come out right now and say that whilst I don't think it's the 4th best game ever made, it's a darn site better than what a lot of you give it credit for.

As someone said who didn't leave their name in their email:

Love it or hate it this game was a masterpiece. It was the first console FPS that even got pc gamers attention. Yes GoldenEye had a similar effect, but the sheer magnitude of what the player could do in Halo was original. It brought Co-op gaming to a new level, the use of vehicles and guns with amazing special effects earned the game rave reviews. It was the game that saved the XBOX, and was a hammer blow to the Quake and Unreal Tournament games. The 4 player multiplayer was unmatched by anything on a console, and is only surpassed by Halo 2.

Now perhaps the fact that they didn't quote their name is fairly telling, they were probably scared that you were going to lynch them for saying such positive things. But the fact is that an awful lot of you voted for this and the vast majority of the votes made were in the Top 5.

Whether it was the utterly superb single-player experience (apart from 'The Library'), the frantic multiplayer or running around putting sticky plasma grenades on Grunts and sitting back whilst they ran around with their arms flailing around screaming until they blew up and hit the ground with a satisfying thud (expect to see that in the Daily Mail sometime soon when the next loony ends up killing someone) a lot of you seemed to like it and I'm sure there were some closet HALO lovers in there that have previously slated the game.

HALO received much critical acclaim on its release, with an average score of 97% on Metacritic and is one of only a handful of games to achieve a 10/10 from Edge. Despite that people have loved to knock it and it has caused more Internet fanboyism and rage than any other game I've ever seen.

Interestingly HALO 2 didn't receive one vote. Perhaps not surprising in one sense as the single-player game was a step back from the original in many respects, but the multiplayer aspect and Live play I thought would have been strong enough to earn it at least a few votes.

HALO may not have turned the genre on its head but it did so many things well that as a console shooter, I find it hard to fault the game.


Final Fantasy VII

Platform: PS1

Developer: Square Enix

Released: 1997

Did you know that if you press X twice on the title screen, press Square four times, then press X again, put the controller down, face east and do the Macarena whilst playing the song 'Time warp' in reverse, pick the controller back up, unplug it, plug it back in, turn the volume up to eleven and then shout "I'M SPARTACUS!!!!" that Aeris still bloody dies?????

Final Fantasy VII has surely got to be infamous by now for the many "cheats" floating about the Internet that claimed that you could prevent Aeris from dying by doing all sorts of ridiculous button combinations. I've never worked out why you'd want to keep her alive anyway, stupid little bint that she was.

But then (and I'll whisper this bit) I never really liked FFVII that much anyway. I only got to play it two years ago and I'm sure my opinion is therefore slightly distorted but it just didn't grab me like I thought it would. I finished it, but I only did so in the end as I kept expecting it to get better and by the time I realised it wasn't going to, I'd already put so much time into it that I thought I might as well see the end. I know I'm in the minority of course, coming third makes that clear and it features highly very regularly in other sites Top 100's but it just didn't do it for me.

So over to someone who's boat it did float, James Richards:

FFVII is quite simply, the best game ever. The storyline is deep and immersive, and you are almost instantaneously sucked into a beautiful world with loveable characters from every direction. As the storyline progresses, you begin to associate more and more with the game's lead character, and I don't think I've ever been more drawn in to a particular character's psyche. After only a few hours of gameplay, I found myself actually becoming genuinely concerned and needing to find out what was happening. Essentially, the game became my life.

The battles are intense, and incredible amounts of strategy are needed to get anywhere in the game, it's not for the soft core. This game really does just get everything absolutely perfect, from the whimsical dialogue between characters, to the terrifying bosses, to the breathtaking soundtrack. It's really got it all!

Others have said things such as: The pinnacle Final Fantasy and maybe the greatest RPG of all time; message boards devoted to the game are still flooded with new posts every day. With memorable characters such as Cloud and Sephiroth who even now still make cameo appearances in other games, and a seducing story line that like a book you couldn't put down, this is a game that will never be forgotten, and a PS3 remake is rumoured.

And quite worryingly:

If I could have sex with one game FFVII would be it. I know it would last for hours and be absolutely sensational throughout.

I'm not quite sure I'd get on with turn-based sex to be honest. Erm...I'm off for a shower, I feel grubby!



Platform: PS2

Developer: Team ICO

Released: 2002

The leader of the pack for the first nine days, then replaced by FFVII for a couple of days only to go back up and then be voted off of the top spot with the last three votes of the final day, ICO so nearly made it to the top of the pile. And how I wish it did!

ICO is my favourite game of all time! I loved Yorda as the hapless heroine, I wanted to keep her safe and give her a big cyber-cuddle. Ico was a real gentleman, always holding her by the hand trying to keep her as safe as he possibly could. Beating up shadows, traversing deadly terrain, blowing things up, leaping chasms, all in the name of escaping and taking Yorda with him. I really felt for the characters, even though it was the environment that ended up stealing the show.

Visually it is something that for me has never been bettered. Yes there are more impressive looking games, but this had more than impressive visuals, this truly was gaming art at its finest. The crumbling walls, the oppressively bleak yet gorgeous surroundings, the animation and the sheer depth of detail were all just absolutely astonishing. The fact that they got all of this out of the limited PS2 hardware means that no matter what any future console throws at me I really don't think I'll ever be this impressed by visuals again.

ICO leaves me lost for words, and I truly mean that. There's so much that I want to say but finding the right words to say it is so hard. Others who voted for ICO seemed to have the same issue as New York could only say:

Ico never tells you what to do. You already know. It just feels right.

Anyone that know's New York will tell you that him being lost for words is a rare thing indeed.

Then eviltobz could only say:

it's an artistic masterpiece

It seems that apart from a very small minority, whoever plays ICO only has positive things to say about it. But then complaining about anything in ICO is like sleeping with Elisha Cuthbert and then complaining that you had a pube stuck between your teeth. (Obviously that would never happen though as Elisha would get kidnapped just before you finally got to see her puppies and Kiefer Sutherland would run in, point a gun at your head and shout "ZOMG, I'm Jack Bauer, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY DAUGHTER?"

I do urge you to read WOPR's article on ICO as he sums up nicely what I'm sure a lot of us feel about it. But then I'm still not talking to WOPR as if he had bothered to vote, ICO would have finished top of the 'Top 100'. It was that close in the end. All it needed was one more vote and ICO would have taken the crown. Damn you WOPR and damn all of you that didn't vote for this in your lists. You had me excited for days only to have my dreams trampled on the very last day. In fact I'm stopping here, there is no number one, ICO was number one. :o(

Okay okay, I'll be professional! The winner of the 2007 'AATG Top 100 games of all time' by the narrowest of margins, I give you the seminal...



Platform: PC

Developer: Valve

Released: 1998

Whoa, I was not expecting that. Half-Life made my short-list of potential number one's at the start but it was only there as an outsider. But then should any of us really be surprised in the slightest?

Half-Life gave the FPS genre the kick up the arse it so sorely needed and when it beat another superb and similarly styled game released at almost the same time into submission (System Shock) it just goes to show how utterly fantastic it was. The fact that even new FPS games are still compared to the original Half-Life just adds even more weight to that claim.

Half-Life had the best AI I had ever encountered and FPS games today are still trying to match it. It had one of the most truly memorable single-player experiences and required a lot more brainpower to succeed than any other FPS game I'd ever played.

Viewing the world through Gordon Freeman's eyes brought you even closer to the action. Trundling along in the tram and taking in the scenery while an employee of Black Mesa via the intercom speaks you to was a truly cinematic experience. Walking through the halls, being greeted by other co-workers, I found it all a little surreal. I mean where were my guns? Where were the enemies? Why were people being nice to me? I was then asked to go to the test chamber where I was meant to push a "specimen" into the scanning beam for analysis. It was then when the shit really hit the fan. It went dark, I experienced what I thought were hallucinations and I had the shit scared out of me by some aliens. Then...3...2...1...snap, I was back in the room and all hell had broken loose. Machinery had exploded, people were dead, "things" were crawling about all over the place and all I had was a whacking instrument, not a gun, with which to aid my escape.

But then I found a gun and I felt much more comfortable with my surroundings, I could now blow holes in the heads of these freaks walking towards me. But wait, I see some more humans up ahead! Ah fantastic it's the army and they've come to assist me with my escape, this should make things easier. I came out of cover and start walking towards them when shit they started firing at me. Was I in their line of sight or something? No there was no alien behind me they were actually shooting at me! Why were they doing that? Well sod 'em, if that's what they want then that's what they'll get, have some of that you conniving little scumbags, ha ha, how do you like me n...oh bollocks, they have hand grenades. I gotta get me some of those!

Having no cut-scenes and delivering everything real-time in front of Gordon's eyes was an absolute stroke of genius. Cut-scenes would no doubt have detracted from the realism of it all, whereas being able to move Gordon's head at all times, affecting the sound in the process, just made you feel like you were really there. The NPC's were also full of character and some made you want to save them whilst others got a swift bullet to the head for being arrogant and not wanting to help.

On top of the single-player experience you also had multiplayer that quite frankly blew all over multiplayer FPS' out of the water. With so many mods there was something for everyone. Team Fortress Classic, Day of Defeat, Deathmatch Classic and who could forget Counter-Strike. It's testament to how strong these mods were that both Team Fortress Classic and Counter-Strike were later released as full versions and nearly made it into the Top 100!

Lots of you had plenty to say about Half-Life, for instance Mapster said:

Half-Life made me re-think completely what a game could achieve on an emotional level. It's still fantastically playable today and a truly un-miss able game

Kay had even more to say:

I'd played and enjoyed quite a few PC FPS games, and this seemed just another shinier looking entry into the genre when it was released in 1998, even though it was backed up by a lot of hype and good reviews. It wasn't until I played it a year later, though, that I realised how monumental a game it really was. The wonderfully cinematic opening half hour may have been a bit slow to get going, but all it does is deliberately build up the tension for when the game really begins. It wasn't just a great FPS game, it was also a cracking adventure and one that's still unique amongst the FPS genre. Put simply, it remains the best experience I've ever had with a video game.

But perhaps boabg summed it up best by saying:

If you've played it you don't need a tagline. If you haven't then what's stopping you?

I know I wanted ICO to win but I can't deny Half-Life the top-spot that it so rightfully deserves. It truly was a genre-defining, groundbreaking game that had the gaming world talking about it for years. It's still incredibly playable today and to prove that I'm dusting off my Half-Life Generations box over the weekend and firing it up again as (and I'm ashamed to admit this) I never actually finished it!!

I think after 31,500 words I've deserved some gaming time! I haven't played a game since last Sunday (13th May) since I started writing this and what better way to get back into it again than by playing the game you've chosen to be the best of all time.

So there you go, I hope you've enjoyed it and that it's been worth the effort. I plan to do another article next week detailing some of the games that didn't make it and should have (cough 'Super Metroid' cough), as well as highlighting some games that came close that others may never have heard of before and may like to check out. But for now hopefully you'll excuse me as my wife truly has been neglected, I really haven't sat in my hallowed chair and played a game since last Sunday, my arse is sore due to only having an uncomfortable chair to sit on at the table and I'm bored of typing!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote, I really do appreciate it!

The full rundown:

100 Baldur's Gate
99 Shadowrun
98 Perfect Dark
97 Double Dragon
96 Star Wars: Tie Fighter
95 Super Monkey Ball/2
94 Bomberman
93 Disgaea
92 Starcraft
91 Total Annihilation
90 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
89 SSX 3
88 Final Fantasy IX
87 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
86 Amplitude
85 Indiana Jones & The Fate of Atlantis
84 Project Gotham Racing 2
83 Beyond Good & Evil
82 Silent Hill 2
81 Final Fantasy VIII
80 Tetris
79 Knights of the Old Republic
78 Baldur's Gate II
77 Racing Destruction Set
76 Chuckie Egg
75 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
74 Metal Gear Solid 3
73 Duke Nukem 3D
72 Legend of Zelda: Windwaker
71 Micro Machines
70 Worms
69 Toejam & Earl
68 The Legend of Zelda
67 Football Manager 2006 & 2007
66 God Of War
65 Metroid Prime
64 Fallout
63 Defender
62 Rainbow Islands
61 Tiger Woods 2004/5/6/7
60 Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain
59 Super Mario 3
58 Soul Calibur
57 Sonic
56 System Shock 2
55 Gran Turismo 1 & 2
54 Advance Wars
53 Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
52 Wii Sports
51 Katamari Damacy
50 Chrono Trigger
49 Quake II
48 Final Fantasy VI
47 Sega Rally
46 Streets of Rage II
45 Chromehounds
44 Ninja Gaiden
43 Spiderman 2
42 Prince of Persia - Sands of Time
41 Command & Conquer
40 Final Fantasy XII
39 Monkey Island 2
38 Championship Manager
37 Manic Miner
36 The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
35 Rez
34 World Of Warcraft
33 Final Fantasy X
32 Sonic 2
31 Shadow of the Colussus
30 Shenmue
29 Golden Axe
28 Sensible Soccer
27 Grand Theft Auto 3
26 Tomb Raider
25 Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
24 Super Mario Bros
23 Dune II
22 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
21 Super Mario World
20 Half Life 2
19 Civilization/Civilization 2
18 Guitar Hero
17 Deus Ex
16 Sid Meier's Pirates
15 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
14 Super Mario 64
13 Super Mario Kart
12 Goldeneye
11 Resident Evil 4
10 Elite
9 Street Fighter 2
8 Doom
7 Metal Gear Solid
6 Zelda: Ocarina of Time
5 Pro Evolution Soccer
3 Final Fantasy VII
1 Half Life

AATG Readers' Games: 10-1
AATG Readers' Games: 25-11
AATG Readers' Games: 50-26
AATG Readers' Games: 75-51
AATG Readers' Games: 100-76
User Comments:

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