[Ahead of tomorrow's list of Gamasutra's 'Game Of The Decade', as voted and commented on by hundreds of our readers, we're publishing some of the most-voted on titles that didn't quite make the Top 12 list, from Katamari Damacy to Vagrant Story and beyond.]
Gamasutra has just completed its reader-specific Game Of The Decade vote -- allowing the game professionals reading the site to choose their best game of the last 10 years, with in-depth commentary.
Readers responded to the following question - anonymously, if they wished - naming a game released this
decade for any console, handheld, PC or online platform, and why they
believe it outdid any other:
"Gamasutra is asking its users to vote for their 'Game Of The Decade' -- the video game title that they think was the absolute best of the last ten years, from January 2000 to date. Name the game, and then explain why it mattered to you and what differentiates it from the multitude of others released in the last decade?"
The best responses are being compiled into this two-part article. First up, we're putting together some of the most notable games that didn't make the larger list, both in terms of them just missing the required amount of votes, and those that got particularly compelling write-ups.
Following that, we'll be counting down the Top 12 games of the last ten years (as opposed to a Top 10, thanks to a four-way tie for the game in 8th place on the countdown), including many of your comments that helped the chart end up as it did. Without further ado, here are the honorable mentions for the Game Of The Decade:
This epic PC RPG from the creators of Mass Effect and NeverWinter Nights debuted early in the decade, but it connected with much of our audience thanks to epic size and carefully plotted RPG goodness.
Chris Herborth, Arcane Dragon: "Possibly the best CRPG ever developed, it was the crowning achievement of BioWare's 2D development era. A huge amount of incredibly engaging story (something like 300 hours worth) and character development, it innovated many of the NPC-interaction features that people take for granted these days (like romances)."
Pallav Nawani, IronCode: "It was a role playing experience like none other. I had played some very good games (Nox, Diablo 2, Soulbringer etc) before playing Baldur's Gate 2. But when I started playing BG2, all the other games paled into insignificance. The voice acting was top notch, the writing was tight, the plot absorbing.
"And when you reached Ust Natha, it felt amazingly real. The city of drow was very well imagined and their culture was displayed beautifully by the events that happened there. The combat was so much fun, and the music was great. I still listen to BG2's music now and then. The NPC interactions were beautifully detailed & remain unmatched to this day. And after all that, the ending was suitably epic. No wonder I played this games for 3 months straight... something I never did before, nor after."
The 2K Boston/Australia, Ken Levine-led first-person action game just missed out on a spot in the overall Top 12, and respondents praised its fully functioning, beautifully crafted game world.
Anonymous: "I've never seen such a beautiful art style used so effectively in a game before. Half my time was just spent staring at the beauty of Rapture. In a world with too many goddamned FPS clones.... Bioshock stands out as an FPS that retains fast paced shoot em up gameplay with a brilliant moral narrative, new kinds of AI and a beautiful art style."
Luis Guimarães: "Simply was bored of games from a long time and Bioshock brought the magic back like in the old days of Castlevania SotN and Super Mario World. The game plays well and smooth, is immersive and allows for skill, exploration and clever play."
Criterion's fully formed open-world racing game attracted some notable eloquent fans, thanks to its expansive nature.
Marc Bell, UNSW: "There are very few games that - while performing a task in the world or just exploring for kicks - I will stop and look about and wonder, how the hell does this exist? Games where the comparisons between previous entries in the genre and it are so far apart that I sit and wonder at what I am experiencing. Reflect on how far gaming has come in such a short time.
"Burnout Paradise in one such game. Whether it's speeding down a highway at what seems like light speed weaving in and out of traffic whilst AI cars smash, bounce and swarm like wasps, flipping high off a ledge and careering through a sign sending splinters and poles in all directions. Or doing exactly the same thing down one of any number of other streets because, let's face it, Burnout Paradise isn't about a leisurely drive admiring the scenery. It's all about speed and the thousands of things it throws at you while your eyeballs redden and dry from a lack of blinking.
"But there are times when you can stop and ponder the big questions. Going online and teaming up with people all over the world to complete tasks is by comparison a very relaxed affair. Complete your task and go park up on a ledge under a tree and enjoy the show below as everyone else attempts to finish it as well. Watching such activities is almost like observing a ballet, the participants of metal and tires leaping over and through each other as music plays in the background.
"Burnout Paradise is the game that made me look at games in a different way. It may not have easily taken my vote for the best in the last 10 years, but it certainly wasn't a tough decision either. There simply wasn't any other game that gave me the sense of wonder and bewilderment similar to - before this last decade - the first time I played Test Drive II on the Commodore 64 and slowly began to realise that, wow, haven't we come a damn long way."
Just sneaking into the decade, the all-time classic third-person action title perfected addictive looting and powering up in ways that would be magnified in a certain Blizzard MMO, years later:
Anonymous: "The character class variation, the skill tree depth, and the variety of dropped items made it very VERY replayable... and it had great co-op play, not just PVP."
Baptiste Villain, MonteCristo: "Released in 2000, and now, 10 years after: - still the best hack n slash, the only reference in the genre, - still receiving updates and support, - no single error in any feature of the game."