The 2000s saw some of the biggest changes in gaming, with the industry being fully into the 3D world by the time the new millennium rolled around. Games continued to get larger and better looking as time went on, with the decade serving as a middle ground from the 2D era of the 80s and 90s, and the modern style of gaming we see today. Here are the best games by year throughout the 2000s.
The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
Following the release and success of Ocarina of Time in 1998, the team was tasked with developing a brand new adventure in just one year. The result was Majora’s Mask which, while the game asset flips a lot of Ocarina of Time, is one of the most interesting and unique games in the series. It is a game that you will either love or hate, and it still confuses me today, but it is a fantastic game that is worth trying. Honorable mentions include Counter-Strike, Deus Ex, Diablo 2, Jet Set Radio, The Sims, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.
Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
The PS2 finally allowed Rockstar Games to bring the GTA series into the 3D age with GTA 3, which set the stage for all of the future titles. Seeing the series come to 3D was incredible at the time and there was nothing really like it. There were games like it, such as Driver, but nothing came close to what GTA 3 was able to achieve. Honorable mentions include Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy X, Halo: Combat Evolved, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Silent Hill 2, and Super Smash Bros Melee.
Resident Evil Remake (2002)
Nintendo has always been known for their more family friend consoles and games, but that changed with the Gamecube as they put a focus on more adult titles, one of those being the Resident Evil Remake. The power of the next-gen hardware allowed Capcom to make the game they always wanted to but weren’t able to in 1996. Even today, the original version of the remake still holds up well thanks to its beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds that are among the best ever created in a video game. Honorable mentions include The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Metroid Prime.
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic (2003)
2003’s Knights of the Old Republic gave us the Star Wars game that we’d always dreamt of having, an RPG game in the universe that sees the player become a Jedi and wield a lightsaber. The series has become one of the most beloved in gaming, with a remake currently in the works, and the mechanics were carried over to future series’ such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Honorable mentions include Beyond Good & Evil, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
San Andreas is often regarded as the best in the GTA series, with it being the final game in the PS2-era trilogy. Over the course of the PS2’s lifecycle, the series went from strength to strength, concluding with San Andreas in 2004. Even today, the game remains one of the most popular in the series and is still remembered fondly by fans. Honorable mentions include Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and World of Warcraft.
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
The influence that Resident Evil 4 has had on the gaming industry can’t be understated. Released in 2005, Resident Evil 4 popularized many mechanics that would become standard in action games ever since, including Quick Time Events and over-the-shoulder gameplay. While not a traditional Resident Evil game, it is an incredible action game that’s legacy is still felt today. Honorable mentions include God of War, Guitar Hero, and Shadow of the Colossus.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
The Elder Scrolls series is one of the most popular open-world RPG series’, with Oblivion being an early title on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Oblivion is often regarded as the best in the series, with many fans still going back to it today. Honorable mentions include Gears of War, Hitman: Blood Money, and Wii Sports.
Halo 3 (2007)
Many gamers have fond memories of the Xbox 360 and PS3 era in the mid-2000s, with Halo 3 being one of the key titles that FPS fans were playing during this time. Halo 3’s campaign is arguably the best in the series, and its multiplayer is even better and is the pinnacle of the Halo franchise. It would also serve as one of the final games in the series to be created by Bungie before it was taken over by 343 Industries. Honorable mentions include Bioshock, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Mass Effect, Portal, and Super Mario Galaxy.
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
GTA 4 was released in 2008 as the first game in the series for the seventh generation of consoles. The graphical and gameplay difference between the previous entry, San Andreas, and GTA 4 is very noticeable, with the game going on to become the third highest-ranking game on Metacritic. Honorable mentions include Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Metal Gear Solid 4, Persona 4, and Street Fighter 4.
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
With only a few exceptions, when video games and superheroes come together the results usually aren’t that fantastic. This all changed with the Batman Arkham series, which began with Arkham Asylum, which showed what could be done with a superhero license if the right developers were at the helm. Arkham Asylum is one of the best gaming experiences on the PS3 and Xbox 360, with very solid fighting and gameplay mechanics, as well as a very engaging story featuring the Joker. This is one of the most fun experiences you can have with the systems, only topped by its sequel in 2011, Arkham City. Whether you like superheroes or not, this is a must-play series. Honorable mentions include Assassin’s Creed 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.