Any list of the best first-person shooters of all time includes Half-Life 2, and unsurprisingly we'll talk about it later in this list series as well. The franchise started with the original Half-Life, a 1998 PC-exclusive. Given the popularity of the franchise, it is perhaps surprising that it initially had some difficulty getting published. Upon release, however, Half-Life was an overnight success. It was an incredible first-person shooter, first and foremost, but players were also amazed by the graphical presentation and excellent narrative. The game was later ported to the PlayStation 2 as well, bringing its appeal to console audiences and helping push forward the rise of first-person shooters as one of gaming's most dominant genres. One could easily argue that Half-Life is the most influential game in the history of its genre, setting standards that every first-person shooter for the next fifteen years would try to meet.
Half-Life's initial release as a PC-exclusive is readily apparent in the voting patterns: the game received 27 total votes, but 10 of these came from the PC board. The PC board was the third-most active board in the voting, but the 10 votes given to Half-Life still stands as a remarkably large total. 146 total unique users voted on the PC board, meaning that around 7% of the board's voters chose Half-Life as one of their five votes. The game's remaining votes came from a combination of other popular boards, including three from Faceball and two from United Kingdom. 17% of the votes from the Dark Aether private board also voted for the game.
Released in 2001, Silent Hill 2 was one of many games in the early portion of the sixth console generation that started to demonstrate the type of artistic expression that interactive gaming could provide. The original Silent Hill had started this process for the franchise, focusing on psychological horror elements rather than just gruesome visuals, but Silent Hill 2 elevated that approach to an art form. The game favors a highly minimalistic view with no head's up display at all, allowing the player to more actively focus on the events within the game and become engrossed in the story's atmosphere. The game was certainly not for everyone; its themes and story are too mature for many players, both in terms of adult content and in terms of subtle, nuanced touches, but for those that were properly positioned to enjoy it, Silent Hill 2 is one of the all-time greats.
Silent Hill 2 received a significant boost in the voting from its home console as well: the PlayStation 2 board contributed five votes to the game, representing 13% of the users who voted from the board and making it the board's fourth-favorite game. The remainder of its votes came from nineteen different boards, with the big ones – Faceball, GameFAQs Contests, and United Kingdom – each contributing multiple votes. It also received one of the only five votes cast from the Indie Gaming board, as well as one of the 15 cast from the Android board and one of the 25 votes cast by the End of the World board.
The original Devil May Cry, released in 2001, was one of the most acclaimed games for the PlayStation 2 and started a franchise that thrust its protagonist, Dante, into the limelight. That game received fourteen votes in the GameFAQs Top 100, a respectable total but not quite enough to make the actual list. Devil May Cry 3 was the third game released in the franchise, but was actually a prequel to the original chronology, starting in the early days of Dante's career. At its initial release, Devil May Cry 3 was praised, but its difficulty was a concern: Capcom ramped up the difficulty from the Japanese release, making the American release one of the most difficult games in the sixth generation. A follow-up Special Edition was released the following year, lowering the difficulty and rebalancing the mechanics to allow the game's underlying style to show through.
Although Devil May Cry 3 was not as critically acclaimed as its own predecessors, its appearance on this list is owed to wide appeal across multiple boards. It did receive three votes from its console board, with three of the thirty-eight voters from the PlayStation 2 board (8%) choosing it as one of their five games, but it drew the remainder of its 24 votes from a wide cross-section of boards. Faceball provided four votes, roughly on pace with the total votes provided by the board, but the remaining 20 votes were spread across eighteen different boards. It drew attention from several less busy boards as well, including a couple private boards and a couple small social boards.
Released In 2002, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was the second game built on the engine used in the 2001 smash-hit Grand Theft Auto III. The game gave an all-new city to explore starring a new protagonist, Tommy Vercetti. Modeled after Miami, Vice City was even larger than the city in the previous Grand Theft Auto game.The game was the best-selling game of 2002 and one of the best-sellers for the PlayStation 2 of all-time, and essentially solidified Rockstar as the masters of the young sandbox genre. And just to show you how far technology has come: only ten years after its initial release, Vice City was re-released for iOS and Android. A game that pushed the limits of console hardware in 2002 can be played on your cell phone in 2012. Wow.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City jumped into the top 100 largely on a surprisingly skewed voting bloc: the United Kingdom board contributed 8 of the game's 28 votes. The United Kingdom board was one of the busiest boards, contributing 5% of the total votes in the results, but it was responsible for almost 30% of Vice City's votes, an impressively large sum. 8% of voters from the United Kingdom board included Vice City on their list. It's worth remembering also that the United Kingdom board chose Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as their #1 board in their list back in 2011. Beyond that board, the game received the remainder of its 20 votes from fifteen different boards. Nearby Ireland contributed an additional 2 votes, representing 25% of the users from that board, and the social board associated with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas chipped in a vote as well.
During the early part of the Nintendo 64 generation, Rare and Nintendo had one of the strongest partnerships in video game history. Rare developed four of the games in the top 100, all for Nintendo consoles and three for the Nintendo 64. The first of these games that we'll see is Banjo-Kazooie, the 1998 title for the Nintendo 64. Banjo-Kazooie was an original intellectual property, and with it, Rare demonstrated an impressive grasp of the budding 3D platformer genre. Super Mario 64, responsible for nearly creating the genre, was released only two years prior. The game was acclaimed upon release and is regarded as one of the best games of its generation, with both its graphics and its gameplay commanding attention. It generated one immediate sequel, Banjo-Tooie, along with a Game Boy Advance sequel and, later, a lightly-regarded Xbox 360 release after Microsoft's acquisition of Rare.
Banjo-Kazooie drew a single vote from the Nintendo 64 board. Only seven users voted through the Nintendo 64 board, so the number is still non-trivial, but nonetheless Banjo-Kazooie did not receive a significant bump from its console's home board. Instead, it drew wide support from 21 different boards, with only four boards contributing multiple votes. Only Random Insanity contributed a quantity out of line with the total number of votes cast: Random Insanity cast 1% of the total votes, but 10% of Banjo-Kazooie's votes. In case you're curious, Banjo-Kazooie's direct sequel, Banjo-Tooie, received eleven total votes. No other game in the franchise received any votes.
Released in 2012, Kid Icarus: Uprising is one of the most recent releases in the top 100 (although there is a surprising number of newer games in the top 100 as well). A distant sequel to the Kid Icarus franchise from the NES game, Kid Icarus: Uprising was the Nintendo 3DS's first system-seller. The game is something of a genre-bender, combining significant rail shooter segments with more straight-forward action-adventure segments. At times the game also resembles a platformer, and at times it borrows concepts from third-person shooters as well. The game was widely acclaimed for its graphics and gameplay mechanics, although its controls were a repeated point of criticism. Hopefully the game's presence here will also dispel any rumors that I wanted to bias these results in any way, since I, for one, hated the game. Prior to his appearance in Kid Icarus: Uprising, the game's main character, Pit, also made an appearance in 2008's Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Given the recency of the game's release, it is perhaps unsurprising that the game took an enormous portion of its votes from its console's home board. Of Kid Icarus: Uprising's 29 votes, 45% (13 votes) came from the Nintendo 3DS board. 55 users voted from the Nintendo 3DS board, meaning that 24% of the board's voters chose Kid Icarus: Uprising, making it the board's fourth-favorite game. The Nintendo 3DS board was the tenth most-active in the voting, casting 2% of the total votes. Thus, the board being responsible for 45% of Kid Icarus: Uprising's votes is a staggering sum. The board also took a surprising five votes from the Warflame board, itself a surprisingly busy board that cast almost 2% of the total votes. Its remaining 11 votes were spread across 9 different boards.
One of the most popular and recognized games in video game history, Tetris has an interesting past. Originally developed by a programmer in the Soviet Union, ownership and licensing of the franchise has always been subject to significant debate. The game's most popular variation was released in 1989 for the Game Boy (and that is the variation under which I categorize this entry), but the game has been remade and rereleased for nearly every console – and, heck, every electronic device – ever created. The game was among the first to be playable on cell phones, joining Snake all the way back in the Nokia days, and many of us have fond memories of even playing it on our TI-83s back in school. With all these releases, Tetris is said by some to be the best-selling video game of all time, although getting a true number is difficult. Tetris is also the oldest game in the GameFAQs top 100.
It might actually surprise some people that Tetris is all the way down here in 83rd. After all, it was chosen as the second greatest game ever by IGN in 2007, and the greatest ever by Electronic Gaming Monthly. I suspect that this is a function of the voting process in the GameFAQs top 100: everyone agrees that Tetris is one of the greatest games ever, but few would choose it as one of their personal top five games. The 29 votes Tetris did receive came from 22 different boards, with no single board contributing more than four votes to it.
From the old to the new: Batman: Arkham City is one of the newest games in the GameFAQs top 100, with only 13 games on the list coming from the last three years. The sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum, which was already praised as one of the greatest superhero games ever created, Arkham City took the franchise to new (metaphorical and literal) heights. With an open-world setting to rival some of the biggest sandbox games, a cast of characters faithfully drawn out of the Batman mythos, and one of the most amazing voice acting ensembles in video game history, Arkham City was one of the greatest games of the seventh console generation. The follow-up to the game, Batman: Arkham Origins, was a bit of a mess that contributed little to the franchise, but the original developers of Arkham City, Rocksteady, are returning for the franchise's next installment, Batman: Arkham Knight.
In the voting, Batman: Arkham City received a non-trivial bump from its home consoles: the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U boards contributed 4, 3, and 2 votes respectively, representing 9%, 8%, and 10% of the users voting from those boards respectively. None of those boards were Arkham City's biggest supporter, however, as five of its votes came from the Faceball board making up 17% of the game's total votes. That number is notably higher than the total number of votes contributed by the Faceball board, suggesting some actual preference for the game. The remaining sixteen votes came from fourteen different boards, with only two – Current Events and GameFAQs Contests – contributing more than one.
The sequel to 2001's breakout hit Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 had big shoes to fill and high expectations to reach. It was a critical success in its own right, but arguably the most significant contribution of Halo 2 was online multiplayer through Xbox Live. Other games, including Half-Life and the original Halo, had experimented with online multiplayer in the past, but Halo 2 revolutionized the system. Rather than a decentralized approach where individual players would host and advertise games, Halo 2 instead created a system whereby the server itself is responsible for setting up matches and assigning participants, as well as creating a ranking system. Ultimately, this system closely resembles the matchmaking approach used by most online games today, making Halo 2 one of the most influential games in setting the course for online multiplayer.
Halo 2 lost a tie with another prominent first-person shooter for 80th place, which is why it is listed in this list instead of next week's. Although the game was initially released exclusively for the Xbox, it enjoys no significant console favoritism: of the game's 31 votes, none came from the Xbox board itself (which itself only had ten votes), and only three came from boards affiliated with Microsoft consoles: the social boards associated with the Xbox and the Xbox 360, and the main board for the Xbox One. Instead, Halo 2 draws its 31 votes from 22 different boards, with the largest boards – Current Events, GameFAQs Contests, and United Kingdom – representing 10 of those votes together. The RuneScape board tilted significantly toward Halo 2 as well, with 25% of the board's twelve voters choosing the game.
Released in 1997, GoldenEye 007 was arguably the game that put first-person shooters on the map. Other acclaimed games came before it, including Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake, but they all existed in a PC gaming domain that had not yet reached the level of cultural penetration of console gaming. Many of the features that are now considered fundamental to the genre can trace their origins to GoldenEye 007, such as split-screen multiplayer and some new stealth elements. Aside from being influential, GoldenEye 007 was also a success both with reviewers and with players: reviewers gave it almost universally high scores, and players made it the third best-selling game released for the Nintendo 64. It spawned a spiritual successor in the form of Perfect Dark, but we'll talk more about that shortly.
Given its age, it is perhaps unsurprising that GoldenEye 007 drew its votes from a wide variety of sources. The busiest boards gave it a good bit of attention, with Faceball and GameFAQs Contests contributing five votes each, and the United Kingdom added three on. The remaining eighteen votes came from fourteen different boards, with significant representation from some of the smaller regional boards as well: USA South, USA North Central, Central & South America, and Mexico all contributed one vote to GoldenEye 007. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that some votes for the more recent release of GoldenEye 007 were classified under the older game: only one voter specified that they were voting for the recent game, so I figured those votes should all go to the older one.
DDJ's Brief Analysis: This week, we started to see how significant support from one or two boards could thrust a game into the top 100. Kid Icarus: Uprising likely isn't a top 100 game in other polls, but the popularity of the 3DS board here on GameFAQs helped elevate it into the list. We also saw, though, how that isn't always the result of a game's console's board supporting it; Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has no reason to be so favored by the United Kingdom board, and yet here it was, commanding a significant number of votes from that community. This isn't the last time we'll see the United Kingdom board rally behind a particular game, either.
Chart of the Week: Total Votes Cast per Day -- drop by the Top 10 List board to see it!
This week, we're looking at the total votes cast per day of the initial polling process. The polling process ran for 14 days, with a small number of boards receiving the voting topic a day in advance in order to make sure all topics were posted by the end of the first day. The first full day of voting accounted for a massive portion of the total votes cast, with almost 40% of the votes coming in the first 30 hours of polling. The second day accounted for another 20%, meaning that 60% of the votes were cast in the first two full days of voting. The remainder of the voting period held relatively steady at around 400 votes per day, with small bumps on the days when the topics on the biggest boards received topic bumps. By the end of the polling, 10,504 total votes had been cast.
Factoid of the Week: A total of 10,505 votes were cast. 2,148 individual users cast at least one vote. 39 users cast only four votes. 12 cast only three. 7 cast only two. 38 cast only 1. 2,148 total users voted, and thus, 2,052 users cast all five votes available to them.
That's all for this week! Next week's list will be posted Monday on DDJGames.com, and somewhere around then on GameFAQs as well. See you then!
Methodology: From January 25th to January 26th, voting topics were posted on 237 different boards. The majority of these boards had no topicality; however, some boards corresponded to certain systems, genres, or companies. On these boards, users were asked to only vote for games that fit the board's topic and were linked to an alternate board to vote for games that did not fit that board's topic. However, votes on those boards that did not match the board's topic were not excluded. These topics remained open until February 8th. Each topic asked users to vote for their five top games of all time using a structured form. Voters were only permitted to vote for five games total. Users who attempted to vote for more than five games were PMed three times during the voting period to change their vote to only include votes for five games. Each day throughout the project, votes were compiled, and an update on the progress was posted on DDJGames.com. Vote compilation involved multiple routines, including downloading the latest votes, filtering out users who had voted more than five times, changing the names of games to a single accepted name, and filtering out multiple votes for the same game from the same user. All topics were kept alive for the duration of the two weeks, and topics on busier boards were bumped back to the front page regularly. At the conclusion of the voting period, all votes were compiled one final time, and the games were ranked by the total number of votes received. Ties were broken arbitrarily. For the purpose of console listings, games are listed by any consoles on which they were released within one year of their original North American release date; any subsequent console releases are treated separately.
List by DDJ (04/23/2014)
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