25. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Bethesda Softworks, PS3/360
Just as the next generation was finding its feet, Oblivion launched with an immersive fantasy universe unlike any other. Expanding on the themes presented by Morrowind; Cyrodiil’s gorgeous forests and living and breathing cities were a testament to the power of the new systems. Oblivion was the first game that made us dream big about the possibilities of thriving open worlds.
Gamers were desperate for fresh ideas to be injected into the generation, and DICE answered with Mirror’s Edge, a brand new IP with a bold vision. Abandoning the shooting antics of Battlefield, DICE created a fluid first-person action game that relied on parkour to deliver thrills, and nothing has come close to replicating the experience.
Nintendo, Nintendo Wii
While no one was under any illusion that Super Mario Galaxy would reinvent the platformer, it’s a testament to the matchless originality of Nintendo that it came so close. And what an audacious gamble Galaxy was: launching its enduring mascot into a bold new world where every level dared to rewrite the rulebook. It proved that when it came to ingenuity, execution and just plain fun, Mario still reigns supreme.
Kojima Productions, PSP
The PSP was always promised it could bring the power of the PlayStation 2 to gamers’ hands, and nothing came as close to realising this vision as Hideo Kojima’s Peace Walker. Pushing the power of the hardware, while still delivering an incredibly rich and vibrant entry into the Metal Gear franchise, Peace Walker is a victory for storytelling on handheld consoles.
21. Grand Theft Auto IV
Rockstar North, PS3/360
Grand Theft Auto has traditionally tackled difficult subjects, but GTA IV took it one step further with Niko Bellic’s rags-to-rags story. Perhaps the most focussed narrative to grace an open-world game, it came across a little dry for certain fans, but its portrayal of Liberty City as a New York analogue is absurdly generous in detail.
Rockstar North, PS3/360
Comprised of The Lost And The Damned and The Ballad Of Gay Tony, the Episodes From Liberty City showcased a world beyond what we have come to expect from DLC. The expansions opened up the world of Liberty City and injected the humour back into the playground that was sometimes absent from GTA IV.