Just thought I would post this rather than link as I know some of the articles on The Age you have login to read.
The 50 best games
By Jason Hill
October 6, 2005
Best-of lists are difficult to compile and guaranteed to create controversy. In the realm of interactive entertainment, where every player's experience is unique and technology is constantly improving, the task is even more perilous.
Every title can be a creative masterpiece in its own right, providing countless hours of entertainment.
The interactive industry is only 30 years old but it has evolved from a fledgling hobby with products created by bedroom-based enthusiasts to a $10 billion-a-year entertainment behemoth.
Rapid technological advances have seen electronic games go from primitive two-dimensional reflex tests to sprawling epic adventures with photo-realistic worlds to explore.
Early arcade games were designed to provide a few minutes of frivolous fun for 20 cents a play, but the astonishing complexity and scope of today's games can entrance players for months.
For this list, games have been judged on their entertainment value today rather than their impact when released. Many highly influential games, including Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Command & Conquer, Elite, Pitfall, Street Fighter and Pong are absent.
We have also chosen the best instalment in each series, unless sequels are significantly different. Enjoy.
1. The Sims 2 (PC) Everyone can play this masterpiece differently: the depth and freedom is astonishing. Guiding your endearing digital denizens to health, happiness, fame and fortune can be comical and poignant. Sims age and reproduce, passing on their traits to evolving family dynasties. Creative flexibility lets you mould entire neighbourhoods, construct dream homes and sculpt characters.
2. The Legend of Zelda:Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64) Shigeru Miyamoto's magnum opus is a spellbinding cocktail of wondrous exploration, ingenious puzzles and combat in a beautiful world. The convincing environment is populated by a raft of colourful characters, and there is a huge variety of tasks. An epic to be savoured from the moment Link and his horse first gallop across the screen.
3. Half-Life 2 (PC) An astonishingly realistic and immersive world that envelopes the senses with thrilling cinematic set pieces providing an astonishing spectacle. Exciting shoot-'em-up action is blended with sublime storytelling and convincing characters who exhibit emotional depth. A technical triumph.
4. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64) A decade on, Super Mario 64 remains the finest platform game ever. Players feel giddy as they explore its varied, vibrant and magical worlds, which are filled with countless surprises and taxing challenges.
5. Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas (PS2) An epic adventure in a colossal playground of anarchy. The scale is enormous and the freedom intoxicating. Missions include drive-by shootings, thuggery, chauffeur duties, casino and truck heists, rescue missions, thrilling chases, turf wars, stealth raids and daring thefts.
6. Halo 2 (Xbox) A spectacular thrill ride. The gripping solo campaign features intense tactical battles and many memorable scenes. Driving through a chaotic battle is spine-tingling. The riotous multiplayer modes offer endless entertainment on brilliantly designed maps.
7. Gran Turismo 4 (PS2) An astonishingly accurate driving simulator to thrill petrol hedonists. Every nuance of a car's movements is faithfully replicated, providing an exhilarating ride. The scale is overwhelming, with over 700 vehicles, 50 tracks, countless racing challenges and the chance to play photographer or race team manager.
8. GoldenEye 007 (Nintendo 64) Provides a level of immersion few games can match, thanks to wonderful atmosphere, interactive environments and smart opponents.
Tasks include bungee jumping from a dam, destroying tanks, defusing bombs, copying keys, photographing items, stealing secret weapons and rescuing hostages. Multiplayer is also a blast.
9. Ico (PS2) A unique, unforgettable adventure with stunning film-like visuals and haunting ambience.
Protecting your vulnerable companion as you explore a labyrinthine fortress heightens your emotional investment. Puzzles are beautifully integrated and extremely satisfying to solve.
10. Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation) Mesmerising. Few games are as rewarding and surprising. Metal Gear offers a tightly scripted plot and countless imaginative set pieces.
Sneaking through areas filled with security cameras, trapdoors, mines and patrolling guards is great fun and the scope to experiment is vast.
11. Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (PS2) As complex, deep and entertaining as the real sport, this is a subtle simulation that rewards practice.
There are countless ways to score and matches between skilled players are tense and dramatic.
12. Resident Evil 4 (GameCube,PS2) A relentlessly gripping thriller that assaults the senses. Hero Leon can perform acrobatic manoeuvres.
Pacing is exquisitely judged, with puzzles, side quests and item collection complementing the rousing combat.
13. Super Mario Bros 3 (Nintendo Entertainment System) Remains a pleasure to play after 15 years thanks to an elegant design.
Controls are perfect and each stage meticulously constructed. Players run, jump and stomp on enemies through eight enormous, secret-filled worlds.
14. Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation) A spellbinding role-playing epic with real emotional depth, thanks to its brilliant characters and plot. Possibly the first game to make players cry after the death of Aeris.
15. SimCity 2000 (PC) An infinitely engaging city simulator lets players design a huge metropolis from scratch. Later sequels added clutter, but 2000 offered a wealth of choices to explore without overwhelming users.
16. Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green (Game Boy Advance) Each Pokemon game is ridiculously similar, but they are all grounded in an irresistible template. The battle system is simple to learn yet incredibly complex and collecting the critters hugely addictive.
17. Civilization II (PC) A hugely engaging strategy classic with terrific depth. Begin at the dawn of time to build a civilisation. To be the most successful you must juggle priorities: balance economies, master new technologies and smite the odd foe.
18. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2) Fun-loving criminals are transported back to the 1980s. A massive, hedonistic city is brimming with terrific characters. Wickedly entertaining, whether completing the diverse challenges or cruising the streets.
19. Super Mario Kart (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) Hugely enjoyable, light-hearted racer with appealing characters, cleverly designed tracks and amusing weapons that ensure battles are tight and exciting.
20. Metroid Prime (GameCube) Exploring superbly designed worlds in this tense adventure is absolutely gripping, whether scanning for clues, blasting enemies or transforming into the fabulous morph ball.
21. Burnout Revenge (PS2, Xbox) Astonishingly fast and thrilling racing action with spectacular crashes.
22. Age of Empires II (PC) Marvellously deep and engrossing historical strategy epic that is perfectly balanced.
23. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GameCube) Enchanting adventure with fascinating locations, delightful characters and rewarding challenges.
24. Project Gotham Racing 2 (Xbox) Cleverly designed high-speed racer that rewards stylish and daring manoeuvres.
25. Tekken 5 (PS2) A highly theatrical fighting game with great characters and surprising depth.
26. Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (PC, Xbox, PS2, GameCube) Visually spectacular and rewarding stealth adventure featuring smart opponents and empowering freedom.
27. Super Monkey Ball 2/Deluxe (GameCube, PS2, Xbox) Tricky and addictive puzzler with hilarious bonus multiplayer party games.
28. World of Warcraft (PC) An astonishing, massive multiplayer world that proves engaging for beginners and roleplaying veterans alike.
29. Sam and Max Hit the Road (PC) A hilarious old-school adventure starring a canine detective and a psychopathic rabbit.
30. Rez (PS2) A gloriously innovative and entrancing musical shooting game.
31. V8 Supercars 2 (PS2, Xbox) This surprisingly varied and thrilling racing game is deep yet approachable.
32. Doom 2 (PC) The grand-daddy of shoot- 'em ups, still incredibly fun and intense.
33. Wipeout 2097 (PlayStation) Impeccably crafted futuristic racer that helped define the PlayStation generation.
34. Animal Crossing (GameCube) A unique, living town full of amusing characters and fun activities.
35. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC) Offers invigorating freedom to explore stunning environments with spectacular gymnastics.
36. PaRappa the Rapper (PlayStation) Delightfully bizarre, enjoyable and influential Simon-says music game.
37. Battlefield 2 (PC) Exhilarating team-based multiplayer warfare.
38. Grim Fandango (PC) A creative and atmospheric adventure with enchanting characters and engrossing plot.
39. Fable (Xbox, PC) Lets players make moral decisions that mould their character and affect their social standing.
40. Tetris (Game Boy) Simple yet addictive puzzle game, often imitated, never bettered.
41. WarioWare Touched (Nintendo DS) A collection of fabulously frantic and creative mini-games.
42. Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath (Xbox) Fresh and entertaining outlaw romp cleverly combing exploration and combat.
43. Tomb Raider (PlayStation, Saturn, PC) Lara's first outing remains her most satisfying, thanks to clever puzzles and brilliant level design.
44. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Megadrive) Breathtakingly fast and meticulously designed platform leaping action.
45. TIE Fighter (PC) Star Wars space combat game with spectacular battles and terrific missions.
46. Deus Ex (PC) An ambitious blend of many genres in a rich world of unparalleled interactivity and intrigue.
47. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PlayStation) Terrific skateboarding simulation that provides endless challenge.
48. Rome:Total War (PC) Addictive and astonishingly epic warfare with spectacular, highly tactical battles.
49. Pikmin 2 (GameCube) Blooming marvellous puzzler with players commanding hundreds of delightful plant-like critters.
50. Counter-Strike (PC) Rewarding and tactical teambased online shooter.