I’ve never gone back and put together a list of my favorite games from 2000-2009. Until now. Here are my retrospective favorite games from 2001.
Great Games I Haven’t Played
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader
Jak and Daxter
10. SSX Tricky
The original SSX was an honorable mention on my 2000 list, and the sequel just squeezes on at number ten, thanks to the improvements made over the first game. Tricky is considered kind of an update more than a direct sequel, with remixed tracks and a lot of the same gameplay elements. The new Uber Move mechanic allowed you to perform extra awesome moves once you were able to fully fill your trick bar. I’m not really into “high score” type games anymore, but at the time, SSX Tricky was a blast to play. It had that punk rock attitude that 13-year-old Shea was looking for.
9. Dark Cloud
It’s weird: I greatly prefer Dark Cloud 2 to the original, but the sequel didn’t end up making my top ten games for the year that it was released. I guess that just comes down to there being stronger contenders in future years. However, that isn’t to say that Dark Cloud 1 is a bad game by any means. It was a great dungeon crawler type of game, with procedurally generated areas and randomized loot. It had great 3D, real-time combat that set it apart from a lot of other traditional Japanese RPGs, and a cool city building mechanic that was a lot of fun. It functioned a bit like a cross between Sim City and The Sims, with you rebuilding areas of a town, and then interacting with the townspeople to see what it is they would like for you to build.
I replayed Ico a few years ago in the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection put out on PS3, and I have to admit that it’s very hard to go back. The escort mission style gameplay just doesn’t really hold up. Still, this list is supposed to represent the time that the game came out, and under that direction, Ico was something special. It had some interesting puzzles and didn’t make use of much combat, which was refreshing. But the story was the real attraction here, with a mysterious world and a focus on the mostly silent protagonists. If you haven’t played the game and are willing to put up with some archaic gameplay systems, this is one worth experiencing.
7. Halo: Combat Evolved
I wasn’t a big Halo fan when the series started. I was at the height of my Playstation fanboy mentality, and the games just didn’t appeal to me. With some hindsight, I can definitely look back and acknowledge what the first Halo did for multiplayer shooters, even if I wasn’t a part of the zeitgeist at the time. I definitely think some later games in the series are overrated, and the first Halo has its share of problems, but the shooting felt great and the graphics were definitely impressive at the time. I didn’t personally get much from the story, as it just felt like generic space science fiction nonsense, but it’s really the gameplay, multiplayer, and map design that are worth touting.
6. Twisted Metal: Black
The Twisted Metal series was one of my favorites growing up, and I even loved imitators like Vigilante 8. Though I probably put more time into the PS1 games, Twisted Metal Black is arguably the best in the series, and definitely deserves a spot on this list. Black was the first game in the series to launch on PS2, and as such, made great use of the upgraded hardware with improved designs and effects. It had the same great destructive car combat and “edgy” music, only on better maps and with better weapons. Though the story mode wasn’t anything new, it was still fun beating the game with every character, just to see their specific ending.
5. Grand Theft Auto 3
Grand Theft Auto is another series that I had an irrational distaste for back in the day. I really liked Grand Theft Auto 2’s top-down perspective, and the switch to open world 3D just didn’t click with me. Plus I was kind of a hipster back then and hated Rockstar because everyone else seemed to love them. However, I’m older and wiser now, and I definitely see the appeal of these games. As I said, Grand Theft Auto 3 took the series into 3rd person while keeping the same insane, lawbreaking fun of the previous games. From here, Rockstar didn’t look back, and has put out a ton of amazing Grand Theft Auto games, most of which you’ll see somewhere on my top ten lists.
4. Gran Turismo 3
I was never a big racing game person, but something about Gran Turismo appealed to me. Maybe it was the purity of it, maybe it was the amazing graphics, maybe it was just my love for cars, but something made Gran Turismo special in my eyes. I definitely wasn’t great at it, and spent most of my time grinding the lower leveled races since that’s all I could qualify for. But slowly getting more money until I could afford the awesome expensive cars was well worth the time. There’s a valid criticism in the cars not being damaged as they run into other cars, but I imagine that was a big reason why the series was able to get so many licensed manufacturers involved.
3. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
Man, how my tastes have changed. Back in the day, it was all about sports games, car games, high scores, and crazy tricks. Those genres don’t really appeal to me anymore, but they were definitely a product of the time. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is easily my favorite in the series. The quality of the games has been all over the place, but Pro Skater 3 had the perfect combination of mechanics, style, and fun factor. As the series debut on the PS2, it was also the last game to offer a time limit for every objective. It also had a killer soundtrack and easily the best levels in the series.
2. Super Smash Bros Melee
Man, I’ve probably played Super Smash Bros Melee for hundreds of hours over the years. Funnily enough, most of that time was put in a few years after the game came out, playing multiplayer with high school friends on weekend nights. There are very few games that I look back on as fondly as I do Melee. It’s also instilled an irrational hatred of Donkey Kong in me, as one of my friends always trolled the rest of us by choosing him and constantly throwing us off ledges. I never really had a “main,” instead I loved playing as a variety of characters including Link, Pikachu, Fox, Kirby, and more. But I don’t want to only focus on the great multiplayer aspect, as there was a fun single player story mode, too. Nintendo put way more effort into this game than was necessary, and it payed off.
1. Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy has started to garner a good bit of hate in recent years, and I’m not sure why. I’m a huge fan of the series and I’m confident in saying that FFX is my favorite. While later games switched up the combat in cool ways, FFX still employed the ATB system to great effect. The OCD power-leveler in me loved being able to switch out party members in the middle of battle, making sure everyone got some experience points. And while the sphere grid could become overwhelming and didn’t offer much customization in the early game, I liked having my characters grow along a more linear path. And sure, Blitzball was terrible and Tidus could be pretty damn annoying, but the story told in FFX was amazing, and had a terrific and sad ending. Final Fantasy X is easily one of my favorite games of all time.
And there you have it, my top 10 games from 2001! Be sure to leave your favorite in the comments, and check out my other video game rankings!