The Best Games In Edge’s His­tory

Some of the finest minds in global de­vel­op­ment an­swer a ques­tion for the ages: what's the great­est ti­tle re­leased since Au­gust 19, 1993?

EDGE - - SECTIONS -

Some of the finest minds in global de­vel­op­ment pick the great­est ti­tle re­leased since Au­gust 19, 1993

We thought it was a sim­ple ques­tion: what is the best game of Edge’s life­time? Not your favourite, or the most im­por­tant, or in­flu­en­tial. The best. It is the sort of ques­tion those of us that play games are used to an­swer­ing, and a process we en­joy. Yet ap­par­ently to peo­ple who make games for a liv­ing, be­ing asked to iden­tify one game as the great­est of them all is some­thing akin to tor­ture. One de­vel­oper sent us a short­list of four, ask­ing us to help them pick a win­ner for them. One en­tire com­pany – we shan’t name names, but it’s con­spic­u­ous by its ab­sence from the fol­low­ing pages – de­clined, say­ing it wasn’t in its spirit to sin­gle one game out, since do­ing so would be un­fair to all the rest.

Oth­ers sim­ply ig­nored our in­vi­ta­tions (a note on gen­der bal­ance: we re­ally tried). Per­haps they, like one anony­mous cre­ative, sim­ply couldn’t ac­cept the premise of the ques­tion: “It’s ac­tu­ally a shock­ingly dif­fi­cult ques­tion to an­swer. Even try­ing, I feel the op­pres­sive weight of re­spon­si­bil­ity. What sin­gle game would I want to ex­ist, if all oth­ers were lost? Ev­ery one of my favourite games is deeply flawed. It seems like there should be some shin­ing ex­am­ple, where me­chan­ics, nar­ra­tive and mood har­monise, but I can’t name that game. It floats just out of sight, at the edge of vi­sion.” Our hearty thanks to those that made an ev­i­dently painful de­ci­sion – and to those of you that couldn’t, now you know what a dif­fi­culty spike feels like.

Antti Ilves­suo RedL­ynx

Mas­ter Of Orion was and al­ways has been an eye-opener for me. It’s so sim­ple in its de­sign, with how you con­trol your em­pire across the galaxy, but on the other hand look how much you can do with it. Less is more: that’s the take­away from this time­less mas­ter­piece. One planet per so­lar sys­tem, one main screen to con­trol the main sys­tems – that’s all you need. Yet there are end­less out­comes dis­cov­ered through dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of weapons and ship cus­tomi­sa­tions. There are dif­fer­ent races with dif­fer­ent play­ing styles, and new ad­vances in re­search and de­vel­op­ment to un­cover. I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber play­ing through this on mul­ti­ple galaxy sizes and mul­ti­ple dif­fi­culty set­tings, al­ways with dif­fer­ent out­comes, win or lose. Best of all, the great­ness of your em­pire hap­pened inside your own head. You could imag­ine how vast your fleet looked when it fired off the shoul­der of Orion. All those mo­ments are now lost in time, like tears in the rain. Just a bril­liant work of art. Well, less is more, Lu­crezia: I am judged. Time to die.

Fu­mito Ueda Gen De­sign

There have been many in­flu­en­tial ti­tles through­out the years, in­clud­ing Half-Life 2, The Leg­end Of Zelda: Oca­rina OfTime, and Su­per Mario 64, so choos­ing just one is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. Still, if I had to pick the best, I would say the first Vir­tua Fighter.

At the time, I had just bought an Amiga 1200 and be­gun to teach my­self 3D CG, so I had moved away from videogames. But by chance, I came upon Vir­tua Fighter at a video ar­cade I stopped by. More than stuff about fight­ing games, it re­minded me of the vis­ceral plea­sure videogames can pro­vide by bring­ing to life char­ac­ters on a screen with the sim­ple con­trol in­put of a joy­stick and three but­tons.

I was at a cross­roads at the time, de­cid­ing whether to en­ter the art world or pur­sue a ca­reer in videogames. It’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that my chance en­counter with Vir­tua Fighter sent me down the path I’m on to­day. In Ja­pan, Vir­tua

Fighter made a huge con­tri­bu­tion not only to the videogame in­dus­try but also to other me­dia such as movies, and it also in­tro­duced the gen­eral pub­lic to the ap­peal of 3D an­i­ma­tion. To this day, I love the game’s ex­per­i­men­tal char­ac­ter de­sign, its ex­ag­ger­ated mo­tions, and that trans­par­ent blue sky – so much, in fact, that I just re­cently got my hands on an orig­i­nal

Vir­tua Fighter ar­cade board.

Dan Pinch­beck The Chi­nese Room

There are so many rea­sons why the orig­i­nal

Doom is one of the great­est games ever made. The weapon bal­anc­ing is su­perb, still bet­ter than most mod­ern shoot­ers. The pac­ing – that mix of fore­shad­ow­ing and then bursts of in­sane ac­tion. The fi­nesse in terms of the ammo in your pocket ver­sus the ammo needed to get through the fight. The sim­ple but hugely ef­fec­tive mix of en­emy types and dis­tri­bu­tions.

The rea­son it set so many level-de­sign tem­plates is be­cause the level de­sign is fan­tas­tic – it doesn’t need ver­ti­cal stack­ing, it uses leak­ing sound per­fectly, it plays with back­track­ing with­out it be­com­ing a chore – it’s a mas­ter­class, ba­si­cally. It’s just an amaz­ing ex­er­cise in de­sign, which is why it still plays as well to­day as back when it was re­leased. That’s why it’s the best, not be­cause of what it was in 1993, or what it cre­ated, or how it in­no­vated, or the hugely long shadow it casts, but be­cause in 2016 it’s still a bril­liant, bril­liant, bril­liant game. The only thing it lacks is what Doom II added – the great­est dou­ble-bar­relled shot­gun in gam­ing his­tory. Apart from that, it’s per­fect.

Seth Kil­lian Riot Games

Sim­ple, harsh, dark, and joy­ous, Doom is a pure ex­pe­ri­ence. Al­though it cre­ated shock­waves that con­tinue to res­onate, it felt fa­mil­iar and in­tu­itive from the start. This is be­cause Doom is made up of sim­ple things in­ter­act­ing sim­ply. With non-lin­ear lev­els built from it­er­a­tive com­bi­na­tions of ba­sic geo­met­ric el­e­ments, Doom needed only a

“In Ja­pan, Vir­tua Fighter made a huge con­tri­bu­tion not only to the videogame in­dus­try but also to other me­dia such as movies”

“Doom was just weird. It was fast. It was evil. It was sci-fi. It was, in a word, metal”

small set of mean­ing­fully dis­tinct guns and en­e­mies to cre­ate end­lessly fresh game­play. It man­aged this trick not by sim­ply vary­ing en­emy type or num­ber, but through its dev­il­ish en­emy place­ment within the 3D space made pos­si­ble by its new tech. This fan­tas­tic base was then mul­ti­plied through se­crets, cheats, end­less mods, and real on­line play.

Doom was also just weird. It was fast. It was evil. It was sci-fi. It was, in a word, metal. Like heavy metal, videogames are at least par­tially distin­guished by their re­la­tion­ship to tech­nol­ogy – they use tech­no­log­i­cal tools to do things not eas­ily (or amus­ingly?) pos­si­ble with­out them.

Doom mar­ried new tech­nol­ogy with clean de­sign to ex­plode into a new space of mas­sive pos­si­bil­i­ties. The chal­lenge of play­ing well was com­plex, but even in its hairi­est, blood­i­est, hard­est mo­ments, by pig­gy­back­ing the chal­lenge on play­ers’ in­tu­itive sense for 3D spa­ces, Doom al­ways felt sim­ple – clean.

John Romero Romero Games

It’s been 23 years since

Doom’s re­lease, and it’s still be­ing mod­ded and played by thou­sands of play­ers. There are nu­mer­ous source ports that pro­vide mod­ern graph­i­cal fea­tures and ex­tend the en­gine to be full 3D. For many, the orig­i­nal ex­pe­ri­ence of

Doom when it was re­leased has not been equalled. That ini­tial shock­wave still re­ver­ber­ates through the in­dus­try as the first­per­son shooter genre still dom­i­nates the charts. Doom’s solid game­play means it is still very chal­leng­ing and fun even af­ter all the de­sign and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion through the decades.

Greg Kasavin Su­per­giant Games

At­tempt­ing to iso­late a sin­gle spec­i­men from a quar­ter-cen­tury of games as the ‘sin­gle best’ is, in many ways, not a rea­son­able un­der­tak­ing. On the other hand, the choice is sim­ple: Su­per Metroid. Hailed as an in­stant clas­sic back in 1994, to this day it’s a paragon of de­sign, en­vi­ron­men­tal sto­ry­telling, and co­he­sion of ex­pe­ri­ence. The best game is the game with the fewest flaws and the great­est strengths. I make ex­cuses for many of my all-time favourite games, their lulls in the story, their odd bal­anc­ing quirks, all those things that give them per­son­al­ity. But Su­per Metroid is be­yond re­proach. Even at the time, the worst that could have been said of it was that it was a lit­tle on the short side, but by the stan­dards of to­day even its size and scope are per­fect, whereas the sprawl­ing RPGs and ac­tion ad­ven­tures of the ’90s would feel in­ter­minable now.

From the in­stant Su­per Metroid be­gins, you are in its world, en­gulfed in its rich at­mos­phere. Metic­u­lous at­ten­tion to de­tail is ev­ery­where, and it al­most never even needs to stoop to us­ing words ei­ther to con­vey the nu­ances of its in­tri­cate ac­tion or the depth of its story and world.

Richard Gar­riott Por­ta­lar­ium

While many great games have come out since the launch of Edge, the first truly great game, which to me has never been sur­passed by oth­ers in its genre, would be the orig­i­nal Com­mand & Con­quer. How well I re­mem­ber be­ing im­pressed by so many as­pects of this game. Ori­gin CFO Mike Gra­jeda and I played it for months on end and slowly we dis­cov­ered new strate­gies to de­feat each other. It seemed like ev­ery week we would al­ter­nate tak­ing com­mand of the bat­tle­field. Even­tu­ally our Com­mand

& Con­quer du­els ended in highly com­pet­i­tive draws, so we de­cided to play some of the young folks in our QA de­part­ment. It was no con­test. We lost ev­ery game.

I’ve tried nu­mer­ous games in the RTS genre since then in search of a wor­thy suc­ces­sor, but while I’ve en­joyed many other of­fer­ings, none seem to cap­ture the di­verse strate­gies that were present in the orig­i­nal.

Com­mand & Con­quer is the best game and also my favourite since the launch of Edge!

Vir­tua Fighter was the first fight­ing game to use 3D poly­gons, and its com­bat laid the foun­da­tions for an en­dur­ing se­ries

Even to­day, the orig­i­nal Doom still has a size­able ac­tive mod­ding com­mu­nity. Its slick, fast­paced gun­play de­fined a genre for years – a tem­plate that has been re­vis­ited in 2016’s Doom

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