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?
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