Undoubtedly, the biggest revolution in gaming came during the 2000s, gaming consoles like PS2, N64, XBOX had already sold millions of units and just like consoles, PC also had started getting incredible games. Some being stand-alone games or instalments of already popular and successful franchises or an unintended pilot game of a franchise that became popular later. Developers and Game Designers had grasped an idea of what gamers really love and started building games around that particular idea. Immensely popular game franchises that still retain their position on the top were born in the 2000s and have evolved since then. Many people, like me, still believe that 2000s brought us the best games, and we possibly won’t ever have a decade like that ever again. As a tribute to this Golden Era of gaming, here I have listed the Top 7 Unforgettable PC games of the 00s.
Grand Theft Auto Games
Rockstar’s GTA series is a favourite of many and in a revolutionary decade like this, they did not miss the chance to captivate the audience with one of its best releases ever. Starting off the decade with Grand Theft Auto 3; Liberty City, the franchise gained much more attention and love than it already had with its previous releases. Being the first 3D game of this franchise, everyone was waiting with anticipation to get to play an Open-World game where you’re a gangster and everything is 3 dimensional! GTA 3 was released in 2001 and everyone was hooked on to the franchise waiting for further releases. Selling over 14.5 million copies since its release, it became the best-selling game of 2001 and also won the Game of the Year award. Release of this game left the players and critics awestruck and was critically acclaimed by almost all the critics. GTA 3 has already made a huge impact soon after its release with the 3D graphics, cut scenes, dialogues and the elegantly woven story based around the protagonist Claude, who later appears as an Easter Egg in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, hinting to the fact that GTA 3 is actually a sequel to San Andreas. Liberty City also gave the player the liberty to fly a plane named Dodo which was much more difficult to control than an actual aeroplane. Using this plane, players also found a well-hidden Easter egg which even Rockstar didn’t expect to be found. This secret was a small city where a short cut-scene takes place. As the 3D graphics made exploring driving, shooting, everything more fun, there was no way people were gonna miss out their chance on getting their hands on GTA 3. You can download this game from Steam.
Due to the massive popularity of GTA 3, fans had high expectations from Rockstar and the company really stood up to our expectations and came back with a spin-off the very next year, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City which was fully developed in about nine months, was mainly based on the drug wars of 80s’ Miami. The real potential of the game developers had started showing with the release of this game. Regardless of the fact that it was developed in under 9 months, the game had a spectacular story, small yet great map and tons of ammunition and vehicles. Even though not in a much interactive way, you could rob a store in this game. The characters in this game had much different behaviour and way of talking and each character, big or small made a significant influence on bringing the storyline to a conclusion. The protagonist in this game was named Tommy Vercetti and other main characters including the very hotheaded, Diaz, our best friend Lance and Ken Rosenberg. The voiceover casting was carefully chosen and fits perfectly for all the characters, and comes as a shocker to many that Tommy Vercetti was voiced by the very famous Hollywood actor Ray Liotta. Tall palm trees, orange and pink sky, convertible fast cars and long beaches truly gave off a strong Miami vibe, and with all this on top of machine guns, cocaine and elegantly stitched tuxedos, it is no wonder that the game had drawn much inspiration from 1983’s cult classic, Scarface ( which is also a reason I absolutely love this game apart from the nostalgic connection ). Scarface references are all over the place in this game, from Apartment 3A near the “Pay ‘n Spray”, to Diaz’s mansion which is a blatant rip-off of Tony Montana’s mansion. The characters had also drawn inspiration from the characters in Scarface. The game had a couple of flaws like inability to swim for which the game is always derogated, of course, passionate players who saw this problem, solved it by releasing a set of mods for the game to enable swimming. The game as collectables had 100 “Hidden Packages” on collecting all of these, a broken-open hidden package appeared in our hotel room that had white powder-like substance flooding out, which we all know what really was. As the franchise’s fanbase kept growing, they couldn’t afford to not present something new to the fans and risk losing gamers’ interest.
Along came the most beloved of the series in the year of 2004, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that is considered as the best one by many. The game mainly depicted gang wars with the protagonist gang being Grove Street Families. SA had a bigger map with lots of easter eggs, more missions, better characters and also much better physics than previous releases. You could practically do anything in this game, from flying planes and jets to swimming underwater. Extra features like being able to go to the gym and workout, getting different haircuts, changing your outfit, customising your car also made this game much more advanced than the previous ones. San Andreas also gave a vast variety of vehicles to choose, ranging from Quad-Bikes to Sea Planes and even a Jetpack! The most significant changes were because of features like swimming, parkour physics and overall better game physics. SA also had a stats pop-up that would show the player’s Fat, Respect, Muscle, Sex Appeal, Stamina, Lung Capacity, Vehicle Skills, Weapons Skills. Improving your weapon skills would result in you being able to use dual-wield Pistols and Machine Pistols. Combat moves were slightly improved, crouching, aiming, dodging and taking cover was a giant leap of improvement in Armed Combats. The map also had Bike parks near the city and other tracks where you could use certain vehicles to collect all checkpoints and win cash rewards. The missions were more engaging except the Zero RC Missions which were uninteresting and soul-destroying. Many Racing vehicles were added which included Vehicles like the Bullet and NRG-500 which were only found in hidden locations. Exploring was made fun because of thousands of hidden places and easter eggs that always seemed to intrigue the player into going even deeper into the remote places of the game. Abandoned airport, Area-51 rip-off named Area-69, an Abandoned Village which also had hidden body bags in a huge pit. On top of this, developers also added copious amounts of collectables that were well-hidden all around the city. Side missions like taking over territory and robbing houses also made the game more versatile and fun. Even with all this, the game didn’t lack a good storyline and sums up the whole plot with twists and ending it perfectly. Great characters, humorous cut-scenes and ‘Gangsta Rap’ music also played a huge role in making the game the G.O.A.T.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
One of the most popular and the earliest Car Racing franchise had the most popular and successful release in the year 2005. NFS: Most Wanted has everything that makes a game successful. The game had a true street spirit which perfectly captured the “Japanese Import Scene“. I personally feel that the game NFSMW and the film, ‘Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift‘ have created more Car Enthusiasts than anyone or anything ever could. You could also play fast-paced rock or hip-hop on the game’s Radio Station. NFSMW also offered Free Roam, Quick Race, Challenge Series and Multiplayer mode. The Free Roam mode was not just you exploring the map, the whole city apart from being ready to explore had Race Challenges scattered here and there, Patrolling Police Cars that may start a chase once they see you. Another fun thing about the map was that there were many ramps and high platforms from where you could pull off great stunts at high speeds. All of the best import cars were featured in this game, from the good old Supra to Mazda RX-8. The game starts off with the player arriving at Rockport in a fully customised BMW M3 hoping to take part in street races and loses their M3 in a race against Razor for Pink-Slips due to engine failure, after losing the car the player realises that Razor has made it to #1 among the Blacklist Racers, which consists of 15 members. We then start competing the Blacklist Racers one at a time trying to make our way up in the ladder right next to Razor to get back the M3. In order to challenge each Blacklist member, we first need to gain their attention by participating in other Race events and winning them or even by getting captured in the Traffic Cameras while speeding. Every time you defeat a Blacklist racer you get Unique Performance upgrades, Visual Upgrades, and other markers that may also include the pink-slip of the rival’s car. A lot of customisation freedom was given in this game, you could tune your turbo, nitrous, steering, anything that you wanted to. Sound Effects used for different types of turbos at different levels of tuning were on point and in no way showed the slightest hint of artificiality. You could also add custom body kits, exhausts, turbos etc. into your car and build the perfect Import Street Racing Machine you always wanted. All the customisation freedom, variety of cars and performance tuning makes a player truly take control of their own car and build the one that suits them the best, and that is the reason that NFSMW 15 years after its release, still stands out to be probably the best Car Racing game ever made.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: Combat Evolved was initially released for the XBOX in 2001 and later came for Windows and Mac in 2003. We play as a Super-Soldier named Master Chief. The game was a First-Person-Shooter with quite appealing graphics back then. Even though there was nothing much advanced in the graphics, the use of lighting, colours and structure of most buildings and characters made the game look graphically superior to most of the releases in the early-2000s. After its release, it undoubtedly became a revolutionary game and gave rise to better story-driven games. Many games fail to be a good story-driven FPS as nowadays developers only care about better graphics and an Online Multiplayer mode. The main menu of the game had an incredible Soundtrack that will either make you feel nostalgic after hearing it ten years later or won’t get out of your head for ten years. The plot of this game takes place in the 26th century where humans have started colonising other planets and attempt to colonise and know more about the planet, Halo while defeating multiple kinds of aliens each with a unique ability, appearance and weapons. You could drive a vehicle with another character controlling the mounted gun, you could use Machine guns, pistols, Plasma guns and even plasma grenades. Our levels and locations are changed following a cut-scene that explains the backstory to what is happening now. From Spaceship to Hills to Sci-Fi bases, Halo did not create similar levels preventing the whole game from becoming stagnant. Even though the game is mainly played in Campaign mode and there is no available Free-Roam Mode every level is crafted with extra attention to every small detail. The Open Sky showing the ring-shaped planet sprawling and going on for who-knows-how-many miles makes you really want to discover the secrets of the planet, and this creates a connection between the player, the character and the storyline where Master Chief also was ordered to eliminate the aliens and uncover the secrets. This kind of connection is rarely seen in games and this alone makes the players unknowingly admire the game. Featuring Good graphics, Great Storyline, Simple controls and Straightforward and convenient objectives, nothing could stop the game from becoming one of the best. The checkpoint system in this game was perfectly balanced with each checkpoint rewarded after killing off a swarm of enemies on a given level, these swarms were sometimes difficult and other times a cakewalk. This made the game somewhat difficult but not super-annoying like many modern games. The game has helped in “modernizing the FPS genre” and has single-handedly supported XBOX which is said to be the worst gaming console by many gamers because of lack of quality releases. XBOX also kept on making more Halo games as that is all they can do to counter other highly successful and loved consoles in the market with their original, enjoyable and versatile releases. Even though most of the gamer community despises this console, they cannot possibly hate this masterpiece of a game and is possibly the only XBOX game loved by all.
Minecraft was first released in May of 2009; the game was nothing too fancy with just a fraction of blocks that it has today. The player had to build, craft, mine and survive. The freedom the player has and the vast open-world where you could create anything was the main reason behind its overwhelming popularity. The game has gone through many major updates over the last decade and has captured over 112 million monthly players worldwide. Minecraft is available on all platforms ranging from iOS to Play Stations. The complexity of the game ran deep and thus gave much more freedom to the players to craft whatever they want. Each block had a different texture, use and origin. You could make planks out of wood logs, use those planks to create sticks and use those sticks to craft ladders, fences, weapons etc. Since its release, Minecraft has gone through countless updates with more features, new blocks, new mobs and many more things that just kept on making the game more fun. Even though the most notable thing about this game was its cubical graphics. Developers have also made improvements in the graphics but just enough so that the game doesn’t lose its originality. The perfect way to explain what Minecraft is all about, you just say “You can do anything you want just like in real life”. From taming animals, trading with villagers and building your house, the mechanics of this game does not become an obstruction between the gameplay and a player’s creativity. There are other dimensions too in this game named, Nether and The End. Each dimension has its own unique blocks, biome and mobs. Nether is famous for its Pigmen and Blaze whereas The End is known for the Ender Dragon which is the Final Boss of Minecraft. By late 2019, Minecraft had become the best-selling video game of all time. It had sold over 180 million copies and has over 112 million monthly active players. Minecraft also has three spin-offs namely, Minecraft: Story Mode, Minecraft Earth and Minecraft Dungeons. Apart from having Three different offline game modes, Minecraft has a huge community online with uncountable servers where you can have custom game modes like Survival, Factions, Skyblocks, Prison etc. and interact with other players. Apart from giving flexibility in-game, you can also download tons of mods from the internet and have a whole new, different and unbelievable version of Minecraft. Giving player full control of not only in the gameplay, Mojang created Minecraft as a medium for all players to let their creativity and imagination go wild and do whatever they want to.
World of Warcraft
The Best MMORPG of all time, World of Warcraft was released in 2004 and was well-received by every single gamer around the world. The game has had a great run and is still one of the most popular games for PC. WoW was the fourth instalment in the Warcraft Fantasy Universe, first one being Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. The game takes place in the fictional universe of Azeroth. Blizzard Entertainment has also gained a good reputation because of giving rise to other popular games like Starcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch etc. In under a decade, the game had over a whopping hundred million registered users. Just like a normal MMORPG users can level up their characters learn new talents and skills and even learn secondary skills like Archeology, Fishing, First-Aid & Cooking. Players can also choose two primary professions mainly focusing on producing items ( like tailoring, blacksmithing or jewelcrafting) or on gathering from resource nodes, ( like skinning or mining ). WoW has had major patch updates and has had a long run as a single game and players have watched it go from a classic 256MB RAM requiring MMORPG to today’s excellent graphics with a larger community and much more features. Guilds can be made for players to interact and unite the community. There are two game modes in WoW, Role-Playing and Normal. Both are pretty much the same with slight variations in the gameplay. To continue playing WoW you need to pay for a subscription which even though is not a very likeable feature, is common to many MMORPG games. The game has had a total of Seven Expansions named, The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of Lich King (2008), Cataclysm (2010), Mists of Pandaria (2012), Warlords of Draenor (2014), Legion (2016), Battle for Azeroth (2018). Overall the game is quite impressing and even though I personally disrelish the need for a paid subscription, it seems justifiable and if regardless the subscription, the game is getting millions of players then there would surely be a good reason developers would have thought about before adding it.