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The 50 Greatest Games Of All Time

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Oops, we did it again: we've put together a massive list of our favourite games ever, stretching back decades, in a bid to crown the all-time greatest.  

The last time we did this, in 2014, we limited ourselves to a top 20 (which you can see below) - but due partly to the fact that there have been so many great games since then, and partly to the fact that we work harder these days, our 2017 list is 50-strong. 

This selection reflects the games that our staff have loved and obsessed over since their youth, as well as a few very recent picks. We expect some of the entries will surprise you: we didn't always go for the default, obvious choices. But then that would be boring. Plus, while you might be massively, personally upset that Resident Evil and Street Fighter II and Donkey Kong and tons of others didn't make the final cut, all we can say is that it's impossible to please everyone with a list like this. 

So without further ado, let's count them down, starting with #50…

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50) The Sims (2000)

The Sims might be the single most sadistic game out there – sorry, GTA. Maybe that's just how we played it, but it was one of the few titles that put no restraints on your twisted imagination. Want to trap your Sim in a burning house? Go for it, but expect the Grim Reaper soon after. Of course, there are less-grotesque ways to have fun in this PC classic. Not that we ever tried them.

49) WipEout (1995)

WipEout took the anti-gravity racing formula from Nintendo's 16-bit F-Zero, popped it on a PlayStation, and added some generous curves: the move to 3D totally transformed the experience, and WipeEout was tough, flashy, and undeniably cool. Brilliant graphic design and a thumping soundtrack sealed the deal – and then WipEout 2097 kicked it up another notch.

48) Civilization II (1996)

We've no doubt that Drake was playing Civilization II shortly before thinking up the lyrics, "Started from the bottom now we're here." Starting in the Bronze age, your quest is to keep your civilisation alive, obliterate your enemies and be the last empire standing when you arrive at the space age. People lost hours, days, weeks, months to this game. And when we say 'people', we mean at least one member of the Stuff team.

47) Deus Ex (2000)

Not just a great shooter, but also a great stealth game, a great RPG, and a great piece of writing. Deus Ex was all about evolution, letting you build towards your own style of play: tool up like a tank and smash through, or crawl through some vents, turn off the security cameras and treat the enemy to a surprise knockout.

46) Super Smash Bros. Melee (2002)

The GameCube's best-seller wasn't a ZeldaSuper Mario or Mario Kart, but rather a game in which you could hammer Kirby's little pink mug until your heart's content. Actually, when we put it like that it's no wonder Super Smash Bros. Melee is still played on the competitive fighting circuit. Sorry Kirbster, you've just got one of those faces. We really couldn't help ourselves.

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45) Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Solid Snake, the world's greatest infiltrator, showed us the greatest way to creep downstairs for a midnight snack without being caught – just carry around a cardboard box for impromptu hiding. After hours of saving hostages and sneaking into nuclear weapons facilities, you'll never get caught pinching biscuits from the cupboard again.

44) Pokémon Blue & Red (1999)

It's been almost 20 years since Pikachu and the rest of those goofy-looking monsters arrived in our pockets, yet their popularity endures. The concept was simple: collect all 151 monsters and become the Pokémon champion, and the real genius was letting you trade and battle your friends. Your quest for mastery didn't stop until you'd amassed a miniature army of elemental beasts.

43) Silent Hill 2 (2001)

Resident Evil might get most of the credit for creating the survival horror genre, but Silent Hill's more psychological bent earned plenty of fans – and PS2 sequel Silent Hill 2 is where the series hit its apex. The dense fog generates ample fear and confusion as you wander the titular town and confront demons both figurative and literal, with the terrifying Pyramid Head leading the charge.

42) Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

How did the Mega Drive hold its own against the Super Nintendo and its cache of killer games? Sonic the Hedgehog, of course. Sega's speedy creation was a one-of-a-kind thrill – a fast-paced jaunt across rolling hills and loop-de-loops that you just couldn't play anywhere else. And the series just kept getting better… well, until the 16-bit era ended, at least. Still, it was back on form with this year's Sonic Mania...

41) Age of Empires II (1999)

The Civilization series may take the crown when it comes to soaking up years of your spare time on needlessly complicated irrigation projects, but Age of Empires is much more fun. There's some history in there, certainly, but if you get fidgety, you can always type "how do you turn this on" (the hilarious car cheat) and drive around Mesopotamia wheelspinning enemies into the ground.

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40) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

You play as a small boy dressed up as Robin Hood, sort of, but accompanied by a fairy, and you warp your way through time and space using a puzzle-solving musical toy. So far, so normal (for Nintendo), but the gigantic game world and well-executed visual feast of Link's first 3D outing meant you might have started it as a boy, but you finished it a man. A 38-year-old man with an unhealthy interest in magical instruments, but technically a man.

39) Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)

Neil Armstrong. Buzz Aldrin. Super Mario. Three titans of interplanetary exploration, but only one of them sailed across the universe with a princess in tow. Super Mario Galaxy 2 took the framework of the brilliant Wii original and only made things better with more variety, new power-ups, more lavish environments – and yes, Yoshi.

38) Metroid Prime (2002)

Following an eight-year delay from the legendary Super Metroid, fans deserved something great – and they got it with Metroid Prime, the series' shift to a 3D, first-person-shooter-esque approach. And it was brilliant, packing in loads of sci-fi atmosphere while keeping Metroid's expansive, exploration-centric approach intact across vast locales.

37) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992)

Nintendo had a knack for taking great NES franchises and transforming them into spectacular SNES experiences, and A Link to the Past is one of its greatest successes. Link's role-playing journey feels immense and memorable, and not only was it a fantastic 16-bit quest on its own merits, but it also set much of the series template for the decades since.

36) Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (2001)

The original Gran Turismo deserves loads of credit for nailing the concept of an ultra-precise, yet still enjoyable console racing simulator, but the move to PlayStation 2 dramatically elevated the experience in Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. Improved handling, much-enhanced graphics, and a sharp (but not overwhelming) selection of cars made this one obsession-worthy.

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35) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)

When it comes to pure fantasy, there's no better open-world role-playing experience than Skyrim. Bethesda's latest (and therefore, still greatest) mainline Elder Scrolls entry offers a vast and gorgeous realm to explore, filled with all sorts of beasts to slay with your sword and spells alike. Love a good fantasy yarn? Go ahead and live your own within Skyrim.

34) Sensible World of Soccer (1994)

Twenty years young, Sensible World of Soccer is still top of the league. It took everything that was great about Sensible Soccer and just ran with it. You got the same fantastic arcade-oriented gameplay, but the title comprehensively acknowledged the rest of the world's existence, with the kind of slavish devotion of a true footballing aficionado.

33) GoldenEye 007 (1997)

When you think about it, the N64 had some ferociously brilliant games, and aside from Nintendo's own MarioZelda, and Donkey Kong titles, this was the one everyone played, all the time – usually at someone else's house, using its superb split-screen multiplayer. Two decades later and there still hasn't been a better Bond game.

32) Ico (2002)

Ico was a new type of game, because it was as much art as game. It was beautiful. It had emotion, mystery and peril, but it was told without dialogue or violence. As a young boy with a wooden sword who finds a ghostly young girl trapped in an old fort full of nasty shadow spirits, you'd get her out – charmingly by holding her hand through puzzles and mazes, letting go only to batter back the ghosts.

31) Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)

Featuring the holy trinity of Judas Priest, Toto and Hall & Oates, Vice City nails the hidden star of any GTA game: its soundtrack. Plus, you can wear a pink tuxedo. Of course, there's more to Vice City than just that, but the unique character of its neon-infused '80s Miami-esque setting and coke-addled cast really elevated this post-GTA3 return.

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30) Fallout 3 (2008)

An immense, action-packed reinvention of the RPG genre, Fallout 3 gave you a real sense of time as you shaped your character from birth in the safety of the Vault, and then of enormous space as you sent her/him out into the vast, post-apocalyptic wastes as an adult. More than that, there's just so much to do in this brilliant world – so take your time.

29) Bloodborne (2015)

Best described as the creepy uncle of the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne is just as brutal and jarring as any other game by From Software. Combat is perfectly crafted with every swing, slash and stab deadly enough to end your life – especially when you encounter any of the gorgeously realised bosses, whether it's the gigantic spider or the mangle of reinvigorated corpses.

28) Resident Evil 4 (2005)

Widely regarded as one of the best Resident Evil games, the fourth entry upped the action while maintaining the horror. The shift to an over-the-shoulder perspective smoothed out the gameplay while ratcheting up the tension, all across a lengthy campaign that kept up the series' knack for freaky surprises. And it debuted on GameCube, of all places!

27) The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)

Its 2D point-and-click gameplay may seem rather old-fashioned by today’s standards, but Monkey Island’s quick wit is still streets ahead of the competition. Add an excellent soundtrack and stylish graphics, and you’ve got yourself a classic. 

26) Burnout 3: Takedown (2004)

The Burnout series evolved over the years from being a racer with a hint of aggression to an all-out smash-'em-up by the time this bombastic affair sped into view. Combining speed boosts with epic smashes and labyrinthine courses, it just about pipped Burnout 2 in our voting to earn its spot on this hallowed list. We could really shunt someone off-road in slow-mo right now…

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25) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

The original Modern Warfare had the larger impact, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 went even bigger and delivered insane moments, like the gripping, controversial "No Russian" mission. Add in an enhanced multiplayer mode with some of the series' best-ever maps and it's hard not to think of it as the series' top time-sink to date.

24) NBA Jam (1993)

Truly, they don't make them like this anymore: a sports game where blitzkrieg-paced fun slam dunks any sense of realism into another dimension entirely. At its best, NBA Jam is just one frantic race back and forth across a basketball court to see who can rack up the most points. Why bother blocking and tackling when that could be time spent shooting some sweet hoops?

23) Life is Strange (2015)

As a five-part high school soap opera with BioShock-like moral choices, Life is Strange may have served up melodrama in industrial quantities, but it was the characters that really struck such a chord with so many people. Because who hasn't spent their painfully insecure teenage years struggling to master some new-found time-rewinding powers? Just us, then.

22) Super Mario Kart (1992)

You can keep your hyper-realistic physics and your engine tuning. When it comes to having actual fun, nothing beats taking one of the definitive Mario Kart's cheeky shortcuts, picking off the leader with a red shell, and power-sliding round the last corner. Unlike "proper" driving games it's an absolute piece of cake to get into, but you can spend years honing your skills on Rainbow Road.

21) Tomb Raider (1995)

The original Tomb Raider might be remembered by some for Lara Croft's polygonal… uh, assets, but its influence on 3D action-adventure games was the biggest treasure to be uncovered here. It set a path that would later be journeyed by the likes of Nathan Drake, Altair and the Prince of Persia years later, and Lara ruled the gaming world for quite a stretch.

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The best Pro Evo game yet was a real revelation back when it came out, and retains a special place in our hearts more than a decade on.

Unlike the always-enjoyable (but not very lifelike) Sensible Soccer, or the brilliantly observed (but sometimes frustrating) modern FIFA games, PES 5 absolutely nailed the tricky balance between realism and playability.

It offered great graphics for the time, loads of stats and a full-featured Master League if you wanted to immerse yourself in its world, but was also accessible enough that you could just pick it up and take on a mate for a bit of exhilerating end-to-end action. Right, who's up for a game of Man Red vs West Midlands Village? 


Uncharted 4: A Thief's End might provide the grandest vision of Naughty Dog's brilliant action franchise, but Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was a true blockbuster of its time: a dramatic improvement over the original game and packed with the kind of insane set piece moments that could make Hollywood envious.

From the opening scene spent dangling from a train hanging over a cliff to the many, many other memorable moments along the way, Uncharted 2 never let up the thrills. And the series still hasn't since. Not that this title was only about the action: a great script and some genuinely well-rounded characters underpinned the whole thing, and made it the most film-like game we'd played (until Uncharted 3 arrived).

18) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

The Legend of Zelda had a pretty firm formula established – but with open worlds all the range this generation, Nintendo took one stab at a sandbox game and knocked it out of the park.

True, Zelda's adored dungeon-looting system had to be sacrificed, but when you can explore every snow-covered nook and swamp-bogged cranny of Hyrule, then you're not exactly getting a raw deal. Like any of Link's ventures, this is an adventure of epic proportions with the perfect concoction of reminiscent nostalgia and revolutionary innovation.


Hail to the (Master) Chief. It's no overstatement to say that Microsoft's entire console business was built off the back of the green helmeted chap, and has floundered at the onset of his more recent mid-life crisis.

Picking up the sci-fi shooter baton from Half-Life and refining it with mainstream-friendly features such as a regenerating shield and auto-aiming, Halo: Combat Evolved set the modern template for console shooters. Not only did it have a blistering campaign, but the split-screen multiplayer also picked up the baton from GoldenEye 007.

16) BIOSHOCK (2007)

The original BioShock still stands up as one of the most influential games ever made. Set in the underwater dystopia of Rapture, this first-person shooter weaves a masterful tale of power and corruption told through a rabble of uniquely perverted citizens.

Its moral choices will make you feel squeamish, while the visuals and atmosphere are still incredible today. It's also the kind of game that'll have you chewing over its ending for days… and not in a disappointed, Mass Effect 3 kind of way.

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15) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (2000)

A sports game ranked as one of the best ever? Surely that can't be… but this is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 we're talking about. Almost everyone with a games console in the early noughties lost endless hours skating the various parks and industrial sites.

With extensive skills to master, levels to unlock and secrets to find, it had more depth than a good number of RPGs. And let's not forget the multiplayer mode, as we'd all invite our friends over for an ultimate face-off to see who was the greatest Tony Hawk wannabe. No, it was never us.

14) MASS EFFECT 2 (2009)

Some of you may prefer other episodes in the huge space opera that is the Mass Effect trilogy, but for us it's the second game that perfectly hits the right mix of epic gun battles, beautifully realised alien worlds to explore and, of course, beautifully realised people (and aliens) to seduce. Just like in Star Wars – original trilogy, of course – it's the middle chapter that packs in the most excitement, possibly because it doesn't get bogged down with setup or attempting a finale and instead can just concentrate on all that gameplay.


Rockstar Games will probably always be known for Grand Theft Auto above all - and for good reason (keep reading this list) - but Red Dead Redemption deserves just as much acclaim.

Putting a Wild West spin on the familiar open-world formula, it swaps speedy cars and motorcycles and horses, all while packing in plenty of action and atmosphere along the way. With Red Dead Redemption 2 on the horizon for next year, it's possible that this franchise will be just as esteemed as GTA someday, but whether or not that happens, the original will surely remain a classic.


For years, the only story a video game managed was that one about some woman being kidnapped and us having to rescue her. Then Final Fantasy VII came along, with months’ worth of non-stop emotional storytelling and the power to make adults cry. Not us, obviously, but, you know… other people.

Final Fantasy VII used the power of the PSone to modernise and add a huge cinematic edge to the classic Japanese role-playing template. In hindsight, it's super weird and really uneven, yet still suitably epic and enthralling.


A perfect platformer from its start to a Bowser-stomping finish, Super Mario World is so good that it took Nintendo almost two decades to stick its mustached icon in another 2D outing for home consoles. Rather than bang on about just how brilliant the portly plumber's SNES debut was, we'd rather take a moment to remember that without Super Mario World there would be no Yoshi. Can you imagine a world in which the best dinosaur of all-time hadn't been invented? It truly doesn't bear thinking about.

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10) INSIDE (2016)

This modern indie classic conclusively proves that platformers aren't dead and buried just yet. Inside puts you in control of a small boy in a dark and harrowing world; solve puzzles and avoid the multiple deadly threats, and you'll progress towards the story's ending, which will linger in your mind for years after.

Inside is largely similar to Playdead's nearly-as-mesmerizing Limbo in approach, but throws in more curveballs and surprises along the way, plus it packs more of a punch as the storyline ultimately unfolds. Yes, it truly deserves to rank this high alongside the all-time greats.

9) MINECRAFT (2011)

Known to the still-unenlightened as "that block building game," Minecraft has captured the hearts of kids and grown-ups alike by proving every bit as big as their imaginations. It's LEGO writ as large as you want, and how it took humanity so long to come up with that simple idea remains a total mystery.

What makes it so special? Well its open-ended, open-world design lets you design your own fun with few limits, plunging you back into a time when you were small and had no worries about boring things like going to work and doing the shopping and getting a mortgage. Which is ironic, given that most people spend lots of time in Minecraft building themselves a house then searching for food. 

Basically, it's the kind of game anyone can pick up and play and quickly lose hours to. Just try it.


The best-selling game of 2017 so far is four years old. That is how popular Grand Theft Auto V has proven to be since we first saw Trevor curb-stomp a man to death by way of an introduction.

From UFO spotting to bank heists and family bonding, there is so much to do in the sprawling world of Los Santos that its map takes a full six hours to walk across. Or you could just stay put at home gambling your ill-gotten funds on the local property market. Add to this an epic, ever-expanding online multiplayer mode and you've got yourself a true modern classic.

7) DOOM (1993)

Such is Doom's world-conquering prowess that there's a website dedicated to all the myriad platforms it'll run on. Apple's new Touch Bar? Of course. Your local hospital's ultrasound machine? Not the best use of NHS money, but sure. A toy chainsaw with a Raspberry Pi shoved into it? Nothing could be more appropriate for what is arguably the biggest milestone in PC gaming.

Doom pushed technology to the max with its 3D worlds and super-fast play, also introducing network code for link-up shooting battles. It was amazing. It still is. We'd happily play it today. In fact, we're going to play it today.

6) PORTAL 2 (2011)

We might get some flak from our dear readers for choosing Portal 2 over the now-iconic original, and in that case, fair enough: Portal was brilliantly inventive, impressively focused, and totally hilarious to boot.

But while the sequel lacked that same kind of singular impact, we'd argue that it was even better. Portal 2 saw Valve take the concept to new levels, packing in all sorts of new puzzle mechanics that all worked incredibly well, plus the new characters were great, the world-building was surprisingly enthralling, and the additional co-op mode was just as fantastic. Seriously, Portal 2: it's pretty incredible.

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5) TETRIS (1984)

Tetris is the very model of simplicity. The computer equivalent of Snap or Draughts, Tetris is now omnipresent on pretty much every hardware format known to man – seriously, there are probably kettles that can play it.

How has Tetris endured to this day? Well, it's incredibly easy to pick up and understand, yet the building challenge creates such an addictive edge that you can't help but keep plugging back in and polishing off your high score. The Game Boy version remains the best, but if you don't own it on your current smartphone, you're a fool. Great music, too.

4) SUPER MARIO 64 (1996)

Transferring two decades of 2D, side-scrolling platform knowledge into 3D? That might seem a daunting task to any other studio, and sure enough, some characters made missteps (looking at you, Sonic) – but it was a piece of cake to Nintendo, as evidenced by Super Mario 64.

Has there ever been a better system-selling game in history? We think not. Super Mario 64 established the template for 3D platforming much like its predecessors did for 2D, with dazzling worlds, creative challenges, and such an incredible amount of insanely fun things to do. And it's still a blast to play today, no less.

3) HALF-LIFE 2 (2004)

Half-Life 2 is an astonishing game on every level, from the combat to the puzzles, the writing to the sound, to the original and convincing design of its world. But perhaps best of all was the fact that you could pick up a circular saw blade with the Gravity Gun, shoot it at a zombie's neck and watch its head pop off like an overripe, brain-filled coconut.

As first-person shooters go, this could remain the greatest for another 10 years. And it could well be that long before we finally get a finale to the story, given Valve's track record over the last decade.

Still, even if Half-Life 3 never surfaces, we'll always have our memories - and what memories they are. Has there ever been a spookier, more tense level in any game than Half-Life 2's Ravenholm? No way. Has there ever been a better weapon than the aforementioned Gravity Gun? Definitely not. Has there ever been a better, more varied cast of adversories to battle past than the assorted head crabs and antlions and striders and zombies of this game? Not on your nelly. 

In short, everything about it is near perfect and if it ever gets a PS4 or Xbox One remaster we'll be all over it in a shot.

2) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

Video games and fantasy are easy bedfellows; we've been swinging swords and slaying monsters since we first picked up a gamepad. But The Witcher 3's brilliantly imagined world has a brooding darkness about it, helped by its twisted look at fairy tales.

It's a stunning game that's packed with things to do, without ever falling into that open-world trap of feeling like too much of a grind. Much of that is due to the varied quests on offer: most will see you hacking off heads and battling legions of nasties at some point, sure, but there are so many different enemies and environments that each mission ends up feeling like a completely new experience. 

And that's even without taking into account the incredibly rich story that underpins it all that. Even the shortest of side-quests usually have a tale of sorts behind them, and some of the main missions - the epic Bloody Baron chapter, for instance, which in itself is longer than some whole games - offer incredibly detailed and always interesting backstory and characters. What's more, unlike a lot of open-world role-players, even the combat is fun and well-thought-out.  

Geralt's monster-hunting quest isn't just one of the best games of the last decade – it's an all-time great.

1) THE LAST OF US (2013)

And here we are, finally, with our #1 pick. It feels a bit odd to go for something so recent amidst a slew of formative, all-time classics, but The Last of Us is such an electrifying, atmospheric high point for games that we can safely ignore any concerns about age. And besides, it was the clear winner among the Stuff staff who voted in this - not all of whom are too young to remember the days of Donkey Kong.

Naughty Dog's epic adventure follows the grizzled Joel and his headstrong young companion Ellie as they attempt to make it across the United States in the wake of a zombie-esque viral uprising. Their father-daughter-esque relationship is both captivating and believable, even surpassing the developer's impressive work on the Uncharted series, and it points the way towards the game's overall genius: its story.

This is a heart-pumping tale, one that's packed with action and excitement, grim realism, and bucketloads of emotion. The kind of thing which, after you finish playing, makes you think 'They should make a film of this.' Only to then realise that there's no need, because this game is better than any film, ever. There, we said it.

It's absolutely packed with memorable moments (which we shan't spoil here), and if anyone says they can play it without a little tear in their eye at some points, they're either lying or a robot. The brilliant presentation and sumptuous graphics obviously help - particularly on the 2014 Remastered version - but ultimately its appeal rests on the perfect combination of story and gameplay.

It won our vote as the best PlayStation game ever made, and for our money, it's also the very best game ever created for any platform. Do not miss this experience.

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