Console Deals’ 30 best games ever

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Console Deals 30 best games ever

Here at Console Deals, we don’t spend all our time finding deals on games; occasionally, we find a bit of time to play them too. Here, you’ll find our six man team’s favourites collated into one handy list.

Regarding the criteria for selecting this list:

  • We make no claim for these being objectively influential games, so don’t expect to find Tetris or Pong here just because of the influence they had.
  • We’re not paying any attention to critical ratings. Some of our picks are arguably not even the best in their respective series. Is Super Mario Sunshine the best Mario game ever? Maybe not. Is it the only one where you get to fly around with a jetpack? Yes.
  • We’re all for a bit of well mannered debate, so if you want to tell us why we’re completely wrong, feel free to comment below or on Facebook or Twitter.
  • The games are listed in alphabetical order.
  • Where we’ve had multiple picks within the same series, we’ve combined the individual entries together under their series’ umbrella.

Battlefield 1Battlefield 1

Year: 2016

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

Metacritic rating: 89

There’s been no shortage of big budget FPS titles in the last few year, so for one to stand out above all the rest takes some doing. With many competing series, such as Call of Duty, locked in an arms race to make the most futuristic shooter possible, Battlefield 1 went back to the genre’s roots.

Set during WWI, Battlefield 1 deviates from the classic war game narrative by adopting an episodic approach. The result is a game that traverses the breadth of the conflict, involving the player in a range of different situations, many of which are based upon historical events. The multiplayer, which remains active and popular over a year since launch, rewards players more for skill than for cheap gimmicks found in similar games.

Football ManagerChampionship/ Football Manager

Year: 1992 – present

Platform(s): PC

Metacritic rating: N/A

A series so addictive that it’s been likened to any number of class A drugs, Championship/ Football Manager looks like little more than a series of spreadsheets – until you start playing. The original games established the formula of setting your team up, wheeling and dealing in the transfer market and leading lowly teams to unlikely glory. Newer versions have added layers of complexity, including dealing with the media and everything else that comes with being a modern football manager.

Stories of players donning a full suit and tie when their digital Cup final day arrives may seem ludicrous, until you consider than many real life Premier League clubs now use the game’s vast database to help them scout obscure players from abroad.

Command & Conquer Red AlertCommand & Conquer: Red Alert

Year: 1996

Platform(s): PC, PS1

Metacritic rating: 90

A pioneering real time strategy title, Command & Conquer: Red Alert laid the groundwork for much of what has come to define the genre since. Unlike many RTS games at the time which merely relied on overpowering similarly able foes, Command & Conquer lent heavily on strategy. Each type of army has strengths and weaknesses, and it was down to players to figure out how to tactically balance them in order to gain an upper hand.

It goes without saying that Red Alert gets bonus points for its plot, which involves Einstein travelling back in time and stopping Hitler from existing. Obviously.

Counter StrikeCounter-Strike

Year: 2000 – 2012

Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Versions nominated: 1.6, Global Offensive

Metacritic rating: 88 (1.6), 83 (Global Offensive)

Though Counter Strike may not have the same mainstream name recognition that, say, Call of Duty has, there’s no arguing that it’s had a greater influence on the gaming landscape. Just about modern shooter is indebted to Counter-Strike in some way, as is the now burgeoning e-sports industry. Even more remarkably, Counter-Strike began life as a mod of Half-Life.

Our two nominated versions cover the range of Counter-Strikes significant influence. 1.6 refers to the original title, officially first released in 2000. Global Offensive, the series’ fourth game, had by far the most e-sport tournaments of any game in 2017, despite now being more than five years old.

Crash BandicootCrash Bandicoot

Year: 1996

Platform(s): PS1

Metacritic rating: 80 (N. Sane Trilogy rating)

Crash was to PlayStation what Mario was to Nintendo and Sonic to Sega. With the PlayStation having come so far since the mid-90s, it’s easy to forget that once upon a time, it was the scrappy underdog that had to overcome the might of Nintendo. Crash was a big part of that initial battle.

Though he’s faded from prominence over the past decade, this year’s remaster of the original trilogy of platformers became one of the  surprise hits of 2017 and reminded everyone of the series’ enduring charm.

DestinyDestiny

Year: 2014

Platform(s): PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Metacritic rating: 76 (base game rating)

In 2014, Bungie were faced with the invidious task of moving on from their landmark, studio-defining series Halo. The vehicle which they chose to do so with was Destiny, a similarly futuristic shooter that combined RPG elements with an immersive multiplayer experience.

As well as featuring a story rich in lore and predictably excellent gameplay, Destiny also arguably represented a watershed moment in gaming with its expansion DLC. Games had been expanded upon before, but rarely had additional content so fundamentally added to – and improved – a base game before.

Duck GameDuck Game

Year: 2014

Platform(s): PC, PS4

Metacritic rating: 82

Surprisingly, Duck Game is the only mallard-based game to make our list. In it, you face off against other players (also ducks) in a winner takes all, battle to the death brawl. Kill them with weapons, knock them off the stage, drop them to their death via a magnet; there’s no shortage of ways to make short work of your feathered foes.

Euro Truck Simulator 2Euro Truck Simulator 2

Year: 2013

Platform(s): PC

Metacritic rating: 79

Lots of people will tell you that this year, no game gave them a sense of exploration and endless possibilities like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Those people evidently did not play Euro Truck Simulator 2’s Italy expansion.

In all seriousness, Euro Truck Simulator had built up a huge, passionate community behind its curiously addictive gameplay. For those yet to sample the delights of a late night run to Antwerp, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is exactly what it sounds like. You take charge of a rig and must make deliveries around a scaled version of Europe.

Garry's ModGarry’s Mod

Year: 2004

Platform(s): PC

Metacritic rating: N/A

Another on our list that the general public likely won’t have heard of but that has had a huge influence. Garry’s Mod – originally a mod itself – gave players the ability to mess around with endless combinations of characters, items and physics in a sandbox, leading to the creation of numerous games, videos, and more.

Grand Theft AutoGrand Theft Auto

Year: 1997 – 2013

Platform(s): Many

Versions nominated: Vice City, San Andreas, V

Metacritic rating: 95 (Vice City), 95 (San Andreas), 97 (V)

The single most well-represented series in our list, Grand Theft Auto needs no real introduction. Some of us opted for the sense of nostalgia and – at the time – unprecedented openness of the world found in Vice City and San Andreas, while others went for the truly staggering scale of the ever-evolving GTA V.

Half Life 2Half-Life 2

Year: 2004

Platform(s): PC. Xbox 360, PS3

Metacritic rating: 96

In terms of just the games on our list, Half-Life can claim responsibility for more than any other. Garry’s Mod and Counter-Strike were both direct mods of the original, while Team Fortress 2 came bundled in with Half-Life 2.

Half-Life 2’s popularity can be attested to by the fact that, 13 years after it was released, the clamour for a sequel remains. Not an awards show goes by without one of the major gaming news sites speculating on the likelihood of another installment in the Gordon Freeman saga. For now, 2 is as good as it gets.

Halo 3Halo 3

Year: 2007

Platform(s): Xbox 360

Metacritic rating: 94

Halo as a series would have been a worthy entrant to this list, but we’ve opted to single out the third installment in Bungie’s landmark franchise for special praise. In fact, Halo 3 was the single most nominated game by the Console Deals team.

Why? Well, the campaign was epic in scope and a worthy continuation to the lore established in the first two games of the series. But the game’s real killer feature was its remarkable multiplayer, which remained hugely popular throughout the Xbox 360’s lifespan. As well as incredibly well designed FPS action, which made for highly competitive play, the endless ways in which maps and settings could be tweaked made gave Halo 3 almost unlimited replay value.

Breath of the WildThe Legend of Zelda

Year: 1986 – 2017

Platform(s): Many

Versions nominated: The Wind Waker, The Breath of the Wild

Metacritic rating: 96 (The Wind Waker), 97 (The Breath of the Wild)

It’s no surprise that The Legend of Zelda makes the list, but the games that inspired its selection may be slightly controversial. Neither A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time helped the series’ case; instead, it was the newly annointed Game of the Year, The Breath of the Wild, and the Gamecube masterpiece The Wind Waker.

The Breath of the Wild launched earlier this year to critical acclaim and instant masterpiece status, while the Wind Waker initially polarised fans with its art direction and took some time to attain cult status. However, both embody what Zelda has come to represent in the minds of many gamers; the possibility of adventure, of exploration, and using chickens as rudimentary flying apparatus.

Mass EffectMass Effect Trilogy

Year: 2007 – 2012

Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U

Metacritic rating: 91 (trilogy average)

Before Mass Effect: Andromeda became the butt of gaming jokes in 2017, BioWare’s original trilogy of games were some of the most acclaimed in history. We’re lumping the original trilogy in together here because, well, it’s our list and we can.

Offering unparalleled player freedom when it came to moulding characters, their decisions and, ultimately, the path the story took, Mass Effect is an epic achievement that many would argue has yet to be surpassed in terms of storytelling.

PokemonPokémon

Year: 1996 – 2017

Platform(s): Many

Versions nominated: Red/Blue, Ruby/Sapphire

Metacritic rating: N/A (Red/Blue), 82 (Ruby/Sapphire)

Although there are now so many generations of Pokémon that the popular refrain of ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All’ is more of a life sentence than a challenge, the classic monster-fighting RPG retains the nostalgia and charm that made it such a sensation back in the ‘90s.

Though the meta game and graphics have come on leaps and bounds since the first generations, the originals still get our vote over the newer ones.

PGR 3Project Gotham Racing 3

Year: 2005

Platform(s): Xbox 360

Metacritic rating: 88

Before Forza was established as a true competitor to Sony’s all-conquering Gran Turismo series, Project Gotham Racing provided Xbox players with a high octane, incredibly realistic racing game.

Of the four main series games, PGR3 was arguably the best, arriving on the Xbox 360 with jaw dropping visuals and a wide selection of cars. Four main city locations plus the Nurburgring offered plenty of variety in which to push your driving skills to their limit.

Quake 2Quake 2

Year: 1997

Platform(s): PC, N64, PS1, Dreamcast

Metacritic rating: N/A

Quake 2, like Counter Strike, is one of the truly trailblazing FPS games. Long before the standards of the genre had been nailed down, developers often had no choice but to jump in at the deep end and make critical, game-defining decisions early on with no real idea of how audiences would respond.

Thankfully in the case of Quake 2, they responded very well indeed. The game developed a cult following thanks to tactical gameplay innovations never before seen in a shooter. Its engine was also repurposed and used for the original Team Fortress.

Red Dead RedemptionRed Dead Redemption

Year: 2010

Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360

Metacritic rating: 95

The idea of translating GTA – famous for its cars, weaponry and radio stations – to the Old West may have appeared odd at first, but Rockstar pulled it off with aplomb with Red Dead Redemption. Heavily influenced by Spaghetti Westerns, Red Dead leads players through an epic story of deceit, betrayal and gunfights.

The game’s popularity is such that a non-gameplay trailer released earlier this year for Red Dead 2 proved one of the most talked about game trailers of 2017.

Star Wars Knights of the Old RepublicStar Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Year: 2003

Platform(s): Xbox, PC

Metacritic rating: 94

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, before EA endured the most botched game release of 2017 with Star Wars Battlefront 2, there was Knights of the Old Republic. There has been no shortage of Star Wars games over the years; some good, a lot very bad. However, Knights of the Old Republic was exceptional.

Offering probably the closest experience to actually feeling like part of the films, Knights of the Old Republic took classic RPG elements and melded them with faithful Star Wars lore and strong characters.

Street Fighter 2Street Fighter 2

Year: 2003

Platform(s): Xbox, PC

Metacritic rating: 94

Fighting games no longer have quite the same level of fanatical devotion they had in their heyday, but before the advent of the FPS age, fighters were the pinnacle of competitive gaming. None came close to touching the legacy of Street Fighter 2, which features a now iconic roster of characters, movesets so complicated that you need to be in Mensa to remember them for more than one character, and some of the tightest control mechanics ever committed to code.

Super Mario SunshineSuper Mario Sunshine

Year: 2002

Platform(s): GameCube

Metacritic rating: 92

It’s Mario, but it’s on a tropical island, and – spoiler alert – you get Bowser in a jacuzzi. No further qualification required.

Super Mario WorldSuper Mario World

Year: 1990

Platform(s): SNES

Metacritic rating: N/A

Even with Nintendo delving back into the side scrolling platforming style of Mario game in recent times, Super Mario World still has yet to be surpassed. Incredible level design, striking visuals that infomed the Mario series for years to come and highly responsive controls combine to make Mario World the best 2D platformer of all time.

Unreal Tournament

Unreal Tournament

Year: 1999

Platform(s): PC

Metacritic rating: 92

We’ve already featured some highly influential FPS trailblazers, so it’s only fair that Unreal Tournament gets its time in the sun too. Another game that has been used as a template for countless titles since, Unreal Tournament’s blend of multiplayer deathmatches with a selection of futuristic weaponry captured a large following when it launched back in 1999 and continues to be popular today.

Team Fortress 2Team Fortress 2

Year: 2007

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Metacritic rating: 92

In contrast to many modern shooters, which can blind the player with the sheer complexity of just setting up a class, getting into a game and shooting people, Team Fortress 2 is pared back and is so much better for it.

The cast of characters are memorable and the use of humour within a normally deathly-serious genre was a breath of fresh air. TF2 continues to draw players in a decade after release.

The Witcher 3The Witcher 3

Year: 2015

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

Metacritic rating: 93

Regarded as one of the most polished action RPGs of all time, The Witcher 3 was lauded upon release for the sheer sense of immersion it is able to achieve within its huge open world. Unlike many RPGs that focused linearly on their main campaign, maybe with a few cloned side quests thrown in as a token gesture, the Witcher 3 offered an incredible array of options to players. Recent expansions have only helped increase the game’s lifespan.

World of WarCraftWorld of Warcraft

Year: 2004

Platform(s): PC

Metacritic rating: 93

The MMO to rule them all. World of Warcraft first graced our PCs back in 2004, but even now, 13 years later, it endures as one of the most popular games on the planet. Thousands tune in to Twitch on a daily basis to watch it being played. With such a dedicated community and so many classes and races to pick from, it’s no shock that WoW is perhaps the most discussed and debated game in history.

More than 100 million have logged on and played at some point in the game’s 13 year lifespan, and though plenty of pretenders to the throne have appeared since, we’re not sure if WoW will ever truly be unseated.

Matt Clough

Matt is one of the writers for the Console Deals blog. His favourite console ever is the GameCube, and he will not have a bad word said against Just Dance.