11. Fallout 3
The early Fallout games were top-down RPGs with a dedicated fan base but when Interplay Entertainment went bankrupt and closed down series developer Black Isle Studios in the early 2000s, it looked like Fallout 3 would never see the light of day (Black Isle was in the midst of developing the game when they were shut down). Bethesda Softworks, best known for the Elder Scrolls RPG series at that time, stepped in, bought the Fallout license, and began developing a new version of Fallout 3 from scratch. Fans were naturally worried about how the game would turn out given the change in development duties but when Fallout 3 was finally released in 2008, Bethesda’s version blew everyone away.
Set in post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., Fallout 3 took the first-person perspective of its most recent game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Obilivion, and crafted an immersive, gigantic RPG experience that shared the same tone and style of the earlier games but in a much different overall package. Fallout 3 won numerous game of the year awards and made the series a mainstream hit. Although Bethesda’s most recent title, Fallout 4, was a disappointment in certain ways, it’s clear that the series remains in good hands and I personally can’t wait to see how Fallout 5 turns out.
10. X-Com: Enemy Unknown
The X-Com series began life as a PC game called UFO: Enemy Unknown. Released in 1994, the game’s intense turn-based strategy action earned it a dedicated following and a number of sequels over the rest of the decade, but the franchise went on a long hiatus until Firaxis Games’ 2012 reboot Enemy Unknown. Enemy Unknown earned high praise from critics and fans alike for both giving reverence to the older games while also modernizing X-Com’s more archaic systems, such as streamlining soldier movement and actions, and winning, intricate map design. Really though, the best thing that can be said for X-Com: Enemy Unknown is that it filled a long-standing void in gaming: strategy gameplay with consequences, and it’s no surprise that the reboot has already received a large expansion and proper sequel.
9. Ninja Gaiden
Challenging, fast-paced 3rd person action games were all the rage in the early 2000s thanks to games like Devil May Cry and God of War. Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden also fit this description but unlike those other games, this one was actually a reboot of a long-running franchise. The early Ninja Gaiden were great 2D action-platformers on the NES, but Team Ninja’s 2004 reboot, simply titled Ninja Gaiden, showed everyone that the series could successfully make the jump to 3D.
Team Ninja spent five years developing Ryu Hayabusa’s first 3D adventure and it showed, as the game sported impressive visuals and a deep combat system built around fast-fluid movements and attacks. It was also a very difficult game that demanded quick reflexes and practice, as Ryu could be quickly chopped up by regular enemies if the player was off their game. The Ninja Gaiden reboot spawned two sequels, but 2012’s Ninja Gaiden 3 represented a vast decline in quality compared to the other two; so much so that the series could arguably use another reboot to get back on track.