BioShock and 9 Other Video Games That Defined the 2000s

The 2000s was an incredible decade for gaming, with titles like KOTOR and Half-Life 2 providing incredible, industry-changing experiences for gamers.

The 2000s were a tremendous decade for video games. While the 1990s certainly spawned some of the most notable game franchises of all time as well as highly regarded game studios that are still operating today, the 2000s was when the industry truly became a cultural juggernaut – from a niche hobby to a mainstream monolith.

With the release of new consoles such as Sony’s PlayStation 2, as well as Microsoft’s first foray into console games with the Xbox, more and more people had access to games in the 2000s than ever before. Considering gaming companies stepped up their efforts to deliver tremendous user experiences, there were so many important releases in the noughties.

Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 Remake offers more than just a retread of the original’s great gameplay and creates a more challenging experience.

Games in the survival horror genre would not be the same were it not for this Nintendo GameCube classic. A venerable franchise even when this game was released in 2005, Resident Evil 4 was a pioneering entry in the series that showcased terrific action set pieces, thrilling boss battles as well as a truly chilling ambiance and some spooky jump scares. RE4 represented the pinnacle of the franchise when it was released, and it retains that crown close to 20 years after it was originally released.

2 Deus Ex

Who knows if famed video game designer Warren Spector knew he was creating a franchise when he was working on the original Deus Ex (released in 2000), but there is no denying that it was an incredibly influential and important video game made in the 2000s.

Deus Ex features a terrific story full of human cybernetic enhancement, a virulent global plague and a far-reaching conspiracy that brings player character JC Denton in contact with various factions. Multiple sequels, spin-offs and reboots of this game have been made (including an enjoyably lightweight mobile game called Deux Ex Go, released in 2016), but none can compare to the brilliance of the original, and it stands as one of the most important games of the 2000s.

3 Grand Theft Auto III

Rockstar Games releases the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6 earlier than expected.

Rockstar Games had a tremendous run in the 2000s. Not counting Red Dead Redemption, which came out in 2010 (technically not the 2000s), the studio released four straight all-time classics in the Grand Theft Auto franchise: Grand Theft Auto III, GTA: Vice City, GTA: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV.

While GTA IV has the second-highest Metacritic score of all time with a staggering 98, it is GTA III that set the template for the franchise following a shift from the limiting isometric perspective of the first two GTA games. A third-person perspective allowed for far more immersion – and far more mayhem – in a huge sandbox world. Combining that with a terrific soundtrack and a wide arsenal

of weaponry to play with, GTA III set the stage for what would be a huge decade for Rockstar.

4 World of Warcraft

With over 100 million accounts registered by 2014 and over $9 billion in revenue by 2017, there is no denying the incredible success that Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft has achieved since its debut in 2004. As perhaps the archetypal MMORPG, WoW’s cultural impact has made itself known in a variety of ways. It brought MMOs into the forefront of the gaming community, and it was even parodied in an incredible South Park episode (season 10, episode 8) entitled “Make Love, Not Warcraft.”

With three more expansions announced in 2023, The War Within (planned for 2024), Midnight and The Last Titan, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft remains one of the most important games around – and clearly among the most important released in the 2000s.

5 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

From CoD: Black Ops to CoD: Modern Warfare, there have been several exciting missions that encapsulate the FPS’ success and popularity perfectly.

Speaking of franchises that have existed for over 20 years, Call of Duty remains a major force in Activision’s portfolio, as it is consistently among the top-played games every year – partly due to new entries being released every year (and sometimes two in a year).

However, it was 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that took the franchise out of World War II and into the modern age with staggering results. A gripping narrative, laser-focused level design and impressively immersive gunplay set against one of the best multiplayer modes in any console FPS ever cemented CoD:4 as the best entry in the franchise. In 2021, Activision (publisher of the CoD franchise) revealed that over 400 million copies of the franchise have been sold worldwide. That’s a staggering number that has surely gone up in the intervening three years, conveying the staying power and importance of this franchise.

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