Tuesday Top Ten: Video Games Published in 2000

It’s that time again—time for another Tuesday Top Ten!  Each week, we count down the top ten this-or-thats related to video games, taking a peek at what made them so fun.  This week, we’re counting down the top ten games published in Two Thousand.

Quite a few great games came out this year; it really wasn’t easy to narrow it down to just ten.  The year Two Thousand wasn’t that much different than the decade that preceded it.  Astute gamers might have seen hints at what the future would bring, but as yet everything that could be said about the ‘Nineties could still be said about that first year in the new millennium.

Also, as usual, I’ve included links to Let’s Plays when possible.  These come with the usual and expected warning—some, many, most, or all will be infused with vulgarity and profanity.  

All of that out of the way, let’s get it on!

10. Diablo II
Back before World of Warcraft, Blizzard was still known for innovation and a sense of humor that went beyond seeing how many pop-culture references they could cram into a game and claim they should be taken seriously as a company.  The first Diablo was somewhat short and straightforward, but immensely fun, full of humorous little tid-bits, and unintentionally gave rise to what would remain an urban legend until the next game.

Diablo II offered larger settings, more complex mechanics, more character classes—it just had more.  The trade off, of course, was slightly inferior graphics, but that really wasn’t even thought about much at the time.  The multi-player was one of the most attractive aspects, which was a tweaked (in mostly good ways) version of the multi-player from the original.  Gamers loved it so much, Blizzard’s Battle.net servers couldn’t take the stress—something which would become a pattern in later years, but I digress.

A good Let’s Play can be found here, though the sound is a bit low.

09. Driver 2
When the first Driver came out, what made it so memorable—apart from its insane “test” at the start of the game (that couldn’t be skipped, and what you had to do there almost never again became necessary)—was hard to quantify.  It was more than a racing game, which is what nearly every video game that featured cars was at the time, but you couldn’t get out of your car, and the plot was—well, it wasn’t the greatest, but it served its purpose well.

Driver 2 was another sequel that took everything its predecessor had done and improved upon it.  Better graphics, better artificial intelligence, different cities—and the ability to get out of your car and high-jack another one.  That one was especially lauded.  One of the most memorable things about it was how it handled the cheats.  In the third city, you could unlock the cheat for invincibility—and after that point, there weren’t really any more missions where you had to go all destruction-derby on enemies.  In the fourth, you could unlock the cheat for being “invisible” to the police—and there weren’t really any more missions that even dealt with the police.  It made the cheats worth it but also a nudge in gamers’ sides by the developers.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a completed Let’s Play in English.  There are a ton in other languages, though, if one speaks, say, German.

08. Perfect Dark
The Nintendo 64 had a reputation—like every Nintendo console before or since—as being a console “for kids”.  It didn’t matter that numerous, numerous fast-paced, action-oriented, hard-hitting titles came out for every Nintendo console.  Gamers—you’ll even find some to this day—tended to think that “Nintendo” equaled “silly kids’ games”.

The title that came the closest to shattering that image was Perfect Dark, the unofficial sequel to GoldenEye 007.  The general “feel” of GoldenEye remained, but it packed such a different punch that, even though it had gamers salivating long before it came out, it took gamers by storm.

One of the ways it changed the status quo was the additions.  The player could shoot weapons out of an enemy’s hands, for example—but the player wasn’t the only one who got “upgrades”.  The artificial intelligence of the enemies was tweaked, so you’d see things like enemies running for cover, enemies making a grab for a weapon you shot out of someone else’s hands, and so on.  Between the “upgrades” on both side of the fence and the insane replay value that was packed in, it well-deserved its review scores.

A Let’s Play of it can be found here.

07. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
Looking at things from a certain perspective, it could be argued that the numerous characters in Capcom’s impressive list of games have—anger issues.  They’ll happily fight anyone they can get their hands on.  On the other side of the coin, though—the games were usually wonderfully fun to play.

Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes was no slouch in the fun department.  If one was even mildly into the fighting genre, it offered enough characters and an insane list of unlockables—including, once you’d purchased every other single thing, the ability to choose the same character three times—that everyone could find something to enjoy.  That such a great game was on the Dreamcast only helped the console (though, not enough, as we know).

It offered an unprecedented three characters to have on your team, a dizzying array of backgrounds, no real plot to speak of to get in the way (who seriously goes into a fighting game looking for an in-depth plot?), and, as said before, an incredible list of characters, costumes, artwork, and other things to purchase.  It was the pinnacle of fighting games, and—I’ll say it—even Marvel vs. Capcom 3 doesn’t hold up to it.

The expected Let’s Play is right over here.

06. Thief II: The Metal Age
The stealth genre, as we’ve discussed before, is an interesting one, partly for its unusual roots and partly because even though the genre hasn’t ever been the most popular one around, it still has its die-hard, dedicated fans.  Now, for the most part, stealth games have primarily involved waiting in the shadows, racing out to kill some enemy or another, and racing back into the shadows again.  The first Thief game changed that up, and the second was no different.

Here, the object was, well, as the name would imply, to go around stealing things and not getting caught.  Sometimes this included killing, but usually that was actually a no-no, especially on the higher difficulty settings.  The object was to sneak around, avoiding detection as you pilfered various expensive items.  It made the genre more interesting by adding this “twist” and making the player think a little differently.

The Let’s Play can be found here.

05. Final Fantasy IX
We recently finished our article series on Final Fantasy as a whole, and as mentioned, everything that Square-Enix had learned, every bit of feed-back, every bit of appreciation the company had for its fans—it was all wrapped up in Final Fantasy IX.

There were dozens and dozens of allusions to previous games, on top of the expected side-quests, sub-quests, sub-plots, and everything else.  The game had taken everything that came before and either refined it—or chucked it right out in favor of something interesting and different.

No one Let’s Play is perfect; everyone misses something, but a darn good one can be found right here.

04. Hitman: Codename 47
As mentioned earlier in the list, the stealth genre is an interesting one.  Like Thief II, Hitman: Codename 47 took the basic conceit of the genre and tweaked it—a lot—though in different directions.  Hitman started the idea that non-player characters could be more than just sacks of blood waiting to be gutted when their heads are turned or glorified ambulatory furniture to be avoided.  They could be almost “puzzle pieces”, things to surreptitiously move about from afar in a near-Machiavellian fashion.

One of the most memorable examples of the “tweaking” was the ability to dress up as an N.P.C. and pass unnoticed amongst them.  This came with its own things that could make the “contract” easier to fulfill, or harder.  No matter what, though, it was interesting as heck, and added a new dimension to the genre.

A “crazy” Let’s Play of it can be found here.

03. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
The first game, as we’ve discussed previously, was something of a revolution.  It made it known that North American audiences would go for sports titles that were more than football or basketball.  The first Pro Skater opened the door for other “extreme sports” sub-genres.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 took everything the first one did and cranked it up.    It added manuals—skating on just the front two or back two wheels—so you could “link” tricks together more easily.  It added more levels and made them larger.  There were plenty of things to collect, a butt-ton of things and characters to unlock—it really did have something for everyone, including those who didn’t even think about skateboarding video games before.

A Let’s Play of it is right over here.

02. Spider-Man
As we’ve discussed before, Spider-Man is an incredibly difficult character to code a game around.  The two main things he’s really known for—adhering to anything and traveling on web-lines—are unprecedented, and throw most basic coding right out the window.  That said, when someone takes the time to code a game around those two ideas and write a story that feels like it’s from the comics while being easily accessible to someone who doesn’t know much about him, you get a darn fine game.

That’s just what Neversoft Entertainment did with Spider-Man, originally appearing on the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation (it appeared on the Dreamcast and Windows-based computers a year later, appearing on the Macintosh a year after that).  The first three-dimensional Spider-Man game, it made clinging to (nearly) anything an important factor, and it let Spidey do more tricks with his webbing than just swing or fire basic projectiles.  The story was pretty darn killer, too, though it was simplified a touch on the Nintendo 64 to let the game fit on the cartridge.

A Let’s Play of the PlayStation version can be found here, and one for the Nintendo 64 version can be found here.

01. Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins
Yes, this is the third stealth-based game that came out this year.  And yes, it can be argued that the basic mechanics were simpler than Hitman or Thief II.  While such an argument could be made, it would be a disservice to the franchise.

Tenchu 2 offered so much more than its predecessor, it’s incredible.  Larger levels, more levels, a third character to unlock, a much better storyline, and above all else, the thing that the title is still known for—the mission editor.  Basically, it’s what it sounds like—you could create any mission you wanted, with an engine handling the editor that was incredibly robust for the time.  With a little ingenuity and patience, one could create nearly anything they could dream up.

A tight, intricate storyline, better mechanics, a larger world—there’s a reason why the title is still talked about and played to this day.

The Let’s Play is right over here.


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