The Greatness Behind the Greatest Games of All Time


With the recent release of the heavily anticipated Grand Theft Auto V, many reviewers have gone as far to say that it earns the title of “One of the greatest games of all time”. With this, it’s made me look back on past games that have gained the same reputation, and why. Honestly, it’s really made me think as if I were a developer, and how I’d look at these games and their outstanding principles to follow when creating a game.

With all this being said, I’d like to take a moment to look at a couple of the games that have also earned the same title and really analyze the aspects of good development choices that are responsible for said titles.

But, before we go back in video game history, let’s start with the most current nominee to the greatest club; GTA V. GTA V has received comments such as:

  • “Rockstar’s Xbox 360 swansong is probably the console’s greatest technical achievement”  -Official Xbox Magazine UK
  • “Rockstar has delivered one of the most amazing and awe-inspiring games of this generation.” – Level Up
  • “The world is massive and detailed, the gameplay is damn near perfect” -GamesRadar

Reviewers weren’t lying when speaking of the beautiful graphics featured in GTA V.

All the statements above are incredibly bold and daring, praising the game as “damn near perfect” and one of the Xbox360’s “greatest technical achievements”. These are only three reviews out of the 38 total reviews aggregated on Metacritic. It seems as if the main features of this game would have to be the massive open world gameplay, incredible graphics, and the highly entertaining story. A recipe for one of the greatest games of all time, if you ask me.

The next game in line and one of my personal favorites; The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. On most top games of all time lists, you’ll see Ocarina in Time usually in the top 20, 10 or 5 (depending on what list you’re looking at). This game’s major feature was that it was the first third person Legend of Zelda game, and to many, the first great third person game in general.

Link playing the iconic Ocarina from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

It featured many things never seen before in games at the time, like a lock on system and a massive open world for the player to explore. I would say that the main reason why Ocarina of Time is viewed as one of the greatest is due to the features listed above and the fact that Nintendo was able to seamlessly transition from 2D over-the-top gameplay to smooth, action packed third person adventuring. Ever since Ocarina was released, most main  console games in the Zelda series have followed this principle. Gamers and fans alike still look back on the game that started it all; Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Last but not least, another game that has received some of the highest ratings of all time is none other than Valve’s precious Half Life 2. Half Life 2 puts the player behind the eyes of Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist who must fight against an evil alien force threatening human existence. One of the major selling points behind the game was the wonderful physics system, at the time it was the best anyone had ever seen. A unique factor that Valve introduced with the Half Life series was the way that you experienced the game, it played out as if you were seeing everything firsthand, meaning there were no cutscenes.


A sighting of the “G-Man” character from Half Life 2. The character has been found at random spots in the game observing the player (Gordon Freeman).

Over time Half Life 2 has won 39 “Game of the Year” awards and 8 years after it’s initial release in 2012, was named “Game of the Decade” at the Spike Video Game Awards. Ever since its release it has been a staple in not only PC gaming’s history but to fans across several platforms.

Now I’m not saying that these three games are the only incredible games out there, and I will say that only showing the games above is barely even scratching the surface of the topic, but when looking at the praise and following behind these games it shows one thing. Great minds bringing together stories told in a way not done before, something that feels refreshing and new. Whether it be the technical greatness of the recent Grand Theft Auto V, the groundbreaking story and immersion of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or the mind bending Half Life 2, video games are not just something you play for fun. They’re something to experience and appreciate. They are interactive forms of art, and nothing less.