The Best Games From the 2000s

The 2000s really graced us with so many fantastic games. As technology advanced, they only seemed to get better. Although there are thirty on this list, there are so many more games that are also fantastic. If you’re looking for a blast from the past, this list is for you.

Here are the best games from the 2000s that we wish we could experience for the first time again. 

30. Bioshock

BioShock is a revolutionary game and one of the best PlayStation 3 games ever made
Photo Credit: 2K Games

Bioshock’s graphics were legendary, and the immersion into the dystopian world of Rapture was fantastic. While everything seemed perfect on the surface, the cracks soon began to show, water pouring in from the outside. The twists in the story will shake you to your core and have you reeling for hours, even after you’ve finished the game.

Bioshock went on to have a sequel, and Bioshock Infinite as a spin-off with reference to the original in the DLC.

Release Year: 2007

29. Grand Theft Auto: Sans Andreas

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
Image Credit: Rockstar Games.

Out of all of the Grand Theft Auto games, GTA: San Andreas may be the best one out there. Even if the graphics are dated, the storyline and gameplay of this game feel timeless.

 Whether you want to play the story or just steal cars and get up to some crime, GTA: San Andreas has hundreds of hours of gameplay for you.

Release Year: 2004

28. Halo: Combat Evolved

Halo: Combat Evolved Red vs Blue
Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios.

Halo: Combat Evolved is one of the best games in the Halo franchise and is the one that started it all. Halo has gone on to be one of the most recognizable franchises in gaming, as well as one of the most loved.

If you want to dive into Halo: Combat Evolved, they have lovingly remastered the collection, breathing a new lease of life into Halo: CE.

Release Year: 2001

27. Wii Sports

WII Sports
Image Credit: Nintendo.

When it was released, it was one of the biggest games to come out. It united family and friends alike. There were multiple sports options, but we all know tennis is the best one. Being able to spam hitting the ball with your racket repeatedly until your arm hurt was all a part of the fun.

Wii Sports was such a great game and will truly be unforgettable.

Release Year: 2006

26. Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2 is an atmosphere masterpiece for the horror genre
Photo Credit: Konami

For survival horror fans, Silent Hill 2 was game-changing. It remains one of the most favored survival horror games, and it’s not hard to see why. The sequel takes what Silent Hill does best and improves things in every way. It had improved graphics, a great story, and even more terrifying mobs than before.

Silent Hill 2 is easily one of the best out of the Silent Hill games.

Release Year: 2001

25. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Wind Waker HD sets sail for adventure!
Photo Credit: Nintendo

There are multiple Zelda games on this list; anyone who has spent time playing some of them will understand why. The world is so vast, the stories twisting and changing for each game, and the graphics are just stunning. The Wind Waker is such a unique gem of a game, and for me, it holds a lot of nostalgia.

The art style in The Wind Waker is one of the most unique and beautiful experiences in the Zelda franchise, giving it a lot of its charm on its own. The story is unforgettable, and the world exploration is some of the best in the franchise.

Release Year: 2002 (JP), 2003 (NA & EU)

24. Final Fantasy X

The whole party in Final Fantasy 10
Image Credit: Square Enix.

There are many Final Fantasy games in the franchise, with the main story games now at a whopping number 16. However, Final Fantasy 10 (X) was revolutionary. This was the first Final Fantasy to be released for PlayStation 2, and the graphics were breathtaking. It’s been a long time since the release, and it has had a remaster to give it a new lease of life.

However, there is something unbeatable about the original version of the game. The characters are far more emotive, and the story will make you laugh and cry. Sometimes, even at the same time. 

If you choose to play any Final Fantasy game, choose this one.

Release Year: 2001

23. Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead
Photo Credits: Valve

Left 4 Dead is a loved game by many, and it is totally understandable as to why. Playing a co-op zombie game with your friends online was awesome. Left 4 Dead 2 is more favored by the community, but Left 4 Dead is the one that started it all.

While the graphics are dated now, there was nothing more terrifying than triggering the Witch and having her chase you down.

Release Year: 2008

22. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

call of duty 4: modern warfare
Image credit: Activision

Although I’m not a huge fan of Call of Duty, I can see when they make a mark on the gaming community. Modern Warfare was one of the best Call of Duty games out there, with an intense campaign for fans of single-player gameplay. 

The multiplayer game modes were exciting and thrilling with just a pinch of frustration. Hey, at least it prepared us for players leaving mid-game.

Release Year: 2007

21. Guitar Hero 2

Guitar Hero 3
Credit: Neversoft

Although the first Guitar Hero was fantastic, Guitar Hero 2 just did everything better. It had all of the bugs fixed so that the launch was seamless, and it had many classic rock songs on there. This game had some of the best music and allowed for great competition between friends and family.

Guitar Hero is one of the best games to play at an arcade and remains timeless.

Release Year: 2006

20. Shadow of the Colossus

Giant monster in Shadow of the Colossus
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment.

Shadow of the Colossus was magnificent and beautiful. The world was vast and relaxing, with a smidge of anxiety if you came across a Colossus. The story for this game is done beautifully and could be likened to some real-life issues if you dug deep enough.

Luckily, for those who missed it the first time, the game is now available on PlayStation 4, so you can experience the beauty and terror in Shadow of the Colossus.

Release Year: 2005

19. Diablo 2

Diablo II
Photo Credit: Blizzard

Out of all the Diablo games available, no game has managed to do it as well as Diablo 2. There’s just something about this game that makes it so darn replayable, even after you’ve finished all of the content. 

If you find yourself looking for that hit of sweet nostalgia, Diablo 2 has been remastered, and you can get stuck in, with new seasons being added frequently. 

Release Year: 2000

18. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a unique experience amongst other Nintendo 64 Switch Online games
Photo Credit: Nintendo

It doesn’t matter how long it has been since the release of Majora’s Mask. Like many other entries in the Zelda franchise, the game is timeless. This particular Zelda game stands out from the crowd, as it sometimes verges on a little bit of horror. Compared to the other games, which are generally wholesome (until they’re not), this game showcases the horrors Link goes through with the mask.

The new mechanics added to this game are so much fun and give the basis for some really cool puzzles throughout. If you haven’t played Majora’s Mask before, you should definitely give it a go.

Release Year: 2000

17. The Sims

A chaotic scene from the first iteration of The Sims
Photo Credit: Electronic Arts

The first Sims game is one of the most iconic games ever created. We were truly blessed with the release of The Sims. Not only did it give us some wildly chaotic gameplay, but it also gave us terrifying sound notifications like the burglar coming to rob you.

The Sims has gone on to be incredibly successful, and it’s not hard to see why. Playing the game is relaxing; you can decorate and destroy however you like. The Sims is the perfect game of life.

Release Year: 2000

16. World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft villains
Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft is one of the most iconic MMORPGs to exist and has been on a very long journey to get to where it is now. Vanilla WoW was so popular that they re-released it, allowing you to play on servers separate from retail to get the nostalgic experience again.

Vanilla WoW was so vastly different from what WoW is now—having to walk everywhere on foot, manage your resources carefully, and sell everything possible just to try and get gold. It wasn’t easy back then, but still so much fun.

Release Year: 2004

15. Resident Evil 4

Image Credit: Capcom.

Out of all of the Resident Evil games, Resident Evil 4 is simply one of the best. Even if you don’t play the remastered version and want to stick to the classic, nothing will beat your experience playing as Leon Kennedy. RE4 takes survival horror to the next level.

The atmosphere is thick with tension and fear, the aesthetics are beautifully grungy, and the game is fluid and just a delight to play compared to the previous iterations.

Release Year: 2005

14. Super Smash Bros. Melee

Super Smash Bros. Melee
Photo Credit: Nintendo

Super Smash Bros has come a long way, but Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of the most iconic games in the series. While we are now up to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, nothing can take away from the unique experience that Melee brought us.

There’s something pure about this experience on Nintendo GameCube that has fans often coming back to, arguably, the best in the Super Smash Bros. franchise. 

Release Year: 2001

13. Half-life 2

Half Life 2 Gravity Gun
Image Credit: Valve.

Valve has created many a lovable game throughout the years, and Half-Life 2 remains one of the most loved. Along with its predecessor, Half-Life 2 paved the way for many different mods, such as Counter-Strike, Garry’s Mod, and then the release of The Orange Box.

The gameplay in Half-Life 2 was a lot of fun, albeit dated now. However, who’s to say you can’t enjoy a dated game? 

Release Year: 2004

12. Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts keyblade
Image Credit: Square Enix.

Kingdom Hearts was one of the most magical games ever released, in my opinion. First gracing the PlayStation 2, we saw the marriage between Square Enix and Disney. It was a bit of a bizarre cooperation, but it gave us some of the most lovable characters with ridiculous shoes and hair.

Although it looks like a child’s game on the surface, some of the topics cut deep and can be enough to have you in tears. Prepare for the franchise to break your heart.

Release Year: 2002

11. Mass Effect

Image Credit: Electronic Arts.

Mass Effect is an absolutely magnificent space game. If you’ve ever wanted to be a Commander of a ship in space, Mass Effect is the game for you. With multiple choice and multiple endings, your choices will weigh heavy on your heart if you make the wrong move.

Combining a hefty story with some intense combat and gameplay made for an exciting experience that still holds up today.

Release Year: 2007

10. Littlebigplanet

Sackboy sticking his tongue out
Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

LittleBigPlanet is one of the cutest experiences you can get your hands on. Sackboy first graced our screens on the PlayStation 3 and has been adored by many ever since. What’s not to love about him? He’s incredibly cute, and the game features the iconic Stephen Fry as a narrator, which suits the game perfectly.

Since then, the franchise has featured multiple games, co-op modes, and player-made creations. LittleBigPlanet truly lets players’ minds run wild and make some of the best levels ever seen.

Release Year: 2008

9. Super Mario Sunshine

Super Mario Sunshine
Photo Credit: Nintendo

There are dozens and dozens of games in the Super Mario franchise, but Super Mario Sunshine is one of the best experiences you can get your hands on. The game is full of light and joy and adds new mechanics that make the game even more fun than standard platforming. 

Additionally, the game has a fantastic soundtrack that will get stuck in your head for days. Super Mario Sunshine has an expansive world with plenty of puzzles to complete, and is fun for children and adults alike.

Release Year: 2002

8. Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime
Photo Credit: Nintendo

Metroid Prime has since been remastered for the Nintendo Switch, but the original was such a fantastic game in the Metroid series. This game was revolutionary, as it introduced 3D graphics to the game a decade after Super Metroid was released for the NES.

While the GameCube is seen as somewhat of a lackluster console by some gamers, Metroid Prime was one of the best games you could get for the GameCube.

Release Year: 2002

7. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Photo Credit: Bethesda.

The Elder Scrolls has become one of the most loved franchises in gaming. Whether it’s Oblivion or Skyrim, they are adored by many. However, Oblivion came first and pathed the way for Skyrim.

For its time, it had a lush environment with a story where you could make choices that changed the direction of the game. Whether you were a pacifist or you wanted to kill everyone in your wake, the game had a multitude of options for you.

The Elder Scrolls franchise became an influential series in the open-world category.

Release Year: 2006

6. Warcraft III

Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment.

Warcraft III is a well-loved game by many and is one of the greatest RTS games to exist. While the graphics weren’t anything impressive, they made up for it in charm and addictive gameplay.

One of the best features of Warcraft III was the soundtrack. It was incredibly atmospheric and just boosted the gameplay more.

Release Year: 2002

5. Persona 3

The main characters of Persona 3 stand in a classroom.
Photo Credit: Atlus

While Persona has become an incredibly popular franchise, it wasn’t always that way. Back in the day, the franchise had a much smaller, but still highly devoted, fanbase. They knew all about Persona 3 from the beginning. 

While it took some time for it to become available outside Japan, it was a smash hit once it did. It combined the elements of traditional RPGs with simulation games, as you would have a visual novel-like story and turn-based combat.

On top of that, the days would be segmented, allowing you to complete certain tasks, whether it was night or day. Since its release, Persona 3 has gone on to be remastered and is now widely available on a multitude of consoles.

Release Year: 2006

4. Psychonauts

Psychonauts Razputin
Image Credit: Majesco Entertainment.

Psychonauts is one of the most bizarre games released in the early 2000s, but quite simply one of the best. If you’ve been looking for a psychedelic experience with trippy gameplay, Psychonauts has it all. You’ll find your mind wrapped in twists and turns you didn’t think possible while trying to understand the mind-boggle that Tim Schafer has created.

For the longest time, Psychonauts didn’t get a sequel. It took until 2021 for the game to finally get a well-deserved sequel, which saw the game better than ever.

Release Year: 2005

3. Pokemon Crystal

pokemon games gold silver crystal timeline
Credit: Nintendo

Pokemon is one of the most loved franchises across the globe. Although the latest games don’t have the same draw and charm as the older ones, diehard fans still love every game created.

However, Pokemon Crystal was the peak of Pokemon and definitely one of the best games. It was a very challenging experience, and gamers of all ages had hours and hours of playtime to level up their Pokemon.

Release Year: 2000

2. Paper Mario: The Thousand-year Door

Paper Mario best nintendo 64 games
Photo Credit: Nintendo

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is one of the most beloved Mario games in the franchise. Not only did it try using a whole new art style for the game that was cartoonish and lovely, but the story and gameplay were phenomenal. 

It didn’t matter how old you were trying to play this game, as anyone could enjoy it. Luckily, for those who loved the original, it will be released for the Nintendo Switch in May!

Release Year: 2004

1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Master Sword
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess brings a more mature feel to the franchise. While Majora’s Mask was equally horrifying and wasn’t the most suitable iteration for children, there was something magical and haunting about Twilight Princess.

A launch title for the Nintendo Wii, Twilight Princess, was released on both the Wii and Nintendo GameCube. It ranks as one of the best titles for both consoles. 

Release Year: 2006

That concludes our list of the best games released in the 2000s. There were truly some absolute gems from that era of gaming, and we can only games released now are as iconic as some of these.

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Written by Amy Eastland

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