The game differentiates itself from traditional MMOs in two ways. Every player—all half-a-million of them—exists in a single persistent universe (as opposed to being divided into regional-specific servers). And most of the game takes place in a lawless area unrestricted by game-mandated rules. Players are free to lie, cheat, steal, or kill other players. The economy is controlled by ten-thousand-player corporations, while control of territory is determined through extensive diplomacy or military dominance. A community-elected “Council of Stellar Management” serves as government, responsible for presenting EVE’s developer CCP Games with the opinions of the people.
Because of this laissez-faire approach, EVE Online might be one of the most realistic game worlds ever made.
Guitar Hero II
Music/rhythm games existed for years before Guitar Hero came along. Think of DDR, Beatmania, and even Parappa the Rapper. But it was Guitar Hero’s rock soundtrack that reinvigorated the genre and prompted people across the nation to stand up and strum plastic guitar peripherals.
Guitar Hero II improved on the first game’s success, expanding the song library by another 60-odd tracks ranging from classic rock to progressive metal. After GHII, the franchise moved development to Neversoft and Vicarious Visions, while Harmonix (the game’s original developer) released Rock Band, which introduced drums and vocals and dominated the music game genre for the next several years.
Forza Motorsport 4
The Forza franchise became wildly successful by emulating the racing simulator formula of its forebears, primarily Gran Turismo. Forza 4 is the pinnacle of that success. The game has many innovative features including Kinect-enabled head-tracking and dynamic commentary from Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson. But those take a backseat to what makes the game truly great: extreme attention to automotive detail.
Nintendo took a big gamble with the Wii. Instead of chasing hardcore gamers, the company decided to corner the family entertainment market in part by heralding motion control as the future of gaming. Would it work? Would people even understand these games?
Wii Sports answered both of those questions with a resounding yes, as players around the world started bowling and playing tennis with gesture-control Wiimotes. This collection of mini-games got gamers off the couch and put controllers in the hands of people who’d never touched a video game in their lives.
Just as many superheroes made their first appearance in non-eponymous comic books (Superman in Action Comics #1, Batman in Detective Comics #27), everyone’s favorite mustachioed plumber debuted in a game with neither Super nor Mario in the name. This game was more than the Italian high-jumper’s first outing, though. Donkey Kong was an early example of the iconic platforming genre and one of the most popular arcade games of all time, helping Nintendo break into the American video game market it would dominate in the 80’s.