1. Half-Life (1998)
The opening sequence to Half-Life is one of the best pieces of writing in video game history, even though it contains no dialogue. By keeping you penned in a monorail carriage as it moves through the vast caverns of the Black Mesa research facility's upper levels, it sits you down, compels you to suspend your disbelief and lets you know you're about to experience something huge. Valve's huge, dark, intensely cinematic single-player odyssey rewrote the rules for first-person shooters, and every developer worth its salt has been trying to repeat that lightning bolt of imagination ever since.