Stuff's Best Games Ever: The 50 greatest games of all time

Half-Life 2, surely? Or maybe GTA V? But what about Mario? Yes, it's an impossible task... but we've tried anyway

Oops, we did it again: we've put together a massive list of our favourite games ever, stretching back decades, in a bid to crown the all-time greatest.  

The last time we did this, in 2014, we limited ourselves to a top 20 (which you can see below) - but due partly to the fact that there have been so many great games since then, and partly to the fact that we work harder these days, our 2017 list is 50-strong. 

This selection reflects the games that our staff have loved and obsessed over since their youth, as well as a few very recent picks. We expect some of the entries will surprise you: we didn't always go for the default, obvious choices. But then that would be boring. Plus, while you might be massively, personally upset that Resident Evil and Street Fighter II and Donkey Kong and tons of others didn't make the final cut, all we can say is that it's impossible to please everyone with a list like this. 

So without further ado, let's count them down, starting with #50…

The best games ever: 50-46

50) The Sims (2000)

The Sims might be the single most sadistic game out there – sorry, GTA. Maybe that's just how we played it, but it was one of the few titles that put no restraints on your twisted imagination. Want to trap your Sim in a burning house? Go for it, but expect the Grim Reaper soon after. Of course, there are less-grotesque ways to have fun in this PC classic. Not that we ever tried them.

49) WipEout (1995)

WipEout took the anti-gravity racing formula from Nintendo's 16-bit F-Zero, popped it on a PlayStation, and added some generous curves: the move to 3D totally transformed the experience, and WipeEout was tough, flashy, and undeniably cool. Brilliant graphic design and a thumping soundtrack sealed the deal – and then WipEout 2097 kicked it up another notch.

48) Civilization II (1996)

We've no doubt that Drake was playing Civilization II shortly before thinking up the lyrics, "Started from the bottom now we're here." Starting in the Bronze age, your quest is to keep your civilisation alive, obliterate your enemies and be the last empire standing when you arrive at the space age. People lost hours, days, weeks, months to this game. And when we say 'people', we mean at least one member of the Stuff team.

47) Deus Ex (2000)

Not just a great shooter, but also a great stealth game, a great RPG, and a great piece of writing. Deus Ex was all about evolution, letting you build towards your own style of play: tool up like a tank and smash through, or crawl through some vents, turn off the security cameras and treat the enemy to a surprise knockout.

46) Super Smash Bros. Melee (2002)

The GameCube's best-seller wasn't a Zelda, Super Mario or Mario Kart, but rather a game in which you could hammer Kirby's little pink mug until your heart's content. Actually, when we put it like that it's no wonder Super Smash Bros. Melee is still played on the competitive fighting circuit. Sorry Kirbster, you've just got one of those faces. We really couldn't help ourselves.

The best games ever: 45-41

45) Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Solid Snake, the world's greatest infiltrator, showed us the greatest way to creep downstairs for a midnight snack without being caught – just carry around a cardboard box for impromptu hiding. After hours of saving hostages and sneaking into nuclear weapons facilities, you'll never get caught pinching biscuits from the cupboard again.

44) Pokémon Blue & Red (1999)

It's been almost 20 years since Pikachu and the rest of those goofy-looking monsters arrived in our pockets, yet their popularity endures. The concept was simple: collect all 151 monsters and become the Pokémon champion, and the real genius was letting you trade and battle your friends. Your quest for mastery didn't stop until you'd amassed a miniature army of elemental beasts.

43) Silent Hill 2 (2001)

Resident Evil might get most of the credit for creating the survival horror genre, but Silent Hill's more psychological bent earned plenty of fans – and PS2 sequel Silent Hill 2 is where the series hit its apex. The dense fog generates ample fear and confusion as you wander the titular town and confront demons both figurative and literal, with the terrifying Pyramid Head leading the charge.

42) Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

How did the Mega Drive hold its own against the Super Nintendo and its cache of killer games? Sonic the Hedgehog, of course. Sega's speedy creation was a one-of-a-kind thrill – a fast-paced jaunt across rolling hills and loop-de-loops that you just couldn't play anywhere else. And the series just kept getting better… well, until the 16-bit era ended, at least. Still, it was back on form with this year's Sonic Mania...

41) Age of Empires II (1999)

The Civilization series may take the crown when it comes to soaking up years of your spare time on needlessly complicated irrigation projects, but Age of Empires is much more fun. There's some history in there, certainly, but if you get fidgety, you can always type "how do you turn this on" (the hilarious car cheat) and drive around Mesopotamia wheelspinning enemies into the ground.