Right now on Gamefaqs, there’s a series of polls going on to define the “BEST. GAME. EVER”, in which various critically acclaimed or commercially successful games are put 1vs1 Final Destination in a series of rounds to define which one is the best game of all time.
Naturally, there’s been plenty of controversy and debate in the forums because of said poll, mainly users creating topics saying “Why is X losing to Y?”, or someone protesting the inclusion of recently released games such as Metal Gear Solid V or Undertale, which despite all the positive reception they have gotten, haven’t really passed the test of time to see how well remembered or how well seen they will be in the upcoming years (After all, the best game of all time is not one you forget about in 5 or 10 years!).
I won’t lie, even I have protested about how my favorite game or a game I like is losing against another game (And I often voted for the one I found objectively better or had more knowledge of), we all have that game that we think is the best, and what game is that depends on the person, for some people it can be an FPS such as Half-Life or Quake, for others it can be an RPG such as Fallout or Final Fantasy, sometimes it can be a rather obscure or underrated game most gamers haven’t heard about. Of course, publications and individuals will often try to define who is right and which game is the game to rule them all.
Now on to the question at hand, can you define a best game of all time? I don’t think so, however, you can say a game the best in certain areas.
First of all, most polls made to determine what is the best game of all time are pretty much popularity contests, even Gamefaqs themselves admit it.
A quick look at the poll itself will tell you that, there’s games from several different genres and console generations, from classics such as Super Mario Bros 3 and Tetris to more recent releases such as The Witcher 3 or Bloodborne. It’s an “Apples and Oranges” thing, you can’t define a “Best game of all time” because many of those games belong to different genres. For example, if you said “Ocarina of Time is the best game of all time”, you would be implying that It’s better than games such as Super Mario World, Planescape: Torment, Metal Gear Solid 3 or any GTA game, which are also often used as the subject of said statements.
You would be saying that an Action-Adventure game is better than a platformer, a computer RPG, a stealth game or a sandbox. Which is a comparison you can’t make because they’re all different things, games that focus on certain aspects. A game like Planescape is often remembered and talked about because of the writing and story, and a game like GTA is often talked about because of the various situations and things that happen to the players exploring Rockstar’s sandbox universe. You can say Ocarina of Time is your favorite game or that It’s the best game as an opinion, but if you try to bring forward arguments about why It’s the best game ever, you will encounter a dozen other people trying to argue the same thing for their favorite game.
You can however, argue that Ocarina of Time is the best game in the Legend of Zelda series, since you’re now talking in a more specific context, It’s easier to argue or to come to a conclusion because you can start making more objective comparisons, such as gameplay mechanics compared to other games in the series, dungeon or world design.
Same can be said for different genres, trying to debate or argue about which FPS is the best is not possible because of all the different kinds of FPS games (Some of them even being partially shooters like Metroid Prime or Deus Ex) and you would end up in an Apples-and-Oranges situation where a group would argue about a tactical shooter such as Counter-Strike and another argues about a more fast-paced game like Quake. You can’t define the “Best FPS game”. But you can define what would be the most influential FPS games, or the most influential game in a genre or sub-genre.
An example of this is Wolfesntein 3D, people consider it the grandfather of shooters, as it laid the skeleton of how a FPS game should work. Then Doom came along and did several improvements upon what Wolfenstein 3D did. And then Quake arrives and establishes many of the features that are standard in today’s games, such as mouse-look, jumping and console commands. Then we have games like Half-Life that integrates story and narrative into the gameplay. Sure, there can be games with objectively better graphics, AI or more complex levels, but the reason the previously mentioned games are still talked about today is not because they’re better than today’s FPS games, but because they’re the reason today’s FPS games exist in the first place.
There’s also games, that despite being out for years, are still played today. They passed the test of time not only by being remembered, but also, and most importantly, because they still hold up today compared to games with larger budgets made for more advanced hardware. An example of this is Deus Ex, while Deus Ex gunplay is outdated compared with today’s standards, aspects such as level design and the freedom and influence the player has both during gameplay and story still hold up today. The design of the levels allow for truly open-ended approaches to completing the missions, and many variables in the story, like the fate of a character, the outcome of certain objectives and even the disposition of some characters towards you, are affected not by a dialogue choice, but by the way you play the game. It’s interesting how in today’s world where games featuring sandbox environments and stories based on player-decisions, most games don’t have the sort of dynamic gameplay or story that Deus Ex has.
So, what do you think 4-One community, what’s the game you consider the best (Subjectively speaking)? Do you disagree with me and think there’s actually a way to objectively measure “The best game ever”? Fire away in the comments.