The 20 most innovative games ever made

20 titles that changed video gaming forever

#9: Half-Life

Platform: PC

Year: 1998

Original review score: 5 out of 5 Stars

There's never been anything quite like the original Half-Life, a PC shooter that revolutionized video game storytelling by abandoning the popular concepts of story cinemas and wisecracking one-liners in favor of seamless real-time immersion and a faceless (and therefore universal) protagonist.

Why It Was Innovative:

Rather than making the player a joke-cracking personality ala Duke Nukem 3D, Half-Life developer Valve Software inverted the formula with powerful, genre-rippling results that still thrive over ten years later. The central "hero," Gordon Freeman, has no voice and no personality. Therein lies the genius: Freeman was nothing more than an empty vessel for the player's ego. Wisely, Valve Software then amplified this design decision by eschewing any game element that would shatter their carefully constructed alternate reality. That meant all storytelling and plot developments were seamlessly delivered in real time to the player via survivors of the Black Mesa alien invasion. To this day, Half-Life 's vision of the faceless, often voiceless hero is the de facto standard for much of the action genre, and organic real-time narratives have largely replaced mood-breaking cinematic cut scenes.

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  • C64 Gamer

    This list is terrible. I can think of games that really brought forward these "innovations" long before the games in this stupid list.

  • Tero

    ANY online game has a number of players that 'outnumbers some European countries': Vatican, Liechtenstein, Andorra and Monaco being some European countries.

  • sdew


  • Hank

    The Godfather the put sandboxes and 3D on the map is not even on this list. Wich made all these game even possible in the first place. Also missing half life and several other games that really saved the game industry after ET.

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