Picking just five games is hard â€“ damn hard. Do you go for games that have impressed in recent years, or follow the nostalgia trail to the dream games of your youth? Do you go for the big, influential, genre-defining masterpieces, or just pick the games you loved? For every game on this list there are three or four fondly-cherished favourites that didnâ€™t quite make it. I was busting to put Ultima Underworld 2, Deus Ex and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion in there, and Iâ€™m sad that none of the games that have really made me jump out of my skin have made it on; thereâ€™s just no room for Silent Hill 2, Doom, Shadow of the Comet, Alone in the Dark or Project Zero 2, no matter how much theyâ€™ve all creeped me out at one point another.
I also struggled for ages over whether to include my most-loved racers, but in the end Ridge Racer Type 4, Gran Turismo 3 and Colin McRae 4 all missed the list. And it cut me deep to only get one Nintendo game on there, forsaking Mario 64, Yoshiâ€™s Island and Majoraâ€™s Mask. Iâ€™ve even had to do without some of the multiplayer classics that kept me stuck at work until 9pm in the days when I worked in-house on magazines. While I loved playing Starcraft and Quake II single-player, itâ€™s always those networked games that have me looking back, misty-eyed.
Still, in the end I keep coming back to five games that â€“at some point in my life â€“ had me completely enthralled for hour after hour. In fact, these are all games that, somehow, redefined what I thought or felt about games.