The 2000s was a great decade for a lot of brilliant video games. Here are the ten best games of the 2000s that you may not have played. I like encouraging gamers to try out lesser-known games and this list will include some of the best but underrated games of the 2000s.
Because each of these games is different from the others, it’s difficult to rank them in any order. This isn’t a Top 10 list. Each of these games stands out in its own right.
In addition to hidden gems like Gun that did not receive the recognition that they deserved, we’re including some high-profile games that were console exclusives (Gears) or PC exclusives (Far Cry) and thus had a limited reach.
Gun was originally released in 2005 and was well-received. It even won several awards. But despite all that, many gamers nowadays haven’t played this gem. It’s a Wild Western video game with open-ended environments and a beautiful story. If you like movies by Sergio Leone like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly or Once Upon a Time in the West, this game is definitely for you. There are a lot of fun things to do in this game, including horse racing and bounty hunting.
The stealth psychological horror Manhunt 2 was very controversial at the time of its release in 2007. The first game received similar reactions from many people for its ungodly amount of horrifying violence and depiction of mental illness. Some people might still be put off by the brutality of Manhunt 2. But if you have the stomach for it, you should definitely play this game. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience.
Crytek’s original Far Cry was such a beautiful and fun game. This game was released in 2004 exclusively for PC; it looked great for the time, mainly because of the CryEngine. Far Cry is set on a beautiful but mysterious island where sinister secrets hide. The game has sci-fi elements too. In my opinion, it’s one of the best FPS games of the 2000s. The map is relatively open-ended too, and it’s a joy to explore.
BioShock told one of the greatest twisted stories in a video game. It has one of the best openings and wonderfully written characters. For example, Andrew Ryan is still one of gaming’s greatest villains.
The underwater city of Rapture was an unusual but perfect setting for this atmospheric game. It was released in 2007 and I’m positive that this gem still holds up to this day. The lore of this game is very good too, and it rewards the player for being attentive.
We recommend that you check out BioShock: The Collection if you want to play it today. The games were remastered to show off their full glory.
Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 2 is a World War II video game that is a sequel to the original Call of Duty from 2003. This game was released in 2005 on PC and Xbox 360. This game should not be confused with the forgettable console-only Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, which was released on GameCube, PS2, and the original Xbox.
Honestly, CoD 2‘s graphical fidelity is surprisingly good for the time. The game hasn’t aged that badly either, and it’s the one for you if you crave a classic FPS experience. There are a lot of historical battles for you to take part in, and it’s still as thrilling as it was before.
Gears of War
Here’s another high-profile game that you may have missed due to its status as an Xbox 360 exclusive. Gears of War was released in 2006 but its visuals were extremely impressive for the time, as you can see in the screenshot above. This game’s color palette was very gritty and dead and it suits the game’s story perfectly.
It’s safe to say that Gears of War revolutionized the third-person shooter genre with its cover-based shooting mechanics and over-the-shoulder camera. The gunplay of this game feels very heavy and tight. This is one of the best third-person games of its time.
It’s backward compatible with Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, so you can still play it and enjoy even better graphics than before. Plus, it’s included for free with an Xbox Game Pass subscription. We recommend the Ultimate Edition. The Gears franchise in general is among the best co-op games on Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
F.E.A.R. is a brilliant FPS horror game that came out in 2005. Its destructive and chaotic gunplay holds up to this day, and the story and characters are very intriguing too. I also consider F.E.A.R. to be one of the best horror games of our generation with one of the best villains in video games. There are a lot of firearms in this game and your abilities allow you to tear through enemies. This is also one of the best implementations of bullet time in the 2000s, along with Max Payne.
Saints Row 2
2008’s Saints Row was what they call a GTA Clone, but it did a lot of things better than GTA did. The story was funny and there were a lot of jokes. The map was an absolute joy to explore. And the gunplay feels very satisfying. Because of its release time, it has aged poorly in some aspects, but don’t let that keep you from playing this game. Many of you might want to cleanse your eyes after seeing the Saints Row Remake, and the best way to do that is by playing the best game in the series. Also, if you’re a fan of heavy character customization, you’ll love this game.
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
2003’s Max Payne 2 was way, way ahead of its time. The graphics and physics were mind-blowing and the gameplay holds up relatively well, even today. The best part of Max Payne 2 was its story, though. Game developers should study this title as one of the best tragic love stories ever told in a video game. The comic book style of cutscenes and the noir setting are just a perfect combination. I highly suggest playing the original Max Payne before this, as it’s one of the greats too.
You might not be able to tell that Mirror’s Edge is a 2008 game by looking at the above image. It’s a parkour platformer with fast-paced combat and constant movement. While the sequel, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, fails to hold up with its predecessor, the original stands as one of the best parkour games ever. But despite its goodness, it really doesn’t get the love it deserves. It’s such a rush to play this game, and going with the flow of fluid movement never gets old.