games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Games of 2001 – Grand Theft Auto 3, Final Fantasy X, More

October 31, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Grand Theft Auto 3

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I’m here to talk about the year 2001, which was one of the most tumultuous years in video game history. The Dreamcast died an ignoble death while the first Xbox and GameCube were launched. So, the sixth generation console cycle had truly begun. As usual, here is my own personal list of best games in 2001. Enjoy:

#8: Black and White

I really wanted to like Black & White more than I did. I just never got a handle on the creature interactions, or really, what you were supposed to be doing in the game. I mainly just tortured the little people who prayed to me, and slapped my creature around, since the social aspects of the game, like all of Molyneux’s games, were lacking. Still, I liked the idea of B&W, I just wish someone else had made it.

#7: Final Fantasy X

I’ve disliked Final Fantasy X for a long time, but since replaying it a year or two ago, I grew to somewhat appreciate it. Don’t get me wrong, the story is bad, the voice acting is worse, and the characters are some of the worst I’ve come across. However, the core battle system is some straight up turn-based JRPG goodness, and the game, at the time, looked pretty. There is a lot of really clumsy stuff in FFX and it doesn’t crack my list of Top 5 FF games, but it was still an impressive game in 2001.

#6: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

Later Tony Hawk games added more features and really blew out the gameplay but THPS 3 is where the gameplay is most recognizable. Tony Hawk 2 added the manual which let you chain together land-based tricks but there wasn’t a way to combo off quarter pipes. THPS 3 added the revert which let you perform multiple tricks on a quarter pipe, which really opened up the combo system. You could create incredibly long combos from a quarter pipe, to multiple grinds, to kick tricks with ease. THPS 3 was also the first game on the Playstation 2 and the bump up in graphical power really showed the game off well. It was also the first game with destructible environments, to a degree, or the levels would change based on certain things you accomplished in a given stage.

#5: Devil May Cry

The first Devil May Cry game is still kind of an odd game. You can clearly tell the game originally started off as a Resident Evil game, before it went off on a different direction. Unlike Resident Evil, the gameplay of DMC is fast-paced and generally action-packed. Dante moves a whole lot quicker than any hero in a Resident Evil game, able to nimbly hop and dodge around enemies, all the while hitting them with your sword or dual guns. I still am not a fan of the camera system in the game, but it was a great action game for the new PS2.

#4: Super Smash Bros Melee

There are many people, me included, who think that Melee is the best Smash game in the franchise. The later games might introduce more characters or online play, but the gameplay just seemed better tuned in this game than in the others. For one, the roster seems the most balanced, there are outliers for sure, but even the most joke characters like Jigglypuff can be deadly in the right circumstances. Also, this seemed like the fastest version in the franchise, which is something the pro players seem to enjoy. The game is 16 years old and is still very highly regarded by a lot of fans in the fighting game community.

#3: Halo: Combat Evolved

I got my first Xbox at damn near the launch of the system, I think around Christmas. With it, I was given a choice of buying one DVD (got Fight Club) and one game. I picked Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X. This wasn’t the best choice in the world. While I have some philosophical problems with Halo, it cannot be understated how important this game is. It basically started what we think of as modern FPS games on consoles. Having two analog sticks, one for movement and one for aiming helps with this concept. Aside from that, Halo had excellent combat with smart enemies that were varied. While your basic Grunt is pretty easy to deal with, other enemies like Elites or the Flood can be more annoying to deal with. Also, the multiplayer was a great thing to behold, especially if you had a few more Xboxes in your house, or in my case, college dorm.

#2: Max Payne

The only really bad part about Max Payne are the bloody maze/dream sequence parts. Everything else about the game is rad. While it may seem quaint by today’s standards, playing Max Payne made it seem like you were playing an action film. This was done in no small part by the Matrix/John Woo style bullet time and shot-dodge mechanic, but also the story the game has, and characters you interact with. Max Payne is a great, modern, film noir story with the classic (but updated) femme fatale, and plenty of surprises and betrayals as you slaughter your way through New York City’s underbelly. The funny thing is, I didn’t play this game on PC, which is generally considered a much easier/better experience. I played it on the Xbox, and getting through the game using that controller was no small feat.

#1: Grand Theft Auto 3

GTA 3 set the bar for open-world crime games. The earlier GTA games were top-down affairs but GTA 3 shifted into a 3D perspective and made the city really come alive. While the later games actually had interesting protagonists, the characters inhabiting Liberty City make it seem immersive. You could run around, commit random crimes, steal any car you wanted, or just go on a killing spree, and GTA 3 provided the tools to make it all an enjoyable experience. There was also a mountain of satirical humor in the game, which gave it a sharp edge of comedy. The later GTA games are great, and some of them will make future lists, but GTA 3 is the one that really started the franchise off and what could really be done in a realistic 3D world.

For comments, list which games that were your favorites in 2001.

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Top 8 Games of 2002

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison