Every GameSpot Game of the Year

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imageEvery GameSpot Game of the Year

25 Years Of Game of the Year

Throughout the years, GameSpot has handed the Game of the Year award to a variety of fantastic games, which includes big names like (/the-legend-of-zelda-ocarina-of-time/) , [Red Dead Redemption](/red-dead-redemption/) , Soul Calibur , Journey , and more.Each still stands out as some of the finest in the medium and are well worth revisiting today despite their age–if only to experience how each revolutionized games as we know them.

Our latest Game of the Year announcement got us thinking about the past and every game we’ve ever awarded the prestigious title of GameSpot’s Game of the Year to.Take a trip down memory lane with us as we recount some of the best games we’ve highlighted since our site’s formation.You can also see our pick for Game of the Year 2021 at the end of this feature.

In a tumultuous year full of delays and uncertainty, game studios put out some fantastic experiences this year.It’s difficult to not just be in awe of the work developers have performed even against very trying circumstances.If you want to see what 10 games made the final cut for consideration as Game of the Year, check out our list of the 10 best games of the year .

For more on our picks of the best games of the year across various categories, as well as features focusing on the year’s performance, check out our Best of 2021 hub .In the meantime, what are some of your favorite games across the years? Let us know in the comment section below.

1996 | Diablo

Score: 9.6 | Review Date: January 23, 1997 | Written by: Trent Ward

“Diablo is the best game to come out in the past year, and you should own a copy.Period.

If you like PC games, you should go out right now and experience what is likely to be the clone maker for the next two years.”– Read the full review .

1997 | Total Annihilation

Score: 9.3 | Review Date: October 1, 1997 | Written by: Ron Dulin

“If you’re looking for a real-time strategy game that adds some new features without breaking from the standard formula, Total Annihilation may be too foreign to satisfy your needs.But if you’re looking for a game that is challenging and rewarding on entirely new levels, Total Annihilation is highly recommended.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/total-annihilation-review/1900-2535174/ .

1998 | The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Grim Fandango

Note: Through the years 1998-2001, GameSpot gave Game of the Year awards for both Console and PC.

Console:

Score: 10 | Review Date: November 23, 1998 | Written by: Jeff Gerstmann

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the real thing.

This is the masterpiece that people will still be talking about ten years down the road.This is the game that perfectly exhibits the ‘quality not quantity’ mantra that Nintendo has been touting since the N64 was released.In a word, perfect.To call it anything else would be a bald-faced lie.” Read the full review.

PC:

Score: 9.3 | Review Date: October 30, 1998 | Written by: Ron Dulin

“The one real problem with [Grim Fandango](/grim-fandango/) is that the end comes too soon.This isn’t because it’s too short (it should take most a good two- to three-dozen hours), but because the designers have created a rich world that you won’t want to leave, filled with memorable characters that are hard to say goodbye to.

Don’t be surprised if you’re sad when it’s over.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/grim-fandango-review/1900-2537300/ .

1999 | SoulCalibur, EverQuest

Note: Through the years 1998-2001, GameSpot gave Game of the Year awards for both Console and PC.

Console:

Score: 10 | Review Date: August 9, 1999 | Written by: James Mielke

“Yes, it is a fighting game, a genre with a fairly limited scope, but insofar as fighting games go, Soul Calibur is mind-numbing perfection.Namco has taken the best and made it considerably better.The level at which the company has done so is practically unprecedented.Think state of the art.Absolutely brilliant in all aspects, as far as games of this type go, Soul Calibur is the undisputed king of the hill.It is essential in any gamer’s collection.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/soul-calibur-review/1900-2540664/

PC:

Score: 8.4 | Review Date: August 2, 1999 | Written by: Greg Kasavin

“Exploring the land, hunting monsters, fleeing from certain death – all these things are incredible fun in EverQuest so long as someone else is along for the ride.

Although it might have been better in almost every respect, it is, like any good online RPG, a work in progress.And there’s no question that it’s the best game of its kind.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/everquest-review/1900-2535859/ .

2000 | Chrono Cross, The Sims

Note: Through the years 1998-2001, GameSpot gave Game of the Year awards for both Console and PC.

Console:

Score: 10 | Review Date: January 6, 2000 | Written by: Andrew Vestal

“With Square agonizing over every detail of its flagship property, the Chrono Cross team was apparently left mostly to themselves.Consequently, the game shares an all-out enthusiasm and joie de vivre found in the best 16-bit titles — back before games became multimillion dollar properties that had to answer to glaring shareholders.

Chrono Cross may not have had the largest budget, but it has the largest heart.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/chrono-cross-review/1900-2545933/

PC:

Score: 9.1 | Review Date: February 11, 2000 | Written by: Andrew Park

“This isn’t to say that [The Sims](/the-sims/) isn’t an enjoyable and intriguing game, because it is.If you relished the feeling of complete control of building a city in SimCity, then you will doubtless enjoy the experience of building a domestic life in The Sims.And even those who didn’t will still likely find themselves engrossed in The Sims’ bright-looking, real-sounding, and highly detailed world of miniature people.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-sims-review/1900-2533406/ .

2001 | Grand Theft Auto III, Serious Sam: First Encounter

Note: Through the years 1998-2001, GameSpot gave Game of the Year awards for both Console and PC.

Console:

Score: 9.6 | Review Date: October 24, 2001 | Written by: Jeff Gerstmann

“Rockstar and DMA Design have obviously spent some time making sure that [Grand Theft Auto III](/grand-theft-auto-iii/) is a quality product, and that quality shows in everything, from the graphics, to the sound, to the plot points, to the gameplay itself.Unlike previous games in the series, the game is extremely fun whether you play it as it was intended to be played or eschew the game’s intended mission structure and set out on your own to wreak havoc throughout the city.While the violent nature of the game will surely turn some people off and kids simply shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it, Grand Theft Auto III is, quite simply, an incredible experience that shouldn’t be missed by anyone mature enough to handle it.”

PC:

Score: 8.9 | Review Date: March 26, 2001 | Written by: Greg Kasavin

[Serious Sam: First Encounter](/serious-sam-the-first-encounter/) may not suit those players who prefer more deliberate, more story-driven, or otherwise more serious first-person games such as Thief: The Dark Project or Deus Ex; but even these players owe it to themselves to give the game a try.Ultimately, Serious Sam is a clear lesson in what elements are necessary to make a game enjoyable.

It’s an unquestionably fun game from an unquestionably talented development team.”

2002 | Metroid Prime

Score: 9.7 | Review Date: November 15, 2002 | Written by: Greg Kasavin

“Let’s get right to the point: [Metroid Prime](/metroid-prime/) is the best GameCube game to date.It’s one of the best games on any platform this year, and, for good measure, it’s also the best game yet in Nintendo’s highly acclaimed Metroid series.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/metroid-prime-review/1900-2897768/ .

2003 | The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Score: 9.3 | Review Date: November 21, 2003 | Written by: Jeff Gerstmann

“While some may be a little put off by the late-game item fetching and the game’s easy puzzles and boss battles, The Wind Waker is nonetheless a strong achievement in every way, from its stunning graphical presentation to its tight control and interesting story line.

It may not have fallen too far from the tree Nintendo planted back in 1998, but the way it refines one of the polygonal generation’s most important games makes The Wind Waker every bit as much of a must-own game as The Ocarina of Time was before it.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-legend-of-zelda-the-wind-waker-review/1900-6023591/ .

2004 | World of WarCraft

Score: 9.5 | Review Date: November 29, 2004 | Written by: Greg Kasavin

“World of Warcraft features an overall level of quality that’s typically reserved for the best offline games, which have always had a leg up on online games in their ability to present tightly-woven, story-driven settings.But World of Warcraft achieves this in the context of a massive, evolving world populated by thousands of other players who you may choose to interact with, which makes the proceedings seem that much more meaningful.This is a stunning achievement that will make you feel privileged to be a game player.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/world-of-warcraft-review/1900-6114072/ .

2005 | Resident Evil 4

Score: 9.6 | Review Date: January 10, 2005 | Written by: Greg Kasavin

“You’ll surely find from playing or even just watching Resident Evil 4 that all this sort of high praise is warranted, though it’s worth reiterating that this is one of those games that you ought to approach with as few preconceived notions as possible.Essentially, if you’ve been entertained by any other mature-rated action game recently, then chances are you’ll be blown away by this one.

It’s that good.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/resident-evil-4-review/1900-6115968/ .

2006 | Gears of War

Score: 9 | Review Date: November 5, 2006 | Written by: Jeff Gerstmann

“With a great loadout of weapons, a healthy multiplayer package, and an action-packed story mode, Gears of War is a terrific action game that, even after a full year, still stands apart from the pack.Whether you’re a superfan of the first game who is looking for some additional content, or a PC buff who’s been wondering what the console kids have been up to, Gears of War on the PC is most definitely worth your time and money.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/gears-of-war-review/1900-6182319/ .

2007 | Super Mario Galaxy

Score: 9.5 | Review Date: November 7, 2007 | Written by: Alex Navarro

“Here is the game that Wii owners have been pining for, a game that has tons of appeal for both the less experienced player and the longtime gamer.A game that deftly combines accessibility and challenge, all wrapped up in a package that’s both deep and addictive.Super Mario Galaxy is all of this and more.

It is simultaneously one of Mario’s best adventures and a game that doesn’t require fandom of the portly plumber’s previous engagements to appreciate.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/super-mario-galaxy-review/1900-6182474/ .

2008 | Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Score: 10 | Review Date: June 13, 2008 | Written by: Kevin VanOrd

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is the most technically stunning video game ever made.It’s also a fine example of storytelling prowess within its medium, combining gameplay and narrative so slickly and beautifully that it’s impossible to extricate one from the other.It’s likely you will emerge awestruck from your first play-through, wishing the experience would continue yet nonetheless satisfied with its conclusion.It’s difficult not to sound hyperbolic when discussing MGS4 because every part of its design seemingly fulfills its vision, without compromise.There is no halfway.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/metal-gear-solid-4-guns-of-the-patriots-review/1900-6192543/ .

2009 | Demon’s Souls

Score: 9 | Review Date: October 6, 2009 | Written by: Kevin VanOrd

“There’s a lot to discover, and Demon’s Souls wants you to figure it all out on your own.

But while the game doesn’t serve the answers to you on a gilded platter, it gives you a number of refined and inspired tools to help you succeed, and its astounding, oppressive world will cast its spell on you.If you crave true innovation, a fair but relentless challenge, and gripping exploration in which every step has consequences, then you crave Demon’s Souls.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/demons-souls-review/1900-6231961/ .

2010 | Red Dead Redemption

Score: 9.5 | Review Date: May 18, 2010 | Written by: Justin Calvert

“This is an outstanding game that tells a great story with memorable and occasionally laugh-out-loud-funny characters.Think about great moments that you remember from spaghetti Western movies, put them all into one 20- to 40-hour epic feature, and picture yourself in the starring role.

Now you have some idea of what’s waiting for you in Red Dead Redemption.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/red-dead-redemption-review/1900-6262899/ .

2011 | The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Score: 9 | Review Date: November 10, 2011 | Written by: Kevin VanOrd

“If you’ve played previous Elder Scrolls games, glitches and oddities don’t come as a surprise.Nevertheless, [Skyrim](/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim/) comes in a year graced with multiple quality RPGs that feature tighter combat, fewer bugs, better animations, and so forth.But to be fair, none of those games are endowed with such enormity.Yet The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim doesn’t rely on sheer scope to earn its stripes.

It isn’t just that there’s a lot to do: it’s that most of it is so good.Whether you’re slashing a dragon’s wings, raising the dead back to life, or experimenting at the alchemy table, Skyrim performs the most spectacular of enchantments: the one that causes huge chunks of time to vanish before you know it.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-review/1900-6344618/ .

2012 | Journey

Score: 9 | Review Date: March 2, 2012 | Written by: Jane Douglas

“It’s a real accomplishment that (/journey/) draws together so many conventional game elements, and so well, and still feels like the art piece we expect from the makers of Flow and Flower: intriguing, ambiguous, and experimental.The game’s length, two or three hours on the outside, is exactly right, letting you take in the whole experience in one session.Once you’ve completed it, you can dip back into favorite chapters, and even without the impact of unexpected reveals, it’s uncommonly enthralling.

Its deliberate ambiguity brings on the urge to speculate on deeper meanings, but meaning here is bound to be personal, and best discovered for yourself.Discover it you should.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/journey-review/1900-6363693/ .

2013 | The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Score: 9 | Review Date: November 14, 2013 | Written by: Martin Gaston

“Though it can be bizarre to think that something so occasionally familiar can still be so fresh and engaging, [A Link Between Worlds](/the-legend-of-zelda-a-link-between-worlds/) is itself a unique experience.There’s a lingering sense that by this point Nintendo is just running victory laps around a set of mechanics they perfected decades ago but, at the end of the day, none of that matters: this is simply an absolute treat to play.” Read the review .

2014 | Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Score: 8 | Review Date: September 25, 2014 | Written by: Kevin VanOrd

“This is a great game in its own right, narratively disjointed but mechanically sound, made up of excellent parts pieced together in excellent ways.I already knew what future lay in store for Middle-earth as I played Shadow of Mordor; I’m hoping that my own future might one day bring another Lord of the Rings adventure as stirring as this one.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/middle-earth-shadow-of-mordor-review/1900-6415884/ .

2015 | The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Score: 10 | Review Date: May 12, 2015 | Written by: Kevin VanOrd

“Where the Witcher 2 sputtered to a halt, [The Witcher 3](/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/) is always in a crescendo, crafting battle scenarios that constantly one-up the last, until you reach the explosive finale and recover in the glow of the game’s quiet denouement.But while the grand clashes are captivating, it is the moments between conflicts, when you drink with the local clans and bask in a trobairitz’s song, that are truly inspiring.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-review/1900-6416135/

2016 | Overwatch

Score: 9 | Review Date: May 25, 2016 | Written by: Mike Mahardy

Overwatch is an exercise in refined chaos.There are multitudes of layers hiding beneath the hectic surface, and they emerge, one after another, the more you play.This is a shooter that knows how to surprise, one that unfolds at a frantic pace, one that takes a handful of great ideas, and combines them into something spectacular.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/overwatch-review/1900-6416439/ .

2017 | The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Score: 10 | Review Date: March 2, 2017 | Written by: Peter Brown

“No matter how gorgeous its environments are, how clever its enemies are, and how tricky its puzzles get, the fact that [Breath of the Wild](/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild/) continues to surprise you with newfound rules and possibilities after dozens of hours is by far its most valuable quality.It’s a game that allows you to feel gradually more and more empowered yet simultaneously manages to retain a sense of challenge and mystery–which, together, creates a steady, consistent feeling of gratification throughout the entire experience.

Breath of the Wild is a defining moment for The Legend of Zelda series, and the most impressive game Nintendo has ever created.” (/reviews/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-review/1900-6416626/) .

2018 | Red Dead Redemption 2

Score: 9 | Review Date: October 27, 2018 | Written by: Kallie Plagge

“While Red Dead Redemption was mostly focused on John Marston’s story, Red Dead 2 is about the entire Van der Linde gang–as a community, as an idea, and as the death rattle of the Wild West.It is about Arthur, too, but as the lens through which you view the gang, his very personal, very messy story supports a larger tale.Some frustrating systems and a predictable mission structure end up serving that story well, though it does take patience to get through them and understand why.Red Dead Redemption 2 is an excellent prequel, but it’s also an emotional, thought-provoking story in its own right, and it’s a world that is hard to leave when it’s done.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/red-dead-redemption-2-review-wild-wild-west/1900-6417019/ .

2019 | Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Score: 9 | Review Date: March 28, 2019 | Written by: Tamoor Hussain

“The orchestration of intense one-on-one boss encounters that truly test your mettle, and slower-paced stealth sections that let you take on battles at your own pace, is masterful.More so than in previous games, From Software has honed in on the inherent tension found in the challenging nature of its games, and uses it to incredible effect.Sekiro marries the developer’s unique brand of gameplay with stealth action to deliver an experience that is as challenging as it is gratifying.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/sekiro-shadows-die-twice-review-steel-yourself/1900-6417107/ .

2020 | Half-Life: Alyx

Score: 9 | Review Date: March 27, 2020 | Written by: Michael Higham

“Not only has Half-Life: Alyx made good on its shift to VR, it has elevated many of the aspects we’ve come to love about Half-Life games.

It may not be as bombastic as previous games, but the intimacy of VR brings you closer to a world you might have thought you knew over the past 22 years.Even when familiarity starts to settle in, its gameplay systems still shine as a cohesive whole.

And as it concludes, Half-Life: Alyx hits you with something unforgettable, transcending VR tropes for one of gaming’s greatest moments.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/half-life-alyx-review-catch-these-hands/1900-6417437/

2021 | Deathloop

Score: 10 | Review Date: September 14, 2021 | Written by: Tamoor Hussain

“Perhaps the most laudable part of Deathloop is how it takes so many seemingly disparate things and creates harmony between them.Gameplay systems that feel isolated become pieces of a bigger puzzle, and when you see how they seamlessly connect together, you realize how special an achievement it really is.Similarly, on paper, the different aesthetics should be like oil and water, but they come together effortlessly to be part of a greater whole, and, for me, that’s what Deathloop is really about.By standing back and looking at the bigger picture, the uncharacteristic choices and unexpected behaviors feel necessary–essential even.Maybe it’s just what I need to believe to give all that killing meaning, but when I began the final loop and carved a perfect, bloody path through Blackreef’s Visionaries in a single day, I made no ripples.” https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/deathloop-review-all-you-need-is-kill/1900-6417729/.

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