Metacritic aggregates scores from critics all around the world, along with some commentary – also completely subjective – on why they may have gotten so much praise from the most well known game outlets in the world. While no game as been 100% universally well received by critics, there are 16 games that have come painfully close. All 16 of these video games have a metascore of 96 or higher on Metacritic. Don’t fret if you don’t find your favourite game on the list, as in the end it is the players, and not the critics, who have the final say on what really matters. Oh, also don’t forget that Metacritic only started aggregating scores from games released after 1999, so there is a possibility that your favourite game from 1998 could have been in the top spot of this list otherwise.
Here are 16 Video Games That Almost Got A Perfect 100 On Metacritic.
16. Batman: Arkham City (metascore: 96)
Batman: Arkham City is the sequel that outdid what was already arguably the best comic book to video game adaptation. Arkham City managed to improve on Arkham Asylum the same way Terminator 2 improved Terminator, as it made it bigger, better, and more explosive, without costing it any of its heart. On top of putting you in a much larger setting with new objectives and even cooler ways to complete them, this game brings back the amazing voice talent from the first game– or rather– the amazing talent from the ‘90s animated series, with Kevin Conroy as Batman, and Luke Skywalker himself, mister Mark Hamill, who you certainly won’t recognize from either the original Star Wars trilogy as he does an amazingly different voice as The Joker.
It doesn’t really matter if you don’t like Batman or even comic books. Arkham City should be recommended to anyone who likes a good story, or just plain fun. It holds a metascore of 96.
15. Resident Evil 4 (metascore: 96)
Despite a troubled development cycle that at more than one point resulted in the entire project getting scrapped, Resident Evil 4 still managed to completely reinvent the series in such a successful way that it managed to easily destroy the competition, raking in numerous “game of the year” awards in 2005. The game was so commercially successful that Capcom just couldn’t allow it to stay exclusive to the already dying Nintendo Gamecube, which prompted director Shinji Mikami to quit the company, as he had previously stated that he would “cut his own head off” if Resident Evil 4 were to ever stop being a Nintendo Exclusive. Most players were appreciative of the changes, as they resulted in an extremely engaging and long campaign, with relatively few complaints about to the now less horror-oriented nature of the gameplay.
Resident Evil 4 holds a metascore of 96 with a user rating of 9.4 (the highest on this list). While it can be argued that RE4 might not be the best Resident Evil game, with that distinction possibly going to either Resident Evil 2 or the remake of the original game, but it is almost impossible to deny that Resident Evil 4 was the last high point in the series. One can only hope Resident Evil 7 manages to bring the series back on track.
14. Uncharted 2: among thieves (metascore: 96)
Uncharted 2 is another case of a sequel that improved over the original in all aspects. That’s saying a lot, considering that the biggest criticism players had about the first game was that it was “Tomb Raider with a dude”. Pretty unfair, as back in its day Tomb Raider also caught flack for being “Indiana Jones with a girl.” In addition to being bigger and more refined than its predecessor, Uncharted 2 also manages to be longer, which is something really hard to come by these days.
Despite having some of the most amazing puzzles and action set pieces in video game history, the cherry on top of the cake is the obvious labor of love that was put into the character development and humor aspects of the game. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves holds a metascore of 96. Its only serious flaw is that if you shorten its name in a conversation people are going to think you are praising the band U2.
13. Goldeneye 007 (Metascore: 97)
GoldenEye 007 is probably some sort of anomaly, but miracle is a much better description. How many times has a made-for-console first person shooter that was tied to a film ever worked? As of 2016, GoldenEye is still the only one on that list. Licensed games are usually rushed to come out at the same time as the movie and exist solely to maximize profit, and up until 1997 no one had any idea on how to make a FPS work on a gamepad, especially if the gamepad in question was the really weird N64 controller.
For some unknown reason (most probably ace work from the developers) the game managed to come out not just good, but actually great, featuring a really good single player mode, and an even better split screen multiplayer than can be played (and still is today) by up to four friends. The game also features some special bonus levels that aren’t in the original movie and even an emulator that allows players to play special minigames. With this, the developer team proved that GoldenEye 007 was more than up to the task of succeeding where everyone who had come before (and even after) and failed. The game holds a metascore of 97.
12. Bioshock (Metascore: 97)
Bioshock is the spiritual successor to the very successful System Shock 2. Whereas System Shock 2 combined FPS action with some RPG elements, Bioshock is more on the shooter side, but to keep things from getting boring, it literally injects the player with special powers, via some sort of science-y injection called “plasmids,” which allow for some really cool gameplay scenarios in which you use guns with your right hand and the plasmid powers with your left.
But that’s not all, as the best thing about this game is its setting– the game takes place inside an underwater city that is now an ever-flooding once-utopia turned dystopia. Bioshock also features some really cool story with some awesome twists that we will kindly keep you from. The game holds a metascore of 97, has won many “game of the year” awards, and is one of the few game series on this list in which no sequels surpassed the original.
11. Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 is long-awaited sequel to the most beloved FPS games of its time. Despite a very troubled development cycle that involved an early leak of an incomplete build of the game which delayed it for more than a year, the people at Valve still managed to come up with one of the best, if not the best video game of all time. Valve could have gone the easy route– they already had one of the most highly acclaimed and commercially successful games of all time with the first Half-Life, so a few graphic overhauls here and there and we could have had a pretty decent sequel, but Valve isn’t known for wanting anything other than groundbreaking excellence.
Saying that Half-Life 2 improved over the first game doesn’t do it justice, as it not only improved but it actually created a completely new experience on its own, arguably because of the introduction of the zero point gravity gun, which allows players to interact with the physics engine in a way never seen before. Half-Life 2 has a metascore of 96 and a user score of 9.1. Given the jump in quality we experienced from the first Half-Life to Half-Life 2, it is pretty easy to understand why the ever-elusive Half-Life 3 is the most desired video game in history.
10. Halo: Combat Evolved (Metascore: 97)
There is an old internet meme that talks about how Halo invented everything. In all honesty, Halo didn’t really invent anything, but it didn’t ever claim to have invented anything either. What Halo: Combat Evolved really did what its title says: it evolved most combat mechanics in gaming you use today. Notice how most games nowadays have a health bar that regenerates on its own rather than forcing players to find health packs? Or how you can’t carry an entire army’s arsenal in your pocket, forcing the player to pick the best two weapons for a specific combat scenario? That was all started by Halo, and there was much more, but this isn’t a list about 15 ways Halo changed video games (which could be done).
It is also important to mention other really cool things Halo did, like its perfect blend of vehicle and on foot action against many different and highly intelligent enemies, while set in a really cool and well-written sci-fi universe. Oh, and that was just the single player, as the game allowed for players to play cooperatively or competitively in split screen, or even play with up to 16 players in a competitive LAN match. It shouldn’t come as a shock that Halo managed not just to keep the original Xbox afloat, but to actually cement Microsoft as a serious player in the console war. Halo: CE holds a metascore of 97.
9. Grand Theft auto 3 (Metascore: 97)
What’s left to be said about the most influential jump from 2D to 3D in gaming history? Grand Theft Auto 3, a game so revolutionary that it created its own genre and still generates dozens of copycats each year, more than 15 years after its release? Just like its silent protagonist, not much– and that is probably the best testament to the first open world free-roaming crime simulator in 3D the world ever got to play.
Aside from its technical prowess of being able to generate a gigantic city that you could freely drive through without any sort of loading between areas, GTA3 was also instrumental in making the PS2 the most successful gaming console of all time, as it got millions of players of all ages to buy one, thus making many parents really angry at ever present themes of violence and profanity. It holds a metascore of 97.
8. Metroid Prime (Metascore: 97)
This is another case of a Nintendo game very successfully going from 2D to 3D, with the twist that this one wasn’t actually done by Nintendo. Metroid Prime was actually outsourced to a then-not-very successful company from Texas called Retro Studios. The outsourcing decision resulted from a visit Shigeru Miyamoto paid to the studio, which upset him due to how chaotic their work environment was. It eventually turned into something promising as Miyamoto saw a game engine they were working on that looked great for a possible Metroid game in 3D. The team was so serious about the game that they cancelled all their other projects and for the final ten months of development they worked from 80 to 100 hours a week. Metroid Prime ended up being met with universal critical acclaim due to how well it combines exploration and first person shooter elements. Metroid Prime holds a metascore of 97 and the extremely high user score of 9.3
7. Grand Theft Auto V (97)
Grand Theft Auto V is the best selling full-price game of all time, which proves that the series not simply not slowing down, but actually getting stronger with each installment. There are two things that set V apart from GTA IV. The first is that instead of delving deeper on the bleak themes of its predecessor, GTA V marked a return to the psycho-but-jolly nature of the earlier entries in the franchise, with the introduction of the new fan-favourite character of the series, Trevor. He’s one of three characters you get to play in various amazing heist set pieces that were added to the already really varied missions you had in other games of the series.
The other amazing addition was the really cool GTA Online, which added a whole bunch of new gameplay modes that allowed players to meet other players in order to either pursue some nasty organized criminal activities, or to simply kill each other off. Sure, the previous GTA already had some online functionalities, but GTAV is when GTA online got very real. GTA V holds a metascore of 97, the second highest in the entire series.
6. Perfect Dark (Metascore: 97)
Seeing how successful they were with GoldenEye 007, Rare decided to go for another FPS that can be considered a spiritual successor to GoldenEye, but is an entirely new game on its own right, featuring an even better single player mode than its predecessor. Instead of James Bond, we now play as Joana Dark (we assure you this pun is the worst part of the game), who is obviously also a super spy, as she tries to stop a world domination conspiracy by a rival spy agency. Just like its predecessor, it also features an awesome multiplayer mode complete with a wide array of really original weapons.
Perfect Dark was one of the most advanced games on the Nintendo 64, featuring, among others, an optional mode with enhanced graphics and surround sound. The game was a critical and commercial success. Perfect Dark holds a metascore of 97 and is a painful reminder of what happens when a great team of developers gets bought by the wrong company, as you can confirm by the list of subpar games the once-great Rare has developed after its acquisition by Microsoft.
5. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Metascore: 97)
Both the original Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 hold the same metascore of 97, being right next to each other in Metacritic’s list of best games of all time, and occupying the 7th and 6th position respectively. We picked the second one simply because it is another case of a sequel that surpassed the original, which is a pretty big thing once you consider that after GameCube’s Super Mario Sunshine failed to live up to the quality of the amazing Super Mario 64, people started to doubt it could ever be surpassed.
Fortunately, Nintendo fans everywhere had good reason to rejoice in 2007, as the developers managed to create an entirely new formula that made perfect use of the Wiimote to create one of the most original games ever made; the original Super Mario Galaxy. Now instead of having an entire world to explore in 3D, players had an entire galaxy comprised of various planets which were their own levels themselves! When it seemed impossible once again, In 2010 they redid the impossible by improving on the already amazing level design of the first entry and by adding Yoshi, which is probably good enough to settle any debate.
4. SoulCalibur (Metascore: 98)
SoulCalibur is a fighting game with a very specific twist: instead of merely kicking and punching, players fight with actual weapons. The result was the best reinvention in the history of fighting games.
Did you notice how many games on this list are sequels that improved over the original? While SoulCalibur is somewhat a spiritual successor to Soul Blade (or Soul Edge, depending on where you live), the truth is that it is its own game; the first game of a series that spawned countless sequels that never managed to surpass the original. Why don’t people know about this? Well, unfortunately the game only came out for the ever-great-but-never-successful Sega Dreamcast, which resulted in a relatively small player base, which are deemed to suffer the fate of disappointment after disappointment after each time that a new Soul Calibur game is launched. To be fair, all the Soul Calibur games have been, at minimum, very good, and they have most certainly succeeded in looking better with each new entry, but they were never able to capture the awesome gameplay of the first title in the series.
3. Grand Theft auto IV (Metascore: 98)
There are many things that set Grand Theft Auto IV from the rest of the series, the most noticeable of which is a very clear change in tone. The wacky characters and world players were accustomed to gave way to a much bleaker world with much more realistic and nuanced characters. The best part? This whole new added character depth does not in any way detract from the fun. Yeah, that it’s all there, backed by the best sandbox crime simulator of its time, and maybe even of this time too.
Did you know that there are many things that GTA IV does better than the newer and more expensive GTA V? It’s true, the rag doll physics look more natural and so does the visible damage in cars. Enemies will react differently depending where they get shot (particularly when they get shot in their hands, which will cause them to drop their weapons). Policemen may simply try to disarm you in order to arrest you, unlike their GTA V counterparts, who will always shoot to kill. With all these apparently small but actually meaningful perks, it becomes easier to understand how GTA IV is the highest ranking game on the series, holding a metascore of 98.
2. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (Metascore: 98)
This is certainly the most surprising entry on this list; not because it doesn’t deserve to be here, but because no one ever considers sports games for this kind of list, specially in such a high position. You can check it though, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is right there at number 2 with an amazing metascore of 98 and a user score of 7.7 (which is rather low, but still higher than that of Grand Theft Auto IV, which only has 7.5). Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is an amazing game for its mix of a large variety of awesome moves that you could successfully chain together or hilariously fail at without ever actually breaking your bones, excellent maps, and an unforgettable soundtrack. How many players were introduced to Rage Against the Machine by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2? That alone should be enough to justify its incredible metascore.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Metascore: 99)
Famous for being the number one game of all time on most lists made by people born before or during the ‘90s, it mustn’t be very surprising to find out that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the only game to have ever reached a metascore of 99. Ocarina of Time marks the moment in which the saga transitions from 2D to 3D, which is something Nintendo apparently does well, as this is one of three times when doing that landed them on this list. Ocarina of Time is still to this day seen as one of the best games of all time, mainly because the added dimension wasn’t just for show. It really added an entirely new layer of depth to the whole experince. Ocarina of Time manages to be both just good old Zelda and something completely new at the same time. By the time of its release, Ocarina of Time was the perfect allegory to a video game maturing into an adult, which is coincidently exactly what happens to the character we play as.
What’s your favorite game on this list? Let us know in the comments!