Top 10 Highest Rated Games I've Played
Metacritic isn’t perfect. Review bombs happen, negatively impacting a game’s User Score undeservedly. Or maybe many critics simply didn’t understand the appeal of a game, but had to review it anyway, giving it a criminally low Metascore. At the end of the day, how I felt about a specific game is more important to me than how critics and other people felt about it, but it’s still interesting to see what games are considered “the best” by aggregated review scores. If you didn’t like one of these highly rated games, that’s okay, and you’re probably not alone! But the majority has spoken with these, and here they are: the Top 10 Highest Rated Games I’ve Played, according to Metacritic.
I’ve limited the list to one game per series, picking whichever game in the series had the highest score. Otherwise there’d be a few games from a few of the same series here. If the overall Metacritic score was tied, I put whichever had the higher User score above the other. I was sad to see that using this criteria, Persona 5 Royal was tied for the number 10 spot with 2 other games (Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Red Dead Redemption), and based on their User Scores at the time of writing it was not ranked high enough to make the list. It will always be one of the highest rated games in my heart.
Also, it seems that anything prior to the 5th generation of video game consoles doesn’t seem to be present on Metacritic. This means N64 and PlayStation games are candidates for the list, but SNES and older games are not. One last note, I’ve included the Metascore for each game on the list in parentheses next to the name of the game.
10. Portal 2 (95)
User Score: 8.7 (1,053 ratings)
This is for the Xbox 360 version since that’s the version I played through. I don’t think I’ve replayed it on Steam yet, though I have played a bit of the co-op on PC in the past. Both PC and Xbox 360 have the same Metascore, although the Xbox 360 version has a lower User Score by several points.
Portal 2 is still probably one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. The writing and characters are hilarious. “The Lemon Rant” is legendary. On top of all that, it delivers amazing puzzles revolving around the portal system. Knowing Valve, we may never get a Portal 3, but at least the series went out on this amazing high note.
9. Red Dead Redemption (95)
User Score: 9.0 (2,706 ratings)
It has been a while since I played Red Dead Redemption, so I don’t have any specific memories of playing it. One thing that stuck with me though is the awesome feeling of the world. It was so much fun riding around this open world as gunslinging former outlaw John Marston!
8. The Last of Us (95)
User Score: 9.2 (9,388 ratings)
This is the original PS3 release, although Remastered had the same Metascore but I still haven’t finished that version. The Last of Us tells an incredible story, it’s not surprising to see it rated so highly. It delivers solid 3rd-person gunplay and survival mechanics too, but I think the story and environments are really what earn it most of its praise.
7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (96)
User Score: 8.6 (3,818 ratings)
This marks the beginning of a several games on this list that had the same Metascore, so it came down to User Score to break the tie. This score is for the Xbox 360 version, which was the first time I played Skyrim. I’ve also played the PC version, probably even more than the Xbox 360 version at this point, but that version has a lower Metascore of 94. Skyrim is a good game in its own right, but for me it’s the mod support that really makes it incredible.
6. Bioshock (96)
User Score: 8.9 (2,489 ratings)
I played Xbox 360 version, and for some reason the Metascore is a few points higher for this version than the versions on other platforms. The setting of Bioshock definitely captured my imagination: a fallen, undersea utopia called Rapture. Just the concept of a city on the sea floor is interesting enough, but Bioshock takes this further and fills Rapture with 1940’s architectural and musical influences, and mixes in human augmentation to give the residents super-human powers. Gameplay in Bioshock is that of a first-person shooter, and the plasmid powers that give you the ability to set traps and offer new attacks against enemies make it especially interesting.
5. Mass Effect 2 (96)
User Score: 8.9 (3,415 ratings)
Interestingly, depending on the platform the score actually fluctuated a few points for this one. The Xbox 360 version, which is the version I played, had the highest score (96), while the PS3 and PC versions were a little lower (94).
Mass Effect 2 refined the combat of the first game. I think combat was more fun in this one but I remember always being weirded out that they introduced an ammo system. In the first game, your guns could overheat but they never ran out of ammo, but in Mass Effect 2 you suddenly need ammo. I don’t remember what specific in-universe excuse was given for this, but it didn’t convince me. Minor ammo-related complaint aside, Mass Effect 2 was a lot of fun. I don’t remember specifics of the story, but I think it had me interested until the very end.
4. Grand Theft Auto V (97)
User Score: 8.3 (3,826 ratings)
This is again for the Xbox 360 release of the game. The platform doesn’t make much a difference for Grand Theft Auto V: they’re all tied at 97 Metascore, except for PC whose Metascore is a point lower at 96.
Of course GTAV’s open world city was super fun to drive around and cause trouble in. But aside from that, I remember being genuinely interested in the main campaign. The heists especially were super cool, and the highlight of the campaign. It was also cool how you had 3 playable characters to switch between, and the way it zoomed out when switching characters to show the city from overhead before zooming back in to focus on the next character was so cool. I also enjoyed how the character you switched to might be somewhere other than where you last left them, implying that they had been going about their own business while you played another character, and making the world feel a little more alive.
3. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (97)
User Score: 9.1 (2,352 ratings)
There was a three way tie among the 3D Super Mario games for this spot. Super Mario Galaxy 1, 2, and Super Mario Odyssey all have a 97 Metascore as of this writing. However, Odyssey’s User Score is only 8.5, Super Mario Galaxy’s is 9.0, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 is 9.1, so it earns the number 3 spot on the list here.
I remember the first Super Mario Galaxy better than the sequel for some reason. To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure if I played through the sequel to the end. I was moving on from the Wii around the time it came out, so I didn’t give it as much attention as it deserved.
2. Metroid Prime (97)
User Score: 9.2 (1,035 ratings)
As you can see from the Metascore and User Score, it was close race between Metroid and Mario for the number 2 spot. Metroid Prime pulled ahead with its 9.2 User Score though, a User Score I haven’t seen very much on Metacritic. In fact, that 9.2 User Score is even higher than the User Score for the number 1 game on this list.
Metroid Prime brought the Metroid series into the world of 3D, and it did it perfectly. Retro Studios perfectly adapted the Metroid formula to a 3D world. The exploration, collectibles, and power-ups feel just like a 2D Metroid. Despite being first-person, it doesn’t really play like a first-person shooter since you’ll generally be locking on to your enemies and mashing button to shoot them rather than being tasked with precise manual aiming. As Nintendo has described it, it’s more of a first-person adventure game, and this description really fits!
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (99)
User Score: 9.1 (5,056 ratings)
Once upon a time, I knew Ocarina of Time was considered the greatest game ever made. I wasn’t sure if was still held in this regard, but lo and behold, it’s still one of the highest rated, if not the highest rated, games on Metacritic.
It’s a deserving reputation. I played the enhanced remake on 3DS a while back, and while that version has a few nice quality of life improvements, they didn’t have to add a whole lot of the polish to the original experience. The design of this game is just so good. Dungeons are fun to explore, enemies and bosses are fun to fight, and the story is simple but well presented. The cynical side of me wonders if Ocarina of Time is really as excellent as I think, or if nostalgia has just permanently made me biased. Whatever the case, Ocarina of Time will probably always be one of my favorite games, and I enjoy seeing it at the top of this list!