When you look at the incredible amount of video games that come out every year, a very small percentage can be called good, let alone great. Therefore it’s always a pleasant surprise when three games in the franchise come out in a row, creating a beautiful trilogy of greatness. With Gears of War 3 coming out this week and the third installments in the Uncharted and Mass Effect franchises appearing in the next few months, it’s a good time to check out the 10 greatest video game trilogies of all time.
Fable – 2004
Fable 2 – 2008
Fable 3 – 2010
Peter Molyneux took his expertise in “god games,” like Populous and Black & White, and made it more character-based and personal with the Fable franchise. While Molyneux made more promises then he could back up with the initial game, he more than made up for it in later installments, creating deeper character origins, relationship arcs and larger worlds to explore.
Fallout – 1997
Fallout 2 – 1998
Fallout 3 – 2008
More than probably any other game on the list, the Fallout series has had an incredible evolution since its first release in 1997. What started out as a PC role-playing game became a first and third person action game when Bethesda Studios took over with Fallout 3, which still featured just as many role-playing elements. Taking place after nuclear war raged in the United States during the 1950s, the Fallout series shows the devastation that has occurred from coast-to-coast and the result of such destruction.
8. God of War
God of War – 2005
God of War II – 2007
God of War III – 2010
The God of War series is a mature, tragic tale of revenge set in the backdrop of Greek mythology. When the warrior Kratos accidentally slays his wife and child, he goes the Hell and back, literally and figuratively to get them back. The further Kratos seeks for revenge, the further away he gets to achieving it. Kratos vows to take down the gods themselves in order to fix his wrongdoings. God of War released its third iteration last year and gave players a satisfying, yet dark end to the story of Kratos.
Halo – 2001
Halo 2 – 2004
Halo 3 – 2007
It’s been said that without Halo, the Xbox would have been a failure. The game was a must-buy for anyone who purchased an Xbox at launch and subsequent games have only furthered Halo has an essential first-person shooter. Halo revolutionized multiplayer games in a way that hadn’t been done since Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64, and its story of Master Chief vs. the Covenant was just as fulfilling.
6. Resident Evil
Resident Evil – 1996
Resident Evil 2 – 1998
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – 1999
It wasn’t the first in the “survival horror” genre, but even though the first three aren’t the best games in the franchise by a long shot, the first games in the Resident Evil series are landmark in their story and style. The first three games occur in Raccoon City as a zombie outbreak leaves the STARS police team to pick up the pieces and figure out the mystery of what happened. Resident Evil led to the creation of other game series such as Devil May Cry and Silent Hill, while also ensuring a constant stream of terrible movies loosely based on the games.
5. Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat – 1992
Mortal Kombat II – 1993
Mortal Kombat III – 1995
When Mortal Kombat was released, it seemed just another Street Fighter clone—with more blood. Most people focused on the gore, but what lied beneath the blood was a great fighting game that was just as accessible and fun to master as Street Fighter, and much more controversial. While time hasn’t been as kind to Mortal Kombat, with most games being hit or miss, the original three from the ’90s are essential fighting games for any hardcore or casual arcade fans.
4. Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid – 1998
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty – 2001
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – 2004
It is rare that a game that involves convoluted storylines, including nuclear warheads, possessed hands and a guy who is constantly on the toilet, can be as gripping and exciting as the Metal Gear Solid series proved to be. Metal Gear Solid never held back, trying new things, new game mechanics, and throwing in twists, regardless of how frustrating they may seem. Metal Gear Solid took plenty of chances and gladly, it turned into an incredibly fun and rewarding experience.
3. Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog – 1991
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – 1992
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 – 1994
During the ’90s, the console wars were pretty much won by Nintendo, but Sega had something that Nintendo didn’t: speed. Sonic the Hedgehog earned the nickname “the blue blur” as he raced at speeds that Mario could never match. The Sonic franchise was the ultimate in lightning-fast game play, where nerves and quick reflexes were key. Unfortunately over the years, the Sonic franchise has become less about speed and has suffered for it, but nothing can take away the hours of fun that were supplied by the first three Sonic games.
2. Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto III – 2001
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – 2002
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – 2004
When the Grand Theft Auto series hit the original PlayStation, it was trying to find its place and figure out what it wanted to be. But when Grand Theft Auto 3 hit the PlayStation 2, it was unlike anything gamers had ever seen. Now it’s impossible to find a video game that hasn’t been influenced in some way by the GTA franchise. The PlayStation 2 GTA games furthered how deep a “sandbox” game could become, as well as showing how great Rockstar games are at cultivating deep, intricate stories.
1. Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. – 1985
Super Mario Bros. 2 – 1988
Super Mario Bros. 3 – 1990
Rarely does a franchise become as consistent as Super Mario Bros. On paper it sounds like a bad drug trip: a plumber fights his way through the Mushroom Kingdom in order to save a princess from a dragon beast, but on the Nintendo, it’s gaming at its finest. Mario set the stage for every platforming game that came after it. Mario’s perfected controls, groundbreaking level design and endless replay value makes the Super Mario Bros. franchise not only the greatest trilogy of all time, but easily three of the greatest video games ever made.