10 Best Action Games From The 2000s

Throughout the history of gaming, nearly every decade has been stacked with fantastic action games. However, the 2000s was when the action game genre became more defined. This is particularly true with the popularization of the Hack and Slash subgenre, which made a huge impact on action games.

Many of the best action titles ever made were released in the 2000s. The sixth generation of console gaming is held in high regard due to the heavy amount of amazing and innovative titles released. It's no wonder that many spectacular action titles were released during that time on both consoles and PC.

10/10 Serious Sam: The First Encounter

Croteam's first major title was Serious Sam: The First Encounter, released in 2001. It had a rocky development and would have never been published if it wasn't for a notable gaming website Old Man Murray giving praise to the demo. Thankfully it did, as it's the last great old-school fps of its era. It's a horde shooter with tons of enemies on-screen and a tendency for deadly traps.

The game consistently spawns enemies when picking up any type of item. While this can be frustrating early on, you quickly learn what the game is doing and plan accordingly. Before picking it up, you equip your Rocket Launcher and blast that Bio-Mechanoid as soon as it spawns. It's a great example of how traps can be used well in a game.

9/10 Max Payne

The acclaimed Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment's second-ever title was Max Payne. First, the game had a lot of style to it with its comic book-like cutscenes and noir style. Second, the action gameplay was fantastic with the John Woo slow-motion gunfights.

For a brief period in the early to mid-2000s, a lot of third-person action games wanted to be like Max Payne. Be warned, though, that the game is not easy. A remake of the first two games is currently in the works by Remedy themselves and is worth looking out for.

8/10 Devil May Cry 3

After the poorly received but commercially successful Devil May Cry 2, the series' future wasn't in the brightest lights. However, all of that vanished when DMC3 hit store shelves. It was the best in the series up to that point and had so many improvements and additions. The combat had four main styles to choose from, leading to more experimenting and options.

It also offered more diverse weapons than its predecessor, such as Nevan, a lightning guitar. The level design is phenomenal and arguably the best in the series. It can be non-linear sometimes, and the reuse of environments later on doesn't feel as cheap as other entries. DMC3 also offers the best and most satisfying story, along with a banger of an OST. This game is a must-play for anyone.

7/10 Ninja Gaiden Black

The 2004 release of Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox was already a great action title. Its combat, interconnected world, and challenging gameplay made it one of the best Xbox games. However, the developers noticed a few design blemishes and refined the game on the downloadable Hurricane Packs and the retail release of Ninja Gaiden Black. This is the definitive version of the game.

To give an example of the improvements is the higher difficulties. One frustrating aspect of the base Ninja Gaiden is the massive amount of health for the bosses on Very Hard. They aren't any harder and end up being tedious, but NGB fixed that. In Master Ninja mode, the damage is far more reasonable, and the actual fights are harder with minions and added aggression.

6/10 God Hand

The final game by Clover Studios, God Hand, is one of the more unique action titles on the PS2. There's no other brawler that controls like it with its quasi-tank controls. Despite how bad that sounds on paper, it just works. The game is clearly designed around it with the levels and how enemies fight. You can customize your move set, which is pretty cool and unique compared to other action titles at the time.

God Hand is also notable for only refilling your health after you die. No time else does the game replenish your health for free. This means that sometimes you will die on purpose to get your health back. The game's a bit short and could have used a couple of extra levels, but it is still thoroughly recommended.

5/10 God Of War (2005)

Playing the very first God of War game today is still a highly enjoyable experience, and fascinating to see how far the series has come. Directed by David Jaffe, God of War tells the story of a traditional Greek tragedy. Kratos remains one of the best video game characters ever, symbolizing pear rage.

The combat still holds up, although the usage of quick-time events can feel a bit outdated now. The game has a decent length for an action title of this era and has plenty of replay value with added costumes and more difficulty modes. While some of the sequels are arguably better, none of them would have ever happened if it wasn't for the original game.

4/10 Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner

Even though the Zone of the Enders games is from the same team that brought us Metal Gear Solid, not a lot have actually played them. Maybe it's because Kojima only produced it or lack of interest in mech combat. It's a shame, as Zone of the Enders 2, in particular, is one of the best mech combat games ever made. The title's fast and frantic mech action is truly one of a kind.

The best way to play is on either PC or PS4 through the remastered version. Both games are a part of the Zone of the Enders HD Collection, backward compatible on Xbox Series X. That version is not great, though, with many issues. Zone of the Enders 2 is definitely better to play on the PlayStation side of things.

3/10 Bayonetta

While Bayonetta released stateside in 2010, it was first released in late 2009 in Japan. The first entry in the premier franchise by PlatinumGames is one heck of an action title. Its focus on melee combat, dodging and getting your hits in, and the witch time system was standout at release.

The game still holds up today, both gameplay-wise and graphically. It actually looks better than Bayonetta 3. The campaign is nicely long too, and with plenty of replay value. It doesn't matter if you play on Easy or Infinite Climax mode, as both types of players will have a blast. The first Bayonetta is still arguably the best in the series and one of the best action titles of that generation.

2/10 Halo 2

Halo 2 is how you do a video game sequel. Almost everything is bigger and better than the first game. The campaign is longer but more diverse. Halo CE could get very repetitive with its samey environments you blast through. In Halo 2, that's no longer an issue, plus you play as two characters this time.

The Arbiter is a great addition to a franchise, and playing from a whole different perspective added a lot to the narrative. Halo 2 was the first entry to integrate Xbox Live, and it was game-changing. People loved it so much that certain folks stayed on Xbox Live for weeks after the servers were shut down. A 2004 Game of the Year contender, for sure, and one of the best Halo titles.

1/10 Yakuza 2

One of the more underrated games in the Yakuza franchise has to be the original Yakuza 2. It was released in America only on the PS2 but was remastered in Japan on the PS3 and Wii U. The difference between the first two games is like night and day. Yakuza's original PS2 release was so clunky with its lock-on. It was frankly annoying and dragged down the game.

In Yakuza 2, that issue is gone, and the combat is spectacular. When playing both the original Yakuza 2 and its remake, Kiwami 2, the combat is superior in the original. Not to mention that the third area was cut from the remake. Yakuza 2 is still worth playing today and is among the best in the series.

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