Everyone has a favorite game mechanic. That one thing that makes a game stand out, shine and earn the crown of our hearts. There are games that do what they do so well they push the whole of gaming forward. Around the office we’ve been talking about the fact that Kanye West will be making a game. No doubt narcissism will be a prevalent mechanic. But while his game will be god-awful we all channel our inner-Kanye when we debate our friends about the best games e.g. “I’m sorry, Imma let you finish, but Mario Kart had some of the best racing of all time!”. So, here are ten of what we think are the best game mechanics ever

1. Bullet Time – Max Payne Series

Max Payne was for games what The Matrix was for movies. While the game did pretty blatantly rip off that landmark of action cinema, the gaming world is all the better for it. Besides, it was only a matter of time before someone figured out explosions and bullets look super cool in slow motion.

max-payne2. X-Ray Kills – Sniper Elite III

Another case of plagiarism as Sniper Elite borrows the x-rays from Mortal Kombat 9 and puts them work dismembering the Third Reich. Literally. If not for the X-ray kills there’s little doubt Sniper Elite would be just another forgettable romp in World War II. Thank goodness it is not.

sniper3. Acrobatics – Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time

This reboot of Prince of Persia had more stellar mechanics than a Jiffy Lube with a five-star rating on Yelp. Rewinding time, acrobatics and of course that dagger. Personal favorite of mine was the combat which we can see reincarnated today in games like the Arkham series or Shadow of Mordor. Doing flips around (and over) your enemies was a constant joy and hoovering them up with your mystic vacuum-dagger was a satisfying finisher. Put this game on the short-list of those due for an HD remake.

persia4. Rage – Wingsticks

Ah, Rage. From the studio that brought us landmark games like Doom, Quake and Wolfenstien came one of the smartest shooters of last-gen. Though it got a tepid reception back in 2011 (it was a fall release with games like Arkham City to contend with) for a lackluster story, critics were unanimous in praising the gameplay and insanely stellar visuals. You will literally stop to look at clouds in this game. At the time I found it forgettable, a game jumping on the Borderlands/Fallout post-apocalyptic band-wagon. But, with a clever arsenal of guns and gadgets Rage today is still a joy to play. Case in point is the wingstick. A boomerang-like device that you can bury in an oncoming enemy’s face with ease. Time it right and they’ll slide to a stop right at your feet, observe exhibit A below.

wingstick5. Wanted: Weapons of Fate – Curve the Bullet

None of you will remember this game. Or the 2008 movie it was based on. It stands today as both one of the actually good games based on a film and a gem glistening in bargin-bins everywhere amidst all the copies of Madden 09. You can get this game for $4.99, which is a total steal. A little one-dimensional but the cover system works, it’s still a pretty game, and curving bullets is just plain flat out awesome. For your comparison below are a scene from the game and the movie.


wanted-26. Fallout Series – VATS

VATS, or Vault-Tek Assisted Targeting System, is that target-painting, brain splattering little toy from the Fallout Series. The updated system had us melting mutant faces with lasers and putting bandits down for dirt naps on the regular. Quite the jump from the point and click days of Fallout 1 and 2. Even then scoring a 100% and watching your enemies explode into various pieces was a dark pleasure to be enjoyed over and over. Rumor has it a Fallout 4 announcement is in the works, either for the upcoming PAX East or this year’s E3 conference. We’re eager to see what VATS can do in the next-gen.

fallout7. Dishonored – Blink

Dishonored packed quite a few elegant mechanics into a neat synthesis of stealth and combat. Best among them is the Blink ability. This teleporting power made you feel like Nightcrawler if he went straight up cray and started filleting fools like steaks. Great for getting in and out of sticky situations and all-around badassery, Blink is just the tip of Dishonored’s iceberg.

dishonored8. Mortal Kombat – Fatalities

“Finish Him!” are probably the most memorable, if not the most famous, words in videogame history. Mortal Kombat’s has had its up and downs but with the phenomenal Mortal Kombat 9 the series has hit its stride and is set for solid installments from here on out. The latest Kombat hit shelves April, 14. Right now though it looks like Sub Zero has a train to catch. “FATALITY!”

fatality9. Alien: Isolation – Save Stations

Alien: Isolation was hands-down the most bold AAA title of 2014. One of the many big chances it took was its punishing save system. Some stamped their feet that the big mean xenomorph killed them and made them lose their progress. Instead of pressing the boo-hoo button the naysayers ought to recognize the save stations for what they are: a device for creating tension. Sure, you spend most of your time in Alien: Isolation crawling around like you’ve lost a contact lens but the desperation is palpable as you fight to stay alive. Games nowadays with their checkpoints and infinite continues play it safe and rarely, if ever, put players at risk. Alien took the high, hard road and committed to their vision for the game.

alien10. Jedi Outcast / Jedi Academy – The Force

While switching between force powers felt like putting gloves on an octopus the Jedi games were the first to give us a true taste of what it feels like to wield the Force. Lightsabers, acrobatics, force powers, it all blended into a unique and addictive experience. The force is strong with this one.


There you have it and like all lists of things you read on the internet it is unimpeachable and applies to all times and places forever. If by some chance we missed a game mechanic be sure to point out in the comments which it is and how we are all blithering morons for not including it.

About The Author

Staff Writer

Alex is from New York, is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and once played a Call of Duty Deathmatch against himself.