Debate of the Day: The Greatest Single Player Campaign Ever?

Today’s debate is a simple question: what’s your favorite single player campaign to date?

Every single game now is focused on trying to bring multiplayer to the mix, regardless of whether or not it fits in the most recent example would be Assassin’s Creed, which was in many ways the ultimate lone wolf game, but now you can play online with a hundred thousand other “lone wolfs.”

I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but if you’re like me, it can be nice to just sit back and play through a game solo, and I’m wondering if any of your favorites mirror my own. Here are some of my picks.

Best story – Mass Effect, which was more compelling than most movies I’ve seen. Combat and missions themselves needed work though.

Best gameplay – Assassin’s Creed 2, whose story was incomprehensible, but the missions were diverse and gameplay incredibly fluid and organic.

Shock and awe – Modern Warfare 2 had moments in it that were among the most stunning I’ve seen in any game, from the siege of the White House to the massacre of No Russian.

Most hours invested – Oblivion, which I sunk 200 hours into between two playthroughs, and offline the entire time. Not easy for a single player game.

I know I’m missing classic titles like Ocarina of Time, but to be honest, I was too dumb to ever beat the Water Temple. But that’s why I want to hear from you, what have been your favorite one-player campaigns?

  • floppytall

    Modern Warfare 1 had some pretty memorable shock and awe moments too. Playing the part of the dying soldier crawling on the ground after the blast was ridiculously emotional. You just crawl, gasp, stare in despair at the ruins and then die. Level complete. That single level has stuck with me ever since.

  • Daniel

    Final Fantasy VII!!

  • Sideshow

    Crysis. It’s a shame you need the power of the sun to get the full intended experience but even at medium graphics the game was still very enveloping, the game play was awesome, the pacing was excellent, and by the end of the game your sitting in your crap stained pants, thinking over what you just experienced. Definitely one of those games that benefits from big picture/big sound to captivate and submerge you into the story.

  • Bandit

    BIOSHOCK 1 & 2 – The story line and play was so different then the other cookie cutter games out there that I I actually played through it more then once (I never do that).

  • Josh

    If I could convince you to buy a PS3, Uncharted 2 is an amazing game. Closest thing to an edge-of-your-seat blockbuster movie.

  • Andy

    First thing that came to mind was Eternal Darkness. I don’t know why but that story really stuck with me. I remember actually getting into H.P. Lovecraft as a result of the game.

    Also, the Saint’s Row games. For a sandbox game that relied heavily on slapstick/toilet humor, they had some memorable characters with some pretty good action sequences.

  • Cody

    Best story was Alan wake for me. Best single player altogether was bioshock 1.

  • Mikey

    Metal Gear Solid

  • Guy Incognito

    I thought hard about this one and I think the single player campaign I enjoyed the most out of any game was Knights of the Old Republic. It had a great story with interesting characters and a great ending that I didn’t see coming. It’s one of the only “moral choice” games that I’ve played through once as good and again as evil.

    In terms of wow factor, my favourite moment was the beginning of the Stalingrad level in Call of Duty 1. As they pass out guns and bullets to alternating soldiers, you end up with the bullets and have to make the charge up hill at the fortified German defenses looking for a weapon on a fallen comrad. It was the closest the thing to being in a war movie at time.

  • zero

    Best Story – Bioshock, it’s the first game where I felt total immersion.

    Best Gameplay – Ninja Gaiden on xbox, enough said.

    Shock and Awe – Bayonetta, just how stupid and over the top the cut scenes were.

    Most Hours Invested – Borderland, the only game I played through twice.

  • gimpmonster

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

    Not only is this game epic in scope, the story was compelling and on par with “good” Hollywood product (i.e., nothing by Michael Bay or Paul W.S. Anderson, etc.). It was funny, adult and always surprising. A masterpiece

  • Sam

    Either Uncharted 2 or Bioshock. Bioshock had the better story but Uncharted had better everything else.

  • SpyKi

    Final Fantasy X

  • Schiapu

    There are a LOT of excellent single player campaigns out there, the ones I remember fondly are

    Modern Warfare 1: They did the shock and awe bits first and way better, and All Ghillied Up was probably the best mission in any FPS.

    Mass Effect: What an amazing Story of epic proportions, the story hits levels of maturity that great books would be jealous of. Too bad the media focused on a bare-ass.

    Uncharted 2: This game has an incredible feeling of adventure, you could just watch it someone play the game and it would still be fantastic. The scripted conversations between the characters and the real relationships make it just that inmersive.

    Knights of the old Republic: Here what wins is an amazing storyline (dare I say even better than the movies) and a very well thought choice system, that just doesn’t make the Sith kill kitties for fun, and leaves plenty of room for hard decisions. And Darth Revan is one of the most interesting characters in this matter.

    Oblivion: Who hasn’t spent at least a hundred hours roaming the Cyrodiil countryside, investigating a rogue band of amazon women, searching for a necklace of power in the mountains of bruma or fighting hand to hand against an orc in the arena. The amount of freedom you get in this game is simply astounding, and one of the few games I keep going back to. And the PC mods just make the experience more grand. A game I won’t stop playing until Skyrim comes out.

  • Ryan

    Oh, absolutely Final Fantasy VII! I think I played through that at least 3 different times, on average of about 50-60 hours each time. What a great story!

  • Pontius

    Max Payne ftw

  • Jotunheim

    Best story: Final Fantasy VII

    Best gameplay: Mass Effect 2

    Shock and awe: The ending of KOTOR

    Most hours invested: Dragon Age Origins.. 3 playthroughs, with roughly 100 hours each time..

  • Wyks

    Best Story: KOTOR

    Best Gameplay: Crysis

    Shock and Awe: Crysis Tank Mission on Hard

    Most Hours invested: Morrowind (single playtrough) KOTOR (4 playtroughs)

  • MajorTool

    So many to choose from. They’re all good and I agree with most of what’s mentioned. BUT surprised not to see the GOD of WAR series on here… 1 being the best of it in my opinion.

  • Armorcladinosor

    This is going back a few years, but Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Definitely spent many hours of my childhood playing through multiple times.

  • juan

    KOTOR was amazing, as is the Fallout series.
    Mass Effect is an obvious choice.
    Phantasy Star 2 is my altime favorite…with 3 coming a close second.
    I’ve owned oblivion for about 18 months, but have yet to take it out of the wrapper. i bought it because of how great eveyone says it is…but i just can’t get excited for it.

  • Legion

    Baldur’s Gate 2, FF VII, KOTOR and Mass Effect for me:)

  • villa

    chrono cross and kotor!!

  • Gabriel

    Final Fantasy VII and X are the best stories and single player games, I have devoted hundreds of hours to both. Mass Effect is a close second and also Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

  • Mojo

    Batman Arkham Asylum!
    For 20 plus hours, I was the g’ddamn Batman!

  • BAL

    no Red Dead Redemption at all from anyone?

  • Anon E. Moose

    KoTOR is one of the most involving, story wise, games I’ve played, followed by the very underrated SW:Republic Commando (both Star Wars..maybe I’m just a fanboy?)
    A few other games with awesome storylines are Fable, Borderlands (the story is a little corny on it’s own, but everything was executed perfectly) the Splinter Cell series has both a nice story and kick-ass gameplay.

  • Call me Al

    I adore Mass Effect. Mass Effect 2 is the only game that I felt compelled to buy the DLC for as I needed more. Other than that KOTOR and Morrowind both stole hours and hours of my life because I was intrigued by the worlds they made and the stories that were told.

    My big worry about the rise of multiplayer gaming was that the story of the games could be lost. However, as least as far as Bioware goes, that doesn’t seem to be happening just yet.

  • Dan

    Final Fantasy VII
    Mario Brothers – most hours played, I still go on a play it for shits a giggles

  • thegreatfatsby

    Final Fantasy X for the fact I sunk nigh on one hundred hours into it twice. And it was a great story and game. FFVII fanboys can shoot me for liking it more.

    In terms of best experience while playing a game, I’ll have to go for the first God of War because seriously, what man in their right mind wouldn’t want to go tearing through ancient Greece murdering Minotaurs and all those other classic mythological creatures?

    It’s a shame GOWIII’s campaign wasn’t a bit longer because it seemed so much shorter than the first two games.

  • Raab

    Metal Gear Solid by itself is good but for it to be the best you would have to include the entire series. Best series, but some games have a better stand alone game.

    Mass Effect games have the best BRANCHING campaigns with multiple endings and scenarios…but the best stand alone game I’ve ever played?


  • Ramiel

    Metal Gear Solid for the Story
    Half Life for the Gameplay

  • zero


    How does Mass Effect 2 have the best gameplay for you. It was one of my biggest problems with the game. The cover system was extremely clunky and irresponsive.

  • Nick

    Wow, so many people seem to think they know the right answer and they are all clearly consoletards.

    You have three choices:

    1. Planescape Torment

    2. Deus Ex

    3. Grim Fandango

  • flaccidplatypus

    Twilight princess-turning into a wolf is just awesome and its probably my favorite zelda game
    Arkham Asylum-only game ever where i’ve completed every achievement…twice. i could play that game until the end of time.

  • Random Leon

    Probably nobody here’s played this, but for me the best single-player story of all time belongs to Xenogears, a little-known JRPG (little-known in the western world, anyway).

    For overall gameplay experience, I’d go with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Engaging plot, great environment to explore, kick-ass upgrades and experience system that rewards exploration, and hands-down the best video game representation of being a comic book superhero.

  • supalazy


  • ant2206

    Fallout 3, the original Half-Life, Lufia 2, Deus Ex. I might just throw a Bioshock in there for good measure.

  • flash1049

    Wow, maybe I’m just old, but there were some classics that had a great single player experience…

    NES: Bionic Commando (One of the greatest Shock and Awe moments in gaming history)
    SNES: Actraiser, Chrono Trigger, Link to the Past
    Genesis: Streets of Rage 2 (fun with two people, but the music and gameplay were worth the price of admission by themselves)…evidently, some people still listen to it:

    Bass drop at :26 is just ebola.

    If I had to categorize it like you did though…

    Best Story: Chrono Trigger, KOTOR, FFX, Halo series, Grim Fandango, GTA: San Andreas, Portal (for the greatest villian ever), Starcraft, and Sands of Time

    Best Gameplay: Bionic Commando, Assassin’s Creed (both), Half Life series, FFXII, Sands of Time, Viewtiful Joe, Starcraft, Portal

    Shock and Awe: Bionic Commando, Shadow of the Colossus (all 16 of em), Resident Evil 4, MGS, Modern Warfare 2 (gunning down a mall full of people anyone?), FFVII, Gears of War 2

    Time Spent: Uhhh, too many to count…

  • hun23

    I second Deus Ex.
    Having a singleplayer story that the details changed to with every playthrough gives it almost infinite replayability.

  • Pepelestat

    Knights of the Old Republic is #1 for me. Followed by Starcraft, GTA III, Mass Effect series, and FF7.

  • Jeff

    Glad Xenogears got a mention in here. I would go as far to say that the story of Xenogears was life-changing for me.
    Recreational reading before Xenogears: X-Men, Calvin & Hobbes.
    Recreational reading after Xenogears: J.P. Sarte, C.G. Jung.
    Xenosaga, while MUCH inferior to the predecessor, added western philosophy to unbelievable levels. I think that after playing all 4 games, you receive enough college credits for a degree in philosophy, and psychology from Square U.

  • Bigdog

    Super. Mario. Galaxy. 2.

    That’s it, single most enjoyable 1-player game I’ve ever played through to the end. All gold stars, and green stars, and the little cherry at the end.

    At no point was it boring, or grinding. No repetitions. Just 30 hours of pure creativity and fun.

    Which is why I wouldn’t put an RPG in here no matter how great, since there’s usually some grind.

  • Rob J

    Top 5:

    Mass Effect – Story and overall enjoyment
    Uncharted – Presentation
    Oblivion – Overall Playtime
    Arkham Asylum – Immersion
    Deus Ex – Replayability

    Honorable Mentions:

    GTA SA
    FF X
    Deus Ex
    Half Life 2
    COD MW 1
    Fallout 3

    Yet to play Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2 or Assassins Creed 2

  • AlaskaBoy

    Goldeneye, and wayyyy back to Marathon on the Mac.

    Great Sci Fi stories and (for the time) Fantastic Physics.

  • Zinpike

    This is going really far back, but Secret of Evermore stands out. The gameplay is very fun, using an alchemy system to combine objects in order to “use magic”. The graphics were great and the music was outstanding, both really fit the atmosphere.

    The story is very interesting as well, something very different for the SNES era of RPGS. I play through this game at least once a year, and its always a great experience.

  • OTWarrior

    Soooo many (I mostly play singleplayer) but I still find Soul Reaver 2 to be the best overall single player game. Great graphics (for the time) awesome plot, with intelligent puzzles.

  • KierzoSBC

    Fore me…

    Best Story – Red Dead Redemption. Far and away the best game of 2010. Everything about it was epic. The story in particular was as gripping as anything i’ve played, watched or read in my life and the ending…well i’ll not give anything away, i’ll just say it was the most surprising and oddly satisfying conclusions to a video game i’ve ever experienced.

    Best Gameplay – GTA4 inc TLAD and TBOGT. In every game there are points and sections where to achieve what you want you need to think about how you need to interpret that into joystick/controller inputs but for me in GTA4, i just did it. Evertything came so naturally. The cover system is flawless, the speed at which each method of transport moves is perfectly reflected and the handling of vehicles, including helicopters just seems like second nature.

    Shock and Awe – Uncharted 2. From start to finish, this game had me grinning like a moron. Just amazed and what I was seeing. The views of nepal, the set pieces involving near death drops and split second timing just keeps you pinned in your seat. I beat this game in one sitting. Not because it was short, as it certainly isnt…because you become addicted to the beauty, the scale and the overall impressiveness of it all.

    Time spent – Hmm…probably GTA San Andreas. I 100%’d that game and still couldnt put it down. Still, imo, the best overall GTA package. From launching a phsychedellic hippy van off a huge mountain to dodging buildings in a Harrier Jumpjet while listening to Lyard Skynard…just brilliant.

  • Metz

    Final Fantasy X – just a really great story

    Legend of Zelda: WW – For some reason it’s animation and story appealed to me more than OoT, although of course that one’s up there for me too.

    Kingdom Hearts I & II – They were so different than anything else I had played at the time.

  • hydrael

    Freespace 2 FTW

  • santalma

    I will probably go alone on this, but my favorite game is FF VIII… it is more of a personal reason since it was the very first game I bought with my own money (when I was like 14 years old) and the story was awesome for me, the part in the ragnarok when squall an rinoa are talking and the song “eyes on me” starts playing was awesome and then the revelation that she is a sorcerer…. *nostalgic induced coma*…. that is the only game that I have replayed more than 4 times

  • scarecrow

    call of duty: world at fucking war. story was awesome, gameplay was awesome, nazi zombies was awesome. fuck, even zombies had a story. still havent beaten campaign on veteran though. thats fucking brutal.

  • Sensei

    Suikoden 2!! best story ever

  • KiloTheWhite

    San Andreas was the best game ever!! rollin through purple hoods blastin on fools wit a tech jammin easy e… stealin me a clasic and puttin that bih on some spokes…. pickin up bales of suspicious white powder that afford you free weapons and shit at the crib… bangin down black hos wit da hot coffee mod.,… gettin a contact high while runnin from the police in a hippy van,.. then stealin a jetpack from the fbi goin over water, flyin up as high as you can then jumpin out,,,, this game was the greatest game EVER… point blank period

  • jodan

    Fallout 3 is up there with the champs. Sandbox map, compelling story, fun & serious speech ( horrifying AI ), tonnes of weapons and virtually no limitations. Ive clocked up 5 playthroughs of Fallout 3, 2 of wich have 100% the game aswell as my modded 47gig pc version in wich i have a huge settlement of my own, endure faction based warfare between my settlement and raiders , supermutants and many more enemies, hundereds more weapons and enemy classes aswell as stunning HD visuals accompanied by one of the best soundtracks ever. And geuss what. Im currently on playthrough number 6 of the xbox version.

    Then theres Bioshock 1 wich deserves a million perfectly crafted sentances depicting its epic glories. But i dont have the time. It’s all about epic storyline that you can consistantly delve deeper into, another fantastic soundtrack that highlights the perfectly designed and imaginative atmosphere matched with superb gameplay. Another one thats recieved multiple play throughs.
    Bioshock 2 was okay but not as good.

    Halo 1 for obvious reasons.

    CODMOD1 was the best FPS ever released, always will be and anyone purchasing later COD’s is simply wasting there hard earned money.

    I never baught into the zelda games, maybe because i didnt play them as a kid ( as i assume is the novelty that lures people into playing them again ) , nor did I buy into mass effect. The story wasn’t that great and easy to lose track of and even skip large parts of, the gameplay and action was the worst ive ever played.

  • Joe


  • Zaggnita

    Best story – Bioshock 1 and 2
    Best gameplay – CoD
    Shock and awe – Either Batman Arkham City or Assassins Creed 3
    Most hours invested: Sims 1,2 and 3 …I haven’t stopped playing since the first cd came out.

  • Dack

    Gladius for all categories