By Remedy Entertainment
Released: 2001 and 2003
Ahhhh, dear Max. Max Payne was probably one of the most influential shooters to come along in a long time, and actually had a bit of a story to match. I know, who'd have thought those two could come together? Anyhow, the popular Mean Streets act-a-like may have been a great game in its own right, but its release was just the beginning.
Once on the scene, Max Payne's cult-like following quickly started digging into and subsequently tearing apart its innards. Textures, engine, game mechanics...Remedy's lovely Max-FX engine was host to a cornucopia of mods and enhancements. New weapons, outfits, levels and even entirely new chapters of the story were developed to feed the ravenous community.
Despite the game's lack of multiplayer, the community mods extended the otherwise short (10-20 hours gameplay) but fantastic experience by an order of magnitude. If you're curious about some of the staff favourites, you need look no further than this article.
Left - Katana mod for Max Payne 1; Right - Street Fighter mod for Max Payne 2.
The beauty is, the sequel wasn't half bad either. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne made use of the same engine (with some enhancements), making the modding community start all over again.
4: Neverwinter Nights
By Bioware Corp
Engine: Aurora Engine
When Bioware created the first Neverwinter Nights game in 2001, I don't think the company could have understood the legacy that would be started. NWN isn't so much a game as it is a framework that just happened to include a pretty good first story.
Though the story provided in Neverwinter Nights and its official sequels Shadows of Undrentine and Hordes of the Underdark were far from weak, they were just the beginning for the series. Players longed for the complete, robust worlds brought in predecessors Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale, and fortunately the guys at Bioware intended to give them every tool at their disposal to build it.
The release of the building set allowed players to develop their own adventures, complete with graphics, rule changes, and anything else needed. And thanks to the game's online and LAN multiplayer aspect, it could take on an entirely different feel than it came out of the box with.
Left - NWN: Shadows of Undrentine Expansion; Right - Avlon is just one persistent world for NWN.
These new modules go entirely across the board. Most stay comfortably within the confines of the Dungeons & Dragons universe, but not all. And still others take the concept of an "adventure" to a whole new place, instead creating entire persistent worlds much like an MMO. Again, we have some of our own favourites here.
Neverwinter has grown well outside of the scope of its initial intent, but that doesn't mean Bioware has been unsupportive of the change. The company has offered to host some of the best mods, including the ever-popular Community Expansion pack which adds a slew of monsters, textures, spells and other things to the game.
With how much the game has grown over the years, it's no wonder why it's managed to stay as the top RPG pretty much since its release six years ago. And with the problems that its younger sibling has had getting settled in, it could well stay there for a few more.