Taking in the view in the original Mafia (image via Illusion Softworks)

5 video games that were released ahead of their time

Sometimes, video games are not always fully appreciated upon their release. They were passed off as a decent game by the players and swept under the rug.

Other games strive for greatness but fall short due to the limitations of their technology. In contrast, even others may break such new ground, which would only become a common principle in later years.


No matter the reason, certain such games exist, which, one way or another, laid the groundwork for other games down the years to build upon. Features that players these days may take for granted, which were once unheard of until the game first employed it in its most rudimentary form.

Throughout video game history, there have been many such releases that have left an impact. Games that were seemingly more advanced than the standards of the time and were not given the appreciation they deserved when they launched.

Here are five such video games that were released ahead of their time.

Note: This article reflects the writer's opinion.


Five video games that were simply ahead of their time

1) Mafia (2002)

Mafia 2002 (image via Illusion Softworks)

Open-world video games set in a modern setting have evolved quite a bit. And yet, when compared to the original Mafia game from 2002, some games, especially those released around the same period, fall short.

Set in a 1930’s era fictional Illinois, the game does an outstanding job of making it historically accurate. Cars on the street change as the story unfolds over the years, and pedestrians are dressed in convincingly accurate clothing. The game also features many small mechanics that make the world feel real.


These include damage taken when inside a vehicle and crashing into another car. The police follow players when they speed and give them a ticket if they slow down. Rideable trams, rails, taxis, and buses.

A dedicated fuel system was introduced, meaning that cars had to be kept topped up at working petrol stations. While the last one might be a tad over the top, these mechanics were still glory to witness back in 2002.

2) Trespasser: Jurassic Park (1998)

Trespasser: Jurassic Park (image via DreamWorks Interactive)

One of the more bizarre and despised video games in the 90s, Trespasser: Jurassic Park, was a tie-in game to the movie The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It told the story of a sole survivor of a plane crash who'd landed in Isla Sorna, one of the islands featured in the movies.

The game follows the protagonist as she fights through dinosaurs to find a way off the island. While lacking many things the game had initially promised before release, it did have a few things that went on to serve as the groundwork for later games.

One of these would be the lack of any head's up display or HUD, which might sound counterintuitive until one remembers the likes of Dead Space, released ten years later, which also lacks a HUD. Instead, choose to show all important stats through in-game objects.

Another essential feature in Trespasser was the physics-based puzzles and the use of the protagonist's hand to move about and control said puzzles. Both these would later feature in multiple games, with physics puzzles a must in many video games these days and motion controls being a big part of many VR games.


3) Resident Evil Outbreak (2003)

Resident Evil Outbreak (image via Capcom)

RE: Outbreak was a coop four-player multiplayer video game that featured eight playable characters trying to escape the infamous Racoon City incident from Resident Evil lore. While this might now sound impressive, the game was released back in 2003 and was an online game at the time.

Some of the genre-defining features this video game introduced were the likes of character abilities and emotes to express various communicative phrases. As the game lacked any in-game chat, this feature was a welcome inclusion at the time.

Despite these new gameplay additions, the game invariably failed, as the internet was not an accessible commodity at the time, and most people would not be able to play the game as intended. Still, it left the groundwork for a good multiplayer experience, which games like Left 4 Dead would later pick up.


4) Starflight (1986)

Starflight (image via Binary Systems)

We take video game sandboxes for granted in this day and age. No game that comes out now feels complete without at least partial explorable levels, even if it's supposed to be a linear experience.

However, in the 80s, most video games were strictly linear, as the technology did not allow for large game worlds to be rendered.

So Starflight, released back in 1986, broke the mold as it allowed the players a certain amount of unwarranted freedom in a game for the first time. As the ship's captain, the players are let loose in a vast galaxy with various locations to visit to complete the main story. Sound familiar?

From the get-go, players are left with their own devices as to where they wish to go and explore at their leisure. Mass Effect seems to have been heavily inspired by this game, as stated by the writers themselves.

5) Dune II: The Building Of A Dynasty (1992)

Dune II (image via Westwood Studios)

The real-time strategy genre has prospered well in the last two decades with entries like Age of Empires, Warcraft III, and Total War series. But many elements of these video games, their very essence even, were not a thing heard of in the early 90s.

Dune II was one of the first-ever RTS games to grace computer screens in 1992. Released initially for the MS-DOS system, it was released later on for the Amiga and Mega Drive consoles.

The game features a command of units, collection of resources, faction abilities, fog of war, etc., characteristics that would define all other real-time strategy video games in the years to come.

Edited by
Yasho Amonkar
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