The American philosopher Eric Hoffer once said, “Man is eminently a storyteller.” The aphorism holds true even in video games. Game makers spend months and months kicking around ideas, and whether or not they opt for a first-person shooter, a role-playing experience, or a third-person romp, it all starts with story.

The advancement of graphics and sound has allowed the industry to craft narratives like never before, pitting the controller-laden onlookers against immeasurable odds and casting them within grandiose battles between good and evil. And as the game industry matures, more and more storytellers from other media are getting involved—last week's Homefront was originally penned by screenwriter John Milius (who wrote Red Dawn, Apocalypse Now, and others), and this week's Crysis 2 story was written by sci-fi author Richard Morgan (if you haven't read his Altered Carbon, do yourself a favor). So it's only right that we run down the 25 story-driven games that made our palms sweat, our pupils dilate, and in some cases left our hearts palpitating. Or it may have been minor heart attacks. Either way, we're still here.

By Troy Mounis