I’ve been thinking of this article for some time now. Should I list 10 games? Should I list them in tiers? Ultimately, I’m just going to post this and go with it.
This is a list of the nine best/most important games of the last generation. That means the Xbox360/PS3 and PC if it appears on consoles. I am not looking at PC-only titles.
Resident Evil 5
This is not an important title. I can’t say it really did anything massively new or reinvented anything spectacular. Although it is entirely co-op, it’s not utterly groundbreaking. And it’s not widely heralded as an excellent title.
What it is however, is awesome. I’ve already raved about it as a stand-alone title. The DLC was fun and diverse. Nowadays I rarely replay games entirely. Instead, I 100%ed it on two consoles (-achievements). It was fun, packed a powerful punch and epitomized what I loved about the PS3/Xbox360 generation. A large game, fully co-op, good save system, tons of weapons and reason to replay it. That last one is an important one. Infinite rocket launcher? Magnum? And this doesn’t even count Mercenaries mode.
Red Dead Redemption
GTA in the wild west? No thanks. I love GTA, I don’t like westerns but…well…this is fun and diverse and the writing is impeccable and dead-eye is a hell of a lot of fun and WHOAH, that story twist!!! How many times did I get off track, wandering the woods for a bear or through the vast, arid desert skinning animals and saving people? I lost my save for RDR but I got to see the true ending and it was one of the best stories of the entire generation. And let’s not forget the song when you finally cross into Mexico. It’s rare that one song in a game stands out but its power was in how your rode south, the gentle song leading you into a foreign (yet similar) land. And how different it was, different people, chatter and style.
A sequel in this generation would only make me smile. I certainly hope it’s on the horizon somewhere.
Gears Of War 3
The first GOW was great and the second just OK. The third, in my opinion, was the strongest and the most fun. It expanded the color palette for one, and tweaked everything to make it run faster (less clunky) and was just a spectacular and powerful game. So, while the first title really did more for this generation, specifically its cover system, excellent reload mechanics and a fully co-op campaign (oh how I wish for more of those!!!), the third perfected it. If I were to go back; I’d play this one.
After hearing all the hype, I finally rented the game and tossed it in my 360. Of course, the visuals were impressive and the sound was solid. It was when my character stepped out into the streets, with bullets flying everywhere, my eyes opened wide. Games up until that point had enemies shooting at you. Some team-based games had more targets, but for the first time, I felt like I walked into a world that was going on around me. I remember having surround sound going, bullets pinging everywhere, and it was utter mayhem. It was precisely what I wanted in gaming. Now, while the sequels upped the ante considerably, it was the first MW where my mouth truly dropped. As a player who avoids multiplayer almost entirely, the campaign was all I cared about. And it was a solid, entertaining and compelling campaign. Its brevity wasn’t disappointing either. Quite the contrary, it was sweet and to-the-point. Solid controls, insane action and at the time, superb visuals made for a game that was truly a game-changer. Once again, say what you will about the series and its subsequent milking. That first game was a turning point.
Just Cause 2
I never played (or had even heard of) the first Just Cause but this title was a free game on PS+ one month. I’m all about grabbing just about any free game I can but my first play session was merely OK. The controls were a bit loose and it was hard figuring out the whole grappling hook. I remember my second session, however, where my opinion changed entirely.
I had a hard time going back to open-world sandbox games after this. Moving around was so slow and boring (well, with the exception of Saint’s Row, but that’s just a ridiculous game!) The things I managed to do with Rico in this game were outrageous. Tethering cars to helicopters and scaling buildings with ease were awesome, as were the insane amount of explosions but the most important word in a review of this game is “fun”. I had a blast playing this, destroying everything. Just the number of options in this game make it for a memorable and long-lasting experience. Shoot a guy? Tether him to a truck and drive off? Tether an item to a truck and pull it down onto him? Oh, it goes on and on! In December of this year a sequel is coming out and I can’t limit my excitement. This might be one of those games where more of the same is just what I want. We’ll have to see!
The Walking Dead
Sure, I loved the show, but a choice-based, point-and-click adventure? Once the first two episodes were free, I grabbed them (remember, I love me freebies!) and everything changed. I connected with Lee, the game’s protagonist, more than perhaps I did with any character in any game ever. I cannot even discuss the finale without getting a lump in my throat. It was perhaps the single most powerful gaming experience ever. (yes, that trumps Metal Gear Solid IV and the at-the-time surprise of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII.
And while there were action sequences in this title, those were by far the least exciting, the least compelling, the least enticing. Episodes four and five start to rip your heart out and as I’ve written about already, the tears were genuine. I was talking to my TV. I was moved. I was hurt. And I will recommend this game to anyone, zombie fan or not. In some ways, it should be top-shelf material. Ah…I hate making these lists. Just know that it’s awesome. I shouldn’t have to say more.
I missed out on Half-Life and that whole thing and so it wasn’t until after Portal 2 came out that I even tried this series. The first game was certainly fun, but I’m pretty certain I played that (PC) after I beat it on the PS3 (and subsequently played it all again on the PC, beating both 1 and 2 within 24 hours).
This is a triple-A puzzle game…something that’s generally unheard of. Without playing it, my claims of Brilliance can not explain the sheer awesomeness of this title. Sadly, it’s the only thing I can even say. After each test room or the later colored gels, I marveled at the absolutely-ingenious design. I felt such delight at the solutions and the miraculous lack of unsolvable puzzles. The game was designed and tested to perfection. GLaDOS and her anger were written with utter sarcasm and it all delighted as the weird story unfolded. I can think of nothing about this game that isn’t perfect brilliance. You can go back at any time as well, provided you haven’t memorized all the solutions, and enjoy those brainy solutions all over again. Sadly, I never got the chance to play co-op. I bet that’s awesome.
After renting and beating Modern Warfare, I rented Borderlands. I’d heard good things, etc. etc. After such a visually-compelling and powerful experience, my initial thoughts of BL were…eh. The cel-shaded presentation coupled with a weird premise didn’t totally impress me immediately.
I played a bit; I returned the game.
A few weeks later, I was humming this tune in my head. I started missing the skill tree options. I had to rent the game again. Perhaps I was lucky but the local video store was closing and I bought the game for like $12. I then played the game. A lot. My save game ended up getting deleted and so at some point I started again. Then did true vault hunter mode. Then I returned a year later and got the platinum. The DLC was spectacular (I bought 3 of the 4, IIRC). We’ve all played our share of FPS games. None compelled me like this one. The outrageous guns that I’d receive were motivation alone to continue! It was stylish, unique, funny and full of loot! The light-hearted story was trumped by the second game, itself a superior product. Just about every fault I could find in the first title was remedied. Things were tweaked where necessary and left alone where needed. Even the trailer was insanely awesome! I love this game and while I skipped the Pre-quel, I fully anticipate grabbing part 3 whenever it debuts on this current generation. LOVE IT! (said in Torgue’s voice!)
Sure there are other 3rd-person action games. They’ve existed since the advent of 3D games. In so many ways, Uncharted is inspired by Tomb Raider which itself was inspired by Indiana Jones. So Why is this so important? Because it was fun, challenging, looked great and its gameplay was perfection. The first game is amazing, the third game is more of the same and the second was pristinely balanced. Headshots were truly enjoyable and the ka-ching of every kill was the most rewarding sound of the entire generation of games. Seeing Drake hanging by one arm got a bit old by the third game. However, the cinematics of the second, the chemistry with Elena and Chloe, the diverse and lush locales, the exciting finale, the co-op levels…*takes breath*…This game is probably my favorite of the entire generation even if it didn’t redefine like Portal or Borderlands did. It just did what I love the most…perfectly.