The lights are on
We spent our time celebrating the best PlayStation 3, Xbox
360, and Wii games of the generation. Now we're diving into the best of various
Today, we're taking a look at the best role-playing games of
the last console generation. Developers got more creative during the
cycle, attempting to take the genre in new directions by giving gamers more
choices in gameplay and narrative. They created bigger worlds, and implemented
unique battle systems. Western RPGs thrived on consoles, while Japanese RPGs
struggled to find their place as development costs rose, causing those
publishers to turn to handheld systems. Despite that transition, some console
JRPGs still made an impact, proving they still have a place in the console
Coming up with a top 10 RPGs list was one of our biggest
debates in the office. Everyone looks for different things when it comes to this
style of game. Some prize the story, others prefer the exploration, and gameplay
can make or break the experience. We also took various types of subgenres into
account, including strategy/RPGs and action/RPGs. For the sake of diversity, we
only included one game from each franchise. In our opinion, the following games
are the cream of the crop. We're sure you have your own opinions, so be sure to
discuss your favorites in the comments below.
10. Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy is one of the most powerful role-playing
franchises, leading to great anticipation every time a new entry launches.
Final Fantasy XIII wows with its absolutely stunning visuals. Thanks to the new
console power and the Crystal Tools engine, Square Enix brings Cocoon and Gran
Pulse to life, creating wonderment the moment you load up the game. While Final
Fantasy XIII may not have pleased everyone with its story or linear
environments, it introduces one of the series' best battle systems, letting you
coach your characters from the sidelines by creating paradigm shifts. It also
has one cool character in Lightning, who became so popular Square Enix decided
to extend her saga into follow-up titles, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning
Returns. Final Fantasy XIII had a lot of expectations, making it impossible to
satisfy everyone, but that doesn't detract from it being one of the more
memorable RPGs of the generation.
(Read our full review here)
9. Valkyria Chronicles
Sega's Valkyria Chronicles is a unique beast, thanks to its
combination of quasi-shooter, strategy, and role-playing elements. The
alternate history World War II and distinct art style give the game a unique
flavor, making it stand out as one of the PS3's biggest exclusive surprises.
Sadly, Valkyria Chronicles didn't see great sales success, and while the
PSP-based sequel came to North America, the third title remains Japan-only.
It's a shame we never saw another console iteration, but thankfully we have
this one to cherish.
8. Dragon Age: Origins
BioWare intricately crafted every detail of Dragon Age: Origins.
The result? It introduces us to one hell of a world filled with conflicts.
Magic has always been a part of fantasy games, but Dragon Age questions what
it would actually be like to live in a world with it, leading to a divisive system
where mages have checks and balances. Origins explores different worldviews
wonderfully, thanks to the varied personalities in your party. They aren't
afraid to argue and stand for what they believe in, and involve you in some
pretty hefty choices. As the Warden, you serve as the glue that holds the
fragile alliance together long enough to stop the Archdemon and its darkspawn
from taking over the world. Dragon Age: Origins lets you be a hero, but it also
gives you the means to understand what it takes to be one. The console version
doesn't retain the harsh pause-and-play strategy of its PC counterpart, but
combat is fun in a different way, and all of the story content remains the
7. Xenoblade Chronicles
North American fans fought hard for Xenoblade Chronicles'
localization, and for good reason. In a time when the genre was going through
growing pains, this Wii game proved that the JRPG experience could still be
exciting and fresh. Xenoblade Chronicles lets you explore two vast and
interesting continents, and the real-time battle system is akin to what you see
in an MMORPG. Xenoblade's scope is massive, with depth for simple things like
the social network and relationship charts. Xenoblade Chronicles showed gamers
that the JRPG is far from dead. More importantly, it didn't rely on nostalgia
to do it. It used big ideas that culminated in an extremely thrilling journey.
6. Diablo III
When Diablo III launched on PC, gamers lamented its
always-online requirement and the botched implementation of the auction house.
When it hit PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, not only were those issues nowhere to
be found, but console gamers also have direct control over their characters'
movements for the first time in the series - along with a handy new dodge
ability. Blizzard provides some of the best hacking-and-slashing around, and
Diablo III is no exception. It also marks Blizzard's return to consoles after
more than a decade of focusing exclusively on PC development. The company
scores points for not merely porting the game to console, but including many
enhancements to make the long wait worth it.
[Up next: Our top 5, which includes plenty of choice-driven games....]
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.