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Top 10 RPGs Of The Generation

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 genres.

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 market. 

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 XIII


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.

(Read our full review here)

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 same.

(Read our full review here)

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.

(Read our full review here)

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.

(Read our full review here)

[Up next: Our top 5, which includes plenty of choice-driven games....]

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