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Top 10 Action Games Of The Generation

The last console generation was packed with some of the greatest action games of all time. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4's life cycles were longer than any consoles before them, allowing developers to become more familiar with the powerful tech and deliver better and better games. Imaginative new IPs like Uncharted and Assassin's Creed started as demonstrations of raw potential and matured into blockbuster franchises. Long-running series like Tomb Raider received their best entries in years.

The action genre is, by definition, a fairly broad category. Games that don't obviously fit into more defined genres like shooters, sports, or RPGs tend to fall under the "action" umbrella. For example, Nathan Drake shoots tons of evil mercenaries in Uncharted, but labeling it a shooter does a disservice to the fun environmental exploration and puzzle-solving. With that in mind, by Game Informer's qualification of action games are generally third-person affairs with significantly more to them than a combat hook. As one final note, keep in mind that we limited our list to one entry per series. (Click here to explore the rest of our articles exploring last generation)

Without further ado, these are the 10 best action games of the generation.

10. Tomb Raider

Going into last generation, few would've likely guessed that Lara Croft would star in a new game worthy of this list. The indomitable explorer managed to survive a series of rough entries before Crystal Dynamics righted her path on the PS3 and 360 - Didn't Crystal do the last 3 or 4 games??. Visually stunning, the Tomb Raider reboot did an incredible job of transporting players to the mysterious, deadly island of Yamatai. Lara's ordeal in the island's wilderness and crumbing ruins is filled with intense moments like tumbling down a waterfall and escaping a collapsing ship. The visceral, bone-breaking nature of these close calls would be enough to make Nathan Drake feel like he has it easy.

9. Dead Space

Horror games dried up on consoles last generation, but Visceral's Dead Space series stood against changing trends. Isaac Clarke's fateful mission on the USG Ishimura combined the core third-person gunplay of Resident Evil 4 with the innovative ability to move while shooting (something Capcom wouldn't implement until RE 6). The winning combination gave players more control, but also inspired Visceral to make deadlier enemies. The twisted, mutated Necromorphs shake up the tired headshot-centric firefight formula by forcing players to aim for the limbs - an engaging twist that stands the test of time. Dead Space's HUD is also entirely in-universe, allowing players to immerse themselves in the nerve-fraying sci-fi nightmare. Dead Space kicked the series off on the right foot and set a high benchmark for all horror games to follow.

8. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

This PS3 exclusive is the dramatic conclusion to the iconic Solid Snake's convoluted yet entertaining story (until Kojima decides otherwise). Kojima Productions shook off the series' history of tricky cameras and quirky control schemes in exchange for a stealth game that controls like a competent third-person shooter. Snake's optic camouflage further streamlines the action, allowing the daring clone to blend with his environments instead of changing his clothes on the battlefield. These gameplay changes, along with its goofy multiple story climaxes, makes it one of the high points for the generation.

7. Batman: Arkham Asylum

Rocksteady put an end to Batman's long line of awful video games last generation in one fell swoop. The Dark Knight's perilous adventure into the deepest recesses of the lunatic-filled Arkham Asylum introduced us to a terrific story with a who's who of fun enemy cameos and groundbreaking combat. Batman's ability to fluidly battle mobs of enemies and the clever counter-attack cues made every battle a blast rather than a chore. The larger open-world sequels did a great job of expanding Gotham City, but we love Arkham Asylum's sense of Metroid-like progression that comes with unlocking new sections of the more compact madhouse. Arkham Asylum reinvented the Caped Crusader and put Rocksteady on the map with undeniable style.

6. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Ubisoft kicked off its wildly successful Assassin's Creed series last generation and delivered a staggering six core entries on last-gen hardware. Of these alternate history/sci-fi tales, Ezio's second chapter narrowly edged out AC II as the standout title. The saucy hooded Italian takes to Rome, scaling ancient ruins with a more fluid parkour system. The combat system also underwent enhancements, making it easier to string together flashy kills. Making a bad-ass character even cooler, Ezio could even sit back and call in his fellow assassin brothers to spring from haystacks and other hiding spots to take out targets. Arguments can be made for the strengths and weaknesses of each Assassin's Creed game, but Brotherhood has the fewest glaring dents in its armor.

Keep reading to see where stellar action games from Naughty Dog and Rockstar fall on our list...

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