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(Pictured: Honorable mentions)
The next generation is now. The PS4 is out, and the Xbox One is soon to follow. With the 3DS already selling like Hotcakes and Super Mario 3D World looking to be a system seller, it’s official that we can kiss the seventh generation goodbye. So what games stand out? What games stood the test of time? Well, I’ve looked over my entire 2004-2013 PC releases, my wii collection, the few Xbox games worth having, my PS3 collection, and opened every DS case. I know my answers.
Join me, as I recount the Top 25 Games of the Generation. One per franchise, and review scores don’t matter. If you only picked up 25 games this gen, make sure they’re these ones. So wax nostalgic and boot up those eighth generation consoles, these are the Top 25 Games of the Generation.
Oh Halo 3. A convoluted and insane finale to a very convoluted and insane trilogy. The shooting is as arcadey as it ever has been, filled with awesomely dumb weapons and broken vehicles. The multiplayer hooked me for months, and the co-op campaign is a blast. Is it the best shooter of the generation? Not a chance. However, it is the best Xbox 360 exclusive and a game all Xbox owners should have in their collection.
24-Little King’s Story
Little King's Story is a very dark game. Don't let those cutesy visuals and characters fool you, Little King's story is a game about death, religion, conquest, lust, and alchaholism. But beyond just telling an entertainingly twisted story, Little King's Story is an amazing strategy game that can only be described as "Pikmin improved". Yes, it really is that awesome.
I never liked the puzzles of portal. Sure, they were creative, but they never captivated me quite like other puzzle games had. What escalates Portal 2 onto this list is just the quality of the writing itself. Steven Merchant kills it as Wheately, and GLaDOS’ anger is just what we’ve grown to expect from the homicidal AI. Alone, the gameplay isn’t very good, but the colorful cast of characters is some of the best of this generation.
22-Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
I would’ve put the original Ace Attorney on this list, but it started as a GBA game in Japan. So if you can’t go with the best, why not go with the second best? Ace Attorney Investigations switches up the formula by adding new travel mechanics, better cross-examinations, and the awesome Logic system. The game’s an improvement of the first’s mechanics in every way, and has writing that’s just as good. If you want to dive into Ace Attorney but can’t get your hands on the first one, check out Investigations.
InFamous has the perfect concept for a game. You are a superpowered character, and will you be a hero or a villain? InFamous may have a superhuman protagonist, but the story is based more on the ‘human’ part. Cole McGrath and Zeke have an entertaining dynamic, even throughout all the death and tragedy striking Empire City. This game feels more like a comic book put to motion than any other game I’ve seen on the market.
20-Team Fortress 2
The most disturbing trend in gaming these days are Free to Play games. They’re usually all weak game experiences filled with a vibe of ‘Pay to Win’. Team Fortress 2 is not one of those games. It’s perhaps the most perfectly balanced multiplayer FPS of all time, and when you’re up against games like Counter Strike and Battlefield, that’s saying something. Team Fortress 2 has a fun aesthetic, fun characters, and is just fun to play.
Fallout 3 has a lot of problems. Lots of areas are uninteresting, the writing is awful, and the combat is some of the worst of all time. Yet it manages to make up for its flaws with its unbelievable atmosphere and world building that’s deeper than most science fiction universes. Fallout 3 is a flawed game, yet the good in it completely compensates for that.
18-Dragon Quest IX
I’ve made it no secret on twitter that I hate most JRPGs. The genre just feels stale and cliche, and there hasn’t been a good one in a long time. In fact, the last great JRPG was Dragon Quest IX. You play as a fallen angel trying to return to heaven, and it spirals from there. Just trust me, this is a quality JRPG. If you only play one this gen, play Dragon Quest IX.
17-Saints Row 3
I honestly don’t know what to think about Saints Row 3. It’s a bizarre satire of… I honestly have no clue. What I do know is that it’s completely bonkers and more fun than the concept deserves. You go into virtual reality. You beat people to death with giant dildos. You jump out of a plane while shooting other people jumping out of a plane. It’s the very definition of balls to the wall insanity, and I love it for that.
16-Hitman Blood Money
If one thing stands out in this generation, it’s that stealth games died. Sure, there were still some quality stealth games coming out, but the amount of horrible ones outshine the good ones by far. Yet, the start of the generation gave us Hitman: Blood Money, an unforgettable stealth game that may be the last great pure stealth experience in gaming. Lets just hope the next generation has more Hitman Blood Moneys than Splinter Cell Convictions.
15-Donkey Kong Country Returns
During the seventh generation, people complained that Nintendo was too casual. The games were pitifully easy and short, and fans weren’t afraid to voice their complaint. So Nintendo gave them a gift of one of the most punishing yet fun games of all time. Donkey Kong Country returns is always fair, and always brutal. Almost every level has a new concept, and if it doesn’t, then it will push your pure platforming skills to the test. Before you whine that Nintendo only makes kiddy games now, go try Donkey Kong Country Returns. It won’t be easy.
Papers Please is a crazy idea. A simulator of being border patrol in a communist nation? Truly a concept so wild couldn’t be executed well. Yet here I am, saying it’s better than two valve games and a Nintendo game. Funny how things work out. Papers Please is a game that perfects its tone like no other, even if the gameplay isn’t the best in the world. The writing is top notch, the characters are memorable, and it actually managed to emotionally challenge me. Bravo Papers, Please. Bravo.
13-Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Professor Layton stories have always challenged my brain, but never my heart. Unwound Future is your normal Layton fare; solving puzzles, unraveling a supernatural mystery, and meeting a colorful cast of characters. Unwound Future mixes this up by introducing a cast far more varied and complex than other Laytons, ending with an emotional bombshell I certainly didn’t see coming. It’s smart, it’s challenging, and it’s packed with great stories. It’s everything a Layton game should be.
Dishonored is not a pure stealth game like Splinter Cell or Thief is. However, it combines the best elements from Deus Ex and Bioshock and crafts a unique world with ample opportunities for both stealth and action. Each mission can truly be played any way you want, giving it a unique vibe rarely seen in games. It’s fun to play multiple times, and has genius worldbuilding like no other game I’ve seen. It truly is a masterpiece of modern gaming.
11-Far Cry 3
First person open world games became surprisingly popular this generation. From Fallout New Vegas to Skyrim, most first person games had you exploring an open environment. But the best pure open-world shooter this generation was Far Cry 3, Ubisoft’s surprising revival of a mediocre franchise. The game is a fun survivor’s romp through an unforgiving jungle island, and there’s plenty to see. From sunken treasure ships to ancient temples, Far Cry 3 is a great way to show off a tropical location while still being fun to play.
10-The Elder Scrolls Oblivion
Yes, yes, I know. I said Oblivion was the best game of all time two years ago, but my opinion has changed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still the best fantasy RPG of the generation, but it’s no perfect game. It’s damn near close though. Yes, the combat is broken, the character models suck, and that horrid dialogue mini game still makes me cringe. Yet, it’s still a fantastic world with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
9-Batman Arkham City
Before the seventh generation, Licensed Superhero games were kind of a dirty word. Yes, Spiderman 2 was a good game. Outside of that however, there wasn’t much quality to speak of. That all changed in 2009 when Batman Arkham Asylum reinvented the genre and gave a damn fine brawler/stealth game. So imagine my surprise when the sequel improves on this near perfect game in every way. Arkham City has better boss fights, more gadgets, and a deeper combat system.
8-God of War 3
After 3 games, it was time for Kratos’ bloody rampage against Zeus to come to a close. This game wraps up the plotlines off the God of War games while still being one of the best out there. Cronos, Hercules, Poseidon, and Zeus are all fantastic and memorable boss fights that are some of the best in the industry. The mythical references are in full force now, drawing from both iconic and lesser known greek tales. It’s fast-paced, unbelievably brutal, and an overall blast to play.
7-Assassin’s Creed 2
Much like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed was a very high-quality series until it took an astute climb into mediocrity. But before the Assassins Creed series devolved into a native man asking people what he needs to do, it was about one of the best characters in gaming history trying to avenge his family. The writing is good, the future conspiracies don’t get in the way, and the atmosphere is top notch. What a shame the franchise had to divebomb so quickly.
6-The Walking Dead
Telltale has been making games since the start of this generation, but it took them a long time to hit the mark. Wallace and Gromit was forgettable at best, Back to the Future was nothing to write home about, and Jurassic Park was an uninvolving and broken experience. It wasn’t until The Walking Dead when they really hit their stride, creating a full cast of believable characters. The Walking Dead is a bleak and heartbreaking experience that you won’t leave without feeling moved.
5-X Com Enemy Unknown
At the start of the generation, strategy games seemed to be dying. Yes, we had Advanced Wars, but there were no other prominent turn based combat strategy games. The genre stayed mostly dead until Firaxis Games revived it in a blaze of glory. It had permadeath, terror missions, chryssalids, and everything else you feared in X-Com is back in full force here. This is the game the genre needed, and I hope we can see more from Firaxis in the future.
4-Half Life 2
If I was going to pick the most influential developer of the generation, I’d give it to Valve in a heartbeat. They managed to reinvent the puzzle genre, online co-op, and how we buy games in less than ten years. But that’s not what’s important, because Half Life 2 is one of the best FPS games of all time and most others are still trying to keep up. It’s seamless and open, letting you explore the post-invasion earth at your heart’s content. Even the graphics still hold up today with convincing facial animations and world design. This is the game all other FPS games should try to not just replicate, improve upon.
3-Deus Ex Human Revolution
Deus Ex is one of the best PC games of all time, and it was shaping up to be an excellent franchise. That all changed when the sequel ruined everything. After Invisible War bombed, the franchise went dormant until 2011 when it made a grand comeback. Adam Jensen’s treck through 2027 is atmospheric, immersive, and just downright fun. The stealth mechanics are great, the level design is near perfect, and the story just keeps getting better and better until the finale.
The idea of ‘cinematic’ games has always angered me. If you want cinema, just go to a damn movie theater and watch a movie. The only game that has ever sold me on the ‘cinematic’ concept has been Uncharted 2, and for a great reason. It’s presented like the best of action movies, drawing inspiration from Indiana Jones and James Bond combined with the cover-based third person shooting gamers are comfortable with. Looks like a cinematic masterpiece, plays like a game. What more could you want out of the action genre?
Is Bioshock a great game? No. While no game will ever be perfect, I’m a believer that Bioshock may be as close as we ever get to gaming Nirvana. The story, the atmosphere, the gameplay, they’re all woven together so well that I can’t do anything but love it. Sure, it has problems. The gunplay can be broken at times, and backtracking is required, but Rapture may just be my favorite fantasy world of all time and exploring it is a treat. If you only play one game in your life, I implore you. Make it Bioshock.