Feature

Top 10 Shooters Of The Generation

by Jeff Marchiafava on Jul 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Love them or hate them, the last generation of console gaming was dominated by shooters. Although "shooter fatigue" became an increasingly popular ailment in the gaming community, it didn't stop millions from taking up arms with and against their fellow players, and developers were happy to continue providing virtual conflicts for us to fight in. Here are our picks for the top 10 shooters of last generation.

As with our lists of the top 25 Xbox 360 games and top 25 PS3 games, we have chosen a single (and in our opinion, best) entry when a series had multiple installments last generation – which, as it turns out, was most of them. Despite the industry's love of sequels, the list still presents a healthy variety of settings, themes, and experiences; whether you're a competitive multiplayer fan, a co-op-focused squad mate, or a lone gunman, we're guessing there are at least a few entries on the list that you'll agree with. If not, you can always complain in the comments!  

10. Bulletstorm (Xbox 360, PS3 – 2011)

Lots of first-person shooters try to augment their gameplay with serious, meaningful stories (to varying levels of success), but at the end of the day you're still just running around shooting dudes with guns. Epic Games/People Can Fly's absurd romp embraces the adolescent power fantasies and gratuitous gore that the FPS genre was founded on. The sophomoric story focuses more on d--- jokes than its premise, characters, or setting, but Bulletstorm's multi-function weapons and original skillshot system made up for it by encouraging creative kills and outrageous combos. You can't have a Top 10 Shooters list without one big, dumb romp, and Bulletstorm fits the bill nicely.
(Read our full review here)

9. Rainbow Six Vegas (Xbox 360, PS3 – 2006/2007)

Long before Ubisoft's aborted Rainbow 6 Patriots reboot (and subsequent Rainbow 6 Siege reboot reboot), the lauded tactical shooter series struggled to translate its unforgiving and precision-focused gameplay to consoles. The first few installments were always markedly better on PC, but Rainbow Six Vegas finally gave console gamers a must-play experience. Vegas retained the series' high degree of challenge, while instituting myriad improvements from Ubisoft's own Ghost Recon series, along with simplified squad commands and a best-in-class cover system. Even better, the entire campaign supported four-player co-op, and the competitive multiplayer's tight gunplay was augmented by a rewarding progression system and deep customization.  
(Read our full review in Game Informer's Review Archive)

8. Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360 – 2008)

Okay, so maybe you can't have a Top 10 Shooters list without two big, dumb romps. Microsoft didn't have a ton of third-party exclusives last generation, but Epic Games' Gears of War was an early and critically acclaimed success. The sequel pumped up another action-packed co-op campaign with new weapons, vehicles, and enemies, as Marcus and Dom continue to defend humanity from the invading Locusts. However, the big innovation that everyone talked about was the game's Horde mode, which pits a squad of five players against increasingly difficult waves of enemies. There's a reason every shooter has a horde mode nowadays, and Gears of War 2 is it.
(Read our full review here)

7. Far Cry 3 (Xbox 360, PS3 – 2012)

Open-world shooters are still a relative novelty, and Far Cry 3 makes us wonder why. Eschewing the traditional linear, scripted campaign, the Far Cry series thrusts players into open, dynamic environments and lets them run wild. Far Cry 3 has been the best outing yet, giving players three massive, gorgeous islands to explore, as they storm enemy outposts, hunt (or get hunted by) deadly animals, and gain new abilities and weapons. Far Cry 3 serves up plenty of intense and explosive encounters, but the stealth mechanics are also top notch, giving players multiple options for taking on the opposition. Far Cry 3's story proved to be weakest link, and the segregated co-op was also a disappointment – two aspects we hope the upcoming sequel can fix.
(Read our full review here)

6. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360, PS3 – 2010)

Before DICE started shamelessly aping Call of Duty, Battlefield fans enjoyed the wholly unique and entertaining spinoff series that was Bad Company. While you can't argue with the developer's shifting approach from a sales perspective, Bad Company 2 remains the pinnacle of the Battlefield franchise to us. Bad Company 2's campaign featured a humorous and subversive plot, focusing on Preston Marlowe and his gang of fellow misfits. The story and tone were refreshingly atypical, and the characters remain some of the most memorable personalities in the military shooter genre. Unlike the heavily scripted, linear campaigns of more recent games, Bad Company 2 does what Battlefield does best; large and wide-open warzones, destructible environments, and vehicular combat accentuate the rock-solid, satisfying shooting. On the multiplayer front, Bad Company 2 focused on a few well-designed modes that delivered tense, team-oriented competitive play across sprawling maps.
(Read more about our enthusiasm for Bad Company here)

Coming Up Next: The biggest and best shooters vie for the number one spot...

5. Halo 3 (Xbox 360 – 2007)

Master Chief was once synonymous with first-person shooters on consoles, and even without Bungie, Halo remains Microsoft's most prized exclusive series. Halo 3 upped the ante back in 2007 with a gorgeous visual upgrade, four-player co-op campaign, and expanded multiplayer offerings that kept players coming back long after subsequent Halo games were released. Halo 3 also served as an end cap to the original Halo trilogy, focusing squarely on Master Chief before Bungie put the iconic hero into a deep freeze for several years.
(Read our full review in Game Informer's Review Archive)

4. Borderlands (Xbox 360, PS3 – 2009)

Once upon a time, shooters were defined by how many guns they gave gamers to play with. Borderlands changed that with an arsenal that numbered in the millions. The procedurally generated loot added a Diablo-esque collecting component to the game's satisfying combat, RPG-like character leveling, and massive open world, creating an undeniably addicting formula. Throw in a unique and heavily exaggerated art style and you've got a game that looks as manic as it plays. Shooting up Pandora's demented psychos and grotesque skags was even more fun with friends, making Borderlands one of the best co-op games of last generation as well. Gearbox also supported its hybrid shooter with a wealth of high-quality DLC, ensuring that the already-lengthy adventure didn't end before its new fan base was completely satisfied.
(Read our full review here)

3. Left 4 Dead (Xbox 360 – 2008)

Plenty of games have featured co-op modes over the years, but Turtle Rock Studios' post-apocalyptic shooter stands apart thanks to its laser focus on actual teamwork; instead of just shooting zombies in the same world as three of your friends, you need to stick together, share resources, and watch each other's backs to have any chance of surviving the unrelenting hordes of undead. Left 4 Dead's "Director" A.I. constantly bombards players with random zombie hordes and special infected enemies while dynamically meting out ammo and items to ensure each playthrough feels fresh and keeps players in the sweet spot. The level-ending finale events still stand out for their frenzied, life-or-death action, and have spawned more believable acts of martyrdom (or brazen cowardice) than any scripted plot point ever could. Left 4 Dead's team-oriented gameplay landed it the top spot on our 2012 list of the top 30 co-op games of all time, and launched the series into the upper echelon of last generation's best shooters.
(Read our full review here)

2. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360, PS3 – 2007)

Nowadays, gamers take it for granted that Activision will release a new Call of Duty title every fall – and that it will sell more copies than most entire franchises do. The reason for that unquestioned success is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and its pitch-perfect controls, bombastic single-player action, and endlessly replayable multiplayer offerings that set the standard and direction for the past seven years of first-person shooters. For all the guff that Activision and Call of Duty get from gamers, it's easy to forget that Infinity Ward's modern take on the military shooter genre – and on competitive multiplayer – lifted shooter fans out of the dreaded World War II rut and felt completely new at the time. Plenty of Call of Duty titles have built on the series' roots since 2007, but for our money, the original Modern Warfare is still the best.  
(Read our full review in Game Informer's Review Archive)

1. BioShock (Xbox 360, PS3 – 2007/2008)

Gamers love to complain how first-person shooters are all the same – the same war-torn battlefields, the same bland and vapid characters, the same clichéd, "save-the-world" story. Not BioShock. From the murky, haunting atmosphere of Rapture to the captivating characters and surprise plot twists, BioShock features one of the most unforgettable stories of any game last generation. It's also an exceptional shooter; tight gunplay is augmented by your supernatural plasmids, which encourage you to experiment with different approaches to combat and power combinations. The game's RPG-like upgrade and crafting systems also allow you to focus on what abilities and weapons appeal to you most, as you fight Big Daddies, save or sacrifice Little Sisters, and inch further closer to finding out why all of Rapture's characters are so darn polite when they ask you for help. Irrational Games' masterful blending of story, atmosphere, and gameplay cemented BioShock as a timeless masterpiece.    
(Read our full review in Game Informer's Review Archive)

For more of our lists detailing the best of the last generation, check out:
Top 25 PlayStation 3 Games
Top 25 Wii Games
Developer Top 5 Lists
Trends That Defined a Console Generation
Our Top 25 List Snubs
Top 10 RPGs
Top 10 Racing Games