Ben Reeves' Top Five Games Of Last Generation

by Ben Reeves on Jan 01, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Looking back, this last console generation might have been the best time to be a gamer. The lineup of titles on the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii provided some of my favorite gaming experiences to date. Here's a roundup of which titles top out that list.

5. Mass Effect
As a kid, my entertainment diet was built around Star Wars, Star Trek, and Transformers. I loved sci-fi, and I loved learning about our universe. During most of my fifth-grade classes, I would sketch alien moonscapes and daydream about the worlds beyond our sky. So when Mass Effect released, I wasn’t just excited to play it; I felt like my head was ready to explode with anticipation. Thankfully, BioWare didn’t disappoint. This sci-fi RPG seemed to let me go wherever I wanted in the universe and its story was more thrilling than 90 percent of the sci-fi movies and books I had read as a kid. I may never go to space, but I don’t need to because now I’ve lived that dream.

4. Braid
After games made the transition to 3D, I began to feel slightly solemn about my favorite hobby. Don’t get me wrong – I love playing 3D games (just look at the rest of this list), but I felt like the video game industry almost turned its back on 2D gaming. Then one day I walked by a TV here at the office and saw someone playing Braid, and my spirits revived. Not only was Braid a brilliant platforming/puzzle game, but it proved that you didn’t need fancy technology or even a large team to make a great game. Technically, 2D games never officially died, but they saw a rebirth after Braid; much of the innovation and success we’re seeing in the indie space now is built on this game, and I’d happily stack it up against the best titles that modern technology can build.

3. The Last of Us
I rarely go into a piece of entertainment wanting to be depressed or saddened, but The Last of Us was one of those games that proved my instincts wrong. This post-apocalyptic survival adventure is a roller coaster that takes you to adrenaline-fueled heights and then sends you to some emotionally poignant depths. The Last of Us was an emotional weighty experience, it left me to think about its characters and its emotional core for weeks – even months – after I had put the controller down. The Last of Us made me feel better about the world I actually live in.

2. Portal
I never expected to fall in love with Portal. I had seen the early videos showing off the clever portal mechanics, and I thought the game looked cool, but Half Life Episode 2 was the game I expected to fall in love with. I certainly did enjoy Half Life Episode 2, but after playing both games for the first time while reviewing, The Orange Box, I found that I couldn’t get Portal out of my head. I loved its clever core concept. I loved its inventive puzzles. And I loved its snarky, insulting A.I. villain. From the moment the lovable "Still Alive" song started playing during the end credits, I knew that Portal would be an experience that I never forgot. And I never have.

1. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Games like Skyrim and Fallout 3 refined many of Oblivion's core concepts, but I never fell completely into a new world like I did when Oblivion first released. I remember starting the game up on a Friday night and then looking out my living-room window in surprise to see the sun had come up. Oblivion was such a massive world, and every inch of it seemed filled with wonder and exciting things to explore. Few games have coerced me into sacrificing sleep and food to the degree that Bethesda’s masterful RPG has. As I’ve grown older, I’ve acquired more and more responsibilities that prevent me from diving into a game the way I did with Oblivion, but maybe when I’m 70 and retried I’ll make a return visit. That sounds amazing.