Jeff Cork's Top Five Games Of Last Generation

by Jeff Cork on Jan 01, 2015 at 05:00 AM

Coming up with a list of your favorite games from this past generation is difficult enough. Being forced to winnow it down to five is nearly impossible. This is as close to a final list as I could muster. Ugh.

I'll obviously explain the reasons for each of my picks within each entry, but here's a broad look at how I approached this thing. Basically, I thought about the games I loved and had a fair amount of replayability built into their design. That meant that games like The Last of Us and BioShock, which I thought (and still think) were great games, didn't make the cut. I used desert-island pick rules, which means I went into it thinking, "If I could only play five games from last gen for the rest of my life, what would those be?" I know it's an artificial restriction, but that's what happens when you're forced to be so brutal with this kind of list. Here are my picks.

5. Dead Rising
I think I'm contractually obligated to mention Dead Rising in any list I make. What can I say? I love Dead Rising. Dead Rising 2 added more zombies, more weapons, weapon combos, and a great setting, but I'll keep the original on my list (and maybe sneak Capcom Vancouver's sequel in the case). The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was technically impressive, but Dead Rising was the first Xbox 360 game that made me say, "Aha! This is next-gen gaming!" Even during the game's climactic siege, Oblivion couldn't manage to cram more than a dozen or so guys on the screen. Capcom filled an entire shopping mall to the brim, along with a multitude of improvised weapons to cut down their ranks. I kind of dug the sense that time was running out, too.

4. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Geometry Wars 2 is my default desert-island pick, so it only makes sense to toss it into this list. It came out last generation, after all, so it would be weird not to include the game. It's one of those rare games that I don't get tired of playing, and there are enough different modes to keep the twin-stick shooting fresh. We used to get into some pretty intense high-score battles in the office when the game first came out, and I still get annoyed by some of the scores on my XBLA leaderboard. One of these days I'm going to sit down and spend enough time on it to be competitive again.

3. Rock Band III
I've spent an embarrassingly large amount of time and money on Rock Band. Each entry in the series was great, but the third one was pretty much the peak for me. It had a great tracklist, plus you could carry over the overwhelming majority of songs from your Rock Band library. I never got into the keyboards, as much as I tried, and the microphone still makes me recoil, but the guitar and drum parts alone are worth the price of admission. It's one of only a handful of games I've played in a group setting that didn't make me feel like an antisocial weirdo, too. That's got to count for something, right?

2. Fallout 3
I think I've played through Fallout 3 three times now, and I've tried to embrace the dark side at least twice. Each time, I go from heartless hardass to a softie. Maybe it's because the NPCs and the situations they present make them so sympathetic. Perhaps it's because the world seems so vivid that being bad just feels wrong. Or maybe it's because I'm such a sweetie-pie in real life. Regardless, even though I fall into the same basic routine, I love the idea that my character is a beacon of hope in an otherwise awful world. Even if that means sometimes blowing up Megaton and instantly regretting it.

1. Red Dead Redemption
I've enjoyed westerns for as long as I can remember. In games, I was able to get a good-enough experience by playing things like Sunset Riders, Tin Star, Wanted!, and Gun. Red Dead Redemption was the first one that actually nailed everything I love about the genre, though. Being able to roam around the gorgeous plains was fantastic, and in true Rockstar tradition there was enough side content to occupy my time when I wasn't interested in propelling John Marston's tale. It also happens to have one of my all-time favorite endings.