Mike Futter’s Top Five Games Of Last Generation

by Mike Futter on Jan 01, 2015 at 01:01 PM

I’m throwing the rulebook out the window. Rather, I would if there were a rulebook. I can’t tell you my top five games of last generation, there are too many years and too many choices. So I decided to narrow things down just a bit.

I pondered the different ways I could parse hundreds of titles, and considered the best five pilot games for new franchises, standout reboots, and even a eulogy of titles that you can’t play as originally intended (alas, poor Chromehounds). What I landed on was my favorite five titles that have defied the most overwhelming force in all of gaming: sequels.

Each of these five titles is a standalone experience. The story begins and ends on the discs in that one box (at least for now).

5. Bulletstorm

In the run-up to Bulletstorm’s release, each new trailer pushed me farther away from the title. I was turned off by how hard it was trying to be “bro-friendly,” which meant that by the time Epic and People Can Fly were ready to show off gameplay, I had already checked out.

I don’t quite recall what brought my back to the table, but I’m glad it happened. In context, Bulletstorm’s humor clicked with me, but that wouldn’t have been enough. Thankfully, the skillshot system (encouraging me to maim creatively) and the leash (allowing me to blast foes into the air or yank them toward me) created an experience unlike many other shooters. 

If Bulletstorm is destined to be a one-and-done series, it was a damn good one. And that’s before conjuring images of its delightfully colorful insults.

4. Shadows of the Damned

I promise that this list won’t simply be a rundown of games with colorful language (though that might make a fine list, too). Still, the epic team-up of Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) and Suda51 (Killer7) did have its share of amusingly profane dialog.

Mikami brought with him the lessons learned from Resident Evil 4. Suda51 spiced things up with great characterization and settings that blend terror and comedy. And it’s all tied together with a gun that transforms into a variety of names for male genitalia. 

If you missed this on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, hook one of those systems back up and give it a go. I suspect that the EA-published title won’t be getting a sequel and this is one you want to play before it’s outdated.

3. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

I played this title late last generation, missing it when it was first released in 2010. Ninja Theory’s adventure in a decayed world is a twist on Wu Cheng’en’s novel, Journey to the West.

As Monkey (played by Andy Serkis), you must protect a young girl named Trip. Failure to do so results in your death due to the slave band she’s placed on your head. 

Through combat and platforming, you’ll fight your way across the decrepit remains of our civilization. Be sure to stick around for the ending, it’s one of the most thought-provoking and surprising ones I can recall from last generation.

As for a sequel, there simply isn’t any need. The story wraps up nicely, with a bit of DLC available if you want to explore the background of a third character, Pigsy.

2. Spec Ops: The Line

If you devote only an hour or two to playing Spec Ops: The Line, I suspect you will come away utterly unimpressed. The beginning of the game is rote shooter fare that doesn’t do anything special, push any boundaries, or offer anything you haven’t played in dozens of other games.

That sense of the mundane is there on purpose, because without it the juxtaposition that occurs as the story continues wouldn’t have the same impact. What follows is a twisting narrative that breaks the fourth wall with evolving title and loading screens.

A sequel to Spec Ops likely wouldn’t have the same impact as Yager’s risky endeavor. The title could have just as easily fallen apart, but a strong narrative with a brilliant payoff made it one of my favorite experiences of last generation.

1. Chromehounds

Anyone who knows me saw this coming from a mile away. This title would have also led my eulogy list, because the game I fell in love with and devoted hundreds of hours to is dead.

With the servers shut off, the bits that can still be played are a shallow husk that essentially serve as a tutorial. You can read my love letter to From Software’s online mech masterpiece here.

Of all the titles on this list, I desperately hope that a publisher gives From Software another crack at a game like this. Perhaps after the credibility the developer has earned from the Souls series, From’s name will carry more interest and give Hound pilots another lease on life.