Top Ten Games of the Generation: Mike’s List
It’s been an exciting eight years, but the generation of the Wii, Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3 is finally reaching its end. Making a top ten list for such a long generation was no easy task. Rather than arguing over one master list, each of us on allyoucangeek created his own personal top ten list. If you want to hear us talk about all of our lists, then listen to our podcast on the subject: http://allyoucangeek.net/aycg-podcast-bonus-round-5-best-games-generation/
I considered impact on the industry, overall quality of the game, my own personal excitement playing and thinking about the game, and how much time I spent on the game when ranking each title. Here they are, my top ten games of this generation…
10. Wii Sports
The first game of motion control trend of this generation was also the best of the bunch. Wii Sports changed gaming, for better or worse, and became an instant party game classic for friends and families of all ages and gaming competencies. Few games have widened the gaming demographic like Wii sports, and its collection of sports-based minigames are still the most consistently fun motion-controlled activities I’ve played.
9. Halo 3
The best selling exclusive for the Xbox 360 has to be on this list. Halo 3 was this generation’s Halo, which made it the multiplayer to have for 360 owners. With the added Forge mode allowing for user created maps, there were countless ways to play online with a vibrant online community. The campaign where you “finished the fight” was solid, but Halo 3’s real impact was in its multiplayer. This was an Xbox Live seller and one of the key factors that led to the Xbox 360’s success this generation.
8. Injustice : Gods among Us
You may be scratching your head wondering why this game made the cut, but Injustice has become one of my personal favorites of this generation for doing the unthinkable: making me get good enough at a fighting game to play it online and win half of the time. I’ve been playing it consistently since its release and I’m still not tired of it. Injustice captures the character of DC’s Justice League by creating a genuine DC comics story and by casting most of the characters with their voice actors from the early 2000s’ Justice League cartoon. The gameplay is accessible to new players, yet rewards skilled players by allowing for huge technical combos. It may not be the most balanced fighting game out there, but the dynamic characters and stages are oozing character that more than makes up for the obvious “tiers” that some characters fit into. The added quirks beyond the combo building (meter wagering clashes, easy super-moves, level transitions, and damaging intractable objects) add another layer of strategy to the game and gives those of us who can’t figure out how to hit a 50% combo a fighting chance. If you are a fan of DC, Mortal Kombat, or fighting games, then you should play this game. Now.
Bioshock is in many ways the Big Daddy of this generation. How many games in the last six years have narrative twists, focus on creating a distinct dystopian setting, add RPG Elements to a non-RPG genre, or have some type of morality system? Bioshock did all of these either before or better than everyone else this generation. This game came out in 2007 and still holds up as one of the best at what it does, even graphically. Rapture is probably the most interesting and atmospheric setting in video game history. The only reasons why Bioshock isn’t higher on this list are because the endings were not so great and there is little replay value since one play-through is usually all you would want or need to get the full impact of the twists and the thrill of initially exploring Rapture. Still, if you wait a bit to forget some of the game and go back to it, Bioshock retains its quality better than most games of this generation.
6. Assassin’s Creed II
Before Assassin’s Creed’s story got too far up its own ass, its conspiracy-laden historical fiction coupled with a futuristic setting was one of the most compelling stories being told in gaming. ACII was also the perfect sequel, improving on the original game in every way. The controls were better, the main character was more interesting, the story picked up the pace, there was more varied gameplay, and there were the Truth puzzles. These creepy, often challenging puzzles were an optional side mission, but the tidbits of information on the game’s lore they contained were well worth the effort it took to unlock them. Very rarely does a secret end up being every bit as interesting when revealed as it was when you were searching for it, but finding out the truth behind the Truth puzzles in ACII is satisfyingly mind-blowing. That is part of the reason why Assassin’s Creed II is still the pinnacle of a series that was ubiquitous during this generation.
5. Fallout 3
How do you get non-RPG players to play an RPG? Strip away the creepy Elf fetish aesthetic and set it in a nuclear wasteland filled with guns and mutants. That’s what Fallout 3 did, but it also did so much more. It created a game with so much to explore and so many unique characters and side-quests to encounter that you could play this game for 100 hours and not experience half of what the game had to offer. The quantity was unheard of for console games at the time, but the quality coupled with that quantity is what makes Fallout 3 and all-time great. With the exception of the still interesting main quest, most of the side quests were very fluid, allowing for narrative freedom. At any point a player could kill every side quest character in the game (except for those damn kids) and steal all their stuff, with consequences to follow. You could be the scourge of the Wasteland or its biggest hero, and as you got new loot and leveled up you began to feel like a god, so much more powerful than the feeble vault-dweller you were when you started the game.
4. NBA 2K11
I love basketball, Michael Jordan, and video games- so I love NBA 2K11. MJ finally was introduced to this generation of consoles in 2K11 and the new Jordan Challenge mode also brought a focus on historical teams he was on and played against in the eighties and nineties. The gameplay also received an upgrade, allowing shooters like MJ to create their own shots better than they had before in the series. It was the NBA game I had wanted for years and is the best sports game ever created.
3. Mass Effect 2
The Mass Effect series dominated much of this last generation. The second game in the series was when it was at its best. The persistent saves from the original game still seemed to matter and allow for genuine choices in Mass Effect 2 that held similar weight. Your decisions determined how that suicide mission that concluded the game would play out. That ending probably should have ended the entire series. The gameplay was more exciting than its predecessor, with less tedious omni-gel conversions and more responsive weapons and powers. This game perfectly married RPG elements with an entertaining 3rd person shooter set in one of the best realized sci-fi universes ever created (before it was destroyed by the ending of Mass Effect 3.)
2. Batman: Arkham Asylum
This was simply a game changer. It proved that Batman could be accurately portrayed in not just any game, but an all-time great game. Its free-flow combat system was simple, yet it could get quite challenging, especially within the infinitely replayable ranked challenge modes. Its Predator stealth gaeplay was also a new way to play games that was unique to Batman and made sense for him. It was so unlike anything else we’ve ever seen before and now every action game tries (and fails) to imitate the impeccable style of combat that Batman introduced to us in Arkham. The characterization of Batman and Joker here was also so authentic that it may be one of the best uses of a license in a video game. Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamil, and Arleen Sorkin all reprized their roles as Batman, Joker, and Harley Quinn from the animated series’ of the last 20 years and the story was created by Batman scribe Paul Dini. It may be the most definitive depiction of Batman in popular media. It was all set on Arkham Island, a Metroid-like labyrinth of areas oozing with secrets and atmosphere. Revolutionary gameplay, polish, atmosphere, replayability, secrets, and story; this game had everything you could ask for in a video game. If you were a fan of Batman before this game, this was what you’ve been waiting for all of your life. It could make a Batman fan a gamer or a gamer a Batman fan.
1. Batman: Arkham City
Yes, I’m double dipping here, but I believe that these two Arkham games really are the best this generation had to offer. City was bigger and better than Asylum in almost every way. It retained everything that made Asylum great but managed to add more variety to the free-flow combat without breaking its all important rhythm. It addressed the biggest flaw of Asylum by having unique boss fights through the game, including the strategic battle with Mister Freeze, which is arguably the most memorable boss encounter in the genre. The addition of new playable characters was also a huge expansion. Catwoman played her own levels in the story and had access to the open world while Nightwing and Robin both appeared in challenge maps, all with unique abilities. But the most important part of Arkham city was the ending of a story that has been unofficially told for 20 years. Conroy’s Batman and Hamil’s Joker end their time together in what Hamil says is his last performance as the Joker. If that holds true, then what a send off it is in the best game of this console generation.
Honorable mentions: SSB Brawl, Uncharted 2, The Orange Box, GTA V, Skyrim
Brawl would have been my alternate number ten if I combined the Arkahm games into one entry. I love that series and was so excited to see Sonic in the game. It may be the Wii’s best game, but it doesn’t have the significance of Wii Sports. My other honorable mentions all have loads of content and were all very fun but either have a few flaws that keep them out of my top ten or are not as compelling to me as the games that made it are. Agree, disagree? Leave a comment