As our console generation comes to a close, and the next generation, (PS4, XBone, WiiU) start to become the norm, I thought it was high time that I made a list of my absolute favorite games of the last generation, and why. So, without further adieu, I bring you my personal favorite games from the last generation. These can include games on the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, PSP, IOS, or PC (If it was released during these console’s life cycles.)
Also, there be no spoilers here, so read on without fear!
10. Minecraft (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, IOS)
Ah, Minecraft. This lovely Indie gem has exploded in popularity, and has sold over 15 MILLION copies on the PC alone. And trust me, this game is popular for a reason. It’s just something about the sheer open-ended nature of this game that makes it appeal to universally everyone. You’re just dropped into a world with nothing but your fists and a randomly-generated infinity of blocks all around you. You start by gathering resources, and doing with them what you please. Want to build a giant airship? Go for it. Want to armor up and fight a giant dragon? Go for it. Want to explore for miles and miles, just to see what amazing terrain lies just over that next hill? Go for it. And while it’s multiplayer is clunky and hard to use, the game is infinitely better with a few friends and a Skype call. Seriously, if you haven’t tried this game out yet, ask around. I guarantee there is someone you know who has it, and you’ll be hooked.
9. inFamous 2 (PS3)
Now here’s a super hero game done right. The sequel to 2009’s inFamous took everything I loved about the original, and improved on it. Gone is the boring and grey setting of Empire City. Now, the game is set in New Marias, based on the actual city of New Orleans. Our hero Cole is now also armed with a plethora of new powers that expand his repertoire beyond the boundaries of electricity powers. The game’s scope and plot were more fleshed out, and the characters were marvelously written, with the exception of Cole, who still has the personality of a bed of gravel. While the setting and powers changed, the core gameplay was still intact, and it feels great. The combat is where inFamous truly shines. The folks over at Sucker Punch (the developers of the inFamous series) did a fantastic job here. The fighting is frantic and quick, while still feeling in control. The sense of mobility is wonderful, and the powers were fun, without being overpowered or unoriginal. Even if you didn’t enjoy the story or characters, this game did a fantastic job of making you feel like a complete and total bad-ass, and look good while doing it.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii, Gamecube)
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was a launch title for the Wii, so it barely makes the cutoff for this list. That doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the best games on the Wii, and my personal favorite Zelda game of all time. It also happened to be my first.
Putting nostalgia aside, everything in the game came together to create a spectacular and haunting experience. The story took a radical departure from the Zelda norm, and had a much more somber tone than the rest of the franchise. You still had to save the princess and the land of Hyrule, but the way you got there was darker and more mature than it was in past games. The main gimmicks here were the power to transform into a wolf, and being able to enter the Twilight dimension. But, you don’t play Zelda games for the gimmicks or story. You play them for the dungeons. And boy, were these dungeons some of the best in the series. The items you received were inventive, the puzzles were challenging, and the combat was stellar as always. Throw in a myriad of side quests, activities, locations to discover, and my favorite game soundtrack of all time, and you have got a fulfilling game that will keep you hooked for many hours.
7. Borderlands (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
All right, here’s how I describe Borderlands to people who have never heard of it. Take the loot driven center of Diablo and mix it with slick First Person Shooter gameplay. Add a gorgeous cell shaded art style, RPG elements, hilarious dialogue, 4 player co-op, and buckets of blood and body parts. That’s pretty much Borderlands in a nutshell. In Borderlands, you find yourself as a Vault Hunter on the planet Pandora (No, not the one from Avatar). Word is, there is an ancient alien vault filled with all the money your heart could desire. The only problem is, Pandora is basically the wild west. There’s no law, and gangs of crazed bandits run the show. So what do you do? Grab your buddies, lots of guns, and shoot your way to victory. The shooting was responsive, and the vast array of weapons you find felt different. Add in elemental damage into the mix, and the combat becomes more than just “Spray-n-Pray.” And while this game is fun by yourself, it is built to be played with friends. You are seriously doing yourself a disservice if you don’t play it with a couple of friends. And, if you can’t get enough, there’s always the fantastic sequel, which has more varied locations, more to do, and most importantly, more guns.
6. Journey (PS3)
Journey is a simple game. Your character with no name or gender is dropped in the middle of a sandy desert. The wind blows sand off the tops of dunes as you explore. The only thing you know is that you have to reach the top of the mountain in front of you. From there, it’s the job of the player to piece together what story there is. Honestly, the less you know about Journey the better. It’s an adventure that will take you no more than two hours, and is best played in one sitting. The ambiance is fantastic, and the online play is integrated so seamlessly you won’t even notice. Seriously, this is a perfect example of video games as art. Thatonegamecompany (yes, that’s their name) has made one of the best games on the Playstation, or ever for that matter. Seriously, Journey deserves your money more than almost any game on this list. Give it a try.
5. Bioshock (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Bioshock was originally released in 2007 and made a splash (no pun intended) on the gaming industry as a whole. Set in 1960, you find yourself as the survivor of a plane crash who stumbles into the failed underwater utopia of Rapture. This was a city build by a man named Andrew Ryan and was designed to be a place where artists, doctors, and intellectuals could come and be free from the oppression of a government. As you descend into the Lighthouse that serves as the entrance to Rapture, you see a huge statue of Andrew holding a banner that reads “No Gods or Kings, Only Man.” Man, he sets the tone pretty quickly, now doesn’t he? When you arrive, the city is in ruins. Andrew Ryan has lost control, and crazed, genetically-altered freaks called Splicers stake their claims and fight for survival. The story of Bioshock is less about you and more about the city. The gameplay is tight, and some of the special powers you get can drastically change how you play the game. Oh, and there’s a twist at the end of the game that totally hit me off guard. Seriously, it changed the ENTIRE game for me. Definitely worth a look.
4. Portal (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Portal is another example of a simple Indie game that became wildly popular among mainstream gamers. Originally released as part of Valve’s Orange Box collection, Portal was one of the first “First Person Puzzle” games that I had ever heard of. Your character, named Chell, wakes up in a testing facility devoid of any human life. The only interaction you have is with a crazed robot named GLaDOS, who talks to you through speakers in the testing facility. You eventually acquire the “Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device,” which I will proceed to call the ASHPC. With this device you can create two portals on the wall: one blue, and one orange. If you go through one portal, you come out the other. It’s that simple. But man oh man, the puzzle design is impeccable. Seriously, you will use this thing in ways you never would have imagined. The dialogue in this game is fantastic as well. It’s rife with black humor, and hints at some pretty sinister stuff. If you can’t get enough Portal, Valve released Portal 2 in 2011 as a standalone game. Even though I loved the sequel, the original just seemed like a more focused game. To be honest, I still return to this one every once in a while and replay it. It’s that good.
3. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Oblivion is by far one of the deepest and most sprawling games I’ve ever played. Developed by Bethesda Softworks in 2006, this game had big shoes to fill. Being the Sequel to Morrowind — one of the most highly-praised western RPGs of all time — it had a lot to live up to, and boy did it deliver. The sheer amount of freedom in this game is almost unrivaled. You wake up in a cell with no memory of who you are, or why you have been imprisoned. Eventually, after escaping from prison, it is discovered that you are the Chosen One and that it is your job to stop the forces of Oblivion (basically Hell) from destroying the land of Cyrodiil (where this game takes place.) But, you don’t have to. There are so many sidequests in this game, you won’t know what to do with yourself. In addition to the open world, you can make whatever kind of character you want. From sneaky assassins, crafty mages, and barbaric warriors, to any combination of them you desire, your character really feels like your own. You play however you want to play. And the graphics are gorgeous. While they may not hold up to today’s standards, I still get shivers when I exit the prison for the first time and look out across the lush hillsides of Cyrodiil. I’ve put hundreds of hours into this wonderful game, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.
2. Dark Souls (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Does that screenshot intimidate you? Well, it should. Dark souls is one of the toughest games on the market right now. It demands all your attention and isn’t afraid to punish you for even the tiniest misstep. That being said, it is also one of the most rewarding games ever. Period. While it is tough, everything is beatable. Every trap is avoidable; every enemy and boss can be killed. It just takes patience. Half of the fun is figuring out where to go and how the game works. The game doesn’t hold your hand at all, and I love it for that. The feeling you get after killing a boss after your 500th try is unlike anything in all of gaming. It’s seriously like a drug. The rush of adrenaline you get after defeating one of the game’s myriad of bosses is what keeps you coming back for more. The combat isn’t your standard “mash the attack button” type of combat either. You have to plan your attacks, your blocks, your rolls, and your parries. Everything feels weighty. When you hit an enemy, you can almost feel the impact. It’s my favorite combat system in any game to date. The story is impeccable as well. Instead of shoving the narrative down your throat, you are left to yourself, and it’s your decision whether or not you want to dig deep into the world of Lordran. Once you’ve beaten this game after 60 or so hours, there’s always new builds to try, and an infinite number of New Game + modes to play through. If you like this game, you won’t be leaving it for a long, long time.
Before I get to number one, here are some honorable mentions.
FTL: Faster Than Light
Thomas Was Alone
Call of Duty: Zombies
And without further ado, I give you number one.
The Last of Us (PS3)
The Last of Us tells one of the best stories in any entertainment medium. Ever. The Last of Us is the story of Joel and Ellie as they cross a desolated U.S. to try to find the cure to the fungus that wiped out almost everyone in the country. You see, there’s a fungus called Cordyceps that infects the host’s brain and turns them into basically a zombie. A zombie that runs. A zombie with a person still inside. If you sneak into a room full of the infected, you can hear them sobbing, because they know everything they have done; they just can’t control it. And while the gameplay is focused on combat, Joel and Ellie are really the stars of the show. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson respectively deliver some of the best voice acting performances in all of video games. The journey they take is a dark one, and it stays that way. It just makes the moments of happiness that much sweeter. Watching Joel and Ellie’s relationship change over the course of the game is enthralling, and kept me coming back for more. Even the side characters could have their own games. That’s how well written this game is. The ending is ambiguous, the characters are real, and the combat is absolutely visceral. Naughty Dog wasn’t afraid to shy away from gore, and it just adds to the realism and darkness of this story. I know this game has been hyped beyond belief, but it really does live up to it. If you have a PS3, and haven’t played this game, you need to. You owe it to yourself to play this game. It truly is a modern masterpiece.
Well, there you go. I thank you very much for reading this. Feel free to post your favorite games in the comments. That’s all I have for now, but I will be back soon with more ramblings. Cheers!