It’s hard to believe the new generation is just on the horizon. With fewer than three weeks to go before we’re assaulted with brand spankin’ new technology, we thought it necessary to count down the absolute best games of this generation. From 2005 to the glorious 2013, over the next three days we celebrate the greatest games through this time period. Through detailed explanation and a recorded audio stream, come share with us the games most deserving of our praise and undeniable love.
Over the next three days we’ll be revealing the top 15 games of this generation. That’s six, five and you guessed it, four more (because we’re weird). Now, before we begin there’s some ground rules we need to explain before the inevitable fits of rage from the internet begin. We decided that to identify the generation better, the games selected on the top 15 would be from consoles only. That’s right, no PC. Why? For the purposes of this series of articles omission of the PC allows for a more focused approach. The PC has been around for millions of years and, besides, we’re using the console timeline for this list! Important as titles like Minecraft are to the video game world, it’s impact was made on the PC and therefore will not have a place on this list. There is one exception to this rule, but we won’t reveal it here.
Saying that, these choices were made through the gnashing of angry teeth, violent roundhouse kicks and heated debates (of which we recorded one for your listening pleasure). Know that every title you see somehow affected the industry in a life-changing way; their impact cannot be denied. That’s more than enough for the prelude, now let’s get going!
- Console only (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)
- Must have released between the years of 2005 and 2013
Full-length Feature Podcast
If you’re feeling anxious and want to hear Andrew and Aaron sit back, chop down the list and talk up their sides of this generation’s best games, here’s the WHOLE conversation!
15) Castle Crashers
Castle Crashers is the grand magistrate of cooperative play. The judicator of fun. The chancellor of good times. Never has there been a game that’s been so easy and fun to play, yet optionally challenging with staggering replay value. Containing addictive hack and slash gameplay, RPG mechanics and ridiculously good music, Castle Crashers is the most important title to ever come out on Xbox Live Arcade.
Why’d it make the list?: Ask anybody what they think of Castle Crashers and, chances are, the majority of the people asked will opine. The point is, almost everybody’s played it. With accessibility that allows all types of gamers to jump in or out whenever they want and to play with whatever style works for them, it’s what every arcade game strived to attain and Castle Crashers did it effortlessly. Implementing couch and internet co-op simultaneously along with just being downright addictive, The Behemoth’s reach with this game is unfathomable. Without Castle Crashers, the Xbox Live Arcade scene would be drastically different and, in turn, it would more than likely adversely affect how it’s evolved today.
14) Assassin’s Creed II
Mind-blowing as the first game was, it had its share of major issues; not so with the sequel. Depicting the massive environments of Italy in all its beautiful glory, Assassin’s Creed II presented us with brand new, fully fleshed out mechanics that made the game a joy to play. More importantly, Ubisoft introduced us to Ezio Auditore de Firenze, one of the few fully recognized and applauded faces of this generation. Assassin’s Creed II took this generation of open-world gaming to new, unrecognized heights.
Why’d it make the list?: While Grand Theft Auto IV moved gamers with its alarming realism and open-ended gameplay, Assassin’s Creed II learned from its feats of strength and the mistakes of its predecessor to craft a timeless piece of video game history. Every aspect of Assassin’s Creed II is better than the first, showing what can be done when a developer listens to its fans and pours its soul into the game itself. Ezio is also one of the best and most loved characters to come out of this generation. Here’s to hoping the series can find its way back to greatness.
13) Spec Ops: The Line
The third-person shooter is one of the most celebrated genres in the history of gaming and it has this generation to thank for it. Unfortunately for Spec Ops: The Line and games like it, it’s also now one of the most despised genres. Using this as ammunition, Yager Development put their brilliant minds together to craft one of the best stories told this generation.
Why’d it make the list?: Mediocre gameplay aside, Spec Ops: The Line wants you to think it’s just a typical shooter right out of the box. Generic name and seemingly zero personality aside, once you get past the opening scenes you then realize there’s something deep, something hidden within Yager’s code. Every detail means something in Spec Ops: The Line, especially when it comes to emotionally charged, impact scenes that actually mean something. The ending alone makes this game worthy of being mentioned, but the real kicker is Yager taking a derivative idea and metamorphosizing it into something truly amazing. Play this game.
12) Batman: Arkham Asylum
Who would’ve thought the Dark Knight would be the first to throw up a superhero game that’s so good, standard triple-A titles can hardly compete with it? Coming out of nowhere, Rocksteady hit gold with Arkham Asylum. Giving the world Batman’s greatest villains and intuitive gameplay, all the while also rolling out industry changing fight mechanics easily cements Batman: Arkham Asylum as one of the more important titles this generation has seen.
Why’d it make the list?: Simply put, licensed superhero games were a joke. Prototype and InFamous did some entertaining things, but even they weren’t without their flaws. Batman is a renowned, established character who really hadn’t had a good game since the SNES version of Batman Returns. Amazingly, Rocksteady was able to breathe new life into the Caped Crusader while also innovating on top of the revitalization process. When all was said and done, Batman: Arkham Asylum set the bar for how all licensed superhero games should be developed and the industry is all the better for it.
11) Grand Theft Auto V
How do you make $800 million in a day? You release a true Grand Theft Auto game to a salivating fan-base that’s only been waiting five years for this moment. Grand Theft Auto V is, without a doubt, the best game in the series to date and it helps send off a monumental generation with an exciting BLAM, BLAM, BOOM! For one of the first times in the industry, becoming bigger, better and more badass didn’t become a hindrance.
Why’d it make the list?: While many may take GTA V as ‘just another Grand Theft Auto’ experience, it goes far beyond that. Rockstar North learned from their errors with GTA IV, melded open-ended gameplay with professional, aggressive narrative and provided a robust, fun cooperative experience with the game’s online component. GTA V is as good as it gets and is the very definition of the complete package. It may not sate all gamers’ hunger but it comes pretty damned close in every department. This is the way you close a generation.
10) Red Dead Redemption
Once again Rockstar moves in, grabbing a top spot with Red Dead Redemption which showcases how engaging and fun the open-world genre can be. Incredible as the GTA series is, Red Dead Redemption takes the model and delivers an absolutely unforgettable experience that still has yet to be replicated. John Marston is also one of the best, most likeable characters you’ll set your eyes on in this generation.
Why’d it make the list?: Red Dead Redemption is a seminal title that delivers a moving story, impressive visuals and absolutely unforgettable gameplay. The environment itself is an experience, giving players new and old completely different encounters every single time you play it. Whether tied to John Marston’s story or just hunting around in the expansive environments, there was never a dull moment in Red Dead Redemption. Taking a chance and crafting an adventure set into the Wild West was an audacious move for Rockstar and even now, as we slip into the new generation, Red Dead Redemption still harbors unique gameplay mechanics that make it truly something special.