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 five, five and you guessed it, five more. 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!
It’s a funny feeling when a game like BioShock releases. At first, no one knows what to truly expect but then, once the first wave of reviews roll out and the game garners perfect and/or flawless ratings across the board, it’s a mad dash to get to the store to see if all the fuss is real. It was. BioShock captivated its audience, providing a story unlike anything anyone had seen on the, at the time, next-gen consoles. Coupled with invigorating combat, amazing visuals and an untouchable atmosphere, Bioshock gave gamers a single-player experience of a lifetime.
Why’d it make the list?: Rapture wasn’t just a part of BioShock, it was BioShock. Much like how Serenity is the 10th character of Firefly or CenturyLink Field is the 12th man for the Seattle Seahawks, Rapture was a necessary ingredient to completely immerse you in Irrational Games’ world. Without the dilapidated hallways and semi-flooded tunnels of the crazed city, BioShock simply wouldn’t have held the impact that it did. Of course, the game also contains one of the industry’s best jaw-dropping plot-twists that still resonates with gamers today. Even the gameplay was upper-tier, rewarding the player for exploration and allowing you to prioritize powering up weapons which, in turn, provided multiple ways to play through the game. BioShock can even be credited with the industry’s fascination with audio logs, which I wish would stop because no one else can really get it right. Simply put, Irrational Games created a widespread blueprint that many developers draw from today. If you haven’t played it, would you kindly do so?
3) Gears of War
Learning much from forgotten games like WinBack and Kill.Switch, Gears of War took cover shooting gameplay to another level and clotheslined the loiterers. This was the Xbox 360′s first must-have title in that it flexed the true power of the next-gen consoles. Offering a mysterious narrative in a post-apocalyptic world before it was overused to death, Gears of War’s meaty gameplay held weight that almost felt too good. The concussive blast of the Gnasher shotgun tearing into nearby enemies was unprecedented and being able to carry a buddy with you online made the experience that much better. If the campaign wasn’t doing it for you though, Gears of War’s multiplayer component was as competitive as anything could get. Have you ever wondered how multiplayer really got going in the next-gen? You’re looking at the game that helped shape it all.
Why’d it make the list?: I’ve written extensively about all the issues Gears of War has had over the years and how they missed an opportunity for one of the better stories in gaming, but right now the focus is on what the first game did and that list… well, it’s massive. By implementing cover based warfare and the ingenious active reload mechanic, Epic single-handedly changed the way competitive shooters are played. Gears of War wasn’t the perfect game, but it played extremely well and made such an impact on the industry that its high spot in this countdown cannot be understated.
2) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Arguably the most important title of this generation, the original Modern Warfare makes our list at numero dos. For the people who look at Call of Duty and proclaim its inability to offering anything worthwhile, I implore you, take a look back at this game. Back when World War II was the most exhausted environment to set a game, no one knew if the modern combat approach to Call of Duty would work out well. Trillions of dollars later, Call of Duty is the biggest current franchise on gaming consoles and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is where it all began.
Why’d it make the list?: Some may find it boring to look back at what specific games have done for the industry, but if there’s one you can’t ignore it’d be Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Besides providing the template for how shooters and competitive multiplayer modes are currently built, the game featured a breathtaking campaign. Giving you multiple perspectives from different nations around the world, there were no filler missions in the original Modern Warfare. Every single second was exciting and that includes one of the best stealth-based missions of all time. Something as groundbreaking and universally awesome as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare comes along maybe once every generation. This is one nobody can pass over.
1) Mass Effect 2
Though the trilogy might not have ended as most would like, no one can disrespect the revolutionary performance Mass Effect 2 put on. Miles different, yet completely familiar when compared to the first game, Mass Effect 2 streamlined all the headaches of its predecessor all while introducing some of the most compelling characters ever seen in video games. The personality, choice and ability to bring your character throughout the course of the entire series is still something that has not been matched. This, my friends, is the product you receive when a studio pours its soul into it all while listening intently to its devoted fan-base.
Why’d it make the list?: The world of Mass Effect is extensive, deep and thrilling to behold. So much time and effort has been put into the crafting of characters that it directly affects the in-game choices you might make. Whether it’s to prevent a character you love from dying or just a stupid mistake, never have I felt so attached to every character in a game world. Spending hours not playing, but talking to your comrades can be just as exciting as going out and blasting your enemies to pieces – which sounds crazy to even say. Speaking of which, the gameplay in Mass Effect 2 was a complete overhaul of what many expected from the original game. Selecting certain classes completely alters gameplay, allowing for more than one reason to play through the game multiple times. Loyalty missions, region targeting, interrupt options, Mass Effect 2 didn’t slack in any department. To this day, I remember being up at 1am, seeing that ‘Start Suicide Mission?’ blip appear on my screen and fastening myself in for the long-haul. Mass Effect 2 re-energized an already amazing game and there’s absolutely nothing like it out there. I dare you to find another game with the personality this brings; you won’t find it.