There can be only one!
4,665As Phil pushed open the meeting room door at AVF towers, he instinctively covered his face at the smell unleashed from within. Tentatively moving forward he discovered a shocking trail of destruction, snapped discs, flung cases and broken consoles were scattered in every direction.Approaching the centre table he could see a solitary figure sat beneath a single flickering light source. Through the darkness and blood he could only just recognize the figure as Mark Botwright. With no response to stimuli and a far off look in his eye Mark was clutching a bloodied Wii remote tightly in one hand and a tattered piece of paper in the other.
After prising the paper free and flattening it out on the table; he read the words which made clear the catalyst for these tragic events; it read... “The AVForums Top Ten Games of the Generation”...
10. Left 4 Dead
One of the biggest evolutions of this generation was the creation of robust and feature rich networks allowing friends to connect with each other with ease. Thus the co-op shooter was born and these days allowing friends to play through a campaign or separate mode cooperatively is an essential component.
Left 4 Dead is perhaps the pinnacle of this movement, with a slim story holding it together, it relies almost entirely on emergent gameplay, with the game director dynamically changing difficulty and enemy distribution; it made Left 4 Dead a group based survival challenge which had you swapping stories and strategies for days later. Some great gun play and deadly enemies resulted in moments of mic screaming panic and genuine sighs of relief once safety was assured. While co-op may be a common feature, Left 4 Dead still stands out from the crowd as one of THE co-op experiences of the past generation.
9. Super Mario Galaxy
If there is only room for one Nintendo property in this list then there is only one character who could possibly fill the spot. Turning the platformer (often literally) on its head and simultaneously validating a large chunk of Wii purchases is Super Mario Galaxy.
In a perplexing display of brilliance, Nintendo once again transformed one of gaming’s most loveable properties into a gameplay tour de force which didn’t look too shabby despite its uncompetitive hardware. As always Nintendo lead the way through a valley of barren software; they showed third parties how to use the Wii’s features to great advantage, delivering that trademark slick Mario platforming with a pleasant twist which both “hardcore” and casual crowds alike could get their teeth into.
Just behind the door Leon calmly greeted him saying “My name is Commander Shepard and this is my favorite store in the Citadel!” before apparently “powering down”8. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Nathan Drake's second outing garnered huge critical acclaim and evolved the solid Tomb Raider-esque experience of the first game into a fully fledged AAA franchise. Unashamedly steeped in the Indiana Jones mould, some spectacular production values helped the depiction of impressive action sequences, themselves punctuated by snappy, brilliantly voice acted dialogue which often felt like a conversation happening in real time.
Foreshadowing some of their later work, Naughty Dog staked a claim to being perhaps the most adept at making a game feel cinematic; in both cut-scenes and gameplay Uncharted 2 is a dynamic adventure of the highest order. A breathtaking thrill ride which assaults the senses with edge of your seat set pieces, served up with a side order of razor sharp wit.
7. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Modern Warfare is the title which catapulted the series into the stratosphere and to many fans remains its high point. Its influence upon almost every shooter that followed is still being felt today. The control scheme, XP levelling and multiplayer infrastructure all advanced the first person shooter genre on console significantly at a time when Halo was dominating the Xbox Live charts.
No matter your opinion on the current state of the franchise, Call of Duty 4 remains one of the best examples of a shooter hitting the spot on all sides, Campaign and Multiplayer; delivering one of the most seminal examples of the generation.
Meanwhile Ben sat cross legged rocking on the floor; frantically tapping a Dualshock which didn’t appear to be controlling anything6. Bioshock
Gaming as a hobby has the potential to take us many places, there are few though as well realised as Rapture. The dystopian underwater city and its terrifying inhabitants remains one of the greatest examples of an environment interwoven with storytelling in recent times.
Its commentary on the nature of control and even games as a whole was a golf club round the head of those used to much shallower experiences. A few deficiencies in gameplay and a frankly awful final boss fight couldn’t possibly come close to diminishing the deep atmosphere created in this spectacular world.
Beating Bioshock by the tiniest of margins is a game which could possibly be viewed as its polar opposite. Leaving only remnants of a story scrawled away on hidden walls is Portal. A physics-bending head scratcher based on plain and simple mechanics.
This puzzle game mixed with a platformer from the first person perspective succeeded in producing some intuitive and challenging gameplay without requiring you to kill anyone in the process! As if that weren't enough, we were introduced to the narcissistic GLADOS, a brilliantly written AI who instantly became a cult classic.
In the corner a fort constructed exclusively of Lego games presumably sheltered Ste from the madness of the other Steve running around in a panic screaming “JASON!” repeatedly at the top of his voice4. Red Dead Redemption
Some games are just destined to happen, it might take a while with a few stumbles but eventually the stars align and we get something truly spectacular. Red Dead Redemption is just that. The industry had been trying to tap into the the desire for a decent western game for years. Rockstar brought all their experience of open world design and wrapped it in the Red Dead franchise, leading to one of the most engrossing titles we had the pleasure of playing.
Riding through the west hunting, tackling random events and handling John Marsden's business is easy to get lost in for hours on end. Some might argue there is too much game here with the extended final act. However the free roaming and the stunning recreation of the west's plains, towns and everything in between was a joy to explore and play out childhood Lone Ranger fantasies in.
3. The Last of Us
Naughty Dog could have walked away from this generation with Uncharted under their belts, satisfied with creating one of the era’s defining franchises. Instead they deviated from the happy-go-lucky treasure hunting and launched head first into the horrors of a post apocalyptic world ravaged by a zombie-esque outbreak. Gritty, violent and exploring adult themes, The Last of Us adeptly channelled the developer’s skill at leading the gamer through a linear but engaging adventure.
The gunplay in Uncharted had been honed over successive games to an exhilarating peak, yet further layers were placed on this template, with careful inventory management, weapon modification and stealth brought to the fore. It is, however, the story that tips the game into classic territory though, thanks to a narrative that plays to traditional tropes before a final act that deconstructs the simple boy saves girl cliche with devastating effect.
Manny lay face down in a pool of blood from the Rock Band guitar shaped wound in his head.2. Fallout 3
In a generation of reboots, Bethesda pulled off arguably the most successful of all with Fallout 3, taking the beloved franchise and realising its post apocalyptic world as a stark reality. Stepping out into the wasteland for the first time is a watershed moment full of promise as in front of you lays hundreds of hours of quests, buildings to explore and characters to befriend or kill.
A game so bleak it is almost as hard to pick up as it is to put down. Although it was packed with bugs the VATS gameplay system diluted the shaky FPS controls and added an element of strategy which only sent you further down the rabbit hole. Fallout 3 might be the best candidate this generation for successfully escaping to a completely different world. See you in a hundred hours or so...
1. Walking Dead
Comfortably taking the top spot is Telltale's Walking Dead, this has been the generation of the zombie with the undead creeping into almost every genre. The Walking Dead stands head and shoulders above the competition, taking inspiration from the long running graphic novel you are placed in the shoes of Lee Everett whose trials and tribulations left us speechless on more than one occasion.
The true triumph of the game is the effect it has on the player, as credits roll emotions rage as your brain struggles to make sense of the choices you were forced to make. Some class leading dialogue and voice acting ensured that love or hate a character you remained connected to them, invested in their future or determined to see them fall. It's this relationship with the characters, especially Clementine, which give your decisions their weight and keep you on the edge of your seat until the bitter end.
This generation has seen vast array of excellent titles across all the platforms. The games team has a wide variety of tastes and opinions which all collided to form this list, some of our personal favourites were omitted and strong opinions were expressed. Listen to the next Games podcast to get a glimpse behind our choices and the process of bringing this list to life and let us know what your picks for the games of the generation are in the comments below.
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