The past generation of consoles have now dissipated into the wilderness, only to be found by Escape Dead Island and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel later in the year, so to commemorate our fallen brethren (PS3/Xbox 360), I’ve decided to compile my games of the generation. Needless to say that these ten games took an unbelievable amount of time for me to pick, but these are the games that defined me as a gamer, and spoiler alert - all of them are single-player based games. If you know me at all, you’d know that I’m quite the fan of a single-player adventure and I don’t often fall into the cracks of multiplayer, so while I will give an honorable mention to Halo 3, the single-player experience that these games gave me is what I’ll hold with me for years (and hopefully many years) to come.
10. inFamous 2
Developed by: Sucker Punch Productions
Released: June 9, 2011
Spoiler warning for those who haven’t played the first inFamous! inFamous 2 takes place a month after the events of inFamous as Cole’s future was foretold after defeating Kessler, who turns out to be future Cole attempting to stop the future events happening the way they did. Think X-Men: Days of Future Past, like literally. A beast is honing in on New Marais, destroying everything in its path and it’s up to you – either the hero or the villain – to get the strength to take it out when it comes knocking at your doorstep.
Sucker Punch’s inFamous series is one of my favorites of all time, and as a kid going through High School, looking up at all of the superhero movies releasing at the time, all I wanted was a game where I could kick ass and shoot lightning bolts. Cue inFamous, an ambitious new IP from Sucker Punch on the PS3. I had a lot of fun with the first inFamous game, but my oh my did I absolutely adore inFamous 2. Not only was it an excellent sequel, but it was overall an incredible game. From the crazy set-piece events of taking out ‘those giant creatures’ to the more genuine moments in the story where you had to question your morality and where you wanted to be, this game had it all. It was also beautiful, which was great to see.
Developed by: Thatgamecompany
Released: March 14, 2012
Journey’s story is told without dialogue. You begin on a sand dune and from then on, you navigate your way through the world, doing as you please (kind-of). That’s really it.
In all of the elegance and beauty of flOw and Flower, Journey is the stand out title from Thatgamecompany. It was an incredibly rich and rewarding experience from beginning to end and an experience that I will never forget. I especially remember a moment when I was with a randomly encountered stranger online, trudging our way through the story when he got stuck and couldn’t continue on. I left that poor stranger behind, and while I’ve regretted my actions since that fateful day, the gratifying conclusion of Journey is something that I’ll cherish forever. The game is absolutely gorgeous and while there isn’t an ‘this-is-what’s-happening’ story, there is a wonderful little story under your eyes that you yourself will piece together throughout.
8. Gone Home
Developed by: The Fullbright Company
Released: August 15, 2013
Gone Home is a first-person interactive story adventure game, focusing not on the completion of levels, but the exploration of its incredibly haunting setting – that being a big, rickety house. It takes place in June 1995 at a house in the Pacific Northwest as your character returns from traveling overseas. Your whole family is gone, and it’s up to you find out where they are.
Gone Home is one of the most intriguing, haunting games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. If it went for a tiny bit longer it would probably be higher up the list, but for what it is (and for a first foray into gaming from newcomers The Fullbright Company) it is a truly wonderful game mixed with themes of family, longing and love. It’s one of the only games that’s ever left me sitting there, tears welling up in my eyes thinking about everything that I’ve ever done in my life and for that, Gone Home takes the eighth spot on my list.
7. Spec Ops: The Line
Developed by: Yager Development
Released: June 29, 2012
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person shooter developed by Yager Development. The game follows Captain Martin Walker as he’s sent into a post-catastrophe Dubai with an elite Delta Force team on a recon mission. Upon finding dead American soldiers, Captain Walker decides to change the mission and scout the place for survivors.
I was a latecomer to Spec Ops: The Line, toting it as another ‘military shooter’ back when it released. But on that fine day when the PS+ free games of the month were announced and Spec Ops was a part of it, there was no reason as to why I shouldn’t try it out. It’s safe to say that after completing the game it’s one of the most intelligently written military shooters ever made and the performance by Nolan North is incredible. It deviates so far from what military shooters are these days and asks questions of why the world is in the situation it is and the absolute destruction humanity can bring. It’s truly an epic feat of action mixed with an incredibly deep, dark story.
6. Alan Wake
Developed by: Remedy Entertainment
Released: May 20, 2010
Platform: Xbox 360, PC
The story of the game follows best-selling thriller novelist Alan Wake as he tries to uncover the mystery behind his wife’s disappearance during a vacation in the small fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington. Throughout his journey he begins experiencing events similar to the plot from his latest novel that he cannot remember writing.
Alan Wake’s one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had with gaming. I absolutely adored the way Remedy took to the style of the game, making it more in the mindset of a TV show than anything else – even down to playing through acts instead of literal chapters gave off the feeling that I was sitting down and watching these events play out instead of playing through them. Needless to say the story was also very good and I’m a big fan of horror so the game definitely hit the right note for me. I’m hoping that a sequel is in the works as I can’t wait for more Alan Wake.
5. Dead Space 2
Developed by: Visceral Games
Released: January 27, 2009
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Slight spoilers from the original Dead Space ahead. Dead Space 2 takes place three years after the events of the original as the game continues to follow Isaac Clarke’s journey. A new Necromorph outbreak has occurred on the Sprawl, a space station above Saturn’s largest moon, and it’s up to Isaac to put an end to it once more.
Dead Space 2 is one of those rare examples of grabbing an idea, making it better and crafting it into an experience that will be remembered for years. The original Dead Space was a great game, and I’m actually playing through it again right now, but Dead Space 2 was a superior game compared to the original in every way. It was terrifying, packed a great story and nearly made me crap my pants a couple of times – and as a horror fan, that’s a job well done.
4. The Walking Dead: Season One
Developed by: Telltale Games
Released: 2012 – 2013
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita (PS4/XONE soon too)
Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead is based upon the graphic novels of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. The game is a point and click adventure and explores the friendship between Lee Everett and Clementine in the post-apocalyptic world.
The Telltale-developed Walking Dead game is currently in its second season, but while it’s been incredible so far, the first season was as much of a surprise as it was amazing. I’d never been very big on point-and-click adventures but Telltale have really brought that back with aplomb, proving that they can work wonders with popular licenses. The first season of The Walking Dead is emotional, it’s thrilling and it’s one hell of a ride right until the very end. I’ve never been so incapsulated by a game (besides FIFA) and so Telltale can pat themselves on the back, because this series (and season in particular) is absolutely incredible.
3. Mirror’s Edge
Developed by: EA
Released: November 12, 2008
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Mirror’s Edge is a first-person action adventure game with strong platforming elements embedded within. You play as Faith in an unnamed utopian city where life is comfortable and crime non-existent. Underneath this seemingly beautiful city is a dark underbelly and when Faith finds out that her sister may be in trouble – she delves into that dark world in order to save her.
Mirror’s Edge was somewhat like The Walking Dead in the fact that I hadn’t known much about it when it released. I was only fourteen years old at the time I picked the game up, but even six years later it still holds up as one of the best games ever made (in my mind, of course). The way it blends parkour style elements as a first person game is exciting and it really feels as if you’re there. I’ve heard of friends trying the game out with the Oculus Rift and I can’t imagine how crazy that experience would be, so I was completely content with playing it on my TV. I really hope that the sequel does it justice – but for now – Mirror’s Edge is one of the best new IP’s I’ve ever had the chance to play.
2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Developed by: Naughty Dog
Released: October 15, 2009
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is Naughty Dog’s second foray into the world of the PlayStation 3. The game follows Nathan Drake, Sully and co as they once more jump into the world of treasure hunting.
When it comes to video games defining me as a person, I can’t look any further than Uncharted. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was one of the first games I’d ever been enticed to play from beginning to end without stopping, and from then on I started to appreciate the amount of work that goes into creating a game – especially of this calibre. Naughty Dog’s my favorite developer, and besides Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 – this was the first time I’d been exposed to something by them. Yes, I didn’t play the original before I played the sequel (well that’s a bit of a white lie, I did play it but only until Chapter 11 – that was my 2008-self pulling me back from finishing a game) and I really appreciate the way it handled itself as more of a standalone experience as compared to other sequels like inFamous 2 and the like. Uncharted 2 combined elements that I’ve always loved as a movie watcher and a gamer (these days) – an incredible story, great and lovable characters and of course – wonderful non-Michael Bay explosions. Plus, there was even an enjoyable multiplayer that I really liked. I still rank this game as one of the most defining games of the generation in terms of blockbuster-quality stories and gameplay – and in my opinion rightfully so. Naughty Dog really upped their game with Uncharted 2 and from then on they’ve been known as arguably the best development studio in the world.
1. The Last of Us
Developed by: Naughty Dog
Released: June 14, 2013
Platform: PS3, PS4
The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s final foray into the world of the PlayStation 3 and was voted by many as their game of the generation. It focuses on the relationship between Ellie and Joel, two unlikely companions, on a journey throughout the United States after a fungal apocalypse.
If you know me at all, you’ll know that I absolutely adore The Last of Us in every way possible. From the story, to the setting, to the characters… It’s all there for me. The Last of Us’ story was haunting, rewarding and incredibly emotional and it’s rightfully received the praise it’s deserved because of that. Besides The Walking Dead’s Clementine and Lee, I’ve never felt so connected to two characters like I have with The Last of Us’ Joel and Ellie. Playing through the game was an experience that I will never forget and it’s a game that I’ll continue playing throughout the years of the PS4 and Xbox One. Another defining part for me with The Last of Us was how grounded the story was – this isn’t a story that you’ll take too lightly and the decisions made by each character is representative of belonging to something and someone and I absolutely love that. The soundtrack, composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, is my favorite soundtrack ever crafted for a video game as it’s haunting, eloquent and unreal in every way imaginable. From the intense moments to the more daft, open and eloquently beautiful ones – The Last of Us is a game that I’ll never forget and is an achievement in video game creation that’ll be recorded in history for a long time to come. The fact that IGN readers voted it as their ‘Game of The Generation’ defines how much the game has had an impact on not only myself but many others as well, and for that it absolutely ranks as number one on my list. Plus the multiplayer was a lot of fun too!
Deciding on the top ten best games I played last generation was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do (first world problems at its finest), but I’m pretty happy with my list. What are yours? Let me know in the comment section below! I’m looking forward to playing through more incredible experiences in the future and hope that the current generation of consoles offer up experiences like these over their generation cycle. It’s a great time to be a gamer.