As we begin waving goodbye to this generation of video games and welcome in the new, I felt it was appropriate, if not necessary, to look back and pay respect to the fantastic games that remind us of why we love gaming in the first place. Below you’ll find what I believe to be some of the hallmark games or series of this fading generation of gaming.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
One of many genres that got a massive popularity boost this past generation was the open world/sandbox game. There’s something almost ideal about the pairing between video games and open world; do whatever you want, however you want. One hugely anticipated title was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The latest entry in the long-running and ever-successful Elder Scrolls series. Released over two years ago, the game still sees great usage, and is one of the largest games ever developed. While no slouch in the plot department, most of Skyrim‘s magic lied in its deep customization possibilities, individualized play experiences, expansive and bustling world, and, most importantly, the ability to do whatever the hell you wanted. Indeed, with a seemingly infinite amount of things to do in whatever fashion players want, Skyrim is easily a game that just about anyone can purchase blindly and still find enjoyment in.
Call of Duty may just be the single most influential game series of this past generation. Full of guns and explosions that make us tingle with excitement here in the United States, Call of Duty has likely solidified first-person shooters as the dominant genre in this generation’s life cycle. Becoming an annual AAA series with engaging plotlines and easy-to-pick-up, casual gameplay (though with plenty to master), it’s no surprise that Call of Duty became a household name that can be found in just about any home with a gaming console. But most importantly, Call of Duty both revolutionized and solidified the importance of online multiplayer. So much so that when I hear people raving over the series, I rarely hear comments that place greater importance on campaign modes over the multiplayer. In fact, I might just be willing to bet that the upcoming Titanfall‘s lack of a dedicated, single-player campaign is a decision made due to the outstanding importance that has been placed upon multiplayer due to Call of Duty (among others, of course, but primarily CoD).
Assassin’s Creed (series)
Other than first-person shooters, which had already been somewhat established as one of the leading genres in gaming, action/adventure and stealth games received a very welcome boost in prevalence and quality. Assassin’s Creed is a remarkable game series that implements an incredible combination of adventure and stealthy gameplay, vivid open worlds, plot, history, and culture. Satisfying stealthy gameplay really makes you feel like an assassin, infiltrating and assassinating locations and targets without detection in . And what really makes the worlds of these games come alive are the acute attention to detail and care given to historical accuracy. Without a doubt, Assassin’s Creed is one of this past generation’s leading series, each entry providing a new and familiarly unique experience that has kept fans returning year after year.
The Last of Us
One of last generation’s late bloomers, The Last of Us made a quick and powerful impact on the generation and is easily one of the PS3’s best titles. Naughty Dog had already cemented itself as an incredible developer with the Uncharted series, but it really catapulted itself into fame when its upcoming The Last of Us lived up to every expectation had of it. The Last of Us tells an unforgettable survival story in a post-apocalyptic world. Zombies and survival have definitely been done before, but The Last of Us does it in one of the most compelling ways in gaming. Games with such phenomenal, cinematic emphasis on plot have an unfortunate tendency to become confusing and fall short in areas of gameplay. This, however, is not the case with The Last of Us, as it delivers a fun and tension-building gameplay experience coupled with a complete narrative that leaves few, if any questions, unanswered.
Super Mario Galaxy
Mario can never die. After Super Mario Sunshine‘s lesser performance, faith and interest in 3D Mario platformers waned a bit. However, Super Mario Galaxy reinvigorated 3D Mario platformers, and took them higher than they had ever been. With bright and vivacious worlds and environments, seamless controls, and unconventional platforming spiced up by various space mechanics, Super Mario Galaxy allowed for a refreshingly exciting, yet familiar, platforming experience that had been missed since the days of Super Mario 64. A surprisingly enjoyable, albeit simple, plotline with a few fresh new faces and a fun game hub, added to the game’s neverending charm. Indeed, Super Mario Galaxy is one fantastic duo of titles found in just about any Wii collection, and may have very well been the console’s premier series.
Batman: Arkham (series)
Over the past decade, there has been a slew of superhero movies coming out in theatres. Unfortunately, the tag-along to great superhero movies is often garbage companion video games. As such, many of the superhero video games on the market are generally trash, and what makes the Arkham series so special is that they break that mold. The three flagship titles, created by Rocksteady and Warner Bros. Montreal are phenomenal adaptations that do Batman the justice that makes him ever so tingly. However, it isn’t just that they are good video game portrayals of The Dark Knight and his world, but they have legitimately great gameplay. The series incorporates elements of stealth, action, and tidbits of Sherlock-style sleuthing and adventure (in the case of the latter two entries) that have proven capable of mastery by older fans yet are still accessible to the plenty of young kids Batman attracts. Though the Arkham games are not companions to the recent Dark Knight trilogy, it’s great to see that the games whose creations were likely inspired by the films are of high quality.
Mass Effect (series)
I’ll try not to double the length of this article with all the lovevomit I can spew over Mass Effect, but I make no promises.
Mass Effect makes what might just be the most engaging and involving storyline of this generation. Indeed, it tells a story across three epic entries that twists, turns, and grabs you at every opportunity it can. Mass Effect created a brand new universe for gamers to explore with a large amount of new species and places to discover. Mass Effect is what just about every RPG should aspire to be. It features a huge and colorful cast that is diverse and brightly characterized, with few characters being forgotten during scripting. And what’s most interesting about the story that Bioware presents is that actions and events, even from the first game, can affect happenings at the end of the trilogy in various different ways. Indeed, players can make choices that will branch out into other choices or will cause different events to occur when a different choice would have resulted in a separate consequence. As such, the whole Mass Effect experience becomes one that is highly variable and becomes unique to individual players. With a fantastic third-person shooter styled gameplay coupled with class-based warfare, Mass Effect is not a standard shooter and is different enough to attract even those who are not fans of shooters.
All hail Commander Shepard.
Anyway, this list is by no means exhaustive. This past generation pumped out plenty of amazing games. However, when I think of the 360, PS3, and Wii generation, these are the titles that come to mind. Agree? Disagree? Have anything else that you think should have been included on the list? Let us know!