With the recent launch of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, many people have been putting out lists of their favorite games of the last console generation. I’m arriving a bit late to the party, but I thought it would be a good and fun exercise to create my own list. I had originally planned on doing a top ten, but after much agonizing I realized that keeping the list at just ten entries would result in cutting too many games that I loved but just missed the top ten, so I decided to expand the list to a top twenty.
Now, there are a number of parameters that I’ve decided to impose on this list. From the title I hope it is clear that I am limiting this list to games I played on console (PlayStation 3, Xobx 360, Wii). This is because I haven’t done much in the way of PC, mobile and hand-held gaming. I am also not including on this list any games that are currently multi-generational (available on both last gen and current gen). Anything out now that is available on both current gen and last gen I intend to play whenever I decide to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Lastly, I have decided to use only one game per game series, in order to keep certain game series from dominating the list, but I have also given honorable mentions to other outstanding entries series that have games on the list.
One last thing I need to reiterate, in case the title of this post is not clear enough, is that these are not necessarily the best games I have played, (in terms of overall quality) but the ones I enjoyed the most. While all the games on this list are good, you’ll note there are a few games in the list that are arguably “better” than the ones above them. This is a reflection of the fact that sometimes our favorite games are not always the ones that would be considered the highest quality in game reviewer circles, but the ones that struck a chord with us for whatever reason.
In the end, of course, this list is completely subjective and means absolutely nothing. With that long introduction finally over, I give you the first part my top twenty favorite games of last gen. We’ll start with numbers 20 through 16.
Starting off this list is the game that kicked off the motion control insanity of last gen; Wii Sports. Packaged with the Nintendo Wii console, for me and many other people Wii Sports was our first gaming experience on last gen. A simple package of just five minigames, two of which that didn’t even work all that well, Wii Sports became the go-to game for party play and some epic gaming sessions. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Wii Sports is that it is arguably more a tech-demo for the Wii’s functionality than a full-fledged game. Although Wii Sports Resort made a number of improvements to the formula and added many more minigames, I have decided to give this spot to the original Wii Sports for being the spark that set off many days and nights fun party play. Many other games would come and go on my Wii, but Wii Sports (and its successor) was the game my friends and I kept coming back to.
|It’s going to be a long night.|
A great Batman game that actually makes you feel like Batman? Up until the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, most people would dismiss such as thing as a myth. Batman: Arkham Asylum starts with Batman having captured Joker and bringing him to Arkham Asylum for imprisonment, only for Joker to turn the tables and take over Arkham Asylum. Batman must then uncover and thwart Joker’s plot, and along the way he crosses paths with several members of his famous rouges gallery, including Scarecrow, Bane, Poison Ivy, Zsasz, Killer Croc, Harley Quinn and (indirectly) Riddler. With so many bad superhero games out there, it is impressive how well Batman: Arkham Asylum works: combat is simple but gratifying, Batman’s gadgets are cool and fun to use, the “predator rooms” (where Batman must stalk and take down gun-wielding thugs) provide interesting and challenging puzzles, Batman and Joker are voiced by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, respectively, (the same persons who voiced the characters in the iconic animated series in the 90s) there are plenty of collectibles and the art and level design of the asylum evokes a dark, Gothic ambiance, which is fitting for the Batman universe. This is game made for Batman fans, and even if you’re not a Batman fan it still a great game.
|This is all your fault.|
Do you feel like a hero yet? There are very few games that question your character’s motives and morality as effectively as the criminally under-played Spec Ops: The Line. Although on the surface, Spec Ops: The Line appears to be a generic, military-themed third person shooter, it actually follows the descent of Captain Martin Walker into madness as he and his squad pursue his former commander through a sandstorm-ravaged Dubai. Based on Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, Spec Ops: The Line slowly gets into your head and asks if what you’re doing is really the right thing. As you progress, you are confronted with the fact that Walker is a deplorable human being whose attempts to right the situation in Dubai have only made things worse, and that his obsession with finding his former commander has lead the the horrific deaths of everyone around him. Every decision Walker makes results in something bad happening and ends in regret. Lots of games have you committing acts of violence, but Spec Ops: The Line forces you to face the reasoning and consequences of your actions and asks what it all means. In doing so, Spec Ops: The Line does what few video game has done; it makes violence meaningful.
|The field of dreams.|
Sometimes you don’t want to kill aliens, solve puzzles or go on epic quests. Sometimes you would rather relax and escape the stresses of life. Flower has an incredibly simple premise; you control the wind and collect flower petals and then guide them to the end of the level. The game takes place within what you might call the dreams of flowers, strange as that may sound, and it tells a surprisingly emotional tale, even though there’s not much of what you would call a story in it. There are no lives, no deaths, no score, no time limit and no way to fail. You only use one button to blow the wind and you control the direction of the wind by rotating the controller. This lack of traditional game systems will turn off some, but for others like myself it provides a unique and enjoyable gaming experience. Actually, experience is probably a more fitting description of Flower rather than a calling it a game. Flower is one of those things that is hard to describe to others and people who play it tend to either love it or not understand what others see in it. Whatever you think about it, you won’t find many other experiences like it in gaming.
|Kratos vs. Poseidon.|
Disemboweling his way onto this list is our favorite rageaholic, Kratos. God of War 3 brought a satisfying conclusion to Kratos’ blood soaked quest for revenge as he murdered his way through Greek mythology. Continuing the tradition of focusing on gameplay, graphics and mind-blowing spectacle, God of War 3 takes the God of War formula and refines it yet again to create an extremely polished experience. Combat is stellar, as always, and the added ability to cancel out of almost any combo to either block or roll allows you to fully integrated offensive and defensive maneuvers into a beautiful dance of death. Every hit is gratifying, every weapon is useful and every finisher is satisfyingly brutal. Boss fights, a perennial strong suit of the God of War series, are as epic as ever, and you never go too long before you have another one. Every God of War game has opened with an epic boss fight, but God of War 3’s opening battle with Poseidon is my personal favorite opening boss fight in the entire series. With great gameplay, over-the-top boss fights and graphics that are still good even today, almost four years after it was originally released, God of War 3 set a standard for actions games that others in the genre are still measured against.
So begins my top 20 favorite games of last gen. My next post will covers numbers 15 through 11.