What are some of your favorite games of this console generation? While September sees the release of new hit games like Borderlands 2, we are getting near the end of the current generation of consoles - the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. Nintendo's Wii U is expected out this holiday season, with Microsoft and Sony to follow with new systems in the next few years. In that spirit, this month I'm listing 10 great games from this console generation. All of them are available to rent right here at GameFly.
The idea of seamlessly blending cinematics and gameplay was taken to a new level with Uncharted 2 from Naughty Dog. This epic adventure starring hero Nathan Drake was filled with set-piece sequences like a massive Jeep chase and traversing through a derailed train. In its wake, many games have begun to blend gameplay and cinematic sequences into one continuous experience. Uncharted 2 gives you a glimpse at where gaming is going, and it's wrapped around a well-told story with memorable characters.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves set a new bar for cinematic action.
The twisted story of BioShock successfully combined the RPG and action genres.
If you're a fan of unique and twisted worlds, the underwater adventure of BioShock is unsurpassed this generation. Created by Ken Levine and Irrational Games, this RPG-meets-first-person-action game brought us memorable characters like the Big Daddy, complex morality with the Little Sisters, and a plot that has one of the better twists in recent memory. While BioShock 2 wasn't as good, the original Bioshock is a great way to prepare for the upcoming release of BioShock Infinite in 2013.
Many people call Skyrim the best RPG ever made. Designer Todd Howard and the team at Bethesda Softworks delivered an epic adventure that blends together the best elements of RPGs with easy-to-play action. Sure, the game has great hooks like massive dragons and powerful spells, but what really separates Skyrim from other games is the depth and beauty of the world. Players often say they spend upwards of 100 hours exploring different facets of Tamriel, playing side-quests and building up their character.
There's no bigger game franchise today than Call of Duty, but the phenomenon really started to explode with the 2007 release of Modern Warfare from Infinity Ward. The developers broke away from World War II and pushed combat into the modern day. The new technology combined with epic action moments made this game a hit with multiplayer fans and action buffs. While the multiplayer has been improved upon in future releases, the single-player campaign is still a powerful 5-6 hour experience worth playing.
One of the greatest surprises of this generation was Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar's western epic that blends together the open sandbox of Grand Theft Auto with an absolutely stunning world and characters. From the horseback riding to the slow-motion "dead eye" sequences, Red Dead delivered compelling action and was, in many ways, Rockstar's most balanced and playable game thanks to options like fast travel. To this day, the end of the game is still one of my favorite moments of this console generation.
BioWare's Mass Effect trilogy spanned this entire console generation with three games. Commander Shepard's journey evolved from a true RPG to an action/RPG hybrid, but one thing that stayed the same was the game's focus on interactive storytelling that shaped itself to each player's choices. One of the most memorable parts of this trilogy was the concept that your saved games transferred from one title to the next.
It's hard to believe the most recent GTA, Grand Theft Auto IV, came out four years ago in 2008. The story of Niko Bellic's arrival in New York (or Liberty City) set a new bar for storytelling and gave players a stunning open world. Even in 2012, the sheer level of detail in the game holds up well, even though some of the mechanics like the save system and multiplayer were improved upon in later Rockstar Games. GTA4 is the kind of game that will be studied in the future as an example of how interactive storytelling evolved during this current console generation.
For sheer gaming value you really can't argue with the package Valve delivered in The Orange Box. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is the last release in one of the greatest game franchises of the past few decades. And, if that wasn't enough, Valve included a little game named Portal that took on a life of its own and birthed one of last year's best games, Portal 2. The third piece of the puzzle was the online team shooter Team Fortress 2. While the PC version of the game has evolved far beyond what's included here, the fact that Valve shipped three hit games in one box is a huge and memorable achievement.
Racing games sometimes feel rather monotonous. But Criterion's Burnout Revenge took action racing to a new level. Burnout Revenge was originally released for PS2 and Xbox, but was also released for Xbox 360 a year later. The developers crafted a game experience that makes you feel like a better driver than you really are, as you bob and weave through traffic and try to takedown opponents by pushing them off the road. The game's crash mode is particularly fun, where the goal is to create the most destruction possible.
While the Wii met with huge commercial success, Nintendo's first-party games for the Wii didn't match the quality of some of their titles for systems like the GameCube and Nintendo 64. The best game of the generation is last year's Zelda entry, Skyward Sword. While it does require the Wii MotionPlus, Skyward Sword is deeper than you may think with vast dungeons, beautiful orchestral music, and some of the most beautiful cartoon art ever created for a video game. There is something beautiful about the game's old-school feel.