With one new console released and more on the horizon, it’s time to look back at the greatest video games of this generation. These games delivered experiences like no other, pushing the industry to new heights with fresh standards of excellence and innovation. This list is in two parts—be sure to check out Part I if you haven’t already! Have games that you think should be on here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Let the flame wars begin!
If in 2012 anyone worried games would never be considered art, this downloadable masterpiece put those fears to rest. The first video game to be nominated for a Grammy, Journey whisks the player through glimmering deserts and mountains toward a mysterious light. Developer thatgamecompany breaks industry convention by basing the game on what the designers want the player to feel. Every element from the soundtrack to the gameplay structures an emotional experience, guiding the player through a hauntingly beautiful adventure. While many games stick to the tried-and-true mechanics of the day, Journey dares to push beyond traditional gaming, exploring new ways for the medium to evolve.
Losing oneself in a game can be easy, but few titles can keep players coming back after hundreds of hours. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim offers a massive world inspired by J.R.R Tolkien, brimming with magic, dragons, and dungeons. Players explore the map at their leisure, conquering whatever snowy peaks or ancient caverns cross their paths. Skyrim’s greatest strength lies in the freedom it offers. Unlike other RPGs, the game features no set trail—players are free to do or become whatever they like. Hearty warriors can rise through the ranks of the honorable Companions guild, while the more magically inclined can traverse the frozen sea in search of the infamous Mages College of Winterhold. Skyrim’s wealth of gameplay options and content stands unmatched. No work may ever match Middle Earth, but for anyone interested in one of the most epic fantasy worlds ever conceived, Skyrim may hold the key to bliss.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: how could the most cookie-cutter, repetitive series deserve a place on this list? Isn’t this the same deranged blogger who ranted about why he hates Call of Duty? Fair points, but once upon a time Call of Duty stood at the forefront of innovation. Modern Warfare defined online multiplayer for the generation and set the framework for practically every shooter in its wake. Its brilliant leveling system brought millions of gamers into the world of competitive multiplayer, and its killstreak rewards kept fans hooked and hungry for more. Who can forget the excitement of calling in that first chopper or the satisfaction of unlocking a golden weapon? Though the series has become infamous for delivering the exact same game every year (COD 10 was just announced), Call of Duty 4 remains one of the most influential games in history.
Who will forget those first steps in Rapture, Andrew Ryan’s terrifyingly beautiful Atlantis? Based on a 1930s social experiment gone wrong, the city lies beneath the Atlantic ocean, a haven for science and individualism outside the constraints of society. Undertones of eugenics and Ayn Rand’s Atlus Shrugged bring the city to life, capturing the horror of a utopia drowned in its own ambition. The art direction and storytelling create one of the most detailed worlds in gaming history, while fantastic shooting and RPG elements provide inventive ways to engage the city’s hostile denizens. Each trip through Rapture’s art deco facades becomes more rewarding as the city reveals new sides of its horrible creations. And let’s not forget to mention Big Daddies. Would you kindly watch the opening trailer?
On November 6, 2009, the arts section of The New York Times ran a half page photo of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves with the tagline, “The Best Looking Game Ever Made?” For The New York Times to devote half of the arts front page to anything is a rarity, but for a video game it is truly shocking. Let’s journey back two years to where the madness began. An ambitious project by Sony-owned developer Naughty Dog, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune sought to bridge games and Hollywood. Based on Indiana Jones and old-time adventure stories, Uncharted puts players in the shoes of treasure hunter Nathan Drake, a descendant of Sir Francis Drake in pursuit of the fabled city of El Dorado. Drake’s everyman personality and witty remarks instantly stole the hearts of millions of gamers, and the game’s story and characters developed a dedicated following.
What sets Uncharted apart from the competition is neither its unparalleled graphics, gameplay, nor its robust rewards and unlockables system: Uncharted shines in its presentation. When Naughty Dog claimed to have merged Hollywood with video games, it did not exaggerate. The game’s cast, story, and production values capture perfectly the thrill of an interactive Hollywood blockbuster. From the loveable banter to the massive set pieces, every minute feels like an action-adventure classic, a film that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to end. This nearly flawless immersion has led to some of the most critically acclaimed sequels of all time, and quite easily the greatest game of the generation.
So what do you guys think? Are these truly the greatest games of the generation? Am I a total idiot? I’m guessing there are some pretty passionate opinions out there! Share your thoughts in the comments section below! As always, please like, share, or reblog this post if you enjoy it. Be sure to check me out on Twitter and Facebook as well. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for new content every Wednesday! IT’S FREE! Click here for Part I!
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Comment question of the week
What are the best games of the generation? Please tell me how right or wrong I am!