Last year, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us took the gaming world by storm. It tells a story of a man and a child journeying through a post-apocalyptic America, fighting off infected humans and scavengers along the way. The holocaust stems from a strange fungus that has caught humanity off guard. It infects the brain, slowly taking control of the host until it becomes a zombie, solely focused on spreading new spores until it dies. If you haven’t played The Last of Us, stop reading this blog and play it now. If you have, here’s a question: could The Last of Us happen in real life?
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.
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 will be released in two parts—check back next week for numbers five through one! Have games that you think should be on here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Let the flame wars begin!
Let’s start with a rather under-appreciated game. The first AAA shooter for the Playstation 3, Resistance takes place in an alternate history where WWII never happened. In 1949 an alien virus emerges from Russia, turning people into creatures called the Chimera. Mainland Europe falls within weeks, while Britain struggles to resist the onslaught. Players take the boots of US Army Sargent Nathan Hale, the only documented human to wake up after being infected by the virus. As Hale fights to liberate England from the Chimeran attack, the virus rages inside him, turning him into a monster from within.
Though it does not innovate first-person shooters in any drastic fashion, Resistance epitomizes the merits of the genre. Inventive weapons provide countless ways to approach the alien hordes, and stunning environments bring a sense of both awe and terror to exploration. These perfectly tuned elements, paired with one of the best stories ever to grace the industry, create what is arguably the best shooter of the generation.
Who would have thought a funny-looking indie experiment would become one of the most popular games of all time? Hailed as a marvel of social gaming, Minecraft has amassed an online community some fifteen million strong. Players explore a sandbox world, building and saving creations for other people to explore. The game’s simple yet deep mechanics allow players to construct massive worlds, such as scale replicas of the Death Star or the entire region of Pokémon. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect is that the game’s world is almost entirely user generated—though the developers include a short story mode, players’ creations fuel the community by providing a continuous stream of new content. While previous games have explored user-creation mechanics (some to great success), none can rival Minecraft’s ubiquity, making it one of the most important game innovations to date.
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Per usual, Sunday’s Grammy Awards have garnered a spectacular amount of attention. What with the new no-boob-no-butt dress code and the big win for Mumford and Sons’ album Babel, commentators have had plenty of material to discuss. However, in all the media commotion and tears that Taylor Swift didn’t win anything but wait her album came out past the cutoff date so it’s OK just wait until next year, most people have overlooked the most important part of this year’s awards: a little game called Journey.
Developed by thatgamecompany, Journey is the first game to be nominated for a Grammy. The game’s soundtrack, composed by Austin Wintory, has won critical acclaim for its simplistic yet emotional imagining of the game’s world. The player guides an unnamed character on a journey through a shimmering desert to the summit of a mountain, meeting companions and uncovering the world’s secrets along the way. Accompanied by gorgeous visuals, Wintory’s music brings the game to life, capturing the excitement and haunting emptiness of the sands.
With the annual biggest entertainment release of all time slated for next Tuesday, there’s something I need to get off my chest: I hate Call of Duty. Yes, it has defined the modern shooter. Yes, it has revolutionized multiplayer in video games. Even so, the idea of purchasing Black Ops 2 (COD 9, for those of you who have been counting) seems seriously unappealing. Here is why I can’t stand the best-selling game franchise of all time. Agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
It’s the same game. Every. Time.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was amazing. The atmosphere, gameplay, and progressive multiplayer structure introduced gamers to a new world of strategy and competition. But what about its sequel? Other than reverting to the WWII setting and throwing a few tanks into the mix, it offered an identical experience. This is what drives me crazy about Call of Duty—each iteration contains the exact same game. Sure, the developers throw in new weapons or killstreaks here and there, but the structure and gameplay remain unchanged. I loved the first Modern Warfare for its innovative approach to online multiplayer. It’s been five years since that game came out. Isn’t it time the developers build on the formula?