With a damn fine console generation (almost) behind us, now’s a perfect time to look back at the very best the last few years had to offer. Last time out I looked at the best games to reach multiple pieces of hardware, so now it’s time to approach the best exclusives each machine has to offer. Let’s get to it!
The Last of Us
The fact that The Last of Us has swept the majority of the industry’s game of the year awards for 2013 speaks volumes more about the game’s quality than I ever could. Naughty Dog, creators of Uncharted and Jak and Daxter previously, have hit gold again with this thoughtful and atmospheric action game.
Both beautiful and harrowing all at once, the post-apocalyptic world the player inhabits is so believable it’s hard to not get caught up in the drama. The developers are also brave enough to not give the player an army’s worth of artillery to work with, instead making ammunition barely scavengable and forcing players to think or even run during encounters.
The best motion and voice capture in the business, the best graphics on the system, the best music and sound (or often lack thereof). It all adds to the best presentation of a game this gen. Add a stellar story, smart gunplay and a surprisingly brilliant multiplayer mode, and you have one of the best overall games this gen. A sign of where games can go.
If The Last of Us is Playstation’s ‘The Godfather’ in terms of mature storytelling, then Uncharted is James Bond. It’s all about making the player feel like a badass; killing the bad guy, jumping away from the explosion, and getting the girl.
The same compliments I gave the Last of Us regarding performance capture and general presentation apply here, but with a blockbuster summer movie shine. Many people prefer Uncharted 2 over 3, but the last in the trilogy is just as good in my books, with a killer story twist or two and a more fully fleshed out multiplayer suite. Unrivaled.
Purists will go for Halo 3, but Reach is the technical peak of a franchise that has had the most fun multiplayer shooting of the generation. Most Halo games are still running with huge online fanbases, and the online scene allows for casual noobs to have just as much fun as the veteran elite.
The single player is good, too. Maybe not quite as good as other Halos, or certainly not other games on this list, but it is especially fun playing co-op with a friend. Of particular note is the diverse array of weapons at your disposal, and how great vehicle play seamlessly merges into the traditional FPS set-up. The Spartans have defined Xbox gaming for a reason.
Gears of War
Second only to Halo in terms of popularity, but actually slightly more popular critically, is the third-person gore-fest Gears of War. Its sequels have improved on the multiplayer front, but the first Gears has the best and most exciting single player campaign of the series. Alone or in co-op its a bromance filled thrill ride; it’s obnoxious, it’s over-the-top and it revels in it’s own absurdity.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Magical is the best way to describe Mario Galaxy, a game that takes you back to the wonder and unbound joy of gaming as a youngster. Galaxy 2 perfected the formula laid out in its predecessor, with some ‘world’s’ being simple enough for everyone to enjoy, but gaining all the hidden stars in every level takes real old-school skill.
It’s certainly the best looking game on the Wii, and the typical Mario style has held up well. The plumber’s adventure stands out this time, though, thanks to the awesome outer-space setting. Players can run 360 degrees around small ‘planets’, each with their own gravity, and it’s incredible to shoot yourself through space from one planetoid to the next in-game.
Like most Mario’s, great power-ups, fun enemy types and a general sense of creativity make this platformer just plain better than its contemporaries. It’s also one Wii game that doesn’t force you to needlessly waggle the Wiimote at the screen constantly. There’s an awful lot of trash on Nintendo’s super popular system, but Galaxy 2 is a star in the sky of cheap cash-ins.
So there we have it, the 10 games you owe it to yourself to play from the last generation! There’s an awful lot of shooters on the list, and I don’t even really consider myself a shooter fan! But the popularity of the genre and abundance of shooters released this generation obviously played a part in them becoming some of the best experiences available.
So what do you guys think of my choices? What would you change? Let me know in the comments below!