As the next gen beckons, we’re counting down our 50 must play games of the generation that was. These games represents shining examples of the best of the PS3 and Xbox 360 era, titles that were innovative, epoch-defining or just plain fun. Get caught up with the previous parts here and check out the next 10 below!
Spec Ops: The Line (2012/ Xbox 360, PS3)
I (Jack) couldn’t tell what the hell was happening half the time. I don’t think I was supposed to though. I think I like that. I think I’m supposed to. It’s this ubiquitous doubt, permeating every action, or indeed inaction, that makes this one so unique.At best, its contemporaries dabble in shades of grey.Spec Ops: The Line is a goddamn smokescreen!
I [Mark] thought Spec Ops: The Line was an excellent piece of storytelling that has stuck with me to this day. Some sketchy AI issues aside, the game was enjoyable throughout and constantly surprised with its dark themes and shocking set-pieces.
Daniel here. I came to Spec Ops: The Line quite late, expecting another generic third person shooter. And to some degree it is but the Yaeger chaps worked hard to actually deliver on a strong story and a pushed out some seriously adult themes in a dark world that has rarely been matched in gaming. Plus check out Nolan North not being a cheerful SOB for a change.
Demon’s Souls (2009/ PS3)
I know what you’re thinking: Way to misspell ‘Dark Souls’ buddy!
But the fact remains, there could be no Dark without the Demon. Besides Demon’s Souls was breathtakingly fresh when it dumped itself unceremoniously unto the laps of ill-prepared gamers.
Pampered by a generation of handholding and insta-reloads, DS annihilated us. It tore chunks out of our misconceptions, sundered our bad habits and smashed down the rotted architecture of expected level design. For that, I love Demon’s Souls.
Also, I’m kinda scared to see what would happen if I didn’t love it…
[Our Demon’s Souls Retrospective]
Blur (2010 / PS3, Xbox 360)
Bizarre Creations may be with us no longer, but its legacy remains thanks to titles such as Project Gotham Racing and, of course, Blur. The game mixed real-world cars with arcade style handling and an array of weaponry, and it was a great mixture that resulted in endless entertainment.
The single player portion of the game was challenging and entertaining, but it was in its multiplayer environment where Blur thrived. Four players could gather round a TV for tense on-track battles and a comprehensive online mode was provided with a variety of game modes such as straightforward races, destruction derbies, and the (tragically overlooked) team battles.
[Blur was one of the games highlighted in our feature on split-screen gaming]
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (2008 / Xbox 360)
Dark Messiah made its PC debut in 2006 before hitting the 360 a couple of years later and it’s likely a title few of you remember. And that’s unfair.
First person melee combat is a tricky thing, to the point that most games steer well clear of it. But Arkane Studios (who went on to make Dishonored) basically cracked it a full seven years ago. Giving you a full virtual body in the world and a host of weapons, as well as an environment full of sharp and deathly things. Slicing and stabbing, coupled with kicking folks onto spikes was a responsive and viscerally entertaining experience, and one that few titles have matched ever since.
Mass Effect 2 (2010/ Xbox 360, PS3)
ME2 was the first of the series I played (not counting the interactive comic via Dark Horse.)
And it’s light-years ahead of its Bioware siblings. A thoughtful, crucial redesign of ME1’s clunk, while sidestepping the tiring pomposity of a misfired finale, ME2 finely balanced the sandbox art of urgency and curiosity.
A galaxy of gender, racial, cultural and socio-economic politics awaits, bolstered always by a looming threat, temperamental crewmates and some joyously tactical, combo encouraging gunplay.
ME2 revolutionised nothing. But right through to the core, it’s solid as the rocky scales of a battle-hardened Krogan.
[Our Mass Effect 2 Review]
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (2008 / XBLA)
The original Geometry Wars was a fantastic game, but Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 managed to surpass its predecessor in every way imaginable. It was fast, fluid, flashy, crammed in a variety of diverse and interesting game modes, and used online leaderboads superbly. It also showed that achievements could be interesting rather than a pat on the head for doing something simple or a grind.
With local multiplayer, online leaderboards, and a challenging single player experience, there were plenty of ways to blast away the hours of any given day. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is still one of the greatest and most entertaining Arcade releases on the platform. Now, back to getting that Smile achievement…
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013 / Xbox 360, PS3)
We’ve already included Assassin’s Creed II on this list, the moment when Ubisoft’s action series figured out that it could also be fun. Black Flag is the latest refinement of that realisation.
Pirates proved to be the perfect antidote to ACIII’s terrible protagonist and the addition of ships and sharks and the chance to dive into the water at any time in hilarious fashion makes it the most accessible title in the series yet. The world is gorgeous, and huge, sneaking is less of a pain while stabbing remains a joyfully bloodthirsty activity.
With the breadth and depth of what Ubisoft has achieved across the entire span of the last generation, I can’t wait to see what they can pull off as these tales from the Animus continue into the next gen.
[Read our review]
Street Fighter IV (2009/ Xbox 360, PS3)
It would be quite unfair to say this is the only worthy fighter this generation. But if you had to pick just one, there could be no question as to what gets chosen…. Street Fighter IV is the King of Fighters.
Like, for the third time in a row.
A more accessible fighter that the (justifiably) vaunted SFIII, SFIV’s seemingly simple additions (Focus Attacks, Hyper Armour, Super Gauge, Ultra Combos) hip-tossed layers of complexity unto the crash-mats of already solid gameplay. For all its glorious colour and indulgent spectacle, SFIV remains an immensely tactical fighter and TO THIS DATE the very best way to settle household disputes!
[Our SUPER Street Fighter IV Review]
Bayonetta (2009 / PS3, Xbox 360)
Bayonetta flipped and danced her way onto the scene in 2009, proving for once and for all that Platinum Games were masters of the over-the-top action game. It looked stunning, embraced the idea of easy-to-learn, yet deep combat, and crammed in action on a scale that was hard to match.
The story was ludicrous at times, and by at times we mean “for the most part,” but fiercely entertaining; there was plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour to go around; and the various character interactions were good fun. Plus, there were plenty of nods to other video games and pop culture references, which always go down well in our books.
Bulletstorm (2011 / Xbox 360, PS3)
I really like Bulletstorm and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
The game, from Epic and People Can Fly, may be crude, rude and essentially obsessed with perforating enemies in the most creative way possible. But it’s also deliriously entertaining, mechanically superb and an absolute hoot to play.
It’s all about the skillshots, a point score which accompanies your every successful projectile hit and rewards you for doing insanely horrible things to corpisfy your enemies. Riddle them with bullets, leash them into the air and kick them into a giant flesh eating plant. Then giggle, because it’s the only appropriate reaction.
Because games are supposed to be fun people, remember that.
Catch up on the other parts below and come back tomorrow for our final 10!
50 Essential Games of the Last Gen - Part 1
50 Essential Games of the Last Gen - Part 2
50 Essential Games of the Last Gen - Part 3