Just to reiterate – This is a subjective list. It is not ranked. And it’s in no specific order… besides the one we reckoned would make for the most varied, interesting read.
We’ve already posted Part One.It can be found right here.And continue the trip down memory lane with Part Three.
Great. Now we’re on the same wavelength. Ok. GAMES!
Red Dead Redemption (2010/ PS3, Xbox 360)
I've (Daniel) never been much of a fan of GTA (don't hurt me!) But take me back to the Wild Wild West and put a six gun in my hand and things got a whole lot sweeter. RDR beats GTA by virtue of having an engaging story, ditching the boring-ass side quests and letting you murder people in the face in slow motion. From a horse. Also, zombies...
I (Jack) take Daniel’s point – That Dead Eye targeting system was more than sufficient to haul Rockstar’s clunky mechanics out of the mud. But ancillary Cowboyish larks like breaking horses, hogtying wanted men and quick-drawing jilted card sharks at high noon on the main thoroughfare brew a much richer texture than the ‘Street-Hood-Wants-Mo-Dolla’ Rockstar has grown fat on.
Daniel and Jack
Assassin’s Creed II (2009/ PS3, Xbox 360)
Very much Assassin’s Creed Version 2.0, this is the mode you originally hoped to play. After a dodgy prototype, the assembly line model made far better use of those initially mouth-watering systems like hiding in a bustling crowd, meticulously planning your attacks and scrambling across rooftops.
With a cheeky lead, a belting pace and a polished triumvirate of gameplay mechanics (riposting combat, fluid parkour and social stealth) ACII honestly cemented this brand as one of the generation’s Franchise Titans.
[Our Recent Retrospective]
The Walking Dead (2012/ PSN, XBLA)
2012’s The Walking Dead from Telltale Games was a masterpiece with a captivating story, interesting character, and a world full of grey moral areas. Sure, it wasn’t an open ended choose-your-own adventure like the Mass Effect series, but it tailored the narrative perfectly, meaning that players came away with their own story... and a fitting conclusion.
We’ve waxed lyrical about how Telltale Games’ approach to storytelling made the game feel very personal and allowed each player to have their own take on the relationships built, but it’s something we feel developers could learn from. And we’re looking forward to revisiting the zombie apocalypse when The Walking Dead: Season 2 is released later this year.
[Our (Episode 5) Review]
The Elder Scroll IV: Oblivion (2006 / Xbox 360, PS3)
My one word summary for this game was 'massive' – because that's what it was.
Few game experiences have matched the moment when I stepped out of the dungeons for the first time and walked out into a verdant field, the grass moving in the wind, pristine water close-by. And in the distance a colossal tower that I could walk to without loading.
And it just got better from there, bringing in accessible combat, creepy-faced conversations and the terror of stepping inside an Oblivion gate and hoping you wouldn't die. A massive leap forward for RPG's.
Bastion (2011/ XBLA)
Bastion is wicked cute. Sure it’s a basic twin-stick shooter with a predictable interface and severely limited replayability. But it is wicked cute. A hand-painted enigma, Bastion’s tale unfolds dynamically as a narrating southern drawl comments both on the wider Calamity and your own specific input.
The hunt for an increasingly destructive arsenal is nothing new. However three thousand witty, revealing lines of dialogue gradually clue you in on what went down. And it’s compelling stuff, often outright mind-bending. Bastion is a tapestry of colour and sound and play. And it weaves itself around you, threading through your experience.
Splinter Cell: Conviction (2010 / Xbox 360, PS3)
Sneaking has never been my strong suit, so much so that my interest in the Splinter Cell series was generally limited. Until Conviction.
Combining movie quality production values with a (halfway) decent plot, the main stand out was the impressively slick mechanics which helped to make me feel like a super agent. Traversal was easy, stalking was fun and the mark and execute mechanic finally meant you could pull off the moves you'd always imagined. And I had unspeakable love for the objectives projected on the level itself.
GRID (2008 / PS3, Xbox 360)
When Codemasters’ name is next to a racing game, expectations are instantly set pretty high. And Grid hit the heights expected of it with an expansive career mode, competitive AI, a detailed damage model, and handling that toed the line between Arcade and Simulation perfectly.
Grid also pioneered the Flashback mechanic that has become so widespread in the racing genre now. It was implemented in such a way that players had to think strategically too; should they use it immediately or save it for a potential bigger accident that would cost them more time. No game has handled it as well since.
Vanquish (2010/ PS3, Xbox 360
Vanquish. Holy Shit.
Do I need to elaborate? Probably not. But since I’m at it, Vanquish is the best cover shooter your earth money can buy. It offersthe third person cover shooter what Revengeance offered the Hack/Slash - Progress.
A symphony of bullet-time and break neck velocity. A ballet of missile dodging and rocket punching. An orchestra of skidding kneepads, particle spraying detonations and frantic, breath catching cooldown timers. Vanquish is so confident you’ll adore its subversive, interlocked gunplay, it demands you learn them well. Or make friends with the business end of a commie robot space laser!
Vanquish. Holy Shit.
Portal (2007 / PS3, Xbox 360)
The surprise of 2007 had to be Portal, a short-but-sweet puzzle game that had people scratching their heads at times and giggling aloud at others. While it didn’t feature a cast as star-studded as its 2011 successor, which bore the vocal talents of J.K. Simmons and Stephen Merchant), Ellen McLain created a character that has gone down in gaming folklore.
In the world of first-person games, Portal offered something different, challenged players, and was entertaining throughout. Its slightly dark humour resonated with fans and so, even today, you’ll see plenty of references to cake being a lie or hear people humming along to Still Alive.
[Our (Portal 2) Review]
Limbo (2010/ Xbox 360, PS3)
This was also the console generation where Indie games came of age, and Limbo was a vital part of that process. Combining artistic visuals with elements of horror and good old fashioned puzzles, PlayDead's little adventure managed to capture the attention of millions on its XBLA and PSN launch. The minimal story was a great frame for your own childhood fears and the instadeath gameplay a suitable punishment for lazy thumbs.
And can I just say that the spider Absolutely. Terrified. Me.