I’m slightly torn on this current generation of games. I recognize the number of behemoths that have emerged, from the sequel realm, to the original IP’s. For some reason though, the overall fun factor when compared to any other generation, seems a bit meager. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I feel this way. It’s definitely not due to the over saturation of rhythm based titles, Call of Duty titles and other, mostly Activision milked franchises (I have a few of those on this very list). It seems as if the extra polygons and processor power didn’t replicate the kinds of games that feel ageless. Even the previous generation had a number of those, including Crazy Taxi, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Persona 4.
Whatever the case might be, there were still the standouts in this current generation, regardless of whether they feel as timeless as the previous generations. Lets take a look at my Top 25 Current Generation Games:
It may have to do with the fact that I’m a huge Metallica fan, but Guitar Hero: Metallica delivers the best the rhythm genre has to offer. Songs like Enter Sandman, Disposable Heroes, No Leaf Clover and The Memory Remains were tailor made for a game like this. The non Metallica tracks might not be the most satisfying additions (outside Turn the Page) but the headline band themselves have almost every song that I ever dreamed of playing in a video game. Each instrument is a joy to play, though I always veer towards the vocals whenever I boot up my copy. If you want to rock out hard, Guitar Hero: Metallica is your first and only choice needed. As enjoyable solo as it is with a full band.
Even during the whole overblown backlash over the ending, Mass Effect 3 still nailed every single thing I wanted from Commander Shepard’s final chapter. The emotion evoked during the intro, as well as the lead up to the final battle, are some of gaming’s most gripping moments. While completing the final battle, I absolutely dreaded the fact that my time with this portion of the franchise would be coming to an end. Then there’s the multiplayer portion….bar none the most addicting and flat out best I’ve played this generation. At this point, I’ve spent nearly 750 hours with the game in total (700 or so on multiplayer alone) and the number will only rise if Bioware continues to give out free multiplayer DLC. After the memorable final chapter ends, you owe it to yourself to get lost in the multiplayer. It rounds out this package in a way that will be hard to ever trump.
From one major timesink to another, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is almost too much of a good thing. As with Fallout 3, there are a number of bugs that did manage to impede on the fun factor at certain points, but with the amount of content, amount of real estate and amount of customization available, it’s hard to let the issues take center stage for very long. It’s nearly impossible to pick out the one thing that stands out the most about Skyrim. The game world and its detail are stunning, ranging from ice capped mountainsides, to stretches of barren real estate. The random dragon encounters, while they do become laughably easy to dispatch, add a sense of tension even still. If you need a break from leveling your N7 Shadow in Mass Effect 3‘s MP offering, you should find the time to slay some dragons and get lost in such a massive game world.
In terms of storytelling and gameplay structure, I will always put the first Mass Effect ahead of the other two. The emphasis on RPG elements really sold me, and it gave it a more strategic feel that the second title lacked, though the third seemed to grab some of it back. The launch of Commander Shepard’s story was compelling, introducing a number of unforgettable characters along the way. Some of the aspects were a bit clunky, especially the equipment system, but what Mass Effect nailed well, it nailed it with a precision rarely seen. If you’re looking to start a grand adventure through a stellar franchise, Mass Effect is the perfect launchpad in terms of a memorable franchise, as well as a first installment to one.
I was struggling to choose Super Mario Galaxy 2 over Mass Effect and vice versa. Both titles were the cream of the current generation crop, though ultimately, Super Mario Galaxy 2 barely edged it out. Building upon the successes of the first game, Galaxy 2 offered more of the same experience, with slightly more detailed and imaginative worlds. Super Mario Galaxy 2 wasn’t as embarrassingly simple as the recent crop of Mario titles have been (zillions of 1ups notwithstanding) but its levels, controls, graphics and audio came together is such a thoroughly impressive manner that it’s hard to put any other game ahead of it. It takes what gamers loved about the franchise, from the Super Mario Bros. all the way through to Super Mario 64, dolled it up, gave it motion controls that didn’t hinder the action one bit, and retained the charm and familiarity of previous titles, without it all seeming to be a bit TOO familiar. It’s a system seller for sure, and the one game this console generation that needs to be played, owned and loved.