The XP staff weighs in with their hand-picked choices about what game experience of this generation was their favourite.
Phew, it’s been a long generation. Amazingly its been almost eight years worth of the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and everything else that’s came in between, and it’s been a long and storied process filled to bursting point with games.
Now, as we prepare for the launch of the official next generation with the release of the PS4 and Xbox One, it’s a great time to reflect upon which games we thought were the best this generation has to offer.
Valtteri Kauraoja is The Walking Dead’s Crying Obsessive
To pick a favourite game out of a generation is hard. What game means the most to me? What game changed the way I look at the world around me? What game changed my way of perceiving gaming as an industry and as an artform?
There were 2 games from the last generation of video gaming that made it to my personal list of top 15 video games that mean the most to me.
The first one is Portal, a game I might devote an article to some day. The other one is The Walking Dead by Telltale. It’s a game I cannot devote
an article to, because it wouldn’t be enough. That game deserves a book written about it.
To condense my love for The Walking Dead in this short wall of text is not doing it justice, but I will try. I’ve played the game through once, and I’ve seen it being played through twice. All three times I cried my eyes out. It’s the rare kind of game that I force my father to play through. It’s better than the TV-show and the comic book put together, and even if you are like me and don’t really care for either of those pieces of The Walking Dead world, I still beg you to play the game.
When it comes to characters, relationships, arcs and story, it beats every game I have ever played and easily most of the TV, books and movies coming out today. I’m already out of space explaining my love towards the game, even though I could go on for pages upon pages. Let me just tell you this; Clementine is easily my favourite child character in video gaming and most media, as well as my favourite female character in gaming and most media, as well as my favourite black character in gaming and most media. Clementine is my favourite video game character in the history of video games.
Kyle Sorrell is the Monster Hunter Freedom Unite Enthusiast
The fondest of memories are typically found in serendipity; desirable and accidental discovery. That was a large part of the beauty of the PSP (PlayStation Portable), and even Sony’s consoles as well. I originally had a Nintendo DS, and played it quite a lot. But after years of late high school “Mario Kart-A-Thons,” the device just couldn’t hold up, and eventually fell apart. This provided the impetus to seek out a new mobile gaming device, except by this time (years after high school) I had a smartphone, and didn’t feel the need.
It was sometime in late 2011 that I happened across a PSP, an older model, and for dirt cheap. “Why the hell not?” was the first thought that ran through my mind, and I bought it and a cheap, used copy of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite. I took it home and began playing. After getting my
rear torn up by the first stages, I was put off by the excessive challenge. Yet I kept playing. Then I realized that it wasn’t like a typical RPG, as it wasn’t guided by numbers or stats, but by the player’s intrinsic skill, timing, and luck. I played some more. Before I knew it, several months
had gone by and I had not touched a single game.
To have what is technically a Japanese role playing game, set in a world where you fight a huge variety of monsters, is nothing special. The fact that it relied on actual player skill and reflexes, and was set in a beautifully rendered, realistic, and threatening world was special. When you
let numbers take over everything, the player’s input is eventually rendered meaningless. The Monster Hunter series is a great reminder that gameplay too is an art.
Alex Hamilton is the Team Fortress 2 Fanatic
If this game is current gen, then it is very early current gen. However, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Its fame and influence in gaming on PC probably means that it’s highly likely you will see my choice, roll your eyes, and move on. Hear me out though, and I’ll explain why this game should be the base-line for all online shooters.
Team Fortress 2, like its predecessor, is focused around two opposing teams attempting to complete objectives. Players can choose one of nine classes with its own unique strengths and weaknesses. It was released in October, 2007. Since its release, Valve have continually given free updates and patches to the community, introducing new features, levels and weapons. These updates could have been game breaking, but, like everything else Valve do, was perfectly tested and balanced.
The game’s iconic style is what sets it above the rest of the dirty-brown-shooter-brigade. Using extensive phong shading (a technical term for smoothing things), the cartoonish style was inspired by J. C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell. The strong silhouettes and unique animations of the different classes and characters means it is easy for players to identify at long distances who they are fighting. The voice acting of the characters is superb, unique and witty. The design of TF2 is a benchmark now taught in university game design courses.
It may look pretty, but the game also handles a dream. Each class has its own set of weapons, balanced and tested so that no one class or weapon set can dominate a match. Maps are easy to navigate with clear indications of where objectives and enemies can be found, while visual and audio cues help players understand what their objectives are and how far along they are to completing them.
The community of the game shines like a metaphorical diamond in the dungheap of online gaming. Though there are other sterling examples of great communities online (Left 4 Dead, PayDay, Chivalry), the light-hearted tone of TF2 means that players don’t feel so uptight about their gaming as other shooters may encourage. No one plays for their kill-to-death ratio, no-one tries to lone wolf, the game practically necessitates the players working together as a team. The game is far more relaxed as a result, and I personally have made a good few friends on servers which I regularly come back to.
This is my final point of why TF2 is possibly one of the stand outs of this generation, its staying power. The game was released in 2007, yet since then has been consistently in the top two ranks by player count on steam. For six years, it has been either the most popular or (now with the release of DOTA2) second most popular game on the PC’s most popular game distribution network. The game went free to play in 2011, and opened itself to the modding community later in 2012. I know people who have gaming machines that could probably run crysis 3 on full three times over, yet they still play TF2 religiously. TF2 has a passionate hardcore fanbase, and it’s not hard to see why. On top of that, the graphics haven’t aged a day.
The game hasn’t left my Steam games list since 2007, and I doubt it ever will.
Dan Curtis is Found Brutally Bashing Brutes in Batman: Arkham Asylum
My, my, that was a toughie. It was always going to be between Dark Souls and Batman as my favourite titles of this generation, but Batman nudged out Dark Soul’s impeccably crafted, ludicrously ridiculously world by the mere tip of a Batarang.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is superb. I love Arkham City as well, but the first game wins as my favourite as it was a brand new experienced that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. Never before had a game delivered such an incredibly accurate experience of what it should be like to be Batman; you literally felt like you were simultaneously the world’s biggest badass and greatest detective at the same time.
Part combat brawler, part stealth and all around awesome, Arkham Asylum delivered everything you could want in a game. The environments were detailed, the voice acting was superb (including Mark Hamill as the Joker, who is by far the best ever) and everything in the game was paced brilliantly. It was also packed full of secrets to find, enemies to fight and has one of the best combat systems developed in this generation.
It may be simplistic in its execution, but the freeflow combat of the Arkham series is an extremely rewarding fighting mechanic that is easy to do, but difficult to master. Even now, after playing through Arkham Asylum three times and City three times, I still love watching Batman smash in a criminal’s face with an epic kick or send them flying with a tactically-placed bit of explosive gel.
Oh, and then there’s the stealth. There’s nothing quite like causing abject fear amongst your targets as you swoop from gargoyle to gargoyle, tactically picking off enemies one by one.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is easily my favourite game from this console cycle, and I can’t wait for the release of Arkham Origins this Autumn.
So what are your choices for best game of this generation fellow reader? Let us know in the comments!