These ten titles, to me, define this generation (so far). If I had to pick a single game on all consoles that actually defines this generation to everyone, I'd have to go with Wii Sports. Thankfully, I don't have to - so I won't.
They're listed in No Particular Order. Well no, that's not true. They're listed in the order of where I ended up putting their header images. Is there a hidden message in that?
No. Let's get to it.
Mirror's Edge is a great game for two reasons (once one accepts that the gameplay is wonderful). One - it is the first significant evolution of the platforming genre since Super Mario 64, and I adore platformers. Two - it is one of the rare truly hardcore triple-A titles on the current generation.
The fact that it's wholly unique is just icing on the cake.
The fact that it's wholly unique is just icing on the cake.
Grand Theft Auto IVIf there is a single title that first kept the promise of the current generation, it is Grand Theft Auto IV. Now, it's easy to disagree with that position, and it's rather fashionable for the hardcore gamer crowd to turn up their noses at GTAIV - after all, it's essentially the same game we've been playing since 2001.
As always, the Grand Theft Auto experience is at its best when you're not doing as you're told. When you're getting into scraps with the police outside of story missions, casually jacking cars, turning peds into roadkill and occasionally - for an incredible second or six - it forms something amazing. When the physics-driven driving, comfortable shooting, procedural animation and the phenomenal attention to detail all come together and deliver.
Siren: Blood CurseYou may already be familiar with my position on the subject, but if not I'll try to lay it down as efficiently as possible:
Siren: Blood Curse is an incredible game and experience. It's scarier, more tense than and just as smart as Silent Hill 2 (oh yeah, I went there), with fantastic atmosphere and my favorite original score on the current gen. It also (in a stroke of sheer genius) combines the already white-knuckle survival horror genre with the tense gameplay of a stealth title, to amazing effect.
Demon's SoulsUnlike many titles on this list, Demon's Souls greatest strength is how un-modern it is. While other developers are bending over backwards to make games accessible to everyone (which isn't, precisely, a bad thing), From Software focused on making a game that practically defines hardcore, and exclusionary.
Many would argue it's about kicking the bloody hell out of the player. Efficient, unceremonious death stalks you around every turn, and should you succumb to the devils that hunt you, the game gets harder.
This demands the player wise up, learn the rules of the game and tread forward slowly, with their shield raised. And once the player begins to dominate what once terrified, Demon's Souls is no longer a game about mercilessly punishing the player - it is, more than anything, about overcoming what once seemed impossible. It's about the sweetest victories an action RPG has ever delivered.
Dead SpaceYou could say that un-learning the deeply ingrained impulse to shoot for the head is a measure of originality, but let's face it - it's pretty much Resident Evil 4 in space. Of course, that's doing Dead Space a bit of a disservice.
The production values are top-notch, but what separates Dead Space from the pack is the world it takes place in. Like the best science fiction settings, the USG Ishimura is a cohesive, believable environment that begs to be explored. It feels real - and once the player buys into that, a singular experience awaits.
Valkyria ChroniclesAbove-par writing, exceedingly endearing characters and a fantastic soundtrack are only the beginning, here. What makes Valkyria Chronicles a modern classic is its hybrid gameplay and the wonderful, unique art style. I've said it before and I'll say it again: try the demo.
Uncharted 2: Among ThievesFrom the mini-review:
"Have you ever had sex that was so good, so happy that you found yourself laughing, in spite of the intimate circumstances? I'm not talking just physical pleasure here, I'm talking joy.
That's Uncharted 2. I'm not kidding. During my first playthrough, I was so giddily thrilled with the experience I found myself laughing out loud. Not at a joke, or a clever reference - simply because my Cup of Happy was bubbling over, and had to be released through exultation."
BioShock 2At first I was looking forward to BioShock 2 only as a means to explore Rapture for the first time, again. Turns out it is in nearly all ways a better game, a better experience than its progenitor.
Sure, the levels aren't as varied and there isn't a second-act shocker to compete with The Golf Club Scene, but the game is so much more cohesive than the original. Rapture feels more real, the narrative is rendered with much more elegance, the gameplay is a massive improvement and the ending is perfect. In 2010 I've liked a lot of games, but I love BioShock 2.
Fallout 3I will bitch about the horrible bugs Bethesda comfortably shipped Fallout 3 with (and refuses to patch) until the ends of time. I will also say without reservation that it's the single best western RPG I've ever played, and an incredible experience.
Concept alone will only get you so far, and while Fallout 3 isn't perfect, it gets way, way too much right to be considered anything but an extraordinary, must-own title.
inFamousMore than anything, inFamous is an easygoing, liquid-smooth platformer. That alone secures my allegiance, but it's the great mission designs and perfect marriage of the platforming to classic third-person shooting that makes inFamous not just a favorite of the current gen, but probably of all time.
Consider that. Let it roll around on your brain. I've been playing video games since 1985.
That's right. Deal with that.
It should be noted that I am not you, nor am I everyone (unless one is being very Zen about things) - and I sport my own personal tastes. That said, my opinions are obviously correct, and if you disagree with this list, your opinions are bad and you should feel bad.