My Top Ten Games of the Generation

Already posted this for my friends on twitter, but figured I'd make a hard copy in a blog for linking purposes.

This list is based on my PERSONAL favorite games, not necessarily the games that "defined the generation" or were the most influential. These are however the ones that I had the most fun with, and I will look back on with the fondest of memories when the generation comes to a close. Yes, the generation is not entirely over yet, but 'ey, I like to have a little fun reminiscing either way. So here we have, my top 10 favorite games of the generation in order (#1 = favorite).

10. Dead Island

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What can be said about this game. It's an open world, co-op, first person, zombie survival rpg. Quite the mouthful. This game gets extremely high marks from me for being something fairly fresh in the sea of zombie games that are on the market these days. Being mostly focused on melee weapons and what insidious mods you can install on them is perhaps the biggest differentiation of all. Yeah, there are guns as well, but those are few and far between until late game, and ammo is extremely scarce (think classic resident evil.) It becomes very addicting to climb up your skill tree, and sometimes a bit stressful to decide which skills to take and which are not worth investing your limited skill points into as you cannot max everything. Loot is here in droves as well, much in the fashion of Diablo or Borderlands, and the aforementioned mods make everything better (electrical bullets anyone?) The game, even after several patches, is still bogged down by a number of technical issues, but above all these issues, the game remains fun, and keeps you coming back despite all its caveats. Try it out with your friends.

9. Burnout Paradise

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I'm not the largest fan of driving games, but it seems like once per generation one comes along and sucks me in to the extreme. This time the game to crack me was one that broke the mold of sitting in menus for several minutes before each race by just tossing you into an ever flowing open sandbox world where all of your interactions are done on the fly, and even with your friends online. In Burnout Paradise, you can literally waste hours just driving aimlessly with your friends online and not get anything accomplished other than some insane flips and a have a barrel of laughs. That's not all there is to do in Paradise City, however, as there are hundreds of challenges to complete. Whether it be performing drifts and near-misses, or going through loop-de-loops, the game will always keep you on your toes with something more extraordinary than the other. Want something a little more fulfilling? Criterion has littered the game world with crashes, smashes, and jumps to test your skills for months or years to come. Oh, and there are a ton of cars too.

8. Left 4 Dead 2

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Another Zombie game? Yep. However, the fun with this game bears very little to me on the fact that you're fighting zombies, rather than the high octane survival that you must endure with your friends. Barely scraping by hordes of enemies and yelling "SAFE HOUSE!" with relief as soon as it is spotted is a rush that very few games, if any, can match. The original game was fun, but the second game bumps everything up to insanity by doubling the special infected enemies, increasing the weapon count by an obscene amount, and just making better, longer, and more fun campaigns. This is not just a "map pack". I've played through the campaigns more times than I can count, and I'm sure I will continue to do so over the years until Valve potentially breaks their curse of number 3.

7. Fallout 3

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Yet again a game that takes an interesting twist on a genre that has already been established. Yes, we've seen games much list this in the elder scrolls series, but never a game in this setting or time period... or with guns. The fact that the game takes place in a post apocalyptic rag-time era is a refreshing, and the result is something that becomes infectious and you want to keep exploring every bit of the environment you come across because it is so interesting. The star of the game, however, is the excellent VATS combat system. You get to freeze time, aim at specific body parts, queue up your attacks, and watch them take place in a cinematic slow-mo camera angle. Head explosions never looked so good. This is a game you can get lost in for several dozens of hours, and you most likely will not have ever scratched the surface of all the game has to offer. The DLC is fantastic as well.

6. Halo: Reach

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Halo... again? Why yes, and the best one to date, my friend. The campaign is the most interesting it's ever been, and even better when you share it with a group of your friends. One of my best experiences in my time with the game was when 3 of my friends and I played through the entirety of the campaign on legendary with all skulls on (minus the goofy ones like no HUD.) The adversarial multiplayer now has a new layer of addiction on top of it with persistent "XP" gains and plenty of armor pieces to unlock to make your spartan look unique to how you like them. The core gameplay is fantastic too, with the most balanced weaponry and best on disc map selection the series has seen since Halo 2. The addition of the controversial armor modules shake things up a bit, but I find them a refreshing change of pace to a series that has been with us for over a decade. I'm looking forward to Halo 4, but it has some large shoes to fill top this one.

5. Minecraft

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It doesn't look like much, but don't knock it 'til you've tried it (I know I used to.) It comes with the prerequisite that you like to create things, however (or you know other creative people that don't mind you pillaging their worlds.) The game has a very rigid cubist look that may turn of the hardcore elitists, but it's the addicting nature of "Mine, Build, Survive" that keeps you coming back for months or even years. I've spent many a night "just mining a bit more (material X)" so I can finish perhaps only just a PART of my overarching current design plan. The thrill of digging deeper into the unknown to find precious metals and stones and escaping for your life is an experience that you can not soon forget. Oh, and when you make cool stuff like a SKY HOUSE MADE OUT OF GLASS with it's only entrance being a waterfall that you need to swim up, and it's only exit being a sky dive into the ocean... the sense of accomplishment with this one is high.

4. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair

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Castlevania has always been one of my favorite gaming franchises, so a game that puts all of its characters into a multiplayer setting with an almost MMO level of addictiveness is an interesting proposal. Admittedly, the coolest stuff is in the optional pay downloadable content, and buying it will run a hefty price-tag, but that doesn't lessen the quality of what is present, nor does it downplay just how much fun it is to grind to the all-coveted god-tier of equipment. After spending hundreds of hours, I have still not acquired all items, or maxed out even one character to its full potential. Crazy? Yes. Off-putting? Perhaps. However, if you have a soft spot for classic games in your heart, especially the Castlevania series, this is definitely one you should at least try out. At the very worst, you'll get to hear the outstanding trademark soundtrack in all of it's remastered glory.

3. Grand Theft Auto IV

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The series long known for it's over the top violence and ridiculous nature returned this generation, but with a more serious and realistic over-tone. Some dismissed this game because it "took away the fun of GTA", however I felt that they went in a direction that was far more appealing to me. Hey, the characters are still over the top, and you're still a guy that asks no questions before he goes and offs half a dozen dudes for some guy he met 5 seconds ago, so not a lot has change on that front, but really appeals to me is the story. The story is one of the most powerful and impacting ones I've ever experienced in my over two decades of gaming experience. By the time you see the credit roll, you're left with a feeling that won't soon leave you, and you still have two full-fledged games released as DLC waiting for you in tow. We cannot forget the online multiplayer, however, where you'll undoubtedly be wasting dozens of hours from your life unless you don't have a soul. You and up to 15 others can take Liberty City by storm any way you seem fit, and boy is it a blast. This game still sees play in my gaming rotation, and I feel it will stay that way until Rockstar's next installment is in my hands.

2. Battlefield 3

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Having almost no experience with this series in its PC heydays, I was unaware at just how much to expect when it hit my console for the first time. The pre-release beta left me with a horrible taste in my mouth, which almost made me skip this game entirely. Thankfully, I'm smart enough to know that such things are generally poor representations of a final product, and Youtube videos convinced me to pick this puppy up this January. What you get in this package is something different than "the other guys". You don't get that game where everyone is out for themselves, lone wolfing the enemy team with their cheap tactics, raining air support down on your already hurting backside. Instead what you get here is a game where your team and you must actually cooperate if you plan on having any shot at surviving and winning. Not only are you urged to attack and defend with your squads effectively, but you are handed a slew of tools to help make things easier for you and your team. You can revive people back from the dead with your defibrillator (if you react quick enough), you can lay down med packs, ammo packs, spawn beacons, and a number of other things. With tons of developer support and downloadable content on the way, I for one will be playing this game well into next year and be eagerly awaiting the recently announced Battlefield 4.

1. Dark Souls

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One of the most hardcore games released this generation (only overshadowed by its predecessor, Demon's Souls.) Am I just copping out picking this game because I want to look like I have skill? Absolutely not. What is present in Dark Souls is a masterfully created world that DARES you to make it to the end. That's not all however, as it also dares EVERYONE ELSE ON THE INTERNET to stop you. The ability to traverse into others peoples games at any time (as friend or foe) makes this game unique, and a wicked twist on everything you know. But it isn't all about your conventional methods of online play, you can also leave messages on the ground. I've found most of these to be helpful, but it can be fun to try to trick other people in such ways as placing a "JUMP HERE" message at the end of a cliff leading to their death. Not only the interactions make this game phenomenal though, it's the pure accomplishment you get as you reach farther and farther to the game's ultimate end-goal. It can be oh-so sweet to finally complete an area you've been chipping away at the entire night, especially when your bloodstain containing thousands of souls is at stake every time you make a mistake and meet your demise. Staying alive has never been so crucial in gaming as it has been in the Souls series, and it gives you that boost of adrenaline and courage you need to head straight into danger and meet your mark. The game isn't over either when you see the credit roll, as you can keep going "New Game+" style after it's all said and done, with higher stakes and higher rewards. You'll want to keep coming back time and time again to try out new characters and improve your skills. With a new downloadable chapter on the way later this year, this game has a lot to keep you coming back for. I know I'll be claiming my stake in Lordran for years to come.

There you have it.

Any surprises? A few for me when making my list, as I had to cut games out that were VERY hard to eliminate. Let's see your lists!

Take care, everyone.