I shall begin my first ever thought piece for Gamers Guide to Life with an apology. Sorry for my reserved judgements in favour of the games as featured below, I apologise now if I have left out any games from the past few years that perhaps deserve to be in such a thorough list, but these are, regardless, only my favoured of the generation of which we are told we are only mid-way through! You will have your own favourites, as I mine, so without further adieu, here are my top 10 games of this generation. Long may it continue.
What better game to pick up the mantle for the first of the list than Bethesda's post apocalyptic RPG Fallout 3. Fitting, since this generation has pretty much birthed the open world genre of which we know see with aplomb. Following on from the critically acclaimed Oblivion (which I could never get on with), Fallout 3 was a lesson to potential RPG developer's in how to create an immersive world with an engaging storyline and excellent role-playing mechanics. Hours could disappear roaming the wasteland for hidden delights, only boosted by the additional DLC that was offered after release.
One of my favourite games of 2008, LittleBigPlanet was like nothing truly seen before. Spawning the label of 'Play, Create, Share', over 2 million levels have been created by its community to date (I lent my talents to two). A platformer at heart, the level designer and community features were where the game really stood out, with unbelievable levels created by fantastically creative people. Search for anything within LBP's servers and you'll probably find a match. From re-creations of classic Mario levels to representations of people's home lives- LBP was worthy of its limelight.
For being the first game to introduce the full band set-up and hours upon hours of lost time, Harmonix's return to rhythm-action after they had spawned the Guitar Hero franchise let us run wild in our search for rock stardom, now on drums and mic, as well as guitar. The sequel may have refined the template as layed out here, but for the first game to be a success was praise enough after Activision's vital head start with the GH series. Cluttering our living rooms with cheap plastic peripherals ever since, Rock Band- we salute you.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Possibly the most sought after sequel for the current generation, GTA IV set the record at the time for the best single day sales and week sales for a video game, despite its '18' age certificate. The departure from the fun filled San Andreas to the much grittier life of immigrant Niko Bellic was bold, although one in which I felt was needed. Despite its clunky controls, GTA IV was exceptional in its design with the hugely detailed Liberty City inspired by NYC and exciting cast of characters.
Despite the strong original, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, at the early life of Sony's PS3 (and one of the first Playstation exclusives of this generation), Uncharted 2 has to be considered over the first since it got nearly everything spot on. Superbly animated character models and expertly directed cut scenes seamlessly integrated with game play, yep, Naughty Dog's treasure hunting Nathan Drake is set to be one of the flagship's for Sony for years to come. If you haven't played it yet and don't yet quite understand the hype regarding Sony's console, try it. You won't be disappointed.
The third PS3 exclusive to appear on my list is also the most recent. Released this February, I only got a chance to play the “interactive drama” around a month ago. Set apart from any other game, Heavy Rain is an experience unlike any other. Excellent cinematography, resounding score and an involving narrative imbue its cinematic sense, whilst the frankness of its moral choice philosophy gave each player a feeling of crafting their own experience. I was taken aback by how well the game was conveyed, and utterly spellbound by the plotting.
Mass Effect 2
Bioware's sci-fi space saga gave a number of reasons why it ought to be considered one of the best games of this generation. Not only have Bioware created an exceptional and fully in-depth universe of alien species and planetary intergalactic wars, but like a mixture between the cinematic ambition of Uncharted 2 and the moral choices of Heavy Rain, the RPG has rarely become so fully polished as this. I await the third to conclude the trilogy.
Forza Motorsport 2
I'm reluctant to put down the third in the franchise onto the list since I felt slightly let down in its online fuctionality, which was plagued from day one. Instead, I'll go with the sequel to the original Xbox game Forza Motorsport, which was the first true driving simulator for the current generation, and one which still performs admirably and looks excellent some time after. The online was also well handled, as well as the progression of the career mode. Whether Polyphony Digital can match its ambition with Gran Turismo 5 is another story, but it certainly has a tough task ahead.
'Finish the Fight'- yeh, right. Then go back again and fight the in-between years! It might have failed to live up to the hype in terms of its epic conclusion to the trilogy, but it can not be argued Halo 3's success lay within multiplayer, with its matchmaking still one of the most played on Xbox Live besides the competition of recent delights such as Modern Warfare 2. Adding XP and character customisation to the massive Halo 2 online foundation, its the game which I stick on for some multiplayer action before any other.
Received quite poorly, Mirror's Edge is one of my more favoured titles for one reason: it tried something different and it worked. The first person perspective was an odd choice given the free-running game play, but EA DICE delivered in epic proportions with fast and exhilarating game mechanics. Slightly unforgiving and frustrating at times, the game still ought to be remembered for some time to come, regardless of the fact it lies for mere pounds in bargain buckets around the country.