With the curtain slowly coming down on the current generation of consoles as the Playstation 4 and Xbox One round the final bend, I figured it was a good time to look back at those really unforgettable experiences. Ultimately, there are a ton of great games out there, really too many to list. I’ve taken some of my favorites from this generation that you just can’t miss out playing before you jump to the next generation.
Think about it: A friend of yours is late to the party and picks up a PS3/Xbox 360. They turn to you and ask what games they should play. You have a whole console generation to pick from, what games would you recommend from your “can’t miss” list? These are my picks, what are yours?
Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar. Western. Open World. What else do you really need here?
Rockstar’s interesting take on the early 1900s when the Wild West was beginning to be tamed by the Federal Government. The game puts things in an interesting light as you play reformed bandit, John Marston, who’s trying to live in peace with his family. When the government comes knocking, they make in an offer that if he helps them round-up his former gang, they’ll let him off the hook. Seeing no other choice, John reluctantly agrees and so begins an expansive, entertaining, and fantastic take on an open world Western game with an obvious Rockstar twist. With an engaging story mixed with ambient events, challenges, side missions, and things to discover, Red Dead will keep you going for quite a while. Couple all that with the very impressive “Undead Nightmare” DLC, and you have a can’t miss package.
Batman: Arkham City
With the impossible task of improving upon a game that was already held in high regard, Rocksteady just nailed it out of the park. Featuring an open Arkham, Batman is free to explore and interact with the world as he wishes. With former Arkham Asylum Warden, Quincy Sharp, now mayor of Gotham, Sharp walls off a large portion of Upper Gotham and places Dr. Hugo Strange in charge. With thugs, gangsters and villains now left to run around the newly dubbed “Arkham City”, Batman heads in to investigate Strange and “Protocol 10.” You’ll interact with a ton of villains ranging from The Penguin, Two Face, and The Riddler to other characters like Azrael, Catwoman and Talia al Ghul. Rocksteady went crazy packing this game full of content and when you mix in the challenge rooms, you’ll have a game keeping you busy for quite some time. In the end, the biggest thing that this game has going for it is that it makes you feel like Batman.
One of my favorite games ever, BioShock successfully marries the traditional First person Shooter with an engaging and meaningful story line. Taking place in 1960, you explore an underwater city just after a civil war has broken out. What remains is a captivating city in Rapture, compelling characters, and a twisted populace who’s taken to gene splicing. Through your time in Rapture, you’ll acquire new weapons and abilities thanks to the same gene splicing that many people have succumbed to. Featuring many twists and turns, the game will hook you and never let go.
Ubisoft created a game that represents all that is good about platformers. Powered by a new engine called UbiArt, the game looks like concept art that has been brought to life. The colors are vibrant, the characters and models expertly animated, and most importantly, the game is downright fun. Story isn’t terribly important here but it doesn’t matter because gameplay is king. The cherry on top comes with the amazing soundtrack put together by Christophe Héral and Billy Martin. It’s addictive and will be stuck in your head for days.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
I do enjoy the franchise as a whole, but for me, the gold standard is the second game with Among Thieves. Improving upon the already solid foundation of the first, Drake, Sully, and Elena are back on the hunt looking for the fabled Shangri-La. The player begins as Drake on a train hanging over a cliff with a gunshot wound. Through flashbacks, players discover how he got in that position and then spend the second half of the game accomplishing the main goal of finding the lost city. You’ll get a host of exciting moments such as fighting on top of a moving train, dodging an attack helicopter and tank and many others which continues to be an Uncharted trademark. What surprised me about this title was the multiplayer. It took the core gameplay components from the main game and translated it into a competitive multiplayer side. This made matches exciting as there were multiple attack points and a new verticality that wasn’t there in many other third person shooters.
Who doesn’t like a 4 player beat-em-up with light RPG elements? The Behemoth released this title to much fanfare on Xbox Live (and then PSN and PC) and it’s been selling like hotcakes ever since. Taking control of 1 of 4 knights, players will use elemental magic, find new weapons, level up, and pound the crap out of a whole lot of creatures. It’s a fun game but it’s even better once more people are added to the mix. With an addictive soundtrack, fun gameplay, and great visuals, Castle Crashers is one of the best downloadable titles out there.
Assassin’s Creed II
Again, this is a franchise I really enjoy, but for me, the second game in the series represents everything that is right with the franchise. Advancing the ancestor timeline to Renaissance Italy, players were introduced to the charismatic and charming Ezio Auditore, a stark contrast to the brooding and introverted Altair. What I’ve always enjoyed about this franchise (mixing fiction with history) is on full display here giving players the opportunity to see some magnificent sites and explore some of the bigger ones as well. The biggest credit is that many of the complaints from the first game had been fixed, changed, and resolved resulting in a Assassin’s game that was just as fun to play as it was to explore. Players were treated to famous cities in Italy such as Florence and Venice and the story line made sure to keep players hooked and playing.
An open urban city featuring a protagonist who could harness the power of electricity? Count me in. InFamous puts you in the shoes of Cole McGrath, a bike messenger in Empire City. His world gets flipped when he unknowingly transports a package that detonates en route to its destination. The explosion was actually a device set to activate a specific kind of gene in certain people and from here on out, Cole becomes a conduit, someone who has extraordinary abilities. Featuring a massive open world, side missions, and a compelling story, InFamous is just as engaging as it is fun to play. Cole’s powers get upgraded as you continue and by the end you feel like a overpowered bad ass.
The Last of Us
Yes, I know, this is a recently released title, but it doesn’t matter because it’s definitely one of the best games of this generation in my opinion. With humanity decimated by a plague originating from the Cordyceps fungus, you take control of smuggler Joel taking on an assignment which leads him across the country and puts him in harm’s way quite a bit. Naughty Dog once again proves its technical skill with the PS3 hardware creating not only a beautiful title, but the animation and character models are just incredibly well detailed. It’s an experience that everyone should have a chance to experience. Multiplayer is also bundled in here and surprisingly, it’s a positive experience, mixing in core gameplay mechanics such as scavenging, crafting, and low supplies. On top of that is a meta game where you try to grow and maintain your survivors. Based on how you play, the group will being to prosper or start to fall apart.