By BRANDAN WONCH
As most gamers know by now, the reign of the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii is done and the new consoles are going to be in stores in December. Actually the new Wii U is already in stores and has not sold so well.
Seems like a good time to look at the best games of the current generation of consoles. These games are not necessarily my favorite games of the generation, but they are ones I feel made the biggest impact on how games are made and played today.
Mass Effect: Hands down my favorite franchise of this console generation and probably a front runner for best RPG (role-playing game). The third person sci-fi shooter didn’t exactly revolutionize game play. In fact when it comes to the game play, it’s only about average, but what it did change was story. Not only did they have an epic-length story that was well acted and entertaining, but you could change it. You created your character and made your choices. Did you want to be the ultimate hero or more of a renegade? Then you got to end it with the man, woman, or alien of your dreams.
Call of Duty, Modern Warfare: While I’m not a fan there is no arguing with the success of CoD. It didn’t just change the way online was played, it made every other shooter change with it. Not long ago CoD was the only online shooter that offered points, ranks and unlockables just for playing the game. Now every game with a multiplayer option does the same thing with the same system. Add to that the fact that they literally turned the franchise into a once-a-year blockbuster with a new release annually. They are almost exclusively responsible for bringing DLC to the consoles and they make it look so easy too, with $15 map packs that add at most three levels and yet they sell millions of them every time they make them.
Gears of War: What Halo did for the Xbox, Gears of War did for the 360. It was the first and best reason to own the system over the PS3 and it did it with a lot of blood, gore and style — not to mention it invented the third person cover-based shooter.
Journey: Journey is one of those games everyone should play, even those who hate or know nothing about video games. It’s less of a game and more of an experience, easy to pick up and play, beautiful to look at, and cheap. It was the first, and sadly one of the only, games to make it seem like the Playstation Sony Network could compete with Xbox Live.
The Witcher 2: The Witcher is a real gamer’s game. It’s about as hardcore as games tend to get nowadays and the whole game just oozes geek. It’s a traditional fantasy game with elves, dwarves, and images set in a gritty realistic view of the Dark Ages. It has tight controls, a steep learning curve and a complex realistic government system that makes my head spin. The Witcher was a very close second for my favorite games of the year. But despite how good it is, I put this game on the list for two primary reasons. First, I already said it’s hardcore; there is very little hand holding in the Witcher. You either learn how to play the game or you die, a lot. The other reason is that it’s one of the few games that has a mature rating that actually is mature. This is no kid’s game and that’s not just for the difficulty; the game is filled with blood, sex, and political espionage set in the Middle Ages. Simply said, I love it.
Noteworthy mentions that almost made the list
Halo: While there is no doubt Halo had a strong showing this gen, it just didn’t affect the video game scene the same way the first two Halos did for the original Xbox.
NBA 2K and MLB The Show: Hands down these are two of the best and most successful sports games of this generation, but I just didn’t feel either of them really did enough to revolutionize the games industry.
Dark Souls: This game very nearly beat out The Witcher 2 for the last spot. Dark Souls is so difficult, it makes the Witcher look like a joke in comparison. It’s also widely popular among the gaming clique, but its technical shortcomings were too frequent and too distracting for me to enjoy the game or to give it my nod for the list.