Saturday, January 4, 2014

The ten best games of the last console generation, according to John

Earlier, Jake posted his ten defining games of the last console generation. Here's John's take.

(Ed. note: Ten more games, how 'bout. I definitely agree on some of Jake's choices.)

10. Wii Sports
Swish and flick.
It’s not the best game of the last generation, but more than anything, even Portal, I feel that this game defines it. This brought video gaming to an entirely new audience: everyone. Despite some general wonkiness with the controls, this game is excellent and fun to play, and it has unreal replayability. This game is fun.

9. Mortal Kombat (2011)
There hasn’t been a Mortal Kombat this fun since Mortal Kombat II and, being a sucker for story modes, I think that this one is the best Mortal Kombat of them all. The controls are excellent, the deaths are excessive and grisly, and the game has so many modes to keep your bloodthirst well and sated.

8. Uncharted
I’m going to go with the series as a whole for this one, as the first one is good, not great, the second is excellent, and the third is a little too “Naughty Dog and the Storytelling Style of The Last of Us” for me to consider it great, even though it is quite good. In my opinion, this and Assassin’s Creed are the original IPs that defined and made the action genre great last generation.

7. Crackdown
Saint’s Row fans owe a lot to this game. This game is GTA on super-powered crack without the infuriating characters. It’s been a long time since I’ve played it, but I seem to recall the protag being silent, and that’s perhaps why I had so much fun with this game… and so little with GTA. I wish I had my 360 with me so I could boot this up right now.

6. Assassin’s Creed II
This is pretty old now, but this was the third game I played last generation that made me think, “Good lord, what took me so long to play this?” This is a fantastic sandbox game set in a time of humanity’s burgeoning enlightenment to the world and its wonders and with Ezio, one of the best personalities in video games. And Leonardo Da Vinci is a character: it doesn’t get any better than that.

5. Demon’s Souls / Dark Souls
This is low on my list for the same reason that Deadly Premonition is on Jake’s. I’ve written so much about this already that I don’t need to say much more. This game will rock your cock down to your socks and you’ll love and hate every minute of it.

The original sniper mission is hard to top.
4. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty has become the war equivalent of an EA Sports game, but COD4:MW is from a time when the games actually told stories and attempted to mean something. This is one of my favorite games of all time with excellent controls, a heart-breaking story, and gorgeous visuals back when the whole idea of a really cinematic game was still a pipe dream. This game made Call of Duty a household name, and for good reason.

3. Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar is an amazing studio. As much as I don’t like Grand Theft Auto, I adore Red Dead Redemption. This is what GTA should be in terms of depth of character and story, beauty of scenery, and playability. Driving a car in GTA has never been as satisfying as riding a horse in RDR and the wide-open areas just scream to be explored, unlike the massively impressive cityscapes of Liberty City and its ilk where you’re likely to steal three or four cars and kill about twenty re-spawning pedestrians on your way from mission to mission. RDR is calmer, and I appreciate that.

2. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
All due respect to Jake’s choice (Order of Ecclesia is a good choice), Dawn of Sorrow is the best Castlevania game of the last generation, and an easy 1A to Symphony of the Night for best Castlevania game ever. Dawn of Sorrow is like Wii Sports in the sense that it showcased all of the potential the original DS had to offer with great music (when wearing headphones), a huge castle to explore, and the necessity to use the touch screen during boss fights to cast the spell that finishes them off for good, which, at the time, was absolutely unheard of and revolutionary. Whenever someone asks me about which Metroidvania I would recommend for them to play (which, to date, is never), this and Symphony are always the two I mention.

1. Valkyria Chronicles

It's a rag-tag bunch, to be sure.
This is a game about which I don’t talk enough. There are three Valkyria games, with 2 and 3 on PSP (3 only in Japan), but I’ve chosen the first one for the PS3 as my other number one for last generation (after all, Portal is the correct answer, as posited by Jake). In this game, you take the role of a tank commander of a fictional European country in an alternate World War II as you lead rebel forces and attempt to drive the imperial invaders out of your home country. The gameplay is interesting, as it’s a turn-based third person strategy shooter. It sounds weird, but it works amazingly well as you first position your team members around the map, then selectively move and attack with each of them a set amount of times each turn. This is also a rare game for me for which I actually purchased and played the DLC, as you continue both the story and the training of your little army. I played this game an absolute ton back when I first got it, and it’s left an indelible impression on me. 

And it’s by Sega, not that that matters. C’mooooooooon, Shenmue 3.

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