Top 10 Games of the Generation - Article

By Brent Galietti, November 17, 2013
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Here we are - the closing of this generation of video game systems. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are arriving on store shelves and are joining Nintendo's Wii U in the marketplace, thus restarting the chaotic battle for the gaming consumer's dollar. It was a generation of miracles visually, as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 brought console gamers into the HD realm. The Wii, the underpowered member of the triumvirate, ended up shocking the world by tapping into a whole new audience and riding that momentum into a revenue windfall. On the handheld side of things, the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS overlapped with much of the console generation and saw Nintendo's dual screen handheld set numerous sales records, while Sony's first foray into portable gaming didn't end in a crash and burn like many other competing handhelds had done in the past.

Over the years, so many games came out that pleased gamers on all parts of the spectrum. Games like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed became mega hits that now thrill their fanbases on an annual basis, while small indie developers rose up to prominence with games that entertained us and moved us, such as Journey and To The Moon. All in all, anyone who has an interest in the video game medium had something this generation that they could enjoy and remember fondly.

To send off this generation of gaming, we present to your our Top 10 Games of the Generation. First, we'll post our individual Top 10 rankings with commentary, then we'll wrap it up with our overall Top 10 Games of the Generation, as decided by the combined votes of the gamrReview staff. Sit back, grab a snack of your choice and enjoy.

Systems included: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, PC games released during this time frame.



Gordon Bryant



1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition
2. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
3. Ratchet and Clank Future: a Crack in Time
4. Red Dead Redemption
5. Pokemon Black/White
6. Portal 2
7. Rock Band 2
8. Donkey Kong Country Returns
9. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
10. Assassin's Creed II

Surprisingly enough, it was quite hard to pick a top ten favorites list because many of my favorite works are really only good as a collective piece. For example, Assassin's Creed II on its own is a great game, but as a collective work it's easily one of the best examples of yearly, episodic content. Similar love can be shared with Ratchet and Clank; while A Crack in Time is an amazing game on its own, it's the franchise that has that entry so high on the list.

However, there are many entries in my list that are there simply for blowing me away. I placed The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim atop my list because it feels like that game was made specifically with me in mind. An open-world fantasy game with one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring worlds ever digitally shared with tonnes of quest lines, locales, and gameplay styles. Even the infamous number and 'quality' of the glitches remained mostly hidden from me, as I managed to play for over 100 consecutive hours without so much as a single game-freezing bug.

Thinking about it, "Sheer volume of content" is a running theme in my top ten games of the generation, as Skyrim, Smash Brothers, Red Dead Redemption, Pokemon Black/White, Rock Band 2 (with the aid of my not-inconsiderable volume of additional DLC), and Assassin's Creed II are all games with mountainous heaps of content. Finally, Portal 2 was a great game with tonnes of humor, and Donkey Kong Country Returns was a nostalgia-soaked return to my childhood that managed to impress. 



William D'Angelo



1. Alan Wake
2. Halo 4
3. Minecraft
4. Gears of War 2
5. Fable II
6. Portal 2
7. Left 4 Dead
8. Crackdown
9. Dead Rising
10. Halo: Reach



Brent Galietti



1. Valkyria Chronicles
2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations
3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
4. Super Mario Galaxy 2
5. Valkyria Chronicles II
6. Super Mario Galaxy
7. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
8. Rayman Legends
9. Portal 2
10. Audiosurf

There were so many games that I enjoyed this generation that picking a Top 10 was a painful decision. Eventually I ended up with this list. I spent so much time riding the music-based racetracks of Audiosurf that it was my clear favorite indie title. Rayman's rebirth in this generation showed just how great the 2D Platformer can be, while the Super Mario Galaxy duology did the same on the 3D side. Valve delivered a wonderful and charming puzzle game in Portal, then made it even better with Portal 2. Super Smash Bros. Brawl updated the popular fighting series and was the biggest digital Nintendo encyclopedia in history. And I can't say enough about the amazing storylines and hilarity of the Ace Attorney series; I strongly suggest you all give it a try.

But for me, the greatest game of the generation was a game that made me think about the harshness and realities of war, redefined my perception of the strategy RPG genre and offered the most breathtaking art style I have ever seen. That game was Sega's strategy RPG, Valkyria Chronicles, which released only on the PlayStation 3. Valkyria Chronicles tells the story of Europa, an alternate version of Europe during World War II. The East Europan Imperial Alliance invades Gallia looking to obtain a precious mineral, ragnite ore, and players must take up arms with the Gallian militia to repel the threat.

That plot may not be the most original, but how Valkyria Chronicles presents it is wonderful. The game's watercolor painting style is beautiful in motion, belying the horrible truths of war. It shows that war is not black and white, but rather a grey area of two flawed forces in battle with each other. Soldiers on both sides of the war are humanized, with soldiers talking to each other about their personal lives and what they'll do when they go home, which is sobering knowing that for many of these people, they will never return home. Racism and concentration camps are brought out in full light with the discrimination against the Darcsen people, bearing a strong relation to the real-world concentration camps in World War II (and the Japanese internment camps in the United States).

All the while, a band of militia misfits, Squad 7, rises up from volunteers looking to protect their towns into the most famous war heroes of their time. They are full of various personalities, some bright and cheerful, others dark and horrifying. And even though you can switch out most units at any time without much affect on the overall story, each unit has his or her own character traits, likes and dislikes, and feels like a real person, not a super soldier whose only goal is to kill. 

The experience of Valkyria Chronicles is something that no gamer should miss out on.



Noah Glaser



1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2. Dead Space 
3. Fallout 3
4. BioShock
5. Portal 2
6. Super Mario Galaxy 
7. Resident Evil 5
8. Halo: Reach
9. Left 4 Dead
10. Ivy the Kiwi?



Xavier Griffiths



1. Super Mario Galaxy 2
2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
3. Rayman Origins
4. Super Smash Brothers Brawl
5. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
6. LittleBigPlanet
7. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
8. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
9. Resistance: Fall of Man
10. Halo 3


Arthur Kabrick



1) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2) BioShock Infinite
3) BioShock
4) Portal 2
5) Mass Effect 3
6) Mass Effect 2
7) Grand Theft Auto V
8) The Last of Us
9) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
10) God of War III

This has been a brilliant generation for gaming, and even narrowing it down to ten games was quite a task. One game, however, manages to edge out all of the rest. No, Skyrim didn't have the best combat mechanics or AI of the generation, but it had something more important than either of those things. It had an extraordinary world, open for exploration, filled with all manner of sights and secrets. You could travel Skyrim for hundreds of hours, far beyond the point at which most games start lose their charm, and still not have seen even half of what it has to offer. How many games can boast that level of depth and immersion? The true joy of the game is to wander through beautifully realised landscapes, listening to one of the finest soundtracks in gaming history, and reacting to the world as it reacts to you. You really do choose your own adventure: you select your character's appearance, their skills, their allegiances; you direct their travels; you choose and guide their quests and relationships. For hours on end, you are no longer sitting in your chair in front of a screen; you, the Dragonborn, are wandering and exploring a world, and that really is the sign of a masterfully crafted game.



Jared Katz



1. Portal
2. Super Mario Galaxy 
3. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
4. Rayman Origins 
5. Xenoblade
6. Mass Effect
7. Valkyria Chronicles 
8. Elite Beat Agents
9. Bayonetta 
10. Kirby's Canvas Curse



Karl Koebke



1. To the Moon
2. Valkyria Chronicles
3. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
4. Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
5. Dark Souls
6. Xenoblade Chronicles 
7. flower
8. Skate 2
9. Civilization V 
10. Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland


I'm one of those gamers who loves a compelling story more than just about anything, and of all the games I played this generation To the Moon was the best at scratching that itch. Sure, the gameplay is basically "walk up to this thing and interact with it to continue" but I couldn't care less. Instead of focusing on that it was the game's beautifully told love story that really hooked me. It's the kind of relationship you don't see in games often because it felt truly real, with all the problems and confusing feelings that come with real romance. One particular moment I'll never forget put together a heart rending turn of events with the perfect song and had me crying my eyes out. All this from some 8 bit graphics and text narrative. For reminding me what one can do with so little, To the Moon was my favorite game of this last generation.



Nick Pantazis



1) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2) Journey
3) Super Mario Galaxy
4) To the Moon
5) Portal 2
6) Mass Effect 3
7) Grand Theft Auto V
8) Valkyria Chronicles 
9) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
10) Guild Wars 2


I did not like Oblivion. I always thought that made me weird, and I never fully understood why. When I play games, I play them to explore and imagine. I want to be part of another world, and feel like that world is alive and alien. I should have liked Oblivion, but I didn't. So when I went into Skyrim I fully expected... well, disappointment. I expected to find the hype undeserved. I expected to find the world dull, lifeless, and not at all engaging. What I got was vibrant, shocking, and unique. I found a world that was massive, but not stretched. I found characters with hidden stories. I found 200 hours of content enhanced by dozens of mods as I played a game in which the mods were integrated right into my gaming service for the first time ever. The combat still wasn't perfect, but the world was. The plot wasn't amazing, but I made my own story. Skyrim will stick with me as a massive, complete, and wondrous experience - bountiful and memorable, for many years of my life to come.



Daniel Share-Strom



1. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
2. Super Mario Galaxy
3. The Last of Us
4. Super Mario Galaxy 2
5. Heavy Rain
6. Batman: Arkham City
7. BioShock
8. Resident Evil 5
9. Batman: Arkham Asylum
10. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories


Picking my top game out of the literally hundreds that I’ve played over the last eight years felt… pretty much impossible. If we’re talking in terms of moving storytelling in games forward, Heavy Rain, BioShock, and The Last of Us were emotional and philosophical thrill rides. The Batman games proved that licensed properties are capable of hanging with the best the industry has to offer. The atmospheric Silent Hill: Shattered Memories made you feel like a helpless child running away from invincible monsters. And of course, Super Mario Galaxy, which fought to the death for the top spot, came out when the Wii was in top game-drought form and proved that, for my money, Nintendo is still the most imaginative and talented game developer in the industry.

In terms of pure balls-to-the wall insanity and fun, though? For me, no other game this generation held a candle to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that simultaneously brought my friends together and tore them apart so much. Thousands of hours of my life have been devoted to laughing and swearing at the TV as Ike Great Aether’ed someone into oblivion, that cheap-ass Bowser grabbed someone and leapt off the screen with them, and a random Bob-omb foiled someone’s assured victory by trundling up and saying ‘boom’. Yes, it has its problems — Meta Knight is horribly broken and the online mode wouldn’t have been out of place in 1995. But when the game does so much else right, including a fangasmic crossover story campaign, epic supermoves with the Final Smashes, and even allowing Mario to finally square off against Sonic the Hedgehog(!), there is really no other choice for my top game of the seventh console generation.



Craig Snow



1. Portal
2. BioShock
3. Dota 2
4. Mirror's Edge
5. The Company of Myself
6. GRID
7. Portal 2
8. Mass Effect 2
9. Prince of Persia (2008)
10. Rayman Origins


There are several reasons I've picked Portal as my favourite game of the generation. First and most obvious is the humour. No other game has had me laughing at loud to such an extent. Ellen McClain's delivery of the lines as GLaDOS was excellent, the writing better still. Secondly, the story. Arthur and I argue about this often (he doesn't think Portal even has a story), but for me Portal contains a superbly subtle form of storytelling that wipes the floor with the heavy-handed narratives of almost every 'story-driven' game that's been developed this generation. Portal is a game full of secrets and nods towards the greater universe that Aperture Science inhabits (namely, Valve's Half-Life universe). It's full, also, of cutesy, clever, psychopathic humour and an unrivalled sense of originality and innovation, both in terms of gameplay and presentation. Portal is my game of the generation.



Connor Weller



1. Xenoblade Chronicles
2. The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword
3. Super Mario Galaxy 2
4. Grand Theft Auto V
5. BioShock
6. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations
7. The Last Of Us
8. Tales of Graces F
9. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
10. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn


Selecting a game to be "the" best game of the generation was always going to be tricky, but Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii manages to stand out from the crowd for me. It's fair to say that those people discounting the game because "It's on the Wii" or for a similar reason are truly missing out on not only the greatest RPG of the past decade, but quite possibly the best overall game as well. A well crafted story lasting the best part of 100 hours with an outstanding soundtrack and scenery, hundreds upon hundreds of sidequests, likeable characters, and a streamlined-yet-deep battle system made my stay in the lands of Bionis and Mechonis incredibly enjoyable. In a generation which has arguably had depressingly few "great" JRPG's, Xenoblade Chronicles stood out even more and, in my opinion, moved the genre forwards into the 21st century. It is for these reasons that this game, amid so many great AAA blockbusters, deserves that top spot.



Jake Weston



1. Red Dead Redemption
2. Batman: Arkham Asylum 
3. Valkyria Chronicles
4. The Last of Us 
5. Uncharted 2
6. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
7. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
8. Mass Effect 2
9. Spec Ops: The Line
10. Journey



And without further ado:

Top 10 Games of the Generation

Ties broken by number of first-place votes



1. Super Mario Galaxy
2. Portal 2
3. Valkyria Chronicles
4. BioShock
5. Super Mario Galaxy 2
6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
7. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
8. The Last Of Us
9. Xenoblade Chronicles
10. Portal

Nintendo had to make a big splash with their Wii Mario title, after some fans felt the Gamecube entry, Super Mario Sunshine, did not live up to the series' high standards. Super Mario Galaxy not only achieved that goal, it became one of the best Mario titles ever made. It brought Mario into outer space, freeing him from the chains of Earth and unleashing the developer's creativity. Each level had various new features and challenges, often aboard small planetoids of varying sizes. This level structure allowed for the imagination of the developers to run wild and the end result was an incredibly wacky, cool, and fun experience. It wowed us so much that, once the dust had settled and the votes had been counted, we named it our Game of the Generation.

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