With the next console generation coming up quick, it’s natural to start thinking about all of the great games that were released during this extraordinarily long console generation. Because this console generation spanned eight years, it’s easy to forget about some of the gems were released a few years back. I have chosen 20 games that I feel were the best this generation had to offer.
Writer’s note: I came into this console generation late, and haven’t had time to play all of the games I want to play. Also, this is a list of console and PC games, and does not include handheld games. If the games were also available on handheld, however, that is listed. These are not necessarily in any particular order.
The Last of Us–PS3
As a huge fan of the Uncharted series on the PlayStation 3, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Last of Us, developer Naughty Dog’s next project, when it was announced. Finally, after a year and a half of waiting, I picked up what would become my favorite game of all time on June 14, 2013.
I didn’t think it would be possible for me to love a game more than Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, but The Last of Us proved me wrong. Never have I been so attached to a game’s characters, so amazed by the breathtaking visuals, nor have I ever had an experience quite like The Last of Us. Not only is the story told in a way that’s never been done before, but the gameplay is extremely well done and addictive. I hate to call a game like The Last of Us “fun,” because it’s such a dark game, but I had a great time playing it. I played through the game six times, and I plan on revisiting it later so I can enjoy it all over again. I recommend The Last of Us to every gamer I meet, because it is an experience that no one should miss out on.
Red Dead Redemption–PS3/360
Many people told me that they weren’t sure if I was going to enjoy Red Dead Redemption because, at that time, I had never played anything like it. I hadn’t played any of the GTA games, or really anything open world. Despite what others told me, I tried it out and fell in love with it immediately.
Red Dead Redemption tells one of the greatest stories in the history of video games. The gameplay is so much fun; as I’ve heard it described before, it’s like “GTA in the old west.” Any gamer who enjoys an enthralling story and fun, addictive gameplay should not miss out on Red Dead Redemption (Be sure to get that “Dastardly” achievement).
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception–PS3
After platinuming Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, I anxiously awaited the release of the third game in the series, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. When I first played the third (and possibly final) entry in the series, I couldn’t put the controller down. The story sucked me in immediately and I played for about eight hours straight before realizing that I needed to eat dinner. Uncharted 3 was my favorite game of all time up until I played The Last of Us, and it’s still an extremely close second. Some felt that it would be impossible for Naughty Dog to top what they did in Uncharted 2, but they were proven wrong. At the time, the graphics were groundbreaking and a huge improvement from Uncharted 2. The gameplay is a huge improvement from the second installment of the series as well. Greg Edmonson, as always, did an incredible job composing the score for the game. Anyone who enjoys a great adventure with characters that will leave a lasting impression on you forever should go play Uncharted 3 right now. (It’s free for PlayStation Plus members!)
Super Mario Galaxy 2–Wii
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of Mario’s greatest adventures to date. Having been a huge fan of the first Super Mario Galaxy, I picked up its sequel on day one. I was immediately taken aback by just how great it was. The gameplay is so much fun; I couldn’t put the Wii remote down once I started playing. The visuals are very impressive for a Wii game. In addition to the gameplay and graphics, it has one of the greatest video game soundtracks I’ve ever heard. Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes what the original did and improved upon it. It is possibly the best Mario game ever made.
Heavy Rain is the first game I played on the PlayStation 3, and it will always be one of my favorites. From the first time I watched my fiancé play it, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I bought a PS3 just so I could play it. The concept of making choices that would affect my entire game really interested me. I went on to earn the Platinum trophy for the game because I loved it so much. David Cage is a genius, and I will buy anything that he makes.
I went into Gone Home not knowing anything about it. All I knew was that a lot of people were telling me that I had to play it. I’m glad I listened to them. Gone Home is a touching little game that every gamer needs to play. I don’t want to say too much about it, because I think it has more of an impact when you go in blind. What I can say is that it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played.
BioShock will forever be remembered as one of the greatest, most special games in history. The underwater city of Rapture is more like a living, breathing character than a setting. I will never forget the time I spent in Rapture. BioShock was one of the first PlayStation 3 games that I completed, and I’m still playing it to this day. Every gamer owes it to him/herself to give this game a shot.
Grand Theft Auto V–PS3/360
With all the hype that surrounded Grand Theft Auto V before its release, it was crucial that Rockstar delivered on its promise to make the best GTA yet. It’s obvious that the game was well received, earning $800 million after only being on the shelves for 24 hours. After only being available for three days, it made $1 billion. Gamers everywhere are still buzzing about how great the game is. I think it’s the greatest open-world game I’ve ever played. Initially, I didn’t plan on buying it because I wanted to focus on schoolwork, but I couldn’t resist. After purchasing it on day one, I poured hours into the game (Don’t worry, I kept my grades up). Grand Theft Auto V is the quintessential open world action-adventure game of this generation.
Anyone who has played Journey will tell you that its an experience like no other. It’s very difficult to describe how or why Journey affects people emotionally the way that it does, and my best advice to anyone who’s on the fence about it is to just play it. It is truly a work of art.
I feel that the Yakuza series is one of the most underrated game series, at least here in America. A lot of people are hesitant to try it because it’s a Japanese game with English subtitles, but reading is a small price to pay for one of the best fighting games out there. Sure, it’s not perfect; sometimes it gets annoying when you’re trying to explore Kamurocho and some random guy comes up and wants to fight you, but, all in all, Yakuza 3 delivered one of the best stories I’ve ever seen in a video game.
LittleBigPlanet 2 took what the original had and made it even better. The game has an almost endless replay value due to the thousands of user-created levels you can play online. It is one of the few games that I actually enjoy playing online. I love seeing what people can create. I am constantly amazed by the quality of some of the levels; some levels are better than the levels that the developers created! I don’t think I will ever get tired of dressing up my Sackboy and going on an adventure.
The Walking Dead–The Game–PS3/360/PC/Vita
Having never read the comic books or watched the TV show, I went into the game knowing nothing about the series. I was instantly engrossed in the story. Telltale Games did a magnificent job of creating memorable characters. Even in the Season 1 downloadable content, 500 Days, you are instantly emotionally involved with the characters, even though you don’t spend much time with them. Telltale Games have really made a name for themselves, and I will buy anything they make on day one. I am looking forward to playing The Wolf Among Us.
In Limbo, you play as a silhouette of a little boy who is stuck in a creepy forest. You don’t know why you’re there or what your objective is, you just know that you have to try to survive. Limbo is very special, and it’s hard to explain why. It will challenge you with its puzzles and keep you engaged up until the very end. It’s just one of those games that everyone needs to play.
The story of Elizabeth and Booker is one that anyone who plays it will remember forever. Some argue that it would have been better as a movie, and that it was unnecessary for it to be a first-person shooter, but we can all agree that is has an amazing narrative that makes it one of the most memorable gaming experiences of all time.
I never played the original Tomb Raider games, so I was very excited when I heard that there would be a reimagination of the series. From the moment I began playing, I was addicted. The gameplay is so much fun and there is always something to do. Fans of the original games as well as newcomers will definitely enjoy Lara Croft’s adventure.
Far Cry 3–PS3/360/PC
Far Cry 3 is one of the best open world games I have ever played. Despite the main character, Jason Brody, being totally unlikeable, the game is insanely fun. You can punch sharks, hunt, climb radio towers, and explore the island to your heart’s desire. The gameplay in Far Cry 3 is what makes it shine.
Donkey Kong Country Returns–Wii/3DS
A remake of one of the most beloved classics of all time, Donkey Kong Country Returns does not disappoint fans of the series. The gameplay is just as fun as it was on the Super Nintendo. It is definitely one of the best games on the Wii, and it’s also one of the best games of this generation.
Plants Vs. Zombies–PS3/360/PC/Android/iOS/3DS/Vita (pretty much everything you can think of)
Plants Vs. Zombies is one of PopCap’s most beloved franchises, and for good reason. It’s a cute little tower defense game where you have to keep the zombies off of your lawn. I’ve spent hours playing this game; it just never gets old. It’s great for people of all ages.
FEZ is a beautiful game about a little guy named Gomez. It’s a puzzle platformer that continuously challenges you. The soundtrack is perfect and really sets the mood for the game. Developer Phil Fish was planning on making a sequel, but he cancelled it just a month after its announcement.
Beyond: Two Souls–PS3
When I first started playing Beyond: Two Souls, David Cage’s latest game, I wasn’t so sure if it was going to live up to my expectations. It was very different from what I was expecting. Actually, I’m not so sure what I was expecting. As I kept playing, I fell in love with it. I grew very attached to the main character, Jodie Holmes, and I loved how the story wasn’t told in a chronological format. The story spans 15 years of Jodie’s life, and it jumps from when she’s a child to when she’s an adult and then back to her childhood again. It can be confusing at first, but it really grew on me. Beyond is different, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to play something different. I also recommend that non-gamers try it out, because it is so different from what people expect from video games today.