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10 Amazing Games of the Last Generation

The seventh generation of video game consoles marked the transition to gaming in high definition. The advent of new consoles brought with it refined online connectivity and jaw-dropping graphics never before seen on home gaming consoles.

I personally came into the generation around 2010, about halfway through its lifespan. At the time, I had no idea just how much gaming was about to change, and I’m not sure many foresaw the coming of modern gaming trends like DLC and micro-transactions. We are not here today to talk about those often dreadfully abused innovations, and instead I’ll provide for you what I consider to be the ten best games of the seventh generations of game consoles!

I’m going to preface this list with a few rules. For a game to be eligible for the list I must have played it (duh) and it must be for one of the following consoles: Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3.

On to the list!

#10—Splatterhouse (PS3)

The first encounter I had with Namco’s Splatterhouse property occurred in the dimly lit side-room arcade at a local bowling alley. From what I can remember, the game was as brutally difficult as the graphics were, well, brutal. Splatterhouse was re-imagined in 2010 as a hilariously heavy metal beat-em-up action game, and while it had some serious flaws, I really like it as a game. The heavy metal soundtrack perfectly complemented the screaming of demons having their lungs ripped out through their butts. Thinking back, that might be the single most metal thing I’ve done in a video game.

#9—Wii Sports (Wii)

Nintendo struck gold with its motion control console the Nintendo Wii. During its lifetime, the console sold over one hundred-million units, and I believe that to be due greatly in part to the pack in title, Wii Sports. While nowhere as complex an affair as the other titles on the list, the popularity and accessibility of this game rivals any other game released in the 7th generation of game consoles. Sure, you could trick the game into believing you were making the motions required to play the game, but many games are susceptible to “cheese.” Before the release of the Wii and this game, I would never have believed I would see my grandparents play a video game. Wii Sports was a game that embodied its rating of E for everyone.

#8—Fallout: New Vegas

Of the two 3D Fallout titles to release during the 7th generation of consoles, Fallout: New Vegas pulls ahead of its predecessor due to excellent design decisions made by Obsidian Entertainment. While the Bethesda’s Gamebryo Engine was used in both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, Vegas proved to be a relatively stable affair thanks to the work of the developers. Relatively being the key phrase, because Fallout New Vegas still launched with more bugs than a Missouri summer. Fortunately, the story, world, characters, and gameplay are each masterfully crafted and justify a venture into a bug-filled post-apocalyptic Mohave. The Old-World Blues DLC is still one of the best DLCs I’ve played in the eight years since release.

#7—Castlevania: The Portrait of Ruin

Castlevania: The Portrait of Ruin marked my introduction into Konami’s legendary franchise. Having since played many of the other titles in the series, Portrait of Ruin remains my favorite Castlevania game of all time. This entry expanded upon the gameplay formula used in Symphony of the Night and Dawn of Sorrow and included over 100 unique enemies through its diverse locations. A multiplayer co-op mode and multiple single player game modes expanded Portrait of Ruin beyond its standard campaign. This game even featured an animated anime-style opening cinematic, and it absolutely blew me away at the time. It is a real shame that Nintendo Wi-Fi is no longer around to make use of the match made multiplayer for the boss rush mode.

#6—Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

While I enjoy both the prequel and sequel games in the Final Fantasy VII expanded universe, Crisis Core pulls ahead of Dirge of Cerberus slightly for the significance and impact of its story. Crisis Core shows the events leading up to Cloud’s acquisition of the signature Buster Sword. Knowing how the story would play out did little to soften the blow, and the conclusion stands to this day as one of the most morose moments in gaming history. This game felt like it perfected the materia system introduced in Final Fantasy VII, and the real-time action combat felt great on Sony’s PlayStation Portable.

#5—Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum Versions

Generation four of the decade old Pokémon franchise modernized the series with the introduction of the Global Trading System. I remember the late April release date clearly, as Pokémon Diamond Version was one of the first games I bought with my own money. It had rained that gloomy afternoon, but my evening was spent illuminated by the soft glow of a blue Nintendo DS. The Hokkaido-island-inspired Sinnoh region is one of the more interesting regional maps, with many of its cities based on real locations that correspond with in-game locations. Pokémon Platinum Version served as a two-year refresh of the same 4th generation Pokémon experience with additional content included.

#4—Portal 2

Portal 2 provided the perfect fusion of comedic narrative and space-portal puzzle gameplay. The second game takes place some time after the events of the first, though it is not necessary to play the first to understand the second. I’ve always seen Portal as being more of a proof of concept rather than a full-fledged experience, whereas Portal 2 perfected many of the ideas of the first game and added a ton of new ones. The final boss fight and credit sequence earns this game the fourth place on this list. If you’ve yet to think with portals, I recommend you give it a try.

#3—Halo 3

Halo 3 was my first venture into Xbox Live multiplayer gaming, and the first game I played in high definition. The graphics were so good that looking at the screen made my eyes hurt. Towards the end of the 7th generation, I was able to get an Xbox 360 of my own, and I played an obscene amount of the community created forge multiplayer content. Anyone up for some Fat Man, Resident Evil, or Mongoose sky track racing? Multiplayer progression was tied to a wide assortment of unlocks used to customize your player model.  Collecting the skulls hidden across the campaign unlocked the Hyabusa armor, the ultimate online status symbol. The final mission of the campaign served as a white knuckled conclusion to the Bungie Halo Trilogy.

Little did we know how much gaming was about to change.

#2—The Last of Us

The Last of Us is widely known for its cinematic approach to delivering one of the best stories ever to be told in a video game. Every character in this game is as authentic as the post-apocalyptic world they inhabit. Wrecking the world with a mutant strain of the Cordyceps makes for a zombie outbreak scenario that feels eerily rooted in reality, as a similar fungus is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The Last of Us is by classification a survival horror title, though careful decision making allowed the game to avoid the pitfalls that plague the genre. Implementing a stealth system allows use of a methodical approach to alleviate the artificial threat generated by item scarcity and replaces it with the threat of being spotted by a munchy mushroom man. The opening sequence of The Last of Us is second to none, and it serves as an effective narrative hook. I highly recommend playing this game if you have the means to do so. The enjoyment of a game is highly subjective, so it can be difficult to rank one game above another. However, were it possible for a game to be objectively good, this would be an example of the phenomenon.

#1—Alan Wake

The number one game on this list was almost Left 4 Dead, but I cut it at the last minute when I remembered how much I enjoyed this game. Left 4 Dead’s enjoyment hinges greatly on the presence of other players, and that takes away from the experience in my book. Had I included more multiplayer games, MAG (Massive Action Game) would have also made the list. Unfortunately, that game has been shut down for quite some time now.

(EDIT: Recently, Alan Wake became available with no alterations for $14.99 on GoG.com!)

Alan Wake is an action horror game that feels taken right from the minds of Stephen King and Rod Sterling. Alan Wake is a writer suffering from writer’s block and for this reason he and his wife seek sanctuary from the bustle of city life in idyllic Bright Falls, Washington. Following a car crash, Alan’s wife goes missing and he begins to discover the pages to a novel he does not remember writing, and the novel begins to come true.

The residents of Bright Falls have been overtaken by shadows. The darkness can possess all manner of things and is only vulnerable to light. This mechanic makes combat tense, as you must burn the shadow off an enemy before you can dispatch them with a conventional weapon.

The game plays out across six episodes, each paced like a television miniseries. The music and sound design lend well to the feeling of playing a part in a show like The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Darkside. Alan Wake has become more difficult to find and digital storefronts have pulled the game due to recent music licensing issues. Prospective players should look for an Xbox 360 Physical copy for use with the backwards compatibility feature of the Xbox One for the best experience.

The ten games featured on this list are only a fraction of the games from the 7th generation I enjoyed. There are so many, I couldn’t practically include them all. Let me know what your favorite games of the 7th generation are in the comments section. I look forward to hearing all about them.

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