It’s almost time for a new generation of consoles, so it’s time to look back at this generation. There were so many memorable moments over the last eight years, and these are my personal Top 10.
1. The Gears of War “MadWorld” Trailer
This trailer sold me on Gears of War. I didn’t need to see anything else, I was ready to buy it. That was the first time an introductory trailer made me want a game that bad. The music, the environment, the Corpser that attacks Marcus at the end, the Locusts creeping up on him while he fired at the Corpser…..all of it was amazing. Then there was the ending. The Corpser raised its legs and came down on Marcus, and the screen went black as the words “Mad World” faded out. Awesome!
2. Playing Assassin’s Creed 2
This game was an improvement in every way over the first. The story, the setting, the gameplay, everything was perfected in this sequel. Even now, this remains the best game in the series in my opinion, and one of the best games of the generation. Check out @RealGoesRight’s write up on the entire series.
3. Playing Batman: Arkham Asylum.
I’ve been a Batman fan all my life, and I was waiting for a truly great Batman game. This was definitely it. Rocksteady nailed everything that made Batman great, from the combat to the exploration. How else do you enhance the experience? You get the cast of one of the greatest animated series ever, Batman: The Animated Series. Kevin Conway and Mark Hamill, the best Batman and Joker ever, lent their voices to the game and its sequel. It really felt like I was playing an episode of the show. Combine that with Rocksteady’s attention to detail and fan service and you have one of the greatest comic book games ever, surpassed only by its sequel, Arkham City.
4. The Walking Dead Episodes 1-5
Telltale Games took a genre that had lost popularity over the last decade or so and breathed new life into it with this episodic game. By turning it into a “point and click” adventure game, Telltale was able to focus on the story between Lee and Clementine. There has only been one other time I was as immersed in a game as this, and I’ll get to that one shortly. Every choice I made had weight and as I closed in on the end of the story, they were all thrown in my face. I had to face everything I’d done to that point. This is the one time I can say I loved that I didn’t want to go back and play a game again. I wanted that story to be my one and only playthrough. I wanted that to be permanent. Amazing experience.
5. Mass Effect 2’s Last Mission/Ending
The Mass Effect series was groundbreaking, the universe was expansive, and the amount of time and care that went into crafting it is nothing short of impressive. The last mission of the game was a test of not only what you learned over the course of the game, but just how much attention you paid to the game. I can admit that I did not fully upgrade my ship before assaulting the Collectors, and I paid dearly for it as I started the mission. I was helpless as I watched the Collector ship tear through the Normandy and kill off crew and party members. Once we entered the Collector ship, the ensuing tasks left me to choose who in my party would do what. Choose wrong, that member dies. At the end, my Commander Shepard was left with no one but Joker, Jacob and Miranda as the Reapers made their way to earth…That went well. As the middle game in the trilogy, BioWare had their hands full trying to find a way to successfully bridge the gap between the beginning and the end of the overall story, and they did just that.
6. Gamer’s Responses to Mass Effect 3’s Ending
The ending to Mass Effect 3 divided gamers all over. Some found the open ended ending to be acceptable, but the majority wanted blood…or at least a more definitive ending. I was disappointed with the ending mainly because of just how concrete the story had been to that point. To end it in that way didn’t seem to fit what BioWare had been doing. Gamers flooded message boards and social media accounts demanding that BioWare fix the ending, and then something unusual happened. BioWare fixed the ending. They offered extending cutscenes that gave us more insight into what happened and how our choice affected the Mass Effect Universe while never actually compromising their original vision. This moment showed that gamers can speak to developers and they’ll listen. Sometimes anyway. Now if everyone could just get up in arms about Madden, Call of Duty, etc…..
7. Gears of War 2: Dom Finds Maria
I love the Gears of War Series (excluding Judgment). I still believe it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves for its combination of storytelling and gameplay, and this is the moment I point to whenever I make a case for it. If you played the first one, you know of the search Dom is going through to find his wife, Maria. You also know of the brotherhood between Marcus and Dom. This is the point in the game where both collide. Dom gets a lead on where the Locust took his wife and Marcus heads right out with him. After a firefight Dom locates Maria, and the pod she’s in opens. Out she stumbles, fatigued but otherwise no worse for wear. Dom embraces her and Marcus looks on, sadly calling Dom and…well you should just watch it. Still gets me.
8. Gears of War 3: Dom’s Death
One last time for Gears of War. In the third entry in the series, Dom is withdrawn after what happened with Maria in the previous game. He’s grown a shaggy beard, and he’s just distant overall. Looking back now, Epic foreshadowed this throughout the game. This moment was enhanced not just by the marketing for the game with the tagline “Brothers to the End,” but also by the callback to the “Mad World” trailer. It brought all the emotions associated with the game to the forefront, and Marcus’ reaction made it all the more powerful. Another reason this series shouldn’t be overlooked in terms of storytelling.
9. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Final Boss
The Zelda series is my all-time favorite gaming series. The moment I heard this would be set as the very first game in the timeline, I was ready to play. It didn’t disappoint. The boss battle itself was admittedly very simple, as most Zelda bosses tend to be. However, it was still fun, and the words of Demise after you defeat him strike a chord with any Zelda fan as he curses Link and Zelda’s descendants with his evil. Nintendo gave us a definitive beginning to the Zelda story and nailed it.
10. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
This is the game that started the COD craze, and rightfully so. Infinity Ward made their mark on the gaming world by bringing the previously WW2 based Call of Duty to the present. From the incredible Shock and Awe sequence, to the at the time innovative multiplayer, Modern Warfare raised the bar for all shooters to come in the future. Even today, with some gamers getting tired of the series, its shown no signs of slowing down. Hopefully Treyarch or Infinity Ward can find a way to get back to this level.
So that’s my top 10, be sure to check out the top 10 lists from @RealGoesRight and @JerzeeBalla and leave a comment to let us know what you think!