Eight to Consider: Games of Last Generation – Part One

I’ve been pondering over this list for some time now. I’ve wanted to discuss my favorite games of last generation, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. As you may or may not know, Eight to Consider is an ongoing feature here at GAJ and usually consists of a list of eight items related to a certain topic, but with all the games I had to choose from, eight just felt too small. I didn’t want to bog the list down with too many games, but I wanted to discuss a good number. I ended up deciding on 20 because it just felt right to me, so let’s just pretend the title of this article actually makes sense.

The next question I had to ask myself was, “What exactly should be considered last generation?” Should I include PC exclusives or handheld games that technically haven’t changed generations? Should I consider the Wii as last generation or the Wii U or both since there’s a bit of a grey area there? Should I include HD re-releases or compilations? Well I went with what I felt was the most obvious way to handle it. I decided to keep the list strictly confined to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 library (since that’s where I played a majority of my games anyway) and if it was on the system at any point, it was fair game. This includes all retail games, as well as games available exclusively via download from PSN and XBLA.

(Shout out to the original The Binding of Isaac because it never made its way to consoles, so it doesn’t fit the criteria for this list, but it’s fantastic and you should play it.)

With all that out of the way, what follows are my favorite games from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (as well as a few extras sprinkled throughout). Here are the first 10 of 20 games from last generation for your consideration.

20. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Platforms: PSN, XBLA, Windows Phone, Windows 8, Windows RT, Steam, iOS, Android

Starting things off is a fantastic entry in the Pac-Man series. Championship Edition DX is, far and away, the best Pac-Man game I’ve ever played. By taking the great foundation that the original Championship Edition built and ratcheting the intensity up to 11, DX is a truly special game. It is all about memorizing patterns, while traversing each maze at insane speeds and was some of the most fun I had on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

19. Fable II

Platforms: Xbox 360

The Fable series is a bit of a divisive one. I never played the original Fable and Fable III left much to be desired, but Fable II hit all the right notes for me and I fell in love with it. It was the perfect blend of adventure, RPG, and action, just deep enough to keep things interesting, but not overly complicated like so many games of the genre tend to be. Now that it is backwards compatible with Xbox One, it might be one of the reasons I end up picking up Microsoft’s new console.

18. South Park: The Stick of Truth

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

South Park: The Stick of Truth might just be the biggest surprise on this list. With all the ups and downs it faced during development and with it being a licensed game, the fact that it turned out well was a bit of a shocker. Not only did it turn out well, it’s actually pretty damn great RPG. As a long time fan of South Park, getting a game that actually did justice to the show was a long time coming and well worth the wait. Granted, The Stick of Truth probably isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever enjoyed an episode of South Park, do yourself a favor and give this one a try.

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Honorable Mentions:
Batman: Arkham Asylum | BIT.TRIP Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien | Borderlands 2 | Braid | Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons | Castle Crashers | Child of Light |Costume Quest | Darksiders | Dragon Age: Origins | Dragon’s Crown 
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
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17. Rock Band 2

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Wii

This right here was, in my humble opinion, the pinnacle of the rhythm game. Some believe Rock Band 3 was the best in the series, but I felt it got a bit watered down with the addition of the keyboard and because of that the game’s track list suffered. Rock Band 2, on the other hand, took everything great about the original game, refined it, and made a near perfect experience. While the track list wasn’t quite as good as the first game, being able to import the original’s songs made for a complete and satisfying rock show. On top of all that, the sheer amount of downloadable songs made Rock Band 2 a game with nearly endless replayability. Perhaps the greatest attribute of Rock Band 2 is all the fun times and good memories it help create and for all those reasons it more than earns its spot on this list.

16. Resident Evil 5

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Shield Android TV

Resident Evil 5 isn’t quite as good as its predecessor, Resident Evil 4, but it’s still a great, underrated game. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for RE4 coming before it, RE5 would probably be a much more lauded over game. Granted, the addition of co-op wasn’t welcome, thanks to the terrible AI. Outside of that one complaint, Resident Evil 5 is and will always remain one of my favorite action games from the PS3/Xbox 360 generation and if you’ve never played it you can even pick it up Xbox One and PS4 now.

15. Tomb Raider

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider is another game that surprised the hell out of me. I’ve never been a big fan of the series, for a variety of reasons, so I was skeptical about this reimagining of Lara Croft. Well, it turns out that Tomb Raider is one of the best action games to release in years. There is so much to love from the exploration to the combat to the actual tomb raiding. It’s a nearly perfect experience and another game you can check out on current generation consoles if you missed it the first time around.

14. Bastion

Platforms: Xbox 360, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, iOS

Bastion is the total package. It’s gorgeous, has one of my favorite soundtracks, and is an absolute joy to play. I’ve played through Bastion at least half a dozen times on a variety of platforms and each playthrough is always just enjoyable as the last. With a variety of upgrades and challenges, multiple endings, and combat that never gets old, there are plenty of reasons to consider Bastion one of the best games of the past decade.

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Last Gen’s Biggest Disappointments

Batman Arkham City | Brutal Legend
Dead Space 2 (Let’s not even talk about Dead Space 3. Gross.)
Dishonored | Fable III | Resident Evil 6
Shadows of the Damned | State of Decay

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13. Shatter

Platforms: PSN, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux

What a game. Shatter is fantastic and did something I never thought a game could do, it made me enjoy breaking bricks. It’s a unique take on the Breakout style of game that changes up the types of environments you play in, allows you to manipulate how your ball travels, and even throws in boss fights for good measure. All of that is great, but perhaps Shatter’s best feature is its amazing soundtrack. Seriously, have a listen to this sweet tune.

12. Super Meat Boy

Platforms: Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Android

In 2010, Super Meat Boy was the best platformer I had played since Super Mario Bros. 3 and to this day that remains true. Thanks to its tight, precise controls, quality level design, superb soundtrack, and brutal, yet fair difficulty I’d consider it a modern day masterpiece in game design. I’ve never completed the final level (apparently my skills peaked just prior to finishing the light world), but that has not and never will diminish my love for Super Meat Boy.

11. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS, Android, PlayStation Vita

I am terrible at strategy/tactical RPGs, but I still love playing them. Something about the combat is just so satisfying, but I couldn’t pull off a proper strategy to save my life. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is an unforgiving game, even on its easiest setting, but I couldn’t stop playing it until I saw it through to the end. If I’m being completely honest, I think Enemy Unknown is the only strategy/tactical RPG I’ve ever finished. There’s just something so addictive about building your own base, developing new tech, and of course the turn-based combat.

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