Ed’s Games of the Generation
The passing generation has gifted gamers with so many high quality games that picking just five is almost unfair. These are five titles that are capable of standing the test of time. For me, they are the games that will force me to keep my past-generation consoles hooked up to my TV for years to come. Most importantly, they will be remembered not only for being great games but also for contributing something significant to their genre and video games as a whole.
Part dating-sim and part puzzler; there has never been a game quite like Catherine in this generation, or any previous for that matter. While many were initially drawn in by the risqué plot and its multiple endings, what is often overlooked about Catherine is the challenging and extremely rewarding puzzle gameplay hidden underneath. Completing Catherine on even the easiest difficulty is incredibly daunting and a sometimes frustrating task. However, the feeling of reaching the top of each tower is one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve had in any game this generation.
4) Valkyria Chronicles
Strategy RPG’s have largely remained the same since the glory days of the original Playstation. Valkyria Chronicles dared to shake up the genre. What appears like a third-person shooter to the untrained eye is actually a deep SRPG that takes players off the traditional grid and onto a number of fully traversable battlefields, all within the comfortable confines of character classes and turn-based combat. Most importantly, Valkyria Chronicles does it all in style. Fast forward as many generations as you want, it’s hard to believe its gorgeous watercolor in motion visuals will ever look dated.
3) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim is the apex of what has been the premier open world RPG series over the last generation. No game has come close to matching The Elder Scrolls in terms of scale and freedom. Over 100 hours into my character and I’ve yet to complete the main quest and I still have so much more to do before I feel ready to do so. Skyrim provides so many opportunities through quests and guilds to develop my character, who began as a nameless prisoner, into a legend motivated and defined by all of my actions in Tamriel’s most northern and dragon plagued province.
2) Bioshock Infinite
I’ve never been so addicted to a video game story up to its conclusion and been so satisfied with its ending to the point where not one part of me selfishly wanted any sort of continuation as I was with Bioshock Infinite. I knew something obviously was up with Columbia, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. I savored every clue like a thirsty traveler desperate for water. The slow drip feed of knowledge was torturous; I needed to know what was going on with Elizabeth, Booker Dewitt, and the mysterious Lutece Twins. And at the end, Irrational Games turned the faucet on full blast, flooding my unprepared mind, and leaving me completely breathless.
1) Mass Effect
The first Mass Effect introduced the world to a sci-fi universe deep and believable enough to rival the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek. It delivered a coherent, focused story altered by personal decision-making, all within an explorable Milky Way Galaxy of our dreams, brimming with life and habitable planets. Branching story lines and decision-making has been done before, but few have done it as eloquently as Mass Effect. Some of the decisions were so gut-wrenching for me, that on more than one occasion I had to put the controller down, go for a drive, and think long and hard about what kind of hero I wanted to be.
Ironically it was Mass Effect’s most defining characteristic, the ability to transfer every choice big or small throughout all three games that would be the biggest source of controversy and criticism. The expectation that all of these choices would be reflected in the saga’s conclusion was a promise that Bioware simply could not keep even if they wanted to. However all of that doesn’t take away from everything Mass Effect was able to accomplish not only in its first entry, but also across all three games throughout this passing generation. I will leave you with a clip that still sends chills up my spine every time I watch it and is arguably the most powerful (and most quotable) scene of the entire series.