Pete’s Games of the Generation
I started writing about videogames in 2009 and over this generation I’ve come to think about, enjoy and experience them in a whole new light. I’ve been inspired, shocked and moved during many gaming experiences over the last seven years but the following games have provided the stand-out moments:
BioShock just about ran on my dated PC and at once reinvigorated my interest in videogames. 2K Boston (now Irrational Games) created a marvel that fused together an original narrative, historical precedent, characters with depth and unnerving horror. BioShock provided moments of astonishment (one of the best openings ever) and intrigue, jarring scares, the creepiness of the Little Sisters and awesome foes in the Big Daddies. Besides these attributes, it has the finest art direction and location of the generation. I’ve written at length about Rapture and it still fascinates me – it’s telling that even when presented with the breath-taking floating city of Columbia, many people still pined for Rapture’s aquatic charms.
I never thought Fallout 3 would actually happen. In early 2008 I’d stopped reading about it and adopted an attitude of outright pessimism. After playing it for under an hour I declared it ‘the best game ever made’. This was because I’m a Fallout fanboy and am prone to a spot of hyperbole, but, by Ron bloody Perlman, I love it. I wasn’t aware of Bethesda’s open world achievement in The Elder Scrolls IV and, like many others, stepping out of the Vault and into the world of wasteland possibilities was a moment of magnificence. Witnessing the rugged wasteland, googie architecture and all of the old enemies I’d once battled in 2D now fully realised in 3D was stunning. I spent well over 100 hours playing Fallout 3 and its DLC packs and I don’t regret a minute of it. Well, perhaps Mothership Zeta.
Gears of War 2 contains some of my favourite pure-action set-pieces ever, from repelling Locust attempting to hijack the hulking transport Derricks, infiltrating the Hollow and experiencing claustrophobia intertwined with the finest subterranean vistas, chainsawing out of the gargantuan Riftworm, to the battle with Kantus leader, Skorge on his shrieking Hydra beast – this is an action classic. I loved the frantic run-and-gun pace, strafing between cover and dive-rolling down stairs just for the fun of it. Gears of War 2 was an excellent use of the Unreal engine and its dark hues suited its bleak, unforgiving nature.
I began Portal expecting to blast through it in a couple of hours. I’d heard it was brilliant but brief. I was soon embroiled in the physics puzzles, enamoured with the portal gun and enraptured by the subtle and disturbing story played out behind-the-scenes. I’d often go through a few puzzles easily, convince myself I was some kind of genius before becoming utterly stuck and concluding I was a moron. I loved it. GLaDOS and its ending were perfect. Portal is testing and addictive, comical and dark. A triumph in originality.
The Last of Us is a game that clings to the memory, lurking in its recesses you long after you play it. I’m sure its influence will be felt within the upcoming generation. The post-apocalyptic world and the stories told feel genuine. Everything that happened during my experiences in the game felt realistic to the game’s world and that no compromises had been made by Naughty Dog. I never felt patronised, only challenged – both by the gameplay and the game’s gut-punching emotional impact. From small details like unique dialogue exchanges between Joel and Ellie, to the unforgettable Winter chapter, cities taken back by the green flood of nature, to occasional moments of beauty among a horrifying situation – I treasured every second of The Last of Us and believe it to be a zenith of the generation.