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Top 10 of The Generation: Number 4

Red Dead Redemption is Rockstar’s greatest accomplishment. It is a beautiful game that is written so well with so many memorable characters. John Marston is one of the greatest protagonists ever in a game and his story will stick with me forever.

Red Dead Redemption takes the excellent framework laid down by Rockstar’s own GTA games and applies it the old west. Trading in sports cars for horses may not seem immediately appealing, but this change in era makes the game world so much more absorbing. Playing through Red Dead was like going back in history and experience what it was like to live in those times. Changing the setting to the past also allowed the game a much more relaxed pace and encouraged exploration.

The world of Red Dead is absolutely stunning. Riding around through the beautiful scenery on horse back and just enjoying being in the world was one of my favorite aspects of the game. The world was also full of fun side missions to go and quirky characters you really grew attached to throughout the game.

The highlight of the game is the story, dialog and characters. All of which was done so expertly it’s hard to think of any game that handles narrative better than Red Dead Redemption. The game is full of memorable moments, from that transcendent moment when you are riding to Mexico and that amazing song starts playing, to one of gaming’a most satisfying endings. Most games have pretty underwhelming endings, but Red Dead Redemption had two incredible endings. When that late title card played at the end of the final mission I was so satisfied and just flat out impressed by what Rockstar had accomplished.

Red Dead Redemption may not be the most important game Rockstar has ever made, but it is their masterpiece. It is the cumulation of everything they had learned in their previous open world game held together by one of the most unforgettable stories in gaming history.

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 5

It’s pretty easy to complain about Call of Duty today. There is a clear case of franchise fatigue with a new entry every year, and it can be hard to remember how exciting Call of Duty 4 was. When CoD4 was release it was a revelation. The campaign was thrilling with many holy shit moments and the multiplayer essentially change multiplayer shooters forever.

The campaign in CoD4 starts of incredibly well with the player character being executed and then only gets crazier with nuclear bombs and hiding under moving tanks. The campaign may be cliche by today’s standards, but at the time it was extremely fresh and exciting. The sniping mission in particular is one of the strongest shooter missions I’ve ever experienced.

What can said about the competitive multiplayer in CoD4? It was a phenomenon that literally changed what we expected from a multiplayer shooter. The creat-a-class, perk system, leveling system and prestige option kept me playing the game on a daily basis for well over a year. I have never been so addicted to a game, and probably never will again. I spent hundreds of hours with the game and got to know each weapon intimately. I know the layout of Crash in more detail than I do the layout of my own house.

Call if Duty 4 is a masterful game in every way. The multiplayer perfected the carrot-on-a-stick progression that every game uses today, and the campaign was a roller coaster ride before that style of game became stale.

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 6

Hotline Miami is is just one of the coolest fucking games I’ve ever played. The sense of style is so cohesive and every aspect of the game was designed to make you feel like a badass slash lunatic serial killer. The visuals, music, gore and gameplay come together to form something that was infinitely replayable for me. 

The gameplay is simple enough to grasp but the depth comes from how different each attempt at a level is. The enemies are completely unpredictable and makes every attempt at a level seem frantic and fresh, even if it is your twentieth try. The weapons are also randomized each attempt at a level which also adds to the replay value and helps make the game seem all the more chaotic.

Hotline Miami is also fucking violent. It is all about murdering everyone in the room as cool and quickly as possible. The graphics may be retro inspired but the amount of detail in their gore is immensely satisfying and might of made me uncomfortable at how much I enjoyed seeing people sliced in two. 

Then there is the music which is easily one of the the best soundtracks of any game ever. The soundtrack is such a key component of my enjoyment of this game, I do not think it would be half the game it is without it. Each track is instantly memorable and perfectly compliments what is going on in the game. I dont think they could have possibly done a better job with it.

Hotline Miami is the worlds premiere murder simulator. Every time I played it I would have a huge smile on my face and it was one of the most fun I ever had with a game. You may look at it and think that is just another retro inspired action game, but Hotline Miami transcends the cliches of that genre to create something wholly unique and special.    

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 7

Mass Effect 2 took me by surprise. I hated the original, it had great writing and voice acting but the gameplay was the worst. I couldn’t take it, and never finished it. So when the sequel came out I didn’t think too much of it and never picked it up. I would eventually wind up with a copy once it went on sale and was shocked at what I had missed.

Mass Effect 2 fixes everything that was wrong with the original. The game is such a huge improvement from the original in every way, but most importantly, it was actually fun to play. While it was a great playing game, the real reason the game is remembered so fondly is because of how convincingly it builds it’s universe. Every character, location, race, and dialog option was specifically crafted with such an insane amount of detail that it created one of the most believable game worlds I’ve ever seen.

My favorite part of the game was the characters and just interacting with them. Each member of your crew has a ton of dialog and I went through all of it, so by the end of the game when they start dying it really meant something. My carelessness during the final mission got most of my crew killed, and while I had won, I experienced the loss of characters that I really grew to care about.

I love Mass Effect 2, the writing, dialog and character development set a new standard for games that no game has really matched since.

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 8

Portal 2 is a perfect video game. It’s funny, beautiful, inventive and is just joy to interact with. The writing and voice acting are excellent and really help to add to what would otherwise just be a puzzle game. An excellent puzzle game, but the world Valve built around the concept of using portals to solve clever puzzles propels this from an excellent game to a classic.

The puzzles are expertly designed and you always seemed to figure out the solution right as your about to give up. When you do figure out the solution, you feel both satisfaction and admiration for the designer who thought of something so clever. The game takes the foundation laid down by it’s landmark predecessor and goes nuts with the idea. It’s one if the flat out best designed games I’ve played in a long time.

The game is fun to play, but the real highlight for me was the writing, characters and story. Wheatley is an memorable character and Glados is as great as she was in the original. The game has also has what is one of the most satisfying endings ever. Shooting that portal into the motherfucking moon was one of the best fuck yeah moments in a game ever.

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 9

Journey is an experience I will never forget. The game may only be two hours, but the emotions the game managed to pull out of me in those two hours is way more than any other game could ever hope to do. Journey is a visually stunning trip through the desert that kept me in awe the entire time. The game is full of instantly memorable moments that will stick with me for my life.

The seamlessly integrated co-op was also really innovative and made you feel connected to the other player even though you could not speak to them. When my anonymous co-op partner died I actually felt sad, because we had learned to work together over the course of our Journey and then he was suddenly gone, without warning. It all felt way more personal than most video games ever accomplish with voice chat or voice actors. 

Then of course there is the ending, which is one of the most beautiful, inspiring and transcendant moments in all of video games. Although I can’t properly articulate exactly why, the ending brought some tears to my eyes the first time I experienced it. Journey is a masterpiece of minimalistic storytelling and an exciting showpiece for what video games are capable of as a medium.     

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 10

This is a little late, but whatever here we go. Each day I’m going to try to write a little something about one of my favorite console games of the previous generation until we get to number one. Now I can’t promise an entry a day, but I’ll try. I didn’t include portable games because I had a hard enough time narrowing this list to 10 with just console games. Well, with that out of the way lets start with number 10.

Burnout Paradise is just fun. Everything about the game is designed to keep a smile on your face as long as possible. The game is so god damn fast with a framerate that never falters which really helps create an amazing sense of speed. The city is packed with so much to do it is actually a little intimidating. There are races, jumps, gates, billboards, stun events, a crazy amount of challenges, roads to rule, and thats without even mentioning the online multiplayer. Paradise was also one of the first games to smartly fill the single player with leaderboards, so it always felt like a social experience even when you were playing by yourself.

The time I spent in Paradise City was some of the most fun I ever had with a video game, and it is pretty much my perfect racing game. The only bad thing about it is that it reminds me that we have not had a Burnout game since, and are unlikely to ever get one again. (Also, I got real fucking sick of hearing Paradise City)  

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