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Top Ten of The Generation: Number One

Every aspect of Super Mario Galaxy 2 is so fucking incredible that it is hard for me to articulate why without sounding like a crazy person. It is the most pure, fun and creative piece of interactive entertainment I have ever experienced. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a stunning piece of software that I doubt Nintendo will ever be able to top.

The original Mario Galaxy was an amazing video game, but this sequel makes it look like a tutorial for what they had planned. The level design in this game is masterful, with each level introducing new and unique ideas, that other, lesser developers could build a whole game around. Nintendo instead rarely reuses any of their ideas or gameplay concepts and it keeps the game moving at a blistering pace. Each new level is exciting because there is literally no telling what it will be. The amount of creativity and originality in a single Galaxy 2 level is more than most games accomplish throughout their entirety. 

The controls are perfect, there is a never a moment when you feel like you failed because of the controls or the camera. Mario controls with precision and you always know what you are capable of. You would think a game that is constantly changing the rules of it’s world could have it’s moments of confusion or frustration. Even with the game constantly toying with perspective, gravity and player control, you never feel lost. Everything is explained expertly through visuals and it all just feels incredibly natural. 

Galaxy 2 also looks stunning for a Wii game. The art design is spectacular and each level looks just as impressive as the one before it. This is a game that demands an HD remaster and I hope Nintendo gets around to delivering on that. The soundtrack is also one of the best in series history, which is saying something. The tracks are iconic and just hearing makes me instantly feel nostalgic for the game. 

Nintendo have been the masters at the platforming genre since it’s inception, but with Super Mario Galaxy 2 they perfected it. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best platformer ever made, the best game Nintendo has ever made, and my pick for the single greatest game I have ever played. Video games do not get any better than this, this is pure joyous gaming ecstasy that anyone with a heart should experience for themselves. It exemplifies what makes video games different from all other forms of media, the fact that is interactive. It does not try to tell a touching story or build relatable characters, it is only interested in creating a beautiful playground for you to loose yourself into. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a video game, it is not trying to be anything else, and that is what is so great about it. 

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 2

Bioshock Infinite is the greatest example of world building I can think of. Everything about Columbia was created with so much thought, creativity and detail that I was completely absorbed into it’s world. The atmosphere of the world that Irrational created was so singular and unlike anything I had ever experienced.

The story, writing, characters and ideas expressed in this game is the gold standard that all story based games should strive towards. Audio diaries may be a cliche in game narrative, but it is used to such great effect in this game that it is easily forgiven. The writing and acting in these audio diaries is captivating and really helps give the world of Columbia context and history. The story is excellently told and will keep you in suspense until it’s final moments, and the game’s ending had me thinking about the game for weeks after I had finished it. 

The actual gameplay if also some of the most exciting and intense first person shooting I can remember. The combination of guns, vigors and skyhook kept combat fun and interesting throughout the whole game. The sound design during combat is also amazing and really helps make the combat feel so satisfying. 

While the gameplay is strong, it is easily the least memorable part of the game. What I will always remember about this game is the awe inspiring visuals, the amazing narrative, the perfect, quotable dialog and it’s characters. Booker and Elizabeth’s journey was so full of perfect moments, both small and large, from Elizabeth dancing on the pier to a surprise return to Rapture.

BIoshock Infinite is a game that I have been waiting my whole life for. A game that perfectly tells a story while also not betraying what makes video games so great in the first place. It does this so well that I really don’t think that Infinite would work as anything else. The story is so successful and commentary so poignant because it is an interactive piece of fiction. It comments on choices in games and lack of creativity in many game franchises while also managing to tell its own satisfying tale. Bioshock Infinite is a special game, and one I will never forget. It is one of those rare games that I love every moment of and wouldn’t change anything about it. In short, it is perfect.

Top 10 of The Generation: Number 3

Dark Souls is a real motherfucker of a video game. It does not tell you how to play, it does not explain it’s systems, it barely ever tells you what items actually do, and it doesn’t tell you were you should be going.

This is what makes Dark souls great, it’s the sense of discovery you feel when one the game intricacies start to make sense. You learn through experience and experimentation in Darks Souls which gives each victory so much more significance. When you complete an area in Dark Souls it’s because you’ve learn that area backwards and forwards, you’ve earned it. Earning your victories is something most modern games are missing and being challenged by a game again was really refreshing.

The combat in the game is deliberate and you have to be thoughtful with your attacks. One wrong move and you will be dead within seconds. The game teaches you it’s combat through death. With each death you learn another strategy that doesn’t work or another attack you have to look out for from that enemy.

You are supposed to die a lot during Dark Souls. It is a key part of From Software’s design that teaches and guides the player forward. Getting killed repeatedly in an area? You probably should not be there yet and should look for another area you can handle. The game never tells you were to go, when the game opens you can try and get to late game areas and die over and over again. This design philosophy scared a lot of players away, but once you learn everything the game can throw at you it becomes manageable. Not easy, but finishing the game is possible for anyone who dedicates themselves to learning it.

My favorite part of Dark Souls is the atmosphere and world design. It’s a beautiful game and each area is stunning in it’s own way. The game is also connected in a ton of clever ways with shortcuts that open up that surprise you with their creativity. You will become extremely familiar with each area since you will be replaying it over and over again, so it’s a good thing they are all so memorable.

Dark Souls is not a game for everyone, but those who get through it’s impenetrable first dozen or so hours will find a game unlike no other that you will never forget.

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.

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