It’s strange that the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are now considered to be the last generation of consoles. These three old farts have been with us for so long - the longest generation of consoles ever - that it’s hard to imagine waking up without them sitting cosily under our TVs. But all good things come to an end, and after almost nine years, the big three have now been backseated to make way for their shiny new replacements: Xbox One, PS4 and the Wii U.
So now that it already feels like those consoles are ancient history, it’s time to reminisce about the past gone by - like your grandparents do - and look back at some of the best games that have graced our screens for almost ten years. Up first is Joe to share his personal three top games of the generation.
Dark Souls almost slipped under my radar when it was released. It was only by chance when I watched a friend play - and give up in a fit of rage - that my interest in the series was aroused. I guess I should thank that friend really, not only did he introduce me to my favourite game - by a country mile - of this generation, he also introduced me to one of my favourite games of all time.
I think what made From Software’s RPG so great for many people was how ‘new’ it felt. Whilst the game does fit into the RPG genre, almost every element that makes up the world of Lordran feels fresh. The spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls may have sold on the strength of its punishing difficulty alone, but that’s not its only asset by a long shot.
The combat system is superb, rewarding calm, precise planning rather than mindless hack n’ slash button mashing, with an oppressive atmosphere that bears down on you with every step taken. What you see and what you feel creates a conflict too; Anor Londo is disarming with it’s sun-soaked grandeur, but also makes you feel lonely due to its sheer size and lack of any signs of life.
Most of all though, what makes Dark Souls so memorable for me is its story. Subtle item descriptions, character dialogue and visual clues form jigsaw pieces that can be gradually fitted together to learn what caused the damnation of humanity. You have to earn the story in Dark Souls, and unless you explore all of what Lordran has to offer, you’ll never unravel the truth.
Street Fighter IV
I’m not sure there will ever be a period in the videogames industry where Street Fighter won’t be the king of fighters. Many people - including myself - were worried when Capcom announced the fourth main iteration of the beat em’ up. How could it be successful in a climate where the genre had declined in popularity? How would it transition to 3D? Could it possibly top Street Fighter III: Third Strike? The list was far longer than that, but you get the point.
Capcom gave its fans permission to apologise and shut their traps when IV was released. Not only was it almost a technical masterpiece, it proved the Japanese company still knew how to make genre-defining videogames. Not only did the 30+ strong character roster look visually outstanding, but every Hadouken, Sonic Boom and Psycho Crusher was animated to such high quality and flair that every returning character felt entirely brand new.
Street fighter IV arguably still reigns supreme today in the fighter genre. I just hope that if Capcom ever decide to make V, they create a boss that isn’t as much of a cheap asshole as Seth.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
I’m sure die-hard fans of the series will remain firm in their view when they say the original Deus Ex was the best of the series, but even if that’s the case; there’s no denying that Eidos Montreal created a faithful and excellent reboot of the cyberpunk series.
Adam Jensen’s transition from unaltered human to the cyborg equivalent of a swiss-army knife - and his subsequent mission to uncover a worldwide conspiracy - is a spectacular experience. The Blade Runner-esque world is flawless in its depiction of a dystopian world, where the line between man and machine has been irreversibly blurred beyond recognition.
Eidos Montreal’s exploration of artificial human enhancement and its potential pitfalls makes for a gripping narrative premise. Coupled with outstanding flexibility in combat and stealth gameplay, rewarding exploration and awesome character development, Human Revolution easily earns its spot on my list. Shame about those boss battles though.