Welcome back! Read on for the next five entries in our Top 25 Games of the Generation, or click here to catch up on the games listed 25-21.
20. THE WITCHER 2: ASSASSINS OF KINGS
DEVELOPER: CD PROJEKT RED / PUBLISHER: NAMCO BANDAI
FORMAT: PC, XBOX 360
RELEASE DATE: 17TH MAY 2011
CD Projekt RED’s original Witcher game was a PC-only affair, but the popularity of the title prompted the Polish developers to bring the sequel to consoles, too (albeit after almost a year’s delay). Based on Andrejz Sapkowski’s incredible series, the Witcher games are mature fantasy role-playing at its very best, and Assassins of Kings is one of the best Action-RPGs every created.
MICK FRASER: I had never read the Witcher novels before playing the 360 Enhanced Edition of Assassins of Kings, but immediately after finishing it for the first time, I bought as many as I could (criminally, some still haven’t been translated from Sapkowski’s native Polish). CD Projekt RED capture the atmosphere of the world and the idiosyncrasies of the characters perfectly, mixing them with sublime combat and a wonderfully deep alchemy system. I’m an avid fantasy RPG fan, and Assassin’s of Kings is one of my all-time favourites.
CALVIN ROBINSON: The Witcher 2 is easily among the most beautiful looking games of this generation; the lighting and environments are truly second to none. But that is nothing in comparison to the thoroughly gripping, immersive storytelling. With a four year gap between the Witcher games, CD Projekt RED worked on all the areas that were left open to criticism in the previous title and presented a polished experience that had RPG fans eating out of the palm of their hands. Bring on their next title: Cyberpunk 2077.
19. HEAVY RAIN
DEVELOPER: QUANTIC DREAM / PUBLISHER: SONY
FORMAT: PLAYSTATION 3
RELEASE DATE: 24TH FEBRUARY 2010
Whether you love or hate David Cage and Quantic Dream, you cannot deny their dedication to storytelling through game design. Some say Heavy Rain is nothing but an overly-long interactive cutscene, while others consider it the pinnacle of narrative gaming. We at GodisaGeek sit somewhere in-between, yet still consider it to be one of the bravest and most ambitious titles to grace this generation.
COLM AHERN: I think it’s important to look back at Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in the US), before approaching Quantic Dream’s next title. The PS2 offering was flawed in some regards, but that first scene in the toilets where you have to mop up the blood is something that has stayed with me to this very day.
Heavy Rain had a multitude of those moments too, and generally expanded on the ideas that Fahrenheit brought to the table. Yeah, I get that some of the VO was ropey and there are a lot of gaping plot holes, but I still loved it. Even at the beginning when Ethan is placing crockery on the table, I found it surprisingly refreshing. I really value games that attempt to do something a little bit different, especially as the industry sometimes seems to focus on first person shooters. Like Fahrenheit before it and Beyond: Two Souls after it, Heavy Rain had its problems, but at the same time, Quantic Dream gave me an experience that I’ll never forget. How often can you say that?
ROBIN PARKER: David Cage has always attempted to provide gaming experiences that no-one else can. Fahrenheit may have faltered after a strong start and lost its way, but Heavy Rain gripped me from the very start and held on tight all the way through. It is a very personal game, with players shaping the game with each of their choices, conversations – and even their mistakes. There is no “game over” in Heavy Rain – your story can be as long and successful or as short and disappointing as you make it, and feeling truly in control of where the narrative is headed isn’t something you see every day.
18. FAR CRY 3
DEVELOPER: UBISOFT MONTREAL / PUBLISHER: UBISOFT
FORMAT: PLAYSTATION 3, XBOX 360, PC
RELEASE DATE: 30TH NOVEMBER 2012
Because the first two episodes in the Far Cry series had their share of misfires, we were understandably concerned about the fate of number 3. We needn’t have worried. Ubisoft’s third jaunt into the mouth of madness is a tour de force of bombast in a lush tropical setting, complete with wild animals to hunt, treasures to unearth and drug-trafficking dictator’s to overthrow. An absolute belter.
COLM AHERN: Prior to the trip to Rook Island, I was ambivalent toward Far Cry. I had only dabbled in the second game, but the amount of time I spent in that world is barely worth talking about. But, there was something about Far Cry 3 that grabbed me. Even the promotional material had me interested in a title that I never anticipated would become one of my favourite games of the generation. I adored every second I spent on that island. Stalking and hunting animals was a test of my patience, witnessing the random events resulted in some of my most memorable moments in a game and mindlessly killing, or quietly taking out enemies, made me feel like an absolute badass. However, there’s one prevailing factor that makes Far Cry 3 something I’ll never forget: Vaas. Captivating, enthralling and terrifying, Vaas Montenegro is one of gaming’s greatest ever villains, and from the very instance he told me the definition of insanity, I was in for the ride.
MARTIN BAKER: I enjoyed the first two Far Cry games, but I didn’t love them. The main characters were always detached, you were dropped into places that you didn’t really care about, doing something you didn’t really want to. Far Cry 3 gave you an entire island to use as your playground, and the freedom to actually go out and play in it.
The addition of the crafting system, the towers, taking over the various areas of the map and more, made for one of the best shooters of this generation. You can forget your Halo and your Call of Duty; give me a bow and arrow, an island and a whole host of guerilla fighters and I’m in my idea of shooter heaven. Oh, I almost forgot, did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?
17. GEARS OF WAR
DEVELOPER: EPIC GAMES / PUBLISHER: MICROSOFT
FORMAT: XBOX 360
RELEASE DATE: 17TH NOVEMBER 2006
Although you can rarely accuse a shooter of being too “fluffy”, Epic Games seemed to be under the impression that every single one was far too soft when they developed groundbreaking cover-shooter Gears of War for the 360. Manlier than a bucketful of body-builders, the tale of subterranean invaders and the burly men and women (the universe of Gears pays no mind to petty concerns like gender) of the Coalition of Ordered Governments, and their war to decide the fate of planet Sera is one of the most action-packed and powerful shooters ever made.
SEAN SMITH: The title that inspired me to purchase an Xbox 360, and an astonishingly good game that changed the way I looked at shooters. Not being a huge FPS fan, the cover system appealed to me immensely and I loved the dark, survival-horror-esque tone of it. The sequels were banging too, and stuffed full of macho camaraderie and space marine bromance.
CALVIN ROBINSON: Gears of War, to many, was the first major system seller for the Xbox 360. Those sharp yet grimy post-apocalyptic visuals were like nothing we’d seen before. The first game to showcase the marvel that was the Unreal Engine 3, Gears of War quickly became – and still remains – one of the Xbox 360’s top 5 selling titles, and was the most-played Xbox Live game throughout 2007. That’s hard to imagine today, in a COD/Fifa world, but Gears of War really was that good. And let us not forget: it also gave us the run-and-cover system used in practically every third person video game since.
16. DARK SOULS
DEVELOPER: FROM SOFTWARE / PUBLISHER: NAMCO BANDAI
FORMAT: PLAYSTATION 3, XBOX 360, PC
RELEASE DATE: 7TH OCTOBER 2011
“Prepare to die.”
Never was the tagline for a game so apt. From Software’s Action-RPG is a brutally hard, unforgiving experience designed with precision to make you sweat for every victory. Released on consoles first, its popularity led to a PC version and the enhanced, extended Prepare to Die Edition. Not only one of the hardest games of the generation, but also one of the most well-made and well-loved. Or maybe we’re just a bunch of masochists.
MICK FRASER: After the PS3-exclusive Demons’ Souls made me feel horribly incompetent and a little bit scared, I found myself masochistically relishing the challenge of pseudo-sequel Dark Souls. Taking everything that made Demons’ Souls great and refining it even further, From Software’s multiplatform giant is a gauntlet of hardcore RPG brilliance. Not weighed down by flabby lore or pointless filler, it makes every encounter matter, forces you to think about every foe, and brings you to task for every concentration slip. Absolutely what an Action RPG should be, and one of the most thrilling and immersive gaming experiences I’ve ever had.
JAMES BOWDEN: What is there to be said about Dark Souls that hasn’t been said already? How about “Dark Souls is the only game I put more than 60 hours into pre-review, and then a further 100+ in post review”. Or, “Dark Souls is the only game I’ve had a friend phone me up the second they beat it in order to discuss the experience at length.”? Then there’s the “I’m still discovering things about this game, from tips and tricks to lore and secrets, on a daily basis – it’s that intricately designed.” To this day, Dark Souls’ world consumes me in a way entertainment of other mediums can only dream about. It makes no qualms about being exactly the game it wants to be, and this makes it an absolutely stonking, albeit harsh-minded, masterpiece.
So there you have it, folks: numbers 20 – 16 of our Top 25 Games of the Generation. Check back to GodisaGeek.com tomorrow for numbers 15 – 11, and in the meantime feel free to let us know whether you agree or disagree with our choices so far.