With the current generation now drawing to a close, each member of the VideoGamer.com team share their own games of the generation. For the sake of making them struggle, they've been restricted to picking just three…
Editor's Note: The generation was classed as PC, Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. If we included handhelds, these lists would never have been finished…
Left 4 Dead
My favourite game of the generation, and one of the best co-op games ever made, Left 4 Dead appears simple in theory - get from A to B, don't die, shoot zombies a lot. In practice, its simple systems and seemingly-sparse plotting give rise to a sophisticated exercise in teamwork and environmental storytelling. There are no overt squad instructions, no telling people to stack up, very little cutscene blathering. Instead, there's the natural stories that come from four players trying to coordinate an escape from a doomed city: heroic last stands, fatal errors, shifting priorities and definitions of success ('We're safe...for now').
It's played out against some of the most atmospheric, unrelentingly bleak backdrops of this gen - who could forget the cornfield in Blood Harvest, or the subway in No Mercy? And yet there's always a sense of hope that next time you'll make it out alive. Left 4 Dead's real genius lies in its desire to play those two extremes off against each other. It's extremely difficult when played on expert, and the AI director - which adjusts the difficulty based on your success so far, where in the level you're situated, and other factors - can be a mean bastard. The 'special' infected are designed to reign players in, with the Tank and Witch specifically designed to crush good those that are doing well. It's fatalistic, sadistic, and actually quite stressful to play. But you'll keep on regardless.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Not the 'best' game of the generation, nor even my own personal favourite. But it's still a game so good it turned pretty much everything upside down. It's easy to forget, in 2013 - after all the launch parties, booming sales figures, and diminishing returns - just how excellent Modern Warfare was.
The campaign was a superbly-realised slice of nonsense, constantly upping the ante and surprising players with brilliant set-pieces. But it's the multiplayer that changed the industry, taking the fast-paced yet tactical play (and loadout system) of the likes of Counter-Strike and making it accessible for a burgeoning online console community which was finally ready for it. The higher-definition visuals of the then-new consoles was great, but it was Modern Warfare that showed how exciting - and different - this gen was when it came to networking and services.
Whereas some of the later games became bloated in the extreme, overloading killstreaks and unbalancing perks, COD 4's three perk, three-tier streak (radar/airstrike/helicopter) system kept things simple yet effective. There were problems: Martyrdom is nearly as bad as Ghosts' Guard Dog perk, and Juggernaught and Stopping Power dominated proceedings. But with regards to map design, ranking and unlocks, and sheer enjoyment, it's still one of the best entries into series. It's old, but Modern Warfare can stand alongside any game of this generation.
Red Dead Redemption
Interpreted initially as GTA with cowboys (which isn't entirely incorrect), Red Dead's a far more sombre affair than most of Rockstar North's output, including GTA 4. Dealing with the birth of modern America, the death of the Old West, and what happens to those caught in the middle, it's a bleak ride through the beginning of the American Century, especially as the narrative approaches its finale.
But there's no denying the beauty of it, either: filled with stunning, varied environments (snow covered mountains to arid deserts, ageing homesteads and modern settlements), all free to explore, hunt, and experience the story through. It evoked its period exceptionally well, proving to be a huge influence on GTA 5. And you could shoot people in slow-motion.
PES 6, Game Dev Story, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Deadly Premonition, GTA 5, Dark Souls, Alpha Protocol, Kane and Lynch 2, Rock Band, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Crackdown, Bioshock, Gone Home