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...
From a personal perspective this console generation was the first to truly live up to the phrase. Almost a decade has passed since the original announcement of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and within this period of time my life has changed beyond recognition. In 2005 I was a booze-fuelled student with ridiculous hair and nothing to do, now I'm a borderline-professional adult with ridiculous hair and too much to do.
Great games provide us with moments - memories that we'll treasure for the rest of our lives. Plot twists and emotionally explosive moments always jump out and grab you fiercely at the time, but it's often the subtle slow-burn stuff that seeps down deep and lingers the longest.
Games offer a window into our imagination, and the best games encourage you to take something away with you.
My three games of the generation have all stayed with me in some small way, and for that reason these are also the games that I consistently recommend to strangers are parties. If you play three games from the past generation, play these.
In retrospect I'm horrified that I almost gave From Software's masterpiece a 6/10. It took me many more hours to understand Dark Souls, and many months before I could find a way to explain my thoughts about the game with much clarity. It's a myth that Dark Souls is a difficult game - it's merely a game that doesn't subscribe to the strict rules and framework that the action-RPG genre religiously seems to follow. Playing Dark Souls for the first time is like playing video games for the first time all over again, which naturally leads to frustration and confusion.
See through that and Dark Souls is an incredible reminder that games always have the capacity to surprise and excite. After two decades of playing hundreds of games, a 2011 release came out of nowhere and made me feel like a wide-eyed child. The mechanical design of Dark Souls made it great fun, but the subtle use of aesthetic and narrative make it one of the greatest games of all time. Lordran is a place, and I feel like I've lived there.
Red Dead Redemption
Grand Theft Auto gets the mainstream buzz, but Rockstar's finest work is Red Dead. Believable characters and a great storyline keep the wagon wheels rolling along, but the game's greatest achievement isn't even the frankly stellar finale: Red Dead's sense of place is on par with that of Shadow of the Colossus. Publishers pitch video game immersion as a sort of high-octane buzz, while the reality is always strangely mundane.
There's something magical about being so absorbed in a game that you start exhibiting boring real-world behaviours, like absentmindedly getting off your horse to stop and watch the sun rise. When playing games like GTA I find myself emulating real-world behaviours in the hope of kick-starting incomparable feeling, but Red Dead is a game that just flawlessly nails it. There's something about the freedom and expanse of the desert that allows your mind to wander and meld with the world, and I don't think I've ever played anything quite like it.
Despite playing and loving the original Portal, I was skeptical about the worth of a sequel - let alone a full-price game. I've never been happier to be proven so wrong. Portal 2's consistency and scope in terms of what it achieved have always been a bit of an inspiration. The scripting, characterisation, and plot are all superb - and I honestly think the visual detail and art direction remain unparalleled. Portal 2 was gripping, hilarious, and - surprisingly - emotionally touching.
Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are the go-to games when it comes to talking about Hollywood experiences, but for my money Portal 2 is the only game that's ever truly nailed it, with perhaps the exception of The Last of Us. The story was brilliantly memorable stuff, but Portal 2's greatest impact was the way it changed how I looked at the world. Painted white walls ceased being boring, giving my imagination something cool to do on even the dullest of dull train rides. Games aren't just a way for me to pass the time - they're a way to ensure I keep looking at the world through the eyes of a crazy child.