GameCentral readers name their highlights of the outgoing generation of consoles, including the best games of the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Woko, who asked what are your favourite memories of the generation that includes the DS, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3? What were your favourite consoles, your favourite games, and the most important innovations and hardware features?
It’s not hard to guess what some of the most popular games were, with lots of mentions of Call Of Duty and Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. Interestingly though Fallout 3 was amongst the most popular individual title, perhaps helped by current speculation over the next sequel.
A new generation
Looking back on this generation of gaming I find myself quite astounded at how many highlights there have been for me. One of the greatest being that this is the era of gaming I have most been able to enjoy sharing with my children. We were early adopters of the DS and Wii which for us as a family are worth many times their weight in gold for the sheer fun we have experienced together. Later we acquired a PlayStation 3 and that too has been fantastic for us all.
So many great moments – from the simple skills of Brain Training to the wonders of revisiting Super Mario 64 and Diddy Kong Racing on a small screen to the time devouring metropolis of joy that is Animal Crossing: Wide World. Onto the living room hilarity of Wii Sports to the warm all ages family battles on Wii Party and the dazzling worlds of Super Mario Galaxy.
From being pummelled by my 10-year-old daughter on Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to exploring the vast and magical range of Skyrim with my teenage son and onto the depth and beauty of BioShock Infinite and The Last Of Us. Its been a great generation!
My personal highlight however remains the point in Red Dead Redemption when the song ‘Compass’ begins. Never before had I been so completely engrossed in such a compelling virtual world and that moment gave me the opportunity to contemplate all that I had done, seen and experienced within it.
Despite it all
It’s been such a long generation that there are probably too many memories to recall.
To start with I attended my first midnight launch for the PSP which, until recently, was the fastest selling console at launch in the UK. I also imported my first hardware by buying a Japanese Nintendo DS.
I played my PlayStation 3 a lot but never bought an Xbox 360 as I never wanted to spend money on a fundamentally broken machine, despite it’s incremental improvements over time. I was later given an original model and played and enjoyed a select few exclusives including Dead Rising: Case Zero and Limbo.
Despite my cautiousness with regards to faulty hardware I was unlucky enough to have a faulty Wii at launch and later succumbed to the Yellow Light of Death on my PlayStation 3, writing in at the time about having it repaired and refusing to trade it in for fear of it invariably breaking again.
Overall it has been a great generation and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some great gaming fun during it.
It was free online play, Blu-ray compatibility, and Metal Gear Solid 4 that were the factors leaning me towards a PlayStation 3. The slim price drop, BioShock going multiplatform, and Uncharted 2 finally confirmed that it was the console for me and I bought mine in late 2009. Not a decision I regret, it’s still going strong with plenty left unplayed.
Regardless of which you own, the thing that’s made this generation a particularly good one for console owners is the virtual marketplace. I’m no fan of the ills that have come with it; pre-order incentives, exploitative downloadable content, microtransactions, etc. and I buy retail where possible to satisfy my manual sniffing fetish… (ahem) but to be able to play a Mega Drive classic, a great indie game and the latest AAA on a single £200 box that fits under the TV is wonderful.
The one game I’d choose as a highlight of this gen? Far Cry 2. I think it makes full use of the jump to HD graphics, creating a sense of immersion that would have been impossible in previous generations.
PS: I’ve deferred to GC’s knowledge in buying DS and Wii titles as presents for my sister which have gone down well, so cheers for that! Only managed to pinch the DS long enough to complete Super Mario World so far. The Galaxies await.
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Eight years of dual screens
It was quite surprising, while thinking about the past generation of consoles, to realise just how long ago the Nintendo DS came out. Those eight years feel like half a lifetime ago.
Both of my highlights involve the DS actually. The first is that it provided my initial taste of import gaming. I’d never particularly bothered before, given you had to get some dodgy cart converter or your console chipped, which all seemed like far too much hassle. The DS being region free was great though. My console was actually from the US, in the exclusive Electric Blue colour, which made no practical difference, but added a nice novelty factor.
The first game I imported was Chōsōjū Mecha MG, a ridiculous Japanese exclusive super robot sim by Nintendo that I only learned of through Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I couldn’t understand a damned thing that was going on (no English language option unfortunately) but the bits I could play were great fun. I really hope that gets an internationally released sequel at some point.
My other highlight was the first time I traded Pokémon online, on Pokémon Pearl. I arranged a trade with an American girl I knew from an Internet message board and the entire process felt like some crazy step into the future, not least because it didn’t require any pesky link cables. The funny thing was though that neither of us realised that the microphone is active while the trades are processing, so I ended up hearing her explaining what she was doing to her completely bemused father, half a world away. It was one of those insignificant yet surreal little moments that stick in the memory.
Of course, a few months later I had to get a new wireless router which had an encryption protocol my DS didn’t like, so I haven’t been able to go online with my DS in years now. Rather a shame. I’m pretty sure I’ve still got Global Trade System Pokémon pending for Pearl.
Game of the generation
I bought an Xbox 360 shortly after it launched but sold it after about six months due to a lack of games I was interested in and a lack of enthusiasm for gaming in general. This continued until a friend showed me Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on his Xbox 360. It quite simply blew me away and within a couple of days I’d re-bought an Xbox 360.
And when I think back to the highlight of the generation there isn’t any game that comes close to Call Of Duty for how much enjoyment I’d got from them. Yes there were other good games like Fallout 3 and Far Cry 3 but Call Of Duty eclipses them all. I’m not sure whether I should feel pleased about this or possibly ashamed. After all isn’t it Call Of Duty that gets all the hate these days?
With hindsight though I wouldn’t change a thing – the hours, days and weeks I’ve spent playing the single and multiplayer modes have been amazing. And as we enter the next gen (when do we start calling it current?) it’s good to see that with Call Of Duty: Ghosts the games are as good as ever.
Manic miner 100 (gamertag)
The first time
I’ll never forget my first experience of online gaming. The moment I found myself in the middle of all out war in Modern Warfare was truly amazing. Up there with playing Super Mario Bros. for the first time and stepping out into Hyrule field. Call Of DUty has had some haters at times but for me nothing comes close to matching that adrenaline rush.
SWAVILLE (PSN ID)
East to West
For me this generation has shown a great divide which has now lessened over these last few years, I’m talking about the Japanese and the Western role-playing games. For pretty much most of my PS one and PlayStation 2 years the Japanese games were my ultimate and best loved for this genre, but this Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era have pretty much shown that the open world role players of the Western world have changed my viewpoint and how I look at games in general.
It’s the sense of genuine freedom I get instead of following a pre-set path which don’t get me wrong, if done well is incredible and the Japanese studios have been the masters of this and in some cases still are. But it’s the Western role-player which gives me the feeling I’m carving or creating my own epic quest in which you could ignore the main story for ages and explore instead areas which have their own adventures and you’ll feel like a proper adventurer.
Obviously I’m talking about the Fallout series and Elder Scroll series, but with two titles out for the gen just gone and all the downlaodable content which went with them, a heck of a lot of time was used in playing them. But I can’t dismiss the fact that when the Japanese get it right with Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, plus with a lot of other 3DS role-playing titles that have come out recently from Japanese studios, maybe they are still on par with the West but not on the same format or mindset.
All it takes, as I have said before, is imagination and taking a risk and genuine care for it’s creation and the future will seem a lot brighter and herald another golden era on this new set of consoles, I am indeed excited.
Some of my favoyrite moments of the outgoing generation were playing the HD updates of Daytona USA and Super Street Fighter II HD Remix on Xbox Live, two fantastic games. A special mention has to go to Resident Evil 5, not for the main game but the excellent Mercenaries mode.
Love it or loathe it
The last generation has been some of the best years I’ve had in gaming. With so many great games I could mention here it is difficult to narrow it down.
A key highlight though has to be the Mass Effect series. Mass Effect is an epic journey and one that is shaped by the player unlike any other game. It is definitely the benchmark for future games in terms of interactivity and freedom of choice and those choices influencing how the players story plays out. Mass Effect is of course set in space and in the future but also, like Star Trek, creates an entire fictional galaxy full of all different worlds and species each with their own individual cultures, history and traits.
Then each character has so much personality and it really is the best series for believable characters and immersing you into an entirely new world and letting you be responsible for saving it however you see fit. Mass Effect is a landmark achievement in gaming and I hope we see more of it and other games learning from its success.
You can’t have a best of the generation topic without mentioning Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Whilst in more recent times it’s hip to berate Call Of Duty (which I am guilty of) because of its immense popularity, slaughtering all other releases at Christmas time sales. Each iteration has sold even more than the last for most of this generation and Call Of Duty has been the highest selling ever of games, films and books on numerous occasions, each year beating its own record.
It deserves all the success it has had though because a Call Of Duty game is always extremely well made, has some of the highest production value in gaming and is packed with content and value for money. The campaigns are a cinematic thrill ride, the multiplayer is endlessly addictive and the co-op modes are excellent too. Love it or loathe it you can’t really fault Call Of Duty on value or technical grounds.
Another great innovation of this generation is the maturity of gaming as games have become more and more capable of telling a really good story as well as entertaining us with fun gameplay. Some highlights for me have been Heavy Rain, Batman: Arkham Asylum and City, this year’s Tomb Raider reboot and more recently The Last Of Us, which has one of the best stories I’ve ever seen in any medium be it games, films, TV or books. It’s characters I genuinely cared and grew to love, especially Ellie I really felt like a father figure to her and was emotionally drained by the time I had finished the game.
There are many other great games of the last generation and it is definitely in the running for best ever. I will enjoy the best of last gen for a long time to come as well as newer titles released in the new console generation on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U.
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The last generation was the one I immersed myself in more deeply than any before, or likely in the future. I bought the PlayStation 3 on launch night, and the Xbox 360 two days after launch. It didn’t take long for the PlayStation 3 to start gathering dust though, as most of my friends bought Xboxes and the party chat feature became really useful. Soon I sold the PlayStation 3 on eBay.
The Xbox 360 never had a chance to gather dust, because it would never last more than nine months or so before it suffered the Red Ring of Death. I had three die from that, then one died from a DVD drive failure, and the next from some kind of video card failure. I always got them replaced or repaired for free, but sometimes I’d buy a newer Xbox 360 and sell the repaired one to a friend. So in total I’ve bought four Xbox 360s new.
I think the biggest innovation last gen, for better or worse, was Achievements. At first I had no interest in my gamerscore, or completion ratios, soon friends of mine became obsessed with them, and to my shame I was drawn in for a while too. Playing games I wasn’t really enjoying just to finish them off was very common. While classic games on Achievement-less Nintendo systems remained un-played. I only repurchased a PlayStation 3 when Trophies became standard.
I had a massive falling out with one friend who was seriously obsessed with gamerscore and the quality of games on people’s games list (he was actively removing people from his friends list with Avatar on their tag, he even wrote into GC about it). I invited him round for an evening of pizza, drinking and gaming, great fun was had by all. Then after he went to bed I booted up Peter Jackson’s King Kong on his gamertag and earned one Achievement in it. I and most people I tell this thought it was hilarious, but he didn’t, and I was removed from his friends list and he sold my games I’d kindly lent him. Bit of an overreaction I thought.
The one main thing that has saved me from the tyranny of Achievements is what Microsoft have done with the next gen. Giving Achievements for non-gaming things like watching Netflix and buying a console on day one gave me a moment of clarity to see how meaningless your gamerscore is. I felt like I had been conditioned like one of Pavlov’s dogs, to salivate every time I hear the Achievement chime, and its not going to be long before Microsoft start to monetise it. I still like Achievements and Trophies as a record of my gaming past, but they won’t get in the way of a good time any more.
My game of the generation was Fallout 3.
PS: I normally would write an email this long, but I feel the topic required it.
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