Best of 2013: Generation Ex

First Published: November 19, 2013
Voted For By: Tim
Reason(s) for Vote:
This collaborative collection of highlights (and lowlights) from the longest and greatest gaming generation yet proved to be an insightful and nostalgic treat. The last couple of years may have dragged a bit for console players, but wow, there were some crackers overall, weren’t there..


I was never a console gamer. While the first game I played at home, other than table-top handhelds, would have been on Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX80, it wasn’t until three years later when an Oric-1 48k miraculously found its way under our Christmas tree that I started to really play games. It became part of my daily routine, and I fondly remember a family holiday in Cornwall where we found a store that actually stocked Oric games on its shelves and, for the first time, we weren’t buying games by sending postal orders off to unknown entities in magazines.

Other than my brief outing with the CBS ColecoVision in the very early ’80s, I ignored consoles entirely and focused my attention on home computers, where sporadic bursts of boredom from gaming could easily be filled by tinkering around with light pens, speech synthesisers, or printing out crudely-drawn cartoon breasts on shiny thermal paper.

In fact, had it not been for my Philips DVD recorder going tits up in 2003, I probably would never have owned a console to this day. Unable to replace my DVD recorder, Comet instead handed me £500 worth of vouchers to spend in-store. With nothing else taking my fancy, I succumbed to the draw of repeatedly pressing my nose against the Electronics Boutique window to watch kids playing PGR2, and I used my credit for an Xbox with a pile of games.

I loved it. I played a little of all the games I’d bought along with it, getting frustrated at Midtown Madness‘ terrible controls, becoming quickly bored by Halo, but falling in love with a little game by the name of Morrowind. Apart from a brief stint with Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis where I fell asleep and woke to find that a storm had hit my park, taken down all my fences, and allowed my T-Rex to eat every park visitor and most of the other dinosaurs, my time with the Xbox was spent in the capable hands of Bethesda.

I still loved my time with the Xbox and, with the release of the Xbox 360, continued my journey through the exciting world of console gaming. Something changed, however, and before even reaching the end of the current gen’s life (bearing in mind that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are, as yet, unreleased in the UK so they are still ‘next gen’ to us), I found myself to be more than a little jaded by it all. The Xbox One raised my eyebrows on several occasions, but for all the wrong reasons, and, for the first time since getting my hands on an original Xbox, I was considering ‘switching sides’ to Sony. Not that I was ever an Xbox fanboy; it just turned out that I never bought a PlayStation other than the portable varieties, but the PS4 has certainly piqued my attention a lot more than Microsoft’s latest offering.

So, as we stand on the edge of a windswept plateau, with the valley below being populated by Xbox Ones and PlayStation 4s, I took a moment to lament on my time as a console gamer. There was a great deal of sadness, as I had such fond memories of my time with Burnout Paradise, tearing up the Tarmac with my Carson GT Nighthawk as dodgy puns and perfectly timed TV quotes spewed from the mouths of Rook and Tony respectively. Lorna’s tiny little General Lee-alike ripping past on a tight corner with Dixie blasting out meant that I was about to be taken down by a side-swipe while Victor’s arrival invariably marked the moment where general conversation turned to sexual innuendo and talk of throbbing members. Those were good times. They were great times.

My time in single-player mode was mostly spent in either Oblivion (which was the second game I ever played on the 360, after abandoning LEGO Star Wars from boredom thirty minutes in, and which meant that ALL other games remained unopened until I completed it), Fallout 3 and Borderlands. If I were to be asked what my favourite games of this generation were, those would certainly be my top three and are the only ones where I’ve replayed them several times over without ever becoming bored.

There were also more than a few let downs, with Two Worlds II being polished to the point where it lost the charm of the original, even though it was a vastly superior game. The same could be said for Borderlands 2 where, even though I’ve played through the original no fewer than fifteen times from beginning to end, I can’t ever see the same happening with its sequel. The story may have been infinitely better, with Handsome Jack strutting his way to take the throne of my most-loved (and hated, in equal measure) character, but there was a void. Something was missing, and I’m still not sure what that actually is, but that void brought with it the greatest disappointment of the current gen.

With all these thoughts racing through my mind as I turn exclusively to PC gaming once again, I asked the other writers to share their memories – their thoughts on the generation as a whole, their fondest moments, favourite games, and biggest disappointment…


Bearing in mind that I’m not really a console gamer at all and only got a 360 a couple of years ago so I didn’t have to put up with Ubisoft’s god-awful PC ports, I think the current gen started well, then descended into a desperate attempt to sell Netflix subscriptions and get people to pay for Internet Explorer at the cost of actually making interesting games. If they could avoid it, I don’t think Sony or Microsoft would be releasing new consoles right now as they have such a huge established user base that, even under ideal circumstances, it’s going to be a slow and painful start for the next gen that might put the Wii U’s lacklustre sales into some kind of context.

I think my favourite moment of the current generation was the point at which it became apparent to developers that the hardware available to them was rapidly running out of steam (no pun intended) and that the only way they could continue ratcheting up the graphics was to design, demo and review on PCs and hope that nobody compared it to the console versions. The greatest gift of this generation was that it dragged on long enough to make PCs a dominant gaming platform once again.

The best game is difficult, but in terms of overall quality, longevity and the overwhelming relief at it not being dreadful, I think that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has to win it for me.

Biggest let down? I would say Kinect, but I never had any hopes for it in the first place, and I’d like to say Thief but it’s not out yet and might not be shit, so I guess I’m going to have to go with Dragon Age 2. Not because it was shit – it was actually a good game that I spent a lot of time with – but it was such a step backwards from Dragon Age: Origins in terms of gameplay and design that it felt shit until I was able to go back to it later and look at it without context.


I’d be hard-pressed to pick a single stand-out moment, but I think one of the most significant to me was online gaming. I know it’s been around for donkey’s years, but the ability to play online and talk to friends soon became one of my biggest draws of owning an Xbox 360. While we had MSN to send messages to each other, there was something novel about being able to talk while we were playing different games online, or while we attempted to co-ordinate tactics with each other. Despite those annoying years where co-op was seemingly shoe-horned into everything, some of my fondest memories of this generation are playing with others online. Whether it was trying to muddle through Gears of War on ‘insane’, trying to reach level fifty in Gears of War 2‘s ‘horde mode’, Burnoutnights, more than enough anecdotes and panicked yells trying to play both Left 4 Dead titles or my friend Tom and I trying pretend Resident Evil 5 was ever any good, playing online is far and away one of my fondest memories of this generation.

Whenever the discussion of the greatest game of the generation comes up, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is always first and foremost. While the original seemed to astound players more and it felt like there was a greater build-up to the first Galaxy title, it’s the latter that I’d unquestionably tout as the best. Like most standard Nintendo fare, there’s barely any story to go on, with the adventure essentially taking place in an alternative timeline where the events of the previous game never happened. Instead, all of the focus has been on making the gameplay and the other aesthetics around it into the ultimate package. The gameplay is tight and focused, challenging without ever becoming frustrating, and with plenty of tools to help advance or diminish the difficulty as the player sees fit. It is, for me, one of the most incredible games ever, let alone of this generation.
(In before the inevitable comment about how the Wii wasn’t a part of this generation)

For me, the biggest let-down is two-fold. First, it’s the lack of a definitive swan-song to mark the end of this generation and the start of the next. Some of the biggest upcoming releases are arriving on next and current gen titles, which surely doesn’t count, and the magnificent BioShock Infinite came out at the beginning of the year before we even knew when the next-gen was arriving, so that also doesn’t count.

David Cage’s emotion-’em-up Beyond: Two Souls failed to make any sort of mark, Grand Theft Auto V managed to send me to sleep twice since I started playing it (and not in the “I was playing it all night” way), and Ubisoft decided to delay South Park: Stick of Truth until a week before Titanfall releases and during the next-gen release rush of Spring. That being said, it’s just struck me that Saints Row 4 was released only a few weeks before GTAV and actually as everything I’d look for in a swan-song: it ties off the end of a long and storied history by taking absolutely everything that made it great, paying respects to the quirks and mistakes of the past, and providing something that feels like a definitive goodbye, while keeping us hopeful for the future.

The second part of what I consider to be the biggest let-down is what publishers have done to our beloved industry. We like to simplify internal narratives into a struggle between good and evil, but in this generation, it’s hard to pick out who we could really feasibly call a hero. Activision created a new trend and murdered it within a couple of years with Guitar Hero, brought about the demise of Tony Hawk thanks to peripheral fetishism, and now represents the zenith of the yearly cash-cow with Call of Duty. EA started out with good intentions and new IP, but have since gone off the deep-end with relentless sequelisation, an over-emphasis on focus-testing, unrealistic targets, proliferation of DLC and the need to cripple single players with forced-online components, always-on DRM and Online Passes for single-player content. THQ invented the Online Pass, then went out of business. Capcom charged players for content that was already on the disc. Microsoft went Kinect-mad and ad-happy, and forgot what made people flock to its system in droves. Sony prolonged David Cage’s career and came up with the PlayStation Move. Deep Silver made that Zombie Bikini Torso thingy (may not be its real name), and Nintendo have almost-certainly done something bad as well at some point. Although calling it the Wii U is a crime in and of itself.

When the generation started, it was one with plenty of promise and a lot to be excited about. Now it’s over, we’ve got nothing to show for it but an obsession with graphics, online communities each more toxic than the last, and a reverence to the almighty dollar so deep that most games have forgotten how to actually be fun anymore. This generation took something great and corrupted it, and it’s left me wholly unexcited for the next.


The opening hour or so of Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots wowed me in a way that I’ve not experienced before or since. I’ll admit here from the off that I’ve been a massive fan of Kojima’s snake-babies since the release of the original MGS on PS1, and so was waiting for the latest version with baited breath… and my expectations were smashed to pieces. Wow. The game looked just incredible (I still believe it’s one of the best looking games ever made) and I couldn’t even begin to fathom how such an impressive slice of game was being pumped out of the big black box under my TV. Even the installation screen (the one with Snake just standing around smoking a cigarette) left me grinning like an idiot.

For me, the best game goes to the co-op party experience of Rock Band. Nothing else before (or thus far, since) in gaming has brought so many people together to play games. It didn’t matter whether people were gamers or not, or if they even particularly liked rock music – everyone wanted a go. So many parties in the years since Rock Band releasing ended up with everyone crowded around the TV, desperate for a chance to be the virtual second coming of Dave Grohl, Stevie Nicks or Bonnie Tyler. Even now it still makes the odd appearance and it really has been a lasting highlight.

Am I just allowed to say the Wii U as the biggest let down to annoy Ed? It counts as ‘last-gen’, right? No? Hmm, fair enough. Strangely, my real ‘biggest let down’ was Naughty Bear. Since its first announcement I loved the concept and look of the game, and even had the damn thing pre-ordered. Luckily for me I had to cancel said pre-order for financial reasons and boy am I glad I was terrible with money. I had a little play with a copy that a friend had bought a few weeks after release and Jiminy Cricket…it was fucking terrible. Repetitive game play, nasty graphical bugs, no redeeming features. That was a bullet dodged, but to this day I’m devastated that the game never reached its obvious potential.


I was late to this generation, but it was also the first time I had a proper console all of my own. In many ways this generation was my coming of age, and even if it will never be viewed with the same nostalgia as the SNES or even the PS2, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

The moment I realised that the next gen was truly here was the first time I played Mirror’s Edge. It was a game that was completely different to anything I’d ever played before, visually and in terms of the gameplay. It’s one of the best things to come out of this generation of consoles, along with XCOM and an unmatched selection of fighting games.

My current gen life started with, and was probably defined by, fighting games. Soulcalibur 4, Tekken 6 and even BlazBlue, were among the first things I played and, Soulcalibur aside, get played even now. Far and away the best of fighting games has been Street Fighter 4, in all its myriad forms. The balance, skill curve and reward for investment is far and away the best I’ve experienced this gen, and although it took some time to get into, the Arcade Edition provides the most fun and rivalry I’ve had from perhaps any game I’ve played.

On the other hand, my biggest let down was Damnation. Damnation a thousand times over. Without a doubt the single most disappointing game I have ever had the misfortune to sully my Xbox with, and that single achievement I have on it will forever stain my profile. As a poor student, spending £6 in the hopes a decent steampunk game was a risk. I returned it the same day. Everything about it was a letdown. The graphics were outdated, the mechanics were sloppy and glitchy, and the voice acting made my ears cry. It wasn’t even vaguely playable, and is the one game I actually regret buying. The company should give people money as an apology. Or just apologise personally to each and every person who played it. It’s that bad.


This generation was quite a golden age for gaming, but perhaps that view is more through the tinted specs of emotion – of how I personally connected with it, and of the memories attached to various games. Regardless, it was a rollercoaster – not in terms of it having been exhilarating, but purely because it was up and down. Microsoft soared so high, and fell so very far. Such a sad, flaccid end to what was, for them, perhaps their finest hour.

To quote Jonny Lee Miller in a long-forgotten hacker flick: ‘I don’t play well with others.’ Before Fisher Stevens comes and smashes up my shit with a baseball bat, I should explain – I loathe multiplayer games with a passion. Yet, perhaps my most powerful memories of this gen are from a game that I leapt into with others: Burnout Paradise.

True, I prowled the streets alone and loved every moment, hunting gates and super jumps, and idling around the White Mountains on a Sunday afternoon, listening to Beethoven. But then there were the packed multiplayer sessions with fellow GL members. Messing about on the beach, trawling around the airfield, chatting over Xbox Live, and occasionally knocking down some challenges as soon as everyone (despite playing the game for years) figured out how to get on/off the fucking I-88.

Some of those friends aren’t even on my Xbox 360 friends list anymore – people fall out, move on, or fade away. The memories are there though. Happy ones. Good times – and those, as we all know, can be like gold dust. If I were to go back to the game now, how empty would it feel? Could I even look back through the snaps that I took? The fact that I have to stop and ponder that, shows what an impact it had, more through memories than (admittedly fantastic) gameplay. That is a good game.

For my best game, see above, although I could easily say Oblivion, for the pure escapism, the happy afternoons pottering about in the Imperial City, or rearranging my sharp and pointy things in various cupboards in my Skingrad pad. It was absorbing, beautiful, epic, and I only have to hear the music to be swept back there, although with that same note of sadness as Burnout Paradise… for games now slipping away behind us and into memory where they become steeped in nostalgia and emotion. It may be a sad thing, but it’s not a bad thing… is it?

I’ve been lucky not to have hit many shitty games, although playing Earth Defense Force 2017 came pretty close. However, it is saved by the game’s sheer panini feel (so much cheese and ham). So I’ll go with Microsoft recklessly squandering close to ten years of pure respect, devotion, and fealty. Games should never be an afterthought.


My memory is shit, but when thinking of this generation one event stands out beyond everything else. It was one of the few times I’ve sat down to play a new video game and physically shook with excitement. It was 2007 and the next in my favourite (at the time) series of video games had just been released. Halo 3. I was one of those kids – we’d call them COD players these days – who was fanatical about the Halo series. The IP meant the world to me and I bought heavily into the hype; we would finish the fight and strike down the covenant and the flood.

I vividly remember sitting on the sofa in my parents’ living room fumbling with the plastic wrap, hands shaking and the shiver down my spine when the choir hit the first few notes of the theme. For the next few days I was sucked in to this world I was passionate about and I loved every moment. At the time it was the most beautiful game I’d ever seen.

Thinking with my head, my best game would probably be GTA 5; at least in terms of technical achievement that game far surpasses anything that has come before it on consoles. The way that Rockstar delivered the individual stories of three different characters, spun those stories together, and yet still made us care was an incredible feat. The visuals and the scale are never seen outside of the realm of the PC game, and due to that it deserves the game of the year spot this year if nothing else.

With my heart though, it has to be Batman: Arkham Asylum. Here was a game that spoke to every fan of DC Comics’ caped crusader. It was aimed at a mature audience, stuck to the source material, and delivered scenes that took us by surprise. Who can forget the Scarecrow’s fear gas? That simple play on every console owner’s fear created a moment of gaming history. For just a moment we were part of the game; the fear gas has seeped through the TV. We didn’t see Batman’s wildest fears, we saw our own. It had been done before in games like Metal Gear Solid, but not at a time when in the back of all gamers’ minds was that fear that your Xbox might red ring on you, or the PS3 might become a paperweight. It was so incredibly well put together that it will always be one of those games that I can return to over and over.

There have been a few let downs this generation. Dead Rising, the original, was a bit of a let-down for me. I just could never get in to it. Before the days when I had an HD TV the text on screen wouldn’t display properly and I was left feeling lost in this mall full of the undead. Then there was the massive online shooter which promised battles with over 256 players, MAG which died a quick death due to the lack of quality.

The biggest let down of this generation, however, was a game that made me despair at the state of the consoles towards the end of this generation. The visuals were dull (not as dull as the story) and while the developers tried to do something different with some elements of gameplay, they failed to achieve an effective stealth system. The trailers boasted so much: multiple paths and fast paced action, yet we were left with a game that ended abruptly, and which was linked together with a crazy number of loading screens. The freedom that we thought we would get based on the trailers was nowhere to be found as players were funnelled between levels. Dishonored wears the crown.


While the PS2/Xbox/GameCube represents a large chunk of my childhood, it’s the last generation of consoles that saw me develop from a snivelling brat into a slightly larger, more confident snivelling brat. I remember waking up on my fourteenth birthday, bright eyed and bushy tailed, running into my parents’ bedroom to find a sparkly new Xbox 360 awaiting me, full of mystery and excitement. I played Viva Piñata and Crackdown to death; two very different games, but both bright and colourful and filled with promise and potential. Years passed, and my mother gave me permission to play 18-rated games, opening me up to a raft of violent and mature content that I had only before seen in snippets. Gears of War swiftly became a favourite for me and my friends, and I created lasting memories by staying up all night beating Army of TWO and Kane and Lynch: Dead Men with some of my closest buddies.

And then I fell in love, and chose to share some of the biggest gaming moments with that person. I have tried to reclaim some of these memories for myself recently; Bastion sticks strongly in my mind as something I can’t separate from her, but I beat it again anyway. So many stories shared, moments witnessed together. The end of Portal 2, and how we sat, bemused, giggling to ourselves throughout. The entirety of L.A. Noire, debating if someone was telling truths or lies. Deciding how to raise Clementine in The Walking Dead as though she were our child. Witnessing the downfall of our relationship told through the story of Catherine, before we knew it was going to happen. Rayman Origins, a game we spent over a year playing on and off, lay unfinished for so long after the break-up until I couldn’t bear it anymore and had to take on the final boss alone. It’s been an emotional ride, one which has changed me in a multitude of ways, and I thank the developers for providing hours of fantastic entertainment that helped me through it.

Despite its link to that relationship, Catherine will forever remain my favourite game of the last generation. Coming completely out of left-field, the incredibly Japanese tale of Vincent, who finds himself battling through block-pushing puzzles to escape nightmares and continue cheating on his girlfriend, had me hooked before there were even talks of a UK release. When I finally got my grubby mitts on a copy, I ravenously devoured every second I could, absorbing its wonderful script, great voice acting and beautiful art style as though my life depended on it. It’s one of those games that slips out of my mind every now and then, but every time I remember it a huge grin sweeps across my face and I find myself with an overwhelming urge to dive straight back into it and shift more blocks around.

That said, as with every generation of consoles, there have been some seriously bad releases to go with the stellar ones. Far Cry 2 was such an endless slog that, despite re-buying it three times, I could never get beyond the first three hours of gameplay before abandoning the whole enterprise. Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, a game I hoped would be bad, proved to be simply mediocre, and that is a far worse crime. It was so hideously dull, rather than being unbearably awful, that you can hardly point and laugh at it so much as glance over and sigh.

But perhaps the biggest let-down was the much-anticipated No More Heroes, a game that had me dusting off the Wii only to realise I shouldn’t have bothered. As a huge fan of SUDA51 and almost everything he produces, it was tough for me to have to admit I wasn’t actually enjoying No More Heroes as much as I said I was. It was far too repetitive for no real reason, the controls were too fiddly, and it never really went anywhere. I still hold out hope that the Japanese-only 360 re-release finds itself to Europe at some point so I can try it again on a conventional controller, but until then I remain disappointed in what should’ve been the Wii’s killer app.

It’s been a long and emotional generation for me, as I’m sure it has been for other people. There have been highs and there have been lows, but overall I’m happy with what has come out, and excited to see what comes next. With games showing better stories and more maturity towards the end of this cycle, it’ll be interesting to see the games that kick off the next generation, and find out if they carry on this narrative-driven trend or simply fall back into unit-shifting shooters once more to try and kick-start a new generation of consoles that, so far, don’t appeal to me. Time will tell.


I may be an old retro gamer who’ll go on about the Speccy, Amiga and Dreamcast until one of us is dead but this has been my favourite generation. Where the previous generation just upped the polygon counts and not much else, this generation was the one that really brought online gaming to console gamers. Co-op and competitive online play, world leaderboards and the achievements system have all expanded the horizon for gamers and, of course, you can just chat too which has helped bring gaming communities like this one together.

It’s also introduced us to a bunch of online cunts too but whatever.

Favourite moments of the current gen – firing off my first rocket in Earth Defense Force 2017 and seeing a building in the distance crumble to dust. Also, seeing that final achievement pop in Dead Rising after spending an entire Saturday trying to survive.

Oh god… so many choices for best game. How do you ignore the original Dead Rising, the RPG powerhouse that is Oblivion, the co-op greatness of GRAW2, the sheer epicness of GTA V or the Mass Effect series? Simple. You choose Chime. An unassuming puzzler that has managed to hold my attention for years now.

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is what happens when you try to get American nerds to follow up the work of Japanese psychopaths. A joyless grind by a bunch of fucking imbeciles who should be in a hospital wondering why their legs don’t work anymore.


This last gen was a bit hit and miss for me; I got hold of a 360 around six months or so after release but the console itself never really got its hooks into me. After a while I pretty much gave up on the Xbox and it wasn’t until I received a PS3 Slim, bundled with Uncharted 2, one Christmas that I bothered with a console again. For me Uncharted was something else; I loved the gameplay, loved the characters, and loved sliding between people’s legs and punching them in the dick! Uncharted 2 was worth the price of admission alone and made me want to play on a console again rather than my PC. I’m not even going to bother mentioning the Wii, despite owning one…

Favourite moment of the current gen: Red Dead Redemption‘s free-roam multiplayer. The multiplayer element was great fun and, excluding MMOs, I hadn’t experienced a free-roaming multiplayer game like this before, certainly not on a console. You can’t beat running around on a horse whilst shooting people in the face for no particular reason other than you could.

Best game of the current gen: I really enjoyed The Last of Us. The game grabbed me by the proverbials from the get go and wouldn’t let go until I’d finished it. I’m currently on my third playthrough doing a ‘new game plus’ run on the ‘survivor’ difficulty and I’ve not even touched the multiplayer yet. I was very impressed by this game and hope the inevitable sequels are released on the PS3 as well as the PS4.

Biggest let down: One of the first games I got for my 360 was Dead Rising. Nowadays everyone is pretty sick of zombie games and they generally get a lot of bad press because of that but at the time Dead Rising was released everyone was loving it. The reviews were good, the screenshots looked cool but when I got down to play it I thought it was utter rubbish. Boring characters, stupid timed missions, a bollocks picture taking mechanic… I hated the lot. A couple of years ago I bought Dead Rising 2 for the PS3 because it was cheap and I’ve not even had it in me to play it yet. I hope to get round to it before the next, next gen.


Several years and 313 games later, I truly feel as though my Xbox 360 experience is coming to a satisfying close. I’ve played more games on this generation that I have ever played on any other format, and possibly more than them all combined from Commodore Vic 20 through to the modern PC. This generation brought ‘HD’ graphics into the living room and expanded the horizons of the traditional gaming console to include web browsers, apps, multimedia streaming and caught up with the PC generation in terms of online and social connectivity.

Let’s not also forget that it was this generation that truly embraced the Internet and the ever-increasing speed and bandwidth of people’s connections. Games on demand, smaller titles in the form of Xbox Live Arcade and PSN and, of course, the homebrew indie titles all delivered over the net at a few presses of a button. With it, the Internet brought its own inherent downsides. Games slipped in terms of quality control with ‘day one’ patches and constant updates, large boxed expansions withered away to make way for bite-sized DLC and frivolous costly add-ons such as outfits or weapon skins. Outrage and backlash came against those who put DLC on the disc with the intention that it would be unlocked by a separate purchase later, and the terrible scourge of online passes and micro transactions.

My favourite moment of this generation was probably two or three years ago when my core group of friends were all around at my house with their Xbox 360s and we were all playing Gears of War 2’s ‘horde mode’. It was by far the game in which I’ve spent the most time playing with others, as usually I prefer single-player games and hate PvP with a passion. I do like me a good co-op though, and so five of us blasting our way through waves of locust and the drunken joys and frustrations that go along with it is a memory I’ll always remember… plus it helped that the Xbox was so compact after years of lugging a great PC around to LAN parties back in the day.

It’s hard to nail down a single favourite game; this generation brought us some amazing new franchises: Mass Effect, Gears of War, Assassin’s Creed, Saint’s Row and Borderlands. It was also the generation that brought back games from classic consoles as ‘HD’ remakes or emulated originals. Playing through Streets of Rage and other classics I’ve not played since the days of the Mega Drive were a great blast of nostalgia. My favourite game is a recent one though – XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It’s an awesome game and a genre that needed revisiting/bringing to consoles. I’m hopeful that a few more turn-based tactical games may hit the next generation now that, hopefully, the demand for such titles has been established. XCOM delivered the perfect mix of modern gaming graphics and playability with a classic genre and most of all by sticking to what made the original so great. Completing that game on impossible was my greatest achievement of this generation, both in terms of enjoyment getting there and the satisfaction of having that against my gamertag.

The biggest let down of the generation, for me, was Gears of War 3. I was really looking forward to seeing how the story ended and getting answers to all the questions like where did the Locust come from? Why is the Queen human looking? What happened to Fenix’s mother?

I’d even been taken in by the books, having read (and enjoyed) all of the Karen Traviss novels, so I was pretty excited when they named Karen as being involved with the Gears 3 story. New story, new colour palette, new horde mode where you play as locust – what could go wrong?! Well, sadly, a lot. The story was mostly abysmal with your whole game effectively being a dull search for fuel, although the end of the third act was actually a moment of great shock and the exception to the rest of the game. The new co-op multiplayer modes were great but the magic from ‘horde’ in Gears 2 was missing; we never played it for a tenth of the time that we played the original. There were the stupid on-rails sections, the ridiculous achievements and the confusing arcade vs story modes. Finally though, it didn’t wrap up any of the questions I had about the locust and, worse, was a stupidly cheesy and lame ending that I’d not have expected from a trilogy of games where a chainsaw is stuck to an automatic rifle.

I hope the next generation delivers true 1080p gaming in the living room but, in terms of other advances, I think it has a huge challenge to impact console/living room gaming as much as this current generation has. Mind you, it’s early days – ask me again in another eight years…

Last five articles by Mark R


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