Here we are, folks. The Top 10 Games of Last Generation. Well... the top nine. These are the games that (a really small sample of) democracy has chosen. When we look back on the past seven years, these are the games we'll remember -- the titles that will come to epitomise generation six, for us anyway.
We have multiplayer mainstays here, some of the finest storytelling to grace any medium, we have an indie smash hit that shook the industry to its very core and changed things forever, we have Rockstar's finest game of the generation (no GTA in sight), and two peerless RPGs fighting out to the very last. Welcome to the final countdown...
10. Halo 3
What we said: Whilst it might not be the groundbreaking FPS that the original was, doing away with the Epic Pistol, enormously expansive maps and the health bar amongst other things, Halo 3 is still an absolute triumph. The campaign is somewhat short, and there's the odd level of Flood trudging that slows the pace horrifically, but the AI, the music, the combat and the blockbuster credentials more than make up for it.
And then of course there's the multiplayer. Fast, frenetic and furious, at its worst you'll come across a bunch of 14 year old Americans who swear blindly, make offensive comments and clearly spend every free waking moment playing the game. But at its best, Halo 3's multiplayer is incredibly good fun with great server support, a reliable matchmaking system and an abundance of game types.
What we said: Irrational created the most memorable game world of the generation in Rapture, and left you to pick your way through its dilapidated bones, discovering its history at your own pace. The lack of direct choice (or the illusion of it) -- that is to say, the apparent absence of morality-driven narrative divergences -- didn't matter. Bioshock played with the nature of control and discovery, using exposition to give colour and depth to the horrors you'd witness, and then turning everything on its head.
Rarely have three words proved so absolutely devastating in any story across any medium. Bioshock isn't just a video game classic, it's a milestone in interactive fiction.
What we said: Portal surprised us all by arguably being the Best Thing inside the Orange Box...and that box contained Half Life 2! But it also starred one of the finest video game characters of all time: the wonderfully passive-aggressive mainframe GLaDOS. Portal also had one of the finest, funniest end credit scenes largely thanks to a certain song about cake by Jonathan Coulton. Bizarre mind-games, the unrequited, childish love of an intelligent machine, the promise of baked goods and therapy sessions and forging friendships with a painted cube made us do more than just think...it made us laugh too.
What we said: Looking back, it's difficult to imagine a time without Minecraft, such as been the way that Mojang's bundle of virtual building block as taken the industry by storm. It's not just the game itself either, Minecraft has changed the way everything works. It has helped turn everyday folk into millionaires thanks to the YouTube revolution. It has changed our perceptions of the development cycle -- both from a creative and consumer standpoint. It has grown beyond a mere tapestry of cyber LEGO to become an educational tool, a gateway into games for many, and example of grassroots success. It's more than a game: Minecraft is an ongoing event.
What we said: It’s not just the visuals, the peerless acting/script and gaming’s most likable hero that have made Uncharted 2 one of the finest adventures you’ll ever have. It’s just so goddamn exciting to play, refusing to side-line you while the cut-scenes step in and do the hard work; it’s you all the way. You’ll dread it having to end.
What we said: When you combine all the aspects present in Red Dead Redemption, what you're left with is a game that'll keep you going back for more, ticks all the boxes, and is arguably the best game that Rockstar have ever produced. The downsides to the game are so unbelievably small that you'll hardly give them a second thought, and if this doesn't win a Game of The Year award we want to see the game that beats it, because this is as close to perfect as they come.
4. Mass Effect
What we said: It's been over half a decade and we still can't get over what happened on Virmire.
The two sequels would refine the action and remove many of the mechanical problems that plagued the first Mass Effect (deletion is not the same as fixing or even improving), but no other RPG (bar one) comes close to touching BioWare's outstanding space opera. One of the greatest interactive storytelling experiences of all time, the plot was expertly crafted in the first game and unfolded perfectly, paced to perfection, and with an ideal foil for Shepard in Saren Arterius -- a visible, relatable villain. But even more than the story, we fell in love with this universe, the characters and races therein. Mass Effect captured the wonder of going out into the unknown, uncovering long-hidden secrets about the past, discovering new civilisations, and learning something new about universe every step of the way.
What we said: Like the finest feel-good films, or those books you read again and again until the title on the spine is illegible from creasing, Journey is a game that exhibits pure joy. It plays with it, subverts it, threatens to take it away at times, but the end result is something inherently euphoric, deeply personal and, dare we say, even a little bit spiritual as well.
What we said: Bethesda have managed to meet, and perhaps exceed, the expectations placed upon the fifth entry in the series. With so much freedom to play the role you wish to, and a huge area to explore, those looking for a deep medieval fantasy experience will get their money’s worth with this one. As far as we're concerned, Skyrim is the pinnacle of the RPG genre.
Only one game left to go. What do you think has topped our list? Tune in tomorrow to find out! If you need a refresher of what has come before, click here to catch up with all the posts from our Games of the Generation series.
Remember, you can put forward your votes in the Community Top 50. Find out how to participate by clicking here.