Superheros haven’t always been given a fair chance in the video game world. Most of their releases have been cruddy movie tie-ins, released alongside films for a quick cash-grab. Fortunately, Rocksteady Studios set to correct this error within the gaming industry in 2009 by dropping upon us a Batman game that not only offered an elaborate comicbook-esque storyline, but also made you feel like the Bat himself, complete with an arsenal of gadgets, impressive combo-based fighting moves and engaging stealthy gameplay. Exploring the Arkham Asylum introduces various villains of the Batman universe, and plenty of surprises to keep you guessing.
For a while there you couldn’t swing a dead euphemism without hitting a Metroidvania, but they’ve been few and far between in recent years. Shadow Complex still holds up as one of the best examples of the genre on console, though, thanks to its sprawling map, clever use of abilities, and plenty of secrets. The story is just there enough to drive the action without getting in the way, but still decently epic once things start rolling. Shadow Complex follows the Metroidvania concept to a T, and nails every part of the genre’s best parts perfectly.
Alan Wake knows how to develop an eerie setting. In fact, we may go on the record and say that Wake probably nailed the concept of spooky atmosphere better than any game of its kind over this past generation. The remoteness felt in Alan Wake’s adventure, delivered both by the story taking place in Alaska, coupled with how brilliantly laid out the world and levels are, put players on edge for the entire adventure. There’s a constant sense of tension and dread, so much so that Alan Wake can be an uncomfortable game to power through simply because of how physically and emotionally exhausting it can be. Its gameplay mechanics also accentuate its premise, rarely giving players an abundant of weapons, meaning that much of the time in Alan Wake folks will be running for their life. This in and of itself is terrifying. There are many components that make up a good horror game — fortunately for Alan Wake, it delivers them all, in spades.
The first Assassin’s Creed was more of a tech demo than a game with its repetitive mission structure and flawed, but fun gameplay. Ubisoft sure was taking notes because two years later they came back with what is arguably the best game in the franchise. Assassin’s Creed II overhauled everything that was in Assassin’s Creed and made it better. More varied missions, more things to do in the game’s world, secrets to discover and the best protagonist in the franchise; Ezio Auditore de Firenze.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl may have not been a giant leap forward for the series, but its refinement is bar-none impressive. With a giant roster chockfull of returning warriors and clamored-for fan favorites, Brawl is every bit as fun as the installments upon which it was built, and yet far more complete. Much like many Nintendo franchises, the beauty is in the details. Better still, and also what sets it apart from Melee and the original, is the wildly deep and satisfying single player campaign. But, it’s how Brawl plays that wins the awards, here. With such a large cast of characters that each feel unique and different from the rest means that there’s a champion for nearly every player out there.
While the third game in the popular series was given the Bethesda facelift, New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, a company consisting of multiple staff responsible for the original Fallout adventures. While similar to Fallout 3 in terms of gameplay, exploring post-apocalyptic Nevada and encountering its many offbeat citizens reflects the outlandish writing found in the first two games of the series, digging into the darkest corners of humor. Other improvements include a survival mode and related skill, iron-sights for weapons, combating factions and a whole batch of interesting additions.
While many probably only know about Hotline Miami as the absolutely brutal game that seeks to drown the player in blood, there is an amazing experience behind all of the violence. Part action, part strategy, and part puzzle game, Hotline Miami is a devilishly clever game that will work your mind as much as it does your reflexes. While the game’s focus on the retro is apparent from the moment you start the game, this feels every bit a modern and innovative shooter. With loads of weapons and even more blood, there are few other experiences in gaming that provide the same adrenaline rush as Hotline Miami.
Games nowadays are so serious and grim, but Saints Row: The Third isn’t. It is probably one of the silliest games ever released, and that’s why it’s so good. Saint’s Row: The Third is a spoof of many of today’s gaming conventions and wraps it all up in one hilarious story filled with ridiculous characters and scenarios. Wrapped up in strong gameplay mechanics and an open-world that’s begging for you to slap its citizens around with a giant purple dildo bat, Saints Row: The Third is one of the funniest games you’ll ever play.
While the last two video game life cycles were rich with Japanese RPGs, this generation isn’t exactly flourishing. An experience from original Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Lost Odyssey is true to his roots but features a darker more brooding tone as the world is in constant conflict and immortals certainly don’t help. While people can complain that they have to actually read the incredibly well written and emotional tales of Kaim’s past, the execution is well worth the praise. Next-generation Mistwalker games are desired immensely if they’re anything like Lost Odyssey.
Going into this console generation Microsoft knew they needed more killer-IPs then just Halo. So, they teamed up with Epic Games to create the next must have Xbox exclusive. The end result; Gears of War. Brutal, violent and full of chainsaws, Gears of War was a graphical showcase for what the Xbox 360 could do. It was also the first game to perfect the cover-based gameplay the series has become known for. On top of this, Epic crafted a well told story about a world push to the brink of extinction by a race of underground ‘grubs.’ Also, that intense multiplayer with chainsaw wielding players was ridiculously fun.
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