As promised I’m bringing you a “best of…” series for the last generation of gaming.  The PS3/360/Wii generation was a robust and diverse one.  Because of this era’s breadth I wanted more than one opinion representing “The Best of” on Winsomnia.  My own installment will be coming in the next week but in the meantime my friend Kenny Dungar was kind enough to share his.

Kenny is a friend from the college days and a respected video game peer.  His lineage and dedication to gaming is as intense and esteemed as anyone’s.  We disagree on some sentiments of gaming; share others (notably an unhealthy love of Metal Gear Solid).  Some of my favorite video game conversations have involved him.  I’m happy to have him contributing to Winsomnia.

Without further ado…

 

Kenny D’s List:

This list is based on a mixture of games that I feel are the most remarkable over the past 7 or so years. I picked games that demonstrate positive trends over the generation but this list is skewed towards what I had the most fun with. I skipped over many games that were very well made but didn’t really do anything differently. 

 

Spelunky

The growth of Rogue-like games (it’s not worth fighting about genre titles) has been incredible over the last two or three years of this generation.  Dark Souls, Rogue Legacy, FTL, XCOM, and Spelunky are all games that require a huge amount of trial and error to progress and each game punishes you continuously in ways that you never see coming.  There is a set of rules to this world and if you try to defy them you will lose progress.  Your decisions have swift, severe consequences.

There is a certain amount of irony that the most remarkable trend over the past few years is something that started in the arcade era.  But it’s great to see strong, well refined mechanics take the lead in games.

Spelunky is my favorite from this crop of games because there is a fairly high skill ceiling on gameplay.  The core mechanics are simple but deep.  Spelunky draws inspiration from many 2D character platforms (especially ones from the Genesis) but using tight, modern controls gives the game new complexity.

Honestly any of the games I listed could appear on a list of important games this generation, I just had the most fun with Spelunky.  The joy of the game is how  it can create such anger when it wipes out 30 or 40 minutes worth of progress but at the same time conditions you to say “Oh well, I won’t do that again.”

 

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect is the most remarkable franchise of this generation.  Mass Effect 2 is the best installment.  Admittedly, the character customization is weaker than Mass Effect 1 and the story events have the least importance in the greater universe.  However, the characters and combat are incredibly enjoyable.  Bioware has made many games before Mass Effect and those previous efforts taught them how to make an engaging story with lovable characters.

Also, the Shadow Broker DLC for Mass Effect 2 is the best downloadable content to date.  DLC was an important part of game development this generation and Shadow Broker is the finest example of how to do it right.

 

Batman: Arkham City

The combat in Arkham City is the finest moment-to-moment gameplay this generation.  It’s smooth and lets you feel powerful.  The arenas are all designed in a way that you can complete perfectly and if something goes wrong it’s your fault.  The diversity of combat arenas and predator missions made Arkham City a dense and robust game.

 

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

There was a time once when “RPG elements” were something novel to have in a game. Now-a-days almost every game has some form of progression or advancement.  COD4 was the first major game to take “leveling up” and use it in a totally different genre.  The insidious design of the game makes every moment tense and captures the “just one more game” feeling better than anything else out there.  I played Modern Warfare 2 quite a bit and then quit COD in general but the original Modern Warfare forever changed the landscape of first person shooters.

 

Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed (the original) is a solid but incredibly restricted game.  The sequels greatly improved many of the mechanics and gameplay (AC: Brotherhood is my personal favorite).  The remarkable thing the franchise did was make the world and scenery part of the game.  In the PS2 era the world was largely a series of cardboard boxes that blocked the player.  Grand Theft Auto 3 was a remarkable game for the PS2 but the world was dead aside from the city streets.  In Assassin’s Creed the player had the ability to climb any wall or run across any roof; not just ones designed to interact with the player.  For the first time the technology was there to allow the world to be a part of the game and not just backdrop.  Infamous, Prototype, and Red Faction all took that inspiration and made interesting games with it.

I would also like to throw a quick recommendation toward Red Faction: Guerrilla.  When I was a kid I always thought it would be cool if I could bomb any wall in Zelda, not just the ones designed to be.  Red Faction felt like that dream coming to fruition.  The game had moments where you were being shot at by a group of mercenaries on a building and instead of killing them you could simply shoot a rock and level the entire structure.  That felt amazing. Red Faction: Guerrilla never quite managed to string those awesome moments into a full featured game, though.  But the seed of greatness is there.  I am disappointed in how Red Faction: Armageddon turned out but I hope the demolition tech lives on as games move to the new generation.

 

Braid

This one is pretty simple.  Braid is incredible.  Its role runs deeper than just being a good game though; indie PC titles have been around forever.  Braid was the first major indie development to hit the Xbox 360 and it paved the way for many, many excellent games to follow.  More importantly, the bolstered indie market on the Xbox reinvigorated indie development on the PC.  I’m sad that Microsoft hasn’t been as helpful to indie devs since those early years of the 360.  Now it just means awesome games are available on Steam first instead.

 

Honorable Mentions

If I had to recommend my favorite games that don’t already appear on this list they would be: Mark of the Ninja, Iron Brigade, Civilization 5, Mario Galaxy, and Rayman Legends.  They may not be super original but I had a wonderful time with each one.

 

Like what Kenny had to say?  He’s given you permission to stalk him via his Facebook Page.

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