I feel a strange sense of sadness as I write this and reflect upon the absolutely fantastic and massively marvellous generation of console gaming that was the era of the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. The glory days of this magnificent time that began all the way back in 2005 are long behind us and the last days of a golden age are coming to a turtle paced but gradual close. My own positive experiences with some of the games to have been released during this time for both consoles are too numerous to count and so I shall attempt to restrict myself and condense this article into a list of what I deem to be the absolute pinnacle of quality for a generation. Here is part 1 of the greatest gaming offerings to have arrived on these particular platforms and in no particular order.
“Would You Kindly?” – Atlas
I had a limited time of a singular weekend to get through this hugely atmospheric game in the dwindling summer days of 2007 before I would be parted from my console for a while, but it was a weekend of gaming bliss that has stuck with me until this day. Nearly everything about it was, and still is, perfect. From the surprisingly surreal yet plausible underwater city setting and its accompanying story that is replete with twists and turns to the haunting hallways of the dead underwater city of Rapture, nothing disappointed me. I fell in love with this city littered with the memories of the dead and its many dark depths and murky corridors. The story about memory loss, manipulation and how fragile our bodies and minds can be when subjected to the stresses of genetic tampering is phenomenal and a testament to its quality regarding just how perfectly blended the tense horror and the unpredictable action were interwoven. The genetic freaks that were the splicers offered some tense moments but let’s face if folks, the stars of this show were the creepy Little Sisters and their behemoth bodyguards known as the Big Daddies. It didn’t matter how powerful you became, you showed these guys the damned respect they deserved. I loved hacking everything to get cheaper prices (I’m a frugal bugger) and gaining access to a little army of turrets. When my fiancé played it she would always refer to one of them as Botson. My favourite locales were the Medical Pavilion toward the beginning, Arcadia/Farmers Market and the epic Fort Frolic. Each area had a unique personality and setting so you never felt like you were re-treading old ground. I was personally enthralled from start to finish so ‘would you kindly’ do yourself a favour and go and grab this for yourself if you haven’t delved into its dark depths already?
Xbox 360 Metacritic Score – 96
Personal Score – 10/10
“I don’t want to set the world on fire” – The Ink Spots on Galaxy News Radio
Before the announcement of this game in 2007 I had no idea that the Fallout game series existed, but after learning a little about what to expect I knew that by the time of its release in October of 2008, I definitely wanted it. Drawing from the previous entries in the series to take us into a first person perspective of the Capital Wasteland in the ruins of Washington DC, this game was able to marry alternate 1950’s art styles and atmospheric areas with a twist of science fiction and fantasy elements that just works so well. It felt like the game world was much bigger than it actually was because every corner of it was riddled with detail. From the moments I received my Pip-Boy, took the G.O.A.T (apparently I was supposed to be a preacher but I was having none of that, so I forged my results thanks to the help of Mr Brotch) and then emerged from Vault 101 not long after to a resplendent sunrise, I knew I was in for a SPECIAL experience (get it!?) The enemies were also iconic such as the freaky as all buggery (especially in the underground metro system) Feral Ghouls, the insane Super Mutant behemoths that want nothing more than to destroy your corpse and play with your rib cage to the daunting roving death dealing monstrosities known as the Deathclaws, there was danger and adventure everywhere. And I loved it. I ended up as a level 20 Paradigm of Humanity, with a penchant for Intelligence and a lovely collection of bobble-heads as I shot a bloody trail forward into the Power Armour wearing arms of the Brotherhood of Steel. So, did you blow up Megaton you naughty bugger?
Xbox 360 Metacritic Score – 93
Personal Score – 8/10
Red Dead Redemption
“It ain’t no secret I didn’t get these scars falling over in church.” – John Marston
Another near perfect masterpiece was unleashed upon the world in the spring of 2010 in the form of this wild western wonder of a game. I honestly do not believe that a single game, TV show or movie exists today that can transport you into this time period better than Red Dead Redemption, it is just that good. It was up to me to forge my own path through the frontiers of this open world that was chock full of bullet laden bandits, outlandish outlaws, inaccessible prostitutes (John Marston is a married man after all) and horse ravaging wildlife that wanted to scratch your face off. Seriously I am still traumatised to this day from losing my own horse to that sneaky prick of a cougar that struck from the shadows in the corner of the map whilst I was trying to gradually gain the ‘Spurred to Victory’ trophy. There were bounties to capture or kill, forts to assault, strangers to have some devious dealings with (do you remember the Strange Man in his dapper garb on the road to Armadillo?) and the story and its ending will go down in gaming history as one of the most shocking finales ever. And who can forget traipsing through the haunting town of Tumbleweed and other lonely places in the Wild West as well as hunting for gold and animal skins and pelts to trade for cash. The icing on the cake came in the form of the Undead Nightmare DLC which transformed the world into a zombie infested B-Movie that the developers transitioned seamlessly across the land, it was as if they had planned it from the start. It was, and still is, pure brilliance.
Playstation 3 Metacritic Score – 95
Personal Score – 9/10