Welcome to part 2 of my list of the greatest games that this particular generation had and still has to offer with another three recommendations now available for your perusal.
‘Don’t fear the Reapers.’
Many will likely agree that Mass Effect 2 stands as the best this series has to offer and I shall not argue with them. They are probably correct. But for me, the first one was the one that hooked me and it is a goliath of a space soap opera that had me absorbed into its universe from the moment I loaded it up. From the atmosphere setting mood music, the deep RPG combat mechanics and the diverse range of characters that you could meet to the enormously detailed and well realised universe, there was almost nothing about this that I didn’t like. I even enjoyed the Mako vehicle parts and battling those Threshers that would knock me into the stratosphere every now and then. Mass Effect 2 started to, in my opinion, represent what would become one of Bioware’s dominant philosophies as they continue to develop their series’ and that is the reduction of the RPG aspects in favour of an action oriented adventure. For me personally I will always love both parts to be equally represented without having to sacrifice one for the other and the first ME holds first place for what it was. Despite some disappointing DLC offerings, I played through and completed this game twice on both a Paragon and Renegade play through and the differences between the two are brilliant enough to make them feel like two entirely different iterations of the same person. My first ever Femshep was a cold hearted mega bitch who could kill you with the flick of her finger and I loved it!
Xbox 360 Metacritic Score – 91
Personal Score – 8/10
Gears of War
‘It’s a mad world.’ (Check out the brilliant trailer for the game)
Gears of War 2 was arguably the best representation that this series of gruesome gore fests has to offer but the game that sticks with me to this day is the one that raised the bar for third person shooters and set the tone for generation wide dominance on the Xbox 360. It was a fresh perspective for the average third person shooter with the now overly utilised cover mechanic being employed to near perfection. The world and story is gritty and fulfilling and there is such immense satisfaction in lining up a headshot with the Longshot or watching as your foe completely collapses into a pile of viscera due to a well-timed blast of the Torque Bow. And who can forget the iconic Lancer rifle replete with chainsaws that could carve your enemies in twain like a knife through butter. Thick, bloody, bone riddled butter! This game filled a meaty void during the first year of the 360’s existence and it still stands as one of its finest to this very day. GoW combined elements of adrenaline fuelled action, pulse pounding horror (Act 3’s Wretches were freaky as all buggery during that storm!) and four main protagonists that to the outside observer would appear clichéd and dull yet each of them contained enough personality and character that I still cherish their unique team dynamic to this day. There ain’t nothing that can mess with the Cole Train baby, WOOH!
Xbox 360 Metacritic Score – 94
Personal Score – 8/10
Dragon Age Origins
“Have you ever licked a lamp post in winter?” – Alastair
You could not accuse this admittedly dated looking game of being the prettiest belle of the ball back in late 2009, but I couldn’t give a flying toot! This dark fantasy RPG is absolutely oozing quality in the form of satisfying character development and battle tactics, an absolutely epic story of betrayal and ascension (damn you Loghain) and a world so riddled with depth and charm that the country of Ferelden remains one of my ultimate gaming locations to visit. You can even choose from six unique and diverse ways to start the game depending on character creator choices that you make. My favourites were the political intrigue of the Dwarven Noble and the dark twists of the Dalish Elf as well as the Mage origin, being particularly special for me. I chose the mage as my own character that would lead the Warden remnant into battle against the darkspawn and I enjoyed bringing along every single one of my battle hardened companions for the journey. I didn’t dislike using any one them and each had a unique story to tell and I felt like their contributions were significant and worthwhile. I consider the cast of DA: Origins to be the strongest group of game characters in the history of this industry and that is not something that is easily achieved. If I had to choose an ultimate line up it would consist of my character (silver tongued and diplomatic) as the mage, Alastair as the sword/shield wielding tank, Leliana as my archer and rogue and finally Sten as the massive skull cleaving Qunari that just rips every other straggler into pieces. Add to this the epic expansion that was the Awakening DLC and you have here hundreds of hours packed to the brim with some of the best dark fantasy role playing that gaming has to offer. Unleash your penchant for swooping for it is not always bad!
Playstation 3 Metacritic Score – 87
Personal Score – 9/10