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The Top 5 Xbox 360 Games - Remembering a Generation
Old and New
Introduction - The End of A Generation
At the time of this writing, a generation that began 8 years ago will officially transition to the new in less than a week. But what does this mean?
While many individuals will eagerly wait in line with bated breath for the next big thing, there are those who will now take the opportunity to delve into a mature library of journeys and experiences. So how to know which titles will entertain the most, and take the player on the grandest of said journeys and the richest of said experiences?
That is what this Hub sets out to do, to enlighten, hopefully entertain, and likely lead to some argument as to which titles are left out, and which are actually present. It is time to reflect on a generation, and some of the great moments it provided. So in no particular order, let's go to #1.
Important Note: Halo is not on here, nor Portal, nor Fable or many other titles that probably ought to be. I looked at titles that defined the generation, and while Halo and other titles certainly could be considered to do so, I decided not to include it.
A War-Ravaged World
#1: Gears of War - Rough, Gruff and Game-Changing
In 2006, the Xbox 360 was a still a toddling baby, and then, almost a year after its release, a title emerged that would assist in defining the console as 'hardcore' for the remaining years of its lifespan. That title was Gears of War.
Gears of War is a futuristic third-person shooter set in a ravaged and bleak world. Not exactly fodder for what would become one of the highest grossing game series of the past decade. But the basic premise laid a foundation for a robust and entertaining multiplayer, and a single-player story that has led to numerous novelizations, comic books, and mature plot development over the three additional titles after the original. It featured now essential game play mechanics for the genre, and offered a level of grit and raw action many titles still have trouble measuring up to.
The original Gears of War does have its flaws though. It is overly-macho, has a fairly bland color-palette and features a quick and dirty storyline that leaves something to be desired. But it still, despite almost 7 years passing, looks good. Gears is an essential title to play and see for yourself as an Xbox 360 owner. Playing the sequels is recommended as they improve on the original greatly, but if nothing else, find a used copy of the original game for $5.00 (or less), it will be money well-spent.
#2: Assassin's Creed 2 - The Renaissance + Knives
The first Assassin's Creed featured an interesting storyline, but a flawed game progression. Despite climbing over a realistically portrayed Holy Land of the Crusading era, the game left a bitter taste.
Assassin's Creed 2 put the franchise on the map, and has created one of the most popular series on current hardware. The story tells the life of an Italian assassin named Ezio Auditore, and his role in destroying the Templar Order. With tons of history, beautiful Renaissance-era locales to traipse through, and a good dose of both humor and action, the title remains the series high point.
Why is the title on the list? It was a real demonstration of next-gen, with the varied locations and great character animation. The title is not everyone's cup of tea though. It is violent, sometimes awkward, and features a conspiracy-laden storyline that some may not get into.
But, as a demonstration of storyline progression and interesting character development, the title is hard to beat.
Today, the series has become a foundational franchise for Ubisoft (it's developer and publisher). With the new title already debuting on the next generation of consoles. it also looks like the Assassin's Creed franchise is going to be sticking around for some time.
A Look at Assassin's Creed 2
#3: Call of Duty 4 - Modern Warfare (The Behemoth is Born)
In 2007, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was released to great acclaim. This title, after selling over 13 million copies worldwide, can be considered the beginning of the franchised beast that is the now yearly Call of Duty series.
Why did this title make such a difference? Well there were plenty of first-person shooters on the market, but both the earlier Call of Duty titles (and former 'rival' Medal of Honor games) were set in the era of World War 2.
Call of Duty 4 brought it into the modern era with an exciting Tom Clancy-esque story. The events were the material of Hollywood blockbusters, explosions and gunfire was abundant and the characters, while boring and rote, propelled the narrative along.
But the crux of the series, as it is to this day, was the multiplayer. Almost every gamer has seen or played a multiplayer bout of Call of Duty, and many of the millions of purchases of the title each year don't even touch the single-player campaign and dive straight into the online arena.
Since it's release, six additional titles have been released, and with it the Call of Duty train keeps on rolling along. It is possibly the definitive title of this generation, for better or for worse.
Call of Duty: By the Numbers
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
13 Million and Counting
Call of Duty: World At War
11 Million and Counting
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
12 Million and Counting
Call of Duty: Black Ops
11.22 Million and Counting
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
9 Million and Counting
#4: The Bethesda Duo - Skyrim and Fallout 3
I'm cheating here, but both games need to be mentioned and can be in the same breath.
Both are beautiful open-world role playing games.
Both have hundreds of hours of game play.
Both revolutionized the RPG genre.
Skyrim and Fallout 3 live in vastly different universes, one a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. and the other a fantasy world replete with dragons and Orcs. But both, in their respective times, created massive cultural gaming phenomenons.
Both titles are often the most discussed and mentioned when fondly recollecting the past 8 years of gaming, no matter the console or medium played on. While both titles contain the seemingly requisite open world glitches, they are easily overlooked in light of the underlying game mechanics. Each game allows true player choice to come through, and can facilitate a deeper character connection (despite the primary character never really 'speaking') than many narrative driven titles.
Many gamers place Skyrim over Fallout as a series or vice versa, in my mind they are different flavors of the same tasty ice cream. As such, they should be considered an essential part of any gamers library. Given the time which can be invested within, they certainly are worth every penny spent on them.
#5: Bioshock - Games Make Waves
Bioshock (and its recent 'sequel' in Bioshock:Infinite) has a unique role in gaming.
It provides a point of conversation between non-gamers and gamers alike. The topics contained therein are universal philosophical points of discussion, and if delved into can provide an additional intellectual exercise on top of the standard game playing.
Graphically, Bioshock was unique and breathtaking, finding a city under the sea was something gamers had never really experienced before. The added horror elements provided a deeper interest in the universe, and the completely optional dives into the backstory of the characters inhabiting the metropolis allowed gamers to understand the reasoning (however flawed it may have been) behind the action being taken in the narrative.
While the ending is fairly derided, it still proves as a high point in this generation on the whole, and it should be an essential item in every gamers library.
As games go, they are usually only recommended or discussed by the non-gaming community with negative connotations, Bioshock has proven to be an avenue for the now rote 'Games as Art' discussion and is an illustrative example of high-brow game design.
After playing Bioshock, you may certainly have a greater appreciation for the work and talent behind designing a major title.