It's official: next-gen is here, and soon, it'll be current-gen. The Wii U's been around for a full year now, the PS4 hit this past week, and the Xbox One debuts today. Looking back at the past eight years of the seventh generation of video game consoles, there's been a lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of DLC. Some of CRN's most avid gamers pored through their libraries and Achievement/Trophy lists to find their favorites from the past generation! Join them in this three-part feature looking back at Generation Seven!
FAVORITE XBOX 360 EXCLUSIVE
JOSEPH LUSTER - Alan Wake
Xbox 360 is a weird console. It's definitely my favorite and most-played of the generation, but it also has hands-down the weakest exclusives. I just enjoyed the convenience of owning one, Xbox Live, and the fact that most of my friends were online at any given moment. When coming up with my favorite exclusive, I almost went with Lost Odyssey before remembering how tedious that one became. What a shame.
Thus, I'm gonna have to go with Alan Wake. My first instinct was the obvious--Gears of War--because I played it so much online when it came out. However, when I look back on it, it's not something I'm really keen on revisiting. On the other hand, I was absolutely sucked into Alan Wake's world and story, and it's one of the only games that's ever successfully nailed that "slasher in the woods" style of horror and dread in some moments.
Runner-up - Condemned: Criminal Origins
This hit PC a few months after 360, but for a short while it was a Microsoft exclusive, and it remains the second-best bum-battling simulator of all time. The first best is Condemned 2, which is one of the best games of the entire generation.
NATE MING - Gears of War 3
I don't think any other game that wasn't titled Street Fighter or Mass Effect stayed in my 360 quite as long as Gears of War 3. It may have wrapped up the story, it may have added some new things to multiplayer, but what really kept me coming back--and what keeps me coming back--is the vastly-expanded Horde Mode. Versus multiplayer is cool and all, but there's something special about five friends (or five complete strangers) banding together to fight fifty increasingly-stronger waves of enemies. Also, I've always been a big fan of Gears' world and characters, so it was a great way to say goodbye to them.
Why, what's Gears of War: Judgment? I've never heard of that one.
Runner-up - Alan Wake
It seems like the truly tense, unforgiving survival-horror games have migrated to PC, but every now and then, consoles get something really worth checking out--in this case, a creepy and atmospheric horror story about a writer whose wife disappears while they're on vacation. This game is best played in the dark, one episode per night--marathoning it in one day just kills the suspense.
FAVORITE WII EXCLUSIVE
JOSEPH LUSTER - Super Mario Galaxy 2
One of the best Mario games of all time. Super Mario Galaxy 2 took everything Nintendo nailed the first time around and somehow made it better. I teared up when I finished it, not because I was sad, but because it was a truly beautiful game. Nintendo remains inventive as hell when it comes to platformers, and this one seemed like a well of ideas that refused to run dry. As for the music, well... *kisses fingers and spreads them in an elegant motion* MUAH!
Runner-up - MadWorld
Platinum Games is pretty great overall, and MadWorld is one of my favorites by them. It's rude 'n crude and the closest thing we have to a modern Smash TV. It's a shame their games don't sell very well, because Platinum is one of those rare developers that actually tries something different. The visual style alone is still daring as hell.
NATE MING - Super Mario Galaxy
Technically, both games could go here, but while Super Mario Galaxy 2 is bigger, more insane, and includes Yoshi, the first game has always charmed me more. Gamers always like to say that gameplay is more important than graphics, and then immediately forget saying that when Nintendo gets brought into the conversation. The smoothest, most refined and innovative platforming around, Super Mario Galaxy also has what I consider the best soundtrack of the entire generation.
Runner-up - Punch-Out!!
Arcade-style gameplay has fallen out of favor with a lot of people, and that makes me sad. The whole point of playing games, at least for me, has been to win--either to beat another person, or to beat whatever demoniac created the game--and Punch-Out!! brought me back to those days, if only for a few fleeting hours. The challenge, the style, the ferocity, the drive to get back in there and beat my times... it was great to have Little Mac in the ring again.
AMANDA RUSH - Mario Kart Wii
It's hard to top a game that's been done so well so many times, but Mario Kart Wii did just that. I grew up on the mario franchise, and Mario Kart was the pinnacle of party games throughout the years. I played the older games with a vicious, foul-mouthed group of game junkies who always kept me on my toes and made me work for it. Mario Kart Wii brought that social experience back with the added hilarity of the motion feature on the Wiimotes--finally, all that involuntary leaning people do during racing games pays off. I loved that they added old courses to the new ones; I love that five years later, Rainbow Road still makes people curse. It's a great game, and to this day practically lives in my Wii.
Runner-up - New Super Mario Bros. Wii
They took the elements that made classic Super Mario Bros. good, and brought them back without trying to smash any unnecessary Wii motion features in. Classic, simple, perfect.
FAVORITE PLAYSTATION 3 EXCLUSIVE
JOSEPH LUSTER - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Everyone makes jokes about Drake coldly murdering hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers, and when you put his adventure in the harsh light of reality it all seems pretty pointless and dumb. Good thing Naughty Dog has mastered their unique brand of bombastic presentation, because the previous criticism is what really seems petty when it comes to one of the best action franchises of the last generation.
My only complaint with the Uncharted series--the second of which I think is the overall best--is it always ends up turning an awe-inspiring sense of discovery into a drab shoot-a-thon against ridiculously armored soldiers. But even that can't sour the special feeling you get when you enter a new area and scope out a wide shot of beauty only the PS3 can muster.
Runner-up - 3D Dot Game Heroes
This was the most fun Zelda game of the last generation. I love the tilt-shift style visuals that make it look like 8-bit sprites come to life, and again, the music--MUAH!
NATE MING - Valkyria Chronicles
Somehow successfully mashing together turn-based strategy, third-person cover shooting, RPG character development, and visuals that still impress five years later into one amazing package, Valkyria Chronicles was what got me to want a PS3. It truly stands out as a must-play title that's unlike just about anything else on the market, unless you count the "vampires and werewolves fighting Nazis" insanity of Operation Darkness.
Runner-up - Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
While it's definitely no MGS3, Guns of the Patriots was as memorable and brain-frying as we've come to expect from a Metal Gear game. Wrapping up tons of loose ends from Solid Snake's saga and ending on a beautifully bittersweet note, MGS4 was for a long time the reason to own a PS3.
AMANDA RUSH - The Last of Us
Puzzles, survival strategy and a storyline with a lot more feels than your standard fare, The Last of Us employs tactics like Academy Award-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, scares, and a kicker of a beginning that emotionally grabs the player and doesn’t let go. With the glut of zombie properties out and about, it’s easy to rely heavily on the shambling undead to tell a story. The Last of Us relies on human emotion, and does a very good job of creating it in the gamer. I felt for Joel and Ellie--especially Ellie--and enjoyed every last minute of our gruesome, complicated and emotional journey together.
While that wasn't quite the super-long list I expected, it just goes to show how rare a standout console exclusive is in this day and age. What were your favorite platform-exclusive titles of the past generation? Sound off in the comments, and be sure to tune in same time tomorrow for PART TWO of our Farewell to Console Generation Seven, focusing on MULTIPLATFORM and GENRE FAVORITES!