#20 – Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360, 2011)
There are two ways of looking at Skyrim. The first is that it’s one of the deepest and best looking games ever made, and the second is that it’s just a pretty spreadsheet.
I’ve seen it from both perspectives.
Once I had completed the main story of this one, I just didn’t feel the need to continue, even though I know I should go back to it. But it occurred to me that beyond the main story it did feel quite repetitive and just a case of collecting things into a list and then giving those same things away to other people.
It’s still a momentous achievement in gaming though, and well worthy of inclusion in the Top 20.
#19 – Dead Rising/Dead Rising 2 (Xbox 360, 2006 – 2010)
A great idea for a game that’s well executed. Though I personally didn’t feel the need to do more than one play-through of either game, I know people who did, and I can understand why.
It’s not possible to do everything in one run on Dead Rising.
While both are essentially the same game, that’s ok. Cutting through hordes of Zombies in a shopping mall/Las Vegas is worthy of a sequel.
That I won’t get a chance to play Dead Rising 3 on the Xbox One is a disappointment.
#18 – Borderlands 2 (PC, 2012)
While another First Person Shooter features higher up the list on the basis of its multiplayer mode, Borderlands 2 is for me the best single player FPS of the last generation.
Deep, great looking and with a challenging but progressive learning curve, Borderlands 2 also managed to be quite funny as well.
You can pick it up dirt cheap now too.
#17 – Everybody’s Golf: World Tour (Playstation 3, 2008)
For my money, a better game than any of the Tiger Woods series.
As much as it’s fun to play with real golfers on real golf courses, I prefer playing against the more colourful anime style Japanese characters of this Playstation franchise.
It’s also a more polished game than Tiger Woods too.
Sadly, this is the top golf game because Nintendo never bothered to release a new version of Mario Golf on the Wii, and even if they had, it would have had crappy motion controls with the Wiimote.
It should be pointed out though that the classic Mario Golf style is a copy of the Everybody’s Golf match engine. And that says all you need to know.
#16 – 42 All Time Classics (Nintendo DS, 2006)
Just a genius idea for a game.
As much as developers will try their best to come up with new and innovative styles of gaming, the old classics are often the best.
What would you rather part with you hard-earned cash for? A dodgy stylus based DS game with no replay value like most of the early DS releases, or a game that includes 42 well-known and much-loved board and card games?
42 All Time Classics worked as both a game you could play on your own and one you could easily play through link up with other DS owners, and moreover, it actually explained the rules of some of the more complex card games in a succinct and understandable way.
Definitely one of the MVPs of the last generation
#15 – The Bigs 2 (Xbox 360, 2009)
You’ll notice that American sports games are conspicuous by their absence on this list. In the main, that’s because I find their sports confusing. So while I’ve bought basketball, ice hockey and American Football games in the past, the intricate rules and complex controls are a barrier to me really enjoying them.
Baseball games are the exception, but they are few and far between, especially in the UK.
While MLB: The Show on the PS3 was a technically sound game, it had no character.
But the Bigs 2 does; it has it in droves.
Sure, it’s a bit cartoony, with the home run power-ups and ridiculous catches, but that’s all part of the fun. The controls and rules are easy to master too. And unlike most sports games – even FIFA – its single player career mode was worth playing.
#14 – Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 (Nintendo Wii)
It’s a 3D Mario platformer, so it’s going to be top-notch as a matter of course.
But the reason neither game – which are much of a muchness – enters my top 10 is because I felt they lacked the spark of Mario 64 or even Super Mario Sunshine. I’d sooner play Mario and feel I was playing in a Mario “world” rather than a series of loosely connected levels.
Still brilliant though.
#13 – Geometry Wars 2 : Retro Evolved (Xbox Live Arcade, 2008)
Five of the games in the top 13 could be described as basic, simple or “budget”, but to me, the last generation of games brought back that style of play.
Look at Geometry Wars 2; it’s a top down, old school shooter that could have been done on less graphical power in the 80s. All you need is the two thumb sticks and you’re good to go.
But this manages to look good, and play amazingly. The replay value is tremendous, as you try to beat either your own score or your online friends scores.
#12 – Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (Nintendo DS, 2006)
As much as Nintendo – and Mario – are famous for their platforming games first and their sporty/racing games second, what Nintendo did best for some considerable time going back to the Gamecube days was make RPGs.
If I had done an article on the best games of the generation one before last, Paper Mario 2: Thousand Year Door would be in my top 2. It really was superb.
On a similar vein, the Mario & Luigi series for the DS was magnificent, and Partners in Time was easily the best of them.
I’m not a big fan of RPGs and find stuff like Final Fantasy to be a bore, but this just worked for me.
#11 – Pinball FX 2 (Xbox Live Arcade, 2010)
Like Geometry Wars 2, this is a simple yet engrossing game. It is, after all, just pinball.
But again, it’s all about competing for scores. If I had no friends online to play against, I doubt I’d have played it half as much as I have, but the key is that if your friend beats your score, you then want to trump him.
So you end up playing each of the various tables time and time again. I couldn’t tell you how many times I played that fucking Rocky & Bullwinkle table before I finally bested my mate’s score, but I can tell you it was frustrating and rewarding in equal measures.
The variety of tables is excellent as well. It’s a game type you’d never tire of playing.
And One That Doesn’t Make It – MLB2k11
Easily one of the worst games of the last generation, MLB 2k11 was the drizzling shits.
I mean, how hard is it to map out the controls for a baseball game? All you need for pitching is a button for four different types of pitch, for batting you’ve got to have a normal, power and bunt swing button, and for fielding and base running just a few other buttons.
Yet MLB 2K11 had the most ludicrous controls where you’d have to draw out weird patterns with the right thumb stick before you could pitch or bat. It was daft and needlessly complicated.
2K Sports have finally laid their grotty baseball series to rest.