This is it; the top tier of console releases for the past generation, according to two nerds. Here are six through ten, and a quick discussion of why a few franchises didn't make it.
First, our methodology was profoundly unscientific; basically we listed the thirty games we thought were the best, and then collated the list to see where each ranked. If we both loved a game, it ranked higher on the list than ones only one of us liked.
We chose that method because taste in games is an intensely personal thing, so we'd rather the list reflected our personalities. Lists like this can be nakedly cynical clickbait, and we didn't want that. Saints Row IV made the list, for example, because it's a smart deconstruction of video game tropes.
And there were games I threw off my list because I realized I just didn't give a crap about them; one omission we'll hear about in particular, I put sixty hours into, and I still can't tell you what the story was or why I was supposed to care.
With that in mind, here's the next five; Birch will be along this afternoon with the rest.
On paper, this game is a mess. It's an RPG/third-person shooter/strategy/stealth/brawler... THING. But it melded all those genres together into a compelling whole that you could get lost in, and the lingering sense of sadness as you discover why, precisely, the world is ending.
In an industry where "local multiplayer" is a feature gamers are overjoyed to see, Harmonix gave industry wisdom the finger and put out a game where you had to have friends to get the most out of it. Undeniably, Rock Band was the start of a massive fad that burned itself out, but we all probably sunk more hours into this than any RPG. It was so simple, and yet so fun, that even now it's still fun to pick up and play.
I won't lie, my first reaction, upon hearing the title of this game, was to cringe. Oh, hell, another bad game riding the perpetual love of Batman. Instead, it was a stealth RPG with an innovative and intuitive combat system that promptly got ripped off by everybody. And it was chock-full of Bat references and subtle gags for obsessive fanboys like yours truly.
Everybody's heard the "Grand Theft Horse" jokes. But this game, originally nothing more than Rockstar San Diego trying to prove itself as a developer, mixed a lot of fun gameplay with a well-told story of a fundamentally decent man struggling with the callousness and corruption of a dying way of life, amply enhanced by a haunting soundtrack.
Isaac Clarke's later adventures would go somewhat off the rails. But this first game was a great dose of survival horror, and used what could have been annoying, crappy gimmicks like zero gravity and spacewalking to powerful, tension inducing effect.
Got a beef? Got a question? Let us know in the comments!