GammaSquad’s 50 Greatest Console Games Of The Past Generation (#30 – 21)

In just a little over two weeks all three major console makers will all have new machines on the market, which means it’s finally time to bid a fond farewell to seventh generation consoles. Sure, a few more current gen (soon to be last gen) games are still on the way, but the era of the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii is rapidly drawing to a close.

Before the next generation kicks off in earnest, we here at GammaSquad thought we’d take a look at some of the best games of this past generation. We’ve already covered numbers 50 through 41 and 40 through 31, and now here’re the next 10…

Note: This list only covers console games — no PC-only titles or handheld games. New handhelds come out on a different schedule than consoles, and the PC doesn’t really have “generations” per se, so neither really fit with the “best games of the past generation” scope of this series.

30) The Unfinished Swan

A gorgeous mix of storybook and first-person puzzle game, what stands out most about The Unfinished Swan is how well crafted it is. It takes a handful of simple concepts and turns them into an unexpectedly dynamic puzzle game. It got dismissed for its storybook roots, but if you go back and try it, you’ll discover just how charming it is.

29) Super Street Fighter IV

The accepted wisdom for a long time was that a polygonal Street Fighter was something that would never work and yet somehow, someway Capcom actually pulled off a modern, polygonal Street Fighter this generation. Street Fighter IV not only played well, but felt like a bigger, badder version of the arcades you pumped so many quarters into in the 90s. We’re including Super Street Fighter IV on this list, because well, it was the version of the game that added T-Hawk back to the roster. Oh, T-Hawk.

28) BioShock Infinite

In BioShock Infinite, Irrational merged an old-school PC shooter from the ’90s with rich graphics and an exploration of United States history through a dark, ugly lens. Combined with a killer ending, it makes for a video game you can use to refute the idea that games can’t have great gameplay and great writing.

27) Trauma Team

Atlus’ Trauma Center surgery sims were always a bit of quirky fun, but with Trauma Team they really pushed the bar, introducing several new types of surgery, an adventure game-like forensics mode and the surprisingly entertaining diagnosis mode in which you have to painstakingly find out what’s ailing a series of strange patients. Essentially a demented, anime-flavored episode of ER come to life, Trauma Team was one of this generation’s most unique and overlooked titles.

26) Crackdown

Arguably the forefather of most superhero games this generation, Crackdown was one of the first must-have games for the Xbox 360, and its open world structure was and remains admirable for how player-friendly it is: Your game, your way. Just try not to obsess over those agility orbs.

25) Super Smash Bros. Brawl

More more more — that’s how Smash Bros. likes it. Super Smash Bros. Brawl took the already stuffed Smash Bros. Melee and puffed things up to an even more ridiculous level. There was so much going on in Brawl that you could sink 50 or 60 hours into the game and still have only scratched the surface. The ultimate love letter from Nintendo to its fans (until the next one comes out).

24) Mega Man 9

No, this isn’t a misplaced entry from our “50 Best Games of the NES Era” feature. Mega Man 9 brilliantly, bravely ignored the power of the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii and in doing so proved old-school 8-bit gameplay could still hold up in 21st century. A lot of the throwback indie games now swarming onto consoles owe Mega Man 9 a major debt.

23) Saints Row IV

The Saints Row series may have got its start as a fairly unimaginative Grand Theft Auto clone, but as Rockstar became increasingly self-serious this generation, Saints Row began to carve itself a niche as the sandbox series still totally devoted to silliness and f–king around. The craziest (and thus best) Saints Row to date is Saints Row IV, which throws superpowers, aliens and rampant anal probing into the mix.

22) Wii Sports Resort

Yup, there’s two Wii Sports titles on the list — deal with it. Wii Sports Resort may not have made the same impact as the first Wii Sports, but it was a better game in almost every way. A dozen different sports, all of which were deeper than the five in the original Wii Sports, and improved Wii MotionPlus controls makes Wii Sports Resort arguably the reigning best motion-controlled multiplayer game to date.

21) BioShock

BioShock did plenty right (and a few things wrong) but by far its crowning achievement is its amazing environment — the beautiful art deco underwater city of Rapture. BioShock was really the game that proved seventh generation consoles could be used for more than higher polygon counts and sharper textures — they could be used to create bigger, deeper, more believable worlds. BioShock provided a lot of people with their first, “Ohhh, okay, so this is what this next-gen business is all about” moment of discovery.

That’s it for today! Dan will have numbers 20 through 11 tomorrow. Got any guesses as to what’s still to come?