Top 10 Single Player Videogames of This Generation Part 1 (10-6)

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As this generation of video games winds down with the PS4 and Xbox One due for release before the end of the year, now is a good time to reminisce and look back at the 10 best games that came out. This particular list is only for the single player experience, and no multiple games from a particular series are included (so the list isn’t dominated by Uncharted and Mass Effect). I will be posting the 10 best multiplayer games of this generation, and eventually, the 10 best games of the generation.

10. Assassin’s Creed


It is impossible to ignore the significance of Assassin’s Creed to this generation. In an era where fast paced shooters dominated gamer’s time and budgets, Ubisoft went in a completely different direction with a series of historically inspired open world stealth games. The gamble paid off, as consumers curiosity drove them to the franchise initially, but there was some serious substance to what they were playing. The storylines were compelling enough to capture the interest of the ADHD  gamer audience and the combat system and animations were rewarding enough to keep the player wanting more. Despite the obvious success of the series (55 Million sales worldwide), it is very easy to argue that the games themselves have underachieved. The lack of variety in the mission objectives along with a release each year has left a somewhat stale taste in the mouth of hardcore gamers.

9. NBA 2K11


The only sports game to make the top 10, NBA 2K11 was bolstered with the addition of Michael Jordan (along with other great players) without compromising on other game modes. Jordan on the cover wasn’t simply a superficial move, it changed the entire direction of basketball video games. The game featured a “Jordan Challenge” mode, which required the user to complete a variety of tasks in a similar fashion to what Michael Jordan himself did on the court. Once they were completed, a rookie version of Jordan was unlocked and available to use in “My Player” mode, essentially allowing the gamer to rewrite NBA history with a brand new Michael Jordan. Do you put him back in Chicago, alongside Derrick Rose? Or in New York to resurrect (remember, Melo wasn’t playing on the Knicks at the time) the once proud franchise? Or maybe draft him to his own team, Charlotte? Or perhaps play him alongside Kobe and go up against Lebron and Wade.

The possibilities from this one mode alone made this the sports game of the generation, but the improvements to My Player without Jordan and the Association mode vaulted it into the top 10. How good was NBA 2k11? It forced its main competition, NBA Live/ Elite (which was made by EA, who have shown in the past no reservations about releasing substandard and unfinished games) to completely pull the pin on the franchise. Imagine if a similar occurrence happened with Call of Duty and Battlefield or Halo. That’s how good 2K11 was.

8. Gears of War 1


And you guys thought I’d be biased in this, didn’t you? Gears 1 is by far one of my favourite games, with only Halo rivalling it in terms of hours that I’ve pumped into it. Gears 1 was well and truly before its time in terms of graphics and co-op integration, and re popularised 3rd person shooters. In my opinion, Gears of War 1 was the most important game that was released for the Xbox. It was released in the same period that the PS3 was, and due to its insanely detailed graphics, it caught the eye of many undecided gamers and helped Microsoft to firmly establish themselves as equals with Sony in the console wars. The campaign was relatively short, but extremely rewarding which drove the replay factor through the roof. The unique world of Sera created a variety of unique situations where conventional weaponry just did not suffice, and selection of memorable weapons were created. Selecting which Gears of War to include from the series was actually a very tough decision in of itself, and Gears 1 would be much higher had this list not been for just the single player component.

7. Grand Theft Auto 4


Out of all the games on this list, none sparked more controversy amongst gamers than GTA 4. The previous two editions of GTA were renowned for their completely over the top missions and style, and GTA 4 tried to slightly bring the game closer to reality. The end result is the game ended up being either loved (it’s still to this day, over 5 years after its launch, is in the top 10 played list on Xbox live. The next oldest in that list is Black Ops, which is barely 2.5 years old.), or is completely dismissed by disappointed users who weren’t expecting the change in gameplay. By adopting the (again, I have to emphasise) slightly more realistic approach, those over the top moments have so much more impact (I will touch on this when I get to Call of Duty). One of the highlights of the game is after robbing a major bank, being surrounded by dozens of Police and a breathtaking cinematic of looking up at a helicopter. Had Rockstar gone in the direction of creating the epitome of a hyperbole of reality, they helicopter would not have created the same impact. But because the user was in many ways confined to reality, the severity of the situation was captured beautifully.

This would be further illustrated towards the end of the game where a life of crime catches up to Niko Bellic and tragedy strikes. The attention to detail was amazing, but not limited to the main quest. The side missions of helicopter flying, stunt jumps and pigeon shooting were all finely tuned and extremely enjoyable, and GTA 4 was the first game to make social interaction with other characters within the game a pivotal component (and has really only been attempted since with Mass Effect 2 and the loyalty missions). The reality is GTA 4 could have easily ranked a lot higher, and I would not argue if someone placed it as number 1. This generation, was very top heavy in terms of great games. GTA 4, and everything after it in this list, is an absolute masterpiece and a pleasure to even discuss, let alone play.

6. Call of Duty 4


Unquestionably the most popular series of this generation was triggered by a once in a lifetime gaming experience. Before Call of Duty 4, the series was mediocre with a small but loyal fanbase. Call of Duty 2 was an impressive launch title, but it was hardly a system seller. The 3rd was a complete disappointment, and with Gears of War already released and Halo 3 on the horizon (I wonder how many of you will get that pun), nobody was really expecting what we were about to receive with CoD4.

What we got was perhaps the most passionate, creative and varied fps that was somewhat based on contemporary military events. What CoD4 was so successful in achieving was creating an environment where the gamer felt they were  actually within the game. The user felt like he was crawling through the Russian fields trying to avoid being spotted. The user felt like he was the one pulling the trigger and assassinating the military commander Imran Zakhaev (pictured) who was planning a nuclear strike on America. The user felt like he was the U.S. Marine who was taking his final breath after a WMD was detonated in the Middle East. The game was absolute brilliance, and each situation was such lightning in a bottle that since then, no CoD has been able to successfully recreate any of that emotion from a single player perspective since.