It's almost surreal to think about how many games came out in the seventh generation. I poured more time than I'm willing to admit into hundreds of games, spanning nearly a decade, across multiple consoles. So, it's not difficult to see why carving that list down to just ten is a monumental undertaking. Still, it must be done, so here are my top ten favourite games of the last generation. Looking over this list, it's clear to see that gen eight has a lot to live up to. Good luck. 

10. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

In a year that had our first trip to the Citadel in Mass Effect, an unforgettable (and unforgiveable) lie about a cake in Portal, and one of the greatest twists in video game history (Would you kindly move aside, Bioshock?) one memorable moment still has my head ringing years later. The Nuke in Call of Duty 4 solidified its ability to shock and awe in a way the series has never been able to match, no matter how hard Activision tries. Modern Warfare is much more than just a nuke though. The campaign is stuffed with tense missions and the multiplayer had the ability to eat away evenings without batting an eye. Modern Warfare may have inspired some unflattering trends for first-person shooters, but it still stands up as one of the greats.

9. Valkyria Chronicles

Sometimes, in all the swirling hype of triple-A games and big-budget franchises, you miss a real gem. Valkyria Chronicles came out in 2008, but I didn’t play it until 2014. It would be fair to think that after so much lost time, the game would have lost some of its luster, but that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The third-person shooter tactical role-playing strategy gameplay (I will never get over how weird that sounds) holds up incredibly well, as does the endearing tale of Squad 7. If you missed it like I did, do yourself a favour and find it on Steam or Playstation 3. Tell them Christopher sent you (I owe you for this one, Gagan).

8. Bayonetta

There are games you play and there are games you master. So often, we run through games, beat them once, and forget the game asked of the player to get to the end. Bayonetta can be played in this way, but doing so would be a disservice to the combat system. Nailing witch time and stringing together huge combos while using every weapon at your disposal makes you feel powerful. And then you get to the end of the level and realize you scored the lowest amongst your friends on the leaderboard. Time to restart and try that bit harder to wring a few more points from every battle in hope that you reach the top. The game itself is a thing of beauty, but the climb was half the fun.

7. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

I was not a fan of the original Uncharted. Let me be more honest: I really, really didn’t like the original Uncharted. The story was bland, the environments were uninteresting and the combat was clunky as hell. For whatever reason (probably because my friends wouldn’t shut up about it), I gave Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a shot. This second chance gifted me with one of my favourite games from the last generation. Almost every problem I had with the original was fixed and the set-pieces blew the ceiling off my expectations. The train level alone is reason enough to deserve a spot on my list, flawlessly meshing gameplay and cinematic design that is often imitated, but never beaten.

6. Bioshock Infinite

We all fondly remember the original Bioshock, but many seem to forget how badly that game drops off in the final third after that big, shocking reveal. Bioshock Infinite doesn’t share that same problem. It may have a weak gameplay segment here or there, but honestly, which game doesn’t? Infinite introduced us to Columbia, a stunning city floating in the sky, and Elizabeth, a vivid soul in an already vibrant game. And how about that ending? Most importantly, it reignited my passion for games around the time I was becoming disenchanted with the medium. It reintroduced wonder to the hobby I was once so fond of. I repay this debt with the number six spot on my favourite games of last gen list.

5. Dark Souls

From Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls 2, I love the Souls series (so much so that I even wrote a rap about it). For my money, Dark Souls is the cream of the crop. It doesn’t suffer the annoyances I faced in Demon’s Souls (I hate you World 5) or the franchise fatigue experienced in Dark Souls 2. It’s a crystallization of innovative online mechanics, challenging boss battles and impressive level cohesion. Not to mention, it will kick your ass and make it look easy. I still have nightmares of those spear-archers in Anor Londo knocking me off the ledge for hours on end. Maybe I’m a masochist, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love/hate you too, Dark Souls.

4. Rock Band 3

Any Way You Want It, More Than a Feeling, Wanted Dead or Alive, Under Pressure, The Final Countdown. Throw on any of those songs and you’re bound to get a party going. Throw ALL of those songs onto a single set-list and have your friends play along on plastic instruments, singing, strumming and drumming their hearts out? You have one of not just the best party games of last gen, but one of the best games period. Rock Band 3 exudes fun with a monstrous selection of songs that grew every week for years. Harmonix recently released a new set of DLC for the first time in 21 months. A new Rock Band on the way, perhaps? Yes please!

3. Last of Us 

Naughty Dog has the distinction of being the only developer to secure two spots on my list, and man do they deserve it. Wearing an ever-present scowl, The Last of Us makes its mark like a shotgun blast to the chest. I can throw down a hundred superlatives to describe this game (excellent atmosphere, outstanding pacing, visceral gameplay), but instead, I’ll just focus on those giraffes that appear later on in the game—the ones that struck such a deep chord with me. They are scions of tranquility, beacons of peace, and made me feel all warm inside. I would play The Last of Us on an endless loop to enjoy that scene time after time. The rest of the game is pretty great too, I suppose.

2. Mass Effect 2

Back in 2007, Mass Effect hit the gaming scene and instantly won my heart. I loved it in spite of the frustrating inventory, the loose gunplay, the buttmobile (also known as the Mako). The universe, the characters, the freedom of choice was nothing like I had experienced at the time. So when Mass Effect 2 ripped the fat away while retaining everything I adored, I was in gaming heaven. Assembling my suicide squad to take on a mission that was guaranteed to end in death is something I will never forget. Actually diving headfirst into that mission with characters I had grown to care about, and losing a few on the way because of choices I made? I get chills just thinking about it. My time spent on the Normandy chasing the Collectors around the galaxy will always bring a smile to my face, no matter how hard Mass Effect 3 tries to remind me that it was all for nothing. 

1. Persona 4

As you can probably tell from the paragraph above, I love Mass Effect 2 more than most things in this life. In fact, I’ll probably love the game more than my first born until the child is capable of doing something interesting, like walking or talking. So it would take a truly extraordinary game to top Mass Effect 2 (and my unborn child). Persona 4 is that game. A weirdly perfect blend of dungeon crawling and social simulating, every piece of Persona 4 feels important. Making connections with a wonderful cast of characters and then bringing those bonds into battle is like going on an epic adventure with your best friends—a trope many games attempt, but never accomplish to the same degree as Persona 4. It’s funny, dark, and extremely strange (in all the best ways, of course). My first born is going to have to do a lot more than walk or talk to top all that. 

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