Top Games of the Last Generation

In 2013, we said goodbye to the consoles of the yesteryear and welcomed the PlayStation 4 and XBOX ONE with open arms. In the transition from HD gaming to super-ultra-mega-buy-now HD, what games made our cut and which ones did not? The following three categories- PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, and multiplatform, will each have a top games list from the last generation. The games in the lists are also listed in no particular order. Note: All games rated M require parental consent unless the consumer is 17 years of age or older.


PlayStation 3 Exclusives


Ni No Kuni by Level 7: Review by Alexander Littaua

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A huge close-up of the Ding Dong Dell palace. Screenshot by:

Ni No Kuni (二ノ国) is arguably the best JRPG released in 2013. Originally released in Japan during the 2011 holiday season for the Nintendo DS, the PlayStation 3 re-release added the back story of the White Witch (白き聖灰の女王). When the player first starts out, they find that an accident killed their mother. In an attempt to rescue her, Oliver, the main character, travels to another dimension in search of the parallel version of his mother. Along the way, the story unfolds beautifully with visual cues, deep emotion, and heart-felt character development. The best complement to Ni No Kuni is the Studio Ghibli animations. Studio Ghibli is most famous for their Miyazaki films, such as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro. The game does have some control flaws with the A.I., and repetitive lines can often bring the feeling of, “I know what to do, stop telling me for the fiftieth time.” Despite these small, inherent flaws, the game easily delivers 50 hours of game-play from start to finish without any multiplayer aspect, enough for any gamer to play through a Miyazaki-inspired creation.


Uncharted Series by Naughty Dog: Review by Alexander Littaua


The Uncharted series first began in 2007, where players were introduced to the main character Nathan Drake, a grizzled veteran of treasure hunting, and supposed descendant of conquistador Sir Francis Drake. From the jungles of South America searching for El Dorado, to Shambhala in the Himalayas, to the search of the Pillars of Iram throughout the Arabian Desert, Nathan Drake has toured the world in search of the next greatest location. As the series has progressed, so has the storytelling, game mechanics, and use of imagery. While each installment has followed a linear formula, the new settings, characters, and overall pace were enough to compensate. No game is flawless, but Uncharted has continually lived up to its name by venturing into a generally uncharted genre. The risk taken has turned into virtual gold for Naughty Dog. For a well-paced, third-person shooter, Uncharted is the series that has set a standard.


The Last of Us by Naughty Dog: Review by Alexander Littaua

Literally everything and anything Naughty Dog has put their name on has turned to virtual gold (or platinum, in some cases). The Last of Us is no exception to that rule. Naughty Dog chose to raise the bar quite high with this one. The Last of Us takes place in a post-apocalyptic society, where  humanity has virtually been eliminated from society. Navigating the overworld while defending Ellie (the character who is believed to be the cure for the zombie infection) from the hordes of zombies, bandits, and cannibals proved a daunting challenge for many players. One of the most common complaints that added authenticity to the setting, was that ammo and supplies were scarce, making completion more of a challenge. Along with the award winning story, the stunning visuals, audio perfection, and character development outdid any game released at the same time as the The Last of Us.


LittleBigPlanet Series by Media Molecule (Mm): Review by Alexander Littaua


Playing, creating, and sharing: the three basic principles behind LittleBigPlanet. Predating Minecraft, players were given a loose sense of an objective while in a platforming story mode. Begin at the start, run through the level, find all the prize bubbles, don’t die, and reach the finish with the highest score. After a run-through of the story, the player is left with the option to either create new levels, share them with the LBP community, or promote the social aspect of playing video games. The ability to create levels and publish them to the world made for a nearly endless game, marking the first time in which console players could actively create and publish content for the community. LittleBigPlanet possessed the ability to make more out of less. Visuals composed of basic building materials drove players to be creative with the simplest of combinations. Tuned music added a theme to the imagery, and the advent of a custom Sack Creature (the ‘protagonist’, also referred as Sack Boy/Girl) allowed players to express themselves freely within the game. For a freshman effort from Media Molecule, this game has continually won the hearts of gamers, via the creativity players could show and deeply connected social aspect to permit nearly unlimited replay value from LittleBigPlanet.


MAG by Zipper Interactive: Review by Alexander Littaua

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Soldiers fire upon each other as a platoon parachutes in. Screenshot by:

Out of all the first person shooter (FPS) games to be released in the seventh generation, MAG stood out for its massive team-based, all-online gameplay. A brief synopsis: MAG is the poster child of the now defunct Zipper Interactive of Washington state. The game was such a huge project that a couple of Sony’s famous ‘Kevin Butler’ commercials were solely dedicated to advertising the game. Compared to the mainstream titles of Call of Duty and Battlefield, which hosted no more than 20 players per game, MAG’s smallest matches allowed a maximum of 64 players, playing 32vs32. If players joined a match of Domination, the matches held a maximum of 256 players, 128 vs. 128, for each round. At release, gameplay was sluggish and bogged down by faction inequality, creating mixed reviews among the gaming community. With the release of 2.0, most of the common gripes were eliminated, but the damage had already been done. The reason MAG is in this Top Games list is solely because of the innovation it brought to the industry. In 10 years, when games match the same server capacity, gamers will look back at how MAG was simply ahead of its time.


Killzone Series by Guerrilla Games: Review by Alexander Littaua


Unlike many games in the FPS genre, Killzone has been able to maintain a clear, concise storyline title-to-title. Killzone 3 picks up where the story of Killzone 2 left off, as if they were books in a trilogy. The plot famously compares the Helghast to the fascist regimes of World War II-era Europe, and even models many key antagonists after Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin. Guerrilla Games has also taken the setting a step further, portraying the human condition under militaristic and oppressive regimes in the name of prosperity. The finished product was a trilogy worth writing home about. Killzone is more than space warfare with mutated space Nazis. It is the greed, corruption, absolute power, militarism, imperialist ideas, and hunger for resources that resulted in the fictional Extrasolar Wars of Killzone.

Throughout the game, audio cues are timed perfectly, bringing the perfect sense of impending danger around each corner. “Brutal melee” is sluggish and sometimes unresponsive at certain angles, but when it happens, your bare hands and the environment around your character are your weapons. At the beginning of the third entry, the developers utilized ‘in media res’ (a term for when a story starts in the middle of the story arc) as a method for connecting the various scenarios you must accomplish before reaching back to the point of depiction. As one of PlayStation’s star exclusive titles, Killzone has and will continue to become more than a video game. It is an art that reminds us of  our history using a futuristic spin.


 XBOX 360 Exclusives


Halo Series by Bungie Entertainment: Review by Daniel Boutell


Speaking conservatively, Halo has redefined the FPS genre. Introducing new game mechanics, elements, interaction of the first person for the better is no small feat for any single company, but Bungie managed it all. It also redefined online multiplayer, for better or worse. It allowed players to move competitive gaming outside the living room, building a new community for gamers worldwide, enriching its own story with a universe unsurpassed by any other game. As far as mechanics, Halo operates smoother than other console FPS on the market with minimal glitching, reliable physics, and gameplay basic enough to appeal and attract new players while retaining a competitive aspect strong enough to popularize the term MLG (major league gamer).


Gears of War by Epic Games: Review by Alexander Littaua

A promising title, Gears of War brought about new scenarios in which to play a third person shooter. As an early release for the XBOX 360, it spawned a blossoming franchise and quickly became one of the best selling series for the XBOX brand. While not in all a totally perfect franchise, Gears of War managed to differentiate itself through the use of a third person shooting angle, as opposed to the common first person angle in games like Call of Duty. In addition, the third person view permitted Epic Games to explore a new perspective, making players think tactically from behind a wall. In the end, the games leaves players with a sense of accomplishment and wanting more, and hopefully Microsoft will grow the series into something better with the XBOX ONE.


Top Multiplatform

Battlefield: Bad Company Series by Digital Illusions CE: Review by Alexander Littaua

One of the most popular spin-offs in a video game franchise, DICE created a title that was able to show that being a reject doesn’t mean you can’t play a role in war. Starring as a newly transferred recruit in “B” Company, (commonly referred to as “Bad Company” by the military brass) Battlefield Bad Company opened a window in video games wherein blowing things up wasn’t only a comedic experience, but a necessary one. As such, Bad Company is filled with innuendo, crude humor, and jokes not commonly found in war-themed media.

On top of all the comedy, BFBC added the ability to destroy the environment to the series as a whole. Previously, when players shot explosives or fired at structures, the buildings would remain undamaged.

This all changed with the Frostbite engine, which added environmental destruction, in which players could flatten areas with ease. Along with the means of unconventional warfare, the series was able to create an online experience centered around squads. The introduction of multiple squads per team allowed players to micromanage tactics and eventually win matches for their team.

Aside from the actual story of the game, DICE perfected the audio cues, cut-scene visuals, and over-arching mechanics of the gameplay. The music used brought up suspense and a feeling of threat. The use of cutscenes at the right moments added character development, while not taking away from story in any aspect. While a third entry in the series has been rumored, we can’t wait to reenlist with our comrades in Bad Company.


Saints Row by Volition: Review by Alexander Littaua

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At first thought to be a Grand Theft Auto copycat (which the first entry was), Saints Row differentiated itself through the use of extremely unrealistic situations and absolutely ridiculous humor. Based in a fictional universe, players control the head of the “3rd Street Saints” gang. Each installment follows the progression of reclaiming the city from three rival gangs and becoming the ruling gang of the town. In an effort to create ridiculous humor, mechanics and ‘meaningful’ story mechanics had been cut. Nonetheless, the game is enjoyable, with players able to play the game and pick up at any point they desire.

Saints Row isn’t for the lighthearted in that many references are geared for an older audience. The provocative weapons, interesting methods of fighting, flying space vehicles in city limits, nd wielding the power of an absolute dictator allow players to keep full control over their environment, with as much humor possible. At the end of the day, Saints Row leaves gamers craving for more, able to fulfill almost any virtual fetish they have.


Red Dead Redemption by Rockstar Games: Review by Alexander Littaua

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John Marston riding on a horse through the game’s expansive desert. Screenshot by:

Westerns are a dead genre, right? No. Red Dead Redemption is proof of that. Based in an open world environment loosely based on Western folk tales and locations, RDR could be interpreted as a Western version of the popular Grand Theft Auto series, in which the player is free to interact with the environment as he pleases.

Throughout the story, John Marston (the story’s protagonist) meets prominent political figures, creates contacts in law enforcement, helps damsels in distress, raids gang hideouts, and encounters his death in a traditional Mexican standoff. In between, Rockstar developed a Western legend from scratch, one which players can form emotional and psychological connections with. The end result is a masterpiece from start to finish. The music feels authentic to the point you believe the gramophones in the game are following you all the way. Visuals in the environment were beautifully crafted, giving the feeling of the traditional West we know from the media. In a sense, Red Dead Redemption depicts a better Wild West than any media in recent years.


Writing this top games list proved to be a daunting challenge for the Stinger staff, due to the disproportionate amount of exclusives on PlayStation compared to the XBOX. This list isn’t representative to all games and we wish many more could have made it in the cut. Sadly, we could only accept so many out of the vast selection to choose from for each category.

Any photos not captioned were provided by their respective developers