Like it or not, this next generation of consoles will soon be upon us. With the Wii U having been out for little over half a year, some will say it’s already here. The Wii U, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 will present players with dozens of sure to be classic titles, including several new franchises. Lets not forget however that there were several classic franchises that came from this generation. So now is a perfect time to take a look at the classic franchises that were spawned this past generation. To qualify, a franchise has to have it’s first title released on the Wii, Xbox 360, or Playstation 3, so you won’t see the Elder Scrolls or Halo in this list. Also, a game has to have more than one title in it’s series, so that’s why you won’t see Mirror’s Edge here.
1. Gears of War
Gears of War turned out to be the Xbox 360’s answer to Halo (although make no mistake, Halo made it to the Xbox 360 in a big way as well). The Unreal Engine 3-powered next gen graphics captures players’ attentions, its challenging battles, huge enemies, and innovative cover system had them pushing forward through the campaigns, and it’s fun multiplayer kept each game in the series in their disc drive for months after they had beat the single player. While it’s attempts to insert drama into the series were cheesy at best, Gears of War was an unapologetic dudebro blastfest that players couldn’t get enough of. While it remains to be seen if the series will continue on Xbox One, Gears of War’s visuals was a great example of what the Xbox 360, and this console generation in general bought to the table. It also didn’t hurt that the game was pretty damn fun either.
2. Little Big Planet
LBP bought gamers something that hadn’t been seen on consoles at this scale before: user-generated content. Sure, we had seen wrestling games with create-a-player modes and RPG makers, but Little Big Planet bought the concept to a level surpassed only on the PC. With the game’s creation tools, players made everything from new levels to classic game homages. Someone even made a fully functioning calculator! Best of all, creations could be shared across the internet, thereby insuring that LBP never ran out of content. There is no doubt that this series will continue on the Playstation 4, and it will be interesting to see how the system’s power will enhance LBP even further.
3. Assassin’s Creed
UbiSoft’s history-spanning adventure broke new ground in exploration and storytelling. While trying to unlock the secret behind an ancient conspiracy, you step into the lives of members of an ancient order across different time periods. Stealth, infiltration, and blending in with the crowd was of utmost importance, although it was fun to glide across rooftops like those free running videos you see on youtube. While the first game took place during the crusades, later installments took place during Renascence-era Italy and colonial America. The upcoming installment will put players in the role of a pirate. As this generation of consoles draws to a close, it will be interesting to see where this series will take us in the future.
4. Saint’s Row
When Saint’s Row first debuted, it had many similarities to that other open world crime franchise. Thankfully, it’s customization options helped make it stand out among a sea of competitors and rip offs. Fast forward to the franchise’s third entry, and it’s so batshit insane that no one will think of mistaking it for anything made by Rockstar. While Grand Theft Auto 4 had you babysitting your douchebag cousin and getting called every five minutes to play pool, Saint’s Row the third had players battling zombies, moving through computerized virtual reality simulators, blowing up futuristic army bases using a jet fighter, and battling an evil luchador. The fourth game in the series, due this August, casts players as the president of the United States as he and his gang battles aliens. As much as I love GTA, it can’t hold a candle to Saint’s Row’s brand of lunacy.
5. Batman Arkham
While Batman is not a new name, Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum and Arkham City stand out as two of the first good Batman games since the 16-bit era. The games gave players a huge world to explore, plenty of upgradable gadgets to play with, several familiar voice actors (including Mark Hamil and Kevin Conroy) and several familiar villains to battle. Whether you’re a hardcore fan of the comic or a casual fan of the movies, the Arkham games have something for everyone. Rocksteady has finally done the Caped Crusader justice. Hopefully this fall’s Arkham Origins will live up to the standards set by Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Now if only someone can do tis for Superman.
One of the new franchises debuting on Sony’s Playstation 3 was Naughty Dog’s Uncharted. Inspired by films such as National Treasure and Indiana Jones, players take control of Nathan Drake as he travels the world in search of treasure. With its mix of gunplay and exploration, Uncharted was basically a modern day-Tomb Raider. Later entries in the series bought players to new locations, introduced new characters, and featured multiplayer. Although no new Uncharted game has been announced for the PS4, there is no doubt we’ll be hearing about one for long.
7. Mass Effect
Bioware made a name for themselves as a western RPG powerhouse with titles such as Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire. This console generation, Bioware had something truly special in the works. Mass Effect is a three part space opera that tells the story of Commander Shepard’s struggle against an cybernetic army known as the Reapers. The original Mass Effect broke new ground in dialogue, storytelling, and character customization. It’s sequels followed suit, enabling you to import data from the previous game so that you can shape your story. The characters you meet throughout the games had their own stories to tell, and you’ll be drawn to several of them. It’s awesome to see how the story finishes out in the third part, and yes, that’s even considering the controversial ending. Little is known about how Bioware plans to follow up the series, save for that the next entry will possibly use the frostbite engine.
8. Wii Sports
While the other games on this list pushed technology to new heights to produce quality visuals, Wii Sports introduced an innovative style of gameplay. With the Wii’s motion control, gameplay became even more intuitive than ever. Wii Sports and Wii Sports Respot only scratched the surface of what the Wii’s controller had to offer, and Microsoft and Sony followed suit with Kinect and Move respectively. With Microsoft’s Kinect 2.0, it will be interesting to see how motion controlled gameplay will be a part of this coming generation of consoles.
9. Call of Duty
Yes, I know that Call of Duty started the last generation, but I’m making an exception, much to the chagrin of hipsters everywhere. After all, the original Call of Duty was a PC hit, and the consoles at the time received a father forgettable spin-off. Like it or not, the Call of Duty series is a very significant part of this generation. It’s Hollywood-style single player and addictive multiplayer keep it on top of many a best seller list each year, and each yearly entry manages to add something new to the formula. Call of Duty 2 gave players one of the most realistic depictions of WW2 in a video game, while the Modern Warfare games gave the series a different face from the WW2 blastfests of old. Treyarch’s Black Ops games took the series into new territory with Black Ops 1 taking players into the cold war and Black Ops 2 taking players into the future. Call of Duty: Ghosts will take the series into the next generation, and without a doubt it will be the primer first person shooter of choice for many a gamer.
10. Dead Space
Resident Evil and Silent Hill made their appearances on this generation of consoles. However, many players will argue that these two survival-horror franchises have lost what made them scary. Luckily for horror fans looking for a good scare, EA and Visceral’s Dead Space has bought back real survival-horror, and the sleepless nights that come with it. Taking the role of space engineer Issac Clarke, you battle a series of bizarre enemies known as necromorphs, a parasitic alien lifeform that takes over and reanimates a dead organism. Dead Space treated gamers to disturbing visuals and intense combat as it recreated the horror/sci-fi atmosphere of films such as Alien and Event Horizon. Even the Wii got some love, as the Wii-exclusive Dead Space Extraction bought players up close and personal with the horror as it was an on-rails shooter played from the first person. Survival horror is alive and well thanks to Dead Space.
Super Mario Galaxy
Left 4 Dead
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