Whether you greet the imminent PS4 and Xbox One with a thunderous applause or a loud, gaping yawn, there is no doubting the fact that the next generation of gaming is almost upon us. At GamesAbyss we thought that there was no better time than now to look back at the passing era of console gaming and reflect on the memories it brought us over the better part of the last decade. The 360/PS3/Wii era was unprecedented. Never before had consoles demonstrated legs that could keep on running for 8 years. But even the greatest of athletes tire eventually and in recent years, many have argued that these consoles have grown long in the tooth. Even the greatest fidelity the 360 and PS3 could muster in the hottest new releases began to pale in comparison to those same titles released during the renaissance of PC gaming. Our beloved systems are not the champions they once were and it is time to give them one final stadium clearing hurrah as they head off the field and into the locker rooms where retirement awaits. And so, the writer’s at GamesAbyss got together to tackle the very difficult question of what singular game this past generation, was the most memorable, the most captivating, and the one that most embodied the best that this passing generation in console history had to offer:
Andreas Asimakis, Editor in Chief: Catherine
Catherine is an absurdly wonderful tale of one man's journey to figure out what he wants to be truly happy – well, as far as his love life is concerned anyway. Besides featuring compelling voice work, a hauntingly beautiful score, and irresistibly satisfying gameplay, Catherine stands out as one of the PS3/Xbox 360 generation's best titles for its off-the-wall yet well-written story and the forwardness with which it handles some very adult themes such as friendship, love, and fidelity. The game's protagonist, Vincent, is portrayed as something as an everyman; his moral dilemma – the burning question of should he or shouldn't he abandon his girlfriend of five years for the seductive new woman in his life – is one that many men in long term yet stagnant relationships often deal with. My nights at the Stray Sheep, a local bar where Vincent and his lovable cohorts congregate on most evenings to discuss life and the sort, was where I completely fell in love with Catherine. The exchanges between the very close-knit set of friends reminded me very much of my own life; conversations about dating, settling down and having a family hit entire too close to home. I see myself in Vincent; his struggles did not become my own – they were my own. For all of Catherine's comically unapologetic Japanese ways (anthropomorphic sheep men, overtly sexualized tongue monstrosities, and the occasional chainsaw-spewing infant) Atlus' puzzle-platformer is an experience worth playing over and over again.
Matt Randisi, Senior Editor: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
For me, Oblivion ushered in the current and soon to be past generation of gaming proper. Bethesda gave us a single-player new school RPG with an old school flavor the likes nobody has ever seen before, nor figured they ever would see. This predecessor to the more popular Elder Scrolls installment, Skyrim, offered seemingly unrestricted freedom of exploration in an enormous world with a full fledged society, passage of time, and endless nooks and crannies to find items and slay anyone you choose long before open world really took off into the commonplace. Oblivion was a massive vortex of ever changing content that remained a perennial resident of my Xbox 360 all the way up until the release of the fifth Elder Scrolls installment in 2011. Being responsible for over four hundred hours of my gaming time, I am hard pressed to consider another title in the past eight years which I could wholeheartedly recall as many fond memories and dedication to. Be assured folks, guards in cities like Cheydinhal and Bruma were taking arrows to the knee long before it was cool. While multiple titles in the same genre boasted a more polished look over the years, this was the game which inspired them all and arguably remains the most charming and true to the sandbox formula.
Justin Belin, Senior Staff Writer: Dark Souls
I know that I speak for several members of the GamesAbyss staff when I say that Dark Souls, like Demon’s Souls before it, enslaved my mind with it’s oppressive atmosphere, deliciously obtuse approach to story-telling and NPC interaction, and its unapologetic brutality that would be more at place among peers in the 8-bit generation than amidst the quick-time ridden, press X to win, “AAA” franchises it has been sharing shelf-space with since its release in late 2011. I have lost track of whether I am now on NG+++++ or NG++++++ but I know that my love for this game is not likely to tire any time soon. It speaks volumes when a game is so good that its ending leads directly into a new beginning and not once have I been able to put the controller down without investing several more hours in the next cycle. A simple yet incredibly technical battle system somehow still makes PvE feel like a completely different game than PvP. The game’s unrivaled creative approach to multiplayer, both in the cooperative and competitive arenas, keeps Dark Souls fresh long after you have seen every last decaying corner of its enormously interconnected world. It remains to be seen whether Dark Souls 2 will be able to capture the poisonous allure of this barbed rose, but without question in my mind, Dark Souls was the most brilliant game to come out of this generation, and for that, I praise the sun.
Bryan Le, Staff Writer: Yakuza 4
There are a lot of close seconds, but Yakuza 4 has got to be the best game this gen. Sure, the story may not be as emotional or driven as Yakuza 3's, but it improves on that nigh-perfect formula in virtually every other way. You as the player will take to the very alive streets of seedy Kamurocho trying to follow the money trail all the way to the traitorous top, but the game affords so many awesome and hilarious distractions along the way that you might just forget about finding out who betrayed you years ago. Learning secret moves by videoblogging a panty-stealing pervert Daredevil? Check. Store up energy by staring at your date's breasts during ping pong and releasing it into the perfect spike? Check. No other game has quite as many speeches about what being a man really means that devolve into shirtless rooftop fights. And definitely no other game will have you end it by slamming a giant fish head over your opponent's noggin and slapping his fish head-covered face like a hundred times. Can you level up these bad ass moves? Yes, and they only get more awesome—level up the “pick up and throw the guy at the wall” move and you'll be able to kick him SO HARD in the gut as he horizontally slides down the wall. And in Yakuza 4 there are four unique characters to play and build up! Can you say “replay value out the wazoo?” Never has over-the-top humor and crunchy, borderline horrific violence been blended into such a compelling and heartfelt package. You really haven't lived until you make Kazuma Kiryu whip a guy with nunchucks for 20 seconds straight for daring to hurt your orphan children.
Robert Gannon, Staff Writer: Outland
I like a lot of weird games. I tried out a lot of the smaller, download-only games on the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii over the last console generation to really get my fill. Without a doubt in my mind, the best of these is Outland for Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. Outland is an action/platformer with a gorgeous color blocked style and the frenetic energy of a top down side-scrolling shooter. You play as the reincarnation of an ancient hero who is the only person capable of stopping the Sisters of Chaos from destroying the universe. Outland hinges on a polarity system–controlling light and dark–and refuses to let you take your time to get through any stage unscathed. The game is as challenging as the hardest games on the NES with the puzzle-solving flexibility of a modern indie title. Outland is a cross-genre representation of the greatest strengths of this console generation: beauty, ease of access for any gamer, controls as a mechanic for storytelling, and open world elements folded into rich, linear storytelling.
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