Essential Gaming: VGW’s Top 25 Games of the Generation

It’s been eight long years since the Xbox 360 launched in the United States, signaling to many the start of the next generation. Since that time, thousands of great games (as well as many awful ones) have hit store shelves, but with the generation winding down, it’s time to look at the best that was offered over the course of the longest console generation to date.

Please note that this list is representative of the tastes of the staff of VideoGameWriters.com and, while we pride ourselves in having diverse set of opinions, we can’t possibly cover this topic with complete objectivity. Check out our list below and leave a comment letting us know what we got right and what we got wrong.


This is part two of a six part series getting us ready for the next generation to start. Check out the other pieces from this series below:

Part I – Top 10 Developers of the Generation
Part II – Top 25 Games of the Generation
Part III – Top 10 Biggest Flops of the Generation
Part IV – Top 10 Franchises of the Generation
Part V – Top 10 Most Underrated Games of the Generation
Part VI – Top 15 Soundtracks of the Generation
Extra – Top 10 New Video Game Clichés
Extra – Eleven Great Experiences This Generation has to Offer


25. Batman: Arkham City, Rocksteady Studios

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Following the unexpected success of Batman: Arkham Asylum, many were unsure if Rocksteady would be able to repeat its success in an open-world format. Not only did the studio do that, but it also crafted what many consider to be the greatest comic book video game of all-time.

With standout performances by Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and a cast that amounted to a who’s who of video game voice acting, the story by Paul Dini and company was brought to life in ways rarely seen before. Not only that, but the trailblazing Arkham Freeflow combat system returned with minor refinements, making the game play even better than the its predecessor. Batman: Arkham City also took home numerous awards, including VGW’s 2011 “Game of the Year” award.

Check out our review of Batman: Arkham City here.

24. Gears of War 3, Epic Games

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Love it or hate it, the Gears of War franchise, by fluidly integrating cover-based gameplay, has set the tone for nearly every third-person shooter that has come after it. Though many have tried, no other studio has gotten cooperative cover-based shooting down as well as Epic Games did during its run at the helm of this Xbox 360-exclusive franchise.

Gears of War 3 represents the pinnacle of the series, as the most polished mechanics of the series combined with the strongest writing in franchise history thanks to the talents of novelist Karen Traviss. Seeing the conclusion to the hard-fought battle between the humans and locusts in the campaign may have been what brought the bulk of players to the table in Gears of War 3, but it was the competitive multiplayer, as well as the fascinatingly addicting Beast and Horde 2.0 modes, that kept players coming back for more. Because of all this, Gears of War 3 took home many awards in 2011, including VGW’s award for “Best Shooter” and “Best Xbox 360 Exclusive” for 2011.

Check out our review of Gears of War 3 here.

23. Wii Sports, Nintendo

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After the GameCube left some players feeling a bit flat, Nintendo needed a winner to keep up with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Enter the Nintendo Wii, a less powerful console with an unconventional controller. Players were excited yet apprehensive, so sensing this, Nintendo decided to package with every new Wii system Wii Sports, an approachable collection of familiar mini games that worked to show off the capabilities of the Wii.

Nintendo must have known what it was doing, because the Wii Sports worked like a charm. By demoing the new technology of the Wii in various familiar settings, the Nintendo Wii quickly became the most popular video game console for families, as everyone from children to grandparents gathered around the TV to enjoy ten frames of bowling and other familiar sports. The game introduced people who had never played video games in their lives to the industry, and for doing so in such an enjoyable manner, it was named as the #3 Wii game of all-time on VGW’s “Top 30 Nintendo Wii Games” list.

22. Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare

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Thanks to the success of the Mass Effect franchise, BioWare has become known for its rich universes and deep branching storylines, but before Mass Effect 2 took either of those concepts to the next level, it was Dragon Age: Origins, the first entry in BioWare’s other major franchise, that expanded upon what the first Mass Effect did in 2007.

Released in 2009, the Dragon Age: Origins was one of the top-reviewed games of the year, and it spawned a 2011 sequel, which, unfortunately for fans, failed to live up to expectations. The game’s old-school approach resonated with players, leading it to win many awards, including PC Gamer naming it the “RPG of the decade.”

21. The Walking Dead, Telltale Games

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By the time Telltale Games released the season one of its digital series based on the hit graphic novel and TV series, The Walking Dead, the video game industry was so over-saturated with zombie games that it would have been easy for players and critics to write it off. Luckily, Telltale Games constructed such a emotional and memorable experience that it was impossible to ignore.

By making players fall in love with the dwindling innocence of Clementine, Telltale Games created relatable humanity in the most unimaginable situation. When the masterful storytelling of Telltale Games was combined with the engaging hybrid of interactive cutscenes and point-and-click gameplay, the result was something truly special. The ambitious title even staged the upset of a lifetime by grabbing Spike TV’s Video Game Awards 2012 “Game of the Year” award.

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About Brian Shea

Brian Shea is VGW's Editor-in-Chief and one of the founding members of the site. In addition to leading the team at VideoGameWriters.com, he contributes such regular features as “Shea’s Say,” "Eleven Things," "Commercials from the Past" and “Essential Gaming."
Follow Brian on Twitter


  1. No Mirror’s Edge (although it appears on Stu’s list) and no Burnout: Paradise anywhere. I think Burnout: Paradise, in particular, gets overlooked a lot – but show me another game where I can go from singleplayer to multiplayer while doing a barrel roll. This was the future of connected gameplay – three taps on the D-pad, and I’m online. We had that in 2008, and then just…forgot, and went back to horrible menus and awkward matchmaking.

  2. I’m going to disagree with you on that one. I’d say no game influenced this generation more than Call of Duty 4. Love it or hate it, it’s the golden goose that publishers envy. After years of being a WWII shooter, Medal of Honor was rebooted to be a modern shooter and now the series is in limbo. That’s nothing to say of all the other imitators that have come and been forgotten.

  3. For me personally, for this current generation of PS3/X360, I would say in order the best online multi-player games are (1) COD (2) Halo (3) FIFA, and the best single player campaigns are (1) The Last of Us (2=) Portal 2 & GTAV (3) Uncharted 2, and the best Indie games are (1) Minecraft (2) Journey (3) Walking Dead.

  4. The Sound Defense says:

    You have 25 games to work with and not a single one of them is Dark Souls?

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