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Another Top 10 List

Top Ten Lists. Everyone loves to read lists, even though it is only on a rare occasion that the reader will wholeheartedly agree with the writer. Hell, some lists even provoke feelings of rage within a person if they disagree with the contents. But nonetheless, people continue to make em', and people continue to read.

Upon completion of Red Dead Redemption, it dawned upon me that I haven't enjoyed a game that much in quite a long time. I then started wondering if it was possibly my favorite game of this generation. And herein lies my inspiration for my list of Top Ten Favorite Video Games of this Generation. Did Red Dead Redemption claim the top spot? Lets find out.

Before I start, let me say that this list consist of my FAVORITE games of this generation, not the BEST. The only console I own is an Xbox 360, so this list will include only 360 exclusives and multiplatform games, along with one PC game. I have much respect for the PS3 and the games that are exclusive to it, but unfortunately my finances have prevented me from obtaining one for myself. But anyways, lets get started.

10. World of Warcraft - Uh-oh. Controversy right off the bat. A game made in 2004 appears on a list that is supposed to be for this current gen only? Allow me to explain. Though WoW was created last gen, it has undoubtedly withstood the test of time. It still has probably the largest player base of any video game in the world, and with constant updates and patches, new features and content are consistently added to the game, keeping it fresh. Not to mention, I did not even start playing WoW until after The Burning Crusade was released. This game would have easily made it into my top 5, but for the sake of keeping some integrity to this list, I placed it at number 10. There isn't much to be said about WoW that hasn't already been said before. You either love it or hate it. And while there are a few things I hardly could care for within WoW, joining up with the right people who have the right skills and conquering high end content is an experience that, in many respects is unmatched.

9. Need For Speed:Most Wanted - Of all gaming genres, racing is easily one of my least favorite. Not so the case with this title though. I originally borrowed this game from a friend in order to simply kill some time. But it wasn't long before I was unexpectedly pumping my fist in the air after a successful evasion from those bastard cops. Not to mention damn near throwing my controller through the TV when I failed. And not because the game was too hard, but because it was so challenging and intense. Watching an SUV smash into a line of squad cars, then launch into the air with a furious case of the spins was just too fun to watch. Not a ton of depth to this game, but when it shined, it shined oh so bright.

8. Bioshock - Bioshock was a game that added much fuel to the discussion of whether or not video games can be art. The majestically crafted world of Rapture is a sight to behold, and the horrors that lie within make this world come alive. A wonderfully engrossing story tops it all off, and at least in my eyes, cements the notion that if anything, video games are getting very close to becoming a true form of art. With many different abilities to level up, countless different tactics to engage an enemy, and multiple endings, Bioshock is game that is just begging to be played through again and again.

7. The Elder Scrolls IV:Oblivion - If my memory suits me correctly, this game was the first true RPG that I ever put a considerable amount of time into. Now that I think about it, this may have also been the first open world game I played extensively as well. I fiddled around with GTA a bit in the past, but not enough for me to say I actually played it. The graphics were not bad for its time, but various landscapes randomly showed up on your screen a little too often. The ability to roam around an open world and explore is the central idea behind this game. Many quest and different characters are to be found in this title. Most RPG fans will find something to love here.

6. Mass Effect Series - This beautiful RPG/Shooter hybrid is one of the most acclaimed games of this generation. The innovative dialog system that allows you to make choices on the fly that would ultimately affect the ending of the game is something that had never been seen before.The option to transfer your character and their choices from game to game is another great feature that allows a seamless transition to continue your virtual persona inside the Mass Effect universe. Did you let Wrex die in ME1? Yeah me too, so I had no reunion with my stubborn-yet-badass alien buddy. Though the shooting controls left a lot to be desired in the first game, ME2 addresses many of these issues. Unfortunately, ME2's story takes a small step backwards compared to the first one, at least in my opinion. The storyline of the first game, and to a degree the second, is one of the best in the business. The Mass Effect series is a trilogy and the plot is tied together over the course of 3 games. When I finished the first game, I was in total awe of what I had just experienced. With ME2 however, I finished the game, and was instantly looking forward to ME3. Here's to hoping that ME3 is the best one yet.

5. Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare - With the World War II FPS genre getting more and more stagnant by the second, Infinity Ward decided to switch gears and craft a modern approach to the Call of Duty franchise. The idea payed off in dividends, and one of the most successful shooters in history was born. The campaign was fun, and it retained the blistering Veteran difficulty that made even the most hardcore shooter players question their skills. What made this game soar to new heights though was the extensive multiplayer. The leveling and weapon unlock system is extremely robust, and allowed players to feel like they were always accomplishing something. The whole concept of modern war and multiplayer was expanded upon in the sequel Modern Warfare 2, but unfortunately the new Killstreak system and overly complex maps turned MW2 into an all out campfest. Call of Duty 4's maps were much less complex for the most part, and with only 3 killstreaks to be had, it easily trumps MW2's multiplayer in terms of fun and balance.

4. Rock Band - Music is my passion. Always has been and always will be. So it's no surprise that Rock Band cracks my top 5. I know the guitar difficulty is nothing compared to Guitar Hero, but the addition of a whole band setup has granted me many hours of fun. I personally enjoy the drums more than anything, but I also love to sing when my family doesn't mind to hear me and my wannabe rockstar voice soar through our living space. This game is tremendously fun to play with friends and family as well, as it allows each player to play on their preferred difficulty. So easy in fact, that my seven year old daughter can pass most songs on Easy.

Oh, and they just released 3 Deftones songs (my favorite band of all time) on the Rock Band Music Store. Boo-yah!

3. Halo 3 - This is where making the list almost stopped being fun. Halo 1 single handedly turned me into a hardcore gamer. Before Halo, I played games for fun. But then it got serious. All in all, the Halo series is without question my favorite collection of video games ever. The story is great and the campaigns are good, but the multiplayer is what made me fall in love with Halo. I have played roughly 10,00 games of Halo 2 online, 4,000 games of Halo 3, and about about 2 years worth of Halo 1 LANs. And that doesn't even count any single player. If I never played a game of Halo again, I still would never be able to play another series as much as I have played Halo.

The reason Halo 3 only makes it to number 3 though is simply because it was almost like a Halo 2.5. The graphics were not what I expected from a game that had a seemingly endless pool of talent and money used towards it. That, and the fact that something just doesn't feel right with it. Halo 1 and Halo 2's multiplayer were as close to perfect as you could get in terms of fun, gameplay and competitive balance. (Remember though, this is only my opinion, and while millions of people agree with me, I know that millions more do not.)I can't quite put my finger on what made Halo 3's multiplayer a little less stellar than its predecessors. The maps definitely were not up to par, but I think also is that Halo 3 just feels a bit more random than the first two games. Encounters at times seemed to be decided more by luck than by skill. Don't get me wrong, I still adore Halo 3, but I just feel like it could have been a little bit better. Long story short, Halo=my favorite video game series of all time, but if I think about Halo 3 by itself, there are still 2 more games that (I think) I have enjoyed a little more this generation.

2. Red Dead Redemption - Wow. Just wow. I can honestly say I have never been as emotionally vested into a character and his story as I was with the tale of John Marston. The strangest part about it, is that I don't really like Westerns. I fact, I kind of hate them. But this game just nails it.

RDR is such an authentic piece of work. Throughout the entire game, I truly felt like I was living in the Wild West, living out this epic tale of betrayal and redemption. Everything from the character animations, the voice acting, the small towns and long dusty roads, it is all so believable. Hopping on your horse and riding off into the sunset along a gorgeous backdrop of trees, mountains and desert is remarkably peaceful, and at the same time it gives you a "calm before the storm" vibe, because John Marston is a man on a mission, and his mission doesn't always end peacefully. The plotline was so good and I was always eagar to find out what would happen next, but at the same time, I never wanted the game to end. But as they say, "all good things must come to an end." And boy did it ever. And it was truly epic. No spoilers here. One thing I am sure of though, is once you finish the game, you will not walk, but probably RUN to your computer, and frantically Google the search "Red Dead Redemption Ending". At least that is what I did. And that my friends, is what a great game does.

The only thing that even slightly hampers this game are some of the controls, mainly riding horses/vehicles and overall player movement. Some people might have issues with gunplay and the casual targeting system. At times it just does not feel quite as polished as some other AAA titles. Don't get me wrong, the game plays very, very well, even great at times, but it just doesn't quite match everything else this game has to offer. A little more polish on the controls would have probably catapulted this game into my number 1 spot actually. Once you get into pulled into the game however, you probably won't even notice.

1. Gears of War Series - For the first five minutes of my time with the original Gears of War, I thought I had wasted $60. The controls felt slow, clunky, and somewhat unresponsive.

But then I chainsawed an enemy.

Soon after, I shot another enemy with my shotgun at close range and watched him explode into pieces of bloody meat while simultaneously hearing the insanely gratifying sound of bullets violently penetrating the flesh. Oh my god, it felt so good.

No, I am NOT sick in the head. Have you ever played Gears? If so, then you know exactly what I am talking about. If not, you have no idea what you are missing.

Gears of War does absolutely nothing new. The story and characters are extremely shallow, the boss fights are average at best, and every weapon in the game is influenced in some way or another by other weapons in other games. Yet for some reason, it is probably my favorite game of this generation (along with Red Dead). Ultimately, what makes a game fun for me is gameplay. And Gears fucking nails it. Popping an enemy in the head with a sniper rifle and watching his face literally explode into pieces while fragments of his skull fly into the air is something that never gets old. Also, the graphics in both Gears games are some of the best that you will see on consoles. Not THE best, but it holds it own extremely well. Enemies are loaded with detail, and blasting that detail into a shower of blood and guts is just a..... blast. (pun intended) The only bad thing about Gears of War? It makes me wish every game had guns that makes your enemy shatter into chunks of blood and flesh. Halo....I'm talking to you.....

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