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The Top 7... Best new franchises of this generation

3 – BioShock

Why it’s better than the rest: BioShock can't be shoehorned into any single genre – it's part shooter, part survival horror, part roleplaying, part strategy, part puzzler and, depending how far you're willing to stretch the definition, possibly even part adventure game. There's lots of blood, lots of violence, lots of intense combat, lots of memorable music and lots of pretty graphics.

What makes BioShock so special, so groundbreaking and so clearly one of the greatest new franchises of this generation, however, are the things that can't be bulleted on the back of a box. The atmosphere, which dripped with enough carefully designed detail to convince you not only that an underwater city exists, but also that it's the most terrifying place on the planet. The characters, who spoke with eloquence and intelligence, and who battled with deep philosophies as well as deadly ammunitions. The story, which dared to subvert both the player's and the medium's clichéd expectations.


Above: Utterly gripping from beginning to end

Legacy: BioShock took what many developers might have considered a risk – assuming that today's gamers are mature and thoughtful, fully capable of appreciating bizarre, complex and morally ambiguous ideas in the midst of all that frenzied action. The fact that the first entry succeeded critically and commercially, justifying a sequel two years later and a spiritual prequel two years from now, has arguably given the rest of the industry more courage and conviction to experiment as well. If more developers took cues from this example of daring design, the games industry would be a better place as a whole.


2 – Uncharted

Why it’s better than the rest: Like Assassin’s Creed II, the Uncharted series is proof that a game’s charm and wit can be just as important as its action – and Uncharted offers the best of all three, as well as some of the most impressive visuals on any platform. Like Tomb Raider with more heart (and roughly 150 percent more screwball repartee), Uncharted centers on Nathan Drake, a smart-assed treasure hunter whose greatest talents include recruiting interesting companions and being able to survive when hopelessly outmatched. Constantly under attack from mercenaries, monsters and gigantic, puzzle-like traps, he’s almost as much fun to watch as he is to control, as he finds ways to entertainingly freak out while expertly leaping and shooting his way through one desperate situation after another.

Uncharted wouldn’t be the same without Drake’s in-over-his-head charm, but it’d still be pretty awesome. Every level is a memorable set-piece, covering terrain that ranges from lush jungles to bombed-out cities to Tibetan mountains, and almost every puzzle is unique. Also, the environmental puzzle-solving is balanced out with Gears of War-style firefights (which could get kind of sloggy in the first game, but still) and occasional battles against tanks and helicopter gunships. So far, Uncharted has been fantastic, and we’re eager to see where it takes us next.

Legacy: While the PlayStation 3 has had no shortage of exclusive games – including the first Uncharted – it wasn’t until Uncharted 2 that it had an immediate first-party hit that was beloved by critics and sold like crazy. More than any other game before it, Uncharted 2 really showed off what Sony’s system could do, and elevated the PS3 from beleaguered third-place underdog to a must-have for serious gamers.

It also knocked Lara Croft back off her perch just as she was starting to reclaim it, which even these days is not an unimpressive feat.

Topics

Top 7

109 comments

  • sofaku - November 8, 2010 9:31 p.m.

    first ya thats right i said it.
  • Eliath - November 8, 2010 9:31 p.m.

    Good top 7. I'm not a big fan of Gears or Left 4 Dead, but I know a ton of people are huge fans. Still, I have a hard time of thinking of anything else I would have preferred up there. Maybe Puzzle Quest.
  • sofaku - November 8, 2010 9:32 p.m.

    anyway ive always wanted to get into bioshock but never had the time or money
  • mockraven - November 8, 2010 9:34 p.m.

    Great list and loved the video for Mass Effect! I always played a female good commander shepherd and, well, she was pretty boring compared to this version. I definitely agree with the majority of the picks! :)
  • HankVenture - November 8, 2010 9:34 p.m.

    Alright now lets see if the 3rd game messes up any of these or brings it to glorious hall of fame forever
  • ithurtstopoop - November 8, 2010 9:34 p.m.

    Cool top 7, Id have liked to see rock band in there somewhere
  • Fishow753 - November 8, 2010 9:38 p.m.

    I still hate ME2 with all my heart
  • WoodyWoodrowAndThePanfluteOfDestiny - November 8, 2010 9:40 p.m.

    ^ I hate you, troll
  • EAC73 - November 8, 2010 9:41 p.m.

    I agree with this list but i didnt like assassins creed that much but it is still a big franchise and i see why u put it other than that great article
  • cronoman66 - November 8, 2010 9:42 p.m.

    Mass Effect totally deserves first place, I may have put Gears of War higher because of it's impact on third person shooters
  • batman5273 - November 8, 2010 9:43 p.m.

    Very good article. I am pleasantly pleased that Gears of War made the list.
  • D0CCON - November 8, 2010 9:44 p.m.

    I saw ME on the picture that came with the article and got more hopeful each time another game let it get closer to number one. I totally agree with it being number one. It is (or was) the best reason to own a 360 (glad to those who only have a PS3 get to join in on half the action now too). I'm already super pumped about the third game and will preorder it ASAP (which would still be in a couple years). The character choice, characters, story, action (especially in the second one) and voice acting are all spectacular. Glad to see GR agrees. And Uncharted is defiantly number 2. I replace Assassin's Creed with one of the games that didn't make it, especially Portal, LBP, or Rock Band.
  • taco12324 - November 8, 2010 9:45 p.m.

    @ ithurtstopoop Rock Band was included, look at the end of the 3rd page. @ Fishow753 GTFO, ME2 was amazing!
  • bonerachieved - November 8, 2010 9:47 p.m.

    Agreed, Bioshock and Mass Effect definitely deserve to be in here.
  • stuartramone - November 8, 2010 9:47 p.m.

    good list up to #1. sorry but IMO biowares way overhyped.
  • db1331 - November 8, 2010 9:50 p.m.

    Agreed with all except Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, L4D, and Gears.
  • db1331 - November 8, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    Oh and I don't know enough about Professor Layton to pass judgment, so I guess what I'm saying is I agree with BioShock and Mass Effect.
  • n00b - November 8, 2010 9:57 p.m.

    i think mass effect 1 was overrated but mass effect 2 is worth game of the year. (even if they gutted out most of the rpg and stats elements)
  • AlpineGuy - November 8, 2010 9:57 p.m.

    I'm actually surprised you left out Rock Band, but all-in-all this is a great Top 7. I can't wait to hear Brett gush about Mass Effect this Friday. ME2 is suuuuch a good game.
  • BK-201 - November 8, 2010 9:58 p.m.

    Never got into most of those games, but I have heard of most of them from friends. Would like to see Assassin's Creed higher up the list as it told a compelling story as well as giving a lot of action that was fun, but got kinda repetitive, unless you began looking for ways to kill people that are out of the normal "rush in, create havoc, run for your life." And let me guess why Call of Duty didn't make it, Modern Warfare II and all of it's hacks and modders?

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