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

1 – Mass Effect

Why it’s better than the rest: Most franchises take two, even three games to create a rich, multi-layered canon that you can lose yourself in. Mass Effect did it immediately, pulling you into an entire galaxy that was so well constructed and thought out, from alien civilizations to mythology to crushingly boring technical manuals, that you could easily mistake it for a robust, decades-old series. When you combine the conversational penchant of Star Trek with the lasers and doomsday machines of Star Wars, and mix them with stat-driven RPG elements and Gears-style gunplay, the result is a comprehensive franchise that’s almost better than its iconic inspiration.

Tossing aliens around with Jedi-like powers is brilliant fun, but the real joy of the game comes from the branching, repercussion-filled dialog trees. Fantastic voice acting brings the large cast to life, and even the low-level people you talk to have something to say or contribute. Naturally you can respond with politeness, but there’s always the Renegade option:

Above: Not the best way to save the galaxy

Legacy: 2010’s Mass Effect 2 should be the blueprint for all sequels. BioWare kept what worked, tweaked what didn’t and jettisoned everything that drove us nuts in the first game. The scope was bigger, the worlds were larger and more detailed, even the expanded cast rocked, somehow making an outstanding series even better. By the time the credits rolled, some GR editors fired up another save file right away, ready to dive back in and make different choices in the 40-hour quest.

And unlike many other games, the decisions you make can affect the rest of the story, or even story elements in subsequent entries – entire sections of ME2 change depending on how you played ME1, and we expect ME3 to continue the trend in even larger ways. ME2 also delivered on a promise BioWare made for ME1 – frequent DLC that continues the sweeping story. Since its January release we’ve already seen two substantial additions, plus a handful of smaller stories and weapons updates that kept the game in a near-constant state of play.

Above: Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC just came out and actually contains important plot points for ME3 – it’s not throwaway DLC 

It’s hard to specify games that are directly inspired by Mass Effect, as it’s such a herculean effort that only a few developers could even try, but there’s no doubt in our eyes it’ll go down as one of the biggest series of this generation and a high water mark for games as a storytelling medium. Now if BioWare could just make the body language as convincing as Uncharted…

And for the sake of “You forgot…,” know that we didn’t forget, we excluded. That said, these guys almost made the cut but either fell just shy of “best” or aren’t quite yet “franchise” enough to qualify:

Nov 8, 2010

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Top 7… best games of 2010 (so far)
Back in June we called the best of the first six months – how’ve they held up?


The games of November 2010
44 games in just four weeks? You’re gonna need a bigger shelf


Top 7


  • sleepyMexican45 - August 13, 2011 10:08 p.m.

    dead space instead of Assassins Creed.
  • 19Pakk99 - November 14, 2010 7:25 p.m.

    Fishow753 ... I agree. It was neither a good shooter nor a good RPG. And what was up with the (spoiler alert!) giant Terminator at the end? The game suddenly became the final stage of a Sonic game! Poor.
  • Sukharevskaya - November 11, 2010 10:54 p.m.

    Great list, except Left 4 Dead shouldn't be on here and Mass Effect shouldn't be first. Other than that heck yes!
  • philipshaw - November 10, 2010 11:18 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more with the Top 3, can't wait for ME2 to come out on PS3
  • Sy87 - November 10, 2010 7:09 p.m.

    I like how the trilogy franchises are starting and ending on the same console. A lot less fuss for gamers.
  • FanofSaiyan - November 10, 2010 5:43 a.m.

    While I agree that the list was good, I just have to ask why these games weren't mentioned: Crackdown, inFAMOUS, Mirror's Edge and Dead Rising. Before people criticize, inFAMOUS and Mirror's Edge are both franchises because sequels were announced for both of them (though for some reason NOBODY has new info. on Mirror's Edge 2!)... please GR, if you find out any info on Mirror's Edge 2 LET US KNOW!
  • michaelpreston - November 10, 2010 2:20 a.m.

    OKAMI? Guess it's not yet a franchise....:(
  • ComradeKhani - November 10, 2010 1:45 a.m.

    good call on all of these. especially mass effect, best game of all time :D
  • BoondockSaint54 - November 10, 2010 1:04 a.m.

    I gotta say I agree
  • Albireo6972 - November 10, 2010 12:03 a.m.

    Screw Mass Errect, that game was horrible, did not care for em one bit.
  • kmdeftones - November 9, 2010 10:55 p.m.

    Good list. My only disappointment is that Bioshock is a franchise. I loved the first one, but it had a finite end. Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed built a longer story into their first games, but Bioshock didn't (shouldn't) have anywhere to go. I will never play Bioshock 2 because of this. Having said that, I'm not sure what I would replace it with. @AncientCanada97 I agree with you. I really want to see where they take Dragon Age. I really liked most of the characters in the first one and I cared about the choices I made. I love Bioware!
  • Gkicker2 - November 9, 2010 10 p.m.

    I'm sure 3 Xbox 360 exclusives aren't going to make PS3 owners very happy. No Crackdown?? No Army of Two?? Just kidding... Thats a joke people!
  • InstantTitKill - November 9, 2010 9:40 p.m.

    I sure can't wait to hear them discuss this list on the next Tdar, I pretty much could not agree less with this list...
  • ColonelKc - November 9, 2010 8:47 p.m.

    Im not trying to be mean, but i dont like this list. Not one bit.
  • monsterhunter3rox - November 9, 2010 7:15 p.m.

    No more heroes is going to get a third game next generation.and mass effect has 2 games too
  • HitmanSB07 - November 9, 2010 5:37 p.m.

    Completely agree with the number one, one of the greatest franchises of all time.
  • babyhenchy1 - November 9, 2010 5:05 p.m.

    The only reason Bioshock didn't get here was because Bioshock 2 was a big disappointment for me. Still a good game but nowhere near as memorable as the first Bioshock.
  • babyhenchy1 - November 9, 2010 4:53 p.m.

    Mass Effect is one of my Top 3 franchises of all time along with Metroid and Metal Gear. The story is probably the best in gaming, the characters are so good, the universe so deep, and in Mass Effect 2 we had the same strengths plus excellent gameplay and design. Nearly all of these franchises deserves this list. My top 5 ( only franchises that have more than one game released) 5. Gears of War 4. Dead Space 3. Assassin’s Creed 2. Uncharted 1. Mass Effect Soon Portal will be on here too.
  • JADENkOTOR - November 9, 2010 4:27 p.m.

    @ Everyone who is stupid and didn't read the article including you digitaltheorpy and the guy above me: LAST GEN GAMES AREN'T ON THE LIST!!!! BEFORE YOU GET BUTTHURT LEARN HOW TO READ
  • Gahmah - November 9, 2010 4:10 p.m.

    I really have to disagree with mass effect, that second game was a pretty substantial letdown story wise, and overall interaction with equipment and things felt too shallow. I mean c'mon, roboskeleton? the other reapers all look the god damn same but humanity gets a robo-skeleton? Not to mention hardly anything really happened in the story, you recruited a few guys, you flew through one mysterious gate, you blew up a ship, the game is cool and rather fun, but I guess as a franchise for the decade is pretty alright. As much as I dislike saying this, I would say COD is a better franchise, don't settle for hackneyed stories like mass effect 2 if you're going to beat on heavy rain folks, it's hardly much better.

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