Eight years. That’s how long this past generation lasted. That is an entire childhood for some people. In that time, the industry grew, matured and gave us some of the most memorable moments in gaming. I sat down and picked 25 of my favorites and then went ahead and ranked them. These are not ranked by how good the game was, in fact some come from below average games. My criteria is how big an impact they had on me when I played them. Some hit me emotionally, others made me gasp in awe, and some just made me happy to play video games. In an act of Internet humility I will post them in parts and give each moment a time to shine.
This first part does not contain any spoilers but future ones will so heads up.
25. Unfreezing the Cold War (World in Conflict, 2007)
One of the best strategy games of the last generation, World in Conflict gave you the chance to play out one of the most scarily probable “what ifs” in history. Though the particular scenario of starting the Cold War is showcased in the Soviet Assault expansion, the 2007 title created a realistic scenario where the actions of a few men could spark World War 3 and lead the Seattle to be invaded. From the quiet uncertainty that takes place before the first shot is fired, to the escalation into nuclear war, World in Conflict has painted a human arch into one of the most terrifying times in history. The first three levels in this game (and the expansion) stand as seminal moments in this generation of gaming.
24. Breaking things (Red Faction Guerrilla, 2009)
With new graphics and processing power come the dreams of making the environments we play in as alive as possible. Building on that promise developer Volition brought back one of its most entertaining franchises from the PS2 era with a next gen coat of physics. If you asked me in 2004 what I wanted to see in the next generation of consoles, I would have begged to be able to walk into any room and be able to break it down into individual parts. Red Faction Guerrilla did that for me. Every building can be slowly torn apart with your hammer and will.
23. Parkour (Assassin’s Creed, 2007)
The revival of the Prince of Persia series did something special for platformers back in 2003. Leave it to the same team at Ubisoft to recapture lightning in a bottle with one of the best new franchises of the last generation. Not since, well, Prince of Persia, has the way you move about a game been so crucial to how you play it. The first time you climb the wall of a building, grabbing on to every imperfection and ledge in a beautifully smooth animation, you realize that this could not have been possible with the last generation of consoles.
22. Four person band (Rock Band, 2007)
Does anyone even play music games anymore? It can be hard to envision it now, but five years ago you could not go to a house party without seeing a game of Rock Band or Guitar Hero break out. Even now, there is still something special to rocking out with a full band to Carry on my Wayward Son and a semi-intoxicated audience cheering you on. So for the quiet hurrah this phenomenon had, it gets a little place on my list. It’s hard to picture the last generation without mentioning it.
21. Driving into Manhattan (Grand Theft Auto 4, 2008)
For the first couple of hours of Grand Theft Auto 4 you are trapped in the borough of Broker. Looming over you across the river lies the most realistic recreation of Manhattan ever brought to a video game. While there is plenty to do in your little piece of land, you know the glory, the thing you have been waiting for relentlessly for the past 5 years lies past that bridge. So when you finally take Playboy X across the Brooklyn Bridge and are given full reign over the island of Algonquin, the real game starts. To this day I am shocked at the little details hidden throughout the world, and after having visited New York too many times, I can say it does the real thing justice.
20. Scale (Battlefield 3, 2011)
Video games have tried for ages to recreate the epic battles we would have with our friends as a kid. They got close, but I never felt so fully engrossed in a skirmish until Battlefield 3. Tanks rolling through, jets dogfighting overhead and buildings falling to pieces as my squad tried to take over a command post. The scale provided by this game is something that was never captured before, and it stands as one of the most memorable moments of last generation.