Great idea for a thread. I’m sure I’ll kick myself when I think of ones that I’ve forgotten, but here are my five:
(5) Sleeping Dogs: I feel like this was a little bit overlooked on release: a great little Hong Kong action game that took the GTA concept to a slightly more exotic locale and tethered it to the tropes of Asian cop movies rather than Hollywood action flicks. They came close to beating Rockstar at their own game with this one.
(4) Portal 2: This was amazingly good fun. Not only the brilliantly-designed physics-bending gameplay, but also the intriguing story that was subtly teased out over the course of the game rather than thrown in your face explicitly. Nothing matches the joy of cracking a Portal puzzle, especially one that’s had you stumped for a while. And it’s also a rare occasion of humour in a game working really well. I laughed a lot while playing this.
(3) Arkham City: Arkham Asylum was good; this was better. Never has a game captured the spirit of a superhero quite like this. Endlessly enjoyable, with a great aesthetic somewhere between Nolan and Burton, perfectly-tuned fight mechanics, and a terrific story too. I sunk many hours into this and had a great time doing it.
(2) GTA V: You know when you play a game and wonder how the developers are managing to get so much out of your machine? That’s what GTA V felt like, pretty much all of the time. And not only did it push the PS3/360 technology to the limit (taking full advantage of coming out towards the end of that generation), but it also corrected a lot of problems I had with GTA IV, and injected a key ingredient back into the franchise: fun. The multiple-character mechanic was inspired too, giving the game a lot more variety (and almost making it feel like three games in one).
(1) The Last Of Us: I only played this recently (and only then on the PS4 remastered version) but I thought it was a stunning achievement and a landmark in videogames. It married involving gameplay to a gripping story with shades of characterisation that I’ve never seen in a game before, and plot twists that floored me. And crucially for this thread, it utilised mechanics that I don’t think would have been possible in the previous (PS2) generation.
(A final honorable mention goes to the Scott Pilgrim vs the World game, which was a beautiful homage to 1980s side-scrolling action/beat-em-ups, and translated the world of Scott Pilgrim to the screen even better than the movie did, but didn’t quite cut it as a fantastic game in its own right. )