Eurogamer's Games of the Generation: The top 50

Counting down through the best of the past eight years.

What a generation it's been! Well, it's certainly been the longest yet, and a look through our recent series on the games of the generation puts forward a fairly compelling argument that it can be considered one of the best. Look beyond the apathy engendered by horribly modern phenomena such as on-disc DLC, season passes and the anaemic annual series and you can see a pioneering spirit that has sometimes made the seventh cycle of video games feel very much like the first one: it's there in the one-man masterpieces such as Spelunky, just as it is in the many marvels in Dark Souls' design and the life-altering fantasies of World of Warcraft.

Collating a rundown of the games of the last eight years has been a fascinating task, and a reminder of how rich the gaming landscape has been this era. We've already brought you our thoughts and feelings about the top 10, but I thought you'd be curious to see the full final results. A quick reminder on the process - 40 of Eurogamer's contributors, past and present, were asked to nominate five games in some form of preferential order, and the votes were totted up. Simple and scientific. It's not a definitive list, of course - but I hope it gives some sort of consensus on what's impressed us most this past generation.

45=. Yakuza 4

1

The last proper Yakuza game to be localised? That's kind of sad.

What we said:  "Yakuza 4 succeeds in offering an inviting window into a meticulously observed world. The dialogue and story are strong for a video game, maintaining interest over the hours it takes for the plot to fully unfurl."

45=. The Witcher

What we said: "The Witcher doesn't offer much the dedicated role-player won't have already seen elsewhere, but that's not such a bad thing. One for those who value story and character over technical innovation then, but definitely a game worth trying if the concept has tickled your fancy."

45=. Super Meat Boy

What we said: "What little there is that doesn't work or falls flat, like the odd annoying boss fight, is quickly forgotten, because for the majority of the time this is a game where you can feel the spirit level resting on the supporting beams, just as you could with the old masters like Super Mario World."

45=. Left4Dead

What we said: "Left 4 Dead is another deeply professional, personality-filled and progressive take on the shooter from Valve. In a cultural landscape that has as many zombie touchstones as ours, it takes something special to make them shamble appealingly, and Left 4 Dead, both literally and metaphorically, makes them run."

45=. Far Cry 3

What we said: "In the past, Far Cry's vision of a first-person shooter RPG where you explore, master and then control your environment has always been more seductive on paper than any of its developers have managed to deliver on disc. Far Cry 3 changes all that. For me, this is the new apex predator of open-world shooters."

45=. Dragon Quest 9

What we said: "Not only the bravest and best of its series, but also a multiplayer adventure game that betters anything yet seen on the DS, Dragon Quest IX takes its place at the pinnacle of orthodox JRPG gaming."

37=. FIFA series

2

It might not be the greatest series, but it's certainly soaked up the most hours these past few years.

What we said: "It's not just a brilliant simulation of football, it's also a brilliant simulation of what football has become: addicted to superficiality, with Sky Sports as its dealer of choice."

37=. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan

What we said: "Since it arrived, Ouendan has commanded its place in our game-card slot with real urgency, and we've found ourselves reaching for it at every available opportunity."

37=. DJ Hero

  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: FreeStyle Games
  • DJ Hero review (8/10)

What we said: "In many ways DJ Hero is a triumph, offering one of the most refreshing gaming experiences of the year and one of the best soundtracks of any music game. If you're a genre fan wearying of endless guitar-based updates, this is a thrilling shot in the arm."

37=. Halo 3

What we said: "Halo 3 is quite simply this - the best game yet in one of the best FPS franchises of the era. Better than either of its predecessors, Halo 3 still can't quite escape the category of flawed masterpiece - but this time around, the flaws are so minor that even the most churlish of reviewers would be hard pressed to mark the game down."

37=. Burnout Paradise

What we said: "Burnout Paradise isn't everything it could have been, but what's here is still worthy of serious consideration for anyone hell-bent on demented arcade thrills."

37=. Geometry Wars Retro Evolved

12

One of the first Xbox 360 games, and still one of the most dazzling.

What we said: "The reason it continues to entertain is that it's been designed to be played with, not just beaten. And of course you can't beat it - it's a high-scores game, and theoretically never-ending."

37=. Drop7

What we said: "I'm gradually becoming more dependent on it to murder boring train journeys, and like all the best puzzle games its simple rules disguise satisfying depth."

37=. Grand Theft Auto 4

What we said: "Almost everything you do in Liberty City would be good enough to drive its own game, and the best parts would be good enough to outrun the competition, but the reason it works so well is that Rockstar has made a game that requires no patience to play. This, as much as its usual coherency and the best script in the series, is what makes GTA IV the best openworld game yet."

33=. Project Gotham Racing 4

What we said: "Freed from the pressures of developing to match a hardware launch, and perhaps steered by the Forza team's strength in simulation, PGR4 wrings the best yet out of an already scintillating arcade racing game."

33=. Tokyo Jungle

  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: Crispy's/SCE Japan Studio
  • Tokyo Jungle review (9/10)

What we said: "Tokyo Jungle is a celebration of classic games, with their ridiculous plots, repetitive tasks, excessive violence and all. It pulls off the impressive and nigh-on impossible trick of being an original homage. Also it lets you set a giraffe on a bear."

33=. Bayonetta

What we said: "This is a game that exemplifies so much of what commentators claim has died in the Japanese game industry. A blast of creative brilliance, both technically accomplished, strategically deep and infused with rare imagination, Bayonetta represents the pinnacle of its chosen niche."

33=. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

What we said: "This game is a winner. So much craft has gone into its atmosphere, into innumerable small details that together add enormous depth and flavour to the world."

25=. Dragon Age Origins

What we said: "In its desperation to infuse this setting with "maturity" - be it of the sober, political kind, or the game's painfully clumsy gore and sex - BioWare has forgotten the key ingredient of any fantasy: the fantastical. Without it, you're still left with a competent, often compelling, impressively detailed and immense RPG, but it's one that casts no spell."

25=. BioShock Infinite

3

Aside from everything else in Infinite, Elizabeth's one of the great technical achievements this generation.

What we said: "Both combat and exploration are the leanest in the series to date, then, but both develop the same hold over your attention, and once the game is over you'll struggle to care about them anyway. BioShock Infinite doesn't blur the lines between your reality and the game's to quite the same extent as its predecessor, but it's a more complete and polished story, and that's the thing you'll remember."

25=. Rock Band

What we said: "It's outrageous, hilarious and memorable, and the best four-players-on-one-screen multiplayer game since GoldenEye."

25=. DayZ

What we said: "Even now, though, with DayZ as laggy, unstable and awkward as it is, it's immediately apparent that something special is being discovered here. Something that taps into the same zeitgeist as Dark Souls or EVE Online."

25=. Just Dance

What we said: "Plenty of people would rather sit on the sofa, thanks, and play a proper videogame with guns, and good for them. But small girls, show-offs and people who are too drunk to care in the first place will have a great time with Just Dance. Perhaps even games-with-guns types might enjoy it too, if they give it a try."

25=. The Walking Dead

What we said: "The Walking Dead is a serious, solid, but clay-footed work; in truth, it wouldn't stand out from the crowd if video game storytelling wasn't so impoverished to begin with. But some of the best pop fiction comes not from geniuses but from craftsmen who are given the right subject matter and understand just how to treat it, and that's true of Telltale here."

25=. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

What we said: "This is not a game for everyone. It requires enormous quantities of patience, planning and persistence. If you're up to the challenge, prepare yourself for one of the most rewarding opportunities in gaming."

25=. Warhawk

  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: Incognito/SCE Santa Monica
  • Warhawk review (8/10)

What we said: "Incognito has taken the DNA of Battlefield and crafted a sublime online console game - a virtual battlezone that serves up more than its fair share of wonderful audio-visuals, but more than that, plays beautifully, with every game you play supplying a key gameplay moment that only online gaming provides."

22=. Guitar Hero 2

What we said: "You can never have too much of a good thing and as far as good things go, Guitar Hero II is right up there with cakes and funny looking animals."

22=. Fez

  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • Developer: Polytron
  • Fez review (10/10)
4

Another phenomenon introduced this generation - the angry internet mob chasing people out of the industry.

What we said: "Maybe it's about perception, reality and subjectivity, like the old man said. But I think it's about something else: what games were to us in their charged infancy, what they've expanded into in the 30 years since, and how to fold those things together into a single, beautiful whole."

22=. Braid

  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • Developer: Number None
  • Braid review (10/10)

What we said: "Braid is beautiful, entertaining and inspiring. It stretches both intellect and emotion, and these elements dovetail beautifully rather than chaffing against each other. Still wondering if games can be art? Here's your answer."

21. Fable 2

  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • Developer: Lionhead Studios
  • Fable 2 review (10/10)

What we said: "Inclusive and often thought-provoking, this is a daring portrait of a game-world with all the failure cut out, and it's hard not to love a game that loves you so much in return. Fable 2 will charm you, thrill you, and leave you very, very happy."

20. Batman Arkham Asylum

What we said: "Arkham Asylum finds room for every major aspect of Batman's enduring appeal, and it does so in a game compelling enough to work even without its masked star."

17=. The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

What we said: "Oblivion is a staggeringly ambitious game that successfully unites some of the best elements of RPG, adventure and action games and fuses them into a relentlessly immersive and intoxicating whole."

17=. Crackdown

What we said: "It's telling that the biggest complaint I have is that you're reliant on those Achievement Unlocked notifications to tally up your kills and feats, with no GTA-style stats page to call upon. Think about it: I'm upset with Crackdown because I can't examine how much fun I'm having in periscopic detail."

17=. Vanquish

5

The knee-slide's enough to convince me this is secretly the best game of the generation.

What we said: "Doubtless the best third-person shooter ever to come out of Japan, Vanquish builds on Western developers' triumphs to push the genre in new, interesting directions, shifting the balance of power, and cementing Shinji Mikami's position as one of the best directors working in videogames today."

16. Minecraft

What we said: "The last two years of public-eye development also make for a vital and joyous lesson for modern gaming itself: go your own way, listen to your players, celebrate what human beings can do rather than what you can make them do. Minecraft might be inseparable from its own fame by this point, but one thing's for sure - it deserves every bit of it."

14=. Mass Effect series

What we said: "Despite the niggles, Mass Effect is most definitely a great game with an awful lot going for it - but one that doesn't quite deserve unquestioning praise."

14=. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

What we said: "Even without the vastly impressive multiplayer elements, Modern Warfare would be worth buying for its outstanding single-player campaign. It succeeds not only for being consistently spectacular, but for the way it has been crafted into something that keeps you engaged right to the very end."

13. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

What we said: "It evokes a word that's overused in reviewing of all kinds: one that's best kept in the cellar in a plainly marked box and reserved only for the most special of occasions. For Skyrim though, I'd like to blow the dust off it, open up the lid, and enjoy a masterpiece with you."

11=. BioShock

What we said: "Is BioShock the greatest game of all time? I honestly don't know, but it's one of the most interesting and immersive experiences to grace our beloved medium."

11=. Demon's Souls

What we said: "It's stoic, uncompromising, difficult to get to know, but also deep, intriguingly disturbed and perversely rewarding. You can learn to love Demon's Souls like few other games in the world. But only if you're prepared to give yourself over to it."

6=. Portal

What we said: "We're left with a curious contradiction: one of the most interesting and delightful things Valve's ever done, but also one of its least fulfilling. If only we had our own portal gun to bridge the gap to the first infusion of new content."

6=. The Last of Us

What we said: "At a time when blockbuster action games are sinking into a mire of desperate overproduction, shallow gameplay and broken narrative logic, The Last of Us is a deeply impressive demonstration of how it can and should be done."

6=. Journey

  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: thatgamecompany
  • Journey review (9/10)

What we said: "The studio has poured the deserts, trashed the temples and filled the world with the floating presence of a nameless almighty. The truly brilliant move, though, was to leave a space at the very centre of the design that only a stranger can fill."

6=. Fallout 3

What we said: "Bethesda has once again delivered a game of life-affirming brilliance that will be heralded as a classic, and talked about for years to come."

6=. Street Fighter 4

7

Of all the games here, SF4's perhaps the most likely to still be played come the end of the next generation.

What we said: "There will no doubt be a small but vociferous core of Third Strike veterans who cry foul over the series' apparent simplification, they will be vastly outnumbered by those players who get to fall in love again with the Street Fighter of their youth: one that's easy to pick up and play, yet near-impossible to master. As a result this is, in almost every way that matters, the perfect Street Fighter."

5. World of Warcraft

What we said: "I'm reviewing it as it would be if you went down the shops and bought a copy this second. In a couple of months, it'll have improved considerably, if only due to the mass dynamics of players altering across the maps and servers a little better."

4. Red Dead Redemption

What we said: "The result is an exceptional Rockstar game, one that successfully re-clothes the Grand Theft Auto framework in an exciting, distinct and expertly realised scenario."

3. Spelunky

8

Screw the shopkeeper.

What we said: "Spelunky is my perfect game - a creation of rare crystal clarity that sparkles from every angle."

2. Dark Souls

9

Actually, I did accidentally screw over the shopkeeper in Dark Souls. Sorry.

What we said: "If role-playing is to put you in the boots of an adventurer in a strange land and let you pick your path through it, then Dark Souls is a great role-playing game. If action is to test your skill in thrilling situations, then Dark Souls is a great action game. If adventure is to surprise and mystify you and invite you to uncover the secrets of a forgotten world, then Dark Souls is a great adventure game. If entertainment is fun without failure and progress without pain, you'll have to find it somewhere else. But you'll be missing out on one of the best games of the year. "

1. Super Mario Galaxy

10

From here to eternity.

What we said: "Where Galaxy matches Mario 64 is not quite in its quality of execution - alongside the brilliance of some stars are others which fall a bit flat, and there isn't the overall sense of implacable perfection that that game had - but in its confidence and originality. Another decade needs to go by before we'll know whether it will come to be as revered as 64 did. For now, all that matters is that the waiting is finally over."

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