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RIP Ralph Baer (1922-2014)
By KevinS
Posted on 12/07/14
RIP Ralph Baer (1922-2014) I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...

Five Most Influential Games This Generation

Posted on Tuesday, August 7 @ 07:36:31 Eastern by Alex_Osborn

Every new wave of consoles ushers in fresh and exciting innovations for the gaming industry. This past generation has stretched on a bit longer than usual (a bit too long if you ask me) and as such, is loaded with so many groundbreaking experiences that have changed the industry forever. To celebrate these achievements, we're going to take a look at five of the most influential game experiences since 2005.


Mass Effect

Just last week, GR superstar Daniel Bischoff and I were reminiscing about the Mass Effect franchise. There's no doubt that BioWare's sci-fi role-playing trilogy will go down as one of the most memorable series of the last ten years (for better or worse) with the second installment serving as the fan favorite. However, the two of us agreed thatcontrary to popular opinionthe original was by and large the best of the three.

Not only did the original feature the best story, but it introduced a level of player choice never seen before in the medium. Sure, branching dialogue had been done in games prior, but not with the same cinematic approach. In many ways, Mass Effect felt more like a space drama than just another RPG with dialogue trees. As games have evolved over the past few years, we've begun to take it for granted, but let's not forget how groundbreaking ME1's presentation and cinematic approach to storytelling was back in 2007.



Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Nathan Drake's initial outing was a fun ride, but it didn't serve up the mind-blowing experience that everyone was expecting from Naughty Dog. However, the sequel not only rectified the issues with Drake's Fortune, it went above and beyond the expectations of gamers everywhere, delivering the most cinematic action adventure experience at the time. From jaw-dropping vistas to interactive set-piece moments, Uncharted 2 served up the first experience that truly gave players the sense that they were in a Hollywood blockbuster.  

Debates regarding whether or not the PS3 was more powerful than the 360 halted when Naughty Dog blew the lid off of Among Thieves, but there is so much more to this game than just a pretty face. The witty banter between characters made the cast relatable and the overall writing served to create an experience that had you emotionally involved despite the game's somewhat zany conclusion. With the third-person action genre growing to new levels of popularity, we've seen so many recently released games borrow from the Uncharted 2 approach. And honestly, can you blame them?


BioShock

Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games made one heck of impact on the industry when they introduced gamers to the underwater world of Rapture. The sheer level of detail pack into every inch of BioShock brought its dystopian cityand all of its horrifying elementsto life. The game mechanics were also unique, giving players a firearm in one hand and a plethora of genetically-induced powers in the other. With so much variety, categorizing this game as a first-person shooter simply doesn't do it justice.

Then there's the story, which is truly the most influential aspect of BioShock. The organic way in which the plot was unravelled aided in making the experience feel completely cohesive and engrossing from beginning to end. Cutscenes have been (and still very much are) a means to convey plot points, but BioShock's expertly crafted scenarios and top-notch writing make such storytelling devices look dated and archaic. There's a reason why BioShock Infinite sits atop most gamers' 2013 wish list.


Gears of War

Epic's brotastic third-person shooter brought some major revolutions to the genre and no, I'm not just referring to chainsaw lancers. Gears of War essentially trademarked the "stop and pop" style of gunplay and serves as one of the first truly impressive visual showcases for the Xbox 360. So many shooters today feature the snap-to-cover mechanic, and if it weren't for Cliff and the rest of the guys at Epic, the third-person shooter genre wouldn't be nearly as popular as it is today. Heck, the aforementioned Uncharted 2 borrows a lot of the mechanics first seen in Gears.

While Halo has served as the undisputed hallmark franchise for the Xbox platform, Marcus Fenix has certainly given Master Chief a run for his money. With a robust online experience, gorgeous visuals, and some of the most intense firefights we've seen this generation, the first Gears of War was a landmark achievement and a worthy addition to Microsoft's lineup of exclusives.


Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

I doubt you need me to remind you that Call of Duty is insanely popular. No one ever thought Halo could be topped in the online space, but when Modern Warfare launched in 2007, the world of online gaming was changed forever. This military shooter caught on like wildfire, resulting in annualized sequels that sell ridiculous numbers year after year. Like it or not, Call of Duty 4 will go down in history as one of the most influential first-person shooters of all time, and for good reason.

Up until the launch of Modern Warfare, the military FPS genre was cluttered with World War II shooters that relived the same signature moments over and over again. infinity Ward changed that by bringing their series to the modern era, a time period everyone could relate to and get excited about. That, coupled with the fact that the game boasted a number of innovative single-player missions that had every player on the edge of their seat, made this game one heck of a compelling product. Oh yeah, and then there's the multiplayer, but you don't need me to elaborate on that.

Agree with our picks? Let us know which games you think are worthy of a mention in the comments below.

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