Well, we're a whole five months in to the new console generation, a marker which typically identifies "what has come before" from "what is yet to come." It's also currently in that nebulous zone of "games which were lifted by their bootstraps kicking and screaming into next gen." Or in other words, business as usual for PC gaming. Also: what games?!?!? I don't remember any console generation coming out the games with such a dearth of titles worth mentioning.
What follows: a list of what I feel are the eleven best computer games that defined all that was great and interesting about the last generation of gaming (using console lives as the arbitrary benchmark). Warning! This list will seem obvious to anyone familiar with my tastes.
#11. Call of Duty: Black Ops
I've played all the CoD games, at least the single player campaigns. I still can't quite piece together the whole Makharov storyline in any way that makes sense. I remain unclear on just how the Russians managed to land on US soil without a nuclear retaliation. I scratch my head at the utterly cool post-apocalypse environ of Ghost....but Black Ops was my favorite. It's one of the only titles in any series to take advantage of the Cold War as a setting, and to exploit the mystique of espionage in that period coupled with guerilla warfare and down-and-dirty actual black ops (or the fantasy of such) to carve out a special place in the CoD games. Plus, one of the only CoD games where I really enjoyed the multiplayer. Helped that they had a decent bot mode, too!
#10. Deadly Premonition
This homage to David Lynch and Twin Peaks is at once incredibly bizarre and fascinating while occasionally pushing the boundaries of what one would consider playable at times. The game's weird lead character and exotic denizens of a sleepy town wracked by an occult murder will either keep you riveted (as it did with me) or repel you with the sometimes cumbersome gameplay.
#9. Resident Evil 6
Despite my reservations about design choices in this game, and the fact that it all too often skews away from the core story elements (i.e. finding mad scientist diaries) that make RE's older titles so interesting, I played RE6's campaigns through to completion, twice. Is it a great game? Ummmm don't force me to say that. But did I enjoy the hell out of it when I wasn't cursing it? Absolutely!
#8. Resident Evil: Revelations
The PC port of what was originally a 3DS exclusive was a delight and also RE6's greatest enemy: an RE title that looked, felt and played much more closely to the originals than it's bigger budget cousin, and also one which offered a great measure of replay value in the form of repeatable survival missions.
#7. Gears of War (series)
I have played a lot of GoW. Too much. I have personally blown up General RAAM and his trained razorbats no less than five times now, I think. Gears 3 was one of the most over-the-top engaging action games I've ever enjoyed. It's worn thin on the formula with GoW: Judgement which felt more like DLC that was turned into a full game for profit, but I have a lot of appreciation for this game series. It also happens to be one of a handful of games I really enjoyed multiplayer in, and like Black Ops it's bot options were a great deal of fun.
#6. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
What's this? A military game where the characters not only have personalities, but stand out enough that by the end of the game you really like them....or at least respect them enough not to want to see anyone die? A fantastic storyline that feels like a military war drama mixed with satire and dark comedy, a dash of Indiana Jones and conspiracy weirdness all combined into a genuinely fun single player campaign? It suffers from a hard-to-access multiplayer mode that looks fantastic but is a ghost town--even a couple years ago when I first played through it. But the single player game was worth a couple trips, and I recently reloaded for another go through.
#5. Halo: Reach (and the rest, sure)
Without a doubt Halo: Reach was the best game in the series, though I am thoroughly enjoying Halo 4. Say what you will about this game, but it's the reason I bought an Xbox 360, as so many did, and will likely be the reason I buy an Xbox One someday too. Halo defined the space marine genre in a special way which Quake and Doom only hinted at.
#4. Dragon Age: Origins
Still the best fantasy RPG in this generation of gaming, and made better by DA: Awakening (though the verdict is mixed on DA2). One of the first games to let me conclude the game with the sacrifice of my character, and in a story which was moving and impressive all at once. I sincerely hope DA: Inquisition lives up to the first game's greatness and improves on it.
#3. Dead Space (series)
As if there were any doubt this would be high on the list. Space engineer instead of space marine, Isaac is the unlikely protagonist of this nightmare ride through the twisted future of Dead Space, and the entire series is amazing, even despite EA's best efforts to make DS3 something other than its predecessors. I fear it will be awhile before we see any Triple-A publisher attempt something as spectacular and horrific as Dead Space again.
#2. Mass Effect (the series)
Keeping in mind I liked the Mass Effect 3 ending and felt that Bioware's main fault in ME was doing such a good job at establishing a sense of agency for the player in each person's personal vision of Shepard that they set themselves up for inevitable dissapointment....there was no way to end this game in a manner that would A: meet everyone's expectations, B: keep the game on some sort of track for the inevitable future ME games, and C: hold to the intended vision and intent of the game, something which other ME fans have noted was somewhat mutable and not exactly established by the time the first and second games were made; #3 had a lot on its plate. All that aside, for me personally this was one of the best trilogies I have ever played and remains unique in my gaming experience as giving me a profound sense of ownership and agency in my femshep Thera Shepard and her great sacrifice for the galaxy.
#1. Fallout 3
As if there were any doubt! Fallout: New Vegas can be included, but Fallout 3 is the definitive post-apocalyptic roleplaying experience for me, the only non-MMO game I have sunk hundreds of hours in to. I have memorized the wasteland of post-apoc Washington (and am still playing in it on occasion), as well as post-apoc Nevada. This game has not been beaten. I'd probably have put Skyrim on this list somewhere too if I could ever stop playing Fallout long enough to play more of the fantasy version of the same engine....but somehow it just doesn't feel right without a Pipboy on my arm!