While the current consoles may still have a little juice in them, and there are still definitely some new IPs coming out, we’ve seen most of what this generation has to offer in terms of new and exciting franchises. Sure, it’s entirely possible that new hits, such as Sleeping Dogs, can continue on into a franchise, but for the purposes of this list, something is only a franchise if it started and grew during this console generation. That means that mega-hits such as Halo and COD are out, and so are series that have made a resurgence, such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. It has to be a new IP that started on the good old 360, PS3, or Wii. With that out of the way, I present the five best new series of this generation:
5.) Rock Band.
Rock Band was and still is the de facto music game. Harmonix made it clear that Rock Band was aimed to be a platform, instead of just a game. While the sequels felt counterintuitive to that messege, Rock Band 2 and 3 really solidified what they were trying to accomplish. The constantly expanding music list and Harmonix’s dedication to create the best rhythm game possible created a franchise that still feels fresh and continues to be a go-to party machine. It reminds me of an interview a while back about how many Harmonix employees were music enthusiasts or artists themselves; it’s reassuring that there’s a team out there that creates something it loves and succeeds from it.
It’s kind of pushing it to call the BioShock series a franchise, but there are two games and one more in the pipeline. Anyway, what’s important is just how great the series truly is. While the FPS genre has been criticized for being a very stagnant market, BioShock proved critics and gamers alike wrong with a first-person experience unlike any other (Well, there was System Shock…). It blended a suspenseful and beautiful atmosphere, a fantastic setting, and an engrossing story all into one neat package. The nice and refined gameplay is just icing on the top.
3.) Gears of War.
I remember right before the 360 was released. GOW was hyped as the new Halo. It was the blockbuster hit that would elevate the 360, as Halo did for the original Xbox. Through a combination of the 360’s more diverse library and Halo’s continued existence, GOW was never as important to Microsoft as Halo. Nonetheless, GOW started a whole movement in the shooting genre, much like Halo did with FPS games. It may not have invented cover mechanics or third-person shooting, but you can bet it refined and popularized them. Largely influenced by GOW’s popularity, a mass of third-person shooters appeared, and almost all of them had some cover element. I don’t blame them for using it, either. Gears does such a great job, even in the first game, at creating tight controls and a responsive environment that I became used to a cover system in all of my games. The 2nd and 3rd games just upped the stakes and continued to push the genre of third-person shooters forward.
No game series this generation, and possibly ever, has created the blockbuster scale adventure that the Uncharted series has. Blending excellent Indiana Jones storytelling with addictive gameplay, Uncharted is a cinematic experience that doesn’t forget its gaming roots. From the motion capturing to the top notch voice acting, little separates the series from a truly Hollywood experience. It also doesn’t hurt that this game is just drop dead gorgeous.
1.) Mass Effect.
If Uncharted is today’s Indiana Jones, then Mass Effect is Star Wars. A living, breathing epic galaxy awaits you in each game of the series. From talking to people in the Citadel to shooting aliens in a remote moon, there’s just so much to do in these games. It broke new ground in storytelling and still has one of the best morale systems around. Sure, the shooting was shaky with the first installment, but it was much improved and–dare I say–perfected by the time ME3 came around. On top of all that, Mass Effect used the novel concept of continuity between games to really tie together the series into one epic space opera.
Well, there you have it. These are the 5 most fantastic series of this generation. Even as I write this article, more and more spectacular game series come to mind. It’s clear to me that I’ve missed a few. So, if you disagree with the list or have an addition, feel free to drop a comment below!