Top 10: Games of the Seventh Generation Consoles

The transition to the eighth generation of gaming consoles is underway, but gamers are not likely to give up their seventh generation devices any time soon. Dozens of must-play games were released for the Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360, and now is the perfect time to play any gems that you might have overlooked. Here are 10 seventh generation games that are too good to miss.

10. Alan Wake

“Alan Wake” may have been underrated when it was first released, but it has since been recognized as one of the seventh generation’s best horror games. The game pits its title character against the forces of darkness and plays like an interactive Stephen King novel. Wake is actually a horror novelist himself and is visiting the rural town of Bright Falls for a much-needed hiatus. The town turns out to be infested with an evil presence that begins possessing the locals. The creatures that pursue you thrive on darkness, and you will often find yourself fleeing in terror toward the nearest source of light. While desperately trying to stay alive, Wake must also unravel the mystery of Bright Falls and put a stop to the evil for good.

9. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

In 2003, a little-known game development company called Infinity Ward took the crowded first-person shooter market by storm with the first “Call of Duty” game. EA’s acquisition of the company has arguably turned the franchise into a bloated cash cow, but 2007’s “Call of Duty 4” is every bit as ground-breaking as its predecessors. The single-player campaign may be a bit lean, but it packs in enough adrenaline-pumping thrills to make up for its length. The real meat of the game lies in its insanely addictive multiplayer experience. The tight design and controls make unfair deaths and spotty hit detection exceptionally rare, especially for a console game, and a variety of achievements and weapon upgrades add even more reasons to test your skills online.

8. Fallout 3

“Fallout 3” has allowed millions of gamers to tap their feet to the greatest hits of the ’50s while blasting hostile mutants in the face. The game is a competent first-person shooter as well as an outstanding RPG, and its post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. setting is a world that every gamer should experience. Its sense of humor and colorful characters provide a welcome contrast to the beautifully desolate landscapes. The protagonist in the game is defined by the player’s choices, and you can decide to be a kind-hearted saint, a murderous outlaw, or something in between. Whatever you choose, “Fallout 3” is a uniquely charming game that will keep you absorbed for hours at a time.

7. Grant Theft Auto IV

The “Grand Theft Auto” series has been generating controversy for years, but that didn’t stop the fourth installment from selling 6 million copies during its first week of availability. The success of “GTA IV” is much deserved, and the driving elements alone are worth the asking price. The designers did an excellent job of instilling the cars and trucks with the distinct personalities of their real-world counterparts, and the talk radio stations are as hilarious as ever. If the player gets tired of completing structured missions and watching the intriguing story of the protagonist as it unfolds, there are plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc in the beautifully rendered boroughs of Liberty City.

6. Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar’s “Red Dead Redemption” combines everything that people love about Western films into one neat little disk. Of course, the game itself is far from little, and its expansive settings include everything from Mexican pueblos to a wintry forest reminiscent of scenes from “The White Buffalo.” The main character is a former gunslinger and thief named John Marston who must hunt down his former comrades in order to save his family. Marston is extremely likable, and the player quickly learns to sympathize with him as he rides and shoots his way through the Wild West. The gameplay is nearly flawless, and the authentic Western feel of the plentiful gun battles makes them even more enjoyable.

5. Limbo

Roger Ebert foolishly invoked the ferocity of nerd rage when he claimed that video games could never be considered art. Many gamers responded by referencing “Limbo,” a platform game with a uniquely minimalist style. The emotional impact and aesthetic design of the game are certainly impressive, even when compared to some of the finest films of all time. From the black-and-white visuals to the eerily atmospheric music, every aspect of the game draws the player deeper and deeper into its haunting world. Some players may find the experience to be a bit too creepy, but “Limbo’s” enthusiastic fan base is a testament to the power of its riveting visuals and distinctly poignant mood.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

In addition to doing justice to the beloved “Legend of Zelda” series, “Skyward Sword” makes use of the Wii’s controller better than any other game. Swinging Link’s sword and blocking with his shield feel more natural than ever, and the motion controls are an advantage instead of a gimmick. The dungeons are some of the best of the franchise, and the puzzles are designed with the love and care that fans have come to expect from Nintendo. Despite the limitations of the Wii’s graphics, the impressionistic visuals are one of the best aspects of the game.

3. Far Cry 3

“Far Cry 3” may have been a bit late to the party, but it is still one of the most exciting gaming experiences available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game’s voice-acting is exceptional, and the villains sound just as menacingly psychotic as they should. The tropical island setting is breathtakingly beautiful, and the player is given free rein to explore it. Whether you are sprinting and sliding through dense vegetation, hang gliding into an enemy camp, or crashing through the jungle in an off-road vehicle, getting from place to place is always a blast. Combat is even more fun, and players can choose from a variety stealth, ranged, and direct attacks to take out enemies.

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

While some fans of “The Elder Scrolls” complained that “Skyrim” was more dumbed down than other games in the series, these complaints seem a bit petty when you’re blasting a frost troll off of a towering mountain with a magical shout. In terms of freedom and unadulterated fun, “Skyrim” is easily one of the best “Elder Scrolls” games to date. The much-hyped dragon slaying features were a bit of a letdown, but the true appeal of the game lies in exploring forgotten ruins, battling enemies, and interacting with hundreds of unique characters. Of course, it’s just as easy to spend hours upgrading your crafting skills, reading volumes of lore, or using your stealth abilities to prey on unsuspecting townspeople.

1. Mass Effect

More than any other game, “Mass Effect” proved what the seventh generation was capable of. From the hauntingly beautiful music to the thrill of having the vastness of the Milky Way Galaxy at your fingertips, Shepard’s journey is full of unforgettable experiences. The clunky combat features weren’t cleaned up until the game’s sequel, and the driving mechanics of the Mako are almost comically bad. Nevertheless, “Mass Effect” manages to capture the dream of commanding a spaceship like no other game in history. The game’s slick writing is one of the keys to its success, and the smart dialogue and complexity of the characters give interactions an unmatched level of depth and authenticity. The plot is just as engrossing as the characters, and it’s hard not to get drawn into a conflict that is virtually guaranteed to wipe out all organic life in the galaxy.