TuffGnarl.com’s 50 must-play Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 games: Part 4

It’s been more than a year since we published an installment in this series, but these games aren’t going anywhere and it’s not like the pool of candidates is growing much larger.

With that said, sorry for taking so damned long.

Here are entries 31-40 in TuffGnarl.com’s list of must-play Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 titles.

Missed the previous entries? Check ‘em out:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

31. Dishonored – Arkane Studios | 2012

This exceptional offering from French developer Arkane Studios took the best stealth elements from classics such as Thief, Hitman and Metal Gear Solid and set them as the foundation for a game whose visual style and narrative approach borrowed tastefully from Bioshock and Fallout. As Corvo, a sworn and loyal bodyguard to a royal family, you are framed for a murder you didn’t commit and must set aside exonerating yourself for the sake of rescuing the empress’s daughter, whose salvation may lead to your own. On your quest, you explore and unravel the charm and mystery of a parallel world whose technologies are both foreign to our own and entrancing in their odd intricacies. Perfectly paced and deftly executed, Dishonored is an absolute masterpiece in which every obstacle has many solutions and whose conclusion is dependent on your unique approach to the game.

32. Assassin’s Creed 2 – Ubisoft Montreal | 2009

Speaking of stealth games… This second entry into Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed series is deserving of every positive superlative thrown its way. Though the plot itself is fictional, this game’s depiction of Renaissance Italy and its denizens is exceptionally accurate. You control Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the ancestor of Desmond Miles, a man who lives in the present day but who can access the genetic memories of his bloodline to gain an edge in the perpetual battle between two factions who have sought to control the world for as long as mankind has existed: the Assassins, whose goal is to protect free will, and the Templars, who believe a more controlling hand is necessary to ensure world peace. Sewn into this overarching narrative through 16 “Pieces of Eden” strewn across the world is “The Truth,” an even deeper plot revolving around humanity’s actual true history. The platforming is possibly no better, the stealth elements are fair (if unforgiving) and the action and combat are nuanced and heart-pounding. This game’s a gem.

33. Halo: Reach – Bungie | 2010

This is arguably Bungie’s best Halo game since Halo: Combat Evolved first reinvented first-person shooters on consoles way back in 2002. Featuring a phenomenal campaign that did everything right where Halo: ODST went wrong, this sixth installment in the Xbox’s flagship series puts players in control of Noble Six, a supersoldier who with his squad takes on the Covenant, an alien collective attacking the human world, Reach. With a robust multiplayer supporting the outstanding main storyline, this game has some tremendous replay value and remains in heavy rotation for many gamers even today.

34. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Naughty Dog | 2009

Naughty Dog may have gained an audience with the first game in this series, but with Uncharted 2 they earned widespread acclaim. As with previous and later entries, players control Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter not entirely unlike a certain cinematic archeologist with his own protracted series (and a spelunking Brit babe with dual pistols). The game’s opening sequence is pure palate cleanser; Drake awakens on a train hanging off the side of a cliff. As he struggles in haste to escape gravity’s pull, we are told how he got there: months earlier, an old friend, Harry Flynn and his girlfriend Chloe Frazer approach Drake asking for his help stealing a Mongolian oil lamp from a museum that purportedly belonged to the great explorer, Marco Polo. Believing it will lead them to great fortune, they set off, but as the name suggests, double crossings are guaranteed. With brilliant action and one amazing set piece after another, this is the game to show friends who remain unconvinced that gaming is easily on par with film in terms of entertainment value.

35. MLB 14: The Show – SCEA San Diego Studios | 2014

This franchise is why I chose a Playstation 3 over an Xbox 360 when I decided to finally jump to the next generation of consoles. As far back as 2007, SCEA San Diego crafted as comprehensive a baseball simulator as humanly possible. Year in, year out, 2K Studios tried their damndest to play catchup with their own decently put-together series, but their efforts were all for naught. There is a deep, calming poetry to the way MLB: The Show makes you fall deeply in love with America’s former favorite pastime. It’s a perennial contender in the “Greatest Sports Games of All Time” conversation for an extremely good reason and will turn players whose affinity for the game is nonexistent into lovers of the a game.

36. The Walking Dead – Telltale Games | 2012

Back in the ‘90s, young readers were drawn to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, which forced readers to become involved in the story they were reading and make hard choices that often ended poorly for the protagonist they were in control of. Telltale Games took this model to the next level with a number of games that inevitably led them to acquire one of the most sought-after licenses today: The Walking Dead. Told from the perspective of protagonist Lee Everett, players are eventually placed in charge of a group of post-zombie-apocalypse survivors, the most prominent of which being a young girl named Clementine. As the story progresses over the course of five episodes, players are forced into increasingly more harrowing predicaments while trying to survive. For fans of the comic books and TV show, some familiar faces also pop up here and there, adding to the game’s immersiveness.

37. Rock Band 3 – Harmonix | 2010

As someone who actually plays an instrument, my typical snobbery about taking the “easy way” when it comes to making music was eroded over time by this fun party game. Up to four players can assume four different band roles—guitarist, bassist, drummer and vocalist—and play some of rock ‘n’ roll’s most popular tunes from yesteryear and today. Basically a rhythm game with harmony components, the Rock Band series is remarkably accessible even if you have never heard the song the rest of the “band” wants to play. And with a variety of difficulty settings, no player is left out due to a lack of proficiency (or a dip in sobriety).

38. Bioshock Infinite – Irrational Games | 2013

Game developer Ken Levine had what seemed to many an impossible task on his hands when he sat down to pen the follow-up to Bioshock, a near-perfect game which made its appearance in the first installment of this list.  Rather than exploring the dystopian undersea city of Rapture, players this time played as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton who is tasked with finding and rescuing a young woman with peculiar reality-altering abilities from the floating steampunk city, Columbia. While traversing the city, players uncover the secrets of the city and its self-proclaimed prophet, Zachary Hale Comstock, who like Bioshock’s Andrew Ryan saw his intentions for a utopian society warped by the darkest aspects of our own human nature. And similarly, what players believe to be real in regard to the game’s protagonist and his place within the world he is exploring and what is indeed true is the game’s most profound mystery. This time, however, Levine’s ambition is even greater and even more successfully achieved than in his previous attempt.

39. Grand Theft Auto V – Rockstar Games | 2013

How do you top yourself in a genre you created and arguably perfected in the last iteration of your trademark series? By returning to San Andreas, the setting and namesake of the most beloved GTA game, and splitting the narrative between three very different protagonists whose stories interweave with one another in often violent and amusing ways. Players are put in control of Michael De Santa, a fortysomething former criminal now living in the witness protection program; Trevor Philips, a former accomplice of De Santa’s whose sociopathic inclinations made him one of the most controversial figures in gaming history; and Franklin Clinton, a former gang member whose attempts at living the straight life are derailed by events that take place in the story. Rockstar Games is renowned for telling the finest interactive crime operas ever, but with Grand Theft Auto V they may have set the bar so high that any future attempt will invariably fall short. All of this praise doesn’t even take into account the batshit crazy online component, which turns the fictional San Andreas into a pure anarchic playground.

40. God of War III – SCEA Santa Monica Studio | 2010

SCEA Santa Monica didn’t set forth to reinvent the wheel with God of War III, the final chapter in the epic story of Kratos, a Spartan warrior damned by the gods who rose to smite them all in revenge for the murder of his family. The studio had increasingly played with epic set pieces throughout the series, however in God of War III they gave players nary a spec of respite from them, hurling the titular character from one epic showdown to another. By the end, players themselves could feel part of the fatigue Kratos himself was beset by and, in finally bidding possibly the Playstation’s most beloved mascot a fond farewell, we were taking part in some sort of communal catharsis where the view forward was one of closure, gratification and, perhaps most conducive to our collective gaming fervor, optimistic expectation for what would come next.

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Jesse Scheckner

A freelance MMA, entertainment and business journo born, raised and residing in Miami, FL, Jesse Scheckner is a former semi-serious musician, cinephile and recovering ne’er-do-well who still believes Mickey Rourke’s finest performance in film has yet to come. He is TuffGnarl.com's editor-in-chief, a feature staff writer for MMASucka.com and the 2014 MMA Media Correspondent winner at the Florida MMA Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner to talk about the stuff he writes about with him.

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