The 10 Best Games of the Half-Decade, 2010 through 2014

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The decade of the 2010s started out ridiculously strong in video game quality. More than a third of our top ten games came out in 2011 as the PlayStation 3 peaked in terms of creativity and technical potential. The PlayStation 4 hasn't reached its creative peak yet we feel. Here is a look at the best from 2010 through 2014.

11
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"Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" (2011)

Uncharted-3-wallpaper.jpeg
Uncharted 3. Sony

The most cinematic game of the early part of the decade really re-shaped how much a great video game can replicate some of the same feelings we get from a great summer blockbuster. Few games have ever produced the kind of rollercoaster adrenaline we get from our favorite movies like “Uncharted 3” does, with its amazing action set-pieces, intriguing story, and gorgeous graphics.

10
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"Batman: Arkham City" (2011)

Arkham City
WBIE

The best superhero game ever made. Young gamers may not even realize how low the quality of superhero-based video games has been in the past thanks to the games they have enjoyed, such as the LEGO superhero games and this masterpiece.

"Batman: Arkham City" is a great blend of setting, narrative, and gameplay. “Arkham City” is the rare game that appeals to players who like open-world games as well as those who prefer cinematic games. The creators of “Arkham City” crafted an amazing cinematic adventure, with a script cowritten by Batman icon Paul Dini, but the gamer still has tons of freedom within this style of game. You'll spend hours traversing Arkham City looking for secrets and collectibles, while enjoying an amazing narrative.

09
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"Bioshock Infinite" (2013)

Bioshock Infinite
2K Games

There has been some animosity toward the third Bioshock game from Ken Levine and the folks at Irrational Games. It’s very ambitious and a masterful game in terms of world creation. From the very opening act of “Infinite,” we are transported to another world not as passive observers but active travelers.

Story is important to excellent games, and this one checks this box. It is a tale of regret and the rare opportunity to atone for past mistakes. The gameplay is addictive and fast-paced without ever getting repetitive.

08
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"The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" (2011)

Skyrim
Bethesda

This could easily be considered the best RPG of the first half of the 2010 decade. It’s a game that consumes dozens of hours through exploring. It is impressive how alive "Skyrim" feels from one corner to another.

What’s amazing about "Skyrim" is the distinct, breakthrough impression that things are happening in this world beyond your character. In the past, it felt that RPG worlds waited for the player's arrival to actually exist. Skyrim, however, is so detailed, carefully considered, and alive that it seems independent of your character. You’re a guest in this world. And that’s the kind of remarkable breakthrough that is influencing games in the PS4 generation and beyond.

07
of 11

"The Walking Dead" (2012)

The Walking Dead
Telltale Games

When considering this list, focus was placed on the games that are still influencing the market. That’s the main difference between the runners-up (at the end of the list) and the top ten. In the long run, there may be no game more influential in this half-decade than Telltale Games’ adaptation of “The Walking Dead.” It defied gamer expectations in an era dominated by shooters by telling a story in which decision-making was the adrenalin trigger, featuring gameplay in which the choices you make matter and have life-and-death impact in the game.

Telltale used this game to continue their breakthrough storytelling in current seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Tales From the Borderlands.” They are as forward-thinking as any company out there, and it started here.

Read the full "The Walking Dead" review.

06
of 11

"Red Dead Redemption" (2010)

Red Dead Redemption
Rock Star

It has been a while since this title was released, but the world of “RDR” sticks with you. It's a three-dimensional, vibrant world, and certainly one of the most memorable of the half-decade. Add to that a story that strikes an emotional chord, while connecting to the American mythology and legends of Westerns, and you have a game that has been adored since its release by many, but has still been underrated.

05
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"Borderlands 2" (2012)

Borderlands 2
2K Games

"Borderlands 2" is stunningly addictive, especially when adding in the amazing list of downloadable content (DLCs) that has been released for the title. Even a year after it came out, we found ourselves returning to “Borderlands 2” and the world of the Vault Hunters. And still there was the feeling that we had only scratched the surface of what this game has to offer. The game's narrative quality is probably the the weakest game in this top ten list, but it is provides pure fun.

Read the full "Borderlands 2" review.

04
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"Journey" (2012)

Journey
Sony

This game will make you rethink what we should expect when we have a controller in our hands. One might argue that its short running time should count against it in ranking, but we believe that “Journey” is a breakthrough game.

It’s not just fun or well-made; it redefines what games can be, tapping into an emotional vein beyond simple manual coordination. It targets gamers in a completely different way. If the industry is going to better itself after things like Gamergate and the general exhaustion over the repetitive, violent quality of games, it needs to revisit the intent of video games. Get a look at what quality games should aspire toward by playing “Journey."

Read the full "Journey" review.

03
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"Mass Effect 2" (2011)

Mass Effect 2
EA

This is an sci-fi RPG should be. In fact, this is what games should strive to be. There has never been a better blend of gameplay and storytelling. “Mass Effect 2” balances both perfectly, putting the gamer completely in control of their own destiny while never losing the artistic vision of the creators.

Read the full "Mass Effect 2" review.

02
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"The Last of Us" (2013)

The Last of Us
Sony

Prepare to be emotionally invested in two characters unlike any you have encountered in a game when you enter the saga of Joel and Ellie in Sony’s 2013 exclusive, "The Last of Us." It creates a vibrant, believable setting with incredible production and character design. It fills this world with a story so resonant that it hooks you from the prologue and doesn’t let go until the final scene. The gameplay is addictive and memorable without being cluttering or detracting from the storytelling.

01
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Runners-up

These games almost made the list and are worth mentioning as the competition was stiff, and these are definitely worth checking out.

  • "Battlefield: Bad Company 2" (2010)
  • "Dragon Age: Inquisition" (2014)
  • "Far Cry 3" (2012)
  • "God of War III" (2010)
  • "Grand Theft Auto V" (2013)
  • "Mass Effect 3" (2012)
  • "Portal 2" (2011)
  • "Rayman Legends" (2013)
  • "Tomb Raider" (2013)
  • "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" (2012)