10) Assassin's Creed
Play in the role of either Altair or Ezlo in this third-person open world series. Oftentimes focusing on stealth, Assassin's Creed uses a structure much like other sandbox games where you take on missions such as sneaking through a castle or accomplishing an assassination of a public figure. The city is yours to scale with virtually everything being able to be climbed. Being an assassin is hard work, and sneaking and killing is just a sample of the activities available in the city. You can make a leap of faith into a haystack, scan the city from atop a high perch, discover hidden treasure all around, manufacturing an abundance of fellow assassins to claim a brotherhood, and even invest in some real estate to rebuild ruined parts of the city. Following the company's long line of reputable franchises such as Rayman, Splinter Cell, and Ghost Recon, Ubisoft climbs high with the Assassin's Creed franchise. Here's hoping yearly sequels won't fatigue players.
Crafted by the fine folks behind the awesome Sly Cooper series, Sucker Punch lands a knockout with their inFamous IP. The three games (inFamous, inFamous 2, and inFamous: Festival of Blood) star superhero Cole MacGrath who holds the power of controlling electricity. Think Spider-man's Electro but without the tights. By performing feats of either heroics or villainy, Cole steps forward down a path that he cannot turn back from. Depending on your path your powers and appearance change, the citizens of the city react differently to you, and the game's ending alters. There's nothing like grinding on a power line, slowly floating down to the ground below while shooting off lightning bolts at unwitting foes. The PSN game, Festival of Blood, was the top-downloaded game of 2011, and it came out in October. That says something to the power of the inFamous franchise.
8) No More Heroes
Suda 51 may not be a household name, but he has dabbled in off-the-wall, zany games before with something you may or may not have heard before. It's a little game called Killer7. Regardless, Suda 51 moved on to a new series called No More Heroes. Starring an eccentric otaku with his own beam katana named Travis Touchdown, all Travis wants to do is make it to the number one spot on the UAA (United Assassins Association) rankings. How does he accomplish this? Simply by killing all ten of the assassins that rank above him. The original game featured a sandbox-style open world, a city called Santa Destroy. The Wii-exclusive sequel got rid of this and opted for a menu-like system of choosing destinations and automatically being transported to them. The process was streamlined. Suda 51 expressed an interest in continuing the series on Nintendo's next console, currently known as the Wii U. With as wacky and wild as the action of the original two games, I'm excited to see where Suda takes the franchise next.
7) ModNation Racers
Sony took a lot of chances this gen. Of course, five hundred and ninety nine dollars will always be the one that kicks them in the ass the most, but there's something to be said about creating the most new IPs out of the competition this generation. ModNation Racers is but one of many new Sony-published franchises. Everything was yours to build: tracks, karts, and yes, even your Mod or avatar. Unlike a popular kart racer starring a portly plumber, the item balance was even, offering a proper array of varied items without being overly cheap. The developer-made tracks gave players ideas to create their own masterpieces to share with friends and the world at large, the story mode was entertaining, and the leeway given to you to craft your own creations was immense. The only thing holding the game back was technical issues like long loading times and framerate problems. Regardless, this racing franchise has potential, and it is a shame that more people aren't taking notice.
Resistance isn't futile in this case. For some, they might consider this franchise essential. Armed with incredibly creative weaponry, epic (I hate to write that overused word as the Internet made it meaningless) set pieces, big, sensational battles with the Chimera horde, and breathtaking graphics make this series a wonderful one. Many agree that the second installment is the weakest, but I found the large-scaled online encounters to be incredible, the co-op play with up to six friends or total strangers to be awesome, and the story mode to have many memorable moments. That notwithstanding, I'd go as far to say that there is no stinker in the bunch of four Resistance titles (Resistance 1-3 and Retribution). The upcoming May release of Burning Skies on Vita will most likely show developers how a true FPS is supposed to play on Sony's powerful portable.
5) Mass Effect
Set in the great unknown, outer space, Mass Effect is an ultra-popular, bestselling series that has appeared on Microsoft's Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and the PC. Players take on the role of Commander Shepard as he strives to continue the galaxy's era of peace. However, a Reaper menace threatens to destroy this and Shepard is flung into a space-wide battle to restore law and order to the universe. BioWare might not have the best reputation as of late (here's to you, Dragon Age 2 and your massive amounts of glitches, bugs, and bad gameplay), but there's no denying that their influence put Mass Effect on the intergalactic map. With a compelling story (at least for video game standards), a massive galaxy to explore, and gorgeous visuals, Mass Effect continues to astound and amaze. The upcoming third installment is set to end the trilogy later in March. Here's hoping it's more like the first two Mass Effects and less like Dragon Age 2.
4) Saints Row
The original Saints Row was a competent GTA clone. By Saints Row 2, Volition doubled the quality of their series, adding interesting missions, an intriguing setting in Stilwater, and multiple missions that remember solely that games are supposed to be fun and not have realism be in the game for realism's sake. Yeah, that was a problem with the vanilla version of Grand Theft Auto IV. Then Saints Row: The Third released, and it took an already crazy world and made it even more insane. Bashing baddies with sex toys, surfing on corpses, free-falling from an airplane while inside a tank, streaking in front of Steelport's denizens for mad money, commandeering vehicles such as muscle cars, tanks, and futuristic VTOLs, getting purposefully ran over by cars and trucks for insurance fraud reasons, escorting call girls to a safe location, away from their abusive pimps, and entering a Tron-inspired virtual reality setting to defeat a gang leader were just some of the wacky things players could do in Saints Row: The Third. I'd claim that Saints Row has now out-GTA'd GTA. We'll see if Rockstar antes up and delivers like they used to in their Vice City and San Andreas with Grand Theft Auto V. Here's wishful thinking at the very least!
3) Wii ____
Some would argue that the Wii ____ franchise isn't a franchise. These people would do anything to argue that Nintendo never develops new IPs even though Rhythm Heaven, Nintendogs, Brain Age, Pushmo, Sakura Samurai, Electroplankton, and many more disagree with them. Apparently if it's not an AAA budget it doesn't count. Anyway... the Wii series is one of the most successful ones of the generation with over 190 millions units sold. This includes Wii Sports (to be fair, it was packaged with the Wii in North America and Europe), Wii Sports Resort (bundled with the Wii MotionPlus accessory) Wii Fit, Wii Party, and Wii Play (which was bundled with a Wii remote). Each game utilizes Nintendo's creation, Miis, in them. Wii Sports alone introduced millions of non-gamers to the industry, and some have even gone on to become full-fledged gamers as evident by the attach rate of the Wii. It's a mystery to everyone whether Nintendo can recapture that ever-fickle casual audience with the Wii U or if Microsoft has them ensnared via Kinect.
Naughty Dog created an Indiana Jones-esque character with the smart-mouthed Nathan Drake and crafted an intriguing series of adventures with the Uncharted brand. Taking players from steamy jungles to arctic wastelands, Uncharted is a globe-trotter's wet dream. Of course, most globe-trotters would probably want to actually visit these places for themselves, but if they're lacking the funds, these virtual tours are always nice too. Drake is your typical Caucasian lead-- good-looking, smart, well-read, able to kill armies of enemies with perfect precision via weapons like guns and grenades, and capable of climbing and leaping with death-defying jumps of faith. ...Okay, maybe he's not that typical after all. Regardless, Naughty Dog, for better or worse, is focusing more on making games that resemble interactive movies rather than having games just be games. Whatever side of the argument you are on, it's hard to deny just how amazing the Uncharted line of titles truly is.
Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet is cute, is charming, and is a joy to play. The aesthetics of having a world built of cardboard, foam, and other craft materials make for a visual sensation that other games could only hope to achieve. The mantra of the series is "Play, Create, and Share", and you can do all of that effortlessly. Every thing is yours to build. From customizing your Sackboy (or Sackgirl. Right, ladies?) with outfits found via prize bubbles in levels to making a veritable level of platforming peril, LittleBigPlanet is your personal playground. The only real limitation is your imagination. Some craw at the floaty physics. So they aren't tight like Mario. So what? I'd hate it if every platformer aimed to be Mario. Where would the variety be? Well, the answer currently is in the world and franchise of LittleBigPlanet. Even if you lack a creative bone in your body you can venture into the worlds of other creators and enjoy their takes on what good levels are. My favorite new franchise of this generation and my favorite series on the PlayStation 3, LittleBigPlanet is a terrific toolkit for players to jump in to.
Half of the entries on this list are from Sony-owned studios. Isn't that something? My time to shine is over, so now it's your turn! What new franchises of this generation do like the best? Hit me up with a comment below and join the conversation!