Welcome to our new Sunday regular. Generation's Greatest is a salute to the longest generation this industry's ever seen. The sun's definitely not set on it yet, but with the announcement of PS4 (and the likelihood of the next-gen Xbox soon), we wanted to pause and remember those defining moments from across this generation. Starting with...
Heart Break in GTA IV
Getting to the end of Grand Theft Auto IV was a labour. Most of the time it was one born of love, but there were some testing moments in there too. Whilst the journey may have been full of ups and downs, the final destination was to produce a view that one of the best that gaming has ever produced.
Rockstar North delivered the ending worthy of such an epic game, even if it wasn't the one most of us wanted. It was so emotionally charged, so poignant - it was worthy of any of the great crime movies of the last 50 years - it was the very definition of a modern classic.
There were two different outcomes, depending on what you'd done during the game. Those with a romantic streak were to lose their lady. The rest lost Niko's constant companion and cousin. An ongoing feud with a local mafia boss rears its ugly head one last time - long enough to snatch the life away from those closest to your heart.
To lose your cousin was a wrench. He'd been with you from the beginning, and even though he'd been an annoyance a lot of the time, he was part of the experience, part of your story.
Worse still was the other ending, because those who lost their beloved Kate had actively pursued her for hours in the game, taking entirely unnecessary trips to visit her and take her out on dates. Slowly but surely winning her round, Niko was in love, and us with him. Not simply because we'd taken the time - though that was enough for many - but because her relationship with Mr Bellic was part of his progression as a character.
Most didn't see it coming. We thought the game was over, awaited that tell-tale Achievement to pop up and reveal itself. But it didn't. Instead we saw a conspicuously ambiguous car pull up outside the church where your cousin was getting married to his long-time sweetheart. As soon as eyes clamped on the vehicle, knots started to form in stomachs. We knew something was coming. Something bad. We just didn't know what was coming. And just how bad it would turn out to be.
In the end it turned out pretty bad. Niko lost someone close to his heart, and the player lost a long-time companion or much-pursued love interest. Revenge would need to be taken, and Niko and friends did just that in a shootout that culminated in an execution under the watchful eye of the iconic Statue of Liberty: a symbol of New York, of its place in history, and a beacon of hope to countless immigrants over the years. It's a symbol that underpins the reality that is Niko's new life in the US of A.
The grand-slam finale isn't the only thing that is epic about Rockstar's opus, there's so much there to admire and enjoy. Whether it's the superb attention to detail, the freedom afforded to the player, or the wealth of additional content just waiting to be discovered, there's a plethora of reasons to go back and visit GTA IV.
With the fifth iteration of the genre-defining series just around the corner, many people will be doing just that. Adding to the billions of side-quests in the main game are the complete campaigns The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and The Damned. GTA's inclusion in Generation's Greatest is a no-brainer. In fact - to use a sporting parlance - it's the first name on the team sheet. Unmissable stuff.