2010 has been a crazy year for me. A move to a new apartment, the birth of my daughter, new jobs and a severe lack of sleep- it’s been rough, amazing and exciting all at once. My gaming time has certainly been compromised. Still, there were some incredible games released this year, and at least two that will certainly go down as classics. Here’s my personal take on some games you should snatch up if you haven’t already!
10. Battlefield Bad Company 2
Better than Call of Duty.
Yeah, I said it. The single player campaign of Battlefield Bad Company 2 absolutely screams, an incredibly fun and diverse group of missions that’s just constantly entertaining. The multiplayer is once again team-based and contains their famous “Rush” mode, which features massive maps with vehicles and objectives and constant mayhem. During the campaign your wise-cracking companions have been toned down a bit and the game feels a bit more serious, but there’s still that good ol’ light-hearted feel throughout, no matter how crazy the action gets. The destruction is wonderful. A gem of a game.
9. Rock Band 3
This is the pinnacle of the music genre, still the ultimate party game. The keyboard has just given us new ways to play and the ability to bring more people in on the fun. With Harmonix still hitting us with new songs (and bringing many more varied artists into the fold) weekly, there’s no way to ever get tired of this game.
Sure, your interest in it might disappear for a few weeks or months but one day it will flare right back up, like a form of herpes that makes you happy and want to sing. Now, to tackle that endless setlist…
8. Fallout: New Vegas
Even with the recent patch my game has frozen about a dozen times and I’ve witnessed tons of weird glitches and bugs. But even with that I’ve sunk 50 hours and counting into this world. Hell, maybe the game freezing on you occasionally is a good thing- it’s a nice reminder that you’ve been playing the game for 8 hours and that you have loved ones who miss you, a whole real world outside that begs exploration…. perhaps a baby that’s screaming because it’s on the verge of starvation (ahem).
But eh, sometimes it’s better to ignore all those silly real world problems and march your character around this beautiful wasteland. Fallout New Vegas might not be more than an expansion to Fallout 3, but there’s so much to see and do and find here that you’ll never be done. Especially with all of the DLC on the way! Of all the games released this year this one might be worth your cash the most, if only for the dollars to time you’ll sink into it ratio.
7. Halo Reach
After Halo 3 and ODST, I had almost written this series off. Surely yet another spin-off would be more of the same? But no- Reach is easily the best Halo game thus far. It’s got everything you can ask for in a shooter- a lengthy and fun campaign, a massive amount of multiplayer modes, and most importantly: lots of four-player co-op fun. Bungie should be proud of their supposedly last Halo game, because this brings it back to its basics, letting you face tons of enemies with fantastic AI that genuinely challenges you. This one really has it all.
Most importantly? No Flood!
6. Just Cause 2
There were a lot of fun games released this year but none are as purely fun as Just Cause 2. It’s always great to suddenly realize that you’re just fucking around a game world without a goal or achievement in mind, and here you’ll find yourself flying all over the absolutely massive world (one of the biggest in gaming!) JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN. After this you’ll wish for a grappling hook in every game. I don’t even know or care what the wretched story is about, I just want to jump out of planes and take rides on the tops of enemy trucks. While the destruction is much more scripted than a game like Red Faction: Guerrilla (another in the PURE FUN genre) it’s pretty and you won’t soon get sick of it. It’s also an incredibly lengthy game, one where the time will just fly by without you realizing it.
5. Heavy Rain
One of the most cinematic games ever made, and a fantastic adventure game. Sure, it’s basically nothing but QTEs, the dialogue can be clunky as hell from the non-native speakers, but it does a better job of making you feel like part of the story than any game this year. I unabashedly love developer Quantic Dream’s Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit if you’re across the pond), silly plot twists and all, and this game took that formula and improved on it, creating a genuinely moving experience. It’s something to say that I almost considered picking up a Move just to see how the Heavy Rain implemented it with that patch. Almost. Hurry up with the rest of those Chronicles already, Quantic Dream!
4. Super Meat Boy
I fucking hate you, Super Meat Boy. I hate you.
Remember how frustrating Demon’s Souls was last year? How maddening and yet ultimately satisfying it was, an old-school experience that challenged everyone and didn’t care how many
times it utterly decimated you? Super Meat Boy is worse. Worse and full of meat.
A platformer for the ADD generation that deserves to be named with the other greats
of the genre, it’s perfect for a quick game here and there. There are literally hundreds of levels and all kinds of characters and unlockables to strive for, and only the truly hardcore will be able to 100% it.
3. Need For Speed Hot Pursuit
I normally hate racing games. I just don’t see the appeal of fine-tuning a car and driving it carefully around a track, jockeying for position. But it’s hard not to appreciate racing games that let you smash the hell out of competitors, or even better, run from the cops. But why not both? When Burnout Paradise dev Criterion Games was hired to do the next NFS installment we all expected good things, and we certainly got them. Infinitely fun and replayable- the sense of chasing and being chased has never been done better before. Cops get road blocks, helicopters, and even EMPs to take down foes, and the first time you’re chasing a perp and he pulls a 180 on you and blows right past you you’ll be amazed- this isn’t just straight point to point racing, the drivers actually think! It’s even better when you’re playing online against human opponents.
You know where you can stick your Gran Turisimo 5? Yeah. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit might be my favorite racing game yet.
2. Red Dead Redemption
It was a tough decision to place this in second. Really, just for letting me live out each and every one of my Western dreams (from gunfights to cattle rustling) it should be considered the game of the year. It was that close.
But we all know what an incredible game this is. A lengthy campaign with a robust mutltiplayer mode, Rockstar knocked it out of the park again with likeable, memorable characters. And once again, it didn’t take itself too seriously, as evidenced by the excellent Undead Nightmare. It’s a testament to how amazing that game is that slowly traversing the countryside on a horse doesn’t ever get old. No, you’ll still stare in wonder at the sunsets across the plains as you try in vain to hunt every animal to extinction. If the game has one flaw it’s that it suffers from a campaign that may be too long to hold gamer’s interest (something Rockstar didn’t learn from GTA IV) but they’ve created an iconic character here with John Marsten, and we can only hope to see more tales in this world.
You’ve never played a game like Mass Effect 2. You’ve never carried a storyline across multiple games like this and never have your decisions had so much weight. You’ve never seen such a perfect melding of story and action, character and strategy. Bioware managed to take every single issue the first game had (and there were many) and iron those suckers right out. By building upon the incredibly expansive universe and perfecting the combat they’ve created something that’s not only one of the best games of the year, but of this generation. With an ending that can quite literally be a suicide mission and a third game coming that only expands upon all of your costly choices, it’s only natural to shudder in anticipation of what the end to this trilogy will bring.
(Games I didn’t get a chance to play, or play enough for a fair shake)
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (But judging how much I despised AC2, it wouldn’t have been on the list anyway)
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
Castlevania Lords of Shadow (Demo completely blindsided me with its quality)
Bayonetta (Though I own it!)
The “Sequel that did nothing new” award goes to:
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Modern Warfare fanatics have already sunk days of their lives into this, even though the experience only amounts to a bit of polish and a new map pack. They probably haven’t even realized how standard the campaign is just yet because they haven’t even started it. Sure, it’s likely the best one of the series, but it does absolutely nothing new.
Once again the enemy soldiers never show any intelligence or try to flank you, they just jump into cover and wait for you to play “shooting gallery”, popping up out of cover for headshots and getting back down to wait for your health to recharge. Every once in a while there’s a vehicle mission that lets you bomb the hell out of people. Constantly there are AWESOME things happening all around you, a real war being waged, but of course none of it allows any interaction. It’s pretty and it’s fun but it’s as shallow a game as you’re likely to find.
Medal of Honor changed up their stale WWII formula by stealing Call of Duty Modern Warfare‘s, and while it certainly made for a decent game it wasn’t an original one. Multiplayer provided by Battlefield developer DICE helped you forget that, though.
It’s almost embarrassing how much of a ripoff this is. The combat system is a direct lift, almost button for button. The QTEs, the giant bosses, shit, even Dante’s weapon played the same. So very, very bad. Outspoken God of War creator David Jaffe of course noticed the massive amount of similarities in the game and didn’t hold his tongue for a single interview. The twisted art design certainly saved the game from mediocrity but this isn’t what people wanted from the Dead Space team.
Don’t get me wrong- Darksiders is an excellent game. But man, when you enter your first couple of dungeons and start finding new weapons like a boomerang, hookshot, bombs, etc. etc., all the while your nagging angel companion flies around directing you to points of interest- it’s hard to ignore the influence. This is Zelda in post-apocalyptic wrappings and you know what? You should be ok with that.
Who wouldn’t want to ride Epona if she were a firey steed of death?
The gameplay wasn’t quite up to snuff, but you have literally never seen a game like this before. With a documentary-style, handheld-camera-in-the-middle-of a-gunfight look to it, it’s one of the rare games that’s worth playing just to see it in motion. The style makes the shootouts more frantic and realistic than most any other game out there, and the blurry visuals help an otherwise average graphics engine.
The “I can’t believe they turned Gears of War into a Japanese anime” award goes to:
A game that just barely missed inclusion on my top ten, Vanquish is what would happen if Epic Games was based in Japan. It’s fast, stylish as hell, and just the right bit of challenging. While the general mechanics and aiming feel the same as Gears of War (shoot enemies in the head with your bulky soldier, run from cover to cover) your robot man can boost himself around the world and freeze into a slow motion stance to take out groups of enemies. Giant robot enemies and incredibly cool, upgradable weapons make for one of the best shooters of the year.
Simply the funniest game of the year, Telltale has done it again with what’s arguably the best Sam & Max season yet. From simple things like the pronunciation of General Skunkape (Skun-caap-ay, damn it!) to a closer look inside Sam’s sick, twisted mind, no other game elicits laughs like this one. And that’s probably because most other games simply aren’t trying. If you’re in the mood for some witty dialogue and laughs, look no further.
We can only hope that Back to the Future: The Game is as funny.
Alan Wake (review)
Is it it a dream or is it really happening? More importantly- will you give a shit? Likely not. Alan Wake had atmosphere up its ass but the endless droning and cryptic narration did it no favors. The game also happened to have the maddeningly large balls to not even have a real ending. No, the real ending to the story was released over two pieces of DLC. A code for the first was included with the game but the second cost cash. It would be interesting to see how many people bothered to splurge.
Just Cause 2
This game was pretty much made for me. Sure, the ridiculous loading times are almost a game-killer and the game is really just base and simplee as you can get, but what other game allows you to beat enemies to death with your own severed arm or give a rectal exam to a gigantic slimey monster? The violence is gruesome and splattery, and you’ll soon soak the floors and walls around you in blood. Your mask draws power from it, after all. Thrive on the blood!
I realized today that I haven’t even plugged in my system at all this year. Mario Galaxy 2 and Goldeneye 007 will certainly grab my attention, someday, but till then I’ll just let my little box of disappointment collect dust.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
There’s no question about it- this is one of the scariest games ever made. The graphics might not be the best ever made but the sound design more than makes up for it. Footsteps, doors creaking open, hushed voices and laughter- the more you explore this world and the more you hear, the more afraid you’ll be to advance. You have no weapons to defend yourself from the abominations you’ll face- only the safety and not-at-all-comforting shadows. The squeamish will be fine here but if you’re an anxious person you’ll likely drop dead at your computer.
The “You should’ve learned from your mistakes” Award goes to:
Dead Rising 2
Somewhere in Dead Rising 2 is a great game, but Capcom hasn’t found it yet. The sequel does everything wrong from the first once again- same save system, same annoying constant countdown, same goofy characters and bosses and psychos to deal with, same ridiculously overt racism that Capcom’s becoming increasingly known for. Yep, they learned absolutely nothing from the first game, only adding the (admittedly very, very enjoyable) combo weapons that allow you to combine two items into a super-powerful one.
Case Zero (Trevor’s review) is a much, much better game, and that’s because you can only get about 4 or 5 hours of enjoyment out of Dead Rising before saying “Fuck you” to all the backtracking and cheapness within.
2011 looks to be the year of the sequel, but considering that some of the finest gaming franchises are cranking out new ones, we can forgive this. In no particular order except the first, here’s a list of the top ten games I’m looking forward to playing and covering on this very site.
Mass Effect 3
Elder Scrolls V
Dragon Age II
Batman: Arkham City
Dead Space 2
The Last Guardian
Thanks for reading all this, folks. Hope you’ve enjoyed it and possibly found a game or two that catches your interest. See you in 2011.