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Giant Bomb's Game of the Year 2010: Day Two

Best Downloadable Add-On, Best Co-Op, Best Download-Only Game, Best-Looking Game, and Best Xbox 360-Only Game get their props.

How did we come to these decisions? Listen to today's deliberation podcast and find out!

Best Downloadable Add-On


BioShock 2: Minerva's Den


2010 might go down in history as the year story-based DLC finally really came into its own, with significant new add-ons hitting some of the biggest games of the year and giving you some great reasons to fire those games back up weeks or months after you finished playing through their core storylines. But while plenty of this year's best DLC added onto and fleshed out the games on which they were based, no DLC felt like such a complete story and package in its own right like Minerva's Den.

Rather than trying to shoehorn a misplaced interlude into the events and framework of BioShock 2 itself, Minerva acts as its own self-contained story featuring entirely new areas and residents of Rapture. Minerva not only established and explored the technological backbone of Rapture with some fantastic vintage dawn-of-computing-style trappings (vacuum tubes! Alan Turing!), it also expertly told the tragic tale of Charles Milton Porter, the brilliant computer scientist who gave so much to his fellow citizens and was rewarded for it with betrayal. Minerva arguably surpasses BioShock 2 itself and is one of the best examples so far of how much can be accomplished with a low-priced downloadable add-on. 


Runners-up: Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker 
 

Best Co-Op

 

Halo: Reach

 
It shouldn't surprise you to hear that Halo: Reach is a terrific cooperative experience. Like the rest of the game, Reach's co-op follows in the footsteps of Bungie's previous Halo games, letting you work your way through the campaign with a crew, laying waste to everything in your path. Sure, you might not get the real feel of the game's story, since you're probably going to be yelling at your partners through most of the game, but working your way through waves and waves of enemy forces with a crew makes the campaign way more exciting.
 
Then there's Firefight mode, which was greatly expanded for Halo: Reach to make it a far more exciting take on the whole wave-based survival style. With the ability to tweak plenty of different variables when playing with friends to the variety of different maps you can use, Firefight might be good enough to take this category on its own. But when you add all that stuff together, Halo: Reach is the best cooperative experience to be had in 2010. 

Runners-up: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction
 

Best Download-Only Game


Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

 
Arguably one of the strongest categories in 2010, the downloadable space saw a huge number of amazing original titles this year, though none captured our collective imaginations quite like this re-reimagining of that most venerable of pill-poppers, Pac-Man
 
It's kind of unbelievable that Pac-Man could feel as vital now as he did when he first debuted some 30 years ago, but by shifting the focus from simple survival to a community-driven high-score race, and layering it with a jaw-clenching club-drug aesthetic, Namco has done precisely that. It's a miraculous balancing act between some really deep-seated nostalgic triggers and fresh, frenetic gameplay, and it's our pick for best download-only game of 2010.

Runners-up: Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV

 

Best-Looking Game

 

Kirby's Epic Yarn


I can scarcely recall a game so thoroughly dedicated to crafting an aesthetic as Kirby's Epic Yarn is. The latest platformer starring Nintendo's huggably squishy puff-ball of a hero, Kirby, is set in a world where everything has gone fully arts-and-crafts. All the characters (Kirby included) are constructed out of outlines of yarn, buttons, zippers, and other things you'd typically find at the local fabric store. Developer Good Feel stitches every single piece of this world with this patchwork art style, and manages to make it all mind-numbingly adorable in the process. Seriously, just watch Kirby morph into a little Kirby car, and dare yourself not to go "d'awwwww." Seriously, try it! If there's a heart in your chest, you'll fail! 

Runners-up: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Limbo

 

Best Xbox 360-Only Game

 

Halo: Reach

 
With the launch of the Kinect drawing much of Microsoft's focus this year, it felt like the third-parties had much more to offer Xbox 360 owners in 2010. But Bungie still made a huge impact by leaving its final mark on the first-person shooter it created, Halo. Halo: Reach combines some of the best that Halo has to offer, including a quality campaign, terrific competitive multiplayer and the best cooperative play that we saw all year.
 
Reach also stands out for its interesting story, which fills in a key time in the Halo universe that, up until the release of Reach, had only been addressed in book form. Reach's story is great, and even though you know how it will ultimately end--the battle of Reach certainly ain't pretty for our side--the game makes the whole thing interesting by letting you see it through the eyes of the Noble Team, a great group of characters that are strong enough to make you forget about that " Master Chief" dude.

With its stellar suite of options and high quality throughout, Halo: Reach stands tall as the best thing that you can only get on an Xbox 360 this year. 

Runners-up: Limbo, Dance Central
 
  
319 Comments
Posted by Calsonic

Just summarizing what everyone else is saying:
 
Forgetting about God of War III and Final Fantasy XIII for best looking game is terrible.

Posted by Ventilaator

Most of these awards are a joke. The usual discussion starts with 2 of them saying they never played it, one of them saying the played it for an hour, and the fourth one saying he played it and it's pretty good and then giving the game the award.
 
And not even mentioning God of War 3 on best looking game is a goddamn crime.

Posted by Olivaw
@Geno said:
" @James0890 said:
 I'm glad that something bright and colorful won, the constant march of technology is seemingly only creating better shades of brown. "
Something bright and colorful always win best art awards, I'm frankly sick of it. It's like people have never walked into a museum or art gallery before. News flash: not all art has to be cartoony or colorful; the stylized and detailed depiction of real life or a fictionalized version of real life is equally artistic.    Kirby's Epic Yarn is fine this time around - it's art style is actually markedly different and it also weaves it into gameplay (ha, get it?). My problem is that if KEY weren't released this year, Limbo would've probably won. Neither are bad looking games, but it panders to the fallacious idea that art in games must be either abstract or cartoony, it whiffs of insecurity and ignorance.  "
Well if you'd like to direct me to an art museum where ninety percent of the paintings are of bald men in power armor using futuristic guns in a war-torn environment with a big old splash of sepia tone on it, then maybe I'd think your argument was valid!
Posted by snipeshow_17

Why are people getting so mad about the site awards? Go make your own top ten list and write a blog about what/who you think should win the award for the year. Everyone has their own unique opinion so don't hate on such an awesome site for sharing their honest opinions. 

Posted by cwdawg1224

Brad, with what you asking about the film-like aesthetic of Limbo with its credits, it would just be called a cut. If there's a space in between the game and credits, and it would be written as "CUT TO BLACK".

Posted by Chuck_

Not listening to the podcast and seeing VVVVVV as a runner-up for best download only game is ridiculous. Limbo is one of the best games this year, so it's unfortunate that Jeff hated it so much. 

Posted by PillClinton

Not even mentioning GOW3, FFXIII, and Just Cause 2 (yeah, remember how good that game looks?  No one else seems to for some reason) for best-looking game is utter blasphemy.
 
Oh, and fuck Dance Central.  You're telling me some mass-market-only-moms-would-buy-it-like-they-did-with-the-Wii-so-they-can-"work out"-then-never-use-it-again-wannabe takes precedence over Alan Wake for 360 GOTY?!  Ridiculous. 

Edited by EgoCheck616
@100_Hertz said:

" Not even mentioning GOW3, FFXIII, and Just Cause 2 (yeah, remember how good that game looks?  No one else seems to for some reason) for best-looking game is utter blasphemy. Oh, and fuck Dance Central.  You're telling me some mass-market-only-moms-would-buy-it-like-they-did-with-the-Wii-so-they-can-"work out"-then-never-use-it-again-wannabe takes precedence over Alan Wake for 360 GOTY?!  Ridiculous.  "

I agree with everything said here. 
God of War III deserved at least an honorable mention. 
And Just Cause 2 had / has one of the best skyboxes I've ever seen. 
 
Also, I think Darksiders and Metro 2033 looked fucking amazing when I played them.
Posted by papercut
@100_Hertz: I think the "best looking" category tried to be more than just best graphics, so a lot of other big contenders on other sites got left out.  
 
When it comes down to it GOW III is just another good looking GOW game, FFXIII is just another really good looking FF game and Just Cause... that's actually crazy that it didn't get nominated, that game looked amazing. My point is they don't take such a grand leap forward in their franchises, they just do what they've done in the past better. 

And yeah, I trying to keep an open mind, but the Dance Central nom is super weird. 
Posted by ManMadeGod
@100_Hertz said:
" Not even mentioning GOW3, FFXIII, and Just Cause 2 (yeah, remember how good that game looks?  No one else seems to for some reason) for best-looking game is utter blasphemy. Oh, and fuck Dance Central.  You're telling me some mass-market-only-moms-would-buy-it-like-they-did-with-the-Wii-so-they-can-"work out"-then-never-use-it-again-wannabe takes precedence over Alan Wake for 360 GOTY?!  Ridiculous.  "
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you never played Dance Central............
Edited by MAST
@MrKlorox said:

" Super Meat Boy is getting a retail box for the PC version... so it should be disqualified for download only. "

Lol, there's always that one person...
 
Is Super Meat Boy getting a retail box in the US this year? Nope. Therefore it qualifies for the category of "Best Download-Only Game" of the year... 
You know how sometimes the Giantbomb guys use a nasally voice to say  "Well, technically..." when referring to the inevitable Giantbomb member that will write in to point out something stupid, and irrelevant? Well, that's them talking about you.
Posted by JMartNWA

I was shocked at the length of the DLC argument... and even more shocked that God of War III wasn't even mentioned in Best Looking - to me it won in a landslide.

Posted by GetBentTheVideoGame

I'd be interested to know what Jeff thinks about Out of this World/Another World, given his dislike of Limbo's gameplay. Or the original Prince of Persia, for that matter.
 
GoW3 is a stunning technical achievement fueled by an utterly adolescent design sensibility. But not mentioning it probably was an oversight. Who cares.

Posted by DystopiaX
@Vigil80 said:
" @Video_Game_King said:
" I love how there weren't even runner-ups for Best Looking Game, like 2010 looked like shit except for Epic Yarn. "
Epic Yarn is a head-scratcher for that category. I guess they're trying to recognize originality. "
I think this is their best looking artistic instead of technical...limbo/epic yarn are very stylized games, Hot pursuit has some interesting ass weather effects going on...I guess. Surprised some other games aren't on there though (God of war III)
Posted by hollitz

Shadow Broker DLC made me like Mass Effect 2 less.  Too much of it was combat and I had forgotten how bad the combat was in Mass Effect 2.  Still loved the game and the dlc, but less.  
 
Good to see Halo Reach getting love.  After 2 and 3 I had all but lost faith in Bungie.

 

Edited by golguin

Man, my memory must be all kinds of messed up because I can't remember if Limbo and Super Meat Boy have only been nominated or if they've won a category yet. I hope SMB wins something.

Posted by triclops41

way too much time wasted on best dlc category. 
 
not because of the minutes spent, but because there was too much talking in circles. 
 
but i absolutely love the way you guys handle game of the year deliberations 
 
lastly, though i loved mordin, he comes in second for me to nigel west dickens.  he is the best game character i have seen in recent memory.

Posted by ImTheBobomb

Not so sure about Epic Yarn for best-looking game. Original, yes. Best looking? Not really.

Posted by Bass
@MikeW1980UK: last year the title read "best pc game." This year it read "best pc-only game." They made the distinction for a reason. 
Edited by hollitz
@mrcartoon said:

"To those confused about Mass Effect 2 not winning for best 360 title - it's no longer exclusive to 360. It arrives on PS3 in January... "


It was also a day and date release on PC. 
Kind of surprised GOW3 didn't make the best looking game list even in mention.  Sure the game kinda sucked, but I really don't think any of the nominees looked better.
Posted by SlinkDickens

How was Kirby's Epic Yarn not even mentioned for best co-op? They bring up Kane & Lynch 2, but not Kirby's Epic Yarn?

Posted by VetleNM

I agree with most of the choices in this category, especially Kirby's Epic Yarn as best looking game. That game looks fantastic through and through, and is a testament to how developers should try to work around the technical limitations of the console rather than fight them. Haven't played God of War III because it's just not my kind of game, but the little I've seen of it (which admittedly is limited to the E3 footage) looked wholly unremarkable and unimpressive to me. Final Fantasy XIII looks absolutely breathtaking at  times, especially some of the locales, but the character designs, especially some of the supporting cast (blue-haired rebel guy, I'm looking at you) are so horrible that it really puts me off the whole game. 

Probably would've chosen Super Meat Boy over Pac-Man CE DX as best downloadable game, but whatever. And I guess it's time to boot up Bioshock 2 for the first time and play through Minerva's Den, even though the podcast pretty much spoiled the big twist for me (yeah, I know, my own fault).

Online
Posted by NathHaw

Yeah, Brad def wrote this one.  It sounds right up and down how he talks.

Posted by Volts

It's a shame neither God of War games that came out this year got a mention.  Other than that pretty solid list.

Posted by edeo

Wow, that Best DLC argument was intense!

Posted by Sheetsy77
@hollitz:  I enjoyed the combat in ME2 a ton. Haven't played Shadow Broker yet but totally  agree about Reach though.
Posted by Mister_Snig
@DystopiaX said:
" @Vigil80 said:
" @Video_Game_King said:
" I love how there weren't even runner-ups for Best Looking Game, like 2010 looked like shit except for Epic Yarn. "
Epic Yarn is a head-scratcher for that category. I guess they're trying to recognize originality. "
I think this is their best looking artistic instead of technical...limbo/epic yarn are very stylized games, Hot pursuit has some interesting ass weather effects going on...I guess. Surprised some other games aren't on there though (God of war III) "
If you listen to the podcast that was uploaded today, they aren't talking about artistry or technicality, they're talking about what flat-out looks the best. They conclude that while NFS looks amazing, you can still see the "tech" behind it (pixelation, jagged lines, etc.), whereas Epic Yarn looks like animated arts and crafts rather than a video game.
Posted by ChickenPants

Couple of things I found wierd:
1. 2 people thought Limbo was the best downloadable game of the year and yet it didn't even get a nomination,
2. Limbo was one of the best debuts of the year. Something that VVVVVV wasn't even mentioned for. 
3. Metro 2033 is probably the best looking game ever.

Posted by CrunchbiteJr

So happy other people didn't really like Limbo. For me it peaked at around the forest aspect with the spider, never hit he same level of atmosphere or puzzle intelligence. A case of gamers desperately reaching for anything that purports to be artistic to further their argument that games are more than the refuge of the socially inept.

Posted by wwfundertaker

The Mass effect 2 and Bioshock 2 argument was epic, more please.

Posted by Chris2KLee

I would have given it to Shadow Broker, but Brad's filibuster was compelling. I really should pick up Minerva's Den sometime.

Posted by Quintessence

I am a bit disappointed in Shadow Broker losing, but I did not play the other one, so I can let that pass.  I do wish that two of my favorite downloadable games were at least mentioned - those being Toy Soldiers and Snoopy Flying Ace.  Maybe nobody played those?

Posted by mattrector

God Of War 3 not even mentioned for best looking?

Posted by WindFall259

I completely disagree with the decision for Best Add-On, up to the point where either Giant Bomb needs to reexamine what "best" add-on is by definition, or scrap it entirely (as mentioned by Jeff in the podcast). 

Edited by Gunharp

Uh this is going to be quote heavy. I kind of do it to prove I do read all of the comments. 
 
@wsowen02 said:

" While I certainly appreciate the artistry in Epic Yarn (and Limbo), I am surprised God of War III did not at least get an honorable mention.  I know the staff aren't exactly fans but GOW's visuals are unmatched. "

Same here. It was maddening to listen them throw up some other great mentions like Gran Turismo 5 (the rendering of cars in the photo mode is stunning), and the landscape and lighting contained in Red Dead Redemption. But no mention of God of War III or Final Fantasy XIII  
 
Both were right up there with Need For Speed Hot: Pursuit. I can easily see where they would pick Hot Pursuit over God of War III and Final Fantasy XIII. But to not even hear a mention made it hard to get through the last part of the day 2 podcast. I guess we can only hope they were thought of in the preliminary's.   
 
Kirby's Epic Yarn winning is awesome. That game looks amazing. 
 

 @Ghostiet  said: 

"I really think they knew Kirby would win, so they just took Limbo and a random game. Seriously, the same was last year - they've completely ignored Killzone 2. " 

They did not completely ignore Killzone 2 last year. I remember Jeff bringing it up. Also this is not the same as last year at all, and no one randomly picked anything.     

 @snotboogie  said: 

" How can Metro 2033 not even rate a mention for Best Looking? Ludicrous! "

I know! This is the only other game that popped in my head while listening to the day 2 cast outside of the other two I mentioned above. Metro 2033 even beat out my love for the new Stalker game this year in my personal top ten. 

 @RiotBananas  said: 

" I am amazed that people still nerd rage about the staff picks. 
 
Just because they didn't pick what   YOU   think is the correct game doesn't mean they're wrong.  "

I’m not sure how I still let myself be amazed by the nerd rage on the site.. Like Jeff said in an interview with Adam Sessler a long while back: The internet is full of snark and it just gets "snarkier". 

 

 @dubios451   said: 

" I feel like the important part of the bombcasts on their debates is that they are being way more honest than other game websites. Other websites just put up their lists and their viewers either love them or hate them based on personal preference. They have no idea if the people making the lists played the entire game, or had previous biases. It may not be the funniest or most informative podcast but it gives us an honest look at how they decide. I personally really appreciate that. I don't agree with all of their choices but I respect them a great deal, and I like how an impassioned defense by one of them can sway the others.  "

Awesome comment dubios. I also appreciate the open process done by the staff.  

  

 @100_Hertz  said:

" Not even mentioning GOW3, FFXIII, and Just Cause 2 (yeah, remember how good that game looks?  No one else seems to for some reason) for best-looking game is utter blasphemy." 

Nothing here is utter blasphemy. I forgot about Just Cause 2, and I did play the game on PC. That game had some sweet visuals with the island and explosions. It would have been cool to hear it get a mention in the same vain that Call of Duty: Black Ops got in the podcast.   
   

@Quintessence  said:

" I am a bit disappointed in Shadow Broker losing, but I did not play the other one, so I can let that pass.  I do wish that two of my favorite downloadable games were at least mentioned - those being Toy Soldiers and Snoopy Flying Ace.  Maybe nobody played those? "

I played Toy Soldiers, and I am pretty sure they did a quick look of it and Snoopy Flying Ace. I wish Toy Soldiers was not just on XBLA, as it is a great downloadable game.    
Posted by Zero_

Interesting choices. I really think Minerva's Den came out on top over SB more due to Vinny conceding and less than Brad giving a convincing argument. Brad really does unfortunately come off really annoying in that segment.  
 
But yes, a strange omission with God of War 3...

Posted by Jedted

I disagree with Brad on the DLC add-ons, while i haven't played Bioshock 2 or "Minerva's Den" i see DLC as an extension of the main game.  If you buy a game soley to play the DLC, and you have zero interest in the main story, then your pretty much throwing away all the money you spent on the full game. 
 
Also i think Brad was being unfair to "Shadow Broker" by saying all you do is shoot dudes, though i do perfer ME2's combat to Bioshock's so to each his own i suppose.  It also has a cinematic quality that you don't see in a lot of other add-ons. 
 
Having said all though i think i might cast my vote for "Kasumi: Stolen Memory" as the best DLC of 2010.  I just love the whole James Bond feel to that mission and i wish there were more like that. 
Posted by lowkey

Lair of the shadowbroker won on the podcast so confused

Posted by Prymet1me
@Zero_: Brad made me want to stab myself in the eye. It was almost like they let him have it because he had a tantrum.
Edited by afrocod

I completely agree with what has been said earlier about the best looking game. FFXIII and GOW III should have definitely been mentioned and strongly considered. Especially above punk-ass Alan Wake..

Posted by ShadowMountain
@Geno said:
" Kirby's Epic Yarn is a fair choice for best looking game overall, but Hot Pursuit as a runner up? Really? And no mention of the PC version of Metro 2033 which had technical graphics rivaling Crysis and a phenomenally cogent atmosphere, and is easily one of the best looking games ever released from both technical and artistic perspectives?
 
Clearly nobody there is informed enough about the PC platform to make the obvious decision to give Metro at least a nod, so why even have a Best PC Game category? Apparently GB's PC coverage simply amounts to one staff member playing Starcraft II (zero surprise it won that category btw).  
 
Not to mention Best Downloadable could've gone to countless indie titles but rather they chose the billionth Pac-Man rehash with graphics copied from Geometry Wars >.> 
 
If you guys aren't even going to try on the PC front could you at least label yourself a console site? I mean, Gamespot, IGN and Gametrailers are equally incompetent when it comes to PC gaming, but they're, you know, them. You can be more upfront about your lack of knowledge and your members would still love you I imagine.  "
I could say the same for DS and psp games. I can barely recall them reviewing any and there were some really good DS and psp games this year but its just not their thing so I accept that. I do agree with you however that it makes it a bit iffy - not sure how they're going to decide on the handheld games this year....
Posted by skunkdragon

shoemaker you need to listen to this podcast again, you talk complete shite!! how can Minerva's Den win, when the catagory is best add on !!!!!!!!
   
Posted by Ventilaator

Also, we're missing the key problem with Shadow Broker which completely invalidates it.
 
How do you have a "Broker", that word doesn't make any goddamn sense.

Edited by Injamoon

Jeff, Ryan, Vinny, you need to filibuster Starcraft 2's anticipated game of the year argument, just like Brad filibustered Lair of the Shadow Broker.  
 
C'mon Brad, 3 out of 4 people seem to believe that Shadow Broker is better, and I would bet that the majority of Giant Bomb users agree.
 
Edit: I just finished listening, and even Brad used the word filibuster to describe his argument.  You usually filibuster when you're in the minority . . .

Posted by warxsnake
@Ventilaator said:

" Also, we're missing the key problem with Shadow Broker which completely invalidates it.  How do you have a "Broker", that word doesn't make any goddamn sense. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broker
Posted by Marlowefire

VOTE FOR GIANT BOMB IN CASTMEDIUMS PODCAST AWARDS!! http://tinyurl.com/26jhjuz    

Posted by Vendetta
@Ventilaator said:
" Also, we're missing the key problem with Shadow Broker which completely invalidates it.  How do you have a "Broker", that word doesn't make any goddamn sense. "
Didn't anybody ever teach you to use a dictionary to look up a word you don't know? I think I learned that back in the third grade. Or possibly earlier.
Posted by golguin
@afrocod said:
" I completely agree with what has been said earlier about the best looking game. FFXIII and GOW III should have definitely been mentioned and strongly considered. Especially above punk-ass Alan Wake.. "
They specifically said that the category wasn't about pushing polygons and texture maps. It was about games that were visually striking like Limbo or Kirby.
Posted by Eoco

I really think Casltevania: Lords of Shadow should have been brought up. Fantastic looking game!

Posted by Ventilaator
@Vendetta: @warxsnake: 
 
I know what the word means, it's the word itself that's weird to me.
 
"Broker" is just like calling a teacher a "Taughter", a singer a "Sanger" or a runner a "ranner"