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Giant Bomb's Top 10s for 2010: Day Five

Giant Bomb's own Jeff Gerstmann, plus industry luminaries and friends of the site Gary Whitta and Adam Boyes, run down their favorite games from 2010.

Jeff Gerstmann

  
  

Gary Whitta

Gary Whitta is the former Editor-in-Chief of PC Gamer and Next Generation magazines, and a regular contributor to Tested’s weekly This is Only a Test podcast. 
 

10. Medal of Honor

This was doomed from the start to be eclipsed by the Black Ops juggernaut, but having played both to completion I much preferred the gritty and intense realism of this game’s Afghan campaign to the increasingly eyeroll-inducing antics of the CoD franchise.

9. Red Dead Redemption

I loved every minute of this game. Rockstar’s most vibrant and alive world to date, some of their best storytelling and the most refined execution of their well-worn gameplay dynamic by far.

8. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

It was a genius approach to radically redraw the existing world rather than simply bolt on another previously-undiscovered continent. Blizzard again demonstrating that there’s no limit to how this amazing world they’ve created can continue to evolve and grow.

7. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Yes, it was worth the wait--was there ever any doubt? Blizzard pulled off the perfect balance, retaining everything about the original classic we loved while adding whole new layers of tactical depth and taking the single-player campaign concept to new heights.

6. Limbo

Proof of how much can be achieved with so little, Limbo generates a more immersive atmosphere than most games with ten times the budget. Throw in the most fiendishly-designed platform puzzles since Braid, and you have the best downloadable game of the year.

5. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

The ulimate in post-modern game design mixology, this brilliant redux distills the arcade classic to its purest essence then infuses it with an illegal underground nightclub cocktail of high-speed, high-adrenaline drugs that are as addictive as they are giddyingly euphoric.

4. Dance Central

The most compelling evidence in favor of Kinect’s viability as a fun delivery system so far. Harmonix’s trademark polish and accessibility makes this the best party game of the year.

3. Heavy Rain

Haters gonna hate, but for me this game comes closest to fulfilling the promise of the interactive movie concept since the advent of the CD-ROM era. High ambition, beautiful production values, a compelling (if ultimately wonky) narrative and tense snatches of gameplay all combined to make this a rare successful example of a nascent hybrid art form. More like this, please.

2. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Probably my most-played game of the year and certainly the most out-and-out fun. Online Hot Pursuit games with eight players are a riot. Can we just give every racing game to Criterion from now on?

1. Mass Effect 2

Nobody does big, sprawling, deep-mythology gameworlds better than BioWare and this fantastic sequel added multiple new layers to an already fascinating sci-fi universe along with countless improvements to the gameplay experience. Near perfect.
 
 

Adam Boyes

Adam Boyes is the founder of Beefy Media and the former Director of Production at Capcom US. He is far and away the most Canadian dude we know. 
 

10. Just Cause 2

Open-world games have always felt a bit linear and contrived, but Just Cause 2 thumbed its nose at that concept. Grappling hooks, ridiculous physics, vehicles out the wahzoo and over-the-top situations all lend to making this a game I got lost in for weeks and weeks. Think about it--this is only Avalanche’s second open-world game--I can’t WAIT to see what these guys are up to next. Great game, can’t wait for the future.

9. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

My very famous old boss, Inafune-san, lamented often that the Japanese video game industry is dead. This little game came along (with, I might add, a terrible name, but who am I to talk… Super Puzzle Fighter HD Remix? Really Adam?) to show us that Japan still has it in spades. An IP that has long sat dormant, they proved that the dudes at Namco Japan still get what Pac-Man means to the world, and how to captivate Western audiences with their thousand-ghost chomping expertise.

8. Darksiders

Some people criticized this game for being a clone of Zelda. I don’t give two shits about that opinion--every game has either be inspired by another game ( Robotron -> Smash TV) or a direct copy ( FarmVille -> Farm Town) of another game. This game hit a ton of the Zelda beats, but in a way that I wanted it to. THQ has been stepping up to the plate lately, and they nailed it with Darksiders. A world, character, and premise that seemed forgettable on paper came alive in my hands, from the ability-unlock path and new bosses that you came across, to me not even minding the backtracking here and there. All in all, a great gaming experience for me.

7. Halo: Reach

I had the first PC LAN setup of anyone in my home town of Abbotsford, BC. We had 2 PCs that we had convinced my dad to buy "for his business," and were able to connect two games-- Quake 1 and Rise of the Triad (both via serial cable). At that point, I got my first true sense of what community-based multiplayer first-person shooters were like. That experience only got resurrected a few times in my life-- Tribes with my brother and friends, TF1, and a few others. 

That being said, I'm a closet Halo fan. What that means is that I will boo against the game until it comes out, and then I usually finish (and enjoy it) on Legendary. What Halo: Reach did for me was it brought back that feeling of waking up in the morning and frenetically counting down the hours until I could team up with my buddies and play some Reach. Bungie had finally mastered the team-based gameplay and UI experience, and it lent to a fantastic experience. Where Johnny V, Kraig, Dave Lang, and I were smashing on AI in Firefight for achievements or just chilling with strangers on Headhunter or Slayer finishing in the top five. The cherry on top was the addition of the new classes--I always wished that Halo had something fresh, and the jetpacks added just enough Tribes flair to make this game knock squarely in the top 10.

6. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

The single-player experience isn’t the main reason that I put this on my list, it really is because of the multiplayer. I mean the single-player is an epic storyline with great moments, powerful assassinations, and the whatnot, but when they announced a multiplayer mode, I signed up for the "This ain’t gonna work" newsletter.

Boy was I way off. The internal team at Ubisoft Montreal (and many other members around the world in the Ubi collective) banded together to translate the AC world into a fantastically executed experience. There’s no sprinting around with a gun and shooting fools in the face--this is calm, walking, stalking, sneaking murderous hilarity that is fresher than any multiplayer experience I’ve had in years. Most massive franchises these days are pretty stagnant, but AC: Brotherhood proved to me that innovation in massive games can still happen.

5. Sid Meier's Civilization V

From the early-ass Sid Meier's Civ I era, I’ve been a huge fan. Bought and played every version, and when Revolution came out I thought we were in trouble. How pleased was I when Civ V dropped, evolving the core Civ experience in so many wonderfully delectable ways. Back to 20-hour single games, epic scale of world interaction, and an AI system that isn’t completely jacked up anymore, it fixed everything I wanted them to, and evolved in all the right areas.

4. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

It’s fucking STARCRAFT II.

3. Minecraft

In a world where Zynga has mastered the art of psychological manipulation of making people search that one extra tile or harvest that one extra vegetable, an indie developer outside of Stockholm, Sweden decided to take the popular trends of the day and do a 180-degree suplex on that shit. Notch took a mini-concept from previous games of combining a few ingredients, and built an endless experience based on users smashing, digging, and chopping their way into infinity. This was a game that grabbed mindshare and huge sales numbers not because it followed the typical modern-day gaming nomenclature, but because it looked at trends of "me too" plays and told those guys to f&^k off.
Minecraft is a disruptive play that has captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of people who have missed playing Legos for far too long, and has built a game where achievements, power-leveling, and competition are trumped by endless creativity and freedom.

2. Limbo

I’m probably a bit biased, because I got to meet Dino Patti, the President of Playdead Games, a little over two years ago and saw a small little black-and-white prototype of Limbo. At that time, he hadn’t met with any publishers, and since I was at this small show, I was literally the first publisher representative he had met with. It was serendipity--at Capcom, we were big believers in the IP and the team, but it just didn’t make business sense.

What I love about this game is that it breaks all major traditions. Almost no music. No cutscenes. Very little storytelling. You play as a small boy (which is a massive faux pas nowadays). Black and white. Less than four hours long. And yet, with all of these rules broken, they became the fastest selling new IP on XBLA ever. That’s an incredible feat. Every moment of that game is fresh, unexpected, and concretely sets this game squarely in my number two spot.

1. Red Dead Redemption

I grew up in a very Canadian household. Not just the usual 'Ehs' and maple syrup, but my dad was a lumberjack. No word of a lie--for six years, he was best friends with his chainsaw in the deep northern British Columbian woods, with nothing but a bunch of dudes and flapjacks for breakfast. Sounds homoerotic, but he told me stories many many times about how many of his good friends died while "logging" (their term for being a lumberjack). I'm sure that is what spawned his interest in the Wild Wild West. That, and according to records, Jesse James is my sixth great uncle on my dad's side. No shit. So I grew up in a household that coveted everything and anything that was Western. Clint Eastwood was my dad's hero--every year I bought him a new VHS Western movie, and every year he watched it pretty much 365 times. It made me grow a vile hatred for everything cowboy and Western. Got a cowboy hat? Eat a bowl of dicks. Cowboy boots? I'll throat chop you. Say "Y'all" and I'll stick a shiv made of wires and battery acid up your fingernails.

You now should understand why I had absolutely no desire to play Red Dead Redemption. I didn't mind the other cowboy games ( Call of Juarez, etc) but at that point in my life I was a full blown self-certified achievement whore. This game was different--from the stirrup to the outback, it was an incredible experience. It was a theme I didn’t care for, but the gameplay, story, and incredible vistas sucked me into the world. Top the game with the Undead expansion, and man-oh-man, you’ve got my game of the year.
104 Comments
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Posted by handlas

disappointed at the lack of love for RDR.  Guess I shouldn't be surprised considering my GOTY and numerous others (Demon's Souls) was laughed at for no reason and glossed over last year.

Posted by picklecannon

Its intresting to see the mixed reactions of all the different spectrums of Civ fans.

Posted by Gung_Ho_Afro
@Legend:
meh, opinions. I thought the setting was excellent but they didn't take advantage of it and OMG they had Denzel in this movie and it still tanked. Such a letdown 
Posted by Fjordson

Good lists, though Jeff's total disregard for Red Dead continues to be awkward.

Posted by Portis
@Winternet said:
" Hahaha Gary Whitta says that Limbo is the best downloadable game of the year and the next game on the list is Pac Man CE DX."
Well, to put that into put that into perspective -- my favorite game of 2010 was Blur. Yet I'm under no illusions that it was one of the best 10 games of the enitre year. My favorite? Yup! One of the best? Nah. 
Posted by RE_Player1
@Fjordson said:
" Good lists, though Jeff's total disregard for Red Dead continues to be awkward. "
He didn't like the game. I'm sure everyone has had that one game where you can see it is a quality product but it just doesn't click with you. An example for me this year would be Black Ops. I've played it at a friends house and can see it's still a great game but I just can't bring myself to play it for more than 10 minutes at a friend's house or even purchase it.
Posted by ZeroCast

Never expected Jeff to find a place for AC:Brotherhood on his list. 
 
Nevertheless, this keeps me more eager to see how the game will turn out when it hits the PC platform in 2011. 

Posted by FixtheFernBack

Jeff, I know it's like your opinion and stuff,  BUT Blops on your list is FAIL. :p

Edited by RE_Player1
@FixtheFernBack said:

" Jeff, I know it's like your opinion and stuff,  BUT Blops on your list is FAIL. :p "

lulz yeahh Jef having blops on your personal 10 is total failzzz,   like seriously Jef your opinion is so wrong I'm gonna jump out and pwn your face :P
Edited by Fjordson
@RE_Player92 said:

" @Fjordson said:

" Good lists, though Jeff's total disregard for Red Dead continues to be awkward. "
He didn't like the game.
Not exactly. He didn't play the game. That's like saying you dislike a book you've never read or a movie you haven't seen.
 
Don't really care if he ever gets to it, just interesting to see it in all of these lists except his.
Posted by ptys

Yay for Jeff! Surprised he chose Assassin's over Red Dead as they are both open world... and Red Dead is a far better game. Maybe I'm just playing Brotherhood the wrong way?

Posted by navyboy
@ptys: jeff never played red dead
Posted by Kyle
@ptys: Yeah, maybe...
Posted by RE_Player1
@Fjordson said:
" @RE_Player92 said:

" @Fjordson said:

" Good lists, though Jeff's total disregard for Red Dead continues to be awkward. "
He didn't like the game.
Not exactly. He didn't play the game. That's like saying you dislike a book you've never read or a movie you haven't seen.  Don't really care if he ever gets to it, just interesting to see it in all of these lists except his. "
He played a bit of it and didn't get sucked in. I bought Bionic Commando, played it for 2 hours and put it down because I didn't like it. I'm not going to torture myself just to beat it. He didn't have to review it, played it on his own time, and found it boring. I don't have to play some MMOs for 100's of hours to know I don't like them. 
Posted by Dad_Is_A_Zombie

Sorry Jeff, a Top Ten list with Red Dead Redemption missing is simply incorrect in my opinion. At least you got Mass Effect 2 and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood right.

Posted by Fjordson
@RE_Player92: I'm not sure you understand how little he actually played it. You're speaking in terms of hours. Looking at his achievements he spent about 20 minutes playing the single-player. Again, I really don't care if he ever plays it, but let's call a spade a spade here.
Edited by warxsnake

Mad respect for Whitta, and his list, which I share mostly. He will always be one of the very few down to earth and honest to god game journalists I've had the pleasure of following, reading and hearing, since the early days of PCG.

Posted by RE_Player1
@Fjordson: You can call it whatever you want I will continue to see it as Jeff just didn't like the game therefore it wasn't on his personal list. I can't believe I got sucked in into arguing about someone else's opinion. 
Posted by Fjordson
@RE_Player92: I'm not sure why you keep mentioning opinion, I'm stating facts.  It's impossible to have an opinion on something you haven't experienced.
Posted by RE_Player1
@Fjordson: He experienced enough that he could get an opinion. They don't have to beat every game they do a quicklook on to know if it's complete garbage. I don't have to watch every single Family Guy episode to know that I don't like Family Guy. Jeff didn't like something that you and other people did, get over it. I liked Sonic 4 but the guys hated it, who cares. 
Edited by ProfessorEss

That Boyes knows how to make a list son.
Gerstmo's is pretty solid too.

Posted by Fjordson
@RE_Player92:  Still not sure what you're getting at. A quick look, an episode of Family Guy; all of these things are longer than the amount of time that Jeff played Red Dead for.
 
Also, "get over it" is an odd choice of words considering I've stated twice that I really don't care. I'm just trying to keep things factual up in this piece.
Posted by Doogie2K

Real shame about Boyes being a Canucks fan. Guess it's to be expected, though. 
 
On the other hand, we can still be best buds because I fucking hate Stampede and all the drugstore cowboys that come out of the woodwork then. (The hot chicks in the cowboy hats and the jean shirts tied six inches above their waistline can stay.) I wore a fedora during opening day last year in protest.

Posted by PJ
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie said:
" Sorry Jeff, a Top Ten list with Red Dead Redemption missing is simply incorrect in my opinion. At least you got Mass Effect 2 and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood right. "
Its is personal Top 10 and he never played RDR since he doesn't like the Wild West. If you don't agree with hes list then you know what? No one cares. Thats what he thinks is the best games of 2010 and you can just go off and make you own personal list.
Posted by Vinny_Says

most predictable list goes to: Jeff Gertsmann

Posted by TheBooya
@Doogie2K: Alberta is Canada's Texas Lite. Calgary Stampede makes me want to punch fools almost as much as Burning Man.  
 
And I was kind of suprised that I didn't have Mass Effect 2 on my list, but it just didn't have a huge emotional impact on me like the rest of my list. 
 
For the people hating on Jeff for not putting RDR on his list because he didn't play it - I would prefer he do that instead of saying he played it when he didn't. Adversely, I have not played Gran Turismo 5 but I will still complain about the loading times and how it misses the point of racing games until the cows come home.
Posted by buckybit
adidas!
Posted by RE_Player1
@Fjordson said:
" @RE_Player92:  Still not sure what you're getting at. A quick look, an episode of Family Guy; all of these things are longer than the amount of time that Jeff played Red Dead for. Also, "get over it" is an odd choice of words considering I've stated twice that I really don't care. I'm just trying to keep things factual up in this piece. "
How long does it take in order for you to realize if you like a game or not? 2 hours? 4 hours? Seeing the ending of the game? Getting all the achievements? He played enough of it to know he didn't like the Wild West aspect of the game because he himself doesn't like the Wild West that much, he has said he prefers the GTA urban setting more than the West. Also keeping things factual? Is that not Jeff's personal list for 2010? Is he lying when he says he enjoyed Mass Effect 2?  
Fact: Jeff doesn't like Red Dead 
Fact: Jeff's personal top ten is to show Jeff's favourite games of 2010 
Fact: Jeff likes Star Trek over Star Wars 
Now those facts might not line up with your tastes and you know what... THAT'S FINE. But than again you don't really care right? Than why would you comment in the first place? Because you do care and you find it weird that Jeff doesn't like a game you and others like. I'm not defending Jeff at all, his opinion is his and his alone, I'm just saying don't tell someone what to like or not like or how they can form an opinion. I can judge a game by the title screen and the first 5 minutes if I want to and if that doesn't line up with you than who cares. 
Posted by MeatSim

These list just don't stop.

Posted by keyhunter

Cool. Abbotsford is where I go to pick up mead.

Posted by Thrust_Muscle

 

Adam Boyes knocked it out the park.

 
Posted by Fjordson
@RE_Player92: Whoa, someone's flying way off the rails here. I'll try to address the small amount of that wall of text that was at least somewhat coherent.
 
As far as judging a game, it really varies I guess. Usually a few hours of solid gameplay I suppose. Depends on how cutscene heavy it is. As for the rest of that wall o' text, um yeah, definitely a Trek man myself. Never been into Star Wars. Love me some prime Captain Kirk or Picard.
 
 You do realize that Jeff said on his Twitter that RDR is in his stack of backlog games to play, right? Not sure why you think he's closed the book on it or come to some sort of solid conclusion. He simply didn't play it. I'm sorry if I enraged you by pointing out that fact. I'm also not sure why you're convinced that I'm angry about RDR not being on his list. I knew it wouldn't be. Why would someone put a game they didn't play on a list of their favourite games? That's crazy talk.
Edited by Sharpless
@Fjordson said:

" @RE_Player92 said:

" @Fjordson said:

" Good lists, though Jeff's total disregard for Red Dead continues to be awkward. "
He didn't like the game.
Not exactly. He didn't play the game. That's like saying you dislike a book you've never read or a movie you haven't seen. "
It's a reasonable thing to do. I hate horror films. I don't need to watch any of The Ring or Friday The 13th to know that I don't like those films. Likewise, I don't need to spend even ten minutes with, say, Silent Hill to know that it wouldn't deserve a place on any of my Top Ten lists. Red Dead is, apparently, easily identifiable by Jeff as something that isn't up his alley. Evidently, he doesn't need to play it for any great length of time -- or even at all, possibly -- to know this.
 
It is possible to have an opinion about something you haven't experienced and, more importantly, it's possible to have a valid opinion about something you haven't experienced. Red Dead is my GOTY, but I don't begrudge Jeff for not being a fan of it. (Actually, Jeff and I are often opposed. I don't understand his dislike of Earthworm Jim and Team Fortress 2 either, but he's entitled to it.)
Posted by ApolloBob

I just met this Giant Bomb Jeff guy who's just my type.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I think I can guess what the game of the year is...

Posted by Fjordson
@Sharpless said:
" @Fjordson said:

" @RE_Player92 said:

" @Fjordson said:

" Good lists, though Jeff's total disregard for Red Dead continues to be awkward. "
He didn't like the game.
Not exactly. He didn't play the game. That's like saying you dislike a book you've never read or a movie you haven't seen. "
It's a reasonable thing to do. I hate horror films. I don't need to watch any of The Ring or Friday The 13th to know that I don't like those films. Likewise, I don't need to spend even ten minutes with, say, Silent Hill to know that it wouldn't deserve a place on any of my Top Ten lists. Red Dead is, apparently, easily identifiable by Jeff as something that isn't up his alley. Evidently, he doesn't need to play it for any great length of time -- or even at all, possibly -- to know this.
 
It is possible to have an opinion about something you haven't experienced and, more importantly, it's possible to have a valid opinion about something you haven't experienced. Red Dead is my GOTY, but I don't begrudge Jeff for not being a fan of it. (Actually, Jeff and I are often opposed. I don't understand his dislike of Earthworm Jim and Team Fortress 2 either, but he's entitled to it.) "
Well sure, but that's a general sort of thing. You hate horror films. You wouldn't say you hate something you've never seen.
 
And like I said to the other poster, I really don't care if the game isn't on his list. I wasn't expecting it to be there.

I'll tell you what I was expecting: Picross 3D! Jeff seems to love that game in a big way.
Edited by RE_Player1
@Fjordson: One, I'm not enraged at all. I'll take a note out of your book, I couldn't care less about a random person on the internet. Two, yes it would be crazy putting a game on your personal list that you haven't played but you see it as awkward not putting Red Dead on the list?   
@Fjordson
said:

 Good lists, though Jeff's total disregard for Red Dead continues to be awkward.

I'm still baffled by your first statement. Yeah real awkward Jeff didn't play every single game that got a high score on metacitic and some people around him liked a lot... That's enough from me. My New Years resolution, don't comment on anything on the internet ever again unless it's something light hearted like the GB wow guild etc. I'm done talking about people's tastes especially people I have never met before in my life. Have a Happy New Year and we can both agree that video games.... fucking rock!!!!!
Posted by Fjordson
@RE_Player92:  Well, I can agree that awkward was probably the wrong word. I'm not sure what the right term would be. I just meant that it's um, unique? I'm not sure. I didn't mean to say that there was anything strange or inherently wrong with the fact (which I guess is exactly what awkward would imply. Oops).
Posted by RE_Player1
@Fjordson: So your not agreeing that video games rock? 
Posted by Fjordson
@RE_Player92:  Ah,no, I can toast to that as well!
Edited by navyboy
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie: he never played red dead in the first place, this is their personal list. Why would he put a game up there he didn't play?
Posted by Krataur
an AI system that isn’t completely jacked up anymore
 
Um...what?  Civ V's AI is one its largest problems, by far.  It can't handle the new combat system at all.
Posted by Turambar
@Krataur said:
" an AI system that isn’t completely jacked up anymore  Um...what?  Civ V's AI is one its largest problems, by far.  It can't handle the new combat system at all. "
Compared to the previous AI combat tactic of "Stack 30 units on a single tile", it is still far better.
Posted by DG991

Gary.... sorry I think your kinda stupid for that MOH comment... lol

Posted by Bojangle

Nice to see Minecraft amongst the usual. :)

Posted by GioVANNI

It's fucking Starcraft II!

Posted by LiK

Hell yea Jeff! ME2!

Posted by erinfizz
@Dad_Is_A_Zombie: 
 
You can disagree all you want, but insults are right out.
 
@EVERYONE
 
Chill out duders.
Edited by bybeach

JEFF, I know it is your perfect god-given right to put or not put anything you want on your own personal top ten list..but nows my chance to strike at you from the internet for not feeding that cat in the Personna 4 Endurance run  21 months, 13 days, some odd hours and minutes ago. 
Or the chances you had after that. 
 
Die Jeff die! Bite the big one!
 
Well...I don't see you biting the big one! 
 
Damn, Jeff  must not care         :(..
Posted by Godlyawesomeguy

I still think Halo Reach should have been where Black Ops is but I have to give Jeff props for his number 1 pick.

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