Best of 2010
DougCL: Best of 2010
DougCL: Best of 2010
Mass Effect 2 takes everything the first one did, and makes it better. the main quest is fairly straight-forward, but that allows for some of the best side missions and characters this generation, if not in the history of video games. the way the loyalty missions and in-game conversations flesh out the members of your team makes it the only time im happy when some of them are dead at the end. not because i dislike them, but because the dramatic arc of my team and my mission is so strong that it seems unthinkable to go back and try to rewrite the history ive built for myself over the past 2 games.
this game flew under my radar when it first came out on the ps2 and ive regretted missing it ever since. the mix of dating sim and turn based RPG sounded like a game tailor-made for me. when i heard it was getting a psp update i ran out and bought a psp straight away, and i couldnt be happier. the design of this game is brilliant. being able to go to the dungeon whenever you want allows you to either explore a bit every day, or grind it out right before the big fights. which allows a player to prioritize the aspect of the game they find most appealing without making either part any less important. the combat is simple enough to be accessible, yet deep enough to satisfy the most seasoned jrpg player. this psp version adds the ability to play as a female, which adds an incentive to replay this already crushingly long game. the length however is somewhat shortened by the streamlined 2d point and click interface. this helps a game with a massive amount dialogue move fairly fast, making it my ideal portable rpg, my favorite jrpg, one of my favorite games of the year, and one of my favorite games. ever.
this is rockstar's best open world yet. they've combined their most compelling story with a fresh new setting, and the strongest characters they have ever written. other than the excellent main storyline, rockstar has put in an emergent side mission system where instead of having map markers for all your optional activities, some of them just show up by the side of the road, or run up to you and steal things from you. this along with all the wildlife and ambient challenges really helped the environment feel alive, and give the player plenty to do between story missions. it also is host to Undead Nightmare, my favorite DLC of the year. but thats for another list.
criterion revives the floundering Need for Speed franchise while proving why they are still the kings of the arcade racing genre. while most racing games are trending toward the Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport school of simulation racing, criterion puts out a brutal, super competitive, highly satisfying cops and robbers arcade racing title that combines the best elements of both criterion's Burnout franchise and the games of Need for Speed's glory days on the playstation 2.
it improves on every aspect of Assassin's Creed II and adds a really smart multiplayer aspect. and only a year after the previous game came out. the combat has been sped up considerably with the ability to chain together kills, which is great because fighting multiple guards no longer takes 10 minutes. the assassin's guild and store buying are fun diversions which really help break up the missions. they also made the out of animus stuff less frequent, which is good because i hate being pulled into long talking cutscenes when i dont want to. they also wrote the assassins desmond works with better, so when i do have to talk the the british guy and veronica mars its not terrible, even though she looks like a robot.
even on Bethesda's ugly fucking old as shit busted-ass engine, obsidian somehow squeezes out a brilliant, if stupidly buggy, post-apocalyptic adventure. though everything one would recognize from fallout 3 returns (V.A.T.S., ghouls, robots, old music, creepy npcs, super mutants, a soda-based economy), the world feels fresh. the mojave wasteland has clean water and power allowing it to sustain a much larger population. as one would expect in a game that takes place in and around vegas, the morality system is essentially thrown out the window, in favor of its interesting faction system, which is where all the interesting side missions stem from. it also has a much better story than fallout 3, putting you in the shoes of a courier shot in the head and left for dead after having his most recent parcel stolen. the decision not to try to use a fake emotional bond to drive your characters motivation lets the player become more immersed in the plot. all this plus more interesting companions and much improved combat makes this one of the most memorable games of the year.
this was my first civ game. i had always heard of their staggering complexity and their absurd length, which always sort of turned me off. but after hearing how this game made itself much more accessible, i gave it a try. i was instantly sucked in by the empire building, diplomacy, and its pacing. it always left me eager to click next turn, which is a feat no other turn based strategy game has ever achieved.
i never was a big fan of Zelda after it went 3D. not because i hated the gameplay concepts, it just never really clicked for me. darksiders clicked. it takes all the stuff out of a 3D zelda and wraps it up in a pseudo-christian apocalypse setting and makes it all work better.
this game is stupid. its so wonderfully stupid, and i ate up very minute of it. everything from the ham-fisted plot twist, the bad accents, the big action, the cold war intrigue, to the varied and engaging trademark call of duty online experience, to its zombie game, its zork, and its dual stick shooter scream "look at me! im the new call of duty! look at how awesome i am!" its charming how busy this game is. its like treyarch is a dog who has left a pile of dead birds and shoes and bones and things at the foot of its owners bed, hoping they will like some of it. and perhaps just for sheer nonsense of it, i loved this game.
kart racing by itself, if done correctly, is one of the most satisfying genres in the world; and at the very least, Modnation Racers is a great kart racer. its got everything the modern kart racer needs: power ups, drifts, good cartoon-y art direction, and great tracks. but what sets Modnation Racers apart is its customization, which is rife with copyright infringement. its awesome. when a game lets me race a Cyberman in the A-team van against Sonic, Mario, Darkwing Duck, President Obama, and Shreck i know its something special, and i know im going to be playing it for a long, long time.
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