2010 Games I've played.
Don't make too many assumptions about how this will affect my top 10. I most of this stuff a few weeks ago, so some things will probably change.
Don't make too many assumptions about how this will affect my top 10. I most of this stuff a few weeks ago, so some things will probably change.
Darksiders went from a game on my periphery to one of my favorite games of the year in the span of about five days. Sure, the game is basically a mix of God of War, Zelda, and Blizzard games, but I'm more interested in where Darksiders is going than any of those games.
For five dollars, DVZ was a great demake. It captures the retro essence better than most games that try to do faux-retro, and the gameplay was fun enough as well as nostalgic in the right way. And that theme still gets stuck in my head from time to time.
Dark Void isn't a bad game, it just isn't a good one. The flying sections were incredibly frustrating, the shooting sections were boring, the narrative hook was simply not enough to make me overlook either of those huge problems.
Along with Joe Danger, this is probably my game of the year. It striped out most of the problems with the original in favor of a much faster, better experience. I could go on for a while about why I love NMH2 so much (the refined combat, the crazier if less memorable boss battles, the style), but I already wrote that review. The ending was bad, but hey, So was Mass Effect 2's.
Speaking of which! I can't figure out why I didn't completely fall in love with this game as much as so many other people did. I can't point to any one problem that ME2 had that made me not like it (like the Mako, I actually liked the mining). I think it's a case where to sum of the parts just didn't add up into something more for me.
That sounds really negative, but I actually really liked ME2. As someone who kind of hated the first Mass Effect, I lost myself in ME2 for about a week. It's a well-crafted game, but I guess I like it without really being a fan of it. If that makes sense.
BioShock 2 gets a lot of hate. Kind of deserved it, too, since it was a pretty clear cash-in. But, 2K Marin did a fantastic job at the task they were given. There's a lot of love for the lore, and it ultimately ended up being a much better game than it had any right to be. I seem to be one of the few people who's happy this game exists, though.
I enjoyed Investigation's myriad improvements to the Phoenix Wright formula. It moved more quickly, managed the investigations/interrogation segments more aptly, and had a lot of the trademark Ace Attorney charm. Not the best entry in the series, but still a good one.
The fact that Chime manages to feel at all fresh it does is an achievement in and of itself. It's hard to make something that hasn't been done before, but Chime does it and does it well. I'm not very good at it, but I love it. And Charity!
Metro gets the award for game I loved and also hated. Its good parts are fantastic, but parts of it are so boring and monotonous (even for a linear game) that they really just hamper its own potential. I wanted to like it, and overall I did, but I can't help but feel like something went to waste here. I'm still looking forward to the next game, though.
I never finished Greed Corp and I know exactly why: I was scared of it. Every battle felt like a momentous task (no saving mid-battle), when it came down to a one-on-one fight with a total of three spaces left on the grid, every move counts. That sounds lame and corny, but in this case, it's really true. Make one mistake in the endgame, and it'll blow an entire lead you've been building an entire match. It's a great game, but I just couldn't take the stress of playing it.
Playing Napoleon: Total War was part of an initiative of me trying to play genres I'd never tried before (Civ was the other part). I still could not really get into it, though. Battles were way over my head, so I just ended up relegating them to automatic and letting the fact that I had more dudes do the work for me. Not that I was any good at resource management or diplomacy.
I never thought that Super wouldn't have enough content to justify itself; I was a firm believer in the EventHubs leak, so from the get-go, the ten characters promised seemed like enough to me. Add an online structural overhaul and some minor refinements here and there, and Super more than did its part to save its place in my collection. Playing as Cody helped too.
I didn't hate Dante's Inferno; the action was good enough and the levels not awful enough to play through the game to completion. But, I can't really defend it either. Everything people say about is mostly true, and even I won't argue that it's anything more than a mediocre God of War with a more Monotheistic skin.
Disregard Rocket Knight's brevity and swallow a seemingly hefty price tag, and you're in for something unique. Bursting around the levels is simple fun, and the character design is fairly charming. For what it's worth, I had no idea what Rocket Knight was before this game, but I'm glad I do now.
Not being a fan of God of War to begin with, God of War 3 was especially a non-event for me. Set on topping the outlandish violence of God of War 2, Three simply tries too hard to be more of the same but better. What it ends up being is another run through the same track, with a different story and the promise of an ending, which actually ended up being my favorite part of the game. When so many games have already done what you popularized, you can't be content to go through the motions again.
I played Heavy Rain nonstop for an entire afternoon. Part of it was that the story hooked me early. The other part was that I wanted it out of the way. See, Heavy Rain felt more like a game that I "had" to play than one I actually wanted to. The "Interactive Entertainment" label is fitting, but the actual game part of it suffers immensely. And it's not just that the point of the game is not about shooting people; it fails to execute on its investigations scenes, and the QTE segments are the only thing that redeem it. I hope it influences game design in the future, but this feels like an ambitious first step rather than a culmination.
Further indication that Rockstar needs to overhaul their gameplay formula. The story is immensely satisfying, and the characters and world-building of Red Dead is master-class. The problem is that Rockstar is still concerned with giving the players busywork to inflate the content of the game. Rockstar's narrative prowess has exceeded their capacity to make a fun game.
That said, Red Dead is still one of my favorite games of the year. When Rockstar delivers setpieces, they nail 'em. When you're not doing menial tasks for people who don't deserve to have them done, you're exploring a world that feels more rich by virtue of not faking density. Collecting flowers, hunting wildlife, and finding treasure don't feel like work, because the game incentivizes you to do so without forcing it too much. Red Dead also has one of the few great endings in video games. I hope Rockstars realizes where their talents now lie and tries to do something new in the mission structure next time.
Not really sure why I played this. If you have someone to play co-op with, forget to take it off of your GameFly queue, and have a weekend to kill, you could do worse. It's a serviceable shooter, and that's about it.
I don't know why I was so interested in this when I heard about it. Not only is a God of War derivative, it's basically distilled into a much more simple combat system (if you can imagine something like that), and some puzzle solving (arguably the worst part of God of War).
For every other game I think of when I think game of the year, I can come up with a short laundry list of issues that I have with said game. Joe Danger is the one exception. My minor list includes things that have actually been patched in (replays, online functionality). Joe Danger is Trials without a intuitive way to choose your own difficulty, so you don't have to bang your head against an obstacle you don't want to overcome. If something's too hard for you, come back to it later, and do the easier stuff now. I enjoyed Joe Danger every painful second of my time with it, something I can't say about any other game this year.
The selectively realistic stealth gameplay of Metal Gear moves back into proper form in the Vietnam area. It's still a formula that works, and the design of the bite-sized missions, though a little reliant on memorization, still works. What doesn't work as well is the cumbersome online play. Bosses want to play with multiple Snakes, so the solo player is out of luck. The controls, while improved, still break down during any segment that requires any quick action. Great game, but any momentum the game builds with its efficient stealth sections comes to a dead stop during its frustrating bosses.
I hold no reverence for Sin and Punishment, so this new entry was baffling to me. It's a nice bit of light-gunning with some character action thrown in, but there's nothing in Star Successor that makes it shine above its premise.
I had a very atypical experience with Conviction. For whatever reason, I felt that I had to beat it in a day, so I was incredibly frustrated by the fact that I was dead meat if I ever made a mistake, even on easy. The story also didn't really do it for me, either.
Still haven't delved too far into this, even though I bought it day one. I'll give myself an out by saying I've already beaten Persona 3, though. The interface changes have their good and bad, but as far as I'm concerned, Portable is the best version of this game.
I like DeathSpank's quick-fix RPG format, but the thematic frosting never got me. I don't have the fondness for the humorous adventure games of the past, so its appealing to that mentality likely rubbed me the wrong way.
The Forgotten Sands isn't really here nor there; it doesn't fail in any one regard, but it never exceeds any regard either. As a whole, I guess I liked it more than I didn't.
I only played about 20 hours of Final Fantasy XIII before I realized that the open-world payoff that most people said to wait for wasn't really what I wanted to from the game; I quite like its linear approach, but its frantic combat system can't really hold up the tired storyline.
Galaxy 2 only works because of its predecessors; with a good framework already established, Nintendo was focused on doing something creative with something that had already been done, and they executed on that better than anyone else. It's the biggest justification for the existence of sequels; so many developers get bogged down in establishing a framework -- the bits and pieces that make the game work -- that the design is built around justifying the skeleton that was built, and if the skeleton doesn't work, the game breaks down with it. Galaxy is great example of what a studio can do when they know that their players already know how their game will work.
At some point, I realized that I didn't like Alpha Protocol. But I couldn't send it back to GameFly until Monday. So I started listening to podcast, made the game as easy as I could, and just let my mind wander for a few hours. So I guess the game's good for that?
It's easy to harp on StarCraft 2's lack of creativity and citing it as a fear of alienating its core fan-base. And that's kind of true. But really, it's the tiny things that ultimately make this a much better package. Between the surprising amount of creativity of the campaign (the "gimmick" in each mission, the adventure-game segments between missions, the level of polish in both cinematics and in-game cutscenes), and the robust multiplayer matchmaking suite, and the way the new units fundamentally change strategies carried over from the original, Blizzard has done as much with Starcraft as they possibly could. The fundamental design is still as dated as the genre can be, but it's a formula that still works, dirt-farming and all.
I didn't enjoy Bayonetta as much as I should have. I'm all for its improvements on the Devil May Cry formula, and it's a much better game than any of those game. The combat is as robust as most fighting games, and the crazy design principles sat well with me. It's just that I felt like I was incompetent at the game the whole way through. Die three times and you automatically receive a Stone Award, which is the equivalent to the game saying you should tone down the difficulty. I could've powered through it if I didn't care about such things, but it still bothered me. I didn't go down to easy because I wanted to feel like I was responsible for the insane dance the main character went through, so I was frustrated that I wasn't better at the game.
This is the year that I realized I'm done with multiplayer anything. In the past, I've been all for games with near-infinite replayability, but nowadays I have more games to play than I could possibly ever get through, so playing Team Deathmatch for the thousandth time feels like waste of time to me, regardless of skin.
With the multiplayer component out of the way, I also realized that games that follow the "short single-player tutorial amusement park ride, expansive multiplayer" doesn't appeal to me anymore. It's a little sad, considering this used to be my entire life at one point.
Bad Company 2's campaign was all right, though. I didn't play any multiplayer. Yup.
With most games that I change my opinion on, it's usually a downward slope. Alan Wake is the first game that I liked more the more I played it. I still don't think it's deserving of the overly long development (and hype) cycle it was party to, but it's a decent shooter with a nice horror twist.
I'm not entirely against Other M. I liked the third-person action game perspective, but the first-person stuff felt strung in, the controls were really bad, and the story was so melodramatic I'm surprised this wasn't the second sequel to Donnie Darko. It's structurally sound, with some cool boss battles, but playing that game even on basic level I found frustrating.
I only played the 100-turn demo, but that was enough to tell me that I shouldn't buy this game because there could only be two outcomes from the decision: either I'd realize I'm not really into the world-building genre for the long haul, or I actually love this genre and I'll never really "finish" this.
Despite my being burned out on tower defense games, I enjoyed this quite a bit. Not really much more to say other than it's really hard and that I didn't find controlling the towers as much fun as it should've been.
I'm beginning to like Layton's story more than the puzzles. The puzzles are still great, and now more than ever you have an out if you have no idea what the solution to a puzzle is. I admit that I had to use that out a few times towards the end, but at this point, I really just love Layton's old-school storytelling more than its head-scratchers.
Remember how I said I was more or less done with multiplayer shooters? Halo was the one exception, except I only really played it for two weeks. I love Double Team's mix of teamwork and chaos, but that wasn't enough to interest me in the game for too long. The single-player wasn't great, but Reach's catch-all approach to multiplayer is something I'd like to see from more games in the future.
I didn't finish Trauma Team, unfortunately. I really liked the dialogue and some of the characters, but the gameplay was much too transparently similar coloring book to interest me for too long.
So, is anything I have to say about the generally awful, "unpure" version of Hydrophobia still valid? With the new patch that supposedly fixes a whole mess of problems, I might go back to it to see if maybe the game can redeem itself. I'm hesitant to play through it again, because it feels weird to go through a game I didn't like a second time, when I usually don't go through games I do like a second time. I may or may not go back to it.
Very similar situation to the 40th day, except I did it by myself. The visual style was nice, but it overstayed its welcome, even at only four hours.
I was a little turned off by the gushing reaction's to the cute aesthetic of the game, but I ended up liking Epic Yarn most for its creativity. It's easy as finding whiners on the internet, but it's a pretty fun ride.
Costume Quest is what I liked about DeathSpank without the stuff I didn't like about DeathSpank. Or rather, the stuff that DeathSpank wanted to be but didn't do all that well. It's funny and charming without getting so up its own ass in references that the gameplay suffers for it.
Vanquish is very similar to Metro 2033 in that I really like Vanquish, but it shoots itself in the foot more than it really should. Managing two of the third-person shooter's most frequent regulars (melee attacks and running) with a bullet-time that kicks in when you're about to die doesn't work well. Even though there's a lot of fun to be had with Vanquish, I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have.
I didn't play too much of Split/Second, but from what I did play I though it was a decent racer that didn't seem to have too much longevity. I also remembered that I don't really care about racing games without nitro boosts.
I played enough of Crescent Pale Mist to know that it's really bad. Even at six dollars, it looks like an otaku made a game from their first tax refund. it's also not very fun.
I'm happy the PSP port of Knights in the Nightmare works as well as it does, because this game is still the craziest game I've played in a while. Even if you don't like the kinda anime art style and the generally bad characters, the actual story and game parts of Knights is good enough to at least check out.
Every year Call of Duty goes farther from being the Street Fighter of shooters to the Vs. Series of shooters. Everything is so goddamn insane that if you're not already indoctrinated, you're essentially fresh meat for the veterans to kill. The campaign was actually pretty good, but at this point, I'm done with COD as a franchise. Which, considering the politics surrounding it now, I think is a pretty good time to stop.
I didn't think Shank really looked all that great. I guess I'll have to get used to games that look like they were made by art students in Flash in the years to come. The gameplay actually holds up pretty well, but like most brawlers, it just didn't have much longevity.
I was never really into Pac-Man until this came out. And really, this is a whole new game anyway. It's still Pac-Man, but it's so much faster and more immediately appealing that I can't foresee myself not recommending it to anyone who doesn't play games. They could've called it "Pac-Man's Digital Fellatio Party" and I would've been just fine with it.
I'm surprised by how this game snuck up on me. I didn't even realize there was another Assassin's Creed game to play this year until I ordered it from Amazon. It improves in key ways on Assassin's Creed 2, and the combat benefits the most from this, to the point where it's actually fun now. There's still a little reliant on instant-fail stealth sections and other gamey things. Still a really immersive game, though. Maybe Rockstar should just mimic Ubisoft's gameplay formula.
I have no idea how to play poker, but this was still as fun a learning experience as I could've gotten. I got what I wanted for five dollars. Team Fortress 2 gear. Also, the game is pretty funny.
The Yang to Epic Yarn's Yin. It's hard, but never too much so, except in the mine most of the auto-scroll levels. I really liked it despite my frustrations with a few levels.
Didn't play too much of this. I played a few tracks, then a podcast, and then realized that it wasn't good for that. I though it was all right. I'm still looking for a rhythm game that will go well with podcasts.
Didn't play too much of this either, but what I played seemed weird in a good way.
Probably my biggest surprise of the year. Yeah, the gameplay is as trite and menial as some of Red Dead's missions, but the acting and story got me really early on, and I'm surprised how human some of the mob archetypes ended up being.
By far my biggest disappointment of the year. I really, really wanted to like Epic Mickey, but I just couldn't give it a pass. It's not just the camera, either. Talk about menial; everything about Epic Mickey is a about fetching things and flipping switches with as little context as possible. That I'm even writing this makes me very, very sad.
The few matches I played of Lead and Gold were generally very good. I'm just bummed that so few people are actually playing this. A very simple version of Team Fortress 2, with some third-person action thrown in. It was also a gift, by the way. Thanks Chris!
Similar story to Alpha Protocol, except I actually kind of liked it, and that I didn't finish it. A good God of War clone, but I had other stuff on my plate at the time, so I stopped playing it about halfway through.
There was no way Limbo could've lived up to the bloated expectations everyone created for me. It definitely succeeds in the atmosphere and visual storytelling departments, but Limbo is still a puzzle platformer, which seems to be the most dominant genre in indie game design. I hope PlayDead actually goes for something different in that sense next time.
I'm kind of tired of the four-player brawlers, but Scott Pilgrim seems to have enough variety to maybe make it worth an afternoon with a group of friends, provided you can find three other people who're into it.
I was really invested in Game Dev story, until I realized what it was doing; so much of the results of your game (scores, sales) are so based on chance (reviews aren't consistent, random power outages that mess up so much progress on your perfect game) that it's built with addiction in mind. At that point, I was kind of turned off by it and haven't gone back to it since.
This is pretty fun, unless you're colorblind. Kind of a pick-up-and-play game. Really, that's about as much as I can say about it.
I can't deny that Super Meat Boy is a good game. I just don't like all the pandering it tries too hard at. The faux-retro style, the thinly-veiled references, its insistence on including a bunch of indie game characters. I guess this just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. "Everything about your childhood was awesome, right? You like Super Mario? Here's some shit that's kind of like that! Sprites!"
I don't know how I feel about this game. On one hand, it's puzzle-platformer, which I'm starting to hate more and more, but I kind of like the hook, even if its style isn't fully implemented (hint: don't make a polygonal character next time).
Didn't get too far into this either, but even the first few levels stumped me for a while, and I though it was really fun. I can't imagine how messed up the later levels must be.
Next to Mafia II, Sonic Colors managed to surprise me even though I kind of knew what to expect from it. This, finally, is Sonic's return to something resembling his former greatness. He's still not there, as some of the level design is too focused on one-solution puzzles for its own good, but this is definitely a step in the right direction for the franchise.
Though it didn't quite sell me on Kinect as something that every person with a 360 should own, Dance Central is still a lot of fun in the party setting. Dancing to Solja Boy and Lady Gaga might not be the best thing to do by yourself, but Dance Central is more approachable than almost any other rhythm game, to the point to where you might actually get all the people at your party to play it rather than just the ones that know their way around a plastic instrument.
Because I was over multiplayer shooters at the time, I dismissed Monday Night Combat on the virtue of it not being made for me. After finally getting in quite a few matches of Blitz (I haven't yet dabbled in Crossfire), I can say that this is one of the most immediately satisfying and simply fun ways to shoot at enemies not branded in your color. It's Team Fortress 2 for people who can't get into TF2, and as derivative as that makes it sound, Monday Night Combat is worth your time if you're looking for a shooter that's a little different.
The packaging is bare-bones and almost disrespectful as hell, but the actual games here are all still classics. Whether I actually want to go back to 'em is another story.
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