Best of 2010
Scheds: Best of 2010
Scheds: Best of 2010
I know; this is an obvious choice for 2010's Game of the Year. But you know what? When I looked at all of these games I've enjoyed over the past year, and stripped away their individual histories and biases, I had to ask myself: which game did I have more fun playing than any other these past twelve months? And the answer, immediately, was Super Mario Galaxy 2. It may not be the most innovative game; a lot of the fundamentals were laid by its forebear. But nearly every last moment of SMG 2 is riotously entertaining, challenging without busting your ass too hard, and beautiful to behold. Each objective adds a little extra challenge or set piece that you'll need to work around, and the end result of this varied, blindingly polished product is a commitment to entertainment that most games can't hope to reach. Yoshi is actually a lot of fun to use. The controls are perfect. And the wonderfully strange Mario universe is as sublime as ever. SMG 2 is, in my opinion, the best time you can have playing a video game this year.
After playing VVVVVV for 3 hours, I had finished the game with about 800 deaths. That is a fuck of a lot of dying. But thanks to Terry Cavanagh's brilliantly designed gravity mechanic and sublime retro styling, things never get too frustrating. Brutally demanding, VVVVVV introduces a new trick or complication every few seconds, and you always feel like you're right on the brink of failing each gruelling gauntlet of spikes, bouncy beams, and all other manner of punishment found in this game. The connected hub world lets you intoxicate yourself on its retro charms (relatively) safely in between main areas, and the rest of the game...well. The rest of the game brings forth a challenge usually unheard of in today's games, and it's standout style and old-school challenge deserve special attention this year.
Much like Quantic Dream's earlier efforts, Heavy Rain is not describable as a 'game' in the traditional sense. Essentially a Hollywood thriller wrapped in some basic adventure and quick-time event trappings, this is a game that will compel you in ways few others can. Play through the first few scenes, and you will be enraptured in the hunt for the Origami Killer, I guarantee. The characters aren't perfect, and not everything in the plot wraps up in a particularly satisfying way, but there are undeniably many gripping moments spread densely throughout the game. And the gameplay itself, while simple, dishes out truly nerve-wracking scenarios with serious, game-altering consequences. I think replaying a game like Heavy Rain may be missing the point, as its designed to feel organic, like your choices led you to the one conclusion that was 'just for you.' So while I may not be coming back to Heavy Rain as much as other games on this list, it was certainly one of the best games of 2010.
Now, here's one I really struggled with. When I first finished Deadly Premonition with a good friend of mine, it didn't leave the strongest impression on me. And honestly, I wasn't quite sure why that was. I really did seem to be enjoying it. I essentially bought it to support one of Giant Bomb's meme extraordinaire, but DP stood on it's own as a captivating video game, honest-to-God. My after-play thoughts were rightly sour, in many ways; the game is quite simply archaic to play, a loose assemblage of unrealized potentials. But, if you're judging a game fairly, by every single quality which it possesses, Deadly Premonish is a great game. Just because a story is surreal or absurdist does not necessarily make it bad; this is a game with a strange, depraved, and dark storyline. It meanders between cryptic clues appearing in coffee cups to interesting murder mysteries to visiting with townspeople in their homes. Its gameplay tackles everything from over-the-shoulder, RE4-style gunplay to QTE boss encounters to serene fishing scenarios. Everything in this game lacks polish, but the boldness of its style and design stand above it. This isn't really a game you play so much as you experience. And there's no guarantee its charms will work on you. But if it catches you the right way – if you can play past the first few areas and get a handle on the story, its characters, its borderline psychotic charms – this game will hold a special place for you, even if its a love-hate relationship.
I suspect that this game will place much higher on many other lists this year; as it should. I mean, after all those years between the first and second games, the essential formula still works perfectly. The single player was pretty good, and the multiplayer is awesome. I love building too many photon cannons and trying to pester people by blinking stalkers all over the place. There's really just one obstacle between me and Starcraft II, and it's a big one – real-time strategy games just really aren't my thing. I would go so far to say as any RTS that can manage to be in my game of the year list is worthy of special note, and I'm happy that it's Starcraft II, finally released in 2010, that gets to be that game.
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