Best of 2010

caseymalone: Best of 2010 
Yeah, so none of the huge titles this year seemed to resonate with me. I was in awe of the craftsmanship that went into Red Dead Redemption, but I didn't really ENJOY it. Mass Effect 2 fixed so many problems with the first game, but kept going until, for me, it lost what I liked about the original. God of War 3 is pretty much "not my thing" on any level. And, generally not a shooter guy, I have not even played Call of Duty or Halo.  
But here are the games this year that I did dig. A couple of them, I even love. But in general, I'm hoping 2011 gives me some more memorable experiences than these. 

One disclaimer! I haven't played Fallout: New Vegas yet. When I do, I suspect I'll love it. 

List items

  • I scoffed, SCOFFED, when they announced a sequel to Pac-Man Championship Edition. What more could NAMCO do with this? Apparently quite a bit. Brilliant gameplay changes make CE feel sluggish and antiquated by comparison. DX uses inspired leaderboard design and a streamlined restart to really get its hooks into me, more so than any other game in 2010.

  • I have never liked God of War, Devil May Cry or any of those fast-action, heavy attack then quick attack combo heavy action games. Somehow, though, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow hit just the right notes for me. The combat doesn't punish you if you don't want to sink your time into memorizing combinations. Most importantly, though, the art direction of the different environments and score (often lack of) evoke a feeling of an epic quest in a real place the way I haven't felt since watching The Lord of the Rings films.

  • WarioWare DIY is a hard game to judge, since the content is kind of sparse, and nothing you haven't played in every other WarioWare game. This is so high up on the list, though, because of the tools for creating your own games. Balancing the depth letting you do whatever you want with a user-friendly experience for these kinds of titles is nothing simple (try making a decent level in Little Big Planet sometime), but the execution here is flawless, and I've spent more hours making little games than I have playing most others this year.

  • Nostalgia and 8-Bit throwbacks are popping up everywhere lately, but I can't think of any other game gone that route that demanded it thematically more than Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Featuring a brutal difficulty curve, classic brawler multiplayer, a ton of replayability and dozens of secrets to dig up, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World actually manages to outshine the film version it's meant to promote.

  • I am going to be brutally honest here.

    I have not even touched the single player.

    The tense multiplayer experience is so unique, the meta-game built around it so compelling, every time I plan to start it up, I end up sinking another two hours into what Ryan Davis has taken to calling, "stabbin' dudes."

  • Going the Dead Space route of borrowing heavily from other games, but doing it really well, Singularity steals bits of Half Life 2, BioShock, Dead Space and even Silent Hill to make a very compelling, story-driven, first person shooter.

    The game's time-based shtick isn't deep, but it doesn't have to be: freezing dudes in place or aging them to dust is fun enough that I don't feel the need for anything more.

    A game that clearly could have used a little more polish and playtesting, there are usability problems all over the place. At one frustrating point, my weapons were taken away from me and I was dumped, through a one-way door, into a kind of arena. After dying a dozen times, I checked to see what I'd done wrong - apparently next to the door there was a cache with all my weapons next to it. But I couldn't go back through the door, and the game auto-saved as soon as I went through it. Little usability problems like this were frequent enough to keep the game from ranking higher for me, but not to keep me from telling all my friends they should play it.

  • Freestyle Games took all the innovation they poured into the first DJ Hero, and buffed out the flaws and roughness, perfecting the core experience for DJ Hero 2. As far as gameplay goes, there is no where for them to go from here except for, frankly, a DJ Hero Pro mode.

    The wafer thin career mode, step-back from the first Song Select screen, and the dance-heavy soundtrack* kept this from being higher on the list.

    *Not my taste in music, and it's my list, so "nyeh."

  • LOOK AT HIS LITTLE FACE. LOOK AT ALL THEIR LITTLE FACES. I JUST WANT TO SMOOSH THEM. Delight on a DVD, my time with Kirby's Epic Yarn was probably the most relaxed I've been all year. 2-Player co-op was also a big bonus for me. Super fun.

    Unfortunately, relaxation eventually turned to a blase feeling towards the whole experience, a sugar-coma from it's sweetness. Still fun, but I had to take it in small doses.

  • Super Street Fighter IV, man. Capcom fixed some of the balance issues, added a second ULTRA Combo for existing characters, and gave us a whole bunch more. This is the definitive version of Street Fighter, for me.

    However... it's still just more Street Fighter IV? I felt guilty ranking it any higher considering that it's practically an expansion pack. A damn good one, though.

  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 is GREAT 3-D platforming, something we don't get enough of. The new levels feel fresh, at no point do you feel like some of the game was snatched up from Galaxy 1 and re-jiggered.

    Sadly Yoshi drags things down - the newness he adds also isn't fun. His tongue-grabbing gameplay only serves to get in the way of what Galaxy's trying to do. The hub world and the level select screens also makes it a chore to get back into the game once you've wrapped a level. These problems keep it from being as good as the first, but still a damn good game.