Best of 2010

A painstakingly chosen list of my personal favorites of 2010 in order.

List items

  • Being a game I always wanted but never thought was possible outside of The Legend of Zelda series, Darksiders is--to me--a dark horse both in literal and critical terms. From the fantastic twists on the apocalypse and mythology to the innovation of long-dormant gameplay mechanics, Darksiders wasn't just a fresh coat of paint; it was a full-on demolition, rebuilding and refurnishing of the house that Miyamoto built. When it came out at the beginning of the year, I was already too enraptured in Bayonetta to bother giving this one a shot. But when the gaming well ran dry and Amazon stuck its "Hey, it's on sale!" nose into my business, my time avoiding War and the apocalypse was over, and I couldn't have been more happy. Like fire and brimstone hitting Earth, my mind was set ablaze with how great and outstanding this was. You could say the game HORSESHOED its way into my heart.

  • After conquering all there was in Paradise City, wheeling around the varying regional planes of Seacrest County was like driving on newly paved asphalt. Crashing into racers at high speeds was all I needed to feel back at home. Plus, the Bugatti Veyrons and slick police paint jobs helped. The online mode is the best I've experienced in quite a long time and someone being a few milliseconds ahead of me in the Autolog meant my afternoon was solely dedicated to being number one again. It's not the most time I've spent with a racing game this year (that "honor" belongs to Gran Turismo 5, but if it's as well-supported as Burnout Paradise was, Criterion Games can count me in for yet another 100 hours. You could say this should be on everyone's MOST WANTED list.

  • When Bayonetta's gun-equipped heel stamped down in this game's teaser trailer, I immediately knew I had to have this in my hands. I expected ludicrousness of the highest order and received something that exceeded those expectations by several magnitudes; a task not easily accomplished in world where gamers yawn at the prospect of brutal, vicious dismemberment. The hair-fighting, witty and crazy witch lying at the center of this game defies all conventions set in the genre thus far--once again, a job that isn't completed so effortlessly--and she paints a bright future for both Platinum Games and its competitors. With more moves, weapons, accessories and outfits than one could ask for, Bayonetta openly embraces its total disregard for modern industry logic both in value and gameplay. You could say this game's insanity put PR in a HAIRY situation.

  • In retrospect, I always regret the time I spend playing Grand Theft Auto games. So when Red Dead Redemption came out, I assumed it adhered to the same tired formula and I attempted to shield myself from all the hype. That shielding last for all of about two weeks, as John Marston's long arm of the law reached out and pulled me in for a non-stop week of intense, wild west action. The sharp dialogue, interesting characters and acculturate open-world made sure I was never bored, and that's foregoing the extensive multiplayer mode and Undead Nightmare expansion. Although its initial ending was done in other games before, what happens immediately after twists an otherwise expected event into one the most satisfying interactive conclusions since Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. You could say this game SPURRED my faith in Rockstar again.

  • As a Castlevania fan, Lords of Shadow had a huge cross to bear. A shaky developer and Konami's need to slap Kojima Productions' logo somewhere were all I needed to justify any sort of weariness before this game came out; that, compounded with the fact that a good, 3D Castlevania hasn't seen the light of day. It may overstretch itself in terms of its length, but it's all the more telling how grand in scale it truly is. Bayonetta may be the way for Devil May Cry type titles to go, but Castlevania: Lords of Shadow takes from the schools of God of War and Ninja Gaiden and blends the two to great effect. Rounding out the positives includes an orchestrated score by Óscar Araujo. Despite not dabbling in the series' wealth of memorable themes, he adds much more to the action and story than I could have anticipated. Speaking of the latter, pretty strange ending, right? You could say this game is WHIPPING the series into new territory.

  • One day I told a friend of mine how much I was waiting for Picross 3D, and he did nothing but quizzically look at me and say, "What the fuck's a Picross?" In fact, anywhere I turned my anticipation was met with utter confusion, whether it be someone unfamiliar with the series or someone wondering why the heck I wanted it instead of other games. This small, budget title had way more in it than I thought, featuring enough content to last me until an inevitable Nintendo 3DS release. Its numerous number puzzles are a sterling example of how even the most minor and obvious of changes are the best a developer can make. You could say the third dimension brought a NEW SIDE to the proceedings.

  • There's something to be said about a game that manages to ensnare you for a third round, and I believe the phrase goes, "Okay, you're awesome game, just let go already! …Alright, just one more time." Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable passes up on the additional content from Persona 3 FES in exchange for the ability to play as a female protagonist, and it brings much more depth and variation to the story than an extra chapter ever did. With improvements from Persona 4's battle system, P3P easily becomes the penultimate offering of Atlus' spin-off franchise. I spent 120 hours of one summer week re-obtaining personas and establishing new social links, making it the game I've played the most of in the shortest amount of time this year. You could say this game caused MASS DESTRUCTION on my body's nutritional intake.

  • If Persona 3 Portable gets a nod for the amount of time I spent playing it, then Super Street Fighter IV stands above and beyond that in terms of sheer hours. Clocking in at 234 hours (on the 360 version alone, mind you) I shudder to think how many 9-to-5 work shifts I could've potentially filled. But, what would a boring retail or desk job be compared to the exciting moments of fireballs, ultra combos and close matches? Nothing, because Capcom's improvements to its hit fighting game of last year raised the stakes for the genre and re-reinvigorated a community that presumably died with the arcade scene. As complete a package as this game is, I can't wait to see what's waiting in the wings beyond Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken. You could say vanilla Street Fighter IV and this game are a TWO-HIT COMBO.

  • A week before my friend left for Afghanistan, we were standing in a checkout line at a local Wal-Mart and I had a copy of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty in tow. I loved the first Starcraft, but my budget for the summer was thin and I had a joking adamance against buying it. In all honesty, I only had an, "I'm not THAT kind of Asian" phrase as my only defense. But my friend was already well into his own copy and I remember he told me something along the lines of, "You need this not only because you're Asian. You just NEED this." He was right, and had he not bought my copy I would've walked away from 2010 without experiencing one of the year's best. The single-player campaign was wildly varied and the multiplayer modes were accommodating even for someone of my lacking skill, two things real-time strategy games often overlook in a race to become increasingly complicated. You could say this game was CRAFTED to near perfection.

  • From a distance,Alan Wake was always a game I kept my eye on. It's premise and gameplay was something that seemed intriguing, not to mention the graphics themselves looked fantastic. Its repetitive combat might not have satiated my gamer side, but it more than made up for itself when it came to the writing and story. The brooding, oppressive atmosphere at night in contrast to the homely side of Bright Falls during the day is only one of many examples of how this game plays up the dynamic between light and dark, a theme that goes far beyond the flashlight the titular protagonist holds in his hands. By breaking apart chapters like a television series, Alan Wake kept me going through it like a marathon of seasonal DVD collections. You could say this game had me TUNING IN.