Best of 2010

Fjordson: Best of 2010

List items

  • Oh, Rockstar. Overlords of the open world genre. The four 3D Grand Theft Auto titles are among my favourite games of all time and I consider Bully to be one of most underrated games of all time so I'm well versed in Rockstar's ability as a developer, but I simply wasn't prepared for the colossal greatness that is Red Dead Redemption.

    The immensely rich, detailed and interactive open world playground is present just like previous games, but something about Red Dead's setting makes it feel more vibrant and more alive than any other open world game to date, including the Grand Theft Auto series. Now full disclosure: much like sci-fi, I have a lifelong love affair with the western genre. Stuff like The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West and The Searchers are among my favourite films of all time. Red Dead Redemption captures the essence of all those classics perfectly. The dialogue and story, the weapons, the superb original soundtrack, the horseback riding and the visual style all feed directly into the atmosphere of the game. I put a good 40 hours into the single-player campaign and this was the first Rockstar game that I actually achieved 100 percent in. I found myself looking for any excuse to spend more time in RDR's version of the old west. Throw in some of the best DLC we've ever seen on the consoles in the form of Undead Nightmare and you've got a practically flawless package for any fan of video games.

  • Ah, yes. BioWare's sci-fi behemoth. Coming out in January, this was certainly the early front runner for game of the year. And what a game it is. I could go on and on about all of the various things that I enjoyed about ME 2 and about the long list of improvements BioWare made to the first game's mechanics. Yet what always strikes me about this series is that it truly is a love letter to sci-fi fans. The different planets, the massive Citadel, the Normandy ship, the various alien races. It's all so damn good. This is one of the few games where I was delighted to read long pages of text in the in-game encyclopedia due to how rich the Mass Effect universe's fiction is.

    There's some criticism I hear a lot about the storytelling being weak compared to the first game, but I tend to disagree. I really enjoyed how BioWare shifted the focus from a constantly forward-moving central plot to the various characters and their individual back stories. All of the loyalty missions for your various crew members felt fresh due to the self-contained subplots, unique locations and varied combat situations. Sure, the end boss was fairly lame, but it's a minuscule nitpick for an otherwise masterpiece of a game.

  • A MMO expansion in the top three a mere two weeks after release? Yep. Sounds ridiculous. Nevertheless, I can't resist slotting it here. There are still most likely hundreds of hours worth of content that I've yet to experience, and I haven't even hit max level yet, but I've already put in over 37 hours and have loved every minute of it.

  • More Blizzard. I really can't find any faults with this game. Not sure how it managed to live up to all of the hype, or how it eluded the initial skepticism of Blizzard splitting up the experience into three separate retail releases, but this thing is filled to the brim with content. For starters, the campaign is by far the best I've ever played in a strategy game. In much the same way Blizzard reinvigorated the idea of questing in an MMO with WoW: Cataclysm, here they've breathed new life into the traditional RTS formula of "gather resources, build army, kill other army" with a deluge of creative missions. The narrative and the characters are also a lot stronger than the first StarCraft. Much like a certain other game on this list, it represents all of the best things about science fiction and I love the Firefly-esque vibe of the Terran society.

    On top of all that you've got the exceptionally balanced multiplayer suite that can take potentially years to fully master. Yes, it still has a significant learning curve, but a little time and effort is quickly rewarded by the great gameplay with all three races.

  • A beautiful sendoff from Bungie for their signature shooter series. Everything about this represented the best that Halo has offered up since Combat Evolved. The new features that Bungie introduced, such as Forge World and the armor abilities, were great additions to an already solid basic formula. Also, the elegantly integrated winks and nods to the first Halo game served as fantastic fan service for longtime Halo devotees.

    I know there are plenty of people out there who don't give a toss about Halo's extended universe, but for some reason I've always loved its fiction and for me Reach's narrative doesn't disappoint. As far as multiplayer goes, I'm still having a lot of fun with it. Who knows if people will be playing this for as long as they did Halo 2 and 3, but it can't be denied that this is a great package for Halo fans.

  • I was really surprised at how much I loved this game. I've grown pretty tired of character action games, but Bayonetta took the genre to a whole new level. Fluid and satisfying combat from start to finish, a bat-shit insane story, plenty of winks and nods to a multitude of retro games and of course the sexy Bayonetta herself. What a great character.

  • Not sure exactly what to say about this game. Easily the scariest thing I have ever played in my entire life. A triumph for horror game design and atmosphere in video games. So incredibly atmospheric and fueled by a fascinating Lovecraftian story. I don't want to spoil anything so I'll end this here. A PC, headphones and no lights is all you need to experience the scariest game of all time.

  • For the first time since Battlefield 2, I found myself totally obsessed with DICE's shooter magnum opus. I absolutely loved the multiplayer and still find myself coming back to it from time to time. This was right up there with Halo: Reach as far as shooters go for me this year, but Bad Company 2's campaign didn't quite click with me and is what held it back somewhat when put against Reach.

  • Another quality stab-fest from Ubisoft. The amount of refinement that the gameplay of Assassin's Creed has received between now and the first game is astounding. Brotherhood represents, in my opinion, the best campaign in the series and adds a unique and surprisingly addictive cat-and-mouse multiplayer component.

  • I'm probably going to catch some flak for putting this on my list. I get it. It's not nearly as good as the first BioShock. I can totally sympathize considering the first game is one of my top 5 games of all time and I do think it was a step down from Irrational's outing, but I still love the universe of BioShock and the city of Rapture. It's one of the most interesting settings I've ever encountered in games (or movies and books for that matter) and I was glad to have another reason to visit it. Yet I think what really elevated this into my top 10 was the single-player DLC that 2K put out. The DLC, Minerva's Den, deals with "The Thinker", a super computer that helps run various things in and around Rapture. It's a fabulous story with some memorable characters and a great twist towards the end. You can tell a great deal of care and effort went into every aspect of Minerva's Den and it really added a lot to the overall BioShock 2 experience.