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Best of 2010

jukezypoo: Best of 2010 
Honorable Mentions (In no particular order): Bayonetta, Mafia II, NBA 2K11, Starcraft II, Civilization 5, Super Meatboy, VVVVVV, Heavy Rain.
Damn, this really was a great year in games, wasn't it?

List items

  • What is there to say? Bioware took one of my favorite WRPGs of the past decade and improved it in most of the ways that count. The over-arching story was, admittedly, slightly less compelling than the Original's, but the strength of the supporting cast, coupled with the drastic improvements in game-play, made this, by far, my favorite game of the year.

  • Admittedly, part of the reason I'm placing this so high is because I feel that it has been overlooked. On the other hand, while the decision of placing this above Bad Company 2 was a difficult one to make, I feel confident in saying that, other than Mass Effect 2, there is no game I enjoyed more this year.

    Yes, the gun-play left something to be desired, and yes, the English voice-acting was quite poor (for god's sake, play the game in Russian with English subtitles: the experience is far better than playing with English V.O.). Regardless of all of those shortcomings, however, this game succeeded in creating the most compelling, immersive, and dark atmosphere I've experienced in any game since Half-Life 2.

    The cloying nature of the darkened tunnels, rendered beautifully by the game's powerful engine(on my PC, with all the settings maxed out, I feel as if this is the best looking game I've ever played, even surpassing Crysis) really presses you on, and is aided by some beautiful sound design; your character's heavy breathing is a constant presence, and the sound of creatures scuttling around, always hidden by impenetrable shadows, serves to heighten the sense of helplessness that the game fosters so well, and to deepen the haunting atmosphere that permeates every aspect of the game.

    In the end, this is one of those experiences that is rough along every existing edge, and yet still manages to get beneath your skin and push you onward. Frequently, you'll not even know where it is you are - and you won't mind it one bit. The game-play isn't the main draw here: it's the atmosphere the game fosters, the impeccable pacing of the story, and the momentum of the experience that will carry you through the game.

  • I've always loved the Battlefield series, so the fact that this game got me excited was no surprise. What was a surprise was how far DICE carried the formula they established in the first game. I'm not placing this here because of the single-player portion of the game, which is admittedly quite weak; the reason this sits so highly on this list is because DICE has succeeded in making a multi-player game in which every player, no matter how experienced, can find a role, and which, even when you're done unlocking everything, is able to provide you with something new and fun to do in every single match. Couple this with some great, meaty feeling gun-play, and you've got my favorite multi-player game of the year.

  • Darksiders takes a lot of ideas from Zelda. Let's get that out of the way, because it is entirely true. At the same time, no other game this year so embraced its "gameyness" as did Darksiders. It wasn't afraid to go over-the-top in every way possible, nor did it shy away from comparisons to games like Zelda and God of War. What it did was take all the disparate elements present in those games and marry them to some brilliant pacing, which led to the game always having something new to drop in my lap when I began to grow tired of what I'd been doing. This is a gamey-ass-game, and it's all the better for it.

  • Assassin's Creed 2 was very good. I would almost say that it was great, except that, where I played through the entirety of the first Assassin's Creed (which was a lengthy game) in about three sittings, Assassin's Creed 2 failed to pull me in. Whether it was the lack of a real critical path, the disparity in quality between the various side-missions, or something else entirely, it simply didn't work for me the way that the first game did. With that said, however, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood did work for me, and it took all the game-play improvements from Assassin's Creed 2, and crafted content around those mechanics that took full advantage of the improvements Assassin's Creed 2 made over its predecessor.

  • It's GTA with horses, right? Well, not quite. Red Dead Redemption took the formula from GTA IV, and elevated it to an art. Where GTA IV inevitably left you feeling lost and without purpose, Red Dead Redemption combines both the strengths of linear, story-based games, with the freedom of sand-box experiences. If you want, you can follow the main quest-line without deviation, and engage in a story that is, in my mind, the strongest one Rockstar has ever created. However, they also provide you with an enormous quantity of side content that can fill hours upon hours of your time.