Best of 2010
MrJared: Best of 2010
MrJared: Best of 2010
I've already written countless love letters to Hideki Kamiya's defiant masterpiece (some I mail to a fictional address like Santa Claus, others on my personal blog, like this one: http://www.jaredrea.com/journal/2010/12/6/a-message-from-site-author-jared-rea.html), but once more I must summarize why Bayonetta is not only the best game of 2010, but of this generation.
In an industry that rewards been-there sequels and me-too rip-offs with perfect scores and millions in sales, Platinum Games unleashed this highly original vision of action gaming a few scant days into the new year, completely without compromise for it's hyper violent and raunchy design. The fact that Bayonetta with all its border-line pornographic elements and brutal portrayal of violence even made it to store shelves, much less backed by a major publisher is positively astounding, but there's a very good reason for this: it is quite possibly the most highly polished and exciting action game to ever see release.
What Bayonetta represents is game design without limits and is a celebration of everything that can only be made possible within our medium. It's an intoxicating, 60 FPS journey that takes you from a rotating clock tower spinning off the edge of oblivion, to a motorcycle rocketing up a space shuttle to face-fucking an ancient god with his own fist before you throw him into the sun. You're a jaguar, you're a butterfly; you're fighting while upside-down, while running up the side of a building; you're in a volcano, you're slamming an angel vagina-first onto a torture rack until she explodes in ecstasy. You are experiencing things that are so beyond comprehension and in such rapid succession that you there's no time to question any of it, so long as you get your Platinum Medal at the end of the stage.
Bayonetta, like any strong piece of art, is polarizing by design. It's something that will be debated, argued for and against, dismissed and beloved for years to come but above all, it's something absolutely must be experienced. Beyond the hype is an exceptional action title wrapped in a gloriously absurd shell that, no matter what your feelings about it are, demands your attention.
I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite sequel on the Citadel. I'll never forget he first time I turned on Mass Effect 2 and was greeted with its impressive visuals and rock-solid framerate.
"This is a Bioware game!" I screamed in disbelief. "HOW CAN THIS BE?"
By streamlining the core experience of the original, Bioware managed to retain and improve upon everything I loved about Mass Effect while vastly improving the, you know, actual game portion of it. While Mass Effect 2 does receive it's fair share of contempt for not moving the overall plot far enough down the field, there's still enough depth to the background plots for those who care to dive in. With it's incredible wealth of interesting missions and very strong DLC offerings, Mass Effect 2 would have been my most played game of the year, had it not been for one other..
Description coming soon, late addition.
Super Street Fighter IV was by far my most played game of the year, and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon with the release of an updated arcade edition. Overall, SSF4 improves upon the already solid balance of the existing SF4 roster, even while introducing far too many new characters into the mix. There's really not much else to say about it that I haven't already in the past.
Bungie bids farewell to the series that changed video games forever by essentially perfecting the formula that forever altered the way developers create first-person shooters. While I adored the single-player campaign, to be honest, this would be higher up on my list had Bungie created actual multiplayer maps for its online play, as opposed to cutting up existing campaign levels. The combat has evolved into perfection, but it's a few map pack shorts from completely consuming my life.
Remedy may not be aware of this, but by creating Alan Wake they were essentially tasked with following-up one of my favorite series of all time, Max Payne. It may not have lived up to the horror gaming hype, but Alan Wake is certainly Remedy at its best with it's solid shooting gameplay which plays a supporting role to Sam Lake's uncanny writing style, characterization and incredible atmosphere. It may not be the scariest game, or particularly psychological at that, but that doesn't mean I didn't clench my controller tight throughout the experience.
I love Xbox Kinect. That may put me in the time-out corner of the hardcore club (which is still better than a lashing by Hori VLX), but it's the only motion controller I've actually taken seriously. That said, Dance Central is an amazing experienced that fed deeply upon my long dormant ability to consume and perform choreography (I have a lot of dancer friends, so sue me!). Harmonix proves that they understand rhythm gaming like no other by combining slick presentation with perfect controller implementation. The greatest compliment you can give to Dance Central is that it just works.
One of my favorite gaming experiences of the year was test driving the legendary McLaren F1 in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. True to Critereon's promise, their reinvention of the series captured the thrill of Need for Speed's past and improved upon it with their trademark presentation and an innovative Autolog feature that connects you with friends without having to pit one another against each other. "Multiplayer for adults with lives" is probably the best way to describe it. The game itself is the most fun I've had with a racer in years and it still continues to consume much of my free time.
Also known as "The other Obsidian RPG of 2010," Alpha Protocol was nailed to the cross by critics and unfairly at that. To be real for a moment it has no more bugs or gameplay issues than Fallout: New Vegas, or even the original Fallout 3, but for some reason critics felt that was enough to completely trash it. Nevermind that it nails the act of playing as a spy like no other game before it, features a conversation system Bioware is essentially lifting for Dragon Age 2 and a player feedback to response loop the likes of which has not been seen since the original Deus Ex. Yeah, screw all that, the aiming sort of sucks lolololol 2.0/10.
It hurts me that Limbo will forever be tied to the neck of Braid as an artsy platformer because unlike Jonathon Blow's overblown middle school love letter, Limbo is actually a fun game to play and skips the story completely. It may not lend itself to repeat plays, but the incredible sense of isolation and need for survival is perfectly complimented by smart puzzles and solid mechanics. Limbo, along with Dance Central (who ever thought you'd hear those two in the same sentence?) are my can't miss gaming "experiences" of the year.
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