Best of 2010

NoelVeiga: Best of 2010

List items

  • Simply put, this was the best thrill ride of the year. It married action gameplay with procedural storytelling and a level of cinematic presentation that is just unreasonable to expect in such a large game. It is a tie with RDR's atmospheric western world on most of those counts, but the built-in coolness of the sci-fi space opera premise and its flawless, intoxicating last act make it inch past it for my number one spot of the year.

  • The only reason I'm not calling this the best western of the year across all media is I haven't seen the Coen Brothers' True Grit yet. Red Dead Redemption, despite a troubled production, comes across as a magnificently confident game that makes artistic choices rather than merely being a product of industrial design. There are too many great moments in it to count but, in all fairness, the memory of it is better than the baseline for the experience, as the game still borrows a bit too much from the aging GTA structure. If Rockstar transcends the limitation of their open world design next time they should be able to move the entire medium forward.

  • Heavy Rain is a game ripe to be stolen from. Quantic Dream has done what it always does: let their French artiste earnestness get the better of them and lose grip of their mechanics and story before they end. But make no mistake, Heavy Rain is cutscenes done right, interactive narrative executed beyond what most other games have even attempted so far. If a better narrator than David Cage gets a shot at this model or somebody else mixes it up with some unscripted gameplay this could prove to be one of the most influential games of this generation. Maybe L.A. Noire can prove me right?

  • Beloved but misunderstood, HP is the best racer of the year in a game packed with awesome racing triple-As. The Burnout connection has been mentioned to death, but it was Autolog's role as a compulsive competition enabler and the sweet return to basics in both setting and gameplay concepts that sold me on it.

  • I've never been a Pac-Man fan. I've never been good at Pac-Man, even. DX deconstructs what is fun about it in a way that I can immediately get, and I love it for doing so. It's a pity that it never tries to go beyond the derivative neon-lit 80s nostalgia, but Pac-Man CE DX is easily the best gameplay experience I've had this year and it clearly belongs on this list.

  • Deadly Premonition was the best PS2 game of the year. Ambitious and poorly executed, the sincerity and sheer, unapologetic high quality of the plot and the structural concepts presented in it transcended the shoddy tech and poor map design, blending with the oddball story to provide the first ever "B-game". That mythical beast and its potential to even exist was discussed a lot last year, and DP proved it can not just happen, but also be an incredibly fun ride.

  • It is a testament to a good year in gaming that Enslaved didn't get more attention than it did. A few years ago it would have been the centrepiece of the year, with gorgeous graphics, an engaging story and great animation over workmanlike and easygoing gameplay. This year it did feel a bit like a poor man's Uncharted. But it *was* good. The story was gripping all the way through and the characters showed surprising range, particularly when they allowed themselves to throw in some comedy. Enslaved stuck with me more than I thought it would when I played it in a hurry to get to other, higher profile games.

  • Civ V would be much higher on this list, but my experience with it has been interrupted by gamebreaking bugs in multiple occasions. When it works, it is an incredibly addicting, deep game that successfully bridges what you want to do with what happens in the game better than any other Civ game before it. It just... doesn't work a lot of the time.

  • I really don't want to give SMB a nod this year. It is the embodiment of a lot of what is wrong in the "indie" scene, with warped deconstruction of gameplay and heavily referential elements passed for "retro charm". It's just that it is all so well put together it is impossible to dislike. The hand-cramping gameplay is possibly the best, most responisve control scheme delivered this year and the compulsive instant-retry concept would have been annoying if not for the promise of a simultaneous replay of every single attempt that is downright hilarious to watch. I may object to what it represents in gaming, but I begrudgingly loved how well it executed on it, so here it is.

  • Darksiders, like Enslaved, was given less attention than it deserved for being solid but somewhat derivative. Regardless, it was an amazing game in that it provided an incredible sense of place. Reminiscent of the also wildly underrated Legacy of Kain series, Darksiders takes the well known Zelda-slash-Metroidvania structure and just... pulls it off. It may not have been the most groundbreaking game to come out this year, but it was a rock solid one that didn't need to lean on a franchise to just be a videogame.