Best of 2010

Wow. What a year for games it's been. I should say that I've played more games this year than any other year, and most of them were pretty good too! In the end I had over two dozen games that I was seriously considering for spots on this list. Sure, there were some disappointments along the way, as well as some real bombs, but for the most part I can't complain. With all that said, let's get on with it.       
 
Note: You're limited to one paragraph in the comments I guess? So it looks a bit shit without any formatting. Oh well. Sorry everyone! 

List items

  • Mass Effect 2 is one of the best games I've ever played. Peace, I'm out.

    No, seriously. After Bioware's offering of Dragon Age: Origins last year, I was really excited about Mass Effect 2. Hell, I liked Mass Effect well enough already, putting it on my GOTY list the year it came out. However, I had no idea how... breathtaking Mass Effect 2 would be.

    Mass Effect 2 is an improvement over the original in every way. Some might disagree, and argue that the first one is better because it's more like a role playing game. Those people suck. The combat is ridiculously satisfying, they really tightened it up and turned it into a top notch third person shooter, and scrapped the inane inventory system. Less time spent trying to figure out if you want to turn Identical Assault Rifle #32 into omni-gel, and more time popping off headshots and wooing Garrus.

    Speaking of which? The characters in this game? Way better in this game. The romantic options? Again, shreds the first game apart.

    Okay, enough bagging on Mass Effect 1, but seriously. It's impressive how much better this game is, and how Bioware has advanced as a developer. Oh, it also doesn't hurt that this is one of the best looking games this year. And it's comforting knowing that the Mass Effect 3 engine looks even better (if even ever so slightly).

    I really enjoyed Mass Effect 2 when it came out at the beginning of the year, but a couple months ago I picked it up again in hopes of getting the last achievement I was missing (and playing the DLC). I'm proud to say I completed the entire game on Insanity, and it was a fucking blast. I'm not one to purposely make a game harder on myself, but I'd almost say the experience was that much better because of it.

    I don't know what else to say. Mass Effect 2 is as close as you're going to get to a "perfect" game. And I cannot wait for the third game coming out next year! Hopefully.

  • Oh Starcraft 2. Where do I even begin? Starcraft 2 had a lot to live up to. Starcraft is one of my favorite games of all time. And then I spent over a decade waiting for another installment in the series. And how'd it turn out? I think I need to spend another couple years with Starcraft 2, but at this point I'm going to go out on a limb and say... it's better than Starcraft. In almost every way at least.

    For the multiplayer... it's the same super competitive multiplayer that people have enjoyed for a decade. Except there's more. It's better. Looks better, more units, different strategies. Better ladders, match making. A fucking Starcraft 2 league that you can subscribe to and watch the pros play every "season". Starcraft 2 took shit to a whole other level. And I really can't see going back to the first game now.

    And for the single player... the story isn't as strong - yet. Though I think a lot of that has to do with the format. Starcraft 2's story will be spread along three games. Wings of Liberty is no doubt laying the ground work for something truly epic. For what it's worth though, I really enjoyed the layout and progression of missions.

    When I was playing Starcraft 2, I was so excited. I couldn't believe I was playing it, and even more so that it actually lived up to all the hype. I remember at one point walking around my living room thinking about how awesome it was, and how I'd have to put in on my GOTY list.

    Sadly, I just haven't been able to put as much time into Starcraft 2 as I would have liked to. It was all I played back when it came out. Once I finished the single player, I jumped into multiplayer and tried it for a bit, but was pretty quickly overwhelmed. It's a very intense, competitive scene. It requires a lot of time and practice that I just couldn't do at the time. But the great thing is that it'll be around for years, and there are no signs of it slowing down. So I have time.

    In the meantime. It's fun watching GSL matches.

  • Alright, before I even begin to talk about Nier. I have to say that picking the order for the top 3 games this year was incredibly difficult. Obviously I love every game on this whole list, but these three are special. And I'm pretty confident in saying I'd include all of these on an "all time" list. With that said...

    Oh god. I fucking LOVE Nier. It's this year's Half Minute Hero. A game that came out of no where and totally stole my undying affection. And it's pretty impressive that I still decided to buy Nier even after all the negativity it got blasted with when it was released.

    Granted, Nier has problems. It's probably why it ranks third on my list. It's just too hard to overlook some of the faults in Nier. Mainly the fact that almost all of the side quest in the games are bullshit, and there are tons of them.

    None of that matters though. The fact of the matter is I played this game for every waking hour for two weeks straight. I played through the game five times (well... New Game 'd 3 times, then started fresh to get the speedrun achievement). Why? Because the story is fantastic. Easily one of the best in recent memory. The story wouldn't be nearly as impressive without the characters, all of whom are equally as impressive as the story. Kaine is without a doubt my favorite character this year.

    And against the odds, Nier was actually localized with love and care by the guys over at 8-4. It really shows, as the writing comes through solid, and the voice acting is incredible. Big props to those guys.

    The soundtrack is pretty amazing too, another one that I actually paid for this year, and I'd highly recommend it. Man, I could gush on and on about Nier, but I think I should stop. The game is constantly on sale for like under $20. Buy it!

  • Well this is... unexpected. I had some pretty nasty backlash on Grand Theft Auto 4, and I certainly didn't expect to like a western themed game in the same engine this much. But... wow. RDR is easily one of the best game I've played this year. I can't think of a single thing negative to say about the game.

    It has a fantastic story, full of interesting characters. The writing is excellent, and there are quite a few intense moments, including the end of the game which is shocking to say in the least. The soundtrack is fucking gorgeous, with some amazing tracks by Jose Gonzales, a name gamers are surely going to remember now.

    As for the game itself? Addictive as hell. It's so hard to put down the controller, and I found myself saying "Just one more mission..." for hours. It's amazing how much they've improved the targeting system. And Dead Eye mode is just bad ass.

    I haven't even begone to scratch the surface on a lot of the side content in the main game. There's a bunch of stranger missions, hunting challenges, and other stuff that I'd love to go back and complete at some point.

    Simply amazing.

  • In January I was faced with a decision. Buy Bayonetta, or buy Darksiders. I chose wrong. Luckily I remedied the situation a week later by trading in Bayonetta for Darksiders. Darksiders wasn't even on my radar at all beforehand. It wasn't until I put it in and gave it a spin that I found it to be one of the greatest games this year.

    To start, I think Joe Madureira's artstyle is gorgeous. It really helped me get into the world, and there are some amazing looking characters. War, while not having the best personality out there, certainly looks like a bad ass. The story itself is pretty cool too, and I'm kind of disappointed that Darksiders 2 isn't going to continue the story.

    That's all great and everything, but it's the gameplay that really nets Darksiders a spot on this list. It's been a while since a home console version of Zelda has come out, and even longer since I really got into one of them. Darksiders is the perfect Zelda "clone". Call it a homage or a rip-off, I could care less. I'd have to say Darksiders is the perfect fix for anyone waiting on Skyward Sword.

  • It took me a few years, but I finally decided I'm a big fan of the Yakuza series. I played the first one when it came out, and thought it was alright. Then was really late to the party on the second one but thought it was great. So I finally buckled down and bought a copy of 3 when it came out. I... didn't play it until August though, but I pretty much played it non-stop that month!

    Let's face it, the combat is pretty simple, and there's way too much of it if you keep running into every punk on the street. But for whatever reason I found it to be a treat almost every time, if only for the fact that I just love how much of a bad ass Kiryu is. About the time you get the special move where you take out a cigarette and smoke it, only to flick it into the enemies face then just beat their ass, I was sold.

    Unlike most brawlers though, Yakuza is known for having an intense story, full of characters that you just can't help to love, or in some cases hate. There's actually a pretty sad, and totally unexpected moment near the end of 3 involving one of the best new additions to the cast.

    I can't wait for next year's Yakuza 4 to hit North America. After that... well...

  • Travis Touchdown is one of the best characters ever. Unsurprisingly his games are pretty damn good too. From the mind of Suda 51, NMH2 is another crack induced dose of "what the fuck" brought to you from Japan. The story is ridiculous, and the characters even more so. And unlike Killer 7, the gameplay is actually good.

    Course' this isn't the first time we've seen No More Heroes (hence the "2") so it's not totally new. And I enjoyed the first game too, despite never finishing it. Two things that really helped me enjoy this game more though was the inclusion of classic controller support, and an easy difficulty setting. I'm anxious to see if No More Heroes Paradise will be as enjoyable when it comes out sometime next year.

    Just do me a favor, and skip the mini games next time though. Man, fuck those things.

  • Enslaved is one of several games this year that took me by total surprise. I was severely disappointed with Ninja Theory's last game Heavenly Sword, and with the announcement of a really bizarre Devil May Cry reboot on the horizon being helmed by them, I was really set on hating Enslaved. Then I played the demo.

    Wow. So, Enslaved has a pretty decent story. Though it gets a little weird at the end, I still liked the twist - haters be damned! What really sells the game is the life like mo-cap and voice performances by the actors. This was one part Heavenly Sword did well, but I think Enslaved took it to another level. I really fell in love with the game's three characters pretty easily. And even that was surprising because I expected to hate Trip too!

    Finally, the game gets a lot of flack for it's hand holding nature with the platformer, and apparently "terrible" combat according to some nutjobs? I didn't have a problem with any of this, and in fact quite enjoyed it. Again, it's a shame that Enslaved seems to have bombed in sales, but I think people will go on liking it for quite some time.

  • So what's all this shit about Alan Wake being disappointing, huh? Granted, in the end I could have done with a little less combat, I still think the rest of the game outshines any bit of repetition in the combat segments. Here you have a game with genuinely good writing, an interesting horror story that was broken up in such an ingenious way thanks to the whole "episode" system, and an awesome licensed soundtrack.

    When I think back to some of the set pieces in the game (I'm thinking of a certain battle set on a stage) I couldn't in all honesty keep this game off the list. Plus when you consider that I initially rented the game, then turned around and bought the Collector's Edition after I finished the game? Yeah, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's sad that it was release was overshadowed by such a massive release as Red Dead Redemption, because I think this game really deserved a better shot than that.

  • I had to put Super Meat Boy on my list. There wasn't any way I couldn't. This game took me by total surprise. In fact I started off hating the game on principle alone. A hard as nails platformer that prided itself on being so difficult? Yeah, doesn't sound like something I'd be into at all. Low and behold, a fantastic game shines through regardless. The game just controls so god damn well, and even though it is really difficult, it doesn't punish you. It's an amazing feeling when you finally beat a level that you've been trying at for a good 15 minutes. And I haven't even mentioned the game's charming retro inspired style, complete with an amazing soundtrack, that I even paid for - with real money!

    The only reason Super Meat Boy ranks in at the end of the list, is because sadly I haven't actually been able to finish the game. I've been stuck on a boss fight for about two months now, and at this point I've kind of given up, and am waiting for the super special retail boxed copy that's coming out in January. That hasn't stopped me from pimping the game every chance I can get, and getting ridiculously excited about any news that I hear about the game. What can I say? It's a real treat.