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Best of 2010

A list made to the best of my ability of my favourite 10 games of this year. It's not perfect as I can't remember how much I liked a few games or may be rose-tinting my memory of others; but It should be okay. Also they are all Xbox 360 games considering that's where I spend the lion share of my time playing video games. (May Include Spoilers)

Games that didn't make the cut and short reasoning.

Fallout: New Vegas - Too broken and unbalanced

Dead Rising 2 - Very glitchy and the boss fights were intolerable

Final Fantasy XIII - Despite the great looks and decent voice acting the game was brutally linear and I much prefer X and X-2 overall; never finished it.

Darksiders - Had some very annoying elements, such as forcing combat puzzles early in the game

Nier - Bit too bland and a lot of fetching required, still dug the game though

Enslaved - Too linear and feels a little strange after playing other games, still, some phenomenal aspects

Resonance of Fate - Lasted too long after I wasn't having fun anymore (I was grinding for achs etc) and the story became meaningless

List items

  • This one surprised me quite a bit, considering I have in the past played street fighter games; buying all the XBLA versions and Street Fighter IV. Needless to say I was awful at all of them. Super Street Fighter IV marks my first true attempt at learning the game and playing a fighting game tactically. Pulling off ridiculous combos online and winning a game in a close-fought fight on the tie-breaker is unparalleled in terms of excitement.<BR></BR>

    I'm still pretty bad at the game, but It's kept me entertained through the year and I keep coming back to it, learning new moves and trying other characters. It's a game of chess but much faster, more mind-games and a lot of manual dexterity is needed. Maybe next year I'll learn to FADC.

  • Ahh, Super Meat Boy. Probably the most annoying game of 2010 for me. I couldn't count the number of times it provoked a swear from me nor the sheer amount of times I died; fortunately the game keeps count of the latter: 9,912. Almost ten thousand deaths! The " I wanna be the guy" level represents maybe a third of those and I won't even pretend to have enjoyed it; still, I did technically beat that warp zone and much more of the game. Overcoming a challenge is a pretty nice achievement but it speaks to the game's quality that I could simply bang my head against its levels and come out on top... eventually. <BR></BR>

    I probably would have hated the game and furrowed my brows whenever I heard the name or saw the titular Meat Boy's grin if I hadn't needed to finish some Dark World levels to unlock "The Real End", in doing so I fell back in love with the game; it was so damn fun to work out quick, efficient methods to many of those levels and I cannot think of a more fun platforming game ever. <BR></BR>

    Oh, and the music's badass; the Hell Dark World music especially.

  • I haven't played Mass Effect 2 for a while, though I probably will soon to visit some of the DLC for the first time, but thinking back on it I don't recall being quite so invested in video game characters. The story, dialogue and world (universe?) of Mass Effect are undoubtedly fantastic and the gameplay really improved from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2. The biggest reason for this game's inclusion in my list is that you get to make choices and they have consequences; you get to make some significant changes to the events that unfold and the ending of the game.<BR></BR>

    The dialogue and choices together make this one of my favourite games and I've yet to see them surpassed.

  • I was a big fan of the original Assassin's Creed despite its repetition problems, I couldn't (and still can't) really believe how good the platforming/parkour is. Altair actually grabs existing things to make his way up buildings; there were literally infinite paths available for the player. The combat was too counter-driven but still somewhat engaging. I went back to AC1 recently and was still blown away by it, needless to say the additions and refinements of the gameplay engine and story-telling methods went a long way. <BR></BR>

    So basically what I'm saying is that I've always really liked the Assassin's Creed games and they've gotten better each time. Despite the addition of the multi-player in AC: Brotherhood the single-player has continued to improve. I think this is the best campaign yet conceived by Ubisoft Montreal and I hope they continue to deliver.<BR></BR>

    I really appreciated the multi-player, stealth has always appealed to be in some measure and I found the most fun to be had in the Manhunt mode (4 vs 4) being pretty much helpless for half of a match and mostly unstoppable in the other is an interesting dynamic. Standing in a crowd of the same character model whilst being tracked down by your pursuers is something I haven't experienced in a game before. Knowing that your pursuer is seconds away from knowing which group you are in and not much further from knowing which exact character you are; all the while you are watching them without giving yourself away and being ready to sprint whenever you need to, gauging risk versus reward. Or stalking someone from a rooftop unbeknownst to them, dropping to the ground around a corner and slyly assassinating them when you draw close enough. The multi-player is well thought-out and a fine addition to the package. Though I hope they don't sacrifice the single-player because of the multi-player aspect of future games in the franchise.<BR></BR>

    My major issue with AC:B is that the story is almost shoe-horned in and might as well be an AC:2 epilogue. There is maybe one dramatic difference between the two stories and the rest is entirely avoidable. Ezio spares a guy in 2 who he must then go deal with again in Brotherhood. It does so little to advance Desmond's story and some of the best parts of the game; the delightfully cynical and paranoid glitch levels are terribly hard to find without a guide and offer such a small and incredibly vague payoffs.<BR></BR>

    If they next make Assassin's Creed 3 and it continues Desmond's story more than Brotherhood, making some gameplay and feature improvements, as has become the norm , I could very well see it appearing on my next best of 20XX list.

  • Pac-Man is amazing. I've never been very good at the Pac-Man games and only in Championship Edition did I give it a concerted effort. Pac-Man CE was pretty damn cool, and might as well be a sequel to the original for how well executed it was. CE DX feels like much more of a departure but still has a certain Pac-Man quality that is undeniable, you still control Pac-Man, you still navigate a maze, ghosts are still a threat (though a much lesser one than ever before) and consuming the fruit that appears on the side opposite where you have cleaned the half of the screen of dots morphs said side into a new maze a la Pac-Man CE. <BR></BR>

    This is my favourite Pac-Man title ever I believe. It's easy for one, less punishing and has some of the best leaderboard integration I've seem which is no mean feat. As soon as I started playing (after buying the game as soon as I saw in on XBLA, not something I usually do) I started a level, got the gist ate my first ghost train and couldn't stop smiling, CE DX represents everything I've always wanted from Pac-Man, for him to be more powerful than the ghosts, more agile, more intentional in his route; It's very possible to play Pac-Man CE DX strategically and do sections near perfectly without too much skill. It is simply a superbly fun game that seems to have grasped the idea of a game more than perhaps the original did, or certainly many harder games, I can load it up and be having fun in seconds and for hours without getting particularly stressed; something more games could set out to do.

  • It's a terrible shame that Blur will almost certainly never see a sequel with Bizzare Creations gone but for what it was I thought Blur was an exceptional game. The Mario Kart format applied to real cars (I prefer real cars) and with rubber-banding replaced with a need for driving skill and power-up strategy. There are few combat driving games that reward patience and accuracy so much as driving. Many times I've won a race by holding onto a shield near the end of the race and waiting for an oncoming attack before enabling it. Other races rarely forsee this enough to have back-up strategies. Or letting other races take the top positions at the start and fight amongst themselves, taking 4-5 positions in a tricky corner rife with crashed cars and spent munitions. The driving model I really like, though the focus is heavily on power-ups the feel of the cars is effective and varies according to your car of choice. One thing I didn't appreciate about Blur was the brutally difficult single-player that felt unbalanced and provided more than enough challenge on Normal; a setting I assume is above most peoples abilities (including myself as I recall). <BR></BR>

    In addition to the driving, strategy and online; all of which I gold in high regard the music was great. I'm astounded that it is off by default. I ended up spending hours looking up the music and manually building the playlist; eventually realising the tracks were all from the same label, which I am now a big fan of and own plenty of their releases. <BR></BR>

    So the game offered solid driving gameplay, a hybrid genre, strong online play, great music and a unique experience that I am grateful for and disappointed will not see a sequel. <BR></BR>

  • Read Dead Redemption, one of the strongest games this year without a doubt. Rockstar proving once again that they know a thing or two about open world games and involving stories. First off I'll note that 7th isn't perhaps the highest Read Dead could've achieved on this list and that's for a simple reason; choice. Mass Effect ended up higher for that reason. I was very disappointed in the story when I directly felt counter to John Marston's actions and would very much liked to have done the opposite of what Mr. Marston did. It felt more like a movie than a game; I was just watching the cutscenes play out and then was forced to help despicable people and be played for a fool, being everyone's go-to-guy.<BR></BR>

    The game does offer some gameplay choice, such as tying up an innocent women and placing her on train tracks (which is superb) but the story really doesn't, which ruined a significant part of this game for me. Spending hours doing the bidding of arseholes just to get fucked over isn't much fun. And pressing A thousands of times to ride a horse absolutely sucks, adding to the impossibility of shooting whilst riding a horse. <BR></BR>

    Despite those major issues I had with the game the acting was good, the story was interesting and the game world well-realised. Excusing some open-world glitchy-ness and a poor ending I really enjoyed large parts of the game and will revisit it soon.

  • I really enjoyed Double Agent a few years back and was greatly proud of having finished it on Hard. As punishing as the stealth genre tends to be It was a lot of fun and looked great. Conviction; the oft delayed sequel marks a major departure from the Splinter Cell games of old. It replaces exacting patterns for a more improvised approach. It's way more about speed and efficiency that memorization now and I feel it's a fair enough trade. <BR></BR>

    It's rewarding to stealthily eliminate several enemies and find a vantage point to eliminate any unsuspecting parties who happen upon your devastation. It just kind of works and whilst I probably prefer Double Agent overall It's a quicker and less punishing take on the then somewhat stale formula. <BR></BR>

    Though Assassin's Creed ended up using the crowd dynamics that were planned for this game I feel this game could still use something along those lines as excluding the traversal Assassin's Creed excels at I've probably preferred the stealth in this and Double Agent; I'm very interested to see what the announced sequel brings.

    Side note: The Co-op in this game is phenomenal. A memorable instance of this is when I was playing through the co-op story with a guy online and as it was very early in the morning I wasn't using my headset; a part came when there were two hostile guards patrolling a room, we both hung from that rooms windowsill and without saying a word tagged both of them independently. We then waited a few seconds, supposedly for the others' initiation of the co-op kill and instead acting instinctual at the same time as one enemy began walking away; easily one of my favourite co-op moments in video games.


    At the end of the co-op story you are set against your partner with little foreshadowing; each of you has been betrayed somewhat and must eliminate the other. I ran around the tanker(?) for a short while, stopping when I heard footsteps, I spun around and took one shot as my until-then team mate dropped from a hole in the ceiling taking the shot to the head and dying. The achievement for winning that confrontation was a nice cherry on the cake. Few games surprise and impress me like Conviction managed to.

  • Alan Wake was a long time in the coming, so long in fact that I really didn't care about it, and assumed it was never coming out. After Alone in the Dark came out (by this point I didn't know if this was Alan Wake or not) I quickly lost interest in either, after giving it a go. Though I soon realised they were different games I couldn't see how relatively similar mechanics could be used to such contrastingly successful results and didn't expect too much from Alan Wake. <BR></BR>

    Imagine my surprise when upon seeing footage and eventually playing the game It's revealed the be that Alan Wake is an exceptional game that looks the part, plays well and has an engaging story as well.<BR></BR>

    Despite the antagonistic quantity of collectibles the game impressed at every turn, dynamic events abound, mysteries piling on top of one another and solid gameplay and story cutscenes pulling you along all the while.

    I'll check out the DLC soon for a bit more of a fix and probably enjoy that too, I hope a sequel is in the making and perhaps doesn't take quite so long now they've got the foundations done.

  • The title Monday Night Combat really does nothing for me but the game itself certainly does. After playing Blacklight: Tango Down I was convinced that First & Third Person Online Indie Shooters couldn't provide a level of entertainment consistent with the big blockbuster releases. Perhaps the sheer cost or rigorous testing and experience barriers prevented them from living up to their potential. Along comes Monday Night Combat a game that looks on first inspection like Team Fortress 2 and quickly differentiates itself from that game with it's game modes, level design and gameplay mechanics and nuance. A thoroughly entertaining and fresh game that gives you a significant choice as to how you want to play and let's you upgrade in an order suiting your strengths or needs as any given time.<BR></BR>

    Third-Person Shooter, Team-Based Online Shooter, Action Game and Tower Defence with some RPG elements thrown into the mix as well; the developers really wanted to make something unique and all-encompassing it seems. <BR></BR>

    Since I played it they have updated the game and added content to make it all the better. I'll probably be playing it over Christmas and hopefully I've remembered enough to be competitive.