Join me, Hato-kun on a journey through the games this year!
When I sent off my application to Metanorn, I said to Kyokai that I’d like to do some gaming related posts. And here we are, months later, and I think it’s time for a look back on the year that was 2010. It wasn’t the greatest year for gaming and games in general, but it still provided us with a few awesome little gems. Diamonds in the rough, if you will. To keep things short and sweet, I’ll be describing what I thought the best games of each month were, then maybe I’ll let you choose yours at the end, yeah?
In all honestly, this is a tough one. Perhaps even a draw. At the beginning of the year we were graced with Bayonetta, a new title developed by Platinum Games (Mad World, Vanquish) whose lead female character definitely had, ahem, assets to talk about. With combat similar to DMC (but turned up too 11) it was fast, fresh and a complete blast to play.
But then towards the end of the month, we have Mass Effect 2 from Bioware (Dragon Age, KOTOR) which is easily a contender for a GOTY or two. Building upon the original Mass Effect from 2007 you play once again as Shepard, a badass mo-fo who is from space. Of course, it’s a little deeper than that, but if i get talking, I’ll never stop. The game had brilliantly improved combat, a wonderful story to boot, some amazing visual design and some of the best voice work and characters around. I think we’ll have to call this one a draw.
This one is a no brainer. While Dante’s Inferno bought a new IP to the table, mostly everyone felt it was just EA’s answer to God of War. Bioshock 2 was big and anticipated, but lacked the firsts wow factor. However, the game of the month was easily Heavy Rain. Something so different from everything else (apart from Indigo Prophecy) it was incredibly received by gamers and critics alike. It was a big gamble on both Quantic Dream’s and Sony’s part, but it paid off.
Ouch. March. A big month in terms of blockbuster games. However, the best one in my opinion would have to be an amazing little title called Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The first game was absolutely fantastic by lacked a solid single player. Thankfully the multiplayer was brilliantly designed (being DICE and all…) and held an community for years. With the release of Bad Company 2 came a wonderfully paced single player, and improved multiplayer and the sexy Frostbite 2.0 engine. Even now, 9 months on DICE are supporting the game and show no intentions of letting it slow down.
Once again another draw! In the first two weeks of April Splinter Cell: Conviction was released. Throwing away the old Splinter Cell formula it streamlined the action-stealth genre and made in incredibly accessible and easy to use, which wasn’t a bad thing in this case. Combined with a great single-player and even a massive stand alone co-op campaign (with split-screen!) it still stands as one of the better co-op games this year.
Then on the other hand and in the closing days of April we got a little treasure called Nier. Rated among one of the few ‘Greatest games you never played in 2010’ Nier is a JRPG with a few surprising twists. With three versions created and released (2 in Japan (One for PS3, one for 360) and a western version) the game featured one of the best soundtracks of the year, a colorful cast of characters, an amazing opening sequence and simple and engaging combat system.
May was the month of the critically acclaimed and amazing Red Dead Redemption. But it doesn’t win best game of the month! That award goes to the semi-sleeper hit (pun intended) Alan Wake. While it didn’t feature a massive world to explore, nor amazing voice acting, nor all out action, it provided players with the best physiological horror game in the past few years, some of the most intricate writing and story telling and a crazy cool game mechanic, where you use light to destroy your enemies. It also helps that it has some of the best weather and lighting effects ever seen in a game. And June? Well… Let’s forget about June. It wasn’t very good.
Without a doubt, Starcraft II take the cake. With the official tag line of “It’s about time”, Blizzard knew their fans had been waiting years for a brilliant sequel, and they got nothing less. An amazing campaign that expands upon the lore, a robust (and now standard) multiplayer and brilliant map creator in which you can sculpt almost anything from third-person shooters to RPG’s. The only downside is, to enjoy all of the campaigns, you have to buy the other two expansions, set to release in the next four years! Looks like you fans have to wait again.
Despite me wanting the second Kane and Lynch, it just wasn’t very good. Marginally better than K&L2 was the much improved Mafia II. While some people simply passing it off as a GTA clone, people who delved deeper found it was rather rewarding. Sure, it didn’t have as much side content as the GTA series, but they provided a much more interesting and varied main-plot, focusing a lot of story, character development and trying to retain the authentic feeling of mafia films (which, by the way, they managed to pull of perfectly).
I might get a bit of lip from this one. In the month of September, I’m going to pick Halo: Reach over Civilization V. Now last year, this wouldn’t have happened. But now I just feel like a typical Halo fanboy. But rest easy, because I am not. Reach was touted as Bungie’s ‘Sawn-song’ to Halo, and they really delivered on that front. Reworking their engine from the ground up, the first Halo title to feature mo-cap (and reticle bloom!) and the newly added Armor Abilities, the amount of customization and tweaking that can happen in this game is crazy. Top it all off with a 4-player co-op campaign and 4-player split-screen multiplayer (both online and off) you’ve got a nice game right here. Sorry Civ V. I love you, but Reach takes this one.
The end of the year is always the hardest. In preparation for the holiday season, games are releases left, right and center, hoping for a few sales. Though for me, the stand out game is Rock Band 3. For the past two games developers Harmonix have been leading the way for the music game genre and they did it again in Rock band 3, adding 7-player local co-op, the new Keyboard instrument and an the all new Pro Mode, allowing you to use actual instruments to play the songs. Forget the colored blobs moving towards you, now it’s correct tablature, six strings and a pick. Hang up the plastic guitars, the game has changed.
Straight of the bat, no, November game of the month is not Black Ops. Leading the charge this month is Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Picking up EXACTLY where AC2 left off, you continue the story of Ezio, an Assassin living in Italy during the 16th Century and Desmond, a test subject reliving his ancestors memories in the 22nd Century. Boasting multiple small improvements from AC2, a new Assassin Brotherhood meta game and a robust new competitive multiplayer mode, it doesn’t just feel like AC2.5. However, the end of the 25-30 hour campaign will leave you yelling at Ubisoft Montreal to hurry up with Assassin’s Creed III.
I’m gonna take a guess, and say that the biggest game of December will, without a doubt be World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. 12 million players is a sizable playerbase, and considering Blizzard bring in close to a billion dollars annually, they also have the talent to back it all up. Amazingly crafted worlds, 85 levels, PvP that has ruined many a relationship and dare I say lives and more content that you can fit in one box, you can’t can’t stop the WoW machine. Not yet, at least.
These aren’t all the games that released this year, however. We have to pay special mention to all the great games from this year (in alphabetical order). Costume Quest, Crackdown 2, Dance Central, Darksiders, Dead Rising 2, DeathSpank, Enslaved, Epic Mickey, Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas, Final Fantasy XIII, God of War III, GoldenEye 007, Gran Turismo 5, Just Cause 2, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Limbo, Lost Planet 2, MAG, Medal of Honor, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Metro 2033, Metroid: Other M, ModNation Racers, Monday Night Combat, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, Pokemon Black and White, RUSE, Singularity, Skate 3, Sonic Colors, Split Second: Velocity, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Meat Boy, Super Scribblenauts, Super Street Fighter IV, Transformer: War for Cybertron, Valkyria Chronicles II, Vanquish, Yakuza 3 and Yakuza 4.
Phew. Sad I can remember all of those? In any case, there you have it! All the notable game releases of 2010, and in my opinion some of the best game of 2010. Did my list match your opinions? Are you fuming with rage that I didn’t include Call of Duty? Or Final Fantasy? Or Kingdom Hearts? If so, let me know! Tell me now, what were your favorite games of 2010?