2011 is looking to be a pretty good year for gamers. There’s DC Universe Online, Dead Space 2 and Little Big Planet 2 coming, and that’s just in January. Before we move forward with 2011’s bounty of games I thought I might look back at 2010 and share with you my top 10 games of the year.
#10 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a graphic novel series turned movie that’s filled with old school video game nostalgia. This opened the door for Ubisoft to do something unique with the game tie in by actually making it play like one of those old school classics. They pull it off, and a session of S.P. vs. World is like reliving the glory days when beat em ups like Final Fight and Double Dragon ruled. As a bonus they tapped (personal favorites of mine) chiptune heroes Anamanaguchi to do the epic 8-bit score.
Okay, so maybe this doesn’t belong on this list since I’m still trying to figure out the story. The flow chart in the spare room is getting .. complicated. But then again, the fact that Square Enix’s latest entry in their flagship RPG series managed to siphon away dozens of hours of my life says that I must have enjoyed the game on some base level despite the nonsensical plot. The combat system was different, but good once I got used to it. Very linear at first, although it does open up later. Skill leveling was satisfying and there was item crafting as well, although that got a little too deep for me. While I didn’t overturn every last stone, I still feel I got my money’s worth.
Released right at the beginning of 2010, people were polarized by this game and ended up in one of two camps. People that loved the God of War meets Legend of Zelda gameplay, and people that thought it was a rip off of those games. While I stand firmly in the first camp, I think we can all agree that Darksiders plays just like a game called ‘God of Zelda’ would. If you can get around the liberally borrowed gameplay elements, Vigil Games really does deliver a fantastic experience with their first release.
It was a year of amazing racing games. Hot Pursuit, Blur, Gran Turismo 5. But in my mind, Split/Second gets pole position. Blur‘s power ups made it too much like a kart racer. Gran Turismo 5 is too hardcore a racer for me. While Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit puts in a strong showing, Split/Second pulls ahead off the rest based mostly on the ‘power plays’ that racers use to take out their competitors and even alter the track. Some of the events include cranes exploding and planes crash landing on the track. The insane amount of potential destruction at every turn ratchets up the adrenaline and takes mulitplayer to another level.
Here’s another game that maybe doesn’t really deserve it’s spot on this list since I’m not sure that what I’ve done counts as playing it. I’m going to be honest here: I still have not touched the single player campaign. All I do is play online multiplayer and get shot in the back or the face. Usually the back. I’ll do this repeatedly, sometimes for hours on end. The sick part of it all is that I still think it’s fun. If you ever see me on Crisis or Cracked, be ready, cause that’s just free headshots for you all day long.
The second down-loadable game to appear on my top ten is one of the most original Xbox Live Arcade games available. As the protaganist, you’ll travel a eerily quiet monochromatic world in search of your sister. There is no combat, but there are still plenty of ways to come to a gruesome end. Playdead has built a fantastic puzzle platformer with a great aesthetic. Limbo is well worth the price of admission albeit a little on the short side.
Although it starts off slow, I was eventually won over by Castlevania. Similar to Darksiders, it was a great hack and slash game with strong puzzle elements. Read my full review if you want to know more, but I will tell you that despite all this vampire love the past few years, Konami still knows that real vampires don’t sparkle. They burn.
I was concerned when I heard that Bioware was changing the combat for the second installment in their epic space trilogy. All for naught. The continuing story of Commander Shepherd and the crew of the Normandy was not sullied in any way by the overhaul. Released on 360 in the first half of 2010, Mass Effect 2 is scheduled to hit PS3 in early 2011. The original is a 360 exclusive, but the sequel stands well on its own so don’t let that deter you.
#2 Heavy Rain
Whenever the discussion of video games as an art form is breached, Heavy Rain is the game that first comes to mind. I’ve played games for close to 30 years now, and while most have been entertaining, and some have tried to pluck at heart strings (R.I.P. Aeris), Heavy Rain is the first game I’ve played that evoked real emotion. The ‘how far would you go to protect a loved one’ theme is timeless, and if you are a father, I challenge you to play this game and not be moved. There are some issues holding it back from Greatest Of All Time status to be sure, but Heavy Rain is still a great game, and I feel an important one.
There’s no such thing as a perfect game, but I could go on for a good long while on how much I love this one. I’m a sucker for an open world, and Rockstar is still the king of them. The voice acting is spot on, and the script holds a cast of characters as colorful as the countryside. The protaganist, John Marston, is instantly likable and the overarching storyline is well executed. Like any good sandbox game there’s plenty to keep you busy outside off the normal story missions, and it’s all wrapped in a gorgeous vision of the great American West. Without a doubt my favorite game of the year.
So there’s my top ten. There were a lot of other notable entries to be sure (Super Mario Galaxy 2, Fallout New Vegas, etc.), and there’s plenty that I haven’t even had a chance to play yet (I’m looking at you, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood), so please don’t feel like I’m dissing your favorite game by not including it here okay? Also, do the kids still say dissing?
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