Rather than do a ‘Best Games of’ feature for 2010, we thought it’d be more efficient to instead tell you which games we enjoyed the most. Let’s be blunt, here — we haven’t played every single game released this year, but we did play a good lot of ’em. Out of what we did, these are the game’s that we enjoyed the most.
Sal Romano’s Top 5
3D Dot Game Heroes – PS3
3D Dot Game Heroes not only successfully employs a nostalgic atmosphere, but it enacts it in a beautifully updated approach. Its story is a cliched ‘save the princess, then the kingdom’-type affair, but it’s all in good spirit. Players are armed with a shield and sword that, at full health, stretches ‘long and thick’ across the map, easily taking care of any enemy on screen. The map is big and its element-themed dungeons are fun and challenging. Custom character creation, finding and upgrading new swords, killing zombies for loot, and smacking monsters with a giant book are only a few of 3D Dot Game Heroes‘ sweet spots.
Bayonetta – PS3, 360
Action games don’t get any sexier — or harder. Bayonetta is difficult. Maybe I just suck at playing it, but I couldn’t go a single chapter without dying at least three times. Regardless of difficulty, its mindless combos, free-flowing gameplay, witch-time slow-motion, weapon upgrades, and giant bosses make Bayonetta the Devil May Cry-killer we’ve all been waiting for. And it’s well proper, as it’s directed by the same guy. Let’s just see if she can do it again — am I hearing Bayonetta 2, Kamiya-san?
Costume Quest – PSN, XBLA
New role-playing games so rarely hit a console’s downloadable platform, which is why Costume Quest is worth a look even if you don’t know anything of it. But what’s inside is a lovable cel-shaded Halloween treat that’s sure to store itself somewhere inside your heart. Players control a party of three children and trick-or-treat in areas like the neighborhood, the mall, or the Halloween fair in hopes of finding the protagonist’s kidnapped sibling. At the same time, they’ll fight monster baddies in turn-based combat, who’ve come to Earth with a plan to steal everyone’s candy. Of course, players can buy ‘Battle Stamps’ to upgrade their stats and abilities. What more could you want?
God of War III – PS3
Kratos is the meanest character in gaming. He has a goal, and doesn’t give a damn about who he harms or how he harms them to do it. His sole priority is to kill his father, Zeus — for good reason, of course. If you thought God of War or God of War II were any bits of impressive, then God of War III is a friggin’ spectacle. Offering a new variety of weapons and magic, beautiful out-of-this world visuals, new puzzles, and updated action gameplay, God of War III is pretty much a ‘must-have’.
Mass Effect 2 – 360, PC, PS3 (1/18/11)
An early release, Mass Effect 2 is the sequel to a 2007 success. It one-ups everything accomplished by the first game, vastly improving upon combat, story, and gameplay. No longer are you in a Mako Rover for 3/4 of a planet! The game gives players a choice for every bit of conversation had and their decisions ultimately affect the outcome of the game. You can go to one planet now, recruit a new crew member, then gain their loyalty, or go to a different planet and do that segment later. Developing a bond between Commander Shepard and his crew mates is one of the game’s major selling points, I believe. Not one of 2010’s best RPGs, but one of 2010’s best third-person shooters? I think so.
What I’ve listed aren’t the only amazing games of 2010. Plenty of great games released that deserve as much praise as those I’ve provided. But it’s a big release schedule and I’m just one guy, so I unfortunately can’t play them all. I’m currently waiting on Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood to hit my mailbox, which I’ve ordered off Amazon for a fair deal. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, so I think it deserves mentioning. That, and games like Red Dead Redemption, Mafia II, Enslaved, Limbo, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Star Ocean: The Last Hope International — if you didn’t catch it on Xbox 360 in 2009. Let’s look forward to an even greater 2011!
Adam Meadows’ Top 5
Final Fantasy XIII – PS3, 360
In spite of some considerable technical deficiencies on the Xbox 360 – notably a lower resolution, and, in larger areas, frame rate inconsistencies – Final Fantasy XIII is, if nothing else, an interesting experience. And whilst its linear design, relatively automated battle system and restrictive structure will undoubtedly push many away, Square’s latest single-player iteration into the ever-changing world of Final Fantasy was undoubtedly worth my time – even if it was just to engage with something so disconnected from the status quo.
Halo: Reach – 360
A honing of and homage to Bungie’s past-iterations of the blockbuster first-person shooter, Halo: Reach – to use a cliche – is the definitive Halo title. Without abandoning the series’ fundamentals, Reach incorporates, integrates and refines the best elements of its forbearers. Forge, replays and firefight, amongst a sea of content and features, made this a worthy and worthwhile competitor for my multiplayer gaming in the latter half of last year, and will do for the foreseeable future.
Mega Man 10 – PSN, XBLA, WiiWare
A steadfast dedication to a formula more than two decades old, to some, might leave Capcom’s latest foray looking a little long in the tooth. For others, however – myself included – Mega Man 10 was an intense, sadistically addictive platformer that shouldn’t be ignored. Topped with ’retro’ production values fitting of the period, it’s difficult not to be charmed by this downloadable title. And if you’ve yet to be introduced to the era of 8-bit gaming, Mega Man 10 is an excellent starting point.
Splinter Cell: Conviction – 360, PC
Sam Fisher’s latest foray, though divergent of an established formula, is undoubtedly a compelling one. Fisher’s evolution – he’s forgone the shackles of authority, adopting the role of a quicker, quieter predator – invites players to a fleeting sense of pseudo-omnipotence – he knows his environment, his foe and the precise way in which to take them down. To be a rock on the road to Sam’s success is, particularly in Conviction, to invite an interview with death itself.
Street Fighter IV – PS3, 360
An improvement on an already fantastic fighting game, Super Street Fighter IV isn’t a title to be overlooked. Its relative simplicity, wacky personality and distinctive appearance guaranteed that Street Fighter is my go to fighting game when entertaining friends. If you’re willing to venture beyond this point, moreover, Super Street Fighter reveals a ‘let’s see how they do it on YouTube’ level of depth and competitive play – it’s definitely a contender for your time and money. It certainly was for mine.
Not to forget our ‘A Game Forgotten’ series, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Bayonetta, Mass Effect 2 and Alan Wake, would be, if I hadn’t already dedicated an article to each, equally legitimate contenders for the body of this article. Indeed, 2010 wasn’t only a testament to the continuing longevity of this generation, but to the commercial viability of a year-round release schedule – publishers obviously weren’t afraid to ship products at the ’wrong’ side of the holiday season. It’s been a good year for games.