The will likely be spoilers, but should I talk about something super new I'll warn ya. But consider this a pre-emptive warning! You're WARNED!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Top 10 of 2010

We're down to the final hours of 2010, so what better time to talk about the games I enjoyed best this year? No better time. THERE'S NO BETTER TIME I SAY. Please note, this list may be a little...strange. It's certainly nothing so lofty as a "best games of 2010"- I didn't play nearly enough to qualify as someone who could create such a list. I mean, Halo: Reach what? Call of Who-dy? I am always late to the party on games, waiting for price markdowns and the such before taking the purchase plunge. While there are exceptions to that rule (anything Silent Hill, Resident Evil, or BioWare is a Day 1 puchase. DAY ONE.), I generally find myself singing the praises of games everyone forgot about months ago. Oh well.

I'm further unqualified to make a "best of" list because I essentially only play on one platform: Xbox 360. I play Wii games with the friends who have them, and I hope to get my mitts on some PS3-exclusive titles one of these years (eg Heavy Rain), but for now I'm all about the 360. Many of these games however, are available on other systems.

In the interest of all of that, I'm just making a Games I Liked Best This Year list. These are the titles I played the most...hell, a couple of 'em weren't even released in 2010. What can I say? Cutting edge I am not. So, in no particular order, Games I Liked Best This Year!

The Saboteur

I don't understand why it seems that no one plays or talks about The Saboteur, the terrific swan song of beloved developer Pandemic Studios. In this open-world third-person action-adventure game, you're Sean Devlin, an Irish expat who joins the rebellion in German-occupied France during WWII. Gameplay is very similar in style to the Grand Theft Auto series- you drive, you run, you shoot, you punch, you...sabotage (go figure)...and it's all a hell of a lot of fun. As you liberate areas around Paris and inspire the local populace, color literally returns to the world...and who doesn't love beating up Nazis? They're the ultimate bad guys.

Alan Wake

Me, like a horror game? How odd, I know. Alan Wake suffers a bit from its repetitive gameplay and structure, but it's hella creepy and I loved seeing the story of Alan, a Stephen King-like horror writer, unfold as he searches for his missing wife in a nightmarish town.

Fable III

I like the games in the Fable series more than I ought to, I think; in the end, they never quite feel like a complete experience. They're sort of wannabe-RPGs, after all. For example, sure, your character can get married and raise a family, but the experience is lacking as you never actually talk to your spouse...not to mention that all you have to do to get someone to fall in love with you is whistle in his or her face, flex your muscles, and fart a few times. This latest entry has a simplified gameplay style to the point of...well, a complete idiot could probably get through Fable III without dying even once. And yet...I kind of love these games. They're pretty, they're charming, they're compelling, and I find myself laughing frequently in spite of myself. So sue me!

Mass Effect 2

Oooh, baby. When Mass Effect 2 came out, I had a stock up on food and clear the schedule kind of weekend, as I'd been (more than) eagerly anticipating it since before I finished the first game in the series. I also knew that once I started it, I wouldn't want to do much else until I finished it. I was right. ME2 is the second game in a planned trilogy, and it very much feels like it- while the plot is compelling, you're obviously setting up for a big blow-out of a finale in Mass Effect 3...all those decisions your Commander Shepard made in the first two games will come to a head, the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance. Over the year, developer BioWare has cranked out lots and lots of downloadable content for ME 2, including the stellar "Lair of the Shadow Broker" goes without saying that over the course of 2010 I ended up frequently clearing my schedule for this game.

Red Dead Redemption

With the exception of Grand Theft Auto IV and Manhunt, I've adored everything that Rockstar Games has put out, but Red Dead Redemption- this game, my friends, is a masterpiece. This open-world spaghetti western is funny, gripping, tragic, beautiful...I seriously can't sing its praises high enough, even if it did depress the hell out of me at times. Red Dead Redemption is Rockstar grown up- hell, it's video games grown up- but their trademark humor, though blacker than ever, is still to be found. Not to be missed- nor is the downloadable expansion Undead Nightmare, which pits John Marston against zombie hordes in the wild west...and yes, it's a must-get even if you're completely zombied-out.

Bioshock 2

I don't think anyone who loved Bioshock thought it needed a sequel, but the success of that game practically guaranteed one. Sure, this return trip to the failed underwater utopia Rapture doesn't quite employ the same sense of wonder that its predecessor does (after all, we've been here before), but in many ways Bioshock 2 is a superior experience. Gameplay in the first-person shooter has been tweaked and improved (dual-wielding weapons and plasmids is a dream), and ultimately I found the story of a Big Daddy seeking to reunite with his Little Sister to be more rewarding than the tale from the first game. I totally loved it, and I didn't expect to.


Hey, I reviewed-n-talked about Limbo here. Yup, one of my favorites of the year.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

When this new adventure featuring my favorite Tomb Raider herself appeared on Xbox Live Arcade, I was both intrigued- I do so loves me some Lara Croft- and trepidatious. After all, plenty of Tomb Raider titles totally suck- I've been burned before! But then, Guardian of Light eschews the Tomb Raider moniker. But then THEN, it also eschews the traditional third-person POV for an isometric view. I was so confused! Ms. Croft proved too tempting, however, so I took the plunge...and man, am I glad I did. This action/combat/platformer/puzzle game is just plain fun. More fun than I'd anticipated, sure, and more fun than I've had with Lara Croft in years. Well, except for that body pillow...wait, okay, that joke is too gross even for me. Pretend you didn't read that. If you can!

Deadly Premonition

I'm still slogging my way through this bizarre Twin Peaks as interpreted by Japanese developers game, and it could be years before I finish. Yes, I said "slogging"- gameplay on this fucker is a chore. Cars handle like your worst nightmare, and everything beyond that is even more of a nightmare. The dialogue is awful, the voice-acting just a titch above awful...the graphics are early-Dreamcast era and severely out of date. Textures are...well, crashing into, say, a bush is akin to crashing into a concrete block. The world map, when not completely useless, is confusing. The music is always irritating and inappropriate. All in all, playing Deadly Premonition is a mind-numbingly terrible experience. it is on my year-end list. What the huh? That's right. Despite all of its numerous NUMEROUS problems, there's a charm and quirkiness to this game that makes you want to play. You deal with all the crap just to see what ridiculous things the main character, FBI agent Francis "York" Morgan will say. The game just doesn't make sense- vending machine lollipops cost about $125??- but you keep hanging on in the hopes that it might. The main story (murder and evil rain and all that) is intriguing- sometimes even creepy- and somehow that's enough to keep me slogging away at it.

Dragon Age: Origins

YES I'M STILL REGULARLY PLAYING DRAGON AGE. I don't care how long it's been since it came out! I don't care how many times I've played it! I can't help myself and this is my list, so there. Why, if a sequel wasn't due next year (hurry up, March), this title would probably be on my Games I Liked Best 2011 list come next December. Aw, who am I kidding? It still will be- there are two endings I haven't seen yet!

So there you go, the ten games that took up the bulk of my playing time in 2010. What tickled your fancy in 2010?


CashBailey said...

DEADLY PREMONITION is like the TROLL 2 of video games. It's busted in just about every concievable way but there's an odd charm to just how off-the-rails it is.

The great video game site, Giant Bomb, did one of their 'Endurance Run' features with DEADLY PREMONITION where they played through the entire game, gave commentary on it and posted the videos up in installemnts.

It's very funny stuff.

Stacie Ponder said...

Oh my lord, it would truly be an "endurance run". I can only play in small increments, which bums me out because I'm a sucker for this type of game. If it wasn't such a chore to play, I would've been finished with it months ago...

CashBailey said...

Yeah, RED DEAD REDEMPTION would have to be my favourite game of the year.

And the UNDEAD NIGHTMARE expansioon is so bad-ass. How can you not love a game where you can capture a unicorn that shoots rainbows out of its ass as you ride it?

sean p belcher said...

I hear you. DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS has been on my PS3 since I bought it used at Blockbuster in November. Virulent Bomb and Animate Dead for the win (I love it when the resurrected skeleton minions just hang out during conversations)! I'm a teensy bit nervous about the changes they made to DA II, but wild horses couldn't keep me away from it.

Jaakko said...

I just finished Deadly Premonition, a shitty game with a great ending. It's the best game I wouldn't recommend to anyone. Three times I almost gave up the whole thing, but I'm a sucker for horror games, and at least DP is pretty easy to play through.

It occurs to me that if Alan Wake had the ending of Deadly Premonition, it just might be the greatest game ever...

Stacie Ponder said...

Well that's good to know. One of these years, I'll get to the end! :D I can only play a little at a time because I get too bored/frustrated.