Low and behold, what was supposed to come out on New Year’s Day is finally finished and out almost a full two weeks into 2011. While many lists and deliberations have already passed, the dust has settling on the old to bring in the new, I present to you one more list as a way to reinvigorate more updates again and hopefully get you, the reader, interested in my bullshit once more. Without further meandering, here is the Pixel Response Top Ten Video Games of 2010.
10. Heavy Rain
It is always somewhat of a hard choice to start off with the worst of the best but fortunately Quantic Dream’s submission Heavy Rain fits in perfectly at number 10. A decent story and dreary faux-noir atmosphere leads the player on an adventure that is easy to become engulfed within but just as easily forgotten. Due to a lackadaisical approach on voice-acting most of the character animation and work flip-flop between silly to laugh-out-loud ridiculous in situations that would be better served dramatically. With all it’s problems easy to point-out, however, it is hard to not feel fulfilled by what Heavy Rain ultimately offers as a whole product.
09. God of War III
There isn’t a whole lot I want to say about God Of War III honestly. It looks amazing, plays fantastically… but it is still a God Of War game through-and-through; Kratos is still pissed off, there are still a lot of guys in your way that want to hurt you and puzzles to figure out while dismembering them all. If you enjoyed the other God Of War games and are able to fully enjoy the high-definition prowess that this entry sports then you will have a great time, for the rest of us the lack of ambition makes this title a solid 9.
What some of deemed as a “Russian-BioShock”, Singularity provides solid first-person shooter action with a creative time-control mechanic, intriguing single player campaign and classic “Left 4 Dead” style multi-player. One of the game’s biggest faults is how little replay value I felt it had and just how easy it is to be completely finished the game in 2-3 sittings with no draw to come back. A few tweaks here and there combined with some regular downloadable content to support it would have raised Singularity a few places higher but in a year of great game releases it sits at number 8.
07. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game
It is hard to dispute for any retro gaming fans that River City Ransom is to this day a staple of video game history. Basically stealing the game mechanics from said game and combining it with, let’s be honest here, generally “unlikeable” characters from a somewhat-indie-series-turned-mainstream-movie sounds like it has all the right ingredients to be a disaster and yet Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game is in my top 3 best downloadable games of all time! Very addictive play combined with awesome style and the best game soundtrack of the year (compliments of Anamanaguchi) makes Scott Pilgrim have yet another great medium to tie his name to. The lack of online multi-player unfortunately keeps this as another less-than-perfect game that will inevitably sit until 3 other people decide to come over.
06. Halo: Reach
With great graphics, good set-pieces and an almost flawless multi-player experience, Bungie are at the top of their game with Halo:Reach, their last entry into the Halo universe. The switch to actual characters(as opposed to one-man wrecking crew Master Chief) using the Noble Team and the impending doom of the suicide mission they embark on as the story continues resonated very well with me personally and was altogether an extraordinarily strong farewell note for Bungie. To be completely honest, however, Halo: Reach is yet another Halo game and, even for all it does right, therefore sits just out of reach of the top five at number 6.
Hideki Kamiya takes all his knowledge and experience with his beloved franchise Devil May Cry, throws in some insanity peppers and crucifixes and leaves us with a simply astounding game that is impossible to predict. At first glance, Bayonetta looks simply like a feminine remake of Devil May Cry by a pervert and while most of this may be true, the game is just great. The story and characters are ridiculous, the action is satisfying and the main character has a nack for torturing severely weakened enemies with her hair while posing naked. There are few (if any) games that can boast the same.
04. Super Meat Boy
There are few games that can keep me coming back for more with no change to the basic formula, but Super Meat Boy is sure one of them. The concept is simple, get from point A to point B without dying, however the obstacle courses of circular saws, shards of glass/syringes and even fireballs make each level a sadistic test of endurance, skill and luck. Super Meat Boy is not easy and takes as many opportunities it can to beat you into a quivering shell of what you once were, but it’s near flawless design and tight control leaves no one to blame for your failures but yourself. This is an abusive relationship that only lets go when you can’t handle anymore and quit.
03. Red Dead Redemption
There is something about the wild west that has always carried a fascinating array of emotions; a time when men were men and the faster trigger-finger would rule the land. Red Dead Redemption had a very crucial problem going for it in my head for the months leading up to it: it is an open-world game in the likes of Grand Theft Auto (which I generally have a distaste for). Upon positive reviews, I took a leap of faith, went out and purchased Red Dead Redemption and couldn’t put the controller down for 7 hours (no exaggeration). Playing as lead man John Marston, a retired outlaw turned gun-for-hire, we are thrown into this preindustrial world created by RockStar full of outlaws, horseback riding and vigilante justice that with a beautiful scenery is quick to engulf the player into hours of entertainment. There isn’t a whole lot I can say about this choice, it very simply made the Top 3 due to how much fun I had with it.
02. StarCraft 2
Twelve years ago Blizzard took a leap from their proven Warcraft formula and into StarCraft, a futuristic real-time strategy with a great look and compelling narrative but with StarCraft 2 this year, Blizzard shattered everything you thought you knew about real-time strategy. Continuing the narrative set in the first game, the single player campaign of Wings of Liberty follows the Terran Corporal James Raynor for a majority of the time adding a robust RPG style system to research new and improved ways to destroy the opposition. Incorporating game creation assets has assured that the community participation with strengthen an already colossal multi-player experience from addictive to downright life-ruining. Everything about this game is nothing short of impressive; even for a developer who have rarely let the masses down it sets a new standard of what an entire genre of game should aspire towards. An intense single player campaign and multi-player so good it has it’s own professional gaming league associated with it cements StarCraft 2 in the number 2 slot of the year, only surpassed by one game…
GAME OF THE YEAR
01. Mass Effect 2
There wasn’t any question this year that Mass Effect 2 would end up as my favorite game of the year. Being a die-hard fan of the first game pretty much assured “Game Of The Year” status in my head based on story alone as long as they fixed the somewhat broken combat system and
boy did they ever. What has to be the most prominent change in the sequel was the change from a much more dialog heavy game play experience to a third-person shooter which just felt like the right decision to make due to the vast improvements in this area. Combat situations feel a lot more open and easy to navigate than before and the change to an “ammo” system, although catering to the more generic makes the previous annoyances of waiting for cool-down in an intense firefight nothing more than a memory. The pacing of the story carries a perfect momentum to keep one’s interest without coming on too strong or monotonous and actually motivates the player to do things they might otherwise wish to skip (loyalty/side missions). The character design is as strong as before with more flushed out details of the universe’s different species and all the dialog and writing is topnotch as normal.
What makes Mass Effect 2 such a memorable experience, aside from all the aforementioned, is that it was literally the game I played all year. Bioware has done an outstanding job at creating a living universe and, playing to this strength, supplemented an already robust product with well-done downloadable content released periodically through the year to firm their already ironclad grip on your attention. This is the only game I have bought more than once in it’s debut year and I am seriously considering buying it for a third time on it’s release onto the PlayStation 3. Mass Effect 2 was the year’s epitome of gaming for me and continues to please into 2011… if that doesn’t deserve some first-place recognition I don’t know what does.