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I figured, since I didnít do a WHOLE lot of reviewing this year, despite my awesome title of site reviewer (which seems to get mentioned in every podcast), I would try to push out a big pile of steaming, smelly content here at the end of the year. In lieu of a year of reviews, I give you a year IN review. To start: the Top Ten Games of 2010.
Now, to begin with, I wanted to throw out a few honorable mentions. These are games I played this year that I thought were really awesome or unique in some way, but just arenít as awesome as those in the top ten for whatever reason. I think Iíve talked about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World before somewhere, so I wonít go on about that, but thereís so much more.
Super Street Fighter IV is pretty much one of the pinnacles of the series, with more characters and balance and overall fun than its predecessor. Monday Night Combat was a pleasant surprise combo between Team Fortress and a game show. No More Heroes 2 and Mega Man 10 were awesome sequels that were a lot of fun but really didnít add much new. Then, of course, is the dark horse, Doritoís Crash Course, a free Xbox Live game that is pretty much Ninja Warrior meets Wipeout (the television series, not the Playstation game).
So with those out of the way, letís dive in and wax nostalgic upon the last 365 or so days (I think thatís the title of the next Kingdom Hearts game...).
The Games 5/5
10. Deadliest Warrior: The Game (Spike Games - XLA and PSN)
Wait! Donít leave! I know, I know, just the name alone would lead you to believe my list lacks credibility, Iím sure. This is a fighting game based off the, um, barely watchable show ďDeadliest WarriorĒ on Spike TV. The show normally pits some kind of historical soldier or warrior in battle with another one, using faux experts and ridiculously stupid ďtestsĒ to try to simulate who would win. Itís an idea that sounds awesome in your head, but is really dumb when you see it.
So who thought this would make a good game? Certainly not me. So I got the demo, gave it a shot, and it hit me immediately. Holy crap, I thought, this is Bushido Blade! Now, if youíve never played Bushido Blade, it was a fighting game made by Squaresoft on the PS1. It was pretty awesome in that matches were fast and realistic; it was a game with no health bar to speak of and where instant kills were not just a reality, they were expected!
Deadliest Warrior: The Game belongs on this list because it is a modern successor to one of the best overlooked games of the 32-bit era, except this time you can have a samurai fight a pirate or an apache fight a Spartan. Itís so ridiculous, so bloody, so violent, and so, so fun. For ten dollars, you canít really go wrong. You can even change your characterís colors using a palette editor (I play the pink ninja)! And hey, at least you wonít be watching the show!
9. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 (THQ - All consoles)
God, please donít leave! Weíre gonna get to the games you actually know and love soon, I promise! I try to keep my hidden, secret love of professional wrestling just that, a secret. I do this mostly because I like girls. That said, my love of sports entertainment coincides pretty well with my love of video games. Each of the Smackdown vs Raw titles have been merely okay, with the odd wacky match type and the ability to create your own ridiculous fake fighter from scratch. This has always been the case, so what makes 2011 any different?
Physics. Physics physics physics. It used to be that the moves that each character would perform would be entirely pre-scripted, but now you can change the outcome of said moves. You can climb up a ladder, grab another guy, throw him off the ladder, and watch him fall through two stacked tables that realistically shatter into pieces that donít fade away. You can lean a ladder against another ladder and then grab a ladder and run up the leaned ladder and hit a guy standing on top of the standing ladder.
Itís ridiculous, itís fun, and I freaking love it. Go to Youtube and looks for videos of glitches in this game and tell me it doesnít look awesome. Thatís because it is awesome, silly, despite.
8. Final Fantasy XIII (Square-Enix - Xbox360 and PS3)
I think this game gets a bad rap. Sure, itís a bit linear, but really all Final Fantasy games are. The plot is actually semi-decent, though it takes awhile to ramp up, and of course itís super-duper pretty. I even liked the music and character balance a lot! So why do people hate this game?
Itís a bit tedious, I suppose. Itís not really until you reach Chapter 11 or so that youíre given any sort of side-quest or true freedom over your character, and thatís about ten (AT LEAST) hours into the game. However, I thought the story was enough to get me to that point where the game did, indeed, get really fun. The battle system is exciting and ensures you canít just eat a sandwich and tap X mindlessly while you listen to the latest Stuff Weekly. Obviously, you should turn the game off when you want to listen to Stuff Weekly.
The tedium is present and prevents this game from achieving the greatness of its ancestors, but it was still a more than worthy edition to the series. And hey, at least itís not an MMO!7. Call of Duty: Black Ops/Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Activision/EA - Xbox360 and PS3)
I decided to award the seventh place finish to the two big war-based shooters of 2010. Both sequels that made lots of improvements over their predecessors (yet also took steps back), Black Ops and Bad Company 2 are still both a lot of fun to play. It is, however, hard to say which is better and compare because, really, theyíre so dissimilar. Black Ops is really focused on your specific part in a battle, while BC2 requires a team working in tandem to achieve greatness.
I think, on the whole, I like the Call of Duty series better just because... well, Iím better at it. Still, thereís a lot you can do in Battlefield you canít do in Call of Duty. In Black Ops I can plant a bomb and sneak away without anyone seeing me; itís pretty hard to be stealthy in Battlefield since thereís twice as many players. In Battlefield I can drive a tank into enemy territory and level every building before claiming that spot as my own, but in Call of Duty thereís no terrain destruction nor vehicles.
So really, itís apples to oranges, and so I guess Iím placing these two fruits at number 7. Ďnuff said.
6. Pacman Championship Edition DX (Namco Bandai - XNA and PSN)
Pacman at number 6? Better than Call of Duty? Um, yes?
Pacman Championship Edition DX is the sequel to the DX-less title released in 2007. Essentially, this is Pacman. Youíve played Pacman, youíve loved Pacman, itís great, right? Well, sure, this is Pacman, but Pacmanís been working out. Heís got his collar popped, his muscles bulging, and his spiked hair now has frosted tips. This Pacman is the new hotness and heís going to the Pac-Club to down a few Power Pellets and eat a few ghosts if you catch my meaning.
Itís basically regular Pacman, but with a multitude of different maps, art styles, music, and modes to choose from. Itís even a lot of fun to watch. Itís so bright and colorful that the eight people around you will be enthralled, especially when you grab that pellet and chomp eighty ghosts in a row. Youíll never forget those cheers.
Now someone explain to me what DX means...
5. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo - Wii)
Any other year, this would be number one. I mean, itís Mario, what more do you want? Super Mario Galaxy was incredible and this game is no different. In fact, itís almost more of an expansion pack to the original, and thatís a bit of the reason this game is at the tail end of the top 5.
Still, Mario Galaxy was such a step forward, such an innovator, that itís hard to fault Nintendo for pushing out a sequel that didnít change much. However, what is changed is pretty fantastic. Youíve got a more navigable map screen, new powers and abilities, and hey, YOSHI. Man, what more could you want when you have Yoshi? Nothing.
Nothing is better than Yoshi.
4. Dead Rising 2 (Capcom - Xbox360 and PS3)
It took far, far too long, but the Xbox 360ís first killer ap finally got a sequel. Eschewing war-covering photographer Frank West for doting father and motorcycle enthusiast Chuck Greene, the game still holds on to the zombie killing goodness of the original. Now, instead of a mall, youíre trapped inside a city (that also has a mall), fighting the hordes of undead in order to save your daughter, save the citizens, and maybe, just maybe, find out just what made everything so bad.
The game is a step up from the first in almost every way. The graphics are better, the storyís better, and the game mechanics just seem tighter. Photography is gone, replaced by the infinitely more fun combo system, which allows you to combine items around the city into one ridiculous weapon. Chuck even matches Frank in the one-liner department (ďThanks for the coffee.Ē). Oh yeah, also thereís online co-op. Itís so great it really goes without saying.
Itís easier than the first one (I was really expecting more of a challenge) and the game holds your hand a lot, but itís still a blast. Thanks for the coffee.
3. Deadly Premonition (Ignition Entertainment - Xbox360)
Thereís a chance you may not have heard of this game and may be wondering why Iíve rated it so high. In fact, until the day I bought it, Iíd never heard of it either! The Japanese game ďRed Seeds ProfileĒ was released in America back in March as a $20 budget title and it far surpasses its price tag. It is, bar none, one of the most engrossing and intriguing video game experiences Iíve ever had, let alone this year.
The story of Special Agent Francis York Morgan investigating a series of murders in the town of Greenvale is interspersed with dungeons full of ghosts and zombies. The gameplay is... well, you get what you pay for, and itís really the only reason this game is not number one. The true greatness of Deadly Premonition is in the story.
The wonderfully wacky, creepy, and thrilling tale is peppered with a huge town full of characters that are truly memorable and also actually do things throughout the day. The music is b-movie, but then itís supposed to be. The plot really riffs on Twin Peaks a lot, but you could definitely choose worse source material for a gameís plot! Creepy twins, incompetent cops, and a protagonist who may very well have some sort of psychosis all adds up to one of the best games of the year. Coming out around the same time as similarly story-driven games Heavy Rain and Alan Wake, DP blows them both out of the water.
Buy this game or regret it forever.
2. Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda Softworks - Xbox360 and PS3)
I love the Fallout games. So much to do, so much customization, and so much... THOUGHT put into everything. Iím not much for normal American RPGs, but the Fallout games are a different beast put together. New Vegas is the ďVice CityĒ to Fallout 3ís ďGTA3,Ē and the comparison works in so many ways. Like Vice City, New Vegas takes everything Fallout 3 did wrong and makes it right. Thereís more to do, the animation is tighter, and the whole world just seems much more immersing.
The post-nuclear war world of New Vegas is one of sci-fi mixed with the old west and 1950s style. Prepare to meet towns of aimless settlers, casinos filled with Rat Pack tributes, and a street gang filled entirely with Elvis impersonators. Though the gameís glitchiness is the only thing preventing it from reaching the top spot, thereís still no other engrossing game quite like it. There are so many stories to weave through and so many ways you can do it.
For instance, I like to play a character who is sneaky and cunning, who has a high speech skill and can talk his way out of most situations. Heís a good guy, willing to help the weak and fight the tyrannical. He never steals. That said, I found myself in the throne room of the villainous Caesar, a self-styled new Roman emperor whose men have raped and pillaged across the land, leaving decimation and slavery in their wake. Faced with this vile man, I knew what had to happen. I followed his missions as they benefited myself and the wasteland, secretly subverting his goals toward my own ends.
Then, when faced with a mission that would have me kill an innocent for him, I knew it was time. I darted out of sight and snuck around his throne room, planting C4 at the feet of Caesar and his cadre of guards that surrounded him. They never saw me do it. I even planted a charge on the face of a sleeping General who lay in a tent behind Caesar himself. Finally, with everyone in the room wired, I let loose the dogs of war and sent their bodies flying into the sky. Blown off body parts and blood rained from the heavens and littered the ground. I took a few weapons and Caesarís robes as a souvenir and dashed out of his encampment. Soldiers chased after me, but my hasty retreat was merely to get backup. I grabbed my companion who hated Caesarís Legion and stormed the camp, killing everyone inside. Then I freed one of their captives, a man who had betrayed me earlier in the game for money, and sent him away, forgiving him for his transgressions.
Because thatís just the kind of guy I am, or at least the kind of guy I can be. One who murders a horde of slaving savages, but forgives a man who shot me in the head. This is New Vegas in a nutshell. Be who you want to be and enjoy the ride.
1. Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar Games - Xbox360 and PS3)
Didnít I tell you I like the old west?
When someone describes this game to you, youíre inevitably bound to hear ďitís like Grand Theft Auto in the old west!Ē Well, yes, in a way it is. Thereís a huge open world for you to explore and do whatever you want in. You can spend your time doing whatever you like all in a beautiful, lush landscape that encapsulates the end of the wild west and the beginning of the industrial age. There is certainly a case for the GTA in the old west argument, however I donít know about you, but that sounds awesome!
The story takes place through the eyes of John Marston, a former outlaw who left his life of debauchery to settle down and have a family. He would rather forget his dark past, but like with any good character, it will always catch up to him. The government kidnaps his wife and child, forcing John to do their bidding and hunt down his old gang mates throughout the state of New Austin, Mexico, and the Northern Territory. As John works his way through the west, his tries to do good in spite of his past, even though heís a man driven by one desire - to see his family again.
John Marston is one of the most compelling characters to ever appear in a video game. Heís funny, rugged, and kind of a badass. His story is one that will keep you wrapped up in a game that wouldíve been worth $60 even if it was just a ďride horsiesĒ simulator. This is mostly because, while the story is so intriguing, the gameplay matches it with ease. The horse-riding controls are perfect and the gunplay, while similar to GTA, is far tighter and easier to use. The addition of an inventory and fun items like the lasso allow John far greater freedom than his modern Liberty City slicker counterparts. You can hunt animals, pick flowers, hunt down wanted men, or play any number of mini-games including poker and arm wrestling.
Want me to boil it down for you? There is an achievement for winning a barfight in every bar in the world. Yes, I agree, that is awesome.
Red Dead itself isnít just an achievement in video gaming, however. Itís an achievement in marketing and development. DLC (downloadable content) is available for many games these days, but few took it as far as Rockstar have. Their GTAIV DLC was already pretty impressive, but Red Dead Redemption takes it a step further with ďUndead Nightmare.Ē This expansion takes you out of the wild and into the weird west, as the apocalypse seems to have come to town. The dead are rising from their graves and infecting the living with their necrotic plague and all manner of mythical hell (ranging from the Four Horses of the Apocalypse to the Chupacabra to Sasquatches) seems to have followed them. This is not an extra gun or mode, this is a total conversion for the entire game and it shows just how much work and love was put into Red Dead Redemption.
The tale of John Marston is wrought with tragedy and determination, but I think thatís a big part of what helps make Red Dead Redemption undeniably the best game of 2010. Rockstar seems to only make AAA titles, and with 2011ís highly detailed detective story LA Noire coming to the two major HD consoles, the future looks bright, both for them and for us.
Final Thoughts 5/5
That's it! My take on the top ten video games of 2010. Go and buy them...all of them.
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