2010 may have ended with a bit of a whimper for core gamers thanks to the collective emphasis on motion controlled gaming but it still managed to not only provide some of the best videogames of this generation but some of the finest videogames ever made. For what it’s worth, here’s Brash Games’ Top 5 Games of 2010….
5 – Final Fantasy XIII (360/PS3)
I know this will go down as something of a controversial choice given the games somewhat marmite nature but for those who submitted to Final Fantasy XIII’s slow burn gameplay and largely linear design, this generations finest JRPG awaited.
I know the first 10-15 hours were little more than a slightly interactive, if nonetheless, extremely attractive cutscene, but once the exemplary battle system opens up and the epic tale of Gran Pulse and Cocoon really starts to get going, Final Fantasy XIII proves itself a more than worthy instalment in Square Enix’s long running franchise.
Although the game lacks a memorable or even consistently threatening villain in the mould of a Kefka or Sephiroth, in Lightning, Final Fantasy XIII is home to one of gaming’s finest heroines and the series most memorable protagonist since Cloud Strife back in Final fantasy VII. Devoid of the clichéd design choices that mar the vast majority of female videogame characters, Lightning is a strong, beautiful and truly unforgettable lead that should provide the template for future female videogame character design.
It may not be the best game in the series and it certainly won’t be for everyone but Final Fantasy XIII’s fantastic battle system and simply incredible art design will stay with those that fall for its unique charms long after the credits roll.
4 – Halo: Reach (360)
It may not have done anything particularly new but Halo: Reach still delivered a near faultless gaming experience that successfully represented the very best that the much loved Halo series has to offer. Haters will always have negative things to say about a game as popular as Halo but the fact is, as a single player FPS experience it’s just about in a league of its own. Why? Well, beyond the great art design, sky high production values and impeccable gameplay mechanics, it’s still the terrifying adept AI that manages to successfully set it apart from its peers – play Call of Duty after a spell with Reach and believe me, the pop bad guys and shooting range mentality just won’t cut it.
Other games, along with the aforementioned Call of Duty, may have caught up in the multiplayer stakes but as a complete package Halo is still the game to beat. Reach was never going to have the same kind of effect that Combat Evolved or even Halo 3 had for that matter but as a culmination of nearly 10 years work on the series and as a love letter to fans of the Halo universe, Reach succeeds on just about every level.
3- Mass Effect 2 (360)
The story of Commander Shepard may vary depending on your choices but one thing that remains universal is the quality of the overriding experience. Mass Effect may have successfully laid the foundations but it was the games far superior sequel that truly brought Bioware’s unforgettable universe to life.
By ironing out the faults of the first game and building on its already rock solid foundations, Mass Effect 2 proved one of 2010’s most unforgettable gaming experiences. Mass Effect 2 delivered an extremely flexible combat system, a memorable cast of characters and arguably 2010’s finest videogame narrative. Helped no end by BioWare’s game changing conversation wheel and movie standard voice work, Mass Effect 2 is a gripping, hugely addictive experience regardless of the way you chose to play it.
2 – Red Dead Redemption (360/PS3)
I’ve always appreciated the Grand Theft Auto series more than I’ve actually enjoyed it – each game in the series has proved technically outstanding, they all deliver huge amounts of content and are still the high watermark in regards to delivering fully functional, wholly believable 3D worlds. The thing is, I’ve always found the realism of each games setting quite jarring against the flat out outrageous, borderline comedic levels of killing, maiming and generally blowing sh*t up. Sure the cops rock up if you really get out of hand, but get some decent distance between yourself and the chasing pack and all is forgotten.
Thanks to the Wild West setting and the more devastating effect of basic weaponry, the story and subsequent actions of the player in Red Dead Redemption felt more natural and in sync with the game world created than it had in any of the Grand Theft Auto games. Simply put, Rock Star had found the perfect setting for their exceptional brand of sandbox gaming and boy did they run with it.
Red Dead Redemption’s world, while inevitably a quieter place than the bustling modern day Liberty City, is a work of creative genius. Visually, it’s as stunning as anything you’ll see this year, the story is compelling, its characters both memorable and unique…..and that ending, my God that ending. Considering how much time people often spend with a game, it’s amazing just how little effort goes into the finale of even some of the best games. Red Dead Redemption’s in poignant, thought provoking and completely befitting of the experience that comes before it. Simply put, it’s a masterpiece.
1 – Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
It was always going to take something very special to keep Rock Star’s Red Dead Redemption from claiming 2010’s top honour and that’s exactly what Super Mario Galaxy 2 is – something very special indeed. As good as the other games on this list are, nothing comes close to the pure gaming joy of Nintendo’s implausibly good Super Mario Galaxy 2. I would honestly go as far to say that I could play this game forever. With all 240 stars in the bank, I can’t help but go back to this tour de force in videogame design time and time again.
Back when the original was released in 2007, I honestly thought Nintendo had painted themselves into a corner. I mean, how could they possibly top something quite so brilliant? The fact that they did so and just 3 years after the original is still something of a mystery to me. As great as the first game was, Mario Galaxy 2 trumps it in just about every conceivable way – the level design in improved, the soundtrack is somehow even better and the visuals just that little bit sharper. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is quite possibly the first ever perfect videogame,
I often ask myself the same question now as I did back in 2007 – how are Nintendo going to top this? Only Nintendo have the answer to that question – and that’s why they’re Nintendo.
Vanquish (360/PS3) - Gears of War on crack – the perfect fusion of western game design and eastern aesthetics.
Limbo (360) – Unique, disturbing, moving; Limbo are all of these and much more. Another stellar example of what can be achieved on XBLA.
Bayonetta (360/PS3) – Manages to leave both Dante and Kratos looking decidedly average.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (PC) – The perfect mix of old and new.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP) – An unbelievable technical achievement – Metal Gear Solid 5 in all but name.