[Games] Games of 2010

TGIGreeny.com Game of the Year 2010 - Mass Effect 2

TGIGreeny.com Game of the Year 2010 - Mass Effect 2

Update: Since this article was written I have played, and reviewed, Battlefield – Bad Company 2, a title released in 2010. Had it have been reviewed in time, it would doubtless have featured on this list – probably at number 2 or 3.

So another year has dawned, which seems to be an appropriate point to look back briefly on the events of 2010 in the gaming world. And what better way to restrospectively browse the shelves of one’s gaming library that with a good, old fashioned list? A top 100 perhaps, or a simple countdown of three? Let’s split the difference (ish) and go with a top five, in time-honoured reverse order.

5) Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Yes, only fifth. It may be more polished than the lovechild of the Koh-i-Noor diamond and Patrick Stewart’s head, but ultimately it’s just more Mario isn’t it? How long must we be forced to sit through this unrelenting brilliance before Miyamoto cracks and tosses up a stinker? If you enjoy proper games, if you were there when Super Mario Bros 3 blew everything away on the NES, if you’ve ever lost an afternoon playing Donkey Kong on MAME, then you owe it to yourself to get a copy of SMG2. It’s simply how things should be done.

4) FIFA 11 (360)

I tried to stop. I really did. After all my beloved Wolves are performing woefully in the Premier League, England’s showing at the World Cup was a disgrace, and frankly I’ve got better things to do with my time than spend every weekend watching Jeff Stelling shouting at me from my TV. But I can’t. It finds a way to claw itself back into my life. I’ll never be free from football. Or from FIFA. Whatever you might think about EA’s controversial “online pass” scheme and the relentless annual update merry-go-round designed to extract more and more money for us poor saps each year, it’s just to darned good to resist. And this year’s iteration is quite simply the best football game ever made. Period.

3) F1 2010 (360)

Formula One is not a sport that rewards casual interest. Its rules are complex and its many pleasures somewhat hidden beneath a surface of geeky stats and corporate sponsorship. It insists on a certain level of dedication from its fans, and eventually pays them back with a rollercoaster of emotions and unpredictability matched by few other sports. The same is true for F1 2010, Codemasters’ first take on the world’s premier autosport on the next-gen consoles. Picking up where last year’s brilliant Wii title left off, the strength of F1 2010 is in its on-track performance. While the graphics and gloss of the presentation are all first rate, it’s how the cars themselves twitch and dive among one another on the tarmac that is the measure of any racing game. And measure up this does, if you’re prepared to sweat it out. The tremendous difficulty spike between the easier settings and those just slightly more advanced means there are only two ways to play F1 2010; an unrealistic and relatively uninteresting plod to victory around all the world’s circuits, or transfixed with white-knuckle, sweat-beading terror as you fight and claw your shoddy back-marker around tracks you’ve spent hours memorising in the desperate hope of hanging on to the midfield and not losing everything you’ve worked for in a gravel trap. The latter experience is, trust me on this, by far the most rewarding time you’ll have spent in a virtual cockpit for years.

2) Red Dead Redemption (360)

Rockstar may not be pumping out Grand Theft Autos at the prodigious rate they did back in the PS2 era, but when they deliver GTA-in-an-outfit products as polished and entertaining as Red Dead Redemption, frankly, who cares? Red Dead Redemption is the cowboy game everyone who ever fired a cap-gun and rode around on a broomstick horse as a child has always dreamed of. Sublime open-world gameplay married to stunning environments, near-perfect voice acting and a script with as much verve and wit as any recent GTA tale. While the DNA that holds RDR together is obviously based on its older stablemate, some elements of the experience are refreshingly different from the time we spent in Liberty City. The finality of death is familiar videogame terriroty, but a novelty for the world of Rockstar. It adds to the cost of failure, and therefore the tense mood of some missions, but it also forces the game to introduce a more sensible checkpointing and mission replay system that’s closer to the genius of The Ballad of Gay Tony than the annoyance of GTAIV. The pacing is also very different to Rockstar’s previous work. RDR is very much a game about patience and anticipation. Despite the size of the world and the number of things to do, there’s always far less actually happening than in a GTA title, forcing the player to travel more and to derive pleasure from tourism, rather than constant destruction. In some ways, RDR is the more mature game. There Will Be Blood to GTA’s Departed if you will. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

1) Mass Effect 2 (360)

I’ve killed countless thousand people. I’ve blown up space stations, nuked new and exciting alien life forms by the dozen and decided on the fate of entire species with impunity. So why did I literally shed a tear when that stupid, yoda-voiced, slightly fascist skinny alien git Mordin croaked it during the final mission of my first playthrough of Mass Effect 2? Why? Because, simply put, this game and its excellent if slightly flawed predecessor, are among the best storytelling I’ve come across all year in any form, let along videogames. My girlfriend doesn’t get Mass Effect 2. “But all you do is watch people talk” she says. She’s not wrong. There is a lot of talking. But what she doesn’t get is that I am Shepherd. His responses are my responses. I shape those conversations. I am part of them, just as if I’d spoken the words myself. Just like a good novel lets you sink into the persona of the lead character, ME2 lets the user know that the world they create exists just for them. Its the antithesis of the modern trend toward massive, open, online, socially interactive gaming. This is just a great story, shaped by the player, starring the player. And no-one else. I’ll never show off ME2 to my mates when they pop over. I won’t post YouTube videos of my battles. It’s my story. And if you haven’t already had your own experience within one of the most remarkable sci-fi worlds ever created in videogame form, I suggest you make it your story too.

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  1. [T-Shirts] Mass Effect « TGIGreeny.com - April 13, 2011

    […] you’ll be able to tell from my personal selection of last year’s best games – I rather enjoy BioWare’s Mass Effect. The second game in the trilogy was a tour de […]

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