Friday, 17 December 2010 12:58

The perfect games of 2010

Okay, no game is perfect, but these were the most enjoyable interactive entertainment releases for 2010.  This was one of the best years for diversity and innovation in the field of video gaming, one that deserves a recap of the titles that filled our days with digitised delights.

This was a good year for video gaming.  On the hardware side Microsoft released a new console.  No, not the Xbox 360 Slim, though that was welcoming to my ears with its much quieter operation, instead the Kinect was indeed a game-changer for the living room.  Its motion sensing voice and facial recognition features work well, so much so that it feels like a new console.  Now if Microsoft can continue the stream of supported games.

Of course Sony also released its Wii HD console.  Errrm,, that would actually be, the PlayStation Move motion control system.  Again, it is a system that works surprisingly well, high fidelity of 3D motion capture, but unfortunately only a smattering of mediocre titles to waggle at so far, as well as consumer confusion on which components to purchase, makes the Move a less compelling device.

On the Nintendo hardware front, no 3DS this year, no Wii HD and no Vitality Sensor, so the big N was relying mostly on its software releases, which across 2010 were generally brilliant.

So while we are talking Nintendo, Super Mario Galaxy 2 hit the Wii and the 3D gravity defying platforming fun was difficult to fault.  

Other Wii standouts that crossed my desk included more retro platforming goodness in Donkey Kong Country Returns, and the surprisingly excellent first person shooter remake of James Bond: GoldenEye 007.

On the handheld Nintendo platform, the DS exclusive titles The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks and Super Scribblenauts were well worth a poke with a stylus.

So those are the Nintendo standouts from 2010, how about the other gaming platforms.  Read on to PAGE 2

Exclusives for the Sony platforms have always been a prickly thorn in the entertainment companies side, but 2010 did see some standouts purely released on the PlayStation 3 platform.

One of the most talked about, and polarising releases of 2010 was Heavy Rain.  Is it a game?  Or is it no more than an interactive movie?  Either way, if you were drawn into this detective drama, even pressing X to 'Jason' was part of the experience

Our friend (because you wouldn't want to be his enemy) Kratos, pretty much killed off the rest of the Greek gods in God of War III.  But for some unique PS3 fun, try the work out that Kung-Fu Live gives you.  Using the PlayStation Eye camera, Kung-Fu Live throws your good self into a old-school 2D brawler, phew! The sweat and sometimes household furniture will fly.

The Xbox 360 had a fantastic year for well rated exclusive games.  My favourites for 2010, Halo Reach distilled a decade worth of development in the Halo universe by Bungie into a near perfect shooter.

The atmosphere, story-line, game-play options and action of Mass Effect 2 was such a step up from the original, that like a good book was difficult to put down without continuing to think about during other daily activities.  

Similarly Alan Wake drove us panicking into the woods, yes, looking for collectable thermoses, but also to unravel a mystery and to battle the darkness.  For the most part Alan Wake's structure is brilliant, using light as progression clues and a combat dynamic that, though armed, has the element of helplessness that raises the adrenalin during any battle.

PC, Cross platform and best game of the year from PAGE 3

Whilst we continue to see the PC marginalised in the world of video-gaming, it undoubtedly rules the roost when it comes to many genres.  With advent this year of the Steam digital download service coming to the Mac platform, the number of gamers tapping out on keyboards and flicking mice around the desk will increase.

Favourite PC specific fun for 2010 included: Some old school point and click adventuring in the form of Runaway: A Twist of Fate and some Monkey Island flavour with Jolly Rover.

But on a more hardcore note, Civilisation V hit our hard drives, as did the definitive interpretation of Games Workshop's board game in Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition.  And then there was StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty  The first in a trilogy devoted to the continued story of the famous real time strategy game from those coding masters at Blizzard.

Excellent, almost perfect games that crossed more than one platform this year included Darksiders (ok late 2009, but still), Battlefield Bad Company 2, whilst it took a looooong time to kick into gear, fans of the Final Fantasy series could not have been disappointed with Final Fantasy XIII.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction divided the critics, but for me the combination of stealth , action and style impressed us: 'The single player game is overall disappointingly short, but high on suspense, style, action and gadgets, which is enough to get Conviction past the 'disenchantment' guards and deep into the darkened corridors of the 'engrossment' embassy.

Style wise, as the game progresses, both Sam's objectives as well as thoughts are projected as words upon the current environment; this is both a cinematic and pragmatic way to get the player nudged in the correct direction. '

More, including Game of The Year on PAGE 4

Red Dead Redemption was a masterpiece from RockStar Games.  A Western themed opus that played more with us than we played with it, as it wove a wonderful action laden and emotional tale of, well, redemption.  Likewise the multiplayer was a breath of fresh gunpowder-laden air.

Throughout 2010 we went racing a lot, Blur and Split Second: Velocity gave s realistic look to some arcade based fun, while Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit rebooted an old favourite, coated it in a new glossy gleam and had us pedals to the floor with a smile on our dials.  

I know I haven't spoken about Gran Turismo 5, but that PS3 exclusive deserves more depth that it can be given here.  But to put it bluntly in a single sentence, GT5 would not have rated a mention in the best of 2010 anyway.

The LEGO games have always been a joy, and playing through the first four years at Hogwarts with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 - 4 lived up to that whimsical expectation.  

The final few games that round out my favourite big ones for the year were 2K Game's Mafia II, Bethesda's Fallout: New Vegas and Treyarch's Call Of Duty: Black Ops.  Whilst the first two evoked well fleshed out worlds of atmosphere and indulgence, the latter was just balls-to-the-wall action and a pace not seen ever before.  Whist both aims are a dichotomy to each other, both were valid ways to spend your interactive entertainment hours.

For my game of the year nod, it was a difficult choice.  I gave perfect ten scores to Super Mario Galaxy 2, Alan Wake and Mass Effect 2 and close enough to perfection scores to Red  Dead Redemption, Halo Reach, Civ V, Super Scribblenauts and God of War III.

But the toss up for enjoyment and fun, for my game of the year came down to Mass Effect 2 versus Red Dead Redemption, and in the shoot out John Marston was just not fast enough to compete with Commander Shepard's biotics.  Mass Effect 2 gets my vote for Game of 2010, and also my anticipation for ME 3 next year.
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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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