Video Game Feature: The 10 Best Games of 2010

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6. “God of War III& “God of War: Ghost of Sparta”
Release Date: March 16th, November 2nd
Platform(s): PS3, PSP

God of War III
God of War III
Photo credit: Sony

Kratos came back in 2010 in a big way, solidifying his status as one of the most interesting video game characters on the market today with an amazing action game on both Sony platforms. Just the opening sequence alone of “God of War III” merits runner-up status as Sony wasted no time showing players that it was worth the long wait for the franchise to come to the next-gen platform. With some of the most impressive set-pieces of the year, brilliant puzzles, and stunning graphics, “God of War III” never fails to entertain and can sit comfortably next to the first two landmark games. “Ghost of Sparta” may be less ambitious but no less remarkable. In fact, it’s one of those titles that reminds people that the PSP still has untapped potential as a gaming device. It’s a shame Sony never found a way to get their handheld into more homes. We might have had more games as straight-up entertaining as “Ghost of Sparta.”

5. “Call of Duty: Black Ops”
Release Date: November 9th
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS

Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Photo credit: Activision

One of the best games of its kind ever released featured the strongest campaign yet-produced for a “COD” game and one of the most insanely-deep multi-player experiences ever. This is the “Avatar” of video games, the unstoppable mega-hit that has found its way into regular rotation for nearly everyone with an Xbox or PS3. It’s even crossed over to players who don’t usually play shooters, the sign of a true cross-demographic masterpiece. It’s gotten to the point where it feels like you’re not really a gamer if you don’t play “COD.” The game sets a new bar in terms of multiplayer depth with a variety of game types, weapons, and other variable elements that turn the game into a truly customizable experience. It’s an addictive world that makes it hard to leave…

4. “Battlefield Bad Company 2”
Release Date: March 2nd
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PS3

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Photo credit: EA

…unless you want to go back to “Battlefield.” In nearly any other year, “Black Ops” would be the obvious choice for shooter of the year, but DICE and EA brought a new competitor to the field this year with the slightly-better “B:BC2.” It may not be as ambitious as “Black Ops,” but the squad design, along with some of the best maps ever produced, gives EA the edge. Creating an honest emphasis on squad play that doesn’t feel forced, the design of “Battlefield” is nearly flawless. The maps play to various types of gamers and the combat experience is addictive. And, like “Black Ops” (but unlike “Medal of Honor”), one can’t write off the single-player campaign as completely as we so often do with shooter games.

3. “Heavy Rain”
Release Date: February 23rd
Platform(s): PS3

Heavy Rain
Heavy Rain
Photo credit: Sony

If the developers of “Heavy Rain” had followed through on the DLC as promised instead of ditching it after one chapter to focus on Move functionality instead, this amazing title could have topped the list. And if two of the best games ever produced hadn’t been released this year, I would have been proud to put “Heavy Rain” at number one. This is an emotionally-engaging, riveting, complex form of storytelling that has all the impact of a quality motion picture except that you feel like you were a part of it. Rarely have I felt more fully-involved in a game, as if the action wasn’t scripted but unfolding in front of me and through the decisions I made. More and more games have attempted the incredibly-ambitious storytelling that gives the player the sensation that action is immediate, rather than scripted, but few have been as successful as “Heavy Rain,” a title that is actually driven by emotion instead of hand-eye coordination. We can only hope that the influence of “Heavy Rain” won’t be lost on developers and that more games this immersive are on their way.

2. “Mass Effect 2”
Release Date: January 26th
Platform(s): Xbox 360

Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2
Photo credit: Microsoft

The most cinematic gaming experience of the year is also one of the best pieces of science fiction in the last twenty years. The story, the characters, the visuals — “Mass Effect 2” is stunning. It’s simply one of the most ambitious titles ever released, a game that feels like it doesn’t just create a level or a world, but rather it creates an entire universe of living, breathing characters. I have never more felt like my decisions, down to not just what I did but what I said, impacted the way the game unfolded. As the crew of the Normandy went about their business and I worked with them to form a team to save the universe, I was consistently blown away by the dramatic weight of the experience. That’s what is missing from most games. When a title can transcend mere buttons and analog sticks to become truly memorable on deeper levels – levels normally reserved for great works of literature, art, and film - it has to be considered one of the best of the year. And it would EASILY have been the best of the year in many others. In fact, I went back and forth on my top two this year repeatedly, eventually choosing the top one purely due to multiplayer and co-op, two elements missing from “ME2.” Judged purely on single-player storytelling, this is not just the best game of the year, but one of the best ever made.

1. “Red Dead Redemption”
Release Date: May 18th
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3

Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption
Photo credit: Rockstar

The story behind the consensus choice for GOTY comes to matching “ME2” in terms of scope and ambition and also stands as one of the best ever written for gaming, and the addition of great co-op and multiplayer modes bump “Red Dead Redemption” to the top of the list for 2010. This game will be influential in so many varied ways that they’re almost hard to count. There have been titles that pushed the gaming world forward in terms of single-player campaigns or multi-player experiences or gameplay or graphics, but “Red Dead Redemption” is a masterpiece on every discernible level. Rockstar took the concept of the sandbox game and created a fully-realized world, marrying one of the best stories in the history of gaming with some of the best graphics ever produced. “Best, best, best” — you’ve surely heard it all before about “RDR” and either agree or probably haven’t played it. The simple fact is that, whether I was playing poker, hunting bears, lassoing horses, or enacting vengeance, I just wasn’t as entertained by any other title this year and that’s what it all comes down — games still need to be, first and foremost, entertainment. We can only hope that we’ll have another game this mind-bogglingly complete in 2011.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Anonymous's picture

It’s time for video games

It’s time for video games to move forward, but designers (and publishers) seem to be dead-set on keeping them stuck firmly in the past

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