With 2011 already sounding like a bumper year for returning franchises and exciting new IP, the 7outof10 staff cast their collective eye back to 2010 and sign it off with a cheery farewell.
In no particular order, our best games of the year are…
Mass Effect 2
Andrew Burridge: The original was great, but ME2 fixes every problem you may have encountered with combat and load times, whilst also changing the dynamics of the gameplay to such an extent it almost feels like a new game. The one thing that stayed the same was the rich world full of interesting characters and locations; each with their own fully fleshed history, myths and lore that contributed to a masterclass in game design. Also of note is the exceptional DLC, which extended an already packed universe with quests and lore that felt like a natural fit.
Emmanuel Brown: I spent six hours with the original before deciding I didn’t want a game that allowed me to aim point blank at somebody’s head and still hit a space-elavator fifty yards to the right. I spent 40+ hours with ME2 and purchased every shred of DLC that Bioware could throw my way. Enough said.
Red Dead Redemption
Andrew Burridge: Rockstar have created another masterpeice that does everything you would want in a western game, and does it right. Their biggest achievement is the sense of atmosphere. It’s a world that feels real and that compels you to explore, hunt, search for treasure, and herd cattle. The dusty plains, lush fields, snowy mountains, mines, forts and sand of Mexico positively ooze detail, and when a game makes you stop what your doing just to watch the sun rise, you know something went right. Some may say that RDR is merely GTA on horseback, but they’re clearly missing the point. It’s about living like a true cowboy, one sunset at a time.
Stevie B-Ball: After a lot of build up and hype (most of it emanating from me) Rockstar delivered on every single promise. A huge, sprawling world with potential for so many further adventures, this is the best of the single player games of the year.
Emmanuel Brown: Despite being technically excellent and absolutely beautiful in execution, RDR would have made my list even if it only contained ‘that moment’ and ‘that song’ as you meander over the border into Mexico. Few games have had so many sections that make you stand still and simply take stock of your surroundings, and that alone it marks it out for a place on any 2010 GOTY list.
Phil: The best halo to date. The whole package is incredible, and everything about the franchise is still brilliantly executed. For the final (Bungie) title, it’s the strongest we could have hoped for. it’s a no-brainer.
Stevie B: After 10 years of criticising Bungie’s series, the swansong’s mulitplayer captured me instantly. With progressive challenges and intuitive systems, this is how multiplayer gaming should be.
James T: Despite rewriting the mythos of its own universe(no I will not let it go!), Reach takes the best bits from the last 10 years and distils them into the best Halo yet. From the daily challenges that can give multiplayer hither to unseen focus, the improvements in Firefight, and the inclusion of game altering load-outs, I just want to hug the disc… after I’ve poked the writers in the eye.
NFS: Hot Pursuit
Emmanuel Brown: As a Need For Speed fan, I’ve become accustomed to disappointment and a certain level of embarrassment over the years. Sure, Most Wanted remains one of my favourite 360 games to date, but Carbon – whilst entertainingly silly – began an undoubted downward spiral. Pro Street was all over the place, Undercover largely soulless, and Shift languished in some bizarre arcade-sim no-mans-land that nobody really wanted.
Leave it to Criterion then to reinvigorate the franchise with a healthy dose of Burnout and a return to next-gen roots that kicks it close to the top of the roster. It looks as stunning as anything released in 2010, introduces a social leaderboard system that should be the basis of every multiplayer game from here on out, plays like a dream and features some of the most cinematic car-carnage you’ll see this side of Crash.
I’m embarrassed no longer, and for that I shall rejoice forever more.
Emmanuel Brown: Whilst those early trailers and screens hinted at little but an Amazonian sex goddess with a serious leather fetish, what Platinum delivered was a game that milked all the sass and attitude it possibly could from its heroine, but mercifully steered clear of the ‘brainless bimbo’ syndrome that plagues other attractive female leads. The fact that Bayonetta’s feline grace is complemented by the best reboot of the Devil May Cry action formula for years firmly cements its place in my top games of 2010.
Joe Brown: With a hidden depth and character that clearly sets it apart from its peers, Bayonetta is classic twitch-gaming at its absolute finest. Stand aside Dante, this lady is packing some serious heat.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
Andrew Burridge: Ubisoft surprised a lot of people with Brotherhood. Not only did they create an unexpected lengthy singleplayer campaign, but they also improved on the already stellar AC2 and dropped in multiplayer to boot. It requires several dozens of hours to see everything Rome has to offer, and the whole city is a joy to explore through Ezio’s eyes.
Emmanuel Brown: All too often the mini-map in any given open-world game is used solely as a device of torture. You see that flashing icon over there? That’s fun, that is. You see your pathetic little arrow over here surrounded by pointless food stands or a crappy race? Enjoy your trip.
Brotherhood then, is like therapy for those of us that hate stabbing the back button. It fills your immediate surroundings with game mechanics that are not only fun but actually mean something in the meta-game, and it throws them at you with a profligacy that borders on utterly ridiculous. On some mega-budget titles you wonder where all the money was spent, but on AC2 and this new iteration, you’re never in doubt; and that’s a rare thing.
Joe Brown: Of all that was great about Quantic Dream’s thriller it’s most important achievement was in proving that interactive entertainment doesn’t just have to be about party games and motion control to appeal to a mass market audience. Not just one of the finest games of 2010, but one of the most important in recent times.
Emmanuel Brown: Jason! Jason? Ja…son? JASON?
James T: The best thing that can be said about Heavy Rain is that I just don’t want to play it again as the first run through was so emotive I would feel I was breaking my own narrative. It may be an interactive movie, but what an interactive movie. It drew me in, it drew my wife in and asked some pretty hard questions along the way.
Rock Band 3
Phil Davies: Sales aside, this is the daddy. The only drawback is the instrument availability, but that will settle in time. Just stick the disc in and play Bohemian Rhapsody with a room full of people… If you can do that and still hate this game – I’ll eat my xbox warranty.
Stevie B: Combining elements of some of my favourite games of all time? Set in a menacing apocalyptic environment? Riding a flaming horse and wielding a sword the size of a car? Yes please.
Joe Brown: If the fundamental reason why so many are drawn to video games is in the lure of the challenge itself and the reward thereafter then arguably the finest examples of the medium are those that reap the greatest rewards, but only through the greatest of hardship. Demon’s Souls is one such game and stands out as one of the finest RPG’s developed in recent times.