And so another year draws to a close, and we can take a week to reflect on an entire year’s worth of gaming. 2010 delivered so many fantastic games, many of which were supposed to arrive in 2009, but it also dropped a great deal of disappointing titles too. Choosing just one Game Of The Year seemed a little bit too much like hard work to us (after all, we’re all hung over and in food comas after last week), so instead each writer has delivered their own Game and Shame Of The Year.
Game of the Year: This was actually quite a tough decision for me, but I’d have to give my official thumbs up to Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Although the single-player was interesting enough, it was really the multiplayer aspect which had me hooked. There is something about the “hide in plain sight” concept that translates so well to a riveting multiplayer experience, and you couldn’t care less if it takes you several minutes of planning just to pull off that perfect incognito kill.
Of course, matchmaking needs some serious fucking work (you can stare at a “Loading” screen longer than playing the actual game), but the game itself is just too much fun to let it get you down.
Shame of the Year: Although there have been plenty of average games released this year, I’d have to say Army of Two: The 40th Day was my low-light. It wasn’t even the worst thing I scored this year, but the fact that EA took what was such a humerous action licence and turned it into a “serious” shooter with morality moments just reeked of wasted potential.
If the series gets another installment, I’m hoping they go back to doing what Rios and Salem do best: bro-fists and explosions. Of course, 40th Day potentially killed one of them off, so how’s that going to work?
Game of the Year: Though not a complete surprise hit (quite a few people have lauded it), Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West ticked all my happy gamer boxes. Post-Apocalyptic? Check. Excellent characterisation and dialogue? Check. Mythology? Check. (Button mashing fighting style? Check). Mix in some very pretty graphics and I’m sold. While not the high-punching Triple A title like the guys have picked, Enslaved was a game everyone could play, accessible and enjoyable. There was humour and heart in the plot which hooked me in and kept me interested where other games this year fell short.
A sneaky second for me was Alan Wake: clever, original and well, nothing beats this: Poets of the Fall – The Poet and the Muse
Shame of the Year: Speaking of falling short, holy shitting eels did Final Fantasy XIII come up flush with boredom, repetition and those bloody clippity-cloppity footfalls. Playing this game was a chore. At first glance, FFXIII impressed me with its design and cinematics, but after nearly 5 hours of tutorials masquerading as gameplay, I was ready to frisbee the first of the three discs out the window. It was overblown, obtuse and there was no pleasure in the time I put into it. Square Enix should have spent the money and time making an animated movie, or done something like Heavy Rain, rather than churning out another cookie cutter JRPG.
Game of the Year: This one was a total no-brainer for me: in my eyes Mass Effect 2 pissed on every other game released this year from such a great height there just wasn’t any other choice. Bioware took all the good points from the first game, made them better, ditched some of the irritating bits and only found a few annoying things to put back in their place. The game was visually stunning, the sound design was excellent, combat was fun, there’s been some decent DLC to keep us coming back and the voice actors were top notch.
But it’s the story that really makes Mass Effect 2 work for me. There just aren’t enough studios out there that can compete with Bioware in terms of the time and effort they put into their stories and they’ve already got me dying to get my hands on the next installment. Game of the year for me, no contest.
Shame of the Year: Since there’s no such thing as trade ins on PC games I don’t take a punt on many games that might suck – if I’m going to be stuck with it I want to have a decent idea it’s a game I’ll like before I bother with it. It feels kind of unfair to put Poker Night at the Inventory up for worst game because I don’t think it had many pretentions towards being a proper game in the first place. Whether Torchlight was released this year or not depends very much on how you feel about physical boxes and discs – suffice to say I didn’t think much of it regardless of the release date.
But I’m not actually going to nominate a “worst” game. Instead I’m going to nominate F1:2010 for the “y’know, I might’ve got that one wrong” award. Since reviewing it I haven’t been able to bring myself to play it – finishing even my first season of a potential seven just seemed like way too much hard work to be bothered with and I don’t see myself picking it back up again any time soon, if ever. It’s triumphs speak for themselves but along the way I missed the fact that they forgot to bring the fun.
Game of the Year: Without a doubt (and I don’t expect any major disagreements from my fellow reviewers) the high point of the year as far as gaming goes is Red Dead Redemption. With the expanded online mode and the classic GTA style gameplay, it was always going to be a success. In many ways, I feel this game succeed where GTA IV failed. GTA on horses. Can you think of a better idea?
Well, I could. It’s called MacGyver Under The Sea. Keep your eyes peeled for that.
Shame of the Year: Well, there were a few stinkers to sift through this year, but I would definitely go with Iron Man 2. Given my man-boner for Tony Stark and all things related, I found myself wanting this game to reward my rigidity … it did not. The one good thing I can say about it is that it was short. And may we never speak of it again.