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Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 The Summary: Part 3 "All Things Gamey"

2010 was the year of the sequel when it came to video games. It seemed more so than ever that publishers were less willing to take a risk and put their sole focus into producing safe bet sequels to established franchises. That’s not to say there were not any original IP’s put out this year but they were few and far between.
One of the few original IP's released this year.

These comments should in no way be taken as a slight on the quality of games that arrived this year. All in all it was one of the best years ever to be a gamer with a glut of high quality releases causing more than a few gamers to stare at their pile of shame while bemoaning the lack of time in their lives (myself included). Here are my highlights for your perusal.
Commander Shepherd Returns.

February saw the release of one of my most anticipated games of all time, Mass Effect 2 and boy it didn’t disappoint. Generic combat, poorly implemented inventory management and boring exploration missions were replaced by tight 3rd person shooter mechanics, an almost non-existent inventory system and some of the best mission structure I have ever seen. In fact about the only bad thing I can think of with the game is the monotonous mineral collection mini game (which was fixed to some extent in a later patch). Along with a steady stream of both free and paid DLC, ME2 gave you plenty of reason to keep it in your Xbox the whole year round.
Sergio Leone eat your heart out.

The next big gaming release in my eyes was Red Dead Redemption. This is simply a masterpiece of storytelling and gameplay. The open world that Rockstar has created is simply breathtaking, seamlessly portraying a living breathing world that evokes the spirit of Sergio Leone and transports the player into the life of the title character John Marsten. Generally I find open world games a bit of a chore to get through. Once I am done playing in the sandbox I tend to lose interest as the narrative is not strong enough to carry my through to the end. RDR bucks that trend by creating a compelling cast of characters that range from the weird to the intense and somehow manages to make the player care for every single one of them. With RDR and ME2 the gaming industry dispelled the notion that games cannot tell an engaging tale.
A Good Shooter on the Wii?????

The Wii this year fought back against claims that it is nothing but a kids system with a range of games aimed at the older generation. The high quality of Super Mario Galaxy 2, the nostalgia of NBA JAM and the hardcore difficulty of Donkey Kong Country Returns all help to bring the Wii back into the minds of the serious gamer. The major coup that the Wii pulled off was the successful return of Goldeneye. This remake was more than a simple graphical face lift giving fans of the N64 original new levels, tight shooter mechanics and online multiplayer that actually worked on the Wii (which really has never been done.) The replacement of Peirce Brosnan with the current Bond Daniel Craig may cause some purists issues though in reality it is both a minor issue and a logical choice for creators Activision.
Production in South Korea reduced by 60%
Starcraft returned to our PC’s this year after a 12 year hiatus with part 1 of a 3 part sequel. The fact that Blizzard is milking the proverbial cash cow by splitting Starcraft 2 into 3 parts (one part for each of the races) was met with anger and disappointment from a lot of fans. It did allow Blizzard to tell a more complete story in the single player. The first part told the story of the Terran race and a rebel leader Jim Raynor as he faces a dictator, visions from a Protoss priest, Zerg incursions and his old flame Kerrigan who is now the Zerg leader, the Queen of Blades. The quality of the game is as high as you would expect coming from Blizzard and while they may have played it safe with the RTS mechanics they have still put together the best RTS since Company of Hero’s.
A great story is the perfect topping to superb multiplayer
I can’t let a summary for 2010 go by without mentioning the largest entertainment release of all time. Call of Duty: Black ops smashed all sales expectations (and records) out of the water selling hundreds of thousands of copies in the first week alone. The game its self was a strong continuation of the COD series, introducing a new time frame (The cold war/Vietnam war) and a new hero (voiced imperfectly by Australia’s own man of the moment Sam Worthington). Multiplayer as always is COD’s strong point, though this time developers Treyarch have molded a compelling single player story that weaves a tale of intrigue that the best thriller writers would be proud of. All in all another solid entry in what is probably the premier game franchise today.
So for the final paragraph I want to do what every Tom, Dick and Harry does and that is give out a few “best of” titles for the year, I know it is clichéd but sometimes a cliché is fun.
Game of the year: Mass Effect 2, (Runner Up: Red Dead Redemption)
Best Multiplayer: COD: Black Ops (Runner Up: Halo Reach)
Best New IP: Darksiders: (Runner Up: Epic Mickey)
Biggest Disappointment: Star Wars, The Force Unleashed 2 (Runner Up: Puzzle Quest 2)
Worst Game: Naughty Bear (Runner Up: Star Wars, The Force Unleashed 2)

Massively Disappointing.

Words cannot describe how bad this game is.

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