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Top 5: Best games of 2010

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2010 has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride for gaming – at the end of 2009 I was raving about how 2010 was going to be a great year for gaming – and while the year doesn’t go by without some disappointments we also need to recognise the great games of the year – and this is where I do it.

5 – Blur

Kart racers like Mario Kart are awesome. Arcade racers like Need for Speed or Burnout are awesome. What do you get when you combine the two? MOAR AWESOME.

Easily my favourite racing game of the year, Blur gives us the power-ups that you expect from a Kart racer with the look and feel of an arcade racer. The power-ups in themselves aren’t particularly revolutionary – mostly borrowing ideas from games like Mario Kart but it feels a lot more refined to allow for more skill-based gameplay.

For example: in Mario Kart you’ve got that blue Spiny Turtle Shell that ruins everyones fun – in Blur you can place three EMP fields in front of the guy in first place – it gives the players who aren’t doing so well a chance, but also allows the guy in first place to avoid them if they’re good enough. Skill based gameplay, we likes it.

Easily approachable to casual players but deep enough to create a large skill gap. Blur is one of the few games that is still fun even if you’re not doing so well – it’s just shame that the future of the games developers isn’t looking good.

Check out my review of Blur on wired.co.uk

4 – Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is my favourite adversarial multiplayer game this year – it’s simply kept me coming back for more. The games single player can get a little tedious over time but the games strength is in its adversarial multiplayer. 24 players, tanks, helicopters and lots of explosions result in an incredibly immersive multiplayer experience.

Bad Company 2 rewards players for working as a team – and is well worth looking in to if you have a few buddies who like to play together. Granted, Bad Company 2 contains a few cheap tactics, like camping on the lighthouse in Valparaiso or hiding around corners with shotguns – though most of these tactics can be overcome by simply destroying the building that your foe is hiding in. Yes – Bad Company 2 lets you destroy buildings. Call of what?

Check out my review of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on wired.co.uk

3 – Halo: Reach

In 2007 we finished the fight – but it turned out that there was a little bit more fighting to be had in Halo: Reach – a prequel to the first Halo game. Reach would have us fight a losing battle against The Covenant on a planet called, well – Reach (which is a rather odd choice of name for a planet planet if we’re honest).

As a competitive multiplayer game Reach had some appeal for a few months – but I mainly enjoy Reach as a co-operative experience these days. Co-operative campaign with four players is a blast – and the games Firefight survival mode can make for some great blastin’ and relaxin’ too.

And Reach is a generous package too – you get a decent length campaign, firefight, competitive multiplayer, a map maker, a theatre mode and online stats tracking that’s miles ahead of the competition. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what Bungie do next.

Halo: Reach is also home to one of the greatest gaming innovations of our time: being able to drive forklifts!

Check out my review of Halo: Reach on wired.co.uk

2 – Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

It’s amazing to think of how far Assassin’s Creed has come in a relatively short space of time. The original game was plagued with overly suspicious guards and frustrating horse sections – Assassin’s Creed 2 fixed most of these issues last year and brought us to Italy.

I was mildly worries about Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – a new game released only a year after the previous? What seemed worse at the time was that Ubisoft were focussing on the multiplayer rather than the excellent single player offerings of the previous games in the series.

It seemed that my concerns were rather misplaced – not only does Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood have a single player that’s arguably as good as those in previous games, it also has a surprisingly good multiplayer offering. All this within the space of a year? Impressive stuff – there’s a lot to do in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

1 – Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 gets the top spot this year without question. The surprising part? A year ago I didn’t care about the Mass Effect series. Now I’ve put over 150 hours in to Mass Effect 2 – played it six times, bought all of the DLC and am currently salivating at the mouth for Mass Effect 3.

Mass Effect 2 does almost everything right. Solid voice acting, good writing (a rarity in the games industry), interesting characters, interesting alien species’, beautiful graphics, and about a million different ways to play through the game. Mass Effect 2 is a game that’s so good my vocabulary fails it.

Mass Effect 2 is unique in that your actions from the first game carry over in to it – and your actions in Mass Effect 2 will transfer over in to Mass Effect 3. That gives the game an incredible amount of consistency – and it also means that the moral (and sometimes tactical) decisions that you make actually have some weight. Mass Effect 2 comes out on PS3 next month – if you own a PS3 and you haven’t had the chance to play then you owe it to yourself to pick it up.

Written by Pokeh

December 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Top 5: Disappointing games of 2010

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2010 has been a great year with great games – with tonnes of new releases coming our way all throughout the year to keep us satiated. But with gamings best we also have gamings worst – the games that had so much promise but ultimately failed to impress. That’s what this list is for – the games that looked good, but, well – weren’t.

This list was actually harder than I thought it would be to create – putting things in order of how disappointing I found them was a challenge in itself, but nonetheless, the following are my top five most disappointing games of 2010:

5 – Final Fantasy XIII (13)

Truth be told I had never played a Final Fantasy game before playing Final Fantasy XIII, so I figured that renting it would be a good way to get in to the series. I started the game off and everything seemed great – production values were through the roof and the games take on turn-based combat was fun at first, but eventually it got stale – and the characters didn’t help either.

You’ve probably heard the same complaints before – the main problem being the extreme linearity of it all – Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t even seem to care – it’s like it’s teasing you by saying “Yeah, I’m linear – what are you gonna do about it?”.

But honestly? The linearity didn’t bother me that much – it’s just that everything got boring by the time that I got to the first boss on the second disc – slowly grinding his health down for what felt like an eternity only to have him unleash a one hit kill attack when I was about to finish him off. Not cool.

Also the romance plot between Snow and Serah just creeped me out. Snow looks like a man in his mid-twenties while Serah looks like she’s fourteen. Hooray for paedophilia?

4 – Medal of Honour

Here we have a game that should have been amazing – Electronic Arts have been talking for some time now on how they want to steal the FPS market from Activision and their Call of Duty franchise – Medal of Honour, it seems, was aimed squarely at Activisions flagship title. With stakes and ambition like that you’d expect Medal of Honour to be a worthy competitor. The sad truth is that it doesn’t even come close.

The problem that Medal of Honour has is that it tries too hard to copy Call of Duty and ultimately just comes across as a cheap knock-off. Medal of Honour is just a bland game with bland characters with bland levels with a bland story. See how bland that last sentence was? That pales in comparison to Medal of Honour.

The single player and multiplayer were both created by separate developers – with the multiplayer side being created by DICE – the creators of the fantabulous Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – which only made it all the more disconcerting when it turned out that the multiplayer was a total bore-fest as well – it just made it all the more apparent that Medal of Honour is just an imitation – and a poor one at that.

To put it simply: As EA’s answer to Call of Duty I expected better.

3- Split/Second: Velocity

Split/Second: Velocity held a lot of promise for a totally mindless, explosion filled racer – and indeed it lived up to some of its hype – but the things that are bad about Split/Second ultimately make it even more disappointing because it also did a lot of things right.

So what did Split/Second do right? Being able to blow up pretty much any part of the track is a great novelty – and Split/Second looks gorgeous while doing it. What did it do wrong? Almost everything else.

Cars constantly slip and slide around corners – making it difficult to turn corners effectively – the AI opponents cars can go faster than yours can, and there’s a limitation of player customisation options among other issues. Thinking about what Split/Second should have been is what makes it such a great disappointment.

Check out my review of Split/Second: Velocity on wired.co.uk

2 – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

The original Force Unleashed was released back in 2008 – and it was what I’d wanted to see from the Star Wars franchise for a long time: a hack and slash game where you can use The Force to obliterate your foes – it was a fun game and I even replayed it a few times and even spent the time to collect all of the Sith Holocrons.

So naturally I was excited about The Force Unleashed 2 – and while more of the same isn’t always a bad thing, too much of the same thing certainly is – and that’s why The Force Unleashed 2 disappoints. For the most part The Force Unleashed 2 is just a downgraded version of the original game. You’ve got the same attacks as you did in the previous game but with a smaller variety in the enemies and a shorter story with repetitive environments.

Again, it’s another case of thinking what could have been. The Star Wars universe is perhaps the deepest fictional universe in existence, and yet we’re stuck meandering around the galaxy as some whiny Jedi whining about his girlfriend (Gee that sounds familiar) with the same enemies and the same old corridors where ever you go. Yawn.

1 – Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days

To put it simply: I have never played a more generic, boring, and just downright uninspired game in my entire life. When I said earlier that picking out the order for these titles was hard – it was true for numbers 5 – 2, but from the start I knew that Kane and Lynch 2 would take the top spot.

My reasoning for it? Kane and Lynch 2 simply failed to entertain me. After less than an hour of play I turned the game off and didn’t touch it again – the combat is boring and third person shooters have been done better before and the visual style is simply downright hideous to look at.

I can understand that Kane and Lynch 2 was going for something different but it doesn’t work. Has anyone honestly looked at a low quality video on YouTube and thought “Hmm yeah, that looks like a good visual style?” The developers succeeded a little too much in making the game look bad that it actually looks, well, bad.

As I said, Kane & Lynch 2 failed to entertain me – and if a game fails to entertain then ultimately it’s a failure – it’s one of the few games in which Yahtzees (Zero Punctuation) opinion mirrors my own.