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Games of 2010: Andrew's Edition
by Andrew Whipple III

It’s a new year in the videogame kingdom and that means out with the old and in with the shiny. But, before we traverse the pleasantries of 2011, how about revisiting some gems that might have passed you by from the last three-hundred-and-sixty-five days? Here are the games that I found to be 2010’s defining moments.

Before we get to the juicy, tender centrepiece you should know that I didn’t possess the innate power to manipulate time this year, and so I missed a lot of critically-acclaimed titles. For that, I am ashamed. Still, I think you’ll find my choices to be a mixture of unique and awesome. Mostly awesome.

7: Super Meat Boy

What else can I say? The name of the developer is 'Team Meat'. These guys know how to make a game that harkens back to the days of brutalisation. Thankfully, though the difficulty is through the roof, it’s so much fun you’ll forget that you’re actually attempting to cross the demon-hydra-laser-spinner-of-doom for the eighty-ninth time. The controls are solid, the visuals are captivating, and the game is riddled with hordes of homages to videogames of the past. I couldn’t ask for much more. Oh, the music is pretty damn catchy too.

6: NHL 11

Woah: a sports game in someone’s best of the year list?! You better believe it. NHL 11 builds upon the incredibly streamlined and intuitive gameplay of last year’s title. Not only does it add a multitude of varying gameplay quirks, like breakable sticks and the best passing system yet to enter an NHL game, but the Ultimate Team mode isn’t bad either. Whether you want to create your own pro, control behind-the-scenes action or just jump into a match carefree, it’s all readily available and accessed within a few button presses.

5: God of War III

I still remember the first day I placed the original God of War in my Playstation 2. The game, being so shockingly gorgeous and smooth to play, set the bar for how action games were conceived. Saying that, with how stunningly cinematic the third instalment is, it’s hard not to assess the prize for 'Best of Series' to number three. Gameplay wise, not much has changed but Sony Santa Monica managed to keep the experience fresh with newfound weapons, moves, and the most savage boss fights you could hope for. The only game to rival the cinematic quality of Sony’s masterpiece would be the sly folks over at Konami and their classic Metal Gear Solid 4. Now that’s saying something.

4: Bayonetta

You will probably argue that God of War’s combat and cinematics are superior in quality to Bayonetta’s, but I’d tell you you’re wrong. You see, there’s nothing out there that can match the quirky habitat that Platinum Games' feminine star resides in. Witches killing angels, suits made out of hair, shooting dudes in all directions with high-heeled bullet hoses. Quite honestly, I can’t even begin to explain what’s what in this damn universe, but once again, I don’t have to. I guess that’s what makes Bayonetta so delightfully original; it doesn’t care about anything and pays homage to everything. It also doesn’t hurt that Hideki Kamiya blends his famed Devil May Cry gameplay perfectly with a host of over the top moments that must be experienced to be believed. By the way, the fight against the final boss... it’s the best in gaming. No joke.

3: Mega Man 10

You won’t find a more hardcore, purist Mega Man fan than yours truly. After the holy grail of Mega Man’s in number nine, I was pumped when the tenth made its way onto my screen. Exacerbated and classic in every way, Capcom outdid themselves this time around. First off, let me stress how gut-wrenchingly difficult some of the bosses are. THEY ARE GUT-WRENCHINGLY DIFFICULT! If you can beat Solar Man with only your Mega Buster and no Energy Tanks, you’re as awesome as I am. But in true Mega Man fashion, after your ass gets handed to you many, many times you adapt to the pain and pull through in glorious victory. The music is still completely rockin’ - not as good as Mega Man 9’s was, but still excellent (see Nitro Man and Staff Roll). Being able to play as Proto Man was just icing on the cake and for ten smackers, it doesn’t get much better than this.

2: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Maybe you knew this was coming. Maybe. The original StarCraft was a personal favourite of mine, and after that heinous wait for the sequel, just looking at the title screen sent tingles down my spine. Yes, yes it’s the same ole’ formula but think of it like this; it’s a revitalisation formula which resurrects and rejuvenates classic RTS gameplay. Build orders still exist but the balance of this game is so near perfection that it almost hurts to deliberate it. Every single thing has a counter in this game so think about that when you declare that Void Rays are the devil incarnate; they are but you get what I mean. The single player mode lacks the emotional grasp the original held over me but it remains entertaining nonetheless. I love the Wing Commander throwback style of the ship screens and the new is refined beyond belief. Even if you don’t care about the single player or competitive multiplayer experience, you can still build maps or play custom ones all night long. In summation, there’s way too much to like here.

1: Mass Effect 2

BioWare’s follow up to the praised original is miles – no, light-years - ahead of its predecessor. As a matter of fact, if you play Mass Effect 2 there’s no possible way you can ever retreat back to the clunky, cluttered mess that was the first game. That’s not to say that Mass Effect was bad, but when a sequel is this refined it’s pretty hard to go back to the roots.

Anyway, so much has changed that you could pretty much call Mass Effect 2 a completely different game. The combat, menu systems, weapons, classes: every single thing has seen an overhaul and it’s all the better for it. Classes, like the Vanguard, have specialised functions like warping through solid matter, that make combat engaging and pure fun. There’s nothing like sitting behind some cover, waiting for several guards to come running your way when, like the magic-space-ninja you are, you throw out a ball that bursts into a void of energy that tosses the cretins around like little Geisha dolls with bobbling heads.

Combat is great but the number one factor in Mass Effect 2’s victory is its unparalleled writing. Never have I been more interested and enticed to find out more about my crew members in a game – save perhaps Baldur’s Gate II. Conversations are twice as good this time around and, to make matters even more awesome, you're sometimes allowed to interrupt conversations. Don’t like how this guy is treating your dudes? If the renegade icon jumps on-screen you just might take that laser-wrench and... well, you know. This kind of characterisation only augments an already stunning story, and with the DLC and extra support the title’s been getting, the wait for Mass Effect 3 is a little easier. There’s still so much more to tell. Alas, space and its constraints.

If I had to say one thing to describe my experience in its entirety with this game - and I still can’t believe I’m saying this - it would be that I consider Mass Effect 2 to be one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.

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- Andrew Whipple III

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