After reading so many “best of” lists recently for video games in 2010, one thing became painfully obvious to me, they were all the same. It was as if everyone just copy and pasted one another’s lists and posted them on different websites. It was not a case of plagiarism however, people were just writing what they thought were the best games of the year in their opinion. The problem was 2010 had basically ten to fifteen great games. There was an abundance of good titles and fun time-wasters but only a limited amount of classics were released. By no means was it a bad twelve months for video games, 2010 just won’t be remembered for being as heavy hitting as years already passed.
The one common factor that every year has involving video games, are the highlights. The gaming moments we remember from titles either good, bad, or horrible. We all know what the best games of the year are already, but what were the best moments in video games since January 2010 began? Below is a calendar of each month of the year and the one gaming highlight to be remembered from it. Feel free to comment on any moments I missed because I definitely didn’t play every game released this year.
Mass Effect 2 (The destruction of the Normandy)
This moment works perfectly for the people who have played the first Mass Effect and for those who haven’t. If you are familiar with the Normandy and Commander Shepard, then you feel the full impact this opening scene provides. Your ship is destroyed, your character dies and you can’t do anything to stop it. If it’s your first time playing this series then you are so utterly confused at what is happening. For so much chaos and dismay to occur right when the game begins, it’s as if things are out of your control. The instant when you are walking the ship’s destroyed bridge looking for Joker and all you can hear is your own breath is pure gold. How can a game kill you off what when it starts and expect you to believe the outcome after? The answer is simple. Play through the whole game and realize how incredible the developers at BioWare are for crafting a story that ties plot and gameplay into a package you’ve never seen before.
Runner Up: Bayonetta (Pretty much any boss battle)
Heavy Rain (The Lizard Trial)
Come on, this one is massively memorable. What game has ever given you the task of cutting off part of your own finger? The game does such a good job of making the process elongated and nerve-racking. It’s not just a matter of pressing a button and boom, goodbye finger. Heavy Rain makes you choose the weapon, control your character’s breathing and ready your hand. The development of this scene is really the most gruesome part. You keep wondering if this is really happening, if there’s a way out. Say what you want about Heavy Rain as a game compared to a cut scene, but this sequence is something new. It does what only some video games have ever achieved, drawing you into a scenario where you actually fear your decision.
Runner Up: Dante’s Inferno (The Lust Level)
God of War 3 (Fighting Cronos)
Wow, God of War 3. It was difficult choosing the best moment from this game. Killing Poseidon, Hades, Hercules and Zeus were so bloody and satisfying they make other game’s boss battles look like child’s play. But we can all agree that an entire level as a boss ends up being pretty damn memorable. When the Cronos battle begins with him literally trying to squeeze Kratos between his fingers, you know that it’s going to be epic. The best part of this fight is not only the scale of it, but the detail. Cronos is so big that the damage Kratos causes to him is front and center. Fingernails are ripped off and scabs are repeatedly stabbed, because Cronos is the level you witness the carnage happening to him up close and personal. It’s so extensive and brutal you can’t help but love it. David and Goliath eat your heart out.
Runner up: Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Leveling an entire house packed with enemy players online)
Splinter Cell Conviction (Deniable Ops)
The single player portion of Sam Fisher’s latest adventure was sweet and short but the true fun lay in its co-op form. Two people killing terrorists over the internet the way it always should be. The combat and stealth mechanics in this game blend so well that you’ll be replaying levels over and over again on the hardest difficulty. Flanking enemies and using the new mark and execute move together in a room full of baddies is not just a highlight, but a joy. I love how the A.I. in this game actively searches for you and constantly yells to come out from the shadows. It makes the terrorists that much more enjoyable to hunt and take down in clever ways. They always react to what’s happening and that makes this co-op stand out among others.
Runner Up: Super Street Fighter IV (Online tournament mode)
Red Dead Redemption (Online posses in free roam)
Honestly the entire game of Red Dead Redemption is a highlight, probably the best of the year. The game’s story is so good no particular moment stands out being better than the rest. My jaw dropped when me and my buddy first went online and I realized how well Rockstar had developed its free roam. Random players fighting for hours over a particular building or barn for no reason and gaining grudges that rival school yard brawls. It’s really just like the Wild West. No rules and no mercy. You may be hunting deer in the prairies for fun when a group of players surround and assault your character, constantly killing you after each respawn. The only way out is to join their posse and go bully the next defenseless person picking flowers in the forest. The free roam in Red Dead Redemption portrays the fun you can have by making it up as you go along. The different scenarios you’ll find yourself in are truly unique.
Runner Up: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Flip-swap galaxy)
Transformers: War for Cybertron (Online multiplayer)
Another surprise multiplayer offering this year came from a game no one thought would deliver. Transformers: War for Cybertron ended up having a lengthy campaign where you could play as both Decepticons and Autobots either by yourself or in co-op. Online however was where the game’s mechanics really shined. Different combat classes, different vehicles, interchangeable weapons, vicious melee attacks, a leveling system. This game was like Call of Duty but with Transformers. The levels themselves were incredible, allowing massive air battles to commence while robots battle on the ground. Various game modes like Conquest and Escalation proved to be the standouts with the latter being a variation of Gears of War’s Horde mode. I know most people may have missed this game but it is probably the best form of robot fighting you can find on a console and an amazing experience online. No Michael Bay included either, which is a bonus.
Runner Up: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (Co-op play…..finally!)
Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty (The campaign)
I was really pissed off when I heard that Blizzard was leaving the Protoss and Zerg campaigns for separate future expansions. How can you develop a game for nearly a decade and expect people to be fine with a single Terran campaign mode? Well I guess you just have to make it super long, super challenging, super polished and super fun. That’s just what the final product ended up being. The single player portion of Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty provides so many different objectives and combat settings that the game stays fresh from beginning to end. The beautiful cut scenes and bad ass new characters (Tychus!) make the story something well worth waiting all this time for. Now with two more expansions on the horizon, it’s safe to assume Blizzard is on the right path and everyone doubting them should just stop, myself included.
Runner Up: BlazBlue: Continuum Shift (Playing as new character, Tsubaki)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Four player co op)
I know I have included co-op a couple times on this list so far but no game needs it like this one. Playing by yourself is so frustrating and difficult that they only way to continue is replay a level over and over again until you have maxed out your character enough. With no online co-op available (which is INSANE!!!) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World seems like a total waste of money. Then you have three buddies come over and voila, an instant classic emerges. Leveling up your characters, maxing out stats, new weapons, combos, beating up bosses, it’s all more fun with others. I know not having online sucks but it makes you realize why Scott Pilgrim vs. the World needs to be on your hard drive. It’s a multiplayer-only experience in my opinion, one that brings old school fun back into 2D brawlers. Just remember that arcade games never had online play, it was all about getting a group together for an awesome and kick ass time.
Runner Up: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (The fact that this is how all Lara Croft games should be made)
Dead Rising 2 (Combos cards)
The original Dead Rising had a ton of weapons and killing zombies with each one proved to be extremely addictive. The sequel was more of the same in pretty much every regard. The best refinement came with the addition of combo cards, combining two weapons to make an ultimate tool of destruction. They can be as basic as a bat with nails or as ridiculous as a wheelchair strapped with machine guns on it. The possibilities proved endless. It made killing zombies fun again in especially if you were playing with a friend. The absurdity of some weapons you could make is not worth spoiling but a kayak paddle with two duct taped chainsaws on the ends is amazing and effective. These combo cards made Dead Rising 2 a great game and a worthy sequel.
Runner Up: Halo: Reach (Jet packs)
Vanquish (Bridge/highway level)
Wow, someone who has no idea what Vanquish is about should just be shown this level and they will run to buy it. It’s that good. The combat in this game is so damn tight and responsive you feel like the ultimate bad ass. The whole game is an adrenaline rush of intensity and excitement. So much is happening at any given time and the focus required to complete later levels is daunting. But the ultimate moment in this game occurs early on when you are battling up a collapsing bridge. Slide boosting past falling debris and smoking missiles is one thing, getting dragged down in the destruction is another. You can’t even keep track of the chaos happening around you, the only way to survive is to just keep moving. Epic, truly epic.
Runner Up: Fallout: New Vegas (Finally getting to the New Vegas strip)
Call of Duty: Black Ops (One in the Chamber)
Wager matches are such a good idea in the latest Call of Duty. Even though the COD points you bet with are pretty much worthless, the competition for bragging rights is highly rewarding. One in the Chamber is by far the most addictive and intense wager match available in the game and it brings out the player in everyone. Do you camp and wait for the right moment to strike? Do you run around and risk losing your precious bullet? Or do you rely on you knife to stockpile ammo? Winning in this game mode really does require skill and precision. Black Ops ended up being a great game overall but this multiplayer mode is a step in a new and challenging direction. You really have to put your money where your mouth is for one in the chamber.
Runner Up: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Killing your first target online successfully)
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (A new expansion finally released)
I don’t play World of Warcraft and I probably never will but I know people who do and it’s like a second life for them. For the last year they have been counting down the minutes until this expansion was released talking about how it’s more new content than just recycled junk. December basically had zero releases other than this, so technically it’s the highlight of the month. WoW nerds finally got what they wanted and apparently it was worth the extended time period they waited for. Congratulations, try to leave the house at least by early spring for the love of God!
Runner Up: X-Men Arcade (Playing as Nightcrawler)