The year is done and it is time for us all to look back upon our digital conquests! Personally, I feel like 2010 was more of a catchup year, for me at least. Now, I only have an Xbox 360 due to a superb lack of funds but I hope to jump into the PS3 arena before a new console is announced!
I spent a bit of time during the beginning of the year trying to make some progress on Fallout 3 and Dragon Age since they are such large games. Unfortunately, I didn’t even get to start delving into the DLC for either of those games, even to this day!
Also, you will all find out that I’m a huge NBA fan and between the Celtics-Lakers playoffs in early 2010 and the amazing free agent offseason that dominated the summer, NBA 2k10 ate up a large portion of my time.
Even with those games mentioned above, I found myself largely occupied by first person shooters. Modern Warfare 2 was a staple but a few of my top fav games in 2010 were FPS shooters that were big hogs of my online time.
So, let’s jump into it!
10. Bioshock 2
I was a huge fan of the first Bioshock thanks to its unique mutant power flair and upgradeable weapons. It had a unique storyline and an art style that drew you in. I kind of saw it as a modern style Doom since it had a bit of shock value and darkness to some of its levels.
Then came Bioshock 2, with you taking on the role of the iconic character Big Daddy! With the use of weapons and powers simultaneously, Bioshock 2 throws you back into splicer hell to protect the Little Sisters this time. Now, I’ve yet to play all the way through this one but it has much of the same feel as the first one and that is quite welcome. Despite the talk of this one not being as good as the first, Bioshock 2 has its own unique niche in the world of FPS gaming that is a fantastic alternative to all the other FPS genres out there.
9. Transformers: War for Cybertron
For me, there is nothing like a bit of nostalgia. When this game dropped its multiplayer demo, I was hooked! I quickly overlooked the lackluster character models and really got into the quick and relatively balanced online gameplay. The use of the different Transformer classes (Leader, Scout, Scientist, and Soldier) all had their specific powers and default loadouts that could be changed and improved upon through gaining experience and levels in multiplayer gameplay. Each class was fun to use and seemed to balance the gameplay whether you were a new player or an experienced one.
Then, as I finally delved into the single player mode, I was treated to an epic feeling story (as far as Transformers go). Starting off as a Decepticon and getting to use Megatron and his massive cannon was exhilarating! Of course, hearing his raspy and evil voice dominate Soundwave, Starscream, and the like helped as well. I gladly blasted no name Autobots and eventually even took down Omega Supreme!
Then once that storyline was complete I jumped into the shoes of Optimus Prime and saw how he became the last of the Primes and received the matrix of power. Unfortunately, in the Autobot campaign, you don’t get to faceoff with Megatron but you do face Soundwave, Starscream, and the giant named Trypticon. His battle is probably the hardest of all the boss battles in the game.
I found my 5 and 7 year old sons begging to watch me play the game as I flew around as Starscream or Jetfire in certain stages or jumping various ramps as a transformed Optimus Prime. They recognized most of the Transformers that I did even though their first taste of Transformers was limited to the live action movies and the one animated movie that came after the classic TV show seasons.
Oh yes… the nostalgia is strong with this one! Add in the Horde-like mode Onslaught and co-op campaign play and you have a worthy reduced price purchase!
Now, I know what you are saying… “reduced price purchase??” This game is fun and all but due to its lackluster character models and short short campaign, I found myself unable to pay a full $60 for this game as it came out. Still, I did enjoy this game enough to put it to my list.
8. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
I know, I know. Some of you are probably rolling your eyes at this selection but I’m a big fan of the old beat ‘em up 8-bit genre. Double Dragon 2 and the like were big favs of mine. Of course, enjoying the Michael Cera movie helped the geek out process as well. I think for a good couple of weeks, this game was all I played as I punched and kicked my way to Gideon for Ramona’s heart!
This game, based on a series of graphic novels, just had such a funny premise. You are assisting Scott Pilgrim battle through 7 evil exes of Ramona Flowers in order to allow Scott and Ramona to continue their passionate romance.
I think what captured my interest in this game initially was the enjoyable soundtrack that assisted the battles throughout the game. Anamanaguchi crafted a style of 8 bit music coupled with live electric guitars and synthesizers that blends beautifully into this lovable homage to 8 bit gaming.
You even gain XP that unlocks additional moves to allow for more carnage. You’ll block and toss your enemies as well as sling various objects at them like swords, bottles, trashcans, bats, and such about to help the constant waves of enemies that seem to protect Gideon and the ex’s.
It took me a while but as I was playing I eventually caught on to the fact that the money collected from each defeat was to be used to buy food and apparel that powers up the characters stats such as strength, speed, defense, and the like. I think they could have had some way to explain this aspect of the game a bit more but it kind of pushed you to want to replay certain levels in order to gain more money and buy items before proceeding to the next level.
Add in the ability to play with friends in a co-op style beat ‘em up and you’ve got a winner for me!
7. Super Street Fighter IV
Now if you don’t at least know about the Street Fighter franchise then you can’t call yourself a gamer. With the awesome reboot of the franchise, Street Fighter IV actually got me excited about buying and playing a fighting game again. For a time I jumped into the online matchmaking and tried my hand at winning as many matches with Zangief as I could! Then with the release of the ‘Super’ version, you are treated to 10 more characters including the lovable Dee Jay, T. Hawk, Guy and Makoto!
The formula of gaming is well balanced with the focus attacks and the easy to pull of Ultra and Super combos. Of course, the big draw of this game is the absolutely gorgeous art style of the game. The Ultra and Super combos are equally painful and spectacular to watch for ALL of the characters as well. Throw in the online tournament battles and the option to allow for people to interrupt your single player mode gameplay as if you were in an old-school arcade and you have a superb addition to any game library.
I mean come on… a good ole Dragon Punch never gets old!
This one was a hesitant selection for me believe it or not. Treyarch kind of left a bad taste in my mouth with the unbalanced multiplayer gameplay of Call Of Duty: World At War. It was kind of exhausting to see everyone run around with submachine guns. Let’s not forget the epic failure of the vehicular addition either.
In comes COD: Black Ops and again I found myself craving the Infinity Ward gameplay a bit more. Treyarch did manage to keep this franchise entry fresh though. Their Vietnam staged entry was a welcome departure from the modern or World War II clones that we constantly see nowadays.
As I got familiar with the money system and the changed up perks, I was pleasantly surprised at the slightly improved balance of the gameplay online. You’ll still get your submachine gun or high firing rate whores but at least the maps tend to force you to use different loadouts more so than CoD:WaW.
The addition of the ballistic knife, the crossbow, the C4 mounted RC car, the SAM missile, and the controllable Assault Chopper make this CoD way too fun to miss out on though. Also, with no nukes, you also get to actually finish matches as well. In time, I found myself preferring to play this edition of CoD over Modern Warfare 2 and its quick aiming running snipers, turbo boost knife runners, or game ending nukes any day!
5. NBA 2K11
There is no secret that I love basketball. I was playing the My Player mode of NBA 2K10 on up to the release of 2K11. Now I knew that NBA 2K11 was going to be good so getting it on the day of its release was a no brainer for me.
Just as most other critics, I was blown away by the addition of the Jordan mode and the resulting nostalgia of hating MJ as he dominated games by himself on both sides of the court. Then the addition of the classic teams such as Ewing’s Knicks (complete with the streaky shooting John Starks), the Bad Boy Pistons, the Showtime Lakers, and Larry Bird’s Celtics had me and my NBA friends geeking out at the online competition possibilities!
Now, after a time this energy did fade. The horrific matchmaking (players losing connection or the constant network problems) really frustrated me and countless others when trying to prove our mastery with or over the new super power Miami Heat roster.
Also the eventually oversupply of 99 rated My Players on the My Crew mode totally destroyed my desire to even continue trying to find games online with it. Still, I’ll brave the flimsy network issues for a chance to jump into an online 5 on 5 Team Up mode game with a friend or two in hopes of catching a chance to use MJ or Magic online against other players.
In the end, NBA 2K11 is an amazing sports sim and the single player features are robust enough to keep you busy well into 2011.
4. Halo Reach
Halo is my welcome departure from the modern realistic fighting of the other popular FPS games on the market. When Reach hit the scene, I gladly jumped into various online co-op campaigns to repeated blast through scores of the Covenant, accompanied by that iconic soundtrack.
When I finally decided to delve into the online matchmaking, I was welcomed with the amazingly fun change of pace mode called Firefight. My friends and I would spend hours simply laughing and blasting away at the various waves and waves of Covenant with artillery strikes, infinite ammo rockets, hammers, grenade launchers, and jetpacks!
What I think separates Halo from the rest of the FPS community is that Bungie does an AMAZING job at stat tracking and constantly changing the gameplay and adding modes for free! I mean, the use of the Forge and the community created maps will constantly keep things fresh for months or maybe even years to come.
Halo Reach is easily one of the must-have staples of any Xbox 360 owner’s library.
3. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
As we get down to the last few games on my list, I want to make it clear that these three are clearly my favorites of the year (again, of the games that I’ve played, so don’t get angry if I leave out a favorite of yours).
EA and DICE managed to carve out their own special niche into the FPS scene with the Battlefield franchise. Suffice it to say, I was not really into the maps or the balance of the first Bad Company game. I was a HUGE fan of the PC version of Battlefield 2 and longed for its gameplay on the console given my desktop is an outdated and pieced together mess.
But this sequel simply knocked it out of the park with its excellent vehicular combat (both land and air) as well as the increased focus on squad based support gameplay.
Calling out your foes as you spot them became a necessity and snipers no longer dominated EVERY map. Even if you are a poor shot as a sniper and only want to call out foes to your friends the entire match manages to provide modest rewards if teammates take out the called out targets. I actually saw the benefit of playing in a squad of strangers and the community the regulars on Battlefield:BC2 is a lot more team focused for the most part. Vets will work together and help the noobs if they join their squads.
Still, you’ll want to be sure to recruit or become a flawless Apache pilot if you REALLY want to dominate. Helicopter flight controls are hard to get used to and even harder to master.
DICE certainly has a winning formula that no other FPS on the market provides on a console. With destructible environments to further the realism and the Vietnam DLC to extend the online gameplay, Battlefield:BC2 is certainly one of my favs.
2. Red Dead Redemption
When Rockstar makes a game, they truly make a storied experience. You play as John Marston through a brilliantly scored and beautifully rendered landscape that certainly thrilled gamers and non gamers alike. I found my fiancée, who hates video games mind you, wanting to try to play after watching me ride around on a horse and laugh and jump as mountain lions attacked or bandits ambushed me out of nowhere.
The pacing seems to be a bit slow and the purpose for some of the quests or achievements tend to be a bit pointless, but there is no denying the amazing polish that this game has. Akin to the GTA open world formula, this game allows you to explore and interact with roaming NPCs as a hero or villain in each and every situation with pros and cons to each choice throughout the game and storyline.
Then the addition of the Undead Nightmare DLC will certainly add a different ambience to the experience as well that should not be missed if you own the game.
After a while, the secrets and the odd though well voice acted storyline seemed to bore me a bit, Rockstar has without a doubt created a unique and rare western game that is sure to top many people’s 2010 best of lists. But alas… it did not top mine!
1. Mass Effect 2
The coveted best game of 2010 for me was without a doubt Mass Effect 2. The ever changing storyline, the way the classes change the gameplay, the way you approach battles, the NPC relationship development, the mystery of the Illusive man and the ongoing battle against the Reapers!
Mass Effect 2 has such an amazing storyline that people probably literally foamed at the mouth to begin playing this story line. What makes this game unique is that your decisions from the first Mass Effect will influence various encounters and storyline that you’ll face in this game. I don’t know if I remember ever playing a game that was like that. Sure I’ve played games where you can import your character but all that did was simply preserve your experience or certain equipment.
Also, Bioware improved upon the combat and exploration by reducing the size of areas like the Citadel and eliminating the sometimes cumbersome and annoying planetary exploration. Now, they did manage to add another ridiculously annoying aspect to the game with the whole mining feature. At times, my hands would hate involuntarily anticipating another ME2 gaming session yet remembering the need to mine for some more Element Zero.
Again, the cast of characters is quite memorable and you get to delve deep into their backstory. Thankfully, their stories do not take away from the main storyline as some of the quests and missions did in the first Mass Effect. Here, your missions not only allow you to know your teammates better and develop a better relationship with them, it gives you more insight on the mission at hand as well.
Throw in a ton of DLC that again fleshes out the storyline and adds more weapons and armor to kick aliens around with and you have one amazing game. Never once did I regret paying full price for this game and I will certainly pay full price for the sequel when it comes out as well.
All hail Commander Shepard!
So there you go, my favorite XBOX 360 games of 2010. Your thoughts?